A new challenge we face during COVID-19 is how to create togetherness at a time when we are not supposed to be together. It is refreshing to see how innovative and playful so many people are! Each day is filled with interesting surprises!
At first when this virus hit our shores it seemed that most of us, me included, simply felt numb. The first thing that eventually came to mind was to figure out what our household might need for a few weeks and secure those items. It never crossed my mind that I couldn’t easily go back to a store or order online additional items we might run out of. Fast forward about six weeks and we all worry about not finding any toilet paper or cleaning supplies. Never mind the eggs and milk… I certainly only prepared for the short-term. But I have had some pretty funny conversations with my adult daughters about food ordering, from carry-out fiascos to store pick-up services, online delivery options, and meal delivery companies. Just got a call from one daughter who received an Amazon Fresh order and was excited and pleased. She hopes I will check to see if that is an option in my community. I also have the good fortune to have another daughter who is a nutritionist. Can always count on her to tell me what might substitute for a food item I do not have on hand. We are becoming more resourceful as a society. And I think we are also growing more appreciative of the skills and insights that others can offer.
As the days turned to weeks, with much grumbling and complaining and phone check-ins with friends and family, something seemed to sink in. Each of us began to process the glaring fact that one of our greatest losses in all this was the human and social connection that defines our existence. I could no longer safely jump in my car and go visit my daughters and their families. I had to discontinue my many dance lessons and social dances, plus skip the occasional massage and regular Pilates training sessions. My colleagues and I decided we could no longer meet safely with clients in the office, shifting to phone or video sessions. Suddenly I felt the pain deeply. Yes, I was working to keep myself and so many that I care about safe and well with social distancing, but gosh, this was certainly beginning to take an emotional toll on my psyche. No doubt everyone feels the same way.
My first push was to focus on spring cleaning the house, which was long overdue, and that project tied nicely into my earlier New Years’ resolution which was to declutter and minimize stuff in said house. Several weeks of that and I felt industrious and productive, proud of my accomplishments. Things were getting done. I began to intersperse more spring walks in-between home chores. My Pilates trainer and the center where she works started offering online classes and training sessions. I learned how to access those and find them invaluable. Now I look forward to that new sort of social interaction plus the structured exercise. While spring cleaning I rearranged the living room and made it into a modified dance space/Pilates room. The space is seldom used, but now I am finding it to be a really happy place to do much of what I love! Can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago…
Several of my dance instructors have started putting classes and practice tips online for their students. Some are just creatively giving their time and talents simply because they have a deep need to just give the best of what they know to all who may benefit. Another friend is doing an online yoga class for her students. An upholstery company is furiously making face masks for the local hospital. A local seamstress is making face masks for clients for a nominal fee. I personally think this is a season in which we must all just do what we can do simply because we care for others. The goal being to help each other through this tough time. In that, we strengthen existing relationships and build new ones.
There has been more time to e-mail my young granddaughters. I search for craft and activity ideas to pass along to them. They are home from school, and our new focus is working as a team to come up with fun topics and projects to explore. Sometimes they e-mail me back. Sometimes we FaceTime. Those contacts in the past used to be fairly silly. Now they have become more focused and deliberate in terms of learning something new or talking about something meaningful. I love to hear updates about the family garden that they are tending. We exchange pictures of how the plants are growing! We have a bet going on who will have the most tomatoes this season!
I have even learned how to use Zoom with a group of my husband’s cousins and a dance instructor!
Each day we are discovering new and creative ways of staying connected. I miss the way things used to be, however, there have been some pretty amazing social improvements with our “new normal.” Over these past six weeks I have had some of the most meaningful conversations. Conversations that would probably never have happened in quite the same ways pre-COVID-19.
One trick I have used to help myself on those days when I feel sad or discouraged is to sit and make a list of the positive changes in how we now connect with others. Often just making that list as it applies to my own life, and reviewing it, simply makes me smile and grateful for what is good. Do keep reaching out to others and remain open to new and meaningful ways to stay connected.