How did our lives change in the blink of an eye? Until about a week ago, “social distancing” wasn’t even in our wheelhouse. Now we’re hyper-alert about everything we touch and repeating as our mantra the age-old advice we have received regularly since kindergarten: Wash your hands and keep your hands away from your face! Now, we are being admonished to stay home in order to stop the spread.
In the past 20 years, we as a nation have endured two horrific crises: 9/11 in 2001 and the Great Recession beginning in 2008. Now here we are facing yet another — an insidious little virus that looks like some kind of an alien sea anemone. It knows no borders, has no biases, and has found its way all around the Earth. It’s an international crisis, now identified as a global pandemic.
As we learn more every day from epidemiologists, trusted public health officials and other reliable experts, we cannot deny the far-reaching domino effects of this nasty little Coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. With our big sister city across the mountains finding itself at the epicenter in the United States and, by all accounts, looking like a ghost town, concerns here in our valley with so many Seattle connections and limited healthcare facilities have grown as well.
Public health authorities, elected officials, school administrators, health care providers, service clubs and nonprofits have scrambled to deal with the reality of a civil emergency. As of last Friday (March 13), our governor banned gatherings of more than 250 persons in any setting and closed all schools until at least April 24. Every day more events have been canceled or postponed; more doors, such as public libraries, have closed. In the valley, many group events have fallen victim.
Springtime is a popular time for fundraisers and those events, such as the Kiwanis Bite of the Methow and Aero Methow Fundraising Gala, are off the calendar, for now. By the time this column is published, no doubt there will be additional far-reaching changes. Washington state must do everything possible to stop the spread.
So, what can the residents of this socially active valley do during this time of “social distancing”? Even introverts like myself get “cabin fever” (not to be confused with that “other” fever) and look to commune with other humans. Since we may find ourselves spending more time at home, I’ve created a list of ideas to fill the time and occupy the mind.
Look for a bright, sunny spot to sit and sip your coffee, tea, or glass of wine.
Binge-watch a Netflix comedy series or consecutive comedy movies.
Clean out the clothes closets and dresser drawers; donate the items that don’t “spark joy.”
Paint a room a light, refreshing color with a name like iced mint.
Go through old file folders and fill a paper grocery bag with papers that are no longer pertinent to be shredded/recycled.
Pick a box of stuff that’s been sitting in the garage, storage shed, or basement and touch every item in it while making a mindful decision about “Should It Stay or Should It Go?”
Read a book from that stack you’ve been waiting to get to one day.
Order a used book online, mail order from the library, or grab one from a Little Library.
Learn about something that you’ve always wanted to know more about.
Pick up that coffee table book and actually look at it.
Keep in touch
Call your family and friends to stay connected and share frustrations, fears, and experiences.
Write an old-fashioned letter to somebody.
Groom your dog, cat, or horse; they’ll appreciate it and it can decrease your anxiety.
Start that memoir (short story, novel) you’ve always thought about writing.
Pick a difficult new recipe and struggle through it.
A photo book online (Shutterfly, my favorite) and get all those photos off the phone and computer and into a lasting memory book.
Try a new craft project.
Move, or not
Get outdoors and take a walk.
Start a new indoor exercise program or revive an old one.
Download a guided meditation app and practice mindfulness, calm, and quiet.
In this uncertain, difficult time, there is no doubt that it is a one-day-at-a-time situation as we steadily learn what our new reality will be. As our local radio icon Don frequently says, “We’re all in this together.” Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t offer love and encouragement to, not only those whom we love and hold dear but also to our valley neighbors, who are all in the same boat.
On a brighter note, Eric Burr reported seeing the first flowers of spring in the Lost River area: yellow bells, sage buttercups and spring beauties. There’s always the light and life of spring after a dark, cold winter. Life is like that.