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Trying to plan for a brighter summer

We’re rapidly approaching a year in a global pandemic and let’s be honest, pandemic fatigue is real. However, I’m dealing with an offshoot of that – what I’ll call pandemic paralysis.

I tend to get cabin fever around this time of year, and now as snowstorm after snowstorm rolls through central Pennsylvania, I’ve been starting to think about a change of scenery come spring and summer. But I can’t really bring myself to try to plan anything at this point, because I don’t want to invest the thought or time or money or anything into something I fear will just get scrapped again.

While that may seem cynical, I have a pretty good basis for my paralysis. We’ve spent a year now thinking that things will be better a few months down the road, only to find it’s not. We started talking about taking a big family vacation last spring, but pushed back to July and then

November before indefinitely suspending plans. I tried to plan for a COVID-safe cheerleading season, but a decision on winter sports was delayed a number of times and the season was finally cancelled in early December. I honestly just don’t have the mental energy to try to plan something for a few months down the road and sit hoping it will actually happen.

I’m an indecisive person as it is, so I thought maybe I was the only one suffering from said pandemic paralysis. After all, the COVID vaccine has started to roll out. Spring and summer mean more outdoor opportunities and easier social distancing, right? So I polled my friends on Facebook.

It turns out I’m not alone in my caution, although a lot of friends are feeling cautiously optimistic. A handful have trips planned as soon as April and May, with vacation insurance and other safeguards in place. Others have made plans a little farther out, with the same caveats, or they can easily shift their plans if things still aren’t safe, they’ve said.

Others have planned vacations that can be almost completely socially distant, come what may, such as booking a house through AirBnB or VRBO in a more remote area when they can just enjoy the change of scenery. My husband and daughters and I ended up doing that last August, and rented a house in middle-of-nowhere southern Virginia, surrounded by mountains and an orchard. There were no “overly people-y” attractions nearby; we hiked a piece of the Appalachian Trail (thus adding our fourth state!) and visited the Natural Bridge mid-week with few people around. And honestly, just the views as we drove through the mountains were refreshing to the soul.

I think that’s what we’re all looking for, the opportunity for a little pick-me-up. And for a lot of folks, the thought that maybe, just maybe, we might be able to get away in a few months is helping.

“I made plans with my sisters for a getaway after Labor Day,” says former Central Penn Parent editorial director Cathy Hirko. “I’m being optimistic. But, just making those plans has lifted my spirits.”

What’s your outlook on spring and summer plans? Do you share my pandemic paralysis or have you found a way to plan something to look forward to? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or email me!

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