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10 Things To Be Grateful For In The Era Of Social Distancing

Ohio Stadium Ohio State Football Buckeyes

Earlier this week, there was a simple request from The-Ozone forum: “Any good news to post? I’ll take anything at this point.”

In the middle of a week when schools were closed, offices across the state were shutting down, and futures were anything but certain for just about everyone, it felt like an entirely reasonable request.

This is something none of us have ever lived through, and we don’t really know how long we’re going to have to go through it from now on.

It could be two more weeks. It could be a month. We could be hanging out at home until fall. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We’re not trying to sugar-coat anything: this is a weird and unprecedented time. My kids’ ice rink just closed for the season, and we haven’t had the heart to tell them yet because they’ll be devastated.

And there are a whole lot of people who have bigger issues than “we can’t play hockey/work on our lutzes.”

But amidst all the chaos and change, there are plenty of blessings as well. You just need to know where to look.

So here’s a list of 10 pieces of extremely good news that you should be very grateful for during an extremely uncertain time.

The COVID-19 virus is largely not impacting kids

However bad and panicky things are now, take about five seconds to think about how bad it would be if a large percentage of children were suffering serious symptoms.

Yeah.

Things aren’t exactly ideal right now, but they could be one heck of a lot worse. That’s something to be truly grateful for.

Supporting Neighbors

Some people live in a neighborhood where they know every person’s name in every house in a quarter-mile radius.

Some people don’t know their next door neighbors.

If you’re in that first group, this is a great chance to reach out to the people in severely-impacted populations (elderly, underlying conditions) and offer to help out in any way you can.

Can you get them a gallon of milk when you run to the store? Can you mow their lawn or pick up a prescription?

If you’re in that second group, you’ll never have a better chance to reach out than now.

Find out who’s living next door, and what you can do to help. This is your opportunity to do a good deed that someone can never re-pay.

Mow their lawn, grab an extra loaf of bread, or just be a smiling face (from six feet away!) who is genuinely interested in how someone is doing, and if there’s anything you can do to make their life easier or better.

You Can Get Out Of The House

Since Sunday, I’ve walked or run 13.1 miles with my kids.

That’s a half-marathon of dedicated walking or running in just three days, all because this virus isn’t easily communicable from distances of a few feet away or more.

Most of us are working from home right now, and virtually all of us don’t have a full 40 hours of work to do each week. Even if you do, all that time you spent in the car commuting is now free.

Make the most of it.

Tuesday, I spent multiple hours individually with my kids, walking.

We have a competition going with my parents, so my hyper-competitive kids can’t wait to go out again to beat their grandparents.

Two weeks ago, my kids were hoping to maybe make it to 50 miles of activity by the end of April. It’s March 25, and they’re already almost all the way there.

You… or you and your kids… can absolutely make the most of this time.

The Simple Pleasures

Over the weekend, one of our friends asked if we happened to have extras of one of the commonly-needed items. We did. So we brought some over to them.

But we didn’t just roll down our window and throw it at their front lawn.

We stopped, they came out of the house, stood six feet away from our car, and we talked for an hour and a half. And our kids talked to their kids.

And guess what? It was a delight!

And then a day later, one of my daughter’s friends stopped by our house in their car on the way to the bike path near our house. They just pulled down our street, rolled down their windows, and we talked like actual human beings.

And guess what? It was a delight!

Even in the “don’t drive unless you have to” era, do you have friends who live somewhat close? Walk over to their house, maintain proper distance, and have a real face-to-face conversation.

You don’t have anywhere else to be, and neither do they. Make the most of that time. You might just make another friend.

Opportunity To Change

Have you ever wanted to run a 5K, but never knew where to start? Download a “Couch To 5K” podcast and go do it.

I did that in 2011. Then I did a 10K, then did a 15K, then did a half-marathon. Then I ran The 2012 Columbus Marathon. It took less than 18 months. It remains one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life.

If you’ve done the “I should lose some weight…” thing at New Year’s Resolution time and never followed up on it, this is your chance.

Opportunity is knocking. Get off the couch and do something about it.

Time To Do Stuff

I get it. Life is busy. I work two jobs, coach my son’s ice hockey team, coach my daughter’s softball team, and occasionally have to do stuff like mow the lawn and say hello to my wife.

