Maria Gutzeit | Finding Our New Normal and Shifting Priorities


One of my favorite teachers from Yoga Yoga opens class with, “Think about what you need today.” That’s good advice, especially of late. Another way I sarcastically say it is, “How do I not do myself in, today?!” 

It is all too easy to let the current situation get us down or distracted, but that’s not in our best interest. Sure, everything has changed. It may, or may not, go back to normal any time soon. 

What is your plan B, C, D and E? We might need all of them.

We’re told we are a “consumer society.” Shopping has gone from a sometime joy/sometime drag to a health risk. The innovators are refining online shopping and curbside pickup. 

Other than some stock issues that I hope resolve soon, everyone from Dunkin Donuts to Target and Ralphs to local shops like Newhall Refinery are making getting what you want easier. 

There will be successes and, sadly, failures, on many fronts. 

Realistically, a mass-produced, widely available vaccine for the general global public won’t hit until 2022. I’m hoping we can get treatments and a reliable inventory of medical supplies and protective gear before then. 

Just because we can go to the beach (thank goodness) doesn’t mean we will be back to normal. We may very well “open” only to “close” again. The flexible and thoughtful will come out the best, whether they be businesses, governments, or people. 

How can your business best survive without high in-person interaction for several years? How can your personal finances best survive the next couple years? 

There is a lot of work out there, and good help is needed now more than ever. 

Early in my career, in between jobs, I worked as a temp in offices, because I knew how to type. I babysat. I did quality assurance at a manufacturing facility. My husband delivered bounce houses when his business was slow. There are vacancies and training available in many sectors right now. 

For instance, there are new contact-tracing positions being developed to help us weather COVID-19. Trucking and mid-level industrial operations jobs already had shortages before the shutdown. 

Find out what fields are hiring and give it a go. You can make someone’s life easier, meet interesting people, and be paid to do it, if you are flexible and open minded. 

What do you need to do today, to put yourself in a better position? Do you need a routine or a to-do list? A nap or a purge of your office files? Do you want to write to your elected officials and ask them for help on a certain topic that is being overlooked? Do you need to go for a bike ride or do an online class? 

Perhaps today is the day you limit your social media and TV watching, and instead pick out paint colors, work on your website, or break out the microscope with the kids.

Kudos to the parents, especially single parents, and parents of multiple or young kids. I hope the schools beef up their programs if this continues into next year. We appreciate our teachers and coaches more than ever. Distance learning from the school is a bit light, so we have to implement other activities, whether it be academics, athletics, art or music. 

The electronics are making us all crazy, but parents can only do so much. Perhaps today calls for a much-needed nature break or spending a chunk of time hunting for quality educational resources.

Are we keeping up with necessary medical visits and trying to stay fit? Doing something always trumps doing nothing in sports. Have you found your gym alternative yet? I’ve enjoyed seeing the kids out walking with their parents or, in a few cases, clearly doing workouts. 

Being sidelined from competitive sports was always angst-inducing for me. I sense many kids are going with the flow. You are my heroes and you will be back at it. So proud of you.

Yes, we certainly could lament the situation. We should be mad when our systems fail us and take action to change it. However, even those setting the rules don’t know what is coming, though they are trying their best. 

The best we can do is ask, “What do I need to do, today?” and strive for that. This will end. All any of us can do is be in the best position we can when that happens.  

What do you need, today? 

Maria Gutzeit is a chemical engineer, business owner, elected official, and mom living in Santa Clarita. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among local Democrats.

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