What Side Do You Put A Flower In Your Hair 8 Life Lessons Learned From the Coronavirus

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8 Life Lessons Learned From the Coronavirus

Are there life lessons to be learned during this pandemic? You bet.

It’s not over yet, though. President Donald Trump warned last week that the coronavirus pandemic in the US is likely to “get worse before it gets better”. Yeah, I kind of figured it out. The coronavirus is not going away that quickly and this pandemic is once again making people stop and think.

Okay, maybe not everyone pauses. As states began to lift restrictions on businesses and public spaces, photos and videos of people gathering en masse began to appear in the news. Not only was I concerned as an older American, but I felt that in the rush to get back to “normal” people were missing out on learning valuable lessons about empathy and self-sacrifice.

In fact, I was shocked by the attitude of some people. For example, I heard about Elizabeth Linscott and her husband Isaiah from Kentucky who were placed under house arrest last week after Elizabeth tested positive for the coronavirus. The couple refused to sign documents agreeing to quarantine at home for two weeks.

“There is no pandemic,” Elizabeth declared firmly. Really? A pandemic is defined as the spread of a new disease around the world. With more than 16 million people worldwide diagnosed with COVID-19 at the time of writing, doesn’t that qualify?

“If you’re scared, please stay home, because I can’t stop my life because you’re scared,” she added in an interview with Good Morning America. I was freaking out. What about the people on the front lines – everyone from those in medicine to shop workers – who are scared but forced to go to work? They have no choice to “stay at home”. The more vulnerable still have to go outside for essential tasks like buying food or medical appointments. I want to say, hey Elizabeth, we’re talking about 14 days out of your entire life when your actions could mean life and death for some people. What happened to self-sacrifice for the greater good?

However, I am fully aware that there are some who agree with her statements.

Even after the restrictions were lifted, a “normal” life was still impossible for some. Older baby boomers and those with health problems are still being advised to stay at home. And for those grieving the loss of a loved one, things will never be the same. Really, once vaccinations are available and we get to the other side of this pandemic, will our “normal” look the same for any of us? I don’t think so. Here’s a thought. When that happens, before we run to claim our lives back, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the pandemic has changed us forever — and some of that is worth preserving.

Ryan Seacrest joked, “If I start the New Year’s countdown, will 2020 be over?” Funny joke, but maybe because I’m older and know my days are limited, I wouldn’t give up precious time, even with its trials, to rush forward into the future. If we use this pandemic as a time for reflection, there are important and unique life lessons to be learned.

Not that the coronavirus pandemic was fun. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna here. Admittedly, it was painful and overwhelming at times. As the death toll rises every day, the news is heartbreaking. I miss the hugs of family and friends, traveling to exciting new places, and the blissful freedom of attending a loud, packed concert. The dystopian scene of empty grocery store shelves, cities resembling ghost towns and people wearing masks was shaken with the onset of the pandemic. I was forced to see the uglier side of humanity as some people hoarded food, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Fraudsters tried to take advantage of the panic. And then there’s the cruel phrase “boomer remover” that has become popular on Twitter, aimed at us baby boomers who are more vulnerable to the virus.

On the other hand, can we talk about grooming issues? As the weeks went by and it became apparent that a visit to the hairdresser was out of the question, I thought this might be a good time to see what I look like with gray hair. I was horrified. My husband, who at 60 is lucky enough to still have a lot of hair, looked like a mad scientist. So that’s it. A bottle of Revlon and some clippers did the trick, but not with the same results as a professional would achieve.

Some days I felt productive and creative as I drew from a reservoir of strength and inspiration. But there were also days when I struggled with depression and anxiety, hated being cooped up in the house, ate a big bag of crisps with a glass of wine to comfort myself, felt overwhelmed by the news and struggled with it. I felt that it was all too much – and it was. The world hasn’t faced anything like this in over a century. On top of all the tragedies, there was a devastating economic impact as small businesses struggled to stay open. Then protests and riots broke out in the fight for racial justice.

It’s okay to not be well sometimes.

And yet, in the midst of all the turmoil, the pandemic required me to be quiet and calm. Being satisfied with one’s company. Slow down and think about the more important aspects of life. With that in mind, here are some valuable lessons I’ve learned so far and the changes I want to maintain, even after the pandemic is over.

I learned:

* Embrace My spirituality

My spirituality and reliance on God became more important than ever. The coronavirus has confirmed that life is uncertain and unpredictable. As a result, I learned to depend more fully on God to maintain a sense of hope, strength, patience, and endurance.

* Appreciate your loved ones even more

Along with the rest of the world, I learned the value of human connections in a way that was not possible before.

Not being able to see my family makes them even more precious to me. I don’t miss going out to dinner and traveling to exotic places as much as I miss holding my 2-year-old granddaughter’s tiny hand.

