Undeniably, pandemic times reshaped our lives. From the broader realities of lockdowns, sequestering, social distancing, loneliness, anxiety, and being unable to plan ahead, to working and schooling remotely, job losses, the plight of the ultra-vulnerable, and, of course, health scares and heartbreaks, our world has been and continues to be rocked. Hopefully, the end of its associated trials is in sight.
Challenging times acknowledged, we can nonetheless embrace positive occurrences — even blessings — that have sprung up in our lives during this arduous period. Good has occasionally come front and center BECAUSE of the plight that has dominated our lives since spring 2020.
Good stuff during dire times? How is that possible?
Because, first and foremost, we are a dauntless and positive group, recognizing at the end of the day that hope is real and, as a lean former Senator noted in a convention speech pre-“44”, hope is “God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation.” It’s an attitude that there always exists in our cherished albeit currently challenged and divided country
“a belief that there are better days ahead.”
Negativity sucks the life out of you. Sure, there are oodles of things about which one can be depressed — and, don’t get me wrong, rightfully so. But what possible good can come by perseverating on the negative? Residing in that rabbit hole is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. That dog simply won’t hunt.
Choose to believe in hope and our country’s longstanding history of overcoming even the worst of times, always striving for the betterment of all peoples. History is a constant stenographer, and ours validates hope, kindness, positivity, accepting differences, jettisoning anger, and embracing a can-do attitude. These are the singular paths to how we get things done — together and for everyone. If someone is down, make it your mission to pick them up and help put them back into the game. Help them rise and move forward, no matter how painful. Spread a little sunshine, touch hearts, and life will come back to you in spades.
Thinking back to various creative ABC lists that have entertained us over the years, the following came to mind as “stuff” to appreciate — silver linings and moments of light — since this hot mess took over our lives. I’m sure you can come up with others … because that is who we are and what we do.
Hang tough. Stay positive. Spread hope and kindness. Better days are ahead.
- Acts of kindness have increased.
- Adaptability rules the day. Every day.
- Applications for pet adoptions have soared.
- Baking — Wonder where all the flour on grocery store shelves went? Check out #stressbaking (26,000 posts) and #quarantinebaking (12,000) on Instagram. Comfort (and stay-at-home safe) Baking, indeed.
- Reading Books (hardcopy or online) has made huge comebacks. Cooped up at home? According to www.lithub.com, 35% of the world is reading more books during the pandemic.
- Bubbles for sequestered athletes and teams helped make playoffs happen for our sports in 2020, which, as they seemingly always do during times of crisis, united us and provided a sense of normalcy.
- Cooking has made a serious comeback in a world of online delivery apps and drive-thru windows.
- Conversations about racism, discrimination, mental health, wellbeing, climate change and other issues of our times have come front and center; acknowledging and discussing our collective past’s truth is the path to learning from our mistakes and moving beyond them.
- Democracy is backbreaking, burdensome, imperfect work, but it’s as a result of that tough grind that it always wins. Thank the Good Lord it everlastingly weathers storms and contending views … and it delivers at the end.
- Education ROCKS, as more individuals are reading, taking online classes, learning new skills.
- Entrusting Employees to step up from home offices … not being at all disappointed in output and results … and coming to the realization that old ways are not always the best ways.
- Faith. It’s where we go. Always. It wins over all miseries.
- Family time takes on new meaning … and importance.
- Fauci Effect. In part thanks to Dr. Anthony Fauci, medical school applications are at a historic all-time high for 2021. “Now more than ever we need your talent, your energy, your resolve and your character,” says it all about this fearless, honest director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
- First Responder love. God Bless them every one.
- Games heretofore enjoyed face-to-face have found new lifelines via online apps and personal creativity.
- Gardening and puttering in the Greenhouse have made solid comebacks.
- Gratefulness and Gratitude for the dawn of each new day and the positive things that come with it — helping us experience more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve our health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships. At a painful price, this hot mess has given us a new perspective on precious personal freedoms long taken for granted, all of which could abruptly be taken away.
- Groceries are delivered instead of wasting gas and time.
- A “Guitar Revival” in 2020 led to record-breaking guitar sales at companies like Fender, Gibson, Taylor, and Martin, as folks of all ages are picking up a new pastime. Specifically, Fender sold more guitars in 2020 than any other year in the company’s history (click here for source).
- Hallmark movies. Well-made with predictable plots and appealing casts, they never fail to deliver the message that love wins every time.
- Hamilton online.
- Heroes wearing scrubs!
- Home Haircuts aren’t so bad.
- Home workouts drive exercise as fitness equipment sales surge, revenue more than doubling, to $2.3 billion from March to October 2020 (source: Washington Post).
- Hope springs eternal!
