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Staying hopeful

The sun is shining, the air seems to hold the promise of spring and I find myself smiling at the sight of a couple walking a pair of large, shaggy dogs along the newly dry roads and sidewalks.

It almost seems like a regular day in late March until I notice the empty streets, parking lots and buildings that surround me.

But I take a deep breath and try to keep noticing each and every bit of good in the world.

I try to remember that spring isn’t canceled, that communication isn’t canceled, that love and kindness aren’t canceled.

I try to let my fear and grief go. I try to return to the beautiful moment I was experiencing.

I try to just focus on my senses and tame my ceaseless, worrisome inner monologue.

It seems like I’ve repeated this experience over and over again this week. I think many of us have.

But that makes it more important than ever to seek moments of joy and relaxation whenever we can, and try not to let ourselves dwell on our worries so much.

So, in hopes that it may help someone out there, I’m going to share a few things that I’ve been doing — or am planning to do — in an attempt to promote a sense of normalcy and calm in my life.

≤ Play a game with friends or family via video chat. This might not work for every situation or game, but my parents and I tried playing a dice game that we both own via video chat last weekend. Basically, we’d roll, show the other players what was rolled and occasionally show our score sheets. It worked out surprisingly well on a technical level.

But more importantly, it was a fun way to spend time together and pretend that things were normal. It felt so much like actually being together that my dad even forgot I was just on video chat at one point and asked my mom if I’d gotten up and left the room for a minute. I’m not quite sure how this would work with other games, but it’s worth trying to play a favorite game with your family and friends virtually if you can’t be together physically. It just might help bring a sense of normalcy back to the table.

≤ Listen to and collect stories from family members. I haven’t done this one myself yet, as it just dawned upon me while writing this column, but I think this is a great time to ask our parents, grandparents and older relatives to tell us stories from their lives and ask them about our larger family histories. This can be a wonderful way to bond and learn something new about your family members, especially those who don’t live in your household. You might even want to record your conversation or take notes if they are OK with it, as your recordings and writings can help ensure these stories are never forgotten.

≤ Start a creative project. Maybe challenge yourself to create something each day or chip away at a long-term project over this period. However, I don’t think the end-product should be the primary focus. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. Rather, I think it’s worth just enjoying the process. Try something new. Return to a favorite medium. Experiment with things outside of your comfort zone. Whatever you choose to do, use your creativity to tap into some joy.

≤ Brainstorm ways to help others. While the problems we currently face may seem overwhelming, a little creative brainstorming on safe ways to help others during the pandemic can make a big difference for everyone. Think about a needed resource you could offer while maintaining social distancing recommendations. Think about a simple way to brighten someone’s day from afar. Thank an essential worker and let them know how much they are appreciated. Reach out by phone or internet to someone who might be struggling with isolation right now. No matter what you choose to do, it will make a positive difference. But please, make sure to do it safely and per all guidance and orders issued by the state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

These are just a few little ideas, but I hope they might help someone out there.

So, please, stay safe and try to keep finding things to smile about.

It’s not always easy to find joy in a dark time. But if you’re able, take a deep breath, pick out the bright spots and share them with others. We need every little bit of kindness and joy we can get at this point.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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