It was an unsettling year. I moved twice within 8 months, down sizing a lot more than I imagined I ever would, disposing of so much I didn’t need. The joy of a pending birth, the loss of that beloved grandchild to heaven, and the sweet expectation of a rainbow baby to follow. So many more things than I want to go into. While I did get the joy of living with my daughter and her family, there were many things less than thrilling about 2019. Recently my baby girl mentioned how she and her best friend sat on the couch one night near the end of the year, sipping wine, and talking about how 2020 was going to be THE year, all the negative and bad behind them.
Little did anyone know 2020 was nearby, handing off its beer, removing its shirt, cracking the knuckles, flexing, laughing and saying “watch this”.
Roll in 2020 and all looked promising. My daughter in a new house with her family, me moved in with my sister and despite some apprehension it was working out very well. Yep, this was going to be a great year. We had gotten all of the final ‘firsts’ out of the way without mom, new holiday memories created and things looked so full of potential.
*sinister sounding music begins to play*
Covid-19 suddenly showed up in the news and by mid March we were all on home lock down, aside from necessary trips to the store or if you were an essential worker. “15 days in order to flatten the curve”. The thought/reason behind this was to avoid hospitals being overrun like we were seeing in other countries. I think at first, despite the impact on business and paychecks, most folks were all over doing what we could. Scary predictions came from our governor and Dr. Acton (then director of the Ohio Dept of Health) of 10,000 positive cases a day happening before summer. Masks became a fashion item. Hand washing became a thing (which it should have for all the non-healthcare workers already), and we learned to social distance. 8 months later we are still staying 6ft apart, still wearing masks (by mandates now), and we are up from a few hundred to multiple thousand positive cases a day in Ohio (8000+). Deaths seem to have declined while the numbers of positive cases climbs which is a good thing.
But instead of viewing this all through gloom and doom, I knew there were some positive things in my life as a result of all the plague insanity. So, here are 10 things that I’ve learned, learned to appreciate, or gained as a result of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.
- My job. I completely appreciate working in healthcare. When the rest of the country was sitting home trying to apply for unemployment, I got to keep going to work. No day 3 bed head and pajamas without a shower for this girl, it was up and go. My paychecks kept coming and I kept doing what I do best, caring for people. Being essential was a good thing.
- Traffic. While that might seem odd, I really do have a new appreciation for other cars on the road. I likely pass or share the road with 200+ cars at 6:30am going to work on regular streets (no highway for this kid) in my 10 minute drive to work. But during that lockdown in March/April, I might have passed 8-10 on a weekday morning. If I saw 3 on a weekend it was a lot. I found it very disturbing and creepy. It was like being in an episode of The Walking Dead, traveling alone, waiting for a zombie to jump out. Only the zombies were driving other vehicles. Seems some folks thought that the lack of other cars meant no need to obey traffic lights, stop signs, etc. I had to be sure others were going to see and stop before venturing forward on a green light. Traffic returning to the roads meant some form of normalcy.
- Toilet Paper. I have yet to understand the reason people hoarded it, but I really was thankful for the plentiful supply we had on hand due to failure to actually check before making a grocery list. We never needed it.
- Naps. I have not been one to purposefully take naps but due to the down time at home, well I’ve come to appreciate them. Sometimes just a power nap for 20 minutes or a longer one of 2-3 hours. Naps make me a better person and I doubt I will give them up once we have normal back again.
- Social Media Disconnect. While it has been a good thing at times, I’ve changed my habits a great deal during this time off distancing. At first I was endlessly scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. But as the riots occurred and the election neared I started seeing some really ugly things. Sides of people emerged that upset me and stressed me out. First my screen time increased, a LOT. Then I started to mentally pull back and before long found myself on there less and less. Since leaving Facebook and moving to MeWe I find that my screen time is down, and the engaging is much more mellow and relaxing. Folks are more real and less concerned with being nasty.
- Technology. While not a fan of face time and Zoom calls/meetings, they became how so many of us stayed in touch. Church services streamed, small groups meeting on Zoom, even visits with dad and other family members made possible by tech savy folks all over making it happen. I loved it! I still do. Oh and the smiles of joy on my residents faces when they are handed an iPad and there is a beloved family member live, on the screen! Nothing replaces in person visits and hugs, but at least they are able to see folks they are talking too.
- Coffee. I have come to really appreciate slowly sipping a hot cup of my favorite beverage. Inhaling the amazing aroma of a fresh brewed pot of liquid energy. I look forward to time to just sit, watch out of the window, read, or crochet while indulging in a very low calorie treat. In the past it was just a necessary habit that kept me going, now it is a warm, hug in a mug.
- Time with family. So often we take those visits for granted because there was nothing stopping us from the ‘routine’ of being together. But now, with social distancing, positive covid tests, super spreader events, those visits are much more important. Getting a negative test result each week at work means being able to go visit my grandkids or have them stop over. Visits with my dad weren’t as frequent as they should have been, so now when we can get on the schedule, getting to visit in person even with plexiglass between us is special. He isn’t a big fan of Zoom, but we all enjoy the visual aspect of these calls.
- My sobriety. Of all the years to quit drinking, I picked the one filled with pandemic insanity and pressures. As of this writing I have been 308 days without a drop of alcohol. January 21st I decided I had to stop. My drinking didn’t get in the way of work, but it did make me a ugly person to be around at times. I was hiding how much I was drinking. In the past I usually kept it reasonably under control though there are some horrible memories for others of when I did not keep it in check and lost all self control. Those times are thankfully under a dozen, but those who experienced them with me (I have no recollection overall) will likely never forget. Mom dying was kind of a final push for me. I spent money I did not really have to buy wine, and consumed entirely too much. Living alone meant no one knew the extent of my drinking. I hid the wine while living with others, only drinking what they knew existed in front of them, but keeping some hidden and consuming it when no one was aware after work. It was how I was coping with life and it was not a good thing. This year has been a real test of my ability to stay away from it and I’m proud of myself for maintaining when what I often wanted to do was stop for a bottle on the way home from work. I have enjoyed several non-alcohol beers, and maybe will find an alcohol free wine some day that I can sip. When I reach the one year mark a tattoo will be designed to celebrate and remind me daily to stay sober.
- Self Reflection/Improvement. With the extra pressures, stress, days that are so much more mentally, physically and emotionally draining at work, and so much more down time at home, I have found myself doing a lot of inward examination. So much of who I thought I was is disappearing, I’m growing and changing in all the right ways. A lot of forgiveness has happened of others, and negative thoughts replaced by positive ones towards those individuals. I find myself more concerned about others and less concerned about myself, but also making sure there is plenty of self care going on as well. (Us enneagram type 2’s tend to forget to take care of ourselves) My faith has also started growing, I’m working on daily prayer and devotions again. I joined the church pray team (oh I LOVE the technology in the church app). I’m trying to be a positive light at work with my coworkers, some carrying so much weight in their personal lives right now. I’m 2-ing from the heart and not for acceptance or love in return. It is all making me a better person.
If we take the time, there is so much to be thankful for in this crazy year.
So stop. Breathe. Count your blessings. Reasons to be grateful are right there, all around you.