Pandemic Pastimes by Rebecca Heflin

If there is anything good that can be said of the pandemic, it’s that life has slowed down—at least my and my husband’s life has. In Before Times, we led crazy-busy lives. I have a demanding full-time job, we run our non-profit foundation, and of course, I write books. I also served as secretary for a local women’s organization.

In a typical year we would have at least five in-person fundraising events and a couple of online fundraisers, with all the planning and execution those involve. We’d have day-long in-person board meetings three to four times a year, along with the various schmoozing events we’d attend. Because we are both so involved in the community, our social calendars would be crammed with all kinds of dinners, lunches, and parties.

That all came to a screeching halt last March when the world shut down. Suddenly, we had copious amounts of time on our hands. And it was . . . glorious!

In Before Times, we were lucky if we got to watch a movie or TV we’d recorded on our DVR. Forget about getting drawn into any kind of series. In Before Times, we’d squeeze in exercise whenever we could find the time. And in Before Times, I was far more likely to be setting our large dining room table for a dinner party, rather than settling down to work on a jigsaw puzzle.

In After Times, TV, puzzles, and exercise became our pastimes.

Thankfully, there was/is quality programming on TV, especially with all the streaming services available. I signed up for three streaming services—something we never bothered to do. After all, why pay for something we’d never use?

We’ve watched some of the most beautiful documentaries we’ve ever seen, including The Elephant Queen (Apple+) and My Octopus Teacher (Netflix). We were sucked into the fabulous The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix), like so many other people around the world. And we’ve begun watching The Crown (Netflix) from the beginning. I signed up for Disney+ exclusively for Hamilton, which I’ve watched several times. We’ve also enjoyed re-watching old TV shows like West Wing. And I’m really looking forward to the PBS Masterpiece Theater remake of All Creatures Great and Small.

Then there are the jigsaw puzzles. I had quite the puzzle Christmas, receiving four puzzles as gifts from friends and family. I’ve always loved jigsaw puzzles. They can be quite addicting for me. In Before Times, it was better for everyone involved if there were no jigsaw puzzles in progress in my house to distract me from other important tasks. In After Times, there’s always one waiting to obsess over.

Lest everyone think my husband and I have become completely sedentary, we’ve been taking at least two (if not more) four, five, and six mile walks weekly. Where we live in North Central Florida, beautiful hiking trails abound. And then there are our daily (weather-permitting) walks on the walking trails throughout the 2000-acre development where we live. It’s been sublime, without the need to rush back for this social event or that meeting. We’ve grown even closer during these walks, talking intentionally about things we never had the time to delve into.

With the roll out of the vaccines (I got my first one last week, and my husband got his first one today), I see a glimmer of life’s return to normalcy. A big part of me yearns for this. I miss spending time with my friends, hugging my family, enjoying neighborhood get-togethers, being in the same room with my co-workers. But a return to normalcy also means a return to my frenetic Before Times life. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Other than writing, what have your pandemic pastimes been? Did you take up any new (or old) hobbies?

About Rebecca Heflin

I've dreamed of writing romantic fiction since I was fifteen and my older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to me and told me to read it. Now I write women's fiction and contemporary romance under the name Rebecca Heflin. In case you're wondering, Rebecca Heflin is an abbreviated version of my great-great grandmother's name: Sarah Anne Rebecca Heflin Apple Smith. Whew! And you wondered why I shortened it. When not passionately pursuing my dream, I am busy with my day-job at a large state university or running the non-profit cancer organization my husband and I founded. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, Savvy Authors, and Florida Writers Association. My mountain-climbing husband and I live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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10 Responses to Pandemic Pastimes by Rebecca Heflin

  1. Lucky you to have already received a vaccine. I’m still waiting for mine. I’m not old enough according to Ohio to get it early. Life hasn’t changed much for me except I can’t write in large blocks. No books going forward yet. Sigh.

    • I am lucky to have received it. Though I’m under 65, I have a couple of co-morbidities. Working for an enormous academic medical center helps. They are currently vaccinating all eligible patients.

  2. Hi Rebecca, I haven’t added too many new pastimes but have altered/refined several activities. Instead of going out to yoga classes, I follow Kait Larkin’s video on YouTube several times a week. I’m actually doing more yoga now! In the mornings, I spend more time reading my devotional and journaling. In the afternoons, I destress with a crossword puzzle. I’ve also become a webinar junkie. In addition to the webinars offered by WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writers Association) and Sisters in Crime, I also enjoy those dealing with wellness and other self-help issues. So many freebies out there!!

    • Hi Joanne, There are lots of freebies out there! I’ve enjoyed quite a few free Pilates video workouts courtesy of my long-time Pilates instructor. Though I do have to admit video fatigue. I have numerous Zoom meetings throughout the week now, including for work, and for socializing. After that, I’m over it and want to get as far away from the computer screen as possible. ☺

  3. We also have been enjoying our streaming services and finally using the PASSPORT feature of our PBS membership. During this holiday season all three grown kids were home and we watched The Mandelorian together (we are rabid Star Wars fans–and I even have a draft of a novel in the SW Universe). We’ve been doing very much needed decluttering, giving away a lot of things we no longer have use for. I have been able to get a lot of writing and editing done.

    In order to distance myself from the work I need to do during the pandemic, I find taking walks everyday is something I am making myself do for exercise, fresh air and a sense of perspective.

    • My daily walk provides me much-needed stress relief, in addition to exercise. Just being outdoors, breathing fresh air, after being cooped up in my (closed) office all day, really rejuvenates me.

  4. sueberger3 says:

    Woohoo! Puzzles. I love them and I’ve had some great ones to work on. I still have three I haven’t started. I had a few wonderful Disney ones and my last one was historic stamps.
    I am doing lots of re-reading insterspersed with a few new ones. Aslo I do yoga at home and I walk, When I am feeling especially frisky I walk on the beach. I’ve forgiven myself for not doing any new writing, started doin morning pages again and I am still auditioning for shows. I did Mystic Quest in December. Next week I am doing The United States of AL – a new sitcom. I am watching WAY too much news in the past week. I also subscribed to the NY Times and got re-hooked on doing the crossword. Plus my son and his children are here Monday thru Friday 9-7 so his wife can work at home in peace.
    Now Tax time is coming and I have to recertify as a VITA Volunteer. I guess we will be Zooming taxes this year. So I am staying busy. I will you all joy and prosperity and radiant health.

  5. viola62 says:

    During lockdown, my husband and I did spend valuable time together. Now, I’m back to teaching with looming deadlines. We missed our many Louisiana festivals and social activities, but we also enjoyed our solitary time together.

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