At the beginning of the pandemic I wrote Expect The Unexpected During Times Of Change where I explored how people were dealing with the new way of life brought on by the coronavirus disease. Although the number of cases has lessened in the US, new variants are unfortunately on the rise in some areas including New York City. How an individual deals with the reality that COVID-19 is still here differs quite dramatically from person to person. I was somewhat surprised to find that right from the start I was very anxious about getting sick. Throughout the pandemic I have been very cautious about my potential exposure. I am fully vaccinated and boosted, keep my distance from others and wear a mask. Yet I remain uneasy.
I live in a small town about an hour from New York City in a house with a large yard so I have been very fortunate to be isolated from daily exposure to other people. I am pretty much a home body anyway so there wasn’t that much that I needed to change when the pandemic began other than doing my few weekly meetings by zoom instead of in person. However there are some activities that have stopped completely for me that I miss: eating at restaurants, traveling and going to the theater to name a few.
Many people in my life have resumed much of their regular daily activities and also have taken vacations or traveled to visit family. I am not there yet and I am working on being kind to myself for taking longer than others. I realize that I need a plan for easing back into society. Perhaps you do too. The approach I am taking is one step at a time.
We never stopped grocery shopping fully masked, though we make fewer trips now. I am always masked—even when outdoors around other people. That is the first area that I am going to work on: outdoors unmasked. I already don’t wear a mask when I walk on my road, but I only encounter one or two neighbors. I am practicing being outdoors without a mask in situations where there are more people as long as they aren’t too close. I watched a golf tournament on TV this weekend and cringed at how close all the unmasked people were. I imagine that will never be me until the pandemic is long gone. A trip to Storm King Art Center (an outdoor park) will make a fun practice location of being around other unmasked people but with some distancing.
The next activity I will attempt is eating outside at a restaurant. That one feels important and yet still scary to me. I am vegan so in addition to finding a place with plenty of outdoor distanced seating, it has to be vegan friendly. The thought of the waiter coming up to me is still somewhat daunting but practice I will!
One outcome of the pandemic for me is that I am much clearer about what I want to ease back into. Taking this multi-year time out has given me greater perspective on what matters to me most. This is a common theme that I hear from others and has garnered much press. Re-evaluating what is important is not unusual after some kind of disruption or transition in your life. I want more outdoor activities. I want fewer shopping outings and less purchasing in general. My first choice for socializing is just one-on-one (and snuggling with my kitties). I do enjoy occasion small group gatherings of 4-6 people but really don’t like anything larger. I am grateful for this refinement of what I want and need in my life. I hope that you have a clearer understanding of what matters to you most and that you are able to ease back into those activities soon.