2020 – The beginning of a New Decade
2020 held such promise for so many of us. Joining a gym or exercise class after making empty threats for years. Getting involved in the November elections and making a real difference. Enjoying more free time with the chance to tick off some of the items on the proverbial “bucket list.”
And then with a fury, the Coronavirus changed everything. We suddenly find ourselves living in a new reality, one of isolation, of more time on our hands than ever before—a time of fear and uncertainty about our health and the health of our friends and family.
A New Life
We are told not to leave our homes unless absolutely necessary, to wear masks if and when we must venture out, to keep at least a six-foot distance between us and other humans. We have learned that many people have the virus but show no signs. Still, they are contagious and can unknowingly spread the disease.
So, what can we do to keep ourselves busy and out of trouble? How can we fill our days without seeing friends, eating at restaurants, going to the movies, taking classes, shopping til’ we drop, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays, births and, yes, deaths? Well, I have some ideas…
Taking on New (or old) Projects
Take a dive into a project you’ve been putting on hold for who knows how long.
This photo is me sitting on my office floor, surrounded by piles and piles of photos that have been collecting dust, falling out of old photo albums, stuffed in drawers all over the house. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself, “I’ve got to organize all those photos. For my son, for other relatives, for me.” With time on my hands (that’s an understatement!), I ordered four photo albums and, while waiting for them to be delivered, started the Herculean task or tossing duplicates, winnowing out those that didn’t seem to matter, and then trying to put them in chronological order.
Luckily, some of the photos had dates on the back. For others, I had to guess. What clothes were people wearing? Their hairstyles? The occasion? (if I could remember.) What shape the photo was in?
The photos sat on my office floor for days, even after the albums arrived. I think I was stretching time like eating a gallon of ice cream a little each night. If I finished this project, what was next? Maybe the following:
Learning a New Language
Start learning a new language or boning up on one you learned a long time ago. There are a slew of online programs out there. Take your pick: Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone, busuu—to name a few. After trying several, I have landed on Lawless Spanish. It’s a great program that first evaluates your level and then creates exercises just for you. At least, it feels as if they are unique to me.
I’ve been studying Spanish for six or seven years now. I’m lucky enough to escape winter and spend two months in Mexico. Why go, if you can’t speak the language? I have a Skype session twice a week with my teacher from Mexico and then augment my studying with Lawless Spanish. (Don’t ask where they came up with the name.) And now that I have time and no excuses, I’ve begun listening to podcasts, television shows, and music in Spanish. Truth is that, at first, I have loads of trouble understanding. Everyone speaks SO fast. But with time, I’m picking up more and more.
So, choose an online program or hire an online teacher and be ready to travel whenever the ban is lifted.
I don’t know about you, but exercise is an important part of my life. I’ve taken dance classes—contemporary, modern, even some ballet which I truly hate—yoga, Pilates, gyrotonics, and others I can’t remember. What now? The gyms and dance studios are closed shut. Who knows when they’ll open again. In the meantime, how can you get those endorphins up to speed, clear your head, work off stress, and just plain have fun? (Oh, I forgot. Keep those extra pounds at bay.)
As many of you have probably figured out by now, online sites like YouTube offer a plethora of options. And now with ZOOM, teachers are keeping up the pace and offering versions of the classes they have taught and will teach again. Of course, taking a class on ZOOM requires that you learn the program. For some, it may be a walk in the park. For me, it’s been a challenging slug. (But, hey, it takes time, right?)
I was ready last Saturday morning to take a version of a dance class. I’d “zoomed” with the instructor and friend, moved my desk chair and rug out of the way, had my mat stretched out on my office floor, placed one of those Styrofoam rollers within reach and was ready to go. Alas, I never made it to class. I couldn’t “Join” and, after thirty minutes of attempts, I gave up. But this story has a happy ending: I have figured out how to use the darn thing and will be a happy student this Saturday.
Starting a Book Club or Hobby Group
Now that I can use ZOOM, I am considering starting a group, first on Facebook to round up some folks, then on ZOOM. This is something you might be interested in doing as well. I know Honey Good has a great brand new one, GRANDwomen with Moxie – Where Loneliness Disappears, that she started a few weeks ago and already has over 500 members! Such perfect timing.
Don’t Stop Doing the Things You Love
Have you been part of a book club that has been put on hold? Do you blog and want to connect with other women bloggers? Are you a foodie? A budding painter who’d like to connect with others who have bellied up to the plate with easel and paintbrush in hand?
Or maybe you want to socialize with other senior women? Whatever your interest, why not give this a try? You could even start a blog. Why not?
As you can figure by now, I’m a blogger (an author, too). My blog (here comes the plug) is seventynme.com. It’s a blog for women seventy and older, though there have been plenty of younger women who have subscribed – Just like here on Honey Good!
I think we can use this time to all help each other succeed in life and online by sharing tricks of the trade to help boost readership on all of our sites and side projects we may have. I want all of you to share your stories, and I want to share mine. I’ve even thought about starting a group where we might read a couple of our blogs to the group and get constructive feedback.
We Will Make It Through to the Other Side
These are challenging times, no doubt. But sheltering in place provides a chance to step back from our busy, never-enough-time lives and to spend some time with ourselves or to share time with others. True, there’s nothing that can replace direct contact. We need to hug and kiss and look each other in the eyes. For now, we’ll have to settle for online or telephone connections. But as the days tick by until we’re given the “All clear,” there is so much we can do.
Here’s to health, peace, and the exploration of activities, talents, and challenges that bind because we’re all in this together.
Jane Leder is an author and blogger. The 2nd edition of her award-winning book, Dead Serious, a book about teen suicide, is available online and in hundreds of libraries across the country. Leder’s blog, seventynme.com, focuses on the joys, challenges, and issues most important to women 70+ (though she welcomes younger subscribers, too.) You can check out her website at janeleder.net