Finding the Silver Lining of the Lockdown by James Coulter

Lockdown Silver Linings
By James Coulter

The lockdown of 2020 wasn’t that bad for some who used the time to improve a skill, lose weight, plant a garden, and more.

There’s no doubt COVID-19 has driven people up the walls with cabin fever. However, the lockdown also granted them free time to try new things and improve their lives. From eating healthier and losing weight, to spending time with family and trying new activities, here are some things people have done to mine the silver lining from the dark clouds this year:

#1: Compose And Write Music

Marcus Brixa normally performs guitar at local music venues or private functions. Otherwise, he’s at Carlton Music Center repairing instruments or teaching music lessons. During the pandemic, he has hosted many of his lessons online, and he has participated in virtual jam sessions.

During the shutdown, he also repaired instruments delivered to Carlton Music Center even when the store was closed. In his spare time, he’s been free to compose works for classical guitar and write them on sheet music for publication, and he has concentrated on recording music for future releases.

“This is something I have wanted to do for a long time but never took the time to follow through,” he says. “I found having some legitimate classical works written out to be very rewarding. I have also recorded some music and participated in a virtual guitar performance with the HCC Dale Mabry Guitar Series.”

Musicians like himself rely on their creativity to keep their music fresh. Fortunately, the statewide stay-at-home orders earlier this year provided him with plenty of free time to explore his creativity by writing and composing music. He’s also grown an online presence, which he expects to continue maintaining even long after these uncertain times.

#2: Improve Time Management With Family

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Heather Rees worked as an accountant. She served at her main branch nearly eight hours a day—and when factoring in her half-hour commuting time, her job felt more like a nine-hour-shift.

Traveling half an hour both ways to and from work left her with little time at home, especially when it involved spending time with family and preparing dinner. Working at home improved her time management skills and increased her quality time with her family.

“Family dinner has been much easier to make happen when I’m already home and have energy to start cooking by 5:15,” Heather says. “Getting my son to soccer practice on time on weeknights is now simple since we are home already.”

During the lockdown, Heather was able to work only four days a week from the comfort of her home. Her family were able wake up and start the day at their own leisurely pace. Eliminating her commute provided her more time to not only her work, but also to her home life. She also had more energy to prepare meals and to attend to other things around the house. 

“If it was an option (it’s not), I’d desire to work at home forever,” she says. “Starting my day off in a more comfortable setting helps me start my day off better, which I have to imagine helps lead to a more productive day [and a] better attitude than I would normally start off with…The best mental health aspect that I’ve gained from this schedule is the stress free environment of never being in a rush.”

#3: Eat More Fruits And Vegetables

Our parents always told us to eat our veggies. Joyce Ackley from Lakeland took that advice to heart during the pandemic. She used the opportunity to try new foods by cooking and eating at home.

“I’ve increased my intake of fresh and frozen vegetables that are rich in vitamin C,” Joyce says. “I eat more carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and green peppers. I have increased my daily consumption of orange juice. I have vitamin C supplements, but I don’t always take them.”

Joyce is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat red meat, so eating mostly fruits and vegetables were already a given for her. However, she has tried to include more animal protein in her diet, mostly turkey breast and tuna salad.

The pandemic has also encouraged her to be more mindful of her health in other ways. She’s more conscious of hand washing and hand sanitizer, and she takes vitamin D and zinc, though she’s not as consistent with taking the latter. She has also experimented with new recipes such as no-meat vegetable soup with fresh and frozen veggies and various types of beans.

#4: Reflect On Life By Growing A Garden

Toni Brown has lived an eclectic life as a musician. In recent years, she and her husband toured the world performing live music. She also published a music magazine, owned a record company, and worked as a publicist for the likes of the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers.

The pandemic offered her some much-needed downtime to sit back, relax, and contemplate her life, connect with family and friends, and work on projects around the house. She occasionally performs for a wide audience via Facebook. 

“The pandemic is tragic, but on a positive note, it gave me time to breathe,” Toni says. “It allowed me to reflect on a life well-lived, the good works I’ve done, the fun I had… put everything into perspective.”

The free time has permitted Toni and her husband, Ed Munson (formerly a civil engineer), to continue work on their lush Florida-friendly landscaping. With the complex irrigation system Ed put in place, and using plants to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, they now have a private refuge in which to take nature photos and create music. Rabbits, squirrels and birds visit regularly. 

“Working in the garden has been a good experience for us physically, mentally and spiritually,” she says. “It’s helped open our minds and hearts, allowing the natural world to speak to us in the quiet we’ve discovered. I highly recommend it!”

#5: Lost 23 Pounds And Counting

When Rhonda Love visited her doctor earlier this year, the number she saw on the scale perturbed her. She weighed as much as when she was pregnant full-term. It was then she determined to lose weight, and the lockdown allowed her ample time to do so.

She started by writing down everything she ate. Journaling her food intake allowed her to watch what she ate and avoid extra calories. She cut out dessert, snacks, candy, and other non-essential food items. She limited her white bread and rice. She cut the extra carbs and sugars and added more vegetables in the meals she shared with her husband.

“Monitoring what you put in your mouth is what is the big thing that keeps you on track so you know what is going on,” Rhonda says. “We are at the age where we don’t need all that sugar anymore. We are trying to make better choices that way.”

Since she started in July, Rhonda has lost 23 pounds and counting. She remains strict about her diet, though she often treats herself. Recently, she had a turkey sandwich. She hadn’t eaten a proper sandwich on bread for four months. Otherwise, her health has improved drastically.

“I feel like I can tie my shoelaces now,” she says. “I had to buy new clothes.”