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Kentucky by Heart: Even the inconveniences brought on by coronavirus can be embraced in a positive way

By Steve Flairty
NKyTribune columnist

Okay, my Kentucky brethren, our personal mobility will likely be curtailed for the foreseeable future because that pesky little virus world traveler (COVID-19) has shown up uninvited. And now that the reality is here, we’re making some serious life adjustments, probably for a longer period than we’d like.

Not to preach, ‘cause I don’t like people preaching at me… but I believe we basically have two choices for our mindsets, even after we agree to follow the guidelines of avoiding infection: social distancing, handwashing, etc. Or, we have our job security and retirement savings/investments threatened.

One is the choice to stew, complain and continually be counting the days until we can go back, unfettered, into the lives of normalcy we enjoyed only about three weeks ago. Understandable, but following that path is not ideal for us or those around us. It’s wasted energy and may even bring us a feeling of guilt and regret later. For sure, it’s unproductive.

Steve Flairty is a teacher, public speaker and an author of seven books: a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and six in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. Steve’s “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes #5,” was released in 2019. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly KyForward and NKyTribune columnist and a former member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Contact him at sflairty2001@yahoo.com or visit his Facebook page, “Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute.” (Steve’s photo by Connie McDonald)

But another way of thinking might go something like this: Let’s embrace this in a positive way, especially regarding reaching out to others, as well as enriching ourselves in things that matter. It’s an opportunity to grow, and it will make our time pass with intentional purpose. Let’s, at least, make it an aspiration.

I did some brainstorming, some online research, and asked friends for some creative ideas for turning the corona challenge into the corona positive initiative.

I’ve gotten on the phone recently with old friends and relatives with whom I’ve had too little contact for a while. A pretty simple gesture, but important and reminds me of what I’ve missed—a connection to my heritage and another chance to be encouraging to my most prized loved ones. I plan to do more of it. I am also finding time to catch up on numerous writing projects that have been sitting on a back burner, and the joy of doing springtime gardening started a few days ago. Speaking of the environment, I’ve also been making the rounds in my house ferreting out unnecessary pieces of paper to the recycling receptacle.

My friend Jill Snyder told me that she was planning her flower beds while taking breaks from her homework and “adding plants to attract dragonflies this year.” Another friend is watching Little House on the Prairie with her family. “I just feel like it’s a great time to stop, talk about the history of our ancestors in a fun way, be thankful for what we have, and be aware of just how blessed we are,” said Ashley Smith, who recently gave birth to her fourth child.

Besides getting her spring cleaning out of the way, Cynthia Wilson shared a few other suggestions: “I’m crocheting a sweater and reading books I’ve collected but neglected. It’s also a great time to try new recipes. There are sites where you enter the ingredients you have in hand and get recipes.” .

My neighbor, Sharon Turner, is filled to the brim with ideas:

• Take a virtual tour of a museum, including ones such as The Lexington History Museum, which has five.

• Exercise at home.

• Facetime with your grandkids.

• Volunteer to take care of kids whose schools and daycares have closed but whose parents must work to pay the bills.

• Deliver groceries to someone who cannot leave their home.

• Clean out closets, junk drawers, garages, etc. and gather items for outreaches such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

“Many small businesses are struggling right now,” noted Becky Williams. “Help by buying gift cards. They still get the income and you can enjoy the gift card later.” Along the same idea, Michele Huybers encouraged us to order take-out from restaurants.

Connie Burton suggested having children make cards and write letters to send to nursing homes, veteran’s homes and to the military overseas, while Brenda Blair likes the idea of “creating a fun activity once a day with people you live with, (then) post on Facebook.” Mary Jo Harrod emphasized doing checking out information for future use: “Research local programs where you can volunteer to help children, animals and anyone in need once the Coronavirus is gone.”

A few weeks ago, I ran a two-part column sharing first-person accounts of Shawnee High School girl students navigating the challenges of the Great Flood of 1937 — Kentucky by Heart: More stories of the Great Flood of 1937 from Shawnee High School students. Along that line, Karen Leet, a Lexington author, offered this idea for our time now, one that might help provide a helpful perspective, both for the writer and future readers

“Keep a journal for future generations—include small, personal details, good and bad, of what it’s like to make sacrifices, lose things we take for granted. Watch this virus sweep across the world—a pandemic is a rare (thank God), yet massive thing to experience. Tell your stories, share your emotions, flesh out the details of life during crisis,” Karen said.

According to Leslie Bledsoe, of Harlan, a local restaurant is preparing free meals to healthcare workers. I’ve heard of other businesses do similar things, such as Woodford Feed, in Versailles. They donated half of their N-95 masks to the local hospital.

For Dory Hudspeth, her actions are guided by this simple mantra: “This ain’t about me,” and Marion Woeste-Welch gave some positive general advice for all. “Check-in by phone every day with elderly family and friends. Ask them what they need. Don’t say ‘call if you need anything’ because that has a negative tone. Ask what they need. Offer to do their shopping.”

Mary Kanatzar, of Versailles, suggested involving kids in making pictures of Easter celebration to hang on front doors, and Frank Messina created a Facebook page called “The Weep No More My Lady Project,” with postings of pictures, videos, notes, etc. emphasizing the positive during our time of challenge. Frank has quickly garnered great response and is looking for more material to share.

And, Governor Andy Beshear has been doing daily briefings on social media to keep Kentuckians informed about Covid-19 and offering a personal touch, even though he often gives us hard medicine to swallow. Check out kycovid19.ky.gov for more information.

Kentuckians — even with our faults — are, largely, a gritty bunch who are loyal to each other and capable of great things. In this crazy period, let’s move forward together, looking for the best… and being our best.

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