Tuesday, February 2, 2021

I'Masking You to Hang Out

IllumiNITE's Face and Neck Wear double as a face mask while keeping you warm for all your outdoor winter adventures!

It has been 323 days since America shut down due to the pandemic. What's worse! Here in New England, the past 93 days have been cold and bitter wintry months! I woke up this morning to my weather app shivering its five degrees at me, and all I wanted to do was crawl further down into my blankets and sleep until spring.

Let's face it—COVID fatigue is legit. I'm so beyond tired wearing masks everywhere when I need to venture into the world to get essentials, like food and medicine. I'm so beyond tired to make sure I don't touch my face until I get home and sanitize my hands, my phone, and everything else I've touched while out. It's exhausting! I know I'm not the only one wishing this pandemic would just end. BUT, we can't just will the pandemic away. Fatigued by it or not, COVID still exists. 

These days, I'm struggling even more with trying to explain to people I care deeply about why I won't gather indoors; why I won't visit without a mask on. Some people take offense; they think "No" means I think they have COVID; they think "No" means I'm judging them; they think "No" means I don't really care enough to spend time with them. I try to explain this is not about them as an individual. Any one of us could have COVID (and not know it)—including me! I will not gather indoors BECAUSE I care. I have seen too many people become really ill with this virus (some with long-lasting effects!), and way too many people I know have died from it. It's heartbreaking. This pandemic won't end if we don't continue to stay hunkered down.

In addition to being COVID-fatigued, I am also screen fatigued. My workdays have become nonstop Zoom meetings and phone calls and eight hours a day of screen time! I've taken to locking my phone in my home office Friday nights and praying I don't need to talk to a single person outside of my household just so I can feel rested come Monday morning. I'm totally Zoomed out, Phone-Called Out, Social Mediaed Out! Breaks really help.

Okay, end rant. I do miss hanging out with my friends and family. It's really hard to say "No" to invites for cocktail nights and dinners and other such gatherings. A few people reached out to me sharing that they also are struggling with people not understanding social isolation, especially during these cold, dark days when everyone is locked inside. As I've thought more and more about it, I've gathered some ideas for how to safely gather OUTSIDE during this cold, dreary winter.

Host a Backyard Gathering

Grateful for my IlumiNITE Tahoe Performance Fleece to
keep me warm during a socially-distanced photoshoot
for my son's graduation in our local park
Bring the cozy warmth of home outdoors! Build a fire pit or rent/buy one of those outdoor propane
heaters to keep everyone warm. Ask everyone to bring their own chair and blankets. Serve hot cider, hot chocolate, coffee or tea—all of which can be spiked with spirits for those 21 and over. Crockpots do a great job keeping mulled wine and spiked cider warm; insulated travel mugs are great for keeping beverages warm as well. For food, offer s'mores to roast over the fire, chowder or soup, and warm bread. 

Make one person the server, and have that person wear gloves and a mask while serving to keep everyone safe. You can also ask everyone to bring their own drinks and food for extra precaution. If you have a projector and screen, host a movie night, or use a portable speaker to create a dance party...with everyone outside of individual households distanced six-to-ten feet apart.

Traverse Your Nearest Bike Path

Mike and I are athletes, so we often forget that not everyone is "up" for a mountain climb (see what I did here?) or a run. The bike path offers a multitude of ways to connect with family and friends. You can walk, bike, rollerblade, roller skate (for you old school peeps!), hoverboard, or skateboard. The little ones can ride their big wheels and tricycles, or get pushed in a stroller or wagon. 

Plus, bike paths are wider than sidewalks, which makes social distancing easier. Most bike paths get plowed when it snows, but check with your town first to make sure. 

Travel Separately Together

Socially distanced hike on a local mountain with Mike's aunt and uncle;

Geared up with my IlumiNITE Tahoe Performance Fleece
How often have you thought about all the history and significant places in your own state? We often overlook tourist attractions nearby because we're too busy looking up touristy places everywhere else! I've lived in Western Massachusetts my whole life yet I'm surprised at how many historical places I have not yet visited. 

Do some research online; google your town or state websites, and nature conservatories, museums, and other outdoor attractions in your area. Check out touristy places, such as historical estate grounds and cemeteries, natural attractions, such as hiking trails, nature conservatories, waterfalls, caverns, spiritual. 

Then invite friends or family to meet you there!

Visit a State Park

State Parks offer a lot of activities, all in one convenient outdoor place. Many have hiking trails, basketball and tennis courts, open fields, picnic tables and grills, playgrounds, and more. Nothing beats cold weather like playing a team sport (no contact!) like baseball/softball, flag football, soccer, or disc golf. 

Explore Winter-Only Activities

IllumiNITE's Reflective Cold Weather Versa Gaiter provides versatiility 
for a multitude of outdoor winter activities!

Besides running and hiking, which you can do pretty much all year round, there are a number of outdoor winter activities that could be fun to try with others. Go snowshoeing! Try cross-country skiing or regular skiing/snowboarding for the more adventurous types. 

Have you ever been tubing, sledding, or tobogganing? Just be sure only people within the same household double up! 

For those who enjoy less active activities, look up places near you that offer ice sculpture shows and winterfests. 

I like to steal Mike's IllumiNITE Ascent Parka
it's like wearing a warm boyfriend hug 
on our cold morning walks!
Layer Up,  Gear Up, and Mask Up

However you choose to gather with loved ones outdoors, be sure that everyone is properly prepared for
New England's unpredictable weather patterns. It's so important to wear layers, as finicky New England temperatures can plummet quickly—especially once the sun starts to set. IllumiNITE reflective athletic wear layers well without added bulk, keeping you cozy warm, comfortable, and fashionably bright! Remind everyone to wear their cold weather gear as well. Layers won't do you any good if your head, neck, and extremities are exposed to the cold. Share a winter weather checklist that includes hats, hoods, neck coverings, gloves, mittens, wool socks, and proper foot attire. For especially cold days and nights, add Hot Hands or heating packs to the list. And last but definitely not least, mask up! It adds a greater level of safety, and as an added bonus, it keeps your face warm and protected from harsh winter winds!

MASKUP with IllumiNITE's Reflective Face and Neck Wear Collection!
IllumiNITE makes it easier than ever to MASKUP with family and friends! Now through the end of June, use discount code MASKUP for 20% off IllumiNITE's Reflective Face and Neck Wear Collection*. Check out the multiple ways you can use their Multi-Wrap in the video below! 

Already have IllumiNITE's Face and Neck wear? Keep yourself and your loved ones warm, cozy, and fashionable with IllumiNITE's cold weather product line. Use discount code SERA15 for 15% off your order.

What have you been doing to beat pandemic winter doldrums? I'd love to hear your tips and ideas! Share them in a comment below!

*Discount code expires June 30, 2021 at 11:59 PM. Customers can use it more than once, and they can share it.  Discount code cannot be combined with other offers. Discount is only available on the Reflective Face and Neck Wear Collection. Products and prices subject to change without notice. 

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