Lindsey Nieman: Build your team up; support each other
Over the last 14 years, I have spent multiple four to six week stints at home in Coldstream Canyon without venturing into town. On many occasions, I have gone six weeks without getting in a car, going out to eat, or seeing anyone who didn’t ski 4 miles to get to my house.
While I understand my experience draws from a lifestyle choice, the times that I did not go to town were due to weather/trail conditions keeping me at home, and were not completely voluntary.
If you need it, here’s what I’ve learned from my times spent at home:
Life moves slower. One begins to notice the seasons change, the days grow longer, the birds’ relationship with the trees out the windowpane. One begins to drift from room to room, morning to evening, and day to day, in an almost dream state.
Entirely renewed patterns and relationships with housemates are born. Suddenly, there’s time to picnic on the porch, take a walk, and create art. Opportunities for beautiful discussions open up. Silly games are contrived from thin air. Simple joy abounds.
But this is not Little House on the Prairie. Sometimes I go crazy having my kids at home with me all the time. Sometimes I lose it and scream at them and make them do chores, or jumping jacks, or tell each other three nice things about the other person. Sometimes I hide from them in my bedroom. But they always find me. And when they do, I smile and open my arms, and we snuggle, and I take a breath. Take a breath now. Feels good, yeah?
Sometimes it’s a struggle to balance working from home with childcare, homeschooling, meal planing and cleaning. Allow yourself to fail from time to time. It’s OK — you can’t do it all, but at the end of the day, you’ll find that what’s most important was addressed. Laughing helps, too. (By the way, laughing at adversity is the same strategy we’re using with a teenage daughter these days, too.) Laugh when you can, cry when you need to. Then laugh again. Laugh hearty laughs even when you don’t mean it. You know what laughing does? It makes you breathe. Laughter is gold.
And build your team up. Support each other. Offer up patience and compassion. Appreciate one another. Tell your partner you appreciate him. Every day. Tell her you’re glad she’s there with you. Tell him you love him. It doesn’t take long to do, and it’s good for both of you. It is just as valuable to remember why we appreciate someone as it is to be appreciated. Stress puts us all on edge. When things are tense, laugh a little. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at the situation. You know what else laughter does? It diffuses tense situations.
Most importantly, remember that it’s infinitely easier to apologize than it is to maintain a battle. You’re gonna be spending a lot (all!) of your time together, so apologize already. Tony and I have spent the last 9 1/2 years living and working together. We’re good at it. We’re good at laughing and appreciating each other. We’re good at building bridges in blizzards and troubleshooting exploding electrical systems. You know what we’re best at? Apologizing.
If you are experiencing fear, frustration, or uncertainty right now, I hope that in short time you will come to find a certain joy and gratitude in small blessings and beauty that may have gone unnoticed until now. I hope the light of the morning sun on the windowsill catches your eye, that the bird’s song sweeps in and tickles your curiosity, and that you and your families share hearty laughs and the biggest, strongest, and most comforting hugs imaginable.
And in the darkest times, when fear or frustration overwhelm you, remember: no moment lasts. These days too, are fleeting and will one day be but a memory. I promise.
May the days you spend at home in the upcoming weeks yield memories of a simpler life amidst the backdrop of chaos and uncertainty in the outside world.
With love from the woods.
Lindsey Nieman lives in Truckee.
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