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Social Distancing, the New Normal

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

A global problem

A global problem

No Rant, Just Encouragement

I realize a lot of people are writing and talking about the new normal of social distancing, sheltering in place, wearing masks, stay 6 feet away, closing non-essential businesses, school online, work from home, drive-by communion, home church online, and Zoom meetings. It has become a new world where bears and coyotes are free to roam the once busy streets and where lions can lounge on the pavement. The whole world is staying home or protesting staying home.

Rather than being one more voice pro or con, I would like to share my reality and realizations that this too will pass. Just be patient and think positively. Instead of being a negative screaming harpy, I’d like to help and be an encouraging voice in the sea of skepticism.

My facemask.  I made them available on Etsy in my shop DancingPaintbrushCo.

My facemask. I made them available on Etsy in my shop DancingPaintbrushCo.

Facemasks

When I was a teenager back in the early ’70s, we thought that gas masks may be a necessary thing in the future because of air pollution. How prophetic we were. So now we all need to wear masks out of the house and keep our distance from family and friends as well as strangers. For a natural hugger like me, that is agony. But it won’t last long. I’d rather refrain and have my elderly mother still available to hug when this is all over.

Many people have put patterns for masks on the Internet for free so I will not duplicate their work. Here are a few links to find one. If you do not sew, there are ways you can fold bandanas to create your own mask or even paper towels if you care to try it.

Do You Hate It

Like so many others, I am faithfully wearing my home-sewn mask. Why do I hate wearing this mask so much? I know I’m keeping my community and myself somewhat safer by wearing it, but I hate it. The reason I hate it so much is probably the same reason I hated wearing glasses as a girl. They hurt my nose and ears. These masks make my face hot and irritate behind the ears. I don’t really need more hot flashes than I have normally. It feels like, after this, normal will never quite be normal again. The threat and fear may linger in dark shadows from now on, to jump out at us when we least expect it. What must it be like for the children grown up with this lingering threat? People are writing children’s books trying to explain a thing like an unseen killer virus to children.

Drive Through Food Distribution

The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.

— Dalai Lama

Longing For Light

I went to stand in line at a food distribution center where a local church was facilitating the distribution of USDA commodities. The lines were longer than usual for two reasons: first, because we all had to stand 6 feet apart and, second, because more people are out of work than ever. I usually see a large number of seniors on a fixed income (like me) in these lines, but now there are all ages and all income brackets represented looking for free food. I like to take my folding chair with me because the wait is 2 hours before I get to the front of the line.

For me to sit in the fresh air, gaze at the blue sky and the ecstasy of the spring breeze caressing my face is a welcome change to sheltering in the tomb of my apartment. With only 3 windows, all facing due west, it is a dark dungeon sentence most of the time. I often feel like I could grow mushrooms from my armpits day after day. To add to the misery, my husband’s medication makes his eyes light-sensitive, so he keeps the blinds closed most of the day. Is it any wonder, I long for a walk in the sun, to feel the air and enjoy the sky?

It isn’t exactly fresh air since my face is covered but it is cooler air than in my apartment. My husband gets chilled easily and likes to keep the thermostat up to 78 degrees. That is too hot for my liking but what can I do? I live with it because I love him.

The infection numbers keep rising.

The infection numbers keep rising.

Retired vs Unemployed

I realize my situation is not as difficult at those thousands who are now out of work and wondering how they will pay their rent and feed their families. My husband and I are on a fixed income and have never had much but so far that little isn’t threatened like so many others who are fearful of the future. In my little way, I have tried to be a comfort and an encouragement to my neighbors.

About day 10 of our shelter in place, I wrote a note with my address and phone number, printed it, and put it in a Ziploc bag along with one of my homemade masks, some vinyl gloves, and some homemade cookies. I took these and hung them from the doorknobs of my closest neighbors. Some I never heard from but others were touched by the gesture and texted me their names and numbers. We are communicating and here for each other. I told them that if they needed anything to let me know. It’s always possible I have a cup of sugar or an egg they may need, a pet sitter, or someone to receive a postal delivery, and vise versa. We are in this together and if we treat each other with kindness we will be better assured of kindness in return.

It is now day 67 of shelter in place and I'm preparing another ding-dong-ditch package for the neighbors. It brings a smile to my face to think I may be bringing a smile to their faces. With communities discussing reopening and lifting the shelter in place, it is important to continue showing kindness and consideration to our neighbors and community.

Medical exam room

Medical exam room

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.

— Amelia Earhart

Final Thoughts

The simplest gesture may prove to be just what a depressed neighbor may need. Consider leaving a note and see where it goes. You may not hear from them, but then again, you may be making a lifelong friend.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on July 01, 2020:

Lawrence Hebb,

We are at day 110 of lockdown now and they slacked off the restrictions and suddenly there has been a new surge of cases. My husband and I are being careful and staying in until we are sure it's safe out there. I feel for people who are suffering and losing jobs.

