Freedom this year, on a personal level, is appreciation of all of the shifts and decisions made during the crisis months when COVID-19 forced change into our lives. Now, I’m free to wear comfy clothes to work, without stockings and heels, as since March 2020 I only do telemental health. I’m free to work with my clients without masks, enabling me to observe the nuances in their facial expressions. If they’re ill, I’m now able to provide comfort and connection without compromising my own health. I can also fulfill my continuing education units at home, online, instead of packing meals, driving all over, and then sitting in freezing conference rooms for hours on end.
There is also great freedom in being able to livestream religious services. There’s no shirt and shoes required for service. Just kidding about that, but again, we can be warm and dry, comfortable, without time spent on hair and makeup, without the drive time, and imposing the schedule on little ones. Our family can leisurely enjoy Shabbat dinner together and go in the next room to watch services. Our grandchildren are free to vocalize, move about, even eat or nurse during services. We’re all still together and there are no worries that they’re disturbing anyone.
Sad to say, but there’s also greater freedom from concern over intruder safety issues. We still feel very connected to our temple family through the chat feature if we view services on Facebook Live, newsletters and Zoom opportunities.
I facilitate a Rosh Chodesh group and I enjoy it so much on Zoom! Women can attend who don’t drive at night anymore. Weather isn’t an issue. There’s no anxiety over being the last to leave the building, implementing proper procedures, and no shopping for and schlepping snacks. It’s all about the meeting and then a click and we’re done and everyone is already home.
Another type of freedom I’m experiencing involves nurturing the introverted part of my-self. In December, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Toffee Dog of 13 ½ years. There was freedom in pulling my mask up over my tear-stained face at the grocery store and keeping to myself.
I also love our home and I’m perfectly content to be in it. We froze our gym membership last March and instead of our daily workouts there, I’ve been doing early morning yoga with videos, free weights, and take 2-mile walks with the family each evening if it’s not rainy or too cold. I’m writing another book, painting, and for the first time ever, watching shows like “Downton Abbey,” all while on call 24/7. I love to cook, so not dining out isn’t an issue. With all of the devastating tragedies resulting from COVID, there are gifts of freedom in it, too.
Dr. Terry Segal is an AJT columnist.