“Creative Coping” was the theme of our Toastmasters meeting the other night. I think that’s a good description of all of our lives right now. (Our meetings, by the way, are held online via Zoom for the time being, which is how we are creatively coping with stay-at-home orders and guidelines.)

Day by day and week by week, we’re all finding and implementing new ways to cope with the restrictions meant to keep us safe and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Along the way, many of us are making interesting and surprising discoveries about ourselves, including new observations and realizations about how we normally spend our time and money.

Many people are now figuring their gas mileage in WPGs rather than MPGs. I’ve heard several people joking that they’re now getting three weeks per gallon. I can relate. Normally, my husband and I spend around $200 a month gassing up our cars. Our last monthly total was $39.

For the first time since I started using it, the credit card I use for groceries and everyday purchases had a monthly total of zero. I did not use the card at all for an entire month! Which is not to say we bought no groceries during that time, but since I have several underlying health conditions that warrant extra caution, my husband has been doing the grocery shopping, using a different credit card.

I was talking on the phone to a friend the other day, and she was lamenting the fact that her husband’s birthday was coming up, and she couldn’t go out to buy him a birthday gift. “I wonder if a homemade card would work,” she said, laughing. Actually, it probably would, as she is a talented writer and artist. Still, it got me thinking about the homemade – or “made in school” – cards most of us created when we were small, or received from our kids when they were young. I’ll bet most of us have at some time been in possession of a “Happy Thanksgiving” card that included a turkey made from the traced outline of a child’s hand, with an outstretched thumb shaping the head while the rest of the fingers formed the turkey feathers. Such handmade cards were a pleasure to make, and a treasure to receive.

No matter how many cabinets or desk drawers I clean out, I doubt if I could find any crayons or construction paper in my house right now. But it’s seven months until my husband’s birthday, so I’m sure I can figure out something by then.

Although many states are easing stay-at-home restrictions and guidelines, and even though I am an eternal optimist, I think it’s going to be a long time yet before many of us feel safe to venture out on a regular basis. And there are issues and concerns a lot more serious and consequential than not being able to run out for groceries, gas, and greeting cards. So creative coping is still a reality for us all.

What are some of the ways you are coping – creative or otherwise – with the situation we are all facing right now? I’d love to hear about them!

May 1, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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