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Sarah’s Simple Pleasures: Coronavirus Edition

While I am not scheduled to post a column this month, how could I not in light of a global pandemic? It is now when we are grasping for simple pleasures most of all.

At this very hour, my husband (Doc B) is at the hospital attending to patients. He’s been doing so 24/7 since the coronavirus hit our nation. As an immunocompromised individual, I am under strict lock-down. Self-isolation by way of a matrimonial physician. But I couldn’t just sit here at my desk while he’s out helping people. So, I’ve taken up my trade tool (words) and am attempting to bring some aid, comfort, or at the very least, a distraction to my fellow home bound community.

Here are six simple pleasures that have been Sarah-tested and approved. These require nothing and provide great relief from the toxic fear plaguing us as tenaciously as this microbial foe.

1) Flowers. Splurge on a bouquet at the store. Now is the time. There may not be toilet paper on the shelves but it’s the beginning of spring and Mother Nature is immune to Corona’s affliction. Doc B surprised me with a bunch of flowers, and I was stunned to tears at how effective they were in lifting my spirit. I filled vases and jelly jars, big and small, and put them in every room. If store-bought blooms are unavailable, don’t worry. Flowers are ubiquitous, which leads me to #2…

2) The outdoors. Just because we are under self-isolation doesn’t mean we are locked in jail. Isolate yourself in nature. Drive to a trail or pedestrian area if you must. Even cities with the highest populations have parks. Pick some wildflowers. Doesn’t matter how small. Snowdrops are early bloomers, so are daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, wild violets—heck, pull some clovers! Go on a scavenger hunt for these simple floral pleasures, and I dare you not to feel revived when you return with a palm full. If for whatever reason you cannot physically go outside, go for an online ‘walk’ through the garden shops and order flower seeds. Some of those sell for under $1.00. The anticipation of planting them on your windowsill is just as much a seed of hope.

3) A song. Load up your Spotify, play your favorite CD, tune into your local radio station, or sing your own. Doesn’t matter. A song is medicine of the angels, and it will resonate in you for hours… days… however long this quarantine takes. Doc B texted me a song this morning, and it bolstered my optimism. Hours later, when that optimism had been battered down, I stopped, closed my eyes, and sang the chorus out loud to myself. I have the voice of a warbling toad, mind you, but that’s the pleasure of a song. Its beauty exists in your heart’s ear no matter your musical limitations. When I opened my eyes, my dog Gilly had followed the melody to my feet. Lesson learned: when I reach for the simple pleasure, I inevitably find it doubled.

4) A dish. Cook something at home. It could be Julia Child’s coq a vin or a microwave bowl of popcorn. It really doesn’t matter what. The act of creating a nutritious, virus-free dish for yourself and your loved ones is a simple recipe for joy. By our human nature, we are hunter-gatherers—i.e. providers—i.e. caregivers. When we feel we cannot take care of our beloveds, when we are helpless to stop outside forces such as now, we can feel hopeless. This simple act takes back our power while keeping our bodies in fighting form.

Flowers in my farmhouse kitchen

5) A letter. This can be to another person or a letter to yourself in a journal. Either way, it allows us to express what we’re feeling during this global crisis. According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus can only live on paper for 24 hours. Given that a standard postal letter sent through USPS takes 2-3 days, it is a safe way to ‘reach out and hold’ friends and family. Do it! I promise that it will encourage the recipient and you.

6) Above all, there’s reading, but that’s a given to our Writer Unboxed community. Personally, there hasn’t been a time since my childhood that I’ve given over so many hours to uninterrupted, flagrant reading. It’s the one place where my imagination can walk freely, embrace new people, and travel the globe without fear.

Pick one of the above or all. Take a simple pleasure for yourself. This is a time when we are all concerned about each other, about our family members, our neighbors, our friends. But we must remember that we cannot be our best for them if we are not taking care of ourselves. Take care of yourselves, dear ones. Remember, there is more blue sky out there than storm cloud. We will sail through together.

About Sarah McCoy [1]

SARAH McCOY is the New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children [2]; The Baker’s Daughter [3], a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central [4]; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico [5]. Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post [6] and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports doctor, and their dog, Gilly, in Chicago, Illinois. Connect with Sarah on Twitter [7] at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page [8], Goodreads [9], or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com [10].