Checking in: A conversation with Susan Schenk
While tracking the COVID-19 pandemic and providing information about the response of governments and other entities is the main priority, Pamplin Media Group also wanted to provide a window into the lives of individual residents whose lives have changed because of this calamity.
In the first of our series, titled "Checking In," 22-year Wilsonville resident Susan Schenk talks about reconnection, reevaluation, art and more.
Q: Overall, how has your life been impacted by the pandemic?
A: We are very blessed. We don't have a mortgage to worry about. We don't have jobs we lost. We don't have family members stuck at home. Compared to everyone else we're in very good shape.
Q: Is there anything in your life that has had to be put on hold due to the pandemic?
A: I'm retired so all my extracurricular classes I take and lectures and cultural events and committees have all been canceled or moved online. That's required a little mind shift.
I'm part of a group that puts on a residential arts retreat. We had to cancel that. I'm on the Clackamas County Arts Alliance. That's (meetings) been canceled. I'm a docent at the Portland Art Museum. That's been closed. All my creative outlets have gone indoors. My husband is very vulnerable so we're being extremely careful about contact with the outside world.
Q: What are some things you're doing to stay sane?
A: I have had a little mental insight and that was that I don't know what the future will be like, what the new normal will be. I feel like (metaphorically) I'm getting ready to move, change locations or change residence.
I'm doing a lot of things like 'OK. I'm 74. Maybe I'll live another 20 years. What do I need to hold onto in my new location (metaphorically), in the new world, whatever that's going to look like.' I feel like I'm moving, changing residences. It's satisfying to me to go through all my accumulations of stuff and say 'Will this serve me in my new place?' I now have time for things I didn't have time for before when I had other demands on my time.
Q: Have you picked up any new hobbies?
A: I have been going through all my art supplies and I decided there are some art supplies I wanted to get rid of but not before I gave them another chance to shine. I've been working on stained glass. I had a huge supply that was just gathering dust. So I'm making glass mosaic pieces. Before I didn't have time for that. Now I have time.
Q: How are you staying in touch with friends, family and the outside world?
A: I've been calling a lot of people I hadn't talked to in a long time. I try to call three people each day. Someone called me and it was so nice. I said I'm going to pass this on. I've been calling about three people a day, who I haven't talked to in a long time. That's been wonderful. People seem to appreciate the call and I tell them they should pass it on. They say "Yes that's an excellent idea."
I used to teach and so I called a couple teachers I used to work with maybe 10 years ago that I hadn't talked to in awhile. Some of them we're communicating by email or direct messaging.
It was very nice to reconnect.
Q: Are there any new books, TV shows or movies you have gotten into since the pandemic began that you would recommend?
A: We have no real good internet connection at our house. We've been waiting patiently for Comcast to come through. It's so frustrating. We don't do any streaming or Netflix.
I've been going to a lot of Zoom meetings and have been forced to do a lot of new technology which is probably good for my brain.
Q: Have you learned anything about yourself?
A: I've learned that I'm refocusing some of my priorities. I've become a little more focused on things I wasn't focused on before. I've been spending a lot more time with my husband, not that he wasn't always a priority. We've been finding simple things to do together that we might not have been doing before because we were busy and in and out. That would involve going for walks; we've been doing puzzles, cleaning out closets. Those mundane things but that's where we are.
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