Because her city of Montreal has been in lockdown, Wendy Reichental hasn’t been able to buy her husband a Valentine’s card (as Wendy explains, “Only essential items are allowed and they roped off cards in stores.”). So she wrote this for him instead: My Top 10 Things I’ve come to accept during this pandemic.
Next month will be a whole year since this devastating maelstrom of a pandemic has taken over and changed our lives. I have accepted this realization and adapted my life to it.
Here’s what I have gleaned thus far:
10. The more you dust, the more it returns the next day.
9. A little bit of clutter is good. It means you are alive and doing things.
8. Don’t neglect your plants, which means don’t underestimate the power of seeing something grow, sprout, or bloom. It can be so uplifting on a cold dark day.
7. Accept the fact that you will never wear zippered pants again, and acknowledge that your mom was right all those ancient years ago as you recoiled in horror. Elastic waist bands are the coolest!
6. It’s okay to let the world know that you weren’t born with golden blonde highlights that delicately frame your face. You can rock a full head of grays as long as you look happy, for that’s where your true ageless aura shines. But don’t get me wrong. As soon as this pandemic is better under control, I’ll be running to the hairdresser and channeling my inner Pamela Anderson, while singing Edith Piaf’s Non, Je ne regrette rien! (Translation, which is healthy for all of us: “I regret nothing!)
5. Re-examine how you view and treat others, including yourself. Often, we get stuck and fixated on things like having to always be right, and never taking the time to stick our own flawed funky feet into other people’s shoes. Stop thinking the world revolves around you and open your mind (but not enough that you start believing in ludicrous conspiracy theories).
4. Value the connections you have— your family, your friends— and appreciate the wealth of learning opportunities made available to you with online resources. I joined a Community Centre for ages 55 and over and am constantly amazed at how many dynamic and innovative online programs have been put together to help us get through this difficult time. There’s something for everyone, including reluctant people like me who never thought they would be participating in an armchair virtual African safari. But I did and I loved it. It inspired me to feel hopeful again, that the world still is full of possibilities and wonder, and now I’m signed up for every armchair virtual trip available, including online museum tours. We need to be reminded of the beauty that is this planet.
3. There is also beauty in silence. It’s okay to turn off the news, read a good book, listen to music, or take up a new skill, which I did, crocheting headbands to give as gifts for anyone wanting to cover up their expanding gray roots or wanting to hide a bad hair day.
2. Although I’m not one who enjoys talking on the phone, I reached out more, both to let friends know that I was here if they needed anything and also to lean on them when I was feeling blue. The old quote from Winnie the Pooh comes to mind, “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
This brings me to the most important thing I embraced during this past year and will keep holding onto while this pandemic rages on:
1. Be kind to one another. There were so many times, I felt like losing my mind, and lashing out at my husband over something innocuous like “I’m so sick and tired of cooking every night” and by the way, “I burnt dinner again!”
Be grateful for all the silly and wonderful things in your life, including, if you’re lucky, having a partner who will still eat the charred remains of what was supposed to be savory chicken wings and still say they’re the tastiest and best he’s ever had! Be kind, humble, and oh so grateful, because it can be so tragically and heartbreakingly worse.