Blessings,

Denise

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on June 29, 2020:

Denise

What a wonderful way of showing you care.

We came out of the lockdown a couple ofweeks ago, but our borders are still closed to tourists and the like.

Life is slowly returning to some semblance of the new normal, but its not the same as before the lockdown with many still not sure of if their jobs will survive.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 18, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

That was my intent; to do some small kindness to show solidarity in a confusing and difficult time. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 18, 2020:

Your door-hanger gift was so thoughtful. Our neighbors can make a world of difference to us in this time of social distancing. Wearing the masks, especially in the heat, is not fun, but it is necessary to prevent contracting or spreading the virus. It is a simple and loving thing to do. Stay safe!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 02, 2020:

Jason Nicolosi,

Yes, I thought that paper towel face mask was pretty interesting. You stay safe too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Jason Nicolosi from AZ on June 02, 2020:

Amazing article Denise. Really beautifully written. The article made me smile and gave me a sense of hope.

It is crazy out there right now. People looting and beating each other up. We need to stop the violence and nonsense. Help each other out. Show respect for one another. Love thy neighbor. Right?

Anyhow, I also enjoyed that paper towel face mask video. Thanks for sharing. Stay safe out there.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 02, 2020:

Umesh Chandra Bhatt,

I appreciate you saying that. I do try to write from the heart. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on June 01, 2020:

Such a beautiful write up. Nice Denise. You have written it from your heart. Stay blessed.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 30, 2020:

Diana Carol Abrahamson,

I agree it has been difficult. I'm a hugger. For me, this has been torture. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on May 30, 2020:

Very difficult in lock-down when you are unable to touch or hug people

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 29, 2020:

Arthur Russ,

Good for you. I'm glad to hear it. My mother-in-law gets regular calls from us but still complains of being lonely. It's hard for elderly people.

Blessings,

Denise

Arthur Russ from England on May 29, 2020:

Thanks for your comments Denise. We also have a friend who lives alone, who we can't visit because of the strict 'lockdown' rules in the UK; but we (like his other friends and relatives) do keep in touch with him by phone and email, which he greatly appreciates.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 28, 2020:

Lora Hollings,

I do hope the world becomes a kinder place after this. I read someone wrote on social media that tragic events like this make the kind people kinder and the cruel people crueler. I hope that's not true. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 28, 2020:

Dora Weithers,

I really enjoyed doing the little kindnesses. It probably gave me more joy than my neighbors. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 28, 2020:

William Kovacic,

It's true. I don't think we will ever be quite the same after this. Do you? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 28, 2020:

Arthur Russ,

I'm really happy for you. It sounds like the small differences are not alarming in your life. I have concerns for people like my mother-in-law who is all alone. She's safe but she's lonely and getting more and more depressed. You seem to have plenty of company and entertainment so, well done you. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 26, 2020:

Devika Primić,

I am concerned that we relax our vigilance too soon. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 26, 2020:

Linda Crampton,

Thank you. I think we should all do what we can. Who knows how much some small thing may affect people. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 26, 2020:

Virginia Allain,

Thanks so much. I hope the neighbors really enjoyed my little gifts. I only heard back from one. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 26, 2020:

Eric Dierker,

You ask good questions. I doubt if rich people are having this much fun simply because their whole world is about finances and right now the economy isn't doing well unless you own Walmart. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 26, 2020:

Liz Westwood,

My husband and I had some friends do a ding-dong-ditch leaving a box of fresh-made scones on the porch. I was so blessed by it. Little things like that mean the most. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 26, 2020:

Linda Lum,

I totally agree. I worry for my mother-in-law who is all alone and nowhere to go. She is talking very depressed lately like she might as well die. It's so sad to hear her and know it's just loneliness talking. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Lora Hollings on May 25, 2020:

This is a wonderful article, Denise, about showing consideration and kindness toward others especially during a time like this. A thoughtful note and a kind deed goes a long way in helping others to cope and feel like they are not so isolated. What a great idea your care packages are! You are setting a great example for all of us to follow. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 25, 2020:

Bill Holland,

I like your brass. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 25, 2020:

Linda Courtney,

I'm sorry to hear about your problem with the masks. I get hot in them but not claustrophobic, thank God. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 24, 2020:

I admire your kind heart in sharing with your neighbors. Attitude like yours help us cope with this "new normal." God bless you.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on May 24, 2020:

Yes, Denise. This too shall pass. Hopefully sooner rather than later. time will tell what the aftermath will be.

