It is the Ides of March.  Most of us are beginning to voluntarily self- isolate/quarantine ourselves and our families in hopes of containing the disease COVID-19, AKA: the coronavirus. I am so sorry for my fellow authors who have had to cancel their appearances. My apologies to all my April events that I cancelled. We are all disappointed.  

I’m also sorry for all those dealing with cancelled schools, programs, conferences, etc., as well as for those financially effected by the cancellations. Most of us have never lived through an experience of community isolation. When you ask, “the greatest generation,” they often share wisdom. My 93 year-old-mother in law told me about how, when she was young, there was a polio scare. Think Franklin Roosevelt. Everyone stayed home back in the day of no internet.  She said they all just “made do.” And now, so must we. We are being challenged to act in good faith, be responsible for the community well-being. But what to do with so much time at home?

This experience reminds me of days back when I was pregnant, and the doctor put me on forced bed rest for a few months. It was a shock. I had to leave my career as a teacher. I had little extra money as my husband was a medical resident, so first we exhausted the generosity of my mother and mother-in-law to help with the housework and care for my five-year-old daughter. My church found a kind woman who volunteered to help me. I learned then of the kindness of strangers in times of trouble.  

At first, I felt sorry for myself. I was stuck in bed for a few months with no control over my home, my job. Then my psychiatrist husband took the television out of my bedroom. I was furious! “What am I going to do?” He said to me, “Mary Alice, for as long as I’ve known you, you’ve wanted to write a novel, but you didn’t have the time. Now you have the time.” He gave me a yellow pad and a pen.

I wrote the first draft of my first novel during those few months.  It took a while for that book to be completed, polished and submitted—but it sold! My life was changed forever. I gave birth to a baby—and a book! 

I learned a valuable lesson.  What can seem an obstacle can, in fact, be an opportunity. Saying “yes!” to the universe brings rewards. The window is opened to possibilities. Saying “no!” with fear shuts the window and only creates fear and inaction.  

So, I ask you… What can you do to see this gift of forced time at home as an opportunity?  Do you have a project you’ve been eager to try but had no time? Now you have time! What would you love to have finished at the end of the next fourteen days? A project, or a book pile to get through, cleaning closets, painting a room, learning how to play the guitar, write a book, or garden? You have two glorious weeks.  Don’t waste it sitting in front of the computer or television. Carpe diem!