As I type this, Austin officially extended its stay-at-home order until June 15th, and I’m on Day 80 of Quarantine. When I think about returning back to “normal life,” I realize so much will change. Personally, I don’t want to go back to life just as it was before. For me, it was general overconsumption (with stuff, media, food, wine, even exercise at times) and a lot of rushing and being overproductive to feed that part of myself that attached value to busyness.

As I consider the changes I’ve made over the past couple months and what I want to carry into this next phase, slowing down feels most top of mind. Here are a few things that happen when I slow down:

  • I get clarity on what I actually want to do
  • I’m less anxious
  • I’m able to articulate my thoughts and think bigger picture
  • I’m less impulsive with everything
  • my physical movement is more intentional
  • I am a better listener

Now that I’ve been in this state of slowing down, it’s hard to imagine going back to a more frenetic way of living. Sure, on the outside it looked like I was getting so much done, but on the inside I never felt like I could keep up, and some part of my life always suffered.

I asked a few friends: “What’s one thing you’ll carry into your life after quarantine ends?” Their answers remind me that we all feel better when we take care of ourselves and connect with others in a meaningful way — life’s essentials.

Read on for what they had to say…

featured photo: rudy arocha for austin woman magazine

photo: rudy arocha for austin woman magazine

Virginia A. Cumberbatch, Co-Founder of Rosa Rebellion

After getting over the pressure to make these last few months the most productive time of my life, or setting into a rhythm of apathy, I embarked on developing a few habits that I’ve always aspired to. For me it has been all about creating my dream schedule and rhythm that didn’t have to align with what the “world’s conditions” or “work” often dictates: That has included 5 a.m. wake up calls with time for prayer and tea, morning workouts, and ending my work day around 1 or 2 p.m.

But the most revelatory practice has been going on evening walks. It seems basic and perhaps mundane, but it has come to represent all the things I hadn’t typically created space for: slowness –  I never even considered the idea of going for a walk in my neighborhood, because I didn’t have time (sure, I could go for a scheduled 3 mile run, but not an impromptu walk) and aimlessness  – learning the art of wandering has real value.

As a very scheduled and planned person, the opportunity to just walk has taught me so much. The space to think beyond my to-do list, listen to the sights and sounds of my neighborhood, and hear God has been beautiful. I’ve also discovered parts of my neighborhood I wouldn’t normally get to see on my running route, waved and talked to neighbors who ordinarily I can’t connect with from my car window, and I’ve discovered a joy and peace that comes from truly having time to just be.

photo: kristen kilpatrick

Gaby Dalkin, Cookbook Author, Chef, and Founder of What’s Gaby Cooking

Something that I’ve discovered is that before this pandemic, I said “yes” to too many things. I certainly miss seeing my friends, going to meetings, having dinner at restaurants etc., but I also am really enjoying this time at home. So I want to take this mindfulness into consideration moving forward and be more selective of how I spend my time!

photo: austin monthly

Philip Speer, Pastry Chef and Restaurant Owner

I’ve found time to create more meals at home, as well as making more time to spend growing and harvesting our own food. We have had so much more family meal time around the dining table. During this time, we eat healthier food, while appreciating the time and effort it takes to bring the meal to the table. We turn off our phones and focus on each other and discuss how we have spent our days. It have been an amazing opportunity to reconnect with each other through that we love most. I am so excited to continue this practice.

Willie Cruz, Athletic Performance Coach for the Houston Rockets

This pause moment has forced me to take my foot off the gas and slow down. Usually we’re going a thousand miles per hour without taking time to observe the world around us – most importantly the people around us. With the extra time in the mornings, I’ve roamed through parts of downtown Houston that I haven’t in the past. During one my runs, I noticed a group of individuals who were homeless. As I walked back home, I made my regular stop to purchase some snacks from the local store. This time, I had to ask myself, “Why are you able to treat yourself to a healthy snack every day and these people you see on your daily run can’t?” That question moved me to put together snack packages for them. It’s a small thing, but I’m thankful to be in a position to give and interact with those who have it tougher than I do.

The conversations I’ve had in those exchanges have humbled me and re-freshened my perspective on the meaning of life. This small act of giving is something I will continue to do post quarantine because everybody deserves to enjoy healthy food.

photo: kristen kilpatrick

Daphne Oz, Chef, Cookbook Author, and TV Host

We bake cake on Fridays! It has honestly been one of my favorite new traditions thanks to the groundhog day effect quarantine had on us after the first few weeks of being in the house together. The kids suggested we start celebrating “fake birthday Fridays” which was essentially just a chance to celebrate once a week with something homemade and delicious the kids and I could make together, and this way a new person got to pick the cake flavor each week. We dropped the birthday bit after a while, but the cake tradition has lived on! It’s so fun to look forward to, and I would always rather the family indulge in something homemade than store-bought. Plus it’s given me a chance to expand my cake baking repertoire since achieving that perfect mix of dense moisture and tender crumb is an art form. And let’s be honest, even the bad ones are delicious (especially with coffee the next day.)

image: cristina fisher

Michelle Pimm, Senior Content Strategist at Everlywell

I work out every other day. A pretty average change, I know. But when you’ve spent years sitting on the couch instead of attending pilates classes, it’s a big deal. A big motivator was my autoimmune disease, uncertain if my body is strong enough to fight a virus with so many unknowns. I started working out little by little in my living room, and I couldn’t have imagined the physical and mental transformation that happened months later. I’m thankful I decided to get off my couch (even though I hated it at first) to prioritize my body. Taking care of yourself feels good, so there’s no way I’m stopping now.

5 comments
  1. 1
    Camille Styles | June 10, 2020 at 7:34 am

    So inspired by all of these, but especially love the way Willie took time to notice the people around him, ask himself how he could help the situation… and then just did it! Really inspired to take this questioning attitude into my daily life and actively look for ways I can help the people around me.

    Reply
  2. 2
    Tiara | June 10, 2020 at 8:58 am

    A good read. I’ve been feeling the same way about slowing down and being able to really savor the moments with family.

    Reply
  3. 3
    Lauren Zielinski | June 11, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    So agree ! I am 100% taking evening walks along for. ever ! The slowness of corona is one I hope I don’t ever full have to jump out of. It was a beautiful (though scary at times) pause. It’s odd how life shows up like that showing us it’s ugly and beautiful side both at once…

    Reply
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