Being quarantined for three months has brought its benefits and its challenges. There are many lessons I have learned during this pandemic and from being quarantined. Lessons about others, but more importantly, about myself. I have learned what is truly important in my life - my faith, my family, and my friends. I need people in my life, and I need human physical contact. A smile, nod, or gesture just isn’t enough to fulfill my need to embrace and to interact with others. It is relationships, not “stuff” that is truly important. I MISS MY PEOPLE! A friendly smile and hello from my teammates and others in the office, singing with my church family, seeing my family and my friends. Also, KINDNESS MATTERS! Kindness to others and to myself.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I enjoyed seeing the creativity being displayed by families that were spending more time together. Families had newly found time to recreate parodies of songs and to sing beautifully together. I enjoyed seeing and participating in socially distanced happy birthday parades, participating in Zoom family gatherings/bingo games, and handmaking cards that were sent to nursing homes. I actually had time to handwrite letters to folks that I hadn’t been in contact with recently.
I have worked from home all but two days since March 12. The transition for me was less stressful, as I have worked from home a few days a week on a normal basis since November, 2018. My home office has everything my work office had, except the people. I have loved being in the comfort of my own home. I have loved the gas money I have saved by not travelling 60 miles one way to the office several days a week. I have loved gaining the extra 2.5 hours a day by skipping the commute to and from the office. I have loved having my cat be my work companion. I dress in “business casual” every day to ensure I’m in the work frame of mind. (I will admit that my “business casual” resembles more “casual” than “business” now that the summertime has hit!) I have had to be vigilant in ensuring I am not distracted by the home tasks that call my name. I have had to be vigilant in ensuring I get up from my home office desk and laptop throughout the day and that I am mindful of the time so that I don’t end up working all night long. It is so easy to lose track of time!
There have been many external distractions at my house while I have been in quarantine. I have a major construction project going on at my house, and there are many voices and many noises (some that are downright scary!). My job involves a lot of phone calls to clients and carriers; trying to dodge the noises to have a meaningful conversation has been a challenge indeed!
Prior to New York opening up, I severely limited my contact with others. I went to the grocery store once every 10 days or so, and I tried to be as efficient as possible and spend as little time in the store in the public as possible. I tried to get as many items as I could at one store, rather than making my usual multiple stops. Because I live 25 miles from many stores, if I did need something in another store, I tried to make all my stops in one trip to the city. I also have been quite selective in what I deemed as an “essential” item. I have learned to discern true need vs. want. It has been a lesson in humility.
I watched church services online every week. I am grateful that I had a way to keep my connection to my church. I had the opportunity to listen to a former priest’s homilies online, and his voice and his style truly gave me comfort. While I enjoyed the opportunity to hear other priests’ sermons and their points of view, and I am grateful that I had some way to still have a church connection, these alternatives just couldn’t satisfy my need for the human connection. As a music minister at my own church, I severely missed singing and playing my guitar with my fellow music ministers. I missed my church family. We have now begun outdoor services, weather permitting, and very socially distanced inside services when necessary. It is certainly different, and I am grateful to at least be able to see some of my church family again.
My human contact was limited – even family members who live in the same town were off limits. I need people in my life, and I need human physical contact. A smile, nod, or gesture just isn’t enough to fulfill my need to embrace others and have in-person conversations. I MISS MY PEOPLE!
In the midst of the pandemic, our country also has seen its share of changes. Some spurred by the pandemic, some separate from the pandemic. The most important lesson I’ve learned is KINDNESS MATTERS! Kindness to others and to yourself. There are differences of opinion on all sorts of topics, and different levels of compliance to recommendations. All people are entitled to their opinion, but they are not entitled to berate or belittle those who do not share their opinion. We can agree to disagree. Let me say it again, a little louder this time – KINDNESS MATTERS!
Our new normal will never again look like our former normal. We must conform to our new normal, even if it’s not how we imagined our lives would be. We must embrace the positive aspects of our new normal. We must understand it is our time to slow down, to stop overcommitting ourselves, to assess what is truly important to us and to make the time to enjoy those things. KINDESS MATTERS!
Provided by Anita Urda