Guess what? Your schedule just cleared up!

Take your kids and go fly a kite. Teach your kid to ride a bike or catch a fish. Start a garden.

Start crossing stuff off that honey-do list at a disturbing pace.

All the stuff you’ve spent years saying “I wish I had time to…” is now entirely do-able. So do it.

Time With Kids

If you are a parent, you have undoubtedly have had the “holy crap, this is going too fast” moment.

Well, friends, time has slowed down. You’ve been wishing for this for years. Don’t waste it.

Take your kids out and have a catch. Or teach them to ride a bike. Or teach them to fish. Or go run a 5K. Or just sit there and watch them put on a puppet show. Just make sure you record a video of it, because 10 years from now, you’ll cry like a baby watching that and be willing to pay a million dollars to get this exact moment back.

Maybe you should enjoy it while it’s happening right in front of you?

Time With Pets

If you don’t have kids, this is the single best opportunity you’ll ever have to hang out with your pets.

Our dog has spent the last two weeks getting walked and frisbee-thrown into blissful oblivion. Even for a high-energy breed, it’s been… a lot.

As someone who has had to put a dog to sleep, at some point, you’ll desperately miss this time. So maybe appreciate it when they’re on this side of the Rainbow Bridge.

It’s Spring

This is all happening in a time of year when you’re almost biologically-called to go outside. So… what are you waiting for?

Walking with my kids today, we saw flowers budding on the trees. I don’t want to spoil anything, but that’s a pretty sure sign that spring is on the way.

Can you imagine what this would be like to be trapped inside with over-active kids in December?

It’s late March. It’s warm. You basically have between now and Halloween to set everyone loose outside and just have them come back in your house to sleep.

You should be feeling like the luckiest person on Earth right about now.

Appreciating The Little Things

Budding flowers on trees.

Walking your dog.

Throwing the ball with your kids.

Planting a garden.

Talking with friends.

Going for a walk.

Helping some people who you might not even know.

Right about now, you should be realizing that you’re George Bailey at the end of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Yes, the TV can’t wait to tell you that crap is melting down all around you.

Yes, you can spend the next month on Twitter or Reddit or Facebook and soak all the stuff you have no control over.

You can spend the next two weeks or month or two months wallowing in that crap.

Or… you can go hang out with your kids while they’re still kids.

Or… you can go have fun with your pets.

Or… you can help your neighbors.

Or… you can go make the changes you’ve vowed to make on every New Year’s Eve since you were 20 years younger.

This is it. This is your chance.

You’re the richest man in town. Lucky you.

Now go do something about it.

7 Responses

  1. Soooo… THIS is your way of demonstrating what being adjusted, compassionate and unselfish sounds like?

    Thanks for this, Tom. Important reminders that I imagine any internet reader would benefit from hearing.

  2. Thanks Tom. I’ve seen more young families out walking the neighborhood this past week than ever before (when I’m out walking my dogs). If something good comes of this, I hope it’s that those same families keep doing that, that they realize how nice it is to push the stroller, ride a bike, point out the birds and the trees to their kids. Maybe they’re usually out doing something fun and awesome anyway, and those other opportunities are off-limits now. But it makes this old dude happy to see them all outside and together.

  3. humor & irony can provide insight, perspective, and reduce stress.

    and sometimes, an Adversary convicts himself out of his own mouth.

    For example, one greatly self-esteemed Senator claims his version of a plan is “the Marshall Plan”.

    The Marshall Plan?

    The Marshall plan was… a massive and varied amount of relevant, timely, …successful aid to several nations in Europe.

    The irony? Consider what was IN the Marshall Plan…

    and the humor? What the senator & his allies trumpet… that was NOT in the plan.

  4. You forgot one big thing. For those who are stuck inside and watching the telly, we Buckeye fans can watch our teams success for the last couple of decades. The Wolverine fans can watch part of each season but know they have to either skip The Game or suffer the disappointment and agony of repeated loss after loss to the Bucks!

  5. Some redundancy, but thoughtful and good-advice article. Thanks, Tom. For everything the O-Zone does and what you do to keep it going in these times.

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