Photo Credit: Kristin Brown, Unsplash.com

Written by Minou Hexspoor
June 10, 2020

Quarantine Queen: A Lockdown Voyage

My husband burst out laughing: “I’ve never had lunch at home with you looking like this!” I turned around and looked in the mirror above the dresser behind me. My reflection, Mary Poppins, big hat and bright red lips, smiled back at me.

The past 47 days I’ve sat at the table for lunch at home in the strangest outfits. It all started on March 21, when quarantine and curfew became a reality in Lebanon. It was Mother’s Day that day too–and with somewhat anxious feelings about the planes that stopped flying between me in Lebanon and my son in the Netherlands, I wondered for the hundredth time when I could see my son again. 

Mother’s Day, Minou, what are you going to do? And in that moment, like a welcome distraction from the thoughts that had been on my mind and heart for a few days, I decided to take a picture of myself: Mother’s Day in Quarantine, flamboyant and artsy.

I figured I would pick out an outfit first and eventually chose a dress I wore a few years ago to dinner with the President of Indonesia and his government. My husband, who was then a minister, attended an international conference in Jakarta and that’s how I ended up with that dress. 

Dress: check. Makeup: check. My husband curiously peeked around the corner of the living room: “What are you doing in that dress?!”, he asked in surprise.

“Please come! Can you help me for a second? I want you to take a picture of me!”, I exclaimed in his direction while emptying out a drawer of vintage teacups and plates.

The result was great, even if I do say so myself, and my social media agreed. The next day, inspired by the nice reactions and the unexpected creativity that arose in me, I decided to take another photo, a real safari trip on my balcony. Before I knew it, I was on the beach that same week, traveling to London and spending a day in the snow, all in my own house, with my wonderful husband as a personal photographer to capture it all.

Now, 47 days later, we look back on a journey of Applied Practical Imagination that unexpectedly began at the beginning of this quarantine. A journey that continues to bring us a lot of joy every day and opens up a world in which we can consciously create feelings and experiences and that set the tone for the rest of the day.

But that doesn’t only apply to us: the responses and the number of people who are now waiting for our daily creation grew every day and brought those same feelings to people all over the world. Teachers in Japan and Australia used the photos to inspire their students to create special moments in this strange new world at home. A manager in Finland brought joy to her employees every day during their online meeting, and a family in Texas created their own beach day in the backyard with beer crate, inflatable boat, and all.

How special! So many great reactions, but also new ideas and special conversations.

As the days went by, I also started to think a little more deeply about my own relationship with this unexpected project, and I agreed a few things with myself:

Time: I will continue as long as I feel inspired–it will not become a ‘must.’

We each have our own relationship with time, and so do I. The photo takes about an hour and a half to three hours every day, depending on the scene we set up. As I run my own company in professional coaching, I adjusted my working hours to accommodate creating and taking the photo (if possible, before lunch). Although I’ve been very talented for years to do everything that I thought I had to do, I happily left that time behind (exceptions aside). Inspiration, conscious choice, and ‘being in the mood,’ that’s what I go by.

Being myself: I make pictures that are somehow an expression of myself, whatever expectations arise.

The daily photos turned out to be a fantastic way to express myself. I know at this point in my life, that there are more than a thousand women (and maybe men or unspecified creatures?!) living in me and they all feel the need to be expressed in their own way. The diva, the lazy one, the knight, the business woman, the bon vivant, and the little girl in me. That occasionally leads to hilarious conversations with myself, but so far we all get our fill, so we’ll keep it that way! (We could use a little democracy here in Lebanon).

Being in the moment: I enjoy the process of taking the picture.

(Though that sometimes is a challenge!) When I’m sweating, covered in three layers of clothes, plowing through the living room, moving furniture at 77 degrees (25 Celsius), the occasional cuss spills over my lips, or some unjustified grumbling goes toward the direction of my husband. But when I sing a “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” or shout an “off with their heads!” through the house, the atmosphere restores itself quickly.

Reminder to Self: Mindset is a choice.

And not unimportant: tidying everything up again and arranging my make-up and hair, because that dress up is nice during lunch with my husband, but less practical when I enter a video call with a client who bursts out laughing because I forgot I look like I walked straight out of a Venetian masked ball.

So, if you unexpectedly walk in here at noon, you probably wouldn’t know what to do with what you find going on around here, and might think “Madhouse!” But if you know why it all started, the world outside seems perhaps much crazier right now than the power of Practical Imagination that influences everyday reality within these four walls and many others.

Photo Credit: Kristin Brown, Unsplash.com