Pandemic. Canceled. Quarantined. Social distancing. Personal Protective Equipment.

On March 13, 2020, the United States declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, thus making the words above part of intercultural communication around the world.

Cities, states and regions closed, over 369,000 loved ones worldwide died, affected individuals were quarantined and isolated, the stock market crashed, conferences and sporting events were canceled, schools closed, and people panicked as stores sold out of toilet paper and meat.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has tested the way we live our daily lives.

Mentally, the past several months have caused me hours of lost sleep and levels of anxiety that I have never experienced before.

A full load

After a long hiatus, I decided to finish my college education a few years ago. Not knowing the pandemic was going to occur, I set myself up to take a whopping five online courses this spring so I could wrap up my bachelor’s degree at Indiana University East and graduate.

Looking back, wow, what a task it was to take that full load of college classes, work full-time in healthcare where, at first, COVID-19 information changed by the moment, and try to manage home life. You know, the fun stuff like cleaning, cooking and laundry?

They say hindsight is 20/20 and, looking back, there were a lot of things that gave me hope during this trying time:

1. Working in healthcare, I saw firsthand that kindness and generosity still exist. Our community came together and donated meals, masks, face shields, cookies, cupcakes and more.

2. You sent cards of encouragement and thanked us for doing our job on the front line and it was appreciated more than words could ever say.

3. Thanks to modern-day technology, we were able to have online and e-learning classes, Zoom or Google Hangout meetings, attend church through Facebook Live, have telehealth visits with our doctors, and so much more. The use of technology allowed us to stay connected even though we were stuck in our homes.

4. That my husband Bill, even though he prefers not to, can help clean the house when needed. I couldn’t have accomplished going back to school, especially this last semester, without his love and encouragement.

5. We also have four rescued fur babies (dogs) that gave me cuddles every chance they could.

6. My faith in God.

Everyone around the globe has experienced challenges, anxieties and obstacles with the COVID-19 outbreak, even though we may not speak the same language.

A favorite example of hope during this time is seeing people putting rainbows, crosses and mosaic words of encouragement in their windows at home, work or in cars in an effort to spread color and positivity instead of focusing on the darkness of the pandemic.

I don’t know what our new norm will look like, but I know that I still have hope for a bright tomorrow.

Lis McDonnell is the Nursing Office and Volunteer Coordinator at Henry Community Health Hospital. She is President of Henry County Farm Bureau, Inc. and serves on the board for the New Castle/Henry County Animal Shelter. She is a member of Mt. Zion Wesleyan Church. Lis, and her husband Bill, live on the family farm and enjoy spending time with their four rescue dogs.