How Social Distancing Is Affecting Your Life

As the COVID 19 pandemic continues to affect millions of lives all over the world and as we are coming to terms with being increasingly cut off from our social circles, we asked our readers how they are coping with the unprecedented situation.

Here are some of the answers we got:


Reflections, Renewal and Reset during COVID-19 Pandemic 

By Ani Hotoyan-Joly

Who would have imagined that there would be a time when we would not be able to go out whenever we wanted, hug each other, go to our favourite cafes and restaurants and go to meetings in person. Yet, here we are 7 weeks into the COVID-19 “Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives” orders and we have adjusted to a new routine. Some people have adjusted better than others.

This isolation period has provided us with the opportunity to pause and has allowed us to re-evaluate what life is all about and what is most important to us.  For the first time in our lives, all humans are focused on the same invisible enemy and are working together to find a solution. 

Here are some of my reflections about the past few weeks and what I know for sure:

1) Rediscover the joy of being at home.  I know that I enjoy spending quality time with myself and my family.  I realize that it is important to enjoy these times as much as possible because we will look back months and years from now and say to each other “Remember what we did during COVID-19 pandemic?”  Will you remember?

2) Find time for yourself: I find that meditating on a daily basis and being more mindful is an excellent way to halt some worrying and overthinking. It is not easy.  It is a struggle to think of the present only and not think about the past, or what you could have done better or think about what the future brings.  Take care of your mental health.

3) It is physical distancing, not social distancing: Even though I don’t see my friends and family members in person, I am spending more time with them on phone calls, connecting through social media, texts, and weekly Zoom meetings.  Every day, I try to contact 2-3 people to say hello.  It is important to stay connected now more than ever.

4) Explore hobbies: Believe it or not, I am not baking like many of my friends!  Why?  Because I can’t find yeast!  Instead, I have found that I am reading more, catching up on Netflix (finally) and looking into learning new skills.

5) Invest in your physical health: I am grateful that I am able to go on daily walks with my husband at the same time staying 2 meters away from other pedestrians.  Walking in nature is invigorating and enjoyable, especially as the season is now changing and the weather is getting warmer.  Walking is one of the best exercises you can do.

6) Continue to learn: I have learned that there are many interesting free educational webinars available on line and I am happy to have the opportunity to take advantage of as many as I can.  Lifelong learning is one of my goals in life.

7) Be grateful: I am eternally grateful to the medical community and the essential workers who are risking their lives to keep us safe.

For so long, we have been going non-stop from one meeting to the next, from one event to another. That was my life before COVID-19.  What will life be once we are able to slowly get back to work, we are able to meet each other in person for lunch or coffee or when students go back to school, college or university?  COVID-19 has changed many things that we took for granted.  We now have to adjust to the new normal.  What will that new normal look like?  We will have to wait and see.

Ani Hotoyan Joly is a mother, wife, sister, friend, a business professional and a lifelong volunteer who lives in Markham, Ontario.


I Am Grateful For…

N. S.


Yesterday was Palm Sunday, very different from what had been planned.

I am grateful that I saw my beautiful granddaughters playing in the afternoon sun, with the wind blowing through their hair.

I am grateful for my family, young and old, near and far who are all healthy and safe.

I am grateful for my friends who with their positive attitude and meaningful friendship comfort me and make me smile.

I am grateful for the sun that shines every day.

I am grateful for the beauty of Mother Nature.

I am grateful for this country called Canada and all its leaders.

I am grateful to all the devoted community members and professionals for their commitment, compassion and care.

I am grateful to God who gives me strength and courage to believe that human kind will prevail with kindness and goodness for all.

I am grateful that all mankind has come together, unified more than ever to create the best and most peaceful world.

With gratitude…

I wrote the above 3 weeks ago, expressing gratitude for life’s goodness, the love for family and friends, admiration and respect for solid leadership, respecting the beauty of Mother Nature, appreciating the value of freedom, and never underestimating the power of prayer with God.

Since mid March, our lives changed in so many ways. The simplest daily routines such as stopping by for a quick visit with family, meeting a friend for coffee at the nearby mall, picking up my granddaughters from school, and enjoying the late afternoon sun at the nearby playground before heading home. The warm embrace of never ending hugs… when it was time to leave so they could start homework or enjoy dinner with their parents.

As I was driving home from physically distanced visits with loved ones a few days ago, I was unable to holdback my tears because of the pressures of the current situation and the uncertainty that we are all facing today. I was crying because I had not been able to give a warm hug and a kiss before saying good bye. Yes, there’s much love even when we are 6 feet apart, but nothing is the same. Feeling very sad and filled with emotion, I thought   to myself with encouraging thoughts that my great grandmother widowed at the age of 30 and my grandmother 3 years old witnessed the ultimate destruction of their family and home. They fled from Izmir (Smyrna) from the raging fires with the clothes on their back and the bible in their torn bag

I am a descendant of the Armenian genocide, including 4 generations today… we are all living proof, that we are strong and will overcome.

Collectively, staying positive, doing our share will get us to the light at the end of tunnel where we’ll all meet and embrace each other with a fierce sense of accomplishment. The current self-isolation has certainly put things in perspective. We will persevere and return to our blessed and happy lives.

Never again will all of these so called routine daily activities be taken for granted.

Family get togethers, dinners, social events, birthday parties, community and church celebrations, are all very much a part of our lives that we must value, cherish and participate in…. giving our utmost and enjoying the little things in life.

I am grateful for life’s goodness, and the goodness we all have inside of us. Let’s live. Let’s love. Let’s laugh knowing we will prevail by making the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. It’s for their future!!

This too shall pass.

God is on our side!         

N.S. is a mother, grandmother and a professional living in Toronto.


Value What You Have Till Social Distancing Is A Distant Memory

By Araxie Altounian

When word of the novel coronavirus reached us in late January, authority figures confidently declared that after the experience of SARS and the Swine flu, we’re much better prepared to tackle the new epidemic. Three months later, we’re still unable to fully comprehend the profound changes that the Covid-19 pandemic is imposing on human lives.

Having lived through the nearly sixteen-year long Lebanese war, another very disruptive and life altering experience, I notice some similarities such as social isolation, a need to adapt to previously unimagined circumstances, focusing strictly on essentials, long line-ups for mundane tasks; in other words, going into “survival mode”.

Thirty years later the new self-isolation caused by Covid-19 feels similar in many ways, with a major difference. Whereas victims of war feel forsaken by the rest of the world, the global aspect of the pandemic makes humans everywhere reach out to each other with empathy, expressing kindness and encouragement to help each other endure these strange times.

Thirty years later we’re all in a better place thanks to modern technology. Most of us have found virtual alternatives to many daily activities, from work and education to shopping, entertainment and connecting with loved ones. When I imagine how much more crippled our society would have been without today’s technology, I am grateful. The memory of the war helps me appreciate what we have NOT lost, at least not yet, such as power, running water, heat, internet, waste collection, and much more. We have access to food, medicine, banking and other essential services. I think of the people out there who are working harder than ever to maintain some normalcy in our lives, and for that, I am grateful. I am also grateful to individuals and groups who flood the internet with beautiful artistic performances to lift the spirit of the general public.

Focusing on positive aspects is key to navigating through these trying times with less anxiety, to value what we still have, while we can do so, and to keep our eyes on the day when family and friends will come together again, exhibiting more kindness and appreciation towards each other, when Covid-19 and social distancing will be a distant memory.

Araxie Altounian is a Toronto based pianist and musicologist.