It is inevitable that every which way we turn, conversations of our current circumstances in this global pandemic seem to arise. In general, and in my experience, these conversations typically are geared towards negative and argumentative opinions.
We all know too well that these conversations, especially on social media, surround public health protocols, shutdowns, lockdowns, business, education, restrictions, new government announcements, vaccinations, Long Term Care, hospitals, employment and so much more.
This blog, and my life, remain to be a source of positivity. I have decided to write today, to offer a new perspective about a sometimes silent and unseen portion of the population. Although I choose positivity over negativity and actions over words, my heart is still so incredibly heavy with compassion and understanding for all of the current struggles many individuals in our communities are facing. I feel it’s important to preface with this comment:
I personally have adapted well to many of the new social protocols because I am different. I have many difficult, life-changing health challenges that I face every single day. In our society, there is still so much stigma that surrounds ageism, disability, workability, and accessibility. With different obstacles to overcome there is no one way a person with a “disability” should look, and many times it is unknown or unseen by a general passerby.
I have been enjoying many of the new opportunities and services provided during the COVID-19 pandemic – let me tell you why:
1. Curbside Pick-up & Delivery – These services have allowed me to be more independent. They have helped to reduce the effects of anxiety associated with my PTSD, and my physical limitations while supporting my favorite local brands. With the spring and summer weather arriving, I find myself enjoying the once tedious but necessary errands. I can get into my vehicle, go for a ride, open my windows, and feel the fresh air breeze on my face with my service dog all the while staying safe and isolated. This provides me such immense joy, as I no longer suffer for days of residual effects after an outing. I take advantage of ordering online or placing phone orders which allows me to continue supporting my local community connections and small businesses.
2. Social Distancing – When there are circumstances that require me to enter a store physically from time to time, I feel much more confident and comfortable as the spaces are now required to allow additional space for social distancing. In turn, this has removed overcrowding and sometimes overly aggressive or in a “rush” patrons. There have been many occasions in which I have felt rushed, pushed or even had my service dog stepped on due to a lack of respect of personal space or of fellow patrons’ lack of awareness. Unfortunately, many still struggle to remember these protocols of social distancing, and so I please remind you to be respectful of everyone’s personal space. I prefer smaller local establishments as much as possible and feel good when I can support families in my community. When in-person dining or patio dining returns at restaurants, during loosened restrictions in the pandemic or post-pandemic, I am hopeful that distanced tables remain a regular occurrence. This helps to create space for service dogs, wheelchairs and walkers without having the concern of knocking anything down or over, not having space for the waitress to maneuver comfortably or guests at the table beside you should they be ready to leave.
3. Connecting with Friends & Family – Time during this pandemic and even in the past has always seemed to fly by. As you continue to grow older, many friends and family move to different places either across Ontario, Canada, or the world. Unfortunately, now more than ever before, days seem to go by and we miss the opportunity to connect as much as we would like. I do believe and recognize that through both our personal and professional lives we are “Zoomed” out, however it has made me realize that I no longer need to go without being able to see my people. I have taken the steps to learn Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and Facebook video to stay up to date. Connecting with someone while having the ability to both see their face and hear their voice has been a game changer. I find myself cooking with friends, having virtual dinner dates with family, playing virtual games and much more.
4. Working from Home – This was the first time in my entire life that I did not have to clean off my snow-covered vehicle or scrape my icy windshield. I have saved fuel, money, wear and tear plus time without having to commute to work. In addition, with dietary restrictions I have been able to eat a healthier and more nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner with direct access to my fresh food and ingredients. I have access to my stove or microwave to cook and items that take longer can still be an option for mealtimes. I can now eat and drink at my desk in my home office without being restricted to a short 30-minute meal period which would require going to your locker, heating your lunch, using washroom facilities, and having time to eat/digest. I can function at a highly productive and self-monitored pace which allows me to excel and escape the challenging morning routine or restrictions faced by “packing a lunch”.
5. Understanding & Compassion – There will always be those who prefer negativity. I am saddened that during these times of limited human interaction our society continues to be cruel. I have found myself being more grateful, compassionate, and understanding, as we all patiently wait to shake hands and share hugs again sooner rather than later. We must invest into understanding and learning new ways of doing things and new perspectives. Please be patient, and help to provide direction or guidance in making it an easier world for us all to live in. Pay forward what you have learned to help others. Understand that everyone is unique and so will be their situations or skills in handling challenging times. I believe however cliché it may sound, that after a year plus that we all remain in this together, so let us choose love, understanding, compassion and support over negativity.
I hope that what has been learned will carry forward to make positive change in how we work, and act socially with greater responsibility. I hope that our communities become stronger having had to support and lean on each other to succeed and get to know thy neighbour. I hope that we have all had our eyes opened to creating safer environments with cleaning and sanitization, teaching children proper hand washing from an early age, choosing an occupation with the understanding that there are dangers which require the use of precautions, being read to “run into the fire” when required and to be prepared each day. It is extremely easy to become complacent and let our guard down, but this may have been the wake-up call we all needed to continue to move forward.
~ Betty Lauzon, Co-owner, Plan A Kingston & Quinte