By Arlene Jones
I stopped working March 17. It was something about that day that made COVID-19 extra real. A couple of months prior, I had applied for my social security, but even though I knew that money had started, I continued to work. Retirement was a concept that I didn't embrace. But the fear of COVID-19 was real. So I decided to stop working. I could just live off that Social Security check. And for two months I did.
I didn't learn a lot of new things about myself during that time. I'm still the kind of person who doesn't watch a lot of TV. I know I also got a lot of rest. I hadn't napped so much in my lifetime. But it was the reality of how tired I was from pushing myself to keep going every day. Getting that much needed rest is showing in my face. The dark circles around my eyes have begun to fade.
One of my best friends who is still working was eligible to work from home. She's been saving about $200 a week by not having to take Metra and CTA. Plus, those Starbucks in the morning and take out breakfasts, along with buying lunch has ceased. I never indulged in such luxuries, so I didn't see any immediate financial savings except in terms of gasoline. I filled up my car tank and a month later it was still filled.
I didn't do as much work around the house as I thought I could have. I know there are a lot of people just like me. Getting used to not working and being able to plan for weeks in advance what you want to do without the worry of work being an interference.
I did get my garden planted. It went in about two weeks late, because I had to build a raised area in which I planted everything. But in a lot of ways that has been good. The tomatoes are going and starting to blossom. I put in a ton of cucumbers and they're coming through. I even have a watermelon plant growing, although the hundred twenty days until it would be ready puts me into the end of September to the beginning of October.
I am grateful that covid-19 hasn't hit my friends. The few people I know that have died of it has been just that. A few. I don't mind putting on a mask in public and I'm grateful when others wear a mask to keep their germs to themselves. I even took a break from the news. There is just so much stuff happening in the world that a breather away from hearing about it was an absolute necessity. I took the time to review my homeowner and car insurance and switch companies. Complacency had kept me with the same people for over 25 years. But the premiums were continuing to grow up, and another major homeowner insurance company offered a better rate. So I went with it.
I am now back to work, but not at the level of where I was prior to taking the break. The world has slowed down for me with things that are not important being just that. I'm starting to notice things that I didn't pay attention to in the past. Like which colors of my flowers bloom the first. And noticing the different patterns of the cloud in the sky. Or not paying attention to the weather because it's no longer a big deal.
Everyone should take this covid-19 pandemic opportunity to slow down and appreciate the world in which we live.
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