What I’ve Learned...Tools for Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic!
By Lisa Adams Walter
In some ways it is difficult to believe that it was less than 60 days ago that Napa County put into effect the mandate to stay at home due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Across the country, and the world, ceasing human contact is showing a positive impact in terms of slowing the speed of the vicious disease. Yet, lives have been lost. Sadly there have been local difficulties. My heart breaks for the families that are being hit hard with the loss of family members, loss of jobs and decreasing business.
While we are “Sheltering in Place” (SIP) only essential services are open for business, and the “downtown” business districts in each local town are sleepy, empty and bare. For me it has been surreal to easily find street parking in downtown Napa when I pick up my mail, strange to never encounter traffic when driving up Highway 29 and a bit eerie to walk (while wearing a face mask) through Yountville without a visiting tourist in sight.
Our community has rallied in some uplifting ways. Numerous locals with sewing skills have stepped up to crank out necessary (and in many cases quite fashionable) face masks for citizens, as well as those working on the front line.
Operation: With Love from Home, which traditionally produces care packages for military service members far from home, along with Napa Valley CanDo and the Community Organizations Active in Disaster Napa Valley (COAD), created a “Discover Your Face Cover” program, assembling an army of volunteers that either pick up homemade face mask donations from porches or collect them at drive-through drop offs.
The few restaurants, food trucks and caterers — many locally owned and operated — that have been able to stay open have been creative in their take-away offerings. From buckets of fried chicken, to bags of fresh produce, to cocktail kits, to daily specials and family-style meals, restaurateurs have both cared for us, as well as their employees, by revising their business models during these trying times. Several have also cooked for health care professionals.
While salons were not designated as essential, many people that I know (mostly women) would disagree. Therefore some stylists have created “color touch up kits” to go, so that clients can maintain their hair on their own at home. Gyms and trainers are also streaming personal and team workouts live and online.
I am in awe of teachers, as well as parents and guardians (who are now teaching at home), that are continuing the education of students at all levels. It simply cannot be easy to suddenly change the entire educational platform and move it online. For working parents, who are either grappling with loss of income or remote working while caring for children: hang in there
and stay strong!
To make sure that local kids are sustained, Napa Valley Unified School District staff members have been passing out free lunches at pick-up sites that are either drive-through or grab and go.
The world as we knew it, has literally been turned upside down. Other than coming together to stay at least six feet apart at the grocery store, most all of us are lacking human interaction. For me this has been difficult, but there are also some important lessons I have learned, and tools for coping with social distancing:
• Be Compassionate - There is a lot of loss around us, as I mentioned earlier, both due to illness and financially. Have compassion for others, you may not realize what they are actually experiencing.
• Support Local - Our local businesses need our support more than ever! If you have a choice, and dollars to spend, spend your money here in Napa County.
• Have Gratitude - I will never again take for granted hugs and handshakes (likely things of the past for at least the short term) and the time I spend with those that I love. Not being able to see my parents and my sister, other than from the distance when we drop things off for each other on the porch, is not easy. Celebrating holidays and birthdays over the phone or computer, rather than in person, is something for my family (and likely yours) that is new.
• Be Resourceful - I have noticed increased creativity in the social media posts of my online friends. Craving fresh bread? Bake it. If you do not have access to a face mask, you can now easily make it. Our homes are being improved, projects long put off are in process, and I have noticed that we are figuring out how to do a lot of things on our own. I even made my own almond paste. I needed it, could not find it in a store, Googled it, and BOOM! It was super easy and delicious.
• Continue to Connect - Oddly, there are some people that I am more connected with now, than I was before the pandemic. We always “meant to get together” or “planned to have lunch” but we were moving at a speedy pace, and it seemed impossible. Now we are all yearning to catch up. Religious services via Facebook Live and YouTube, as well as Zoom birthday parties, happy hours, bingo games, wine tastings and virtual holiday celebrations are now a norm.
• Be Entertained - With my daughter, I have watched several television series and movies that we otherwise would never have made the time to watch together. From world-class artists, to extremely talented local performers, I have also been able to enjoy free live performances online via Facebook Live, Instagram Live or YouTube, that otherwise would have had a hefty ticket price.
• Take Care - I have learned the increased importance of taking care of ourselves and each other. Keep your immune system and body strong. Being forced to stay inside, has made me both want to get out and exercise and be extra creative in the kitchen so that we eat well.
• Embrace Solitude - While I am not completely solo — my college freshman had her year abruptly changed when she was forced to move out of her dorm and come home to take classes online — I am cherishing my times alone. I am again journaling, planning and reading more than I have in the recent past. I have streamlined my life, enjoyed silence, and listened, resulting in more often hearing subtle sounds such as bees, quail and hummingbirds.
• Slow Down - This may be the most important lesson that we have been forced to learn. Do not feel guilty, it is okay to slow down. Most of us were moving at a rapid fire pace. Individuals and families were typically overcommitted, overscheduled, unable to enjoy the beautiful simplicity in life and lacking time to focus on what was most important: each other.