Message from Joan, (mostly) not about sex
March 3, 2021: A year ago this month, I wrote the blog post below. It was the beginning of the pandemic, and we had no idea that a year later, we’d still be restricting our lives, wearing masks, staying home, assessing our safety with every interaction, trying to figure out how to get through this alive, crying for those who did not. Massive numbers of people have died from COVID-19: 2.56 million to date worldwide. I’m spotlighting my March 2020 post because everything I said then is even truer now (except that I’m another year older and no longer needing the knee scooter). I’ve learned new ways to cope — so have you. Feel free to share your advice in the comments section.
March 18, 2020: I’m under a shelter-in-place order, as are most of you by now. Even before the order, I had started limiting outings and interactions because I’m in a high-risk group. I’m 76, and although I’m usually a powerhouse of energy, I do manage chronic asthma. Twice in the past 5 years, simple respiratory illnesses developed into pneumonia, one requiring hospitalization. To make life even more stressful, I’ve been recovering from injuries after a fall that put me on crutches and a knee scooter for a month.
I’m sure many of you have similar stories.
I Know We’re All Stressed, Maybe This Will Help. I’m used to working from home, so social distancing isn’t a huge change for me. If you’re new to this and can’t figure out what how to fill your time and reduce your stress, here are some tips that I hope you’ll find helpful:
- Choose one thing you’ve wished for time to do, something that would bring you a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. Maybe it’s as simple as making time to read a novel, or as complex as writing your memoir. Make this something that will bring you joy to do.
- Choose one important task that needs to be done that you can do at home. You know, a chore on that to-do list that’s been hanging over you for weeks, months, years? You might not enjoy doing it, but you will enjoy having done it.
- Build exercise into your day, every day, even if it’s power walking your house to the beat of a favorite song. Exercise is important for our physical and mental health. It’s a natural anti-depressant. For 300 ideas (yep,I counted them) for exercising wherever you are, get my 2003 book, The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book: 300+ quick and easy exercises you can do whenever you want!
- Reach out to loved ones. No, we can’t visit and hug, but we can interact via phone, Skype, Zoom, Facetime. Make a plan to contact at least one special person each day. Ask for what you need emotionally. Use the time to get closer to people in the wonderful technological ways available to us, rather than feeling distanced and isolated.
Divide your time among these four. Brag when something’s done! You’ll feel better and less isolated if you’re intentionally doing something enjoyable or important or both, rather than just passing time.
Here’s the main point: We know at our age that every hour we have matters. We can make this time meaningful. It’s our best gift to ourselves.
“But Joan, what about sex?” you’re asking. OK, let’s add sex:
- Give yourself an orgasm at your tingle time.
- Try something new during solo sex or partnered sex.
- Order a new sex toy or lubricant. Please scroll down the right-hand side of my blog for retailers who support my senior sex educational mission. Let’s support them, too, especially now.
- Learn something new about sex and aging. This blog is a fine start. Consider my books, film, and webinars, too. As long as the post offices remain open, I can ship your book and film orders (U.S. only), and my webinars are digital, so you can view them whatever your location or situation.
Please feel free to add your comments and tips.
For the most part,I’ve kept myself occupied with worthwhile activities during the past year. Here are some highlights.
1) Progressive political activism,now all on-line,has been a major focus. I’ve continued involvement with a social justice organization I joined in Dec.2016; I’ve been an activist since I was a teenager,but tend to have one main group I concentrate on while still maintaining less involvement in other organization. I’m now in the leadership of one of the group’s caucuses,and am enjoying it very much. Part of the leadership involves facilitating study groups,which I’ve done twice and greatly enjoy.,and am currently organizing a panel discussion which I’ll moderate. Have been mentoring some younger members and increasing my computer skills. I’ve also kept up with the news at my highest rate ever,and continue to post links and have civil conversations on Facebook about social justice politics and sharing important info.
2) I made significant progress on my paternal family history book,and am ready for a final read-through/edit before it goes to a pro proofreader.
3)I’ve been in a drop-in writing group for 10 years,and it’s been online since spring. It’s now meeting once a week instead of once a month. It’s good for building community and sharing our work.
4)I talk with my daughter and grandchildren several times a month,and also do Facebook chats and now videos with them. I participated in two extended family Zoom sessions.
5)I love music,and continue to listen to classical,jazz and folk. I participate in several virtual song circles,which is very enjoyable.
6) In terms of sexuality,I’ve made good use of my Pocket Rocket vibrator,and am considering buying one of your suggested toys.
7) I’ve done yoga and meditation via Zoom,and look forward to outdoor pools opening up in June.
I was severely disappointed when my all-male sex events were cancelled this summer. I’m an aging bisexual male. I wanted to experience what it’s like to be penetrated by another man again. I don’t want to be in close contact though. Getting sick isn’t worth it
You posted this on your blog almost 6 weeks ago, during which time I’ve been holed up and sheltering in place. Herewith are a few reactions to your timely and excellent advice.
One thing I’ve wished for time to do: How about THREE things? I’ve revised my Advance Health Care Directive, redone my Will, and made good progress on cleaning out numerous old boxes of files and papers in my garage.
One important task that needs to be done: Weeding, weeding, weeding in my yard. They grow ever higher and have begun to go to seed.
Exercise every day: I walk several miles a day with my dog and/or solo. I’m doing Zoom yoga (since my yoga studio is closed), YouTube Pilates (thanks to excellent videos posted by my Pilates teacher), and line dance twice a week on Facebook Live. Without this exercise I’d be depressed at being so cooped up.
Reach out to loved ones: My loved ones include both family and friends. I actively communicate with them daily on Facebook, but also via email, text messages, and phone calls. In addition, two literature reading groups to which I belong have been meeting via Zoom during our sequester, and that has provided me with good virtual comradeship and vibrant intellectual exchange.
As for Sex: I’ve tried two new sex toys with great success, ordered on-line and received new lubricant from the wonderful Smitten Kitten, and read several new books and articles on sex and sexuality. Thinking about and having sex have been crucial for helping me to manage this long bottled up time. And your blog has provided inspiration and information to that end.
All of us miss REAL face-to-face interactions, the freedom to roam about at will, and the joy of traveling. Hopefully, by early fall many such things will again become possible. Many thanks to you, Joan, for your good suggestions on how to keep our lives interesting!
Great advice! I am following all of your tips and have even added one more. I am trying to learn something new. Thank you for everything you do!
Great Advice but Sometimes It Is About Sex . Sometimes You Have To keep The peace .
Great advice and comments…..as usual.
Thanks Joan, and look after yourself.
Great advice. Thank you. I’m definitely picking up my guitar again. Glad I got it restrung last fall. Now if only I can tune it