I’ve been debating on writing a new blog post for over a week. We are living in incredibly challenging and difficult times. Like the majority of people around the world, I have been living in “self-quarantine” for the past few weeks.
On March 23rd, Governor Kate Brown issued a formal executive order instructing Oregonians to stay at home as much as possible to prevent (or at least slow down) the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). I find it comforting to know that our elected officials here in Oregon are looking out for the best interests of our citizens. I have been receiving regular email updates from the governor’s office and several other elected officials (on both the state and federal levels). I appreciate our elected officials keeping us updated on the situation and the words of comfort that they include in their messages. In particular, the idea that “we’re all in this together.”
However, like most people, I have been experiencing a great deal of anxiety, stress, and grief while witnessing the unfolding crisis. For me, it has been heartbreaking to check the news reports as the number of people infected by the virus (both in the United States and around the world) keeps increasing rapidly. My heart breaks for the family and friends of the people who have died during the pandemic.
As I was typing that last sentence, I received a notification on my phone that the number of coronavirus cases around the world is now over one million. One million. (And, that’s just the confirmed cases. There have been reports of a widespread shortage of tests).
I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by such depressing news. The lives of millions of people around the world have been turned upside down by the current crisis. In addition to the fear of becoming ill, people are worried about paying their bills now that only people with jobs that are considered “essential” are still working. Worst of all is the uncertainty. There are so many unknowns– how long will the pandemic last? How bad is it going to get? When will things finally start to improve? When will be able to resume our “normal” lives?
In an attempt to counter-balance all of these negative and stressful thoughts, I’ve been attempting to “look for the good.” In addition to staying informed about the unfolding crisis, I’ve also been keeping an eye out for positive news. The following are a few of my favorites so far:
Online Story Time
With most schools and public libraries closed, many organizations have been posting online recordings of people reading children’s books. Two of our local libraries, Coos Bay Public Library and North Bend Public Library, have been posting videos on Facebook and YouTube:
For space/NASA/science enthusiasts, you can watch astronauts read stories from the International Space Station:
And, local coffee shop “So It Goes” has been receiving media attention for their quirky online storytime sessions:
Communities Coming Together
I’ve also been enjoying reading online articles about things that people have been doing to help encourage their communities during these challenging times. For instance, some people are putting up Christmas lights to add some cheer:
My personal favorite, people are participating in the “teddy bear hunt.” It’s a fun “social distancing” idea based off of the children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen. The basic idea is to place a stuffed bear in a window that is visible from the street. Then, when families are out walking, kids can look for and count the teddy bears they see.
Most of the stuffed animals in my personal collection (I have a healthy inner child!) are either cats, dogs, frogs, or dragons. However, I do have one teddy bear that my niece gave me a few years ago. It’s now in a window beside my desk. (I had to place the bear higher in the window due to the fact that I have mischievous house cats!).
Some of the other fun ideas that I’ve read about were part of a discussion in our local Nextdoor forums. Since it’s unlikely that communities will be able to host traditional egg hunts this Easter, people are placing pictures of Easter eggs in their windows. Once again, families on walks in their neighborhoods will be able to search for and count the eggs they see.
Other people are hanging hearts in their windows to provide a message of hope to their community:
I don’t have any paper hearts or Easter eggs, but I do have some window clings:
The ideas above are just a few of the heart warming stories that I’ve read about over the past few weeks. We may be living in trying times and unable to get together physically (due to social distancing), but there is a silver lining to this worldwide crisis. People are finding ways to come together as a community (on both a small and large scale) in order to encourage and support each other. We really are in this together.
What are other ways that people are coming together and supporting each other during this crisis? Feel free to share ideas and links to online articles in the comments section.
Hang in there everyone! Sending you “social distancing” cyber hugs!
~ H. S. Contino