Jogging is still an OK thing to do while social distancing. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Cottrel: Social distancing frees up time to do things you’ve put off

There are no more excuses.

There are no full calendars or myriad volunteer responsibilities, no more blaming garage sales or the dog, no more events that must be attended.

Since we are of a certain age, we are sheltering in place. Social distancing. Self-isolating. Flattening the curve. Staying at home. Hibernating.

And so sadly there are no more excuses for why our house is not clean.

The self imposed quarantines that are helping us control the spread of the Coronavirus are giving us another benefit and that is time.

The personal time we’ve wanted for years is here.

MORE: ‘Its an unprecedented time’: Coronavirus testing sites coming to Clark County, health director says

Not only is this the “time that tries men’s souls,” it is time to do spring cleaning and sort out the closets and cupboards. It’s time to get caught up with the laundry, Time to match ALL the socks. Time to plant the early garden vegetables.

Taxes will be done on time this year. The flowerbeds will have no weeds. Old photos will be labeled and digitized.

Whoa. Wait a second. Who am I fooling?

We also enjoy a little binge watching TV series and shortening that book stack that has been gathering dust. We were always saying there wasn’t enough time to read books like we wanted to. Well BINGO. We have time.

I’m not complaining, not one bit. Pulling ourselves out of our “exciting” social life was easy compared to the alternative which is getting really sick or giving that virus from to one of our friends or relatives.

This is not the time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have not been sent to our rooms to brood. We are not sitting in a corner. We have the run of the household and yard. We can even dance around in our underwear like Tom Cruise in Risky Business if we want.

However, it is important right now to think of others. As we hunker down in self imposed physical isolation, we should not emotionally or socially isolate ourselves. It is possible to still reach out to others.

READ: Clark County, Miami County coronavirus cases prompt tests for 19 people

We still have our phones, computers, iPods, and laptops. We can still write letters. We can Skype or do FaceTime or that new Marco Polo app. Keeping social distancing in mind, we can take walks and visit outside with others who are at least six feet away. (But if you are feeling bad stay inside.)

I’ll be keeping up with local news by reading our newspaper online - I love it that our website is updated all day long and includes local breaking news.

I asked friends in western Clark County if they have any plans or suggestions and I got an earful or two.

A Hospice nurse reminded me that folks in extended care facilities are not getting visitors. Worried that they might get lonely or depressed, she suggested we make phone calls, write letters, or drop off a magazine, favorite snacks, or flowers at the front desk.

On Sunday Nancy Brown, Bethel Township Trustee, celebrated her birthday at home instead of going out. She worshiped at home, read, and worked on a jigsaw puzzle. Then the phone started ringing.

“I spent literally HOURS talking with my four kids, my brother, sister-in-law, and two granddaughters as they called to wish me happy birthday. It’s been a wonderful day,” said Brown.

We have quite a few medical professionals in our community and they will not be getting any time off. In fact they may be working extra long hours. Community support of these folks might include babysitting, baking a pie, helping to set up their gardens, or notes of encouragement. Ask.

I’ve spoken to more than one person who is wondering about softball and baseball. They understand why it has to be but hope maybe there will be a few games.

Rhonda Gorby told me she will miss watching the grandchildren participate in spring sports. I’ll miss it too. It is sad, but necessary.

Speaking of sports, I imagine there will be more runners along our roads since some gyms might be closed. We need to keep an eye out for them.

Enon’s Tim Devore wants to continue to do carpentry, but doesn’t want to spread any germs.

“I will not work in an older persons home until this is over. The reason is I have a 10 year old living with us and our daughter works at the airport. I may do projects in the shop or home for the next view weeks.”

New Carlisle Mayor Mike Lowry will be keeping up with the “What’s Going On?” Facebook Page. He does a great job keeping folks up with the latest news.

Minutes after Gov. Dewine announced that restaurants and bars will not be open for dining, local eating establishments started posting their take out menus on Facebook.

Supper or lunch can be ordered then picked up in person. There are also service businesses like Grubhub and Doordash that will pick up the food and drop it off at your house. And pizza delivery will of course still be available.

We really do need to support our favorite local eating establishments. We wouldn’t want any to go out of business during this crisis.

I haven’t seen a case of COVID-19 yet, but I know I will soon. I hope it is milder than predicted in our area. Until we are in the midst of the pandemic, we will not know how intense it will be.

We will never know if the outbreak here is better than it could have been because of our self isolation efforts now. However if we just ignore the warnings and things get really bad, we will regret.

It is better to error on the safe side than be sorry and tormented later on.

Hang in there, friends. We can do this. We come from long genetic lines of adaptable, creative, hard-working people.

Stay calm and carry on.

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