“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” ~Anne Shirley
Lucy Maud Montgomery provided more wisdom in her Anne series than most philosophers do in their entire careers but it’s this quote from Anne’s first journey to Avonlea that has stuck out to me recently. I was talking with a friend about how I’ve hated many things about the quarantine but I haven’t “not enjoyed” myself during this time. She agreed and we mused about the blessings, adventures and growth that have unexpectedly come about because of all this craziness. While we were talking this quote came to mind and I realized that Anne was right in 1876 and she’s still correct today. Life has highs and lows but that doesn’t mean you can’t find things to enjoy. Some of the most joyful, fun people I know are those that find the magic in every day.
Here is little orphaned Anne on this journey to what she thought was going to be her forever home only to be told that the Cuthberts wanted a boy not her. Her little heart is broken but she can’t help but appreciate and revel in the beauty around her as she travels to Green Gables. Even in “the depths of despair” she finds little thrills…so CHOSE to find little thrills.
I remember when I first arrived at my little private university there seemed to be two schools of thought. William Carey was a blast or William Carey was the most boring, old folks home ever and I found it strange that these people were all walking the same campus but having a completely different experience. A few weeks in and I realized those enjoying themselves wanted WCU to be fun and literally made their own fun when the tiny campus wasn’t providing enough. Those who hated their experience were typically the uninvolved, lazy, Negative Nellies who wanted Carey to fail them.
So, when the quarantine started I wasn’t surprised to find people voicing those two opinions again. Many people found the blessings of these moments and many people seemed to enjoy being unhappy and miserable. I’ve also learned that many people don’t WANT to enjoy themselves but rather they want to be entertained. They scoff at anything that requires effort on their part and sometimes it takes a lot of hard work to find the joy in the midst of a bad situation. What happened to using your imagination and creativity to bring fun into your life?
Here are some of the moments I have most enjoyed during the chaotic and crazy time…
My friends and I love loading up in the car and going to a baseball game or a flea market or just heading out of town for the day but with many businesses not being open we started a tradition of looking up crazy real estate and driving around to find it. I have now seen parts of my city that I never knew existed and I’m mega impressed by the ridiculous mansion that it contains.
Many of our favorite restaurants have been closed but this has forced us to enjoy new options and find new favorites. Add this to our crazy driving around adventures and we’ve all become stellar at eating weird things in a car. FYI, nachos make Taco Tuesday totally doable at 65 mph!
What's a Harry Potter night without Chocolate Frogs?
The movie theatres have been closed so my squad decided to watch all of the Harry Potter series since many had not experienced it. To make it even more special, we would have themed snacks for each movie. This became a hilarious challenge and totally added to the fun. This gave us something to look forward to every week and gave me new targets for my Harry Potter memes.
I promise the ridiculous story of this project is coming soon!
Several of the women in my group have used this time of isolation to grow personally. Some have taken online courses, read self-help books, begun a workout routine, started meal prepping or taken up a new Bible study. It’s so easy to lay on the couch when you don’t feel motivated but having a project can really help. I personally re-read several series that were on my New Year’s Resolutions list and worked on some personal areas that needed growth.
In the same line of thought, I set myself a challenge to try and Bible journal every day. I’m so bad about not doing something if I don’t feel prepared or motivated. I strive so much for perfection in certain areas of life that I just don’t attempt the task at all. However, by giving myself a required task, I couldn’t afford to get stuck in my perfection and it became something I found enjoyment in. I remember at the beginning of quarantine venturing out to the Dollar General to find new markers and paint brushes and having the time of my life. Typically, the dollar store doesn’t bring me joy but in this season that was a big deal!
Yes, I see the green dot too!
And most recently, my friends and I were driving around trying to think of somewhere new to explore when I decided to look up the Historic Register for the local area. That’s where we found a listing for an old “haunted” house that saw a Civil War Major murdered on its porch. Being the history nerds we are, we immediately headed for the highway. It was so exciting to have a little road trip and to take pictures with the marker as a great memory. It was even more fun to slightly scare ourselves! So silly and yet so worth it.
So, have I enjoyed the pandemic? No, but have I enjoyed life? 100% yes! If I've learned anything in the last three years, it's that life really is a lot of what you make it. You can't control every situation but just as you can make a problem a whole lot worse, you can make it better...not perfect, not great, sometimes not even good but better and for that I am grateful!