Finding Unexpected Joy During a Pandemic

We are nearing the year mark of the introduction of COVID-19 to our daily lives. It has been a tough year for many; we’ve lost loved ones, we’ve had to distance ourselves from our friends and at-risk family members, we’ve had our little pleasures stripped from our routines. It hasn’t been easy but as we enter our second year of this pandemic, I want to focus on the unexpected pleasures I’ve been able to experience during this time.

The changes that we’ve gone through have not all been bad; parents have had more time to spend with their growing children, entrepreneurs have had time away from their 9-5’s to focus on their passions, and we’ve all experienced a resiliency in ourselves that we would have never known before.

Staying close to home for holidays and vacations, while a bit discouraging, has helped me rediscover the beauty in the environment around me that I would have otherwise taken for granted. While I’ve lived in Glenside for over 30 years and walked my neighborhood hundreds of times, I never appreciated it as much as I have in the past year. Being outside and walking with my neighbors is now a simple pleasure that I most look forward to.

Like many others during this time, I’ve also rediscovered my inner chef. Being forced to eat in more has rekindled the flame in my heart for creating and enjoying a home-cooked meal. There is something so gratifying about preparing a dish so delicious and perfectly executed that you just can’t get by going out to a restaurant. While my daughter has been living with us for most of the past year, she and I got into making our own cheese. We shared this experience with my sister in Washington DC via Zoom; she was making the same thing in her kitchen. My daughter and I also made fresh pasta and Chinese dumplings - which turned out amazing. Our next challenge is making Asian slap noodles. My only hope is that I don’t knock myself out swinging the noodles around!

I’ve also taken to online cooking classes to improve my skills. I think just about everyone has picked up a new hobby or craft to pass the time. Things like cooking, jewelry making, and knitting not only use up hours in the day, but they also produce something tangible at the end that we can appreciate. At the end of the day, even if I haven’t accomplished a single thing other than getting dinner on the table, I still feel productive.

Many things have shifted during this time but not all of them bad. If not for this pandemic I never would have learned to use Zoom and have family holidays with people who live all over the country. I have been able to spend so much more time walking my dog and playing with her. She is going to have a tough time when we start working away from home again!

It’s so easy to dwell on the negatives in the past year but in order to keep going and get through this thing, we have to focus on the positives.

Once we are on the other side of this tragic time in our history, we will look back and wish that we had tried harder to continue living our lives positively (while staying safe). The hundreds of thousands of people we have lost in the past year would want us to take advantage of the life we have been given; to live actionably and with purpose. I intend to do so in honor of those people.

If you're having a hard time getting through this and you're interested in counseling, nutritional guidance or cancer navigation, please get in touch.

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Cathy Nobil-Dutton, LCSW, CPT

Glenside, PA 19038


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