I’m going a very different direction with this post. In fact, I’m really not going to talk about travel at all. Because…well, Coronavirus. People just aren’t traveling right now, and we’re all stuck at home. I’ve kind of ignored my blog for the last several weeks because everyone else has. Travel just isn’t on anyone’s mind right now. And then I thought, “Why not write about the silver lining to the Coronavirus pandemic?”
I don’t want to be insensitive to those who are suffering right now. Many have lost loved ones or are battling the virus themselves. Many more have lost their jobs and are worried about how to make ends meet. To all of you, I extend my deepest condolences. Your fears and concerns are greater than mine. Everyone has been affected in one way or another.
What I am trying to do is point out that in any hardship we face, there ought to be something we can learn from it — some way to benefit in the long run. I believe this mortal life is designed for us to learn from the trials as well as the victories. As humans, that is how we always come out on top. So, with that in mind, here is my attempt to make some sense of all this and look for the silver lining to the Coronavirus pandemic. This list is specific to me and my circumstances, but I hope you will see applications to your situation as well.
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1. More time to schedule as I wish
The very first thing that happened with the Coronavirus lockdown (or #shelterathome prescription) was that literally everything was cancelled from my calendar. That included unessential dentist and doctor appointments, my volunteer work at the San Diego temple, church worship meetings, and all of my planned travel. Requests for my part-time work also came to a near screeching halt, including travel writing assignments and sign-making jobs. At first I was at a loss without my busy schedule that filled nearly every hour of the day with tasks. But how many times have I wished I could wipe that calendar clean and just do what I wanted? Now I had that opportunity.
Here’s what I’ve done:
- Baked more and cooked dinner meals from scratch
- Planted a garden in my backyard — something I haven’t done for several years because I was traveling too much to maintain one
- Hand-written letters to family and friends
- Walked an hour nearly every day
- Painted watercolor cards
- Started writing in a journal to record my thoughts and feelings — it has served to be very therapeutic for me
- Put together care packages with coloring pages and stickers for my grandchildren
- Sewn over 100 face masks for home health nurses and friends in our community
Even after all this, I’ve had more quality time every evening with my husband, time to listen to podcasts, and time to organize my office. I’ve had time to call my adult children more often…and have Google hangouts with my grandchildren. Many of the new things I am doing are very satisfying, and when things “go back to normal”, I don’t want to give them up. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to re-set my priorities.
2. So much kindness and generosity
I have been amazed at the kind acts I’ve witnessed and the generosity of those in my community. Facebook groups have been converted to Coronavirus resources, with members offering of their abundance: rolls of toilet paper, fresh produce from their fruit trees, rice and pasta, and even Chlorox wipes (I still can’t find any of those in stock in a store or at Amazon!). Neighbors have offered to pick up groceries and supplies for the elderly or have given generously to food drives for the local food bank. One day I called a few friends to check on them and see if they needed anything. The very same day, at least two neighbors called to check on me!
I do think it helps to serve others. Thinking of others focuses our thoughts on something other than fears or concern we might have for ourselves. Plus it just feels good to lighten someone else’s burden. One day, I took a plate of cookies to a fellow church member. I set it down on her front porch, knocked at the door, and then stepped back about 8 feet. When she came to the door, her face just lit up. Not so much for the cookies, but because someone had actually visited her at her home. Aren’t we all just a little bit lonely?
The greatest gifts
The night I learned my mother had been removed from life support was especially hard for me. A really good friend gave me the most valuable gift anyone could have given me at that time. While everyone else was keeping a six-foot distance, she gave me a HUG! I realize she was taking a risk, and that made it even more precious to me. Trials can really bring out the best in people.
I have to say I also appreciated all the free mini-concerts by celebrities and inspirational messages on social media. Even the humorous memes brought a smile to my face. People have stepped forward and offered assistance of all kinds without accepting payment. I personally have been the recipient of freshly baked bread, bags of just-picked oranges and grapefruit, banana bread, and a gift basket of home decor items. I love how going through this pandemic together has made us think of others with a desire to lift and encourage.
Click here to read about more ways you can stay in touch with friends and family.
3. Greater appreciation for my family
I have always counted my family as my greatest blessing, but perhaps not as much as I do now. Suddenly, with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, I became much more concerned for my family. I was calling parents to see what they might need. I checked on my daughters to find out how I might help as they added homeschooling to their responsibilities. And on Sundays, we began a family worship meeting via Google Hangout. That is now the highlight of my week — to have church with my own family and hear the messages and songs that all of the family contributes, even my precious grandchildren.
Losing a loved one
Because of the Coronavirus risk, I was unable to visit my mother in an assisted living home. But when she was removed from life support, that restriction was lifted. Now my sister and I could sit at my mother’s bedside for the last days of her life.
Perhaps you would argue that the pandemic made this situation worse than it had to be in the first place. But instead I choose to see the silver lining to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Being able to be with my mother was more precious now than ever. With everything on my calendar cancelled, I could spend this time with her without concern about other obligations. And because of the pandemic, my husband could accompany me and work remotely. I so appreciated his support. And when we made the eleven-hour drive to Utah to be with my mother, there was hardly any traffic on the freeways (something that will probably never happen again).
If you’re interested in ways to make your family ties stronger, see Fifteen Ways to Strengthen Your Family.
What’s most important?
I think there was something about the pandemic that made it more important for us to seek quality time with extended family. While we were in Utah, we made a point to visit members of my husband’s family, whether it was meeting with face masks on in someone’s backyard, or on their front porch at a safe distance. Family is everything, and the greatest silver lining to the Coronavirus pandemic is putting my family first again. I am praying for them more, connecting with them more, and I’m so grateful for them.
4. A chance to be creative
When you’re tired of living within the same walls day after day, you just have to find creative ways to change it up. Here are a few things my husband and I have done:
- Went for hikes before the trails were closed
- Taken a neighborhood walk every evening after dinner
- Bought takeout dinners every Friday and Saturday to support local businesses
- Streamed plays and musicals from the Hale Center Theater
- Baked cookies and delivered them to friends
- Gone somewhere every weekend to photograph a sunset
- Played games, solved crossword puzzles, and worked on yard projects together
- Watched my daughter’s dance company perform a digital concert
- Held Zoom game nights with friends and family
- Researched family history
- Held a family dance party for a granddaughter’s birthday
5. A healthier perspective
I’m really grateful that the Coronavirus pandemic has forced me to sit back and take a look at my life. Of course, I’ve experienced my share of fear, concern, and disappointment, too — I’m human after all. But I’m glad it’s made me think more of those around me and what I can do to help. I’ve gained a healthier perspective about what is truly important — and what is not.
I was sad we weren’t going to be able to take a planned cruise. But it’s just a cruise. We’ll travel again someday when it’s safe to do so. What really matters now is that my family is healthy, and we have what we need. We’re still able to worship and serve and make a difference for good. We have each other, and we are blessed with good friends, too. What else is important?
If I can find a silver lining to the Coronavirus pandemic, I’m sure you can, too. Be honest with yourself — if you look for something positive, you’ll already be ahead of the game. Don’t let the pandemic get the best of you!
I’d love your feedback on this topic — please comment below!