The past few months have been tough and I know it is not just me, it is all of us. As I reflect about this time, I realize that there are a few things that I have learned.

1. We (Dr. James and I) can garden – as in actually garden. All my life, neither of us had ever really been into gardening but loved the idea. However, when we had the food shortage in March and there was a lack of fresh vegetables, we started our own garden. Guess what! It wasn’t that difficult. We asked a lot of questions from our friends and family – people love to share information and useful tips. It has been less than six weeks and we have squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, mint, basil, peppers, and dill. Lesson – be careful with how closely you plant things- it actually makes a difference and not all plants require the same amount of watering.
2. There is a huge difference between social distancing and dis-connecting. We have been asked to maintain social distance. However, I have had deeper conversations with people than I have had in years. Before this, a quick text (or a plethora of text messages and emails) have been my norm. Now I have chatted with people via Zoom, picked up the phone to have a conversation, even my mother is using Facetime – all things that I wasn’t doing on a regular basis and definitely had not appreciated nearly enough. Lesson – no matter how busy I am, having an actual conversation versus texting, following someone on social media, and/or emailing is not old school, it allows for deeper relationships and connections.
3. Although I love to cook, I also really, REALLY enjoy going out to eat and trying new foods at different restaurants. We have now been trying new recipes using our treasures from our home garden. It has been nice to simply sit at home, turn off the television and peacefully enjoy a meal or sit in our backyard and disconnect from the world and have a conversation with my husband. Lesson – we have been saving a lot of money from not eating out and the food that we are growing ourselves tastes so much better.
4. It has been inspiring to see the creativity and kindness of others. While it breaks my heart that so many seniors didn’t get to have their graduations, wedding parties were modified/postponed, birthday plans had to change, and so much more. The outburst of parades, surprise gifts at doorsteps, personalized cards that are being sent continues to bring a smile to my face. Lesson – we don’t need to be physically present to bring a smile to someone’s face and these random acts of kindness have been doing just that – bringing sunshine to others.

While I am ready for this quarantine time to end (I sure miss hugs!), I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and will continue to learn. Thank you to everyone that has inspired & supported me as well as supported us as we have been working to keep our community healthy. We may not know how long this will continue or what our new normal will look like, but we can continue to grow, learn, inspire, and persevere from it and that is what I intend to do.