From Our Members’ Perspective: Adjusting To The New Normal



Shirleyanne hasn’t been to the Center since March 11. If you know Shirleyanne, being away from the Center hasn’t been easy. She is an extrovert who loves all aspects of being with people – especially “her” people in the crochet group.

“Isolation is not for me,” said Shirleyanne. “I get anxious and depressed when I can’t be social.”

We can all identify with those sentiments, especially these days. If anyone understands why the Center cannot be open for all activities right now, it’s Shirleyanne. After all, she is an immune-suppressed individual as a heart transplant recipient. Contracting COVID-19 could be life-threatening. The group, which normally has 30 to 40 members, is choosing to meet outside at the St. Francis Health Park in Broken Arrow.

“We are not throwing caution to the wind,” she added. “We are using common sense by meeting outside, social distancing, using hand sanitizer and welcoming those that want to wear a mask or not. Not everyone is participating, but that’s OK. We will eventually be back together at the Center.”

Shirleyanne said the energy gained in the short, weekly crochet gettogether has been a game changer for her and others. If you would like to join the crochet group at the park, contact Jean Benzel, the group’s leader, at



Rita decided on a whim to try Limited Exercise the second week the Center began offering fitness classes in July. The class was not in her repertoire of Center activities she attended in the past.

“I wanted to try Limited Exercise to gain some strength back,” Rita noted. “I mow the grass and clean my house, but I know I’ve been sitting more since not coming to the Center on a regular basis.”

Although a little nervous about coming to the Center and trying something new, Rita said she was glad to be back seeing people and being active.

“I felt very safe coming into the building. Everyone wears a mask, has their temperature checked and social distancing was followed,” she noted. “The Centennial room was also very cool, which helped me relax.”

Limited Exercise, she realized, was exactly what she needed to build her strength. Rita said that Gary Siftar, the instructor, led the group with exercises while the class sat in chairs or used a chair for balance.

“The exercises were challenging, but I never felt overwhelmed or discouraged. Gary kept us moving, and, before I knew it, the class was over,” Rita said.

She certainly felt that the class was worthwhile and would help meet her goal of being more active and gaining strength. She admitted, however, there was more to it, which surprised her.

“There’s something about being with a group of people that motivates me,” she said. “I wasn’t prepared to really like exercising. It’s seeing and talking with people and moving with a common goal in mind.”

Will Rita return to the Center and to the class?

“Absolutely! I look forward to it now,” she said.



Talk to Alan and he’ll tell you he is at one-fifth of his “normal.” Onefifth you ask? Another way to look at it: 20% of Alan’s life has returned to pre-virus status, and he is ecstatic. Alan’s 20% of normal is being able to come to the Center to do what he has enjoyed for the last five years, which is tai chi.

“Tai chi is so relaxing,” he said. “I have benefited in mind and body from this form of exercise and, even after all this time, I am still learning and refining my practice. It continues to challenge me, which is something I really enjoy.”

Alan waited to come to the Center until the second week of fitness class offerings, knowing that safety procedures would be in place.

“I felt very comfortable returning once I walked into the building,” he explained.

Social distancing markers on the floor in Centennial and the fact that he didn’t have to touch the sign-in screen, in addition to leaving through a door separate from those entering, are some of the safety measures in place that made him feel at ease. The 80% of what he is currently missing at the Center, such as the fitness room, doesn’t bother Alan.

“I realize that if more activities were offered, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to clean and disinfect all the chairs, tables and items touched to keep everyone safe,” he said. “I have regained some of my routine, and for that I am very thankful. We are in a new normal. We need to take life as it comes these days.”