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Visions of Our New Normal

May 29, 2020 07:25PM ● By Annalise Combs

As our country cautiously reopens in what is still a very fluid situation—filled with more unknowns than knowns and great anxiety about how and when the pandemic is going to end—I for one am looking forward to what that end will bring. In my mind’s eye, I see vividly that things will be a little different and our attitudes much better. This is called faith—that our creator knows best, is still in charge and is operating in the background, like a computer program, to work all things out for good.


As a result, I spend way too much time each day looking forward—daydreaming about shopping, going to church and weekly Bible study, having lunch with prospective clients and collaborators, and hugging people. I really miss hugging people. It gives me a feeling of connectedness and common ground. After all, how can things go badly with someone you’ve hugged and broken bread with? Even if you don’t end up doing business together or otherwise collaborating, now the two of you are connected on some spiritual and emotional level. While I’m a talker and can do a lot of connecting by phone, there’s just nothing like the real thing. So, I observe and analyze and I daydream a lot. As I do, I’m seeing some societal shifts, the best of which I hope become permanent. Here are the visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.


Mindfulness: In our new normal, we’ll keep checking up on friends, family and acquaintances to see how they’re faring, and we’ll ask, “How are you?”—and mean it—with everyone we meet. We’ll be more purposeful about our encounters, putting aside judgment and truly connecting on the sort of human-to-human level that makes everyone feel good afterward.


Climate change: Our new normal will recognize the fact that COVID-19 was ultimately led into our lives via the ramifications of climate change; that these types of health impacts and assaults will continue as nature cries out to us louder and louder; and that climate change affects every aspect of life and how we live it. Sometimes the dotted line connecting health and the environment is short, other times it’s long—but they do connect. Scientists and health experts have been warning about an imminent pandemic for decades, and we largely ignored them. That’s why we, like most countries, were caught unprepared.


Global interconnectedness: Our new normal understands that we are equally citizens of North Texas, the United States and the world, and that given our status as world citizens, we are vulnerable to weaknesses and failings anywhere on Earth—not just pandemics, but also environmental crises and anti-immigration and nationalistic attitudes. With North Texas having been part of “Ebola central” here in the U.S. in the past, many of us knew back in November, when we first heard of the coronavirus, that we’d better start preparing for it.


Neighborly love: In the new normal, we accept the reality that our behavior directly impacts the health of those around us. That means wearing a mask during this and future pandemics even though we may not be the vulnerable flavor of the day, because we are all potential carriers and shouldn’t put our neighbors at risk. It also means continuing the many acts of kindness and generosity we’ve seen during our time in lockdown. Let’s make these changes permanent as a shield and deterrent against future pandemics. 


This month’s issue touches upon my vision of the future while speaking to where we are right now, with most of our lives on pause or upside-down. Our nod to “Staycations” encourages you to take that adventurous getaway, but to take it safely and close to home. We list six places right here in North Texas that offer family fun out in nature. There are trees you can hug, trails you can walk and animals you can feed—all without encountering coronavirus. Also, local experts discuss the importance of attending to the mental and spiritual aspects of our brain heath—something we can certainly do during while on staycation.


We hope you enjoy this issue. Please know we’re here for you as we go through and come out of this pandemic.


Blessings, and see you in the new normal.


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