It has been a long time since my last post. I have been doing a lot of writing but not for my blog. I am working on my memoir, which is about how alcohol and depression have affected my life, as well as being a survivor of a spousal suicide. I have been writing a lot of poetry as well.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lives of everyone on this planet. There is no one who has not been affected in some way. Regardless of your opinion about this situation we now find ourselves in, we are all feeling its affects.
Being a very positive person, I have not had a problem finding many things to be grateful for during the past six months. I do believe that things happen for a reason. For me, the biggest message I received from this unfathomable situation, is that I needed to slow down and figure out what things in my life are most important to me. I needed time to do this and I certainly have the time now.
I have always been a very social being. I love being around people, in small or large groups, dining out or cooking for them, going for lunches, wine tastings, concerts or just visiting. I was so used to doing these things, every week, for many years, that when we were forced into the self-isolation of Covid-19, I thought I would be very unhappy. This turned out to be totally untrue.
I also am the Secretary of my condo board and love the work I do. Most of the time the job does not entail a lot of work, but sometimes there is more than a volunteer position usually requires. It’s hard for me to say no when people need help. It’s hard for me to say no when people invite me to do something I enjoy doing. At least it used to be difficult. I am getting quite good at “refusing with kindness”.
I have always been an avid reader. That habit started when I was a very young child and continued up until about six years ago. Up until that time I usually read at least three books a week. I made the time to do that because reading was something that gave me great joy. It still does, but I let myself get too busy and too social to read for pleasure. Instead of reading three books a week, I was lucky if I read one book in three weeks.
One of the things that has always been very important to me is taking courses and learning new things. When I decide to learn something new, I commit to following through. I get great pleasure and personal satisfaction when I learn something new. Surprisingly, I think we all learn new things almost every single day. Sometimes we don’t notice the unintentional learning, but it’s there for most of us in our daily lives.
Writing has always been part of my life. I think that my Gramps started my love of writing by sending me letters, written by hand, whenever he was away. He wrote to me as if I was an adult, even when I was four-years-old and continued doing this until he was physically unable to do so. I wrote back to him. I wrote letters to friends, relatives and pen pals who I had never met. I began journalling at a very young age and have never stopped. I have written books for children and young adults. I write poetry, more when I am sad or going through some difficult situation, and I am currently working on my memoir.
I do a lot of writing in my position as Secretary of my condo board. I started writing a newsletter and people seem to really appreciate that. But writing for myself has been put on the back burner for many years. I worked as an executive assistant for someone for a few years and learned to do some business writing, which I had never done before.
Taking on-line courses has become a way of life for me, even before the pandemic. Finding the time to work on them was not always easy. It seemed that other things always came first. Even knowing that not having the time made me unhappy, I did nothing about it.
This pandemic has given me such a huge gift…the gift of time…time for me to prioritize things in my life and focus on what makes me the happiest. Because I couldn’t (and still can’t) see many people in person, I found the time to do the things that mean the most to me that do not involve anyone but myself.
This new life that I was “forced” into by the corona virus has been so good for me. I have leaned to focus on me, which I think has made me a better person. I think that my relationships with people are more honest and true to who I am now. I was concerned that I would be unhappy, not being able to do all the social things that I was used to doing pre-Covid. Imagine my surprise when I realized that although I had been very happy as the extrovert everyone, including myself, thought I was, I am now even happier.
Another thing that this pandemic has shown me is that I do not, at least right now (and this is not because of the virus) want to be part of a couple. I did have a boy(man)friend, up until a few months ago. I probably never should have become involved with him because I knew that I did not want to live with or marry anyone ever again. I feel bad about ending the relationship, but since we couldn’t spend time together now anyway, it was a good time for it to end. We are still friends and will remain so.
