The coronavirus pandemic will certainly be a defining experience of our lifetime, much the same way the Great Depression and World War II were for an earlier generation. It will...

The coronavirus pandemic will certainly be a defining experience of our lifetime, much the same way the Great Depression and World War II were for an earlier generation. It will forever alter our sense of vulnerability and our sense of  our country and the world. There may be difficult transformations (for ourselves and society) as we recover, but there might also be bright spots and hope.

Each of us is experiencing this crisis differently based on our geographic location, job status, personality, and a hundred different elements, yet many of our feelings and fears are the same. We are going to be regularly publishing stories from readers that let us see how others are getting through the crisis. We think sharing lightens the burden and can help others too; knowing you’re not alone (even when you might be physically alone) can be calming and fortifying.

Please tell us your story here; we’ll send you a BOLD tank top as our thanks. 

Here, we hear how Lori Kangun, who is sheltering with her boyfriend and high-school-aged daughter in Austin, TX  is managing in her new normal.

What was your life situation and routine before coronavirus hit?

I have worked from home for 12 years, so that part of my life is the same. I used to try to get out for a bit every day—either walk around the lake, go to the gym, visit a coffee shop, have lunch at a restaurant. Friday afternoons were reserved for Happy Hour (even better if they were in the sunshine). Weekends were for music, friends, errands, and a bike ride or kayak.

What is your state of mind right now?

Uneven – some relatively “normal” days, then some days of worry or mild depression. I do realize I am one of the fortunate ones—working from home in a secure job, everyone is healthy—and I am trying to focus on my gratitude for those things when I feel down.

What is your biggest fear/concern at the moment?

I worry for my two oldest kids and their jobs and health; I worry about my youngest who is a senior in High School and is missing her friends and many milestones; I worry for those who have lost their jobs and for those in healthcare and other essential positions. On a larger level, I worry about our country’s leadership.

Read More: “I Can’t Imagine We’ll Both Survive:” A Worried Wife’s Corona Story

If you’re sheltering with others, how is everyone getting along?

We are getting along, although I think all of us wish we could have a bit of alone time. 24/7 is a lot, even with those you love! We have all found some ways to carve out time alone—boyfriend is doing puzzles, daughter is “zooming” with her friends, I am spending inordinate amounts of time on my back porch. Also, a bright spot is seeing so much of my daughter, who is usually, and quite normally, with her friends most of the time.

What is your daily routine now?

Still get up and go to work in my living room! I am particularly busy now, so am working seven days a week. Try to stop by five p.m. and sit on the back porch for a bit with some wine before dinner. Evenings are mostly tv, some reading, and a little bit of drawing and coloring, which is not necessarily in my wheelhouse, but is relaxing.

Trying to exercise before work via online classes or take a walk in the middle of the week—although this week that felt overwhelming, so am letting myself have a week off.

What is the most important thing you do for yourself everyday to maintain your mental health?

Getting some time outside every day is paramount for me, even if the weather’s not great. Keeping in touch with friends via text, zoom or Facebook has also been beneficial. Cooking is enjoyable. And listening to music—always music, every evening.

How often do you go outside and for what?

Outside of my backyard and walks around the neighborhood, I only leave the house about once a week for grocery pickup.

What’s the first thing you want to do when life returns to some kind of “normal”?

A few things: walk around the lake, eat at a restaurant, and see friends!

How do you see yourself changing from this pandemic experience?

I have a new appreciation for connection with friends and want to reach out more. I also realize how much food we wasted and want to do better on that front. I think it will be awhile before I want to be in a large crowd. I will beef up my savings, for sure. I also think that our leadership at every level—city, state, national—is more important than we may have considered.

How do you see society changing because of this pandemic experience?

We are vulnerable on so many levels—not just health-wise, but financially. I hope that Americans will consider this when voting in November. We must improve our access to healthcare and address income inequality in this country. I hope that we will embrace science and facts, rather than rhetoric.

I believe that this will change the way we work – with more and more of us working from home. And even the way we socialize – will we all still want to go to a concert or be packed into a restaurant?

And I hope this will change the way we look at those who are literally keeping us alive while making very little money—grocery store employees, truck drivers, those who are involved in food harvesting or production—and hopefully lead to a living wage in this country.

What else would you like to tell us about your experience?

I am thankful that we are enduring this experience in a time when we can be so connected via technology. It would be a much different situation for me without the ability to connect—to my job and my family and friends.

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