Arthur Russ from England on May 23, 2020:

A great article; very positive. I love it.

I love your idea of doing Ziploc goody bags for the neighbours; very community spirited.

I and my wife (in the UK), like you, are retired; we took early retirement and still too young to receive the State Pension but we both have our works pensions and my wife also gets a ‘Disability Allowance (PIP) from the Government because of her bad back, which means that I also get the Carers Allowance from the Government to look after her; effectively being paid by the Government for being a househusband.

Therefore we both have a respectable income and can afford luxury items and holidays (vacations), usually three holidays a year; except for this year of course, where we’ve had to cancel all of our holidays because of the lockdown.

Our son is a self-employed professional photographer, so with the current lockdown he’s unable to work. However, as the Government is paying 80% of his loss earnings, and he doesn’t have the expense of buying petrol for his car because he can’t go out to work; the lockdown has made little difference to him financially. The only real difference is that he’s home 24/7 (under lockdown), rather than being out 6 days a week. Nevertheless, he’s keeping himself busy e.g. updating his website, and spending a lot of time in our back garden doing macro-photography (insect life), plus he’s treated himself to a number of Blu-ray box-sets that were on his wish list; so as well as cable TV and Netflix, we’ve also got plenty of good TV Series and Films on Blu-ray to watch as a family ‘family quality time’ together in the evenings.

Also, as we own our own home with a descent size garden, in spite of the lockdown I’m spending a lot of my spare time gardening; as I normally would this time of year.

And as well as gardening, as DIY stores are classified as an ‘essential service’ by the UK Government, I’ve also been able to order DIY supplies on-line from our local DIY Stores, and use ‘click and collect’ to pick up the supplies from the designated collection points (to maintain ‘Social Distancing’) from the DIY Stores carpark. Therefore, I’ve been able to continue with my DIY projects as normal.

So apart from not being able to go away on holiday or out for a meal in a restaurant, and socialise with friends and relatives, the lockdown has made little difference to our normal lifestyle.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 22, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

I hope kindness is the new normal. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on May 22, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your heartfelt emotions and encouragement. We all hope and pray, that this time we are in, will lift and another bright day may come to greet us.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 22, 2020:

Denise such a kind gesture and you make this time feel normal again. Thank you for sharing your experience.Even though lock down is easing off I still wear my mask and gloves when shopping.Somewhat of a normal life here but precautions are necessary. No need ot get too relaxed.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 21, 2020:

Your gift to your neighbors was very kind, Denise. This is a difficult time, but actions such as yours can provide hope.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on May 21, 2020:

What a great idea to brighten the day of a neighbor and give them a way to get in touch if they need help.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 21, 2020:

I had to pause and stop laughing at " I don’t really need more hot flashes than I have normally."

I have bad teeth so I love my 333 masks of all types, colors and designs. I am adamant about eye protection so I got several more types of sunglasses. The gloves help my often chapped hands.

But I take of for my walks and hikes before the sun. Nobody to distance from so I do front garden work during the day to see neighbors. I keep an extra mask handy as my 95ish year old next door neighbor forgets hers ;-)

I get to help unload the food trucks. What a great group of Christians. My wife totally lost her job as her employers needed to downsize shops.

I wonder if the rich people are having this much fun?

Liz Westwood from UK on May 21, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I was really impressed by the acts of kindness towards your neighbours. I have come across examples of neighbours in the UK becoming closer due to offers of help. Churches have delivered cookies to older members. Acts of kindness are becoming more common. These are the silver lining on the cloud.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on May 21, 2020:

Bless you for taking the time in all of this to think of others. Even the smallest gesture of kindness might be the best part of a lonely person's day.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 21, 2020:

Ain't no big thing with regards to wearing masks and gloves. If I can save one life by doing so, well, there you go. As for those who say it is unconstitutional, well, read it first before making that silly claim.

Blessings my friend!

Linda Courtney from Bloomsburg, PA on May 21, 2020:

This is a nice article with some positivity in this age of gloom. I like your idea of treats for the neighbors. I am out walking regularly and talking to my neighbors (from a distance). Most seem to be taking it well. Many are still working which probably helps things seem more normal. I personally am retired so don't get affected too much financially thankfully. I get panic attacks wearing a mask for more than 10 minutes so I really won't be going too many places. Other than that, everything is fine.

Lorna Lamon on May 20, 2020:

This is such a heartwarming article Denise full of down to earth advice with a hint of humour. I am still working from home, although, will shortly be returning to work, initially for two days.

Such a lovely idea to leave a little treat for your neighbours - I'm sure they were delighted and touched. Your quotes say it all, and hopefully when this virus disappears, these acts of human kindness will become the new normal. Take care.