Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like Medusa, the monster in Greek mythology with wings and venomous snakes for hair. Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve seen my stylist, but that’s unrelated. According to legend, those who gazed upon Medusa’s face turned to stone. These are scary times for sure and I’m 100% in support of staying home and saving lives. I believe in and practice social distancing and I am changing my hugging ways. But the lack of eye contact and acknowledgment is making me sad.

I feel like I’m in a The Twilight Zone episode when I leave the house to buy groceries, go for a run or walk my dog. A lot of people are simply not comfortable with looking at each other right now. Even from across the street or inside of a car. When I pass homes where families are out on the driveway making chalk drawings, I move to the opposite side of the street. But still, after 15 years of living in Bend, I’m used to friendly nods or smiles, maybe even a wave. Lately, there’s no looking up, no eye contact, no acknowledgment. I can’t help musing about the story of Medusa and the fear that a glance in her direction would turn people to stone.

I get that we’re all feeling out of sorts and protective of ourselves and our families. We also need to be respectful of each other’s privacy. I’m just processing how we might hold on to personal connection during this crisis. Is there a comfortable way to acknowledge each other while honoring the importance of social distancing?

The other day while buying groceries, I encountered a woman coming down the aisle. We both stopped to give each other space. We were wearing masks and our eyes met. Even with her mask, I could tell from her eyes that she was smiling at me. I smiled back. It was such a small gesture, but it felt reassuring. As we all cope with this new reality, there is still opportunity for us to stay connected in small ways. I have high hopes for what we might learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many, I’m also pondering the changes I want to hold on to and how I might do things differently when the dust settles.

Here’s a quote from a powerful article I read in Forge, a personal development publication.

It’s worth reading. Here’s a taste:

“…think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud…”

You can read the full article here: Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting

Here are some helpful tips for respectful social distancing from a recent Los Angeles Times article

Lastly, I want to say thank you to Janet Marie Miick, who is sharing her skills and time to make and deliver beautiful and cheerful masks to friends and neighbors during this time. There are many acts of kindness that are bringing us closer together right now and I’m grateful for all of them. I also know we will hang on to our friendly Central Oregon culture despite these challenging times.

Be safe and stay well.

Linda Quon is Vice President and Director of Communication at Quon Design and Communication. Linda is working to promote everyday mental health awareness in partnership with Deschutes County Health Services and Central Oregon Health Council — which includes providers and health advocates from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes Counties. Linda was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Central Oregon with her husband and two children in 2005. Her mother lived with Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and her oldest brother also experienced bi-polar disorder. With support from family, friends, therapists and primary care providers, Linda has been navigating the world of mental illness most of her life — including her own struggles with mild anxiety and depression. Linda is proud to work as an advocate for mental health and a  blogger for Mind Your Mind Central Oregon.