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Good days, bad days…and getting things in control.

I was on the phone with my neighbor Kathy yesterday. A practical woman by nature. Caring, outgoing, very intelligent, and active, she is a person I have taken great comfort and guidance from in times of trouble. We’ve known each other since high school but lost touch until about 10 years ago when we reconnected. We’ve gotten to know and respect one other over the past decade and I am thankful to have her back in my life. After some discussion about the planting of spring flowers, catching up on the news of old friends, and joking about publishing a COVID-19 recipe book of all the favorites we’ve collected and made over the past month or so, it was not surprising that our conversation made its way further on the topic of COVID-19 and its impact in each of our lives.

I told her that during this time of social distancing I’ve been managing to abide by the rules. And, outside of my regular walking and grocery runs, have only left the apartment very occasionally over the course of the past 4 or 5 weeks. “I have good days and bad days,” I said to her, “the good days are when I manage to stick to the routine I’ve created for myself: regular exercise, my morning walks, and reaching out to friends and neighbors electronically or by phone whenever I can. The bad days are when I watch or listen to too much media, get wrapped up in rumors and misinformation and I start to worry about how heavy the problems of the world seem to be, the sorrow we are experiencing as a result of COVID either directly or indirectly, and how little control we have over so many things…the stock markets, lost jobs, you know.” “And,” I said half-jokingly, “conspiratorial theories of nefarious nations and global domination,” we both had a chuckle. But then Kathy was quick with a response, “Mare” she said, “I hear you and I know you sweetie, you’ve got a big heart and you care about everybody, but you can’t worry about the whole world. What you can do is take control of your world.” I thought about that for a minute. What Kathy was really saying is that while I can be aware about what’s happening in the world, i.e.: think globally, my biggest and best contribution to a solution is to act locally. Kathy told me that she keeps it simple and very close to home “I’m taking care of my world,” she said. “I prepare meals for the neighbors who can’t and drop off dinner-care packages, I call friends in need and offer my time and my resources, like health care resource information and shopping and delivery, I check-in with my family, and I look after myself and my house so that I don’t become a part of the problem. And to help me feel connected to the world, at 7:00 p.m. every night, I step out on to my balcony and make some noise in support of the health care workers who are on the front lines taking care of and saving the lives of those who need it most.” She went on, “I know they can’t hear me, but it’s a way for me and my community to express our gratitude…together, locally. And I’m sure, one way or another, the message is getting across.”

She also reminded me that instead of thinking of the world in day-to-day time measurements, I should start thinking about it in 90 - 120 day increments. “The world was a different place 90 - 120 days ago and it will certainly be a different place in 90 - 120 days from now. We just need to be patient,” she said. We talked a little more and reminded each other that we should only look to credible resources when it comes to things like COVID-19 – no more talking heads on television. Places like the Centers for Disease Control, The World Health Organization, and our local governments are the best source of data.

Incidentally, did you see the latest chart from the Florida Department of Health on cases in the last 30 days? We’re flattening the curve and it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel... let's talk again in 90 days.

- Mare

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