I baked. I did yoga. I organized. I think I finished Netflix, in its entirety. I read. I worked. I baked some more. I sent care packages, text messages, and “I love yous” at an alarming rate, and even still: I felt hopeless, helpless, and lonely.
I didn’t need an activity to busy my mind or hands...I needed something to highlight the joy of what was, and make room for hope for what's to come. Turns out, I needed to make a Keepster book.
Caramel colored loaves of freshly baked banana bread cover my kitchen counter. A sourdough starter kit sits next to the coffee grinder - my impressive uptake in caffeine consumption rivaled only by my increased screen time. My once abandoned yoga mat has carried me through six sessions of virtual yoga this week, and there isn’t a drawer in our house that I haven’t organized. I dodged news updates this week, feeling like a live wire - as if my entire body is stuck in a fight-or-flight response. I’ve texted and FaceTimed so often that my iPhone dies before 11 am - as if to say: This is all too much for me, too.
Clearly, every clickbait article screaming How to Stay Sane During Quarantine has hooked me these last 63 days. The baking, the workout streaming, the Tiger King-ing...peppered throughout what feels like hazy, ceaseless workdays.
Even as I type this I feel my privilege: this many weeks in, my job remains one I can do safely and effectively at home. I’m lucky by every definition of the word: healthy, quarantined with a husband I like to be around, two dogs that keep me laughing, plenty of flour, yeast, paper products, and a strong WiFi connection.
One caveat: I’m an anxious, overprotective only child...whose parents are quarantined in the epicenter of COVID-19.
So, I bake. I work. I read. I do yoga. I text my friends and family constantly. I spend my early hours trolling online for necessities that I don’t want my parents hunting for in New York City: paper products, thermometers, Tylenol. I’ve shipped so many care packages I joke with my Mom that we might finally be even for all those years that she did the same.
I cling to their text updates and FaceTime calls: some days, they assure me they’re fine, just fine, hanging in there, quit worrying. Other days, they look entirely drained - their eyes clouded with worry, a hint of cabin fever, and complete exhaustion.
My parents are lucky, too. They live in an apartment with a slice of outdoor space, they are quarantined with a dog they love more than most humans, and each other. They’re New York tough...but their California daughter would much prefer they weren’t sitting in what feels like the eye of the storm.
So, I bake. I work. I read. I do yoga. I text everyone with intention, meaning -- profoundly grateful to hear from my people. I send supplies like I’m running a foundation. I’ve long since exhausted every “Quarantine Activity” to keep my mind busy and curb that senseless spiral of worry.
This is the text that inspired it. #MomTexts, am I right? (shout out to Keepboard 😜) Rather than allow my mind to turn to ‘what if’, I power up my MacBook. I cannot bake another loaf of bread, I’ll get cross-eyed if I look at a puzzle again today...Instead, I take my Mom’s advice. I think back to some of my very favorite family moments - sandy toes scrunched deep into dunes, shared turkey sandwiches enjoyed under slices of shade, hot, hot San Diego summer sun. Such happy memories I can almost feel the warmth. Thanks to our never-ending family group chat and my Keepster backup, I can relive such memories in a really unique way...through the texts we shared.
I scroll through my Keepster folder marked: FamBam and get busy. I’m picky at first - selecting only the very best messages, but quickly realize that so many of them tug at the corners of my mouth...what is that, a smile? An hour passes. Not because it’s time consuming but because I lose myself to the process -- scrolling, selecting, reliving - hundreds upon hundreds of text messages, photos, and emojis shared between my husband, parents, and myself in our group chat. I reach the San Diego summer texts...updates on ocean temperatures and blurry selfies sent to keep one another posted on our location on the beach. Instantly, I’m transported. The waves, the sun, the sand, the sandwiches.
What starts as a way to re-live brighter days turns into three Keepster books: professionally printed chatbooks filled to the brim with messages, memories, and moments we were so fortunate to share. Photos sent, emojis overused - all of it!
Not just trips but family dinners, holidays, simple Mondays...even the mundane stuff...the stuff we thought we could take for granted. It’s all in there: our highs, our lows, our lives in texted form, our fierce love for one another...our messages stand as slices of digital proof of it all.
Hours have passed. I may not have a dozen more loaves of bread or have chalked up a bunch more down dogs -- no, I have a warm feeling throughout my entire being and a renewed sense of gratitude...maybe even, hope. Sounds dramatic, I know. How could an app do all that?
I’ll tell you.
We went to bed in one world, woke up in another, and by and large - have made tremendous effort to make peace with that. Some aspects, that is.
We cannot make peace with the senseless deaths and suffering, with the job loss and shredded sense of security, the ceaseless uncertainty. I don’t think we ever can.
We cannot control the unknown, we cannot say for certain what comes next, we cannot hang our hats or rest on much solid ground right now.
We cannot go back to the world we left unknowingly, we cannot take the mundane and the every day for granted ever again, and we cannot pretend baking banana bread or finishing a 1000 piece puzzle makes any of the above okay.
We can, however, if we’re able to...turn our attention to the light. The good. Memories so sweet the joy is almost palpable. For me, it’s that sunshine, the feeling of sand between my toes, blurry family selfies, and belly-laugh inducing family texts. It’s memories made and messages shared and the hope of more to come.
So here’s to finding the good, finding the light, finding the hope, finding the joy...and finally making the time (not a lot!) to create an unforgettable keepsake: a Keepster book.
PS. I ordered two Keepster books to be shipped straight to my parents and another that to give to my husband...I can’t wait for it to arrive, and to see those texts in print!
I can only hope they’ll be as joy-filled as I imagine! Next up project: …..
Author / Engagement Manager