- Innovation soared as businesses had to reinvent themselves, change business models, and learn lessons beyond keeping the doors open.
- Interest rates for mortgages hit new lows.
- Justice For All is more than a line in our Pledge of Allegiance, and the times rightfully shined a stronger light than ever on this dominant issue of our times.
- Kamala Harris made history when elected America’s first female Vice-President, first African American Vice-President, and first Asian American Vice-President.
- Kindness is KING!
- Long-Distance check-ins with friends and family help keep sanity and warm the heart.
- Masks for all! Making and sending masks to loved ones and those who need them most became an important focus for tenacious seamstresses.
- Music went even more virtual, live streaming living-room concerts over various social media where we could still interact with fellow connoisseurs. Not the same as in person, for sure, but it worked and was inspiring and uniting.
- NASA named its D.C. headquarters building after Mary W. Jackson, NASA’s first African American female engineer. You may remember her from the hit film, Hidden Figures (click here for source).
- Nature’s tranquility was embraced all the more.
- Neighbors helping Neighbors. The heightened sense of community is easily one of the most inspiring things to come out of the pandemic. Banding together to help each other. Love Thy Neighbor, indeed.
- Now You See It, Now You Don’t, Now You Do — the mystery of our times. What spooked us to make toilet paper, paper towels, hand-sanitizer, and other staples disappear, only to reappear even as pandemic numbers rose?
- Online expressions of feelings became as prevalent as face-to-face encounters once were (and will be again).
- Outdoor messages of love and support — e.g., folks Outside the windows of patients delivering support, affection, friendship and love, and Out On balconies in a powerful and beautifully orchestrated evening “thank you” to first responders.
- Patience — If there was ever a time to kick patience into a higher gear, slow down, and make life more manageable, this has been the time. Deep breaths.
- Perspective — The twin P to Patience (above), consider that a little over one year ago the world was “normal” — Covid-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. One year later, science has presented vaccines that will defeat this ghastly, horrendous plague … and strategies and logistics are finally shaping up to vaccinate every person in the world. Imagine that.
- Pollution levels have dropped considerably around the world. Sending us to our rooms has paid tangible benefits for the earth, proving that, given time and proactiveness, nature mends itself.
- Quiet time has become a valuable commodity, as it should be, as families have more time together.
- Relationships trump creature comforts in terms of what’s truly important, pushing us to be more creative about spending time together.
- Restaurants got creative to stay in the game while enforcing social distancing.
- R&R — or Rest and Relaxation, became something attainable.
- Science steps up and lights our way … again. Research is our best path to progress, prosperity, promise … and survival. It keeps our best days ahead of us, fans the flames of hope and momentum, and merits our continued commitment and investment.
- Shopping hours are set aside for our seniors.
- Streaming and revisiting classic series, sitcoms and dramas. Whether nostalgic or first-time viewing, we found bunches of outstanding productions available for free viewing.
- Sweatpants, Shorts and T-Shirts became acceptable fashion choices for work … and everything else.
- Teachers got their just due as heroes! Homeschooling is HARD!
- Trusting family members and friends to “do the right thing” and keep safety and health as paramount considerations for loved ones — yours and others.
- Underestimate … as in Don’t Underestimate Us! The human spirit and hope are the strongest of our many strengths. There is a faint light at the end of the tunnel. We will overcome this hot mess and come out on the other side stronger than ever as a society. Embrace the undeniable truth that we, as a people, are the type of flowers that can still grow after a forest fire … because we always have and always will.
- Vaccines for this hot mess are coming to the entire world thanks singularly to our science and technology community.
- Value every precious minute you have because we know how easily all of this can be taken away.
- Virtual hugs, workplaces, events, conferences, e-learning, graduation commencements … and more bring us together.
- Weddings have been reimagined. Past are the days of a 300-person guest list. 2020 witnessed driveway weddings, Zoom prenuptials, and virtual “I Do’s” … and love conquered all.
- Working from home works for dedicated employees and admin-types.
- As in SpaceX, a private enterprise putting humans into space … and then LANDING the Falcon 9 rocket!
- XOXOXO was elevated to perhaps the world’s strongest signoff, as it should be — hugs, kisses, love.
- Yearning for hugs from family members and dear friends — something that seemed such a simple act of love — has become a national craving.
- Zoomies-grade love and appreciation for our pets, more critical than ever (if that is possible … ) to our souls.
- Zooming! And connecting in other expressive online hangouts brings new meaning to face-to-face encounters.
- Zzzz — Squeezing in a nap every now and again is easier and a good thing — studies of napping have shown improvement in cognitive function, creative thinking and memory performance.
LSomerbyCooke Sidebar: Thanks to my wonderful niece and her mom for their contributions to my first draft of this list.