Every single work blouse I have can be paired with jeans that are old and ripped. Work pants are unnecessary BS in my closet and in my life, taking up space where more cute and comfy tops could be.

Breaks are way more important than I thought and I need to take them regardless of my work location. It takes me 12 minutes to ride my bike around the neighborhood with my 9-year old. That 12 minutes changes the way I think about or dismiss a lot of things that happen each day.

When there’s no one around to judge and make snarky comments, a spoon in a jar of peanut butter is lunch.

For the first few weeks of quarantine, I thought I missed lunch with friends. But once we started having Zoom lunches, I realized that what I actually miss is lunch with friends where someone makes us fresh tacos and guacamole.

I want afternoon chocolate no matter the location of my office.

Commutes take precious time away from family. However, they also provide a transition between work and home, and I surprisingly miss that 30 minutes where I was regularly yelling at slow drivers to get out of the fast lane.

I hate decorating, mostly. The whole idea of it is weird – using stuff to distract from the reality of what is or what’s there. But I have realized that I like to surround myself with positive affirmations no matter where I am, and that positive affirmations have a big impact on my attitude. They’re not only a good reminder for us about who we want to be, but a signal for others about who we aspire to be and what they should expect of us.

A bald eagle flies high up in the sky outside my home office window every now and then. She is regal and fierce and graceful. When I worked in the office, even though two of my “walls” are floor to ceiling windows, I rarely took the time to look outside for rejuvenation or inspiration. I watch for my eagle each day now, eagerly awaiting her appearance. She reminds me of the words of Isaiah: But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

I look rough by 3 pm, which I’ve always suspected but now know with certainty as I stare back at myself in Zoom.

Zoom me throughout the day.

My body and brain need the same amount of caffeine whether I get up at 5:30 to get a high schooler off for the day or I sleep until 7:30 because my first Zoom isn’t until 8:30.

Whether at home with two dozen mugs to select from or in the office with two mugs to select from, I’m going to drink from the same mug every day.

If I’m stuck on the side of the road and my cell phone is dead and a passerby offers me their phone to call a friend for help, I’m not going to remember the phone number of any one of my contacts. I will, however, be able to enter the Zoom ID for any one of my daily meetings.

It used to be taboo for children and pets to make noise on the occasional day someone, or we, worked from home. But I am convinced now that we know our colleagues on another level – we know and understand them better – because we’ve seen the smiles they have only with family.

I miss those moments when I make eye contact with one of my peeps across a conference room or an aisle or a hallway, and we each roll our eyes (or know that we want to roll our eyes but should not and will not). I also miss those moments when I make eye contact with one of my peeps and neither one of us speaks but we know that we’re each thinking “that’s what she said.”

I’m not ever going to be the mom that makes dinner 5 nights a week, even when we don’t have activities and even when my commute is just a walk downstairs.

Whether it’s the stairs in my office building or the stairs in my house, I will go to great lengths and make up detailed excuses to avoid taking them.

I’m always cold, whether I’m working from home or working in the office. Air conditioning is necessary for me and yet never at the right temperature for me.

When I was a kid, I loved school supplies. When I became an adult that transitioned to office supplies. Even though we do everything electronically, and even though I don’t use any of this stuff in my daily work at home, I still love to be surrounded by paper and post-it’s and pens and pencils and markers. Also, I need highlighters on my desk and in my life even though I never ever highlight anything – and I’m not sure why.

I have not worn real shoes since March 13. No sneakers, no flats, no heels, no boots, no sandals. Only flip flops. Even for bike riding, even on the early chillier days, and even though I haven’t been getting pedicures. I am not sure my feet will embrace the eventual boomerang back to coverage.

My favorite part of every workday starts with Audrey waiting in the hallway just outside my office at about 5pm. She knows my daily wrap-up may be 5 minutes or 25 minutes, so she often waits with a device. But as soon as she hears everyone say have a good night, she comes running in for what she calls end-of-the-day hugs and jumps into my arms or lap. It’s the absolute best, and I never would have experienced it if not for quarantine.

One thought on “Quarantine Work-at-Home Learnings

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