Find joy this spring in visiting a strawberry patch. (Photo by Kristine George)

The flowers are blooming, the days are getting longer and suddenly, after a year of living a simpler life whether we wanted to or not, my schedule is filling up.
While I never want to endure a global pandemic again in this lifetime, I feel like there are some silver linings that I hope to sustain long past when this is completely in the rearview mirror.
Before life gets busy again, I am working very hard to create some permanent habits of simple sustainable living.
I urge you to consider which pre-pandemic time wastes you have lived without this past year — and bid them adieu forever — and which quarantine ways of doing things that might just be a permanent lifestyle change.
Stay in touch: Even when we can hug and be together in person again, I plan to hold on to the new ways that I have connected with those that I care about. Zoom calls across the miles and Sunday afternoon virtual visits with loved ones are lovely traditions that add so much richness to our relationships. That doesn’t mean we should shy away from those in-person gatherings that we missed so much in 2020 but having more ways to connect is always a good thing!
Curbside Pickup Forever: One of may very favorite things to come out of an otherwise dismal time is the addition of curbside pickup to my life.
Not only has it given me hours of time back during the weekends to spend with my family but my grocery budget seems to be much more in check — no more impulse buys from the bakery or frozen dessert section of the store! So many stores pivoted to offer this option, often at a free or low cost to customers — and it has provided many families a safe way to get the items that they need from their local stores.
Even when it feels a bit more natural to go to a crowded grocery store on a Saturday afternoon, I am not sure I want to — so I am putting in my plug for this timesaving service to stick around!
Enjoy the Simple Things: Last spring, my kids and I found joy in those rare but joyful opportunities to get out of the house.
We visited a local strawberry patch, took walks with our dogs and took a boat ride through a neighboring town.
We cooked together, planned family movie nights and enjoyed small yet memorable opportunities to savor our quarantine time together. No matter how busy your schedules get, don’t let those simple pleasures drift away.
Make time for those simple visits to the park or outdoor spaces, no matter how busy you eventually get. They may have been quarantine necessities but they can become beloved traditions, too.
Unplugging from the News: I confess, I spent a lot of time on social media and seeking out the latest headlines — and found that it was not only taking time away from my family (who happened to be doing the same thing on their own smart devices on the couch nearby) but it was adding lots of anxiety and stress to our lives.
The news from 2020 has not been happy news and that was having an impact on my mental health.
Take some time away from the news cycle, mindless scrolling and Netflix-binging — and use that time for self care or family time.
Never Stop Learning: During our initial quarantine, I cooked three meals a day for what seemed like 400 years.
It was only a few months, but I discovered a new love of cooking and learned more about how to use fresh herbs and spices than I ever would have taken time to learn in a “normal” season.
I still love how my kids light up when I add fresh basil to their Saturday night spaghetti and love that I have a skill and new passion that I never realized I had.
I still can’t wait to spend more Saturday nights at my favorite local dining spots but am grateful that I learned how to better feed my crew in the meantime!
Whether you picked up a new sewing habit or found more time to read several new books, never let go of the chance to learn something new or make time for something that gives you great joy.
That spark of creativity will make you more happy — and ultimately more productive — in all those other areas of life!
Adopt a Pandemic Puppy: OK, so I just threw that in there so I could tell you that while COVID-19 may have taken away so much, for my family, adopting our pandemic puppy, Savannah, brought us happiness we had no idea we were missing out on!
Sure, we had to get rid of our carpeting and our house is always scattered with puppy toys but the idea of adding a new family member to your home is always worth considering, even post pandemic!
Lots of local rescue pets are just waiting to show you the love you never knew you were missing.
One Good Thing about Masks: I have a confession: I hate wearing masks but have noticed that the usual slew of upper respiratory ailments that plague my house from November through March has been virtually non-existent.
While I certainly welcome the day that I do not have to mask up everywhere I go, I kind of dig the idea that if it is a busy cold-and-flu time, I have an added layer of protection — and it kept my face warm during this cold winter — no complaints about that extra layer!
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)