Early last week, I knew I was going to have to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day party I had been planning with a few of my close friends and their children. I knew this Covid-19 thing was getting serious and we were going to be called to act in a very real way.
Still, I hoped against hope that a magical cure would be found and we would be freed of the inconvenience of social distancing. You see, my optimistic nature, which typically serves me well, can sometimes blind me from harsh realities in difficult times.
As I ended my day at work on Friday, I had a pit in my stomach. I was supposed to grab dinner with some friends but we all canceled, not wanting to say the real reason, all of us knowing that tougher days were ahead.
Instead of a fun night out, I braved the grocery store with my husband and prepared to stay home inside for a long, long time.
I went home and canceled the Facebook event reminder saying, “at this time, I do not believe it is socially responsible to proceed with this gathering.” Sad face emoji.
Sad heart emoji. Real-life tears.
I’m an extra-extrovert. People are my profession, they are my passion, and they are my fuel. Canceling this party made social distancing so real for me. It made this virus so real for me. It made the extrovert in me scream aloud, “anything but this. I can do literally anything other than staying away from people and social interaction for an undisclosed amount of time!”
Then I realized the selfishness in my heart. Nobody was doing this to me. Instead together, as a community, we were making the bold decision to protect everyone by distancing ourselves from each other. And I know what it’s like to watch a loved one suffer. If I could act to spare a similar pain from a friend or a complete stranger, why would I not do so willingly, with joy in my heart?
So I reframed my grief and found a new focus. Sure, the party would have to be canceled, but maybe I could leverage social media to create something different and fun, social distance style. Something to take our minds off the gravity of this virus – most importantly, something to take my mind off of myself.
Planning a New Kind of Party
I created a new public event and invited every one of my Facebook friends. I wrote, “we are going to try something different to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year. Join in for hourly challenges you can do at home! We’ll share pictures and videos with each other here. And it will almost be like we are celebrating together.”
Almost instantly, “going” and “interested” responses started rolling in. Several people shared my invitation and then I knew I was going to have to work hard to make this a great experience. Or at least not an awful one.
One friend asked that I post the challenges ahead of time so she could plan her day around her daughter’s schedule. So I did. It wasn’t hard, I just borrowed greatness from online bloggers and tried to consider activities that wouldn’t require too much prep or extra supplies.
I also wanted to be mindful of including movement, STEM, and creativity throughout the day.
My oldest daughter used the Canva app to create colorful posts that we could share each hour online.
Host a Virtual Event
Each hour I posted a new challenge, put my phone down and created with my kids. When we were ready to post pictures of what we had done, we were pleased to see several other posts made by friends near and far.
In addition to creating the graphics, my oldest daughter took over the job of liking and commenting on all the posts. It was a full-time job!
Virtual Event Success
My phone lit up all day and my heart was lifted seeing friends celebrating safely in their own homes, but together in spirit.
I consider the day a success for a few reasons.
First and foremost, we were all safe. Safe at home, safely distanced, and safely following the guidelines of our governing agencies at this unprecedented time.
Second, my mind was occupied all day long. Not with fearful thoughts and worry, instead with planning, creating, and interacting with my children and friends. I barely had time to think about Covid – 19, a topic that had been consuming my thoughts until then. It was clear my brain needed the rest.
Finally, I heard from so many others that this online party was just the distraction they needed a well. It felt like, in a small way, I was able to contribute to the greater good. To use my gifts to serve others instead of focusing only on my own sorrow and loss.
Because that is what it’s going to take, friends. We are going to have to play to our strengths and work together to get through this newest challenge. We can’t all be doctors and nurses serving on the front lines in clinics and hospitals, but we can all contribute, even if it’s in a small way in our own corner of the universe.