I’ve known Sharon Robinson since 2011. I first encountered her on social media when I was relocating to Bellingham, Washington. I have kept up with her Facebook posts so I contacted her to appear in my series.
Sharon inspires me with her quilting projects, posts about her dog Chance (she and Chance entered agility events in 2019), and her thoughtful posts about daily life as a retired architect. She is currently enrolled in online classes and pursuing her many interests. She also created masks for her friends and colleagues. I love the masks she sent to me.
How long have you been in lockdown? (I’ve already forgotten how long Washington State has been in lockdown).
Sharon Robinson–I’m not sure when the official lockdown started, but I started my own voluntary self-quarantine March 9th. I think this was about two weeks before the official order.
You retired from an architecture career in recent months, however, how has the lockdown altered your daily routine? And how have you created a new structure to cope with the situation?
SR—Since my retirement and the lockdown started almost exactly simultaneously it’s really hard to differentiate between the two. I think I would have been getting together with friends and art groups once in a while without the quarantine, but I’m primarily a homebody at heart. I think I’ve spent a lot more time on social media and the internet than I used to, trying to find out what’s going on and to see how friends are faring.
What has been your primary way of staying in touch with your family, friends, and colleagues?
SR—My Dad is 93, and not very tech-savvy, so our contact is only by phone. We have started to speak more often since the pandemic, as I’m very worried about his susceptibility to the virus. My brother and my cousin text frequently, and most other friends I stay in touch with via Facebook. I have an artists’ critique group that meets monthly, and we have been using Zoom, as have the two non-profit boards I serve on (Mt. Baker Theatre and DVSAS (Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Services)).
Have you learned any new skills, taken any online classes, or returned to any hobbies during the past few weeks?
SR—I’m trying to work through a DNA/biology class on MIT’s website because genetic genealogy is a favorite hobby. My main hobbies are art quilts and gardening, which has not changed, except that I now have more time for both than I did when I was working.
How are you keeping your mind and your body healthy and keeping stress levels at a minimum?
SR–I do a daily yoga practice and have a private lesson (that used to be in person) via Zoom once a week. I also try to spend time in my garden and get out for a short 1-2 mile walk with my dog most days.
What do you think the new normal will look like in the realm of urban planning, architecture, and homes (since we are ordered to stay at home)?
SR—I think the biggest realization humans or at least Americans will have is that it’s not really that hard to work at home. I think that if kids are back in school many people with portable jobs might choose to work from home at least part-time, so new homes and renovations will probably put more emphasis on home offices.
I think more people might find they have much more need for a “me” space, whether it’s a “craft room,” an office, or just a desk, or easy chair. Everyone needs a way to get away from the 24/7 family.
Urban planning is unlikely to change much, in my opinion. I’ve heard some major cities are temporarily closing streets to allow pedestrians to social distance better, but I doubt that trend will continue if we ever go back to “normal.” As traffic increases again, the vehicles will take back their streets. I think more people will be wary of crowded public transportation, at least at first, so that might have the overall effect of increasing vehicular traffic, unfortunately.
Do you have any advice for people who are struggling with the new normal?
SR–I don’t really feel qualified to give advice, but I know for me reaching out to a friend, spending time in nature (even my own yard), and spending time with my dog all help me to relax. The advice I should take myself is, “spend less time on screens and keyboards and go make something!”