I’ve even come to appreciate the technology – with which I normally have a love/hate relationship – that allows us to stay in touch with our loved ones. However, I admit that it is not the same. I’m an introvert and not really a people person. However, I now realize that I used to take my friends’ hugs for granted.

On the plus side, with kids coming home from school and parents working from their homes, families came together, enjoying backyard sports, playing board games, riding bikes and solving puzzles. It’s beautiful to see.

* See the good in people

It’s true what they say. The worst times can bring out the best in people. In the midst of that chaos, I saw brave and selfless heroes emerge.

My husband’s colleague, Art, explained how his nurse, in her 60s who treats his health problems, bravely answered New York’s cry for help in April and flew to the epicenter of COVID-19 during the worst of the outbreak. “I don’t know if he’s coming back,” Art said soberly. Thousands joined her.

Medical staff continue to respond to calls for help in areas hardest hit by the virus. Recently, U.S. Air Force doctors, nurses and other providers have been deployed to California hospitals, including Eisenhower Hospital near my home, to help with the spike in coronavirus cases that is straining the health care system.

Delivery drivers and grocery store workers are willing to put their lives on the line to serve us. Many restaurant owners donate food. Communities and neighborhoods encourage each other with signs and teddy bears in the windows or positive messages written in chalk on the sidewalks. People adopt dogs to help shelters. No one is immune to this virus and in a way it unites us.

* Enjoy nature

Although I have always appreciated nature. I became more aware of the beauty of the hibiscus flowers blooming in my yard, the soft sounds of happy birdsong or the desert night sky revealing all its myriad beauty.

With the reduction of air pollution in our cities, the sky has never looked bluer. Wild animals have begun to re-conquer areas once dominated by humans.

Never more true – nature calms.

* Be grateful for my life and health

The pandemic has taught me how precarious life can be and how vulnerable we all are as humans. Life itself should never be taken for granted – even while enduring hardships. It was a sober reminder to take care of my health.

I have to admit, it’s hard to keep my snacking under control while stuck at home, but I’ve developed some healthy habits that I want to keep.

For example, desperate to get out of the house and into nature, I never walked or biked again. Now that it’s too hot to exercise outdoors where I live, thanks to a friend I discovered the FitOn app with free exercise videos. After all, exercise not only helps our immune system, but it can reduce the extra anxiety we all feel right now.

I also learned not to stress over small things. The pandemic puts smaller problems into perspective.

* Become more empathetic

During the initial panic, some couldn’t afford to stockpile food and toilet paper, which made me even more aware of those out of work living paycheck to paycheck. Some people had to make the terrible decision to stay safe or risk their lives and go back to work to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Some chose the latter and died because of it.

I think of the helpless and vulnerable elderly who are terrified in nursing homes and those with mental health problems who struggle, even under normal circumstances, to overcome their fears. This gives me perspective. I know that the anxiety and discomfort I sometimes feel cannot be compared.

The coronavirus has taught me the value of self-sacrifice, which includes keeping a safe distance from people and wearing a mask for those more vulnerable than myself. While there are exceptions, fortunately, most people seem to feel the same way.

I always knew, but the pandemic confirmed the fact that giving back and focusing on others not only helps others, but also provides a sense of well-being and peace.

* Live with less

When the pandemic started, I was literally afraid to go to the store, I started buying only the most necessary things that lasted two weeks. My husband and I were surprised to find how well we survived with the basics on hand. We learned to decipher between needs and wants and saved money.

As I mentioned before, I taught myself to dye my own hair and cut my husband’s hair. We looked good. Fancy clothes and shoes have become irrelevant. We ate more at home and tried new recipes. And can we talk about saving money on gas by not running around unnecessarily?

There are important financial lessons here.

* Laugh more

Keeping a sense of humor is important, especially during difficult times. When I saw my husband’s worried face as I took his hair with scissors, well, I never laughed more. I appreciated all the funny memes and tweets about the bizarre ways we entertained ourselves while staying at home and our obsession with snacks. It’s true. Laughter is the best medicine.

I know we’re all burned out and rushing to live a “normal life” again, but let’s not forget all these life lessons. In reality, we know that life won’t be the same after this pandemic is over, but as I pointed out earlier, maybe that’s not all bad.

I hope we have learned to never take for granted the hugs of loved ones, the store shelves full of food, the excitement of a packed concert, and every deep breath we take.

I hope that spirituality and spending time with loved ones will continue to be our priority.

I hope we realize how little we actually need to survive.

I hope we remember how strong and resilient we can be in challenging times.

I hope that we will come out of this pandemic more grateful, kinder and grateful.

And I hope we never forget how to find light in the midst of darkness.

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