Dear Lois, what can we do to reimagine our homes now that we spend so much time in them?


From our homes, we can be a light.

I am not on the front line of this pandemic, but in my own quiet way, from home, I press on. Being at home has been a blessing and a curse for all of us. I am learning how to be resourceful, optimistic and a better listener. I have always promoted simplicity, but now I must put it into practice.

I believe that we all share a similar intention for our homes—they are places we can rest, restore and feel safe. But in these last few weeks, they have become drastically different places. It is jarring to work from home, homeschool the children and keep the family afloat and healthy while maintaining a sense of order. When the dining room table serves as a desk for two people, a surface for puzzles and the place where we eat together, it takes a massive amount of work to keep things under control.

While it is a huge change to suddenly have so many multifunctioning spaces in our homes, it is also an opportunity to address how these areas can be more efficient and holistic. We have to come to terms with this new way of living. Denial and frustration cost far more energy than taking a day or two to overhaul our common areas.

This work takes a lot of time but is worth the effort. When we channel our energy into making our homes more positive places to be, we can cope with the world in a different way.

There will be times when every room in the house needs attention, and I am hopeful that my family will work together to clean them up. I want this for every family. It is essential to find the bonds of love and security within our homes.

Decide what is important to you now and listen to what is important to the people you live with. Move on from hurt feelings and give yourself a chance to step up to the plate. Our homes should be safe, where we find refuge in the midst of this pandemic. You will find that it feels good when you move on from hurt feelings, let go and begin to love again. As Leonard Cohen said, “Love’s the only engine of survival,” so we drop the useless garbage, evolve and show up.

With that said, it is important to know what personal vulnerability actually means and how to admit where you are wrong to move forward. For me, I need to confront my bad habits, my harsh tone and keep my emotions under control. I also know that addressing my failures is difficult and I must come to terms with the versions of myself that I have pushed down because they are too painful to confront.

Illustration by Lois Volta
Illustration by Lois Volta

My kids are learning that I’m fallible but unbreakable. I might snap, but I also have learned to go into their world. I want my children to feel safe and provide them with what they need to get through this time as smoothly as possible. It is important for me to take the time to understand my children and their needs. I am finding myself falling in love with them again and again.

We adults of the house may be at odds with each other (to different extents) for days on end, but I know that having safe, conscious, mutually respectful relationships requires forgiving negative feelings that came before and honoring what positive things you do have. The hope is that our partners will be willing to look at themselves the same way to co-create a new type of camaraderie to weather this storm.

Each family has a unique experience with balancing work, family and entertainment all from one place. If we can keep the word respect at the tip of our tongues, we might be able to grasp the full spectrum of how we can be there for each other. Gender equality and division of labor might look completely different now; be open to talking with your partner (or other adults in the home) about how to work together. We don’t have to tear each other apart to build each other up. Take the time to encourage each other.

Showing up in our homes looks different for everyone. For me, I am showing up by using grace as a tool. I have grace for myself for getting frustrated or falling apart and I give the people around me a break. I show up by getting dressed in the morning and loading the dishwasher. I show up by having high standards of ethical behavior and holding firm in unpopular opinions.

Social distancing and taking neurotic sanitation efforts to prevent the spread of the virus should not be taken lightly. I, for one, have received a lot of criticism from even some of my family members and close friends for being skeptical and cautious. It seems that at the beginning of our efforts to slow the virus, those of us who took the news very seriously were ostracized as alarmists. We must not be afraid to act on and speak the truth.

I am finding that I am far more resilient and conscientious than I gave myself credit for, and so are you. You grow stronger every time you cry with those who cry and take joy in simple victories. Collectively, we can fan the flame in our hearts by small acts of solidarity and conscious living.

Washing our hands is the easiest way to understand our human connection. When we are aware that something invisible can kill, and embrace that careless actions can have lethal effects, we awaken to the personal responsibility we have to make right what has gone awry. We are all human, and the virus doesn’t care who you are.

We might feel useless because we are locked in our homes, but we can still stand together.

Now more than ever we must hold up our little light and reflect back the starry sky.

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