Monday Musings…. Good Times: Finding the Positive in the Midst of a Pandemic

Growing up in the 70s, the television networks were pumping out a lot of sitcoms that highlighted the social and political dynamics of the day to entertain us.

There was All in the Family, featuring the notorious Archie Bunker of course, who attempted unsuccessfully to wield his authoritarian arm over his family, while his rebellious daughter, Gloria pushed all the conventional envelopes in regards to marriage, religion, and the need to work hard to support yourself. Today, we simply call this the boomerang generation.

Then there was Three’s Company, which was scandalous in it’s day. It just wasn’t proper for two women and a man to live together in the same apartment. Today, this is the norm for student off campus housing.

But consider for a moment, the show called Good Times. It was one of the few sitcoms filled with an accurate message of what happens when you work through the challenges life throws at you. The show featured a poor African American family trying to make the best of living in the housing projects of Chicago. The show broke the mold for how black families had been portrayed in television, film, and even the news. The Evans family of 5 were tight-knit. The parents, Florida and James worked low paying jobs to pay the bills, while trying to encourage their kids (JJ, Thelma, and Michael) to follow their dreams, even if sometimes they weren’t realistic ones. They were able to laugh at themselves, delight in simple pleasures, and every day, by the sweat of their brow, they worked towards the goal of maybe someday leaving the projects. You couldn’t help but feel good after spending time watching this show. Today, we would call the Evans family resilient, which isn’t about bouncing back, but rather forging ahead, with a good attitude, no matter the difficulties.

I wonder how resilient we have been so far in this COVID-19 crisis, as some of us head into week three of social distancing and the ramifications this has had in our workplaces and families.

So, I thought I would refocus my attention away from the doom and gloom news and instead, list my Top 10 Perks of Living During a Pandemic and maybe you can think of yours too!

  1. More time by myself. Distancing from other people is an introvert’s dream when you lead a busy, people-filled life! Now, there is no guilt from turning down social invitations; no angst from shared office spaces; and no forced conversations, when all you want to do is work out by yourself at the gym.

  2. Less laundry. Even though we are told the limits are off for when we can use hydro at a reduced rate, why bother. Don’t change your weekend habit, because you know as soon as life gets back to normal, you’ll have to retrain yourself, or it will end up costing you more money. Instead, cut the amount of loads you do in half. Wear the same clothes for more than 8 hours. After all, the only contamination on them comes from the dog fur on the couch. And he won’t mind if you look the same day after day.

  3. Spending time with your pets. While I am not a pet person, I see this one as ‘good times’ for your pets. They get more attention, more table scraps, and more walks. What a win for the pet world!

  4. More exercise. That is a given if you have a dog. There are no excuses now to not be active. It’s Spring and both the weather and their whining are begging us to put in more steps on that Fitbit and get off the furry couch!

  5. More sleep/better sleep. Because we are getting more exercise walking our pets, doing yard work or long forgotten housework, and hopefully spending less times in a desk chair, our body will be tired by the end of the day. And because the alarm clock doesn’t need to go off for work or school, the likelihood of getting the right number of hours of sleep is so much greater. Another win!

  6. Eating better. Now is the time to make home-cooked meals and to use the items in your pantry and freezer that have been calling your name for months. It’s a time to be conscious of what you have in the fridge or on the counter and make sure none of it goes to waste. I actually consider it to be great fun to see how I can use up leftovers or soon to be expired goods. It makes me happy to see food going into my belly rather than the garbage.

  7. More creativity. This is absolutely the time to be more creative with everything – from the small things like counting how many sheets of toilet paper you really need in a day for conservation purposes, to how to have a birthday party when no one is allowed to attend. We actually had a virtual birthday party with our family last week. Even the grandchildren were fascinated to see us all on the screen together! Another fun fact, my husband is helping me set up a gym in the basement. With my existing equipment and two apps on my phone, I’m all set. No one needs to talk to me or see me – fantastic! There are endless ways to be creative to get your practical, social, and activity goals met.

  8. Saving money. Even though there are many who are being laid off, and others who were out of work and looking before this crisis hit, if all of us are wise, we can actually save quite a bit of money now. Gasoline is cheap, but then we are note travelling anywhere. It’s more difficult now to eat out, get a haircut or your nails done, go to a concert, or even buy new clothes. It’s really teaching us to prioritize and that is a good thing in our debt-ridden society.

  9. Organizing my life better. With potentially more time on everyone’s hands, now is the time to end procrastination and get to the things you’ve been putting off doing, or to do the things you didn’t have the time to do before because you were always go, go, go. Whether that’s organizing your computer desktop or literal top of your desk, you have the time now. Start with one to-do item and you’ll find that this simple effort will pay off big dividends in your mood. It will also inspire you to tackle more projects you’ve laid to the side.

  10. Which brings me to the last one, and the one that is most precious to me: not needing to be run by the clock. One of the things I loved about living up north was that I never wore a watch. My days were always full and I accomplished a lot, but I wasn’t constantly thinking “where do I need to be now?” Before this forced shut down and shut in, many of us could not fit everything in in a day. Every minute was owned by some demand or task. I think of children and teens who have so many extracurricular activities they’ve been robbed of their time to just play. I actually was amazed this week, while we were walking the dog, to see 2 young girls playing volleyball with a makeshift net composed of 2 sticks and a string (of course they were adequately distanced apart.). This is the way to live during a crisis!

Maybe this whole event has happened to slow us down, to tell us to live simply, and to make us refocus our priorities. Good times!

The lyrics to the theme song for Good Times actually reflect where many people are right now: “keepin’ your head above water, makin' a wave when you can"! Good times!

Good times! Any time you make a payment… Good times! Any time you meet a friend… Good times! Anytime you’re out from under… not getting hassled, not getting hustled. Keepin’ your head above water Makin’ a wave when you can. Temporary layoffs… Good times! Easy credit ripoffs… Good times! Scratching and survivn’… Good times! Hangin in’ and jivin’… Good times! Ain’t we lucky we got em Good times!

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