Four ways to escape when you can't leave

Beth Henary Watson

MINERAL WELLS — While here in Texas we aren’t technically locked in our homes, it’s a greater challenge to venture out right now. Many aren’t inclined to leave the house for anything other than absolute necessities, and the rest of us at least pause when considering an outing.

So do you have cabin fever or what? COVID-19 continues to challenge how we go about our days — whether that’s schooling our kids, working from home, or canceling our summer vacations.

We’re a creative species that yearns for adventure, though. Many of us grew up in an infinite-possibilities world: You could get there as long as you could afford the gas or the plane ticket.

To keep life interesting, I’ve been trying new things during this time, all without going very far from home. I call these “Four ways to escape when you can’t go anywhere.”

Changing media consumption

I read a lot, and I’ve noticed a change in my reading during the coronavirus slowdown. Normally a literature reader, right now I’m eager for far-flung adventure. Real adventure, and lots of it.

My Kindle holds quite a bit of excitement. Over the Edge of the World took me with Ferdinand Magellan and his crew on their 1519-1522 voyage around the world. I also read 3mph: The Adventures of One Woman’s Walk Around the World, Polly Letofsky’s memoir of the five years she spent putting one foot in front of the other to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. Even Cormac McCarthy’s The Road happens in a post-apocalyptic setting, where food is hard to come by and everyone’s suspect.

But reading is just one way to escape the drama and uncertainty surrounding us. I don’t watch much TV, but what little I do has taken a lighthearted turn. That would be three seasons of Cheers and the first-ever Will Ferrell movie I saw voluntarily.

Have your reading and television preferences changed this year?

 Getting our restaurant fix

Boy, does dining out look different right now. In my family’s case, it’s exclusively pick-up orders. A dear friend of ours owns a restaurant where we traditionally eat once a week, so we’ve been carrying out our usual about that often.

With summer setting in, though, we’ve challenged ourselves to lighten things up. We all need a break from the cooking.

A couple of Mineral Wells restaurants serve nice charcuterie boards. We enjoy these and they are a kid favorite, but it’s not realistic to order them every day. So we’re creating our own, and the whole family gets input on the next tray.

Meat platters with fruits and cheese may not satisfy everyone at your house, but for us the bright colors and variety help even the grownups feel better about our 8,000th meal at home this month. Bonus feel-good alert: very little prep and cleanup, and no hot pans, oven, or grill!

Have you tried re-creating a restaurant favorite at home?

 Trying something new

Being out of our normal entertainment routines tests our creativity, to put it mildly. Our patience, to put it bluntly. It can be very hard to entertain kids--and even some adults! — without overusing screens.

My kids have spent several days a week with their grandparents, so that’s a novelty — something (mostly) fun for everyone. On the home front, we’ve invested in more art supplies, superhero outfits, and water toys. I’m not a crafter or an entertainer, so I pick activities that may have to be adult supervised, but not adult led. The acrylic handprints will fade from the sidewalk at some point.

For work, I’ve gotten more comfortable in front of a video camera, and in my downtime, I’ve added plant ID to my regular walks. The iNaturalist app helps me identify plants I’ve seen in Soldier Spring Park and the magical Our Lady of Lourdes prayer garden in Mineral Wells. Even once we return to our normal rhythm, I’ll maintain my newfound interest in knowing what flora I pass.

 Planning your next actual getaway

Last but not least, one way I recommend you “escape” when you can’t go anywhere is to plan your next big adventure. And when I say big, make it big, not just, “I hope I make it back to Dallas one day!”

COVID has caused me to reflect on my own priorities, which do include seeing the world. Many people want to travel more than they actually do. Resolve to no longer be one of those people.

When I say plan, I mean make it real. If you have time to read the news daily, you have time to plan to get away from it! Study where you’d like to go and how you’ll get there. Pacific Northwest or Southeast Asia? Plane, automobile, or bicycle?

Importantly, calculate how much it will cost and establish a savings schedule to get there. For $278 a month you can take a $5,000 trip in 18 months.

As difficult as this year has been for most of us, we can choose to adapt. Though we may feel our ambitions have been temporarily masked, we can summon our creative wills to keep our spirits aloft and free — to escape even if it’s only in a small way.

Beth Henary Watson is a Certified Financial Planner with Corner Post Financial Planning in Mineral Wells.

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