Negotiating life with COVID-19

The View from Here

There are small moments of joy that happen in a day – speaking a kind word, sharing a smile, or taking that first sip of coffee in the morning.

These moments often exist in the background of daily life. So much so that they can be taken for granted and not be appreciated for what they are – or the profound significance they hold. It’s only when life is turned upside down that the calmness of simplicity is truly embraced.

The coronavirus has spread like wildfire for much of this year, drastically changing everything from enjoying time with friends and family, to a simple trip to the grocery store. Wearing masks has become a highly-debated measure of safety while people are fearful as they wonder when they can return to a normal way of life – or worry if that’s even a possibility.

It feels like another strand is added to this strange web of confusion every day. The question of whether or not this is the “new normal” has even become a part of the conversation.

As I watch and listen to all this unfold, it’s hard not to think about kindness and what it means to give people a reason to be hopeful. I also think about what I can do to put a smile on someone’s face or provide some hope.

I’ve been very fortunate that my work hasn’t stopped since the news of COVID-19 first broke months ago. There have been a few bumps in my road, but nothing major. In fact, being able to write in the midst of such a difficult time for everyone has been a true blessing in disguise. The world is a scary, unsteady place right now and people need a welcome distraction. I never thought I’d be in a position where others might look at what I do as a saving grace, but I’m happy to now be in that category.

Perhaps the best example of this was in June, when I had my first public book signing this year at Penn State Altoona to celebrate my birthday and the release of my second book. I expected a very small crowd due to current circumstances, but was overwhelmed by the response.

I chose an outdoor venue, for safety, and followed all guidelines, but a line quickly formed. I couldn’t have been more surprised to see that my supporters didn’t forget me and I was overwhelmed with their willingness to come and forget about fear and worry, even if it was only for a little while.

It was a great day to get out and reconnect with friends and supporters. Apparently, they have been using this downtime to read and follow me. It was a reminder that there’s always something to be grateful for – and for me, it’s being able to give people a little laughter, hope and something to look forward to. There isn’t a better feeling than that.

So, keep your head up and keep smiling under those masks. A kind gesture doesn’t always have to be seen to be appreciated. It just needs to come from a genuine place in your heart – and that’s what we all need right now.


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