I asked someone the other day if he was looking forward to our area “opening up” during Phase One, and if he’d considered what it may mean for him on a personal level. “Well, nothing is happening now,” he responded, “might as well see some life and go down to the Quarter. But I’m kind of really afraid, so I’m not sure.”
I think many people feel similarly. They’re ready to be out of quarantine, but not exactly certain how to negotiate being safe, having fun again, and seeing friends & family that have been missed.
Some things many will NOT miss include being stuck at home too much; feeling uncomfortable going into a grocery or pharmacy where there’s little social distancing; restricting exercise to home-based, outdoors, and often alone; and working from home, especially if it was a new experience.
The negativity of the daily reports about how many people tested positive for COVID-19, and how many deaths were reported has also been a heavy burden. I think it’s time to lift that burden, that sadness, and move on into “Phase One Louisiana”, because we are smack in it. And it’s much better than it was a month ago!
Some positive things have come from the time at home for many. Take the Zoom Boom, as I call it. We’ve known about platforms like Zoom for a long time, perhaps used it for work things, and now — voila — we use it to connect in important ways with friends and family. Graduation Zoom ceremonies, Zoom dance parties, Zoom cocktail hours and Zoom reunions have given us the ability to stay in touch and keep up with those close to us. There’ve even been Zoom weddings!
Something else that might have been a positive would be learning how to ‘be alone’ with yourself. There’s an expression, “keep your own counsel” which to me means that I should, if I can, use my own wits and experience to help make important decisions. It can also mean having the ability to be alone for long periods of time, and still find meaning in your life.
So often we learn at a young age to value time spent with others, and not time spent alone. Think about it, time with others we say is “quality time” and time by ourselves we say is “alone time”. But isn’t it also quality time? I do think there has been some greater acceptance of living alone, of doing for yourself, and of taking time to be “BE.”
We learn fairly young that depending on others is either a good idea if it’s reciprocated, or could be looked at as needy and codependent. That teaches us not to trust others, not to listen to more experienced people, and to break traditions just to do it sometimes, even if the end result is not the aim.
The aim is to mix things up, often to see what others say about it, or to try to derail a specific tradition. As adults, we can reframe the way in which we look at something. We have the capacity to reconsider a belief, or a level of trust, and see how it plays out. And that ability can allow us to reframe, then reshape our daily interactions with people in general, dear friends, and the loves of our lives as we go forward.
In a way, it’s all about timing. That confluence of feelings, including relief, confusion, fear and excitement can cause some anxiety and, possibly, depression. Anxiety kind of rolls right along, ebbing and flowing each day, sometimes per hour.
It’s difficult for many to know what is the right or best way to re-enter our world. Here are some suggestions on how that can be handled in a healthy way, under our current circumstances.
–Use the alone time that will still be built into Phase One Louisiana. Whatever projects, creative endeavors, or daily exercises you might have participated in over the last two and a half months, continue them. In fact, you might want to keep a record of what you’ve spent some time on, just so you can congratulate yourself later. I have a friend who hadn’t put a puzzle together in years. He sent me a photo of the huge puzzle he put together. He is so very proud of it, I think, because it was completed alone, he was dedicated, and it looks wonderful. Another learned to cook Spanish cuisine; took two on-line classes, hasn’t actually cooked anything yet, but I’m hopeful.
–Some people I know pretty much would say “I did nothing” but they’d not be considering that they had learned a few things: how to survive by eating at home each night (maybe even cooking); how effective it might be to give cognitive as well as emotional time & effort to hopes and dreams. Perfected also was the time they spent on other things, sometimes mundane but always necessary, and the wise ability to decline an offer, to say “No” once in a while.
–We’ve also learned to open up our minds and hearts to others, in different ways than before. I think we have been brave, patient, and logical for the most part during this pandemic, and we should all be proud of ourselves. We’re all working our way through this maze of searching for our new normal.
Some lessons I’ve learned include a mask is my friend, but that since no one can see me smile with a mask on, to remember to tell people when I was smiling. Another is that ‘alone’ doesn’t have to mean lonely. And lastly, we are likely much stronger than we know, have better creative ideas when we are quiet for a while, and that we are much more engaging when we open ourselves to life and the universe.
Stay Safe, and Stay Home when you want to!