I hope this finds everyone getting a little reprieve, enjoying the summer weather, and balancing life a little better as we continue to adapt to the realities of this pandemic, the changing regulations and the ensuing unknowns.

This is no doubt a confusing, anxiety-provoking, and frightening time. Whenever we start to move forward, it’s hard to know if we are heading down a positive road or will get stuck in the crosswalk. It’s easy to get bogged down in the negative, to criticize decisions we disagree with, to chastise those who are not following the rules, to get into heated discussions with others, to despair. But, now more than ever, it is important to look for the positives where we can find them.

They are out there. This unprecedented situation has provided unexpected time to stop, think, and act in new ways. The hasty shift from our “normal” (too) active lives to stay-at-home orders required quick innovations in how we shop, teach, learn, work, gather, and celebrate. Some of these innovations may be worth keeping around even when the world reopens, such as:

 Video Conferencing: The expansion of video technology has probably been the single most impactful change for health, work, school, and social connection. It has made telehealth and working from home more acceptable as mainstream options moving forward, which will benefit individuals, families, and businesses alike. Employees can work together without hours or days of travel time; families unable to gather can still celebrate holidays and life events together; organizations can host trainings, expert lectures, exercise classes, wine tastings, cooking lessons, talent shows, concerts, reunions, and more; friends who spent a year trying to schedule an in-person get-together can finally connect; and access to doctors and mental health services has expanded incrementally in a time when these services are greatly needed.

 New ways to celebrate: Car parades, drive-by greetings, bell ringing, signs, group video calls. Graduates, first responders, birthdays, new babies, weddings, welcome homes. Even though we can’t get together, there sure is a lot of celebrating going on!

 Uplifting messages: On sidewalks, driveways, rocks, windows, walls, trails and trees. Keep them coming. Positivity never gets old.

 Family walks and neighborhood run-ins: Instead of the occasional wave to families between passing car windows, we now regularly see our neighbors as we all walk our neighborhoods. Shout out to exploring new trails, parks, and nature walks too.

 Restaurant experiences at home: Takeout, delivery, curbside pickup. Family dining packages, some tied to charity donations. Cocktails and ice cream to go. Opportunities for new or “coming soon” businesses to showcase their food in pickup orders. The community and consumers have worked together to help keep these businesses afloat and provide customers with a break from the monotony of non-stop meal prep. That’s a win-win for all.

 Outdoor dining: On the other hand, if you want to dine out, I really hope the areas which have been converted into outdoor seating will be able to stay that way for those restaurants who want to keep them, both to give customers the opportunity to dine al fresco as well as to give these restaurants additional seating capacity to help them more quickly recoup their losses. It’s nice to see people out along the sidewalk, and for some it almost doubled their floor space!

 DIY videos on YouTube: My husband asked me to include this. It’s not that these weren’t available before the pandemic, but we didn’t have the time to do any DIY projects so we rarely looked. So far, I’ve replaced my windshield wipers. My husband is paving our driveway (show off).

 Increased activism and community engagement: It has certainly been a challenging time filled with hard decisions by our community leaders, and pain and suffering for our nation. In the past, community outrage sparked by an injustice often falls back as our busy lives take over and other distractions pop up. But now, as we live in this period of pause, adults and youth alike have been able to act on the positive intentions that once got lost in the chaos of the everyday. With lighter schedules, they have time to organize, mobilize, and build on their efforts, whether it is involvement in community decisions around schools, safety, and town regulations; support of local businesses; or activism against social injustice. Hopefully, we will remember these priorities when the world resumes with its high expectations. It takes all of us to work together to create the community that we want to live in.

It is true that growth comes through struggles and necessity is the mother of invention. We are a resilient, creative, and innovative species, and so we have found some silver linings, even in the darkest clouds.

Rebecca Martorella, LMFT welcomes ideas and comments and can be reached at themomfront@optonline.net.