Six Positives To Self-Isolating

This week is our first full week of self-isolation. My place of employment sent everyone home last Wednesday, my son’s company sent him home on Friday, and my husband voluntarily started working from home on Monday.

Right now, each of us starts our day at our usual time, but rather than head out the door, we go to our separate work areas. I and my husband have basement offices and my son has his computers set up in his room (he works for a cyber security company). So far, I’ve seen more positives than negatives to our new lifestyle, and here’s why:

  1. My husband is saving 2-2/12 hours per day of commuting, my son is saving 90 minutes, and I’m saving 40 minutes, which is good for the environment, our stress levels, and our wallets, even though gas is significantly cheaper these days.
  1. read-652384_960_720[1]Instead of reading from my iPad, I’m reading more paperbacks bought from my local new and used bookstore, who need and appreciate the support.
  1. I’m able to take care of more writing tasks and am eating better on my work break.
  1. I’ve found great new exercise workouts on Utube.Flowers for Mimo
  1. My husband and I are doing more yard work together, for the first time. He usually takes care of the garden and yard, while I’m out running errands, meeting my writers’ group, or going to the gym.
  1. I’m checking in with friends and colleagues more often on social media, making sure everyone’s okay.

And then there’s the silence. I live near a major thoroughfare and generally only notice the quiet at special times, like Christmas morning, during a snowfall, or when I can’t sleep at 3:00 a.m. It’s like this every day now, and I’m hearing far fewer police, fire, and ambulance sirens. It’s almost as if the world has grown calmer, although I’m well aware that there’s plenty of angst happening out there.

I also know that self-isolation is perhaps easier for me than others because I’m an introvert and a writer. On some levels, self-isolation has always been part of life. But I do understand how difficult it can be. When I was a stay-at home mom with young kids, without a car and living on a hilly street, and my husband was putting in ten hour days at work accompanied by a 3-hour commute, I desperately wanted to go out and do something, or run a much-needed errand. Transit was terrible back then and on chilly, rainy days it just wasn’t feasible.

Still, there are things I also miss right now, like chatting with my friend while working out and visiting my daughter (who’s in her 22nd week of pregnancy), and hosting families dinners. I miss all the book launches and other writing events that have been cancelled.

But we’ll get through this and will re-emerge, and be more appreciative of what we have than what we’ve lost. There’s plenty to look forward to in 2020, and every day is one step closer to getting back on track with a new awareness and valuable lessons learned from this experience.

Staying Health in an Unhealthy Season

hjrezv1282671478-opt402x422o00s402x422[1]Like many of you, I’ve been paying close attention to the coronavirus outbreak since it began making daily headlines. I work at a university here in British Columbia, where instructors have already faced the occasional student who refuses to come to class because until the face mask they’ve ordered has arrived. A small number of people have also suggested that instructors wear a face mask while teaching.

All the TV news, social media, and work discussions have served at least one useful purpose, which is to remind me that all sorts of germs are out there right now. So, we’ve ordered more disinfectant wipes for our common areas, plus hand sanitizers for the staff. I also keep a small bottle on the front counter in my office with a sign encouraging people to use it if meeting with department personnel. I take it upon myself to wash my hands more often and wipe down countertops. I’m also trying to make a conscious effort not to touch my face, which isn’t as easy as it should be.

Last week, I was working out at the gym, when a young woman got on the bicycle beside me and, while chatting on her phone, said, “I’ve been sick a week”. I was working on a circuit equipped with about 18 different machines. It was fairly empty at the time, but she picked the one next to me. I quickly moved onto a machine well away from her.

Gym users are supposed to use the wipes provided in the dispensers to wipe equipment down. I’ve noticed a lot of people doing so lately, but the sick woman didn’t have one. I’m not prone to paranoia and definitely not hysteria, but I do think everyone needs to be more diligent with hand-washing.

When I came to work on Monday, someone had stolen our hand sanitizer from the front counter, ignoring the do-not-remove label. If people are behaving that way at a campus thousands of miles from the epicenter, what must it be like for those living in Wuhan, China?