More Than Surviving the Social Separation During This Next Wave of COVID19
I am really missing my community connections. At the same time, I’m not the kind of person who attends many large events. I seldom go to malls, concerts, or sporting events. What I miss is choosing what I want to do and when. The gravity of this pandemic requires everyone to participate and protect one another. Intellectually, I know this. But emotionally, I am growing weary. My daily routines are less interesting. I’m practicing what I preach as a therapist and nurse, so why am I feeling down? Why am I feeling under? More importantly, how do we thrive during this next phase of COVID19? I’ve been surviving, but I want to move past surviving and actually thrive during this next wave of potential COVID losses and lockdowns.
The song by the Rolling Stones, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” rings in my ear. The phrase in the song I will focus on now is, “but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
What do I need? What’s missing? I have loving friends and family. I have a great job. My home is my sanctuary. Still, this virus I refer to as Slender Man (a fictional, supernatural scary dude) is unnerving me.
My friend, June Marie, and I talked on the phone the other day, and I asked her about her experience with the continued COVID lockdown. She said her biggest struggle is loneliness. June Marie said she has a great life and home but needs to get out of her house. She’s not an avid outdoor enthusiast like many of her ski town friends. At the same time, she loves walking in her neighborhood, volunteering, meeting friends for lunch, and perusing the local stores’ sales rack. June Marie states, “I enjoy sharing a meal with a few friends and found the summer outdoor dining worked well for us. With outdoor dining not an option during the winter, she laments, ” I am worried I won’t have many options for leaving my house this winter.”
June Marie kindly agreed to put her thoughts into words and talk about how she will thrive during this next social isolation phase. Here’s what June Marie has to say:
What does one do with this?
It is a strange time. Historically unprecedented. Isolation from others. The world turned upside down. News that keeps getting bleaker and bleaker. This is the challenge of our lifetimes. Keep in mind: other generations have had their challenges. Please think of the WWII generation. Their lives were turned upside down in a way we can’t even imagine.
The good news is that there’s a promising vaccine on the horizon. Soak that in. Isn’t that wonderful? Until general distribution, however, we will have to make the best of things.
My go-to when times get tough is finding the blessings in what currently feels disorienting and a hardship. I get creative. The arts are my refuge. I love music, painting, and reading fiction. I garden, knit, and laugh a lot. I sing and play the piano. And, I hope to inspire you to turn your concerns and negative energy into innovation and adaptation.
I live in Park City, Utah. It’s uniquely equipped to afford us many opportunities for innovation and adapting to change. The four seasons in this arid mountain community teach us adaptation. We learn to dress, play, and plan for extreme weather changes. Mother Nature is an excellent teacher. Many live in this ski town because they love being active in the outdoors. What a perfect time to engage in the nature surrounding us, gulping in the fresh air, seeing others doing the same around us. For many here, this is the easy part. I live in a town of high functioning and high performing people.
But what of the missing social contact? It is difficult for extroverts and those who don’t engage in an outdoor activity as readily. What can we do?
Again, think of what many of us are getting, rather than missing. Time. Time to think. Time to call old friends or family. Time to write letters that we would never have written in other circumstances. Perhaps time to keep a journal and write about the historical events happening to you.
I have a friend whose mother in lockdown in another state. It is heartbreaking. But she has adapted. With the help of “Alexa,” they are connected every day. She reads books to her that they can discuss, plays piano for her, sings to her. Not perfect, but creative.
And what about social contact? Again, we here in Park City should be uniquely equipped to approach this, as we are a world-class dining hub. We want to support our restaurants, and curbside dining is great. But many of us miss the social part of the dining and don’t feel comfortable with inside dining.
Think about it: we can use the outdoors because we know how to dress for the cold as skiers, hikers, and snowshoers. Why can’t we continue outdoor dining? We are “ski tough.” Restaurants have heaters. We can continue our social distancing as good citizens and still enjoy ourselves with food, each other AND support our world-class restaurants.
A friend and I tried this the other evening. It was cold, but we asked to be seated outdoors. We had layers, she had a blanket, and the waiter put on heaters for us. We were the only ones outside dining, but we had a lovely and relatively risk-free time.
Park City and its residents could set an innovative example this winter for the rest of the country and the world. Let’s take outdoor socializing to a new, creative level!
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” - Alfred Wainwright.