By Nancy L. Johnston author of Disentangle: When You’ve Lost Your Self in Someone Else

Anyone who has worked with me knows that I am visual. I like to draw diagrams and illustrate the things I am teaching. I still use a flip chart in my workshops and retreats. If you look inside of the second edition of Disentangle: When You’ve Lost Your Self in Someone Else, you will see what has been described as “a visually appealing book.” It contains my lists, illustrations, and diagrams interspersed throughout. They are there to help teach.

So it will be with this blog series on “Living Closely—Indefinitely.” As I said in my previous blog about my COVID garden, that sweet kitchen garden has been productive, as have my thoughts on how we do this living closely indefinitely. I have four suggestions: Celebrate Together, Honor Separate, Expect Less, and Respect Different. As we look at each of these ideas, I will be using photos and metaphors from my COVID garden to explain how these ideas may be helpful to us.

Celebrate Together suggests that since we are in this situation of increased time together and more shared everything, we choose to appreciate this as an opportunity. Yes, I know we can have too much of a good thing, nevertheless, I suggest we choose to view this as a time to see, listen to, and understand each other more fully. It is a time to enjoy meals together and various safe forms of entertainment. It is an opportunity to cultivate patience and calm within as we are with others. It is a time to practice compromising and limit-setting. It is a time to practice the Serenity Prayer, sorting what we can and cannot control and letting go of what we cannot control.

It is not likely to be a good time to discuss major issues with each other or make decisions about whether to leave an important relationship—unless we are in danger. In the same way that in early recovery, we are advised to not make any significant changes in our lives for the first year, so it is with learning to live with this pandemic. We are adjusting to many changes in our lives at this time, and Celebrate Together—learning to be with who we are and whom we are with—can help bring needed stability and growth.

I have been glad to have more time at home with my husband. Our time together in this life is limited. I was becoming more aware of that as I ran in and out of the house to work and activities, always on the go with a calendar full of things to do away from the house and away from each other. This pandemic has me at home almost all of the time with him. I am plenty busy still, and I am glad we are here together—not glad every moment, but most of the time. I am trying to Celebrate Together in the ways I write of above and consider this time together a blessing.

The photo above is from my garden. The cherry tomatoes are clustered together on the vine. Side-by-side they grow, sharing the nutrients of their vine. If that vine breaks, none of them can grow further, and over time they will each rot. Day in and out these little tomatoes hang out together, allowing space for the growth of each and sharing the benefits of the soil and sun on their precious spot on Earth.

Ah, there’s much we can learn from vegetables. Which reminds me of how much I love the song “Plant a Radish” from The Fantasticks. Here are a few select lines for today:

Plant a turnip.

 Get a turnip.

 Maybe you’ll get two.

 That’s why I love vegetables;

 You know that they’ll come through!

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