Artist Jen Rondinone, of Rutland, reflects on self-isolation and how the pandemic has affected her and her family.

How are you handling self-isolation?I’m an artist who works from home, so the staying at home wasn’t a huge change for me, and with my three younger children still at home, I’m not alone! My two school-age children have adapted well. Their teachers are amazing. I’m so impressed the way the educators and administration transformed the system so quickly and have done so much to maintain the curriculum.

The kids communicate with friends through text and video. It’s been hard for them. I can see it. They miss their friends and usual life. We’ve all bonded more because of this.

As for myself, I try to connect with friends and other adults as much as I can. This includes video calls, phone calls, socially distanced Zumba.

We’ve also been getting outdoors as much as possible: Hiking, planting a garden, or just playing over at Pine Hill park.

What has been the biggest challenge for you?My biggest challenge is I’m a single parent. Being isolated and with everything shut down, I don’t have access to the emotional and physical outlets I did. It can also be overwhelming because I don’t get the time alone I used to when the kids were schooling outside the home. I have to work to find ways to recharge and sneak in a little time for myself.

What has been the most pleasant surprise?Being forced to slow down. And because so many of the things I did pre-lockdown were no longer available, I have been able to re-evaluate and reprioritize my goals and activities.

How much of what you’re doing do you think will you carry forward after the pandemic?Although I can now successfully bake a loaf of sandwich bread, I don’t see myself doing that very much in the future. (At least I hope not!) As for the reconfigured priorities, I hope and will try to maintain that until my goals are achieved.

And what do you feel the lessons will be that come out of all of this?I’m hopeful we will all come out of this with a little more compassion. I feel grateful to be in Vermont enduring this. I’ve listened to others’ whose situation differs so much from mine and understood their pain. I’ve learned there’s more grey than maybe I saw before and can only hope others do, too. We all need each other. We all need to work together. I hope we’ve all truly learned that.

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