By Sheila Gewolb
It’s a beautiful sunny day outside and our cherry tree is in full blossom. In ordinary times we would be planning to go out for a run in the country and maybe a stop for a drink in a country pub. But these are not ordinary times. As we are both over 70, Roger and I have been practising ‘social distancing’- a term that will no doubt define this horrible period during the spring and summer of 2020. We have just had an e-mail from an eminent doctor in our shul who has pleaded with everyone not to go outside at all, so even essential shopping is going to have to be conducted online, (when there are ‘slots’ available), or asking someone to do it for us.
But we must be positive. Suddenly I’m speaking to my children and grandchildren every day on FaceTime and keeping in touch with family and friends on WhatsApp groups. I’m sure many of you will be doing the same. My sister, who is a gym freak, is joining an online gym session; my grandson in Miami is having virtual school lessons, and my daughter in Cumbria is still working in her school two hours a day with those children who will still be attending. This will continue right through the holiday period. Everyone is doing their bit. TV and radio programmes are adapting and will be a lifeline for thousands of people stuck at home. I will be using up all that knitting wool I have had in my cupboards for ages!
It’s really important to have a ‘plan’ if you are able. My PhD research included looking at how people manage their time in retirement. The pattern that emerged showed that keeping to some sort of routine helped to regulate the day and remain active. Many of my friends are already saying they are doing this, whether it’s Pesach cleaning, sending emails or reading all those books you never managed to finish, make a list and a time in the day when you will do it. Time is what we have plenty of right now, but that does not mean staying in bed until lunchtime or lounging around in pyjamas all day.
On a personal level, along with other HOs and Board of Deputies staff, I am continuing to do as much as I can from home. We will be having video and conference calls and meetings and finding ways of connecting with our divisional members and other key partners. I may even have time to work on a book I have been trying to completesince I gained my doctorate in May 2016, writing about the very situation I have mentioned above- how people speak about work and retirement for the over 50s.
I am very happy to hear from anyone who would like to get in touch through my Board e-mail account. Let’s share experiences and hopefully innovative ideas of how we can pass the time until we can get back to some sort of normal living PG.
Please stay safe and well.
Sheila Gewolb is Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies