My MS pandemic… a few months on
By Birgit Bauer:
Some months ago, I wrote about the things that have changed for me due to the lockdown. I mentioned the virtual coffee breaks, boosting creativity, going back to nature, and much more. The virus has changed a lot of things in our lives. My goal was and is to find a way to navigate this new normal and not to lose compromise on my quality of life.
At the beginning of the pandemic I saw a lot of people who were totally panicked. An old lady in our neighborhood said: “To be panicked is not helpful. Keep calm and be careful makes more sense.” She was so right. Panic doesn’t solve anything. But to change our life can help. I did it and integrated new things into my life:
I am a food lover, and going out to buy the freshest, most regionally grown produce is important for me. But since COVID-19, I had to ask myself a few questions; how will my trips to the grocery store be affected? What if there are too many people in the supermarket at one time? I started to observe how regular shoppers went about doing their weekly shopping, and I asked other people for their experiences. Then, I researched the opening times of the store, and when it was safest for me to visit. Now, I know now when I can go and worry less. And all I had to do was plan ahead, have my shopping list ready, and I could carry on shopping just as I did before!
The people who know me best know that I love knitting. Creating new looks with knitting needles is sustainable and the end product you end up with is clothes that are always unique and well-fitting. To produce something by yourself not only develops your cognitive functions, calms you down, and brings about new perspectives, but it also helps you save money and produce less waste as we tend to wear these hand-made pieces for longer.
Not all services were available during the pandemic so I was unable to get clothes altered as I usually would. This gave me an opportunity to learn how to sew with my new sewing machine. It makes me more self-sufficient which is a huge benefit.
I still go out for walks into the woods, fortunately the pandemic hasn’t changed that. I enjoy nature. Nature seems to recover from all the things we have done to it. It grows, adapts and betters itself – and is full of little visitors! Just a few days ago we noticed a hedgehog visiting our garden.
I have a garden to myself, and although it’s tiny and I am very grateful for it. Last year I didn’t have much time to spend planting, but this year I’ve had time to spend tending to flowers, tomatoes and cucumbers and I’ve rediscovered my love of gardening. If you don’t have a garden, ask others if you can help them to take care of theirs. Especially older people who are often happy to have help. This is easy, because you can keep a safe distance whilst helping others. The best thing: you are mostly “paid” in kindness, besides a nice chat with other people, doing something with your hands and being outside is something I’d recommend.
To read a book means to dive into another world. I have read a lot of specialized books during the last few years and missed the stories you can find in novels. COVID-19 gave me the time to bring back good stories back into my life. I enjoy reading it and have it’s always special for me to read a good book. I started to travel in my head with a book about Sweden, but at the moment, I am in Paris and New York.
All it took was around 6 weeks, and after some technical fixes, I was up and running. I was able to make all the congresses and meetings I would usually attend in person, digitally. It really works! Of course, I miss the face to face aspect of life before COVID-19, but in times like this, we drink our virtual coffee and we know what’s going on at the other side of the conversation is similar to our own situation back home. This way of working also has its benefits: it saves money and is much more eco-friendly.
Dates with hubby are essential. When the restaurants and bars were allowed to re-open, we decided to go out for dinner. I was afraid, but it was a lovely evening. I felt safe and all regulations were adhered to, so I felt safe to enjoy myself. We are careful and ensure we go at suitable times when it’s not too busy. We exchange our experiences with others, so we know where the best places we can go are.
The last few months have created new environments; and new lives for us all. To change something you like isn’t easy and may not always seem fair. But it is worth it, and we should think about new strategies, how we can still keep our old values as well as how we can do things that we find satisfying and mean we are still able to enjoy life. I learned, that it is more about the little things that make us happy. Whether it’s helping my friend to learn to knit via Skype, or growing my tomatoes in my terrace, the lockdown has given all of us more time to think about the most important things in life. To be more human, and to take care for others, as well as ourselves.