Quarantine thoughts, and a new chapter

This is a wild time to be alive, isn’t it? If you’d asked me six months ago, even two months ago, if I could imagine being on day 48 of quarantine, I wouldn’t have been able to fathom it. But here we are. I’ve been thinking a lot about how adaptable the human brain is – isn’t it amazing? The first weeks I felt like I was going crazy — cabin fever, desperately wanting to be alone in a public place (my favorite activity), incredibly stressed about what might happen, missing the freedom to do (mostly) whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. And now, I feel mostly content with my solitary days. I love spending more time with my dogs, not sitting in traffic, having more time to do the creative things I’ve always wanted to do, eating nourishing meals at home, the routine that we’ve developed. It reminds me that at our core, we humans are simple beings, and thrive with space and time. It’s amazing what happens when we stop and just be.

What do I miss? I miss feeling safe in public. Being alone in public. Eating out at a restaurant. But what I really miss is being amongst other people, the feeling of conviviality, the experience. The same with coffee shops. I’ve realized what I love most is that feeling of conviviality, and the spirit that we’re all in this together. I don’t miss the overstimulation, the exhaustion of always doing (without the being), and the traffic. Austin traffic, woof.

I realized early on in quarantine that though I was struggling, I would look back on this time with deep gratitude and nostalgia. I know that saying that comes with a lot of privilege – that I can work from home, that my foundational needs are met, etc. I don’t take that lightly. I will always be so grateful to have had this time with my aging dogs, with my husband as he transitions out of an incredibly demanding job that our lives revolved around for years, and myself. To get back to what I know about myself and how I truly love to spend time. I knew this because I’ve lived through a quarantine before, when I had cancer/chemotherapy and my life stopped for nine months. I look back on that time fondly. Yes, I was sick and it felt like I was being poisoned half the time. But I also had time with myself for the first time in my life. I had space to explore. I heard what I wanted deep down. And I followed those hints as soon as I could.

This past weekend, Matt and I moved my studio out of The Commune. I packed everything up and the move was so smooth (a first for me – it is possible to change what feel like impossible patterns). It was an unexpected move for me and I want to tell you a bit about it.

I chose to start quarantining early to protect my health – I’ve had asthma since I was two and had cancer/chemotherapy nine years ago – and I was and am deeply concerned about the toll the virus would take on my body. This choice required me to figure out how I could work from home.

I’ve had a studio outside my house for the past five and a half years and have always worked to find a balance in my introverted, work from home time (which quells my deep yearning for solitude to think and be and write) and working in an external space to do the labor part of jewelry. It was incredibly stressful trying to figure out how to be able to do the jewelry labor at home, where and how, with my husband also working from home and on calls/zoom’s most of the day. I spent days trying to problem solve. I was also looking at an undetermined length of quarantine (still am) and how to sell a luxury item like jewelry when everything felt (still feels) so uncertain.

Couple this with how I’ve been feeling internally – I’ve been feeling quiet tugs for more space and time. For more ease. For more of that solitary time to think/be/write. To share those ponderings with others in case they are of service. For space in my schedule for I don’t know what. Probably for something that is part of my journey but I am missing because I don’t have the space/energy/time for it, or to even figure it out.

I had planned to take a few weeks off earlier this year, in January. I was feeling burned out and knew my body needed rest and restoration and January is a slow month. I made the decision in November and worked my buns off through the holiday season, looking forward to enjoying the holidays and then my break. And then I came down with a bad virus the day after I finished the holiday season, and remained sick until the middle of January. I was sick all through the holidays and through the time I’d planned to take off (almost a month). At that point I felt like I couldn’t take more time away and so I pushed through. I didn’t honor my commitment to myself, instead I pressured myself to do what I thought I should do, which was keep going.

When the coronavirus and quarantine came up, a loud voice in my gut said that this was my chance to take that time. Here was a socially sanctioned time for me, and everyone, to step back. To rest, to reevaluate, to drop back from the pressures of daily life out in the world and listen in again. It was an almost easy decision because I didn’t have much of a choice – I couldn’t bring my studio production home. My house isn’t set up for it. My suppliers had to shut down production and shipping because of stay-at-home mandates. I couldn’t make new product, even if I wanted to. I decided to sell what I had and continue to work and support my customers, but at a gentler pace.

After a couple weeks of being home and working from home, I realized how much I was starting to love being home. Even loving working from home. The reprieve from always being out, the overstimulation, the busyness. I started to wonder about it. And as I was thinking and pondering, I very clearly heard that what I really want is location independence. To be able to work from anywhere. To not be tied to one location. To feel more freedom and ease. To live more simply.

And then it clicked. I could achieve those feelings if I no longer kept an external workspace. Is that what I wanted though? I’ve worked hard to keep my world life separate from my home life – I thrive when maintaining boundaries around personal and work time. I’ve kept a studio for five and a half years. Wouldn’t that be going backwards? What would I be loosing?

I spent a long time thinking about this option, questioning it. But once I’d thought it, my mind was made up. I never wavered or doubted my decision. I feel some sadness – it feels like closing a chapter. But I know I can’t hold onto the past and the future at the same time. I need to do this to make space for whatever is the next step on my journey.

What does this mean for Moulton? Well, I know and I don’t know. I know that I will continue to make jewelry. I also know that I will have certain constraints with working from home, and what I’ll be able to produce at home safely. I think and hope that this change will offer a lot more energy for creative designs, for new bodies of work. It feels a bit like growing up. The past nine years have been Moulton v.1 and the coming months will reveal what Moulton v.2 looks like. Jewelry has a piece of my heart. I’m more excited than ever to see what the future holds.


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