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Carroll County Times
Carroll County Lifestyles

Merritt: Combat the coronavirus crisis by finding one thing that makes you happy each day

How can anything that looks so innocent — think a spherical nosegay of red and white blooms — be so deadly? The photos of the microscopic coronavirus, that are on TV every day are constant reminders of the devastation of the disease. 

Words, such as “sorrow” for so many who have died and their families; “fear” for more devastating deaths; “grateful” and “awe” for the medical staffs; and “concern” and “anxiety” for so many others, inadequately express the wave of emotions that hurl through us like a tsunami.  We feel for the small businesses, the unemployed, the elderly, the delivery people, the students, and families and friends — all of whom are forced to cope.

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At the same time, on a smaller scale, we are also personally trying to adjust to sheltering in-place. No more concerts or dinners out. No more grocery shopping as we once knew it. No more parties, theater, movies or even doctors’ visits.

So, what do we do now? Tips abound on TV and smartphones with hundreds of Facebook posts and videos showing images of creative ways, such as virtual happy hours, that enable people to connect with friends and family.

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Did you see the video of the family celebrating their child’s birthday by driving down their street, tossing balloons to neighbors who had gathered (at a safe distance) to wish her a happy birthday?

I love the film of the dad taking dance lessons from his little girl. He learned the routine, despite his burly frame and lack of delicate movements, creating a memory that will not be forgotten by his daughter.

I see others who are volunteering, such as the Carroll County women who are making face masks. In addition, volunteers are helping to distribute food where needed and churches are doing their part.

The Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen of the Westminster United Methodist Church — where Paul and I attend — is still providing nourishing food, via bagged lunches to those in need. We’re also making sure the older members are being phoned regularly to ensure their well-being and to combat isolation.  In addition, some of the congregation is urged to contact fellow members to keep in touch.

So far, the ways I’ve been coping are varied.

With a constant diet of negative news — that must be reported — on TV and in the newspapers, I began limiting my TV watching to twice a day, morning and evening. I try hard not to tune in for more pandemic facts before I go to bed since anxiety isn’t conducive to sleep.

I admit that a retired lifestyle is far different from the constant flurry of activities connected with careers and parenthood. Despite my social nature, I enjoy my home and staying in it hasn’t been too much of a sacrifice. As of this writing, after 23 days of inside activity, you could hardly say I’ve made a big sacrifice. (Maybe next month, I’ll be banging my head against the wall.)

In that stable frame of mind, it’s been relatively easy to continue my routine. There’s always going to be meals to cook and a house to take care of. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t whistle while I work, but I do find a sense of calm and productivity when we’ve eaten a good meal and when all is clean.

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Paul and I have continued our daily walks which allow me to add more steps to my morning workouts, usually yielding at least 10,000 steps or more. That also makes me feel productive.

I told our children, who have been checking in on us, that I try to find one small thing that makes me happy every day, though I’m in a far better place than those who are wondering where their next meal is coming from.

A few weeks ago, with the inspiration of spring, I was reminded to spruce up the entrance to our home with a wreath of eggs and flowers — a welcome change for my front door that was left barren since the Christmas wreath was removed.

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I also brought the season into our foyer with annual Easter decorations —a vase of pussy willows from which were hung several years’ accumulation of plastic eggs and even two decoupaged eggs I made several years ago. A few stuffed bunnies given to me from our daughter during past Easters were cheerful reminders of our celebrations. That makes me happy every time I walk past.

Though no one, except Paul and me, will see any of this, we’ll enjoy the promise of another season just the same.

Since I’ve been limiting shopping trips, I wasn’t able to purchase Easter cards for my family, so I spent four days last week making them. It was fun choosing colors that I thought each might like and it brought my son and his wife, my daughter and her husband and our two grandsons closer to me in thought. That made me happy, too.

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Making phone calls to older friends and those who are isolated brings brightness to my day, as well.  This is a good time for me to think of  other ways I can, perhaps, make someone else’s day happy.

More “happys” for me, and probably for many, are enjoying nature, such as the forsythia bush outside my window that suddenly sprouted golden blooms two weeks ago, brightening the grey winter landscape with the promise of spring. Prior to its blooming, I had cut a branch to bring inside and was happily surprised to be greeted by a few bright yellow flowers the next morning.

Today, I’m watching over my plants that are shoving their way out of the earth toward the sun. I look forward to planting more flowers and, with that, another word comes to mind during this COVID-19 crisis — spring’s promise of hope.

Dolly Merritt writes from Westminster. Her Prime column appears on the third Sunday of the month. Reach her at dolly827@hotmail.com.


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