This new life I am leading now is not perfect. I have not been able to hug my son or my grandchildren for months. I cannot even see them except physically – distanced and outside. I don’t even want to think about what will happen when it gets cold out and this is no longer possible. I envision being huddled in parkas, scarves, toques and mittens, in my son’s garage watching my grandchildren shiver. Will we even be able to celebrate holidays together? Doubtful. I have COPD and cannot be with people who are “out and about”. As my son is still working and my grandchildren are in school and daycare, being inside is not an option, until there is an effective vaccine.
I miss seeing my friends in person. I am lucky to be able to see those who live in my building or those who live close enough for short, outdoor, distanced visits. I don’t miss all the time and money I spent going “out” to eat or buying things I didn’t really need. I am saving money. I am cooking more than before even though I always cooked wonderful meals for myself. I am even baking and I used to be a horrible baker! I am spending more money on groceries, but I weigh less than I have in the last thirty years and I am fit and as healthy as I can be.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved going out for meals with friends and will do that again when it is safe to do so. I will not, however, do it nearly as often as I did before. I do look forward to cooking for friends and family and having them over for meals and wine and wonderful conversations…and lots of laughing and fun. I think that will happen again, but not for a long time.
I know that not everyone is finding a lot to be positive about during this pandemic. I have friends who are struggling. It’s hard to be so happy when people I care about are dealing with critical issues. I try to be supportive and help whenever I can.
Many positive things have happened to our environment because of the pandemic. People are not polluting the atmosphere because they are not driving as much. We certainly are not putting nearly as much gas into our vehicles. I have only filled my car up three times since March. Planes aren’t flying as frequently.
People are eating healthier because they aren’t relying on take-out or fast food. I have not known anyone in the last six months who has been sick at all, even with a cold. We aren’t going out to the places we would normally pick up those common cold germs. We wipe down the carts at the grocery stores. The children have not been at school so they are not spreading germs, and we all know that adorable as they are, little children are like sponges for carrying germs and sharing them with their parents and grandparents.
There is more to this “new life” than those that the restrictions regarding the pandemic have brought about. The political situations in various countries have created a society where it is not only acceptable to be bigoted, racist and violent, but it is encouraged. The human race in not showing much humanity anymore. Part of this is political and part of it is the ability to have a huge platform, via social media.
We are all entitled to our opinions…about anything and everything. We have free speech…at least most of us do. I expected that this pandemic would make us see that we are not egocentric beings, but that we all belong to a huge global community. We should take care of each other, be concerned about each other. Instead, we write horrible, vulgar, mean, intolerant comments on posts that people put on various social media sites. Name calling and racial slurs have become commonplace. I often think this was bound to happen, given that the President of the United States of America (of which I was once a citizen…and used to be proud of it) uses his Twitter account to denigrate everyone who he disagrees with or doesn’t like. He has made it not only permissible, but admirable, to spew hatred and encourage violence.
I have spent the last week deleting, hiding or unfriending people from my various social media sites. I thought that I would be okay as I have not watched the television news for the last three or four years. I thought that I would be able to just scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook and choose what I wanted to see or read. It’s very hard for me to do that when what I see and read makes me so sad that I start to cry…or so angry that I feel like I am going to explode. Yet I know that I won’t explode and I won’t respond in kind, with hatred and venomous vulgarity.
I responded to one angry, racist comment with, “Don’t you think that if people just respected the right of all people to have opinions and responded with kindness, tolerance, understanding and love, the world would be a better place?” When I saw that someone had responded to my comment I looked to see what was said, believing it would be a positive response. What it said was, “You are a fearful sheep, believing whatever the media wants you to believe. Grow up and face reality.”
As the tears dripped down my cheeks, I realized that the world, as we knew it, no longer exists. I will not give up my ideals. I will do all that I can, in my own little way, to encourage a world where people love each other. A world where we treat each other with respect and accept that we are all the equal. I do not have to accept a world that has regressed in terms of racism and the loss of democracy…at least without trying to change things. I will try to stay positive, but doing so may cost me some friendships. If we can work together to create the changes that need to be made, then it will be worth it.