It seems crazy that we’re in this moment in history.

Malls, movie theaters, fitness centers, salons and schools are closed. Virtually all sporting events have been canceled. No one is quite sure when things will begin to return to what we call normal. But that doesn’t mean we need to wallow in despair and helplessness.

So many positive stories have come to light in this time of social distancing in an effort to combat COVID-19. We’ve seen volunteers come together to help make sure our community’s children are fed while school is on indefinite break. There’s been a Facebook community effort to help our local restaurants out while they’re only allowed to serve carry-out and make deliveries. Volunteers have been sewing masks in an effort to help keep essential workers, especially in health care and emergency response protected.

Online videos and photos have shown musicians performing concerts online and from balconies — Managing Editor Matt Milner came across one of Weird Al playing the accordion this week. I’ve seen Facebook posts of people handing out meals to truckers, moving essential goods to make sure our grocery and other stores remain stocked, along Interstate 80. Prayer chains and more have begun. Churches have been live streaming their services so congregations can continue to worship while encouraged to stay home.

I’ve seen communities encouraged to use sidewalk chalk to write encouraging messages and stuffed animals in windows for “bear hunts” for those seeking activity in this down time. The list goes on and on of the creative ways people are trying to help each other through this pandemic.

At home, we’ve taken advantage of some of the extra downtime by working on projects around the house. Our works schedules haven’t really changed as Jason works in ag and Logan in grocery, but with Logan out of school and fitness centers closed, there are extra hours most days. Colin, who had a fascination with vacuums as a toddler, has gotten the chance to live out that 3-year-old’s dreams by being taught how to properly handle the chore. He’s done some dusting as well. At the suggestion of his teacher, I’ve tried to encourage Colin to do some journaling about this moment in history, as someday it could very well become a history lesson. That hasn’t gone over very well. I’ve taken some time to explore new recipes to stock the fridge and freezer with.

FaceTime and other types of video calls have helped. Colin’s been playing online with one of his best friends while on FaceTime. I spoke to my oldest brother the other day in the same manner.

Online communities have helped as well. I’ve become more active in a group of people who are focusing on the same nutrition and fitness goals — posting questions, advice, support and encouragement to each other. It really helps keep the focus on my overall wellness rather than letting the stress and anxiety take over.

So remember, while the pandemic is scary — and we don’t know how long it will last — there’s a lot more good in the world. In the words of Mr. Rogers, look for the helpers.

— Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at tgoldizen@ottumwacourier.com or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.

Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

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