COLUMNS

Day by Day: Optimism essential in crisis

LIZ THOMPSON
Liz Thompson

Earlier this month, we celebrated the Fourth of July and our nation's freedom.

The past few months have been riddled with problems that could cause fear to win over reason or enjoying our lives.

One freedom we do have is to choose how we will react in any given situation.

I try to react positively, but I don't always succeed. It is a challenge for everyone during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and all the other issues going on in our country.

In the 1980s, I worked for a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. He taught me how to solve problems.

When I first approached him about a problem, he said something like, "You can bring any problem to me you want, but when you do, also bring a solution. We may not use it, but we'll figure it out."

That advice has carried me through many circumstances. Problems are everywhere in our lives. To resolve them, we need to come up with solutions.

That's what many people have been doing these past few months.

The pandemic has created problems we have never faced before. I believe people are resilient.

I've begun to think more intentionally about everything. I've made efforts to focus on all the things going well and search for solutions for even the smallest problems.

I see more pop-up pools in yards and get to hear children laughing. I've enjoyed watching a young family plant a garden and tend it together. Children are playing, swinging, running -- often while parents watch during the week. Moms and dads -- on furlough, perhaps -- are making the most of the time together.

Cathy Williams found herself without her job at the Hair Shoppe in Grove City when the state ordered salons and barbershops closed in March. It was difficult not seeing her daughters or grandchild, but she said she and her four brothers texted constantly.

"We still do that even now. And I saw more people outside walking dogs, picnicking and playing as family units," she said. "I was home and was able to see that."

She and I had another thing in common during this time: cleaning our homes and not missing one corner or closet.

My daughter, Mary, said having a margin in her days is a good thing.

"This allows for all the 'little' things to be done so that life runs more smoothly," she said.

Mary has been creative about interacting with others when she couldn't be with them. And she is thankful for online church services -- as am I.

"But seeing people in real life, in real time, and having 'normal' conversations in person is so valuable," she said.

As a result, lawn parties are becoming commonplace.

Mary's family recently added a puppy to the household -- a mix of Labrador retriever and Great Pyrenees.

Her advice: "If there is ever another quarantine, get a puppy -- they are a wonderful, pleasant distraction that brings joy and excitement to any day."

Joan Campbell of Reynoldsburg said, "My current day-to-day routine doesn't seem at all suffocating, and I have the good fortune to be married to someone who feels the same way. We're happy to be hermits together, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

"But I've also been able to actually read some books that have long awaited my attention. That's a little bit of heaven right there."

Like many others, my husband and I didn't do our typical springtime camping. As a result, we got our garden started at a better time.

We planted our wildflower seeds and are being rewarded with myriad blooms showing off their diversity and beauty.

My daughter agreed about gardening: "Gardening is peaceful when you allow yourself to really take the time to do it and not just rush through the work for the results."

Campbell said, "Yard work and gardening have attracted a higher percentage of my time than usual."

I read that seed suppliers were busier than ever with the demand because more people are planting gardens.

Seeds of hope likely will grow as we learn positive ways to find solutions during this difficult time.

Local author Liz Thompson writes the Day by Day column for ThisWeek Community News. Email her at lizt911@gmail.com.