Remember getting grounded for two weeks as a kid and then, after about nine days, your mom said, "I think you've learned your lesson," and let you go out with your friends? My parents were notorious for granting clemency, especially if the sentencing was done in haste.

That's what ditching the mask feels like.

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Those of us who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are now allowed to go without masks even when we're indoors, according to new guidelines issued last week by the CDC. (There are, of course, some exceptions and we have a list of businesses in Michigan that do and do not require masks here.)

A sense of freedom

Maybe you've also noticed an improved mood among your coworkers and those around you over the last few days? Taking off the mask has brought a sense of freedom that I really hadn't anticipated -- but it really is the little things in life that bring us the most joy.

A few of my coworkers who are fully vaccinated are now going sans mask and have remarked about the relief they're feeling. We visited with my sister and her husband over the weekend and marveled at the ease of conversation and the lack of stress knowing that all of us were protected from catching and spreading this insidious disease.

This new freedom comes with a few caveats

You've probably noticed that the relaxation of mask guidelines here in Michigan and throughout the US isn't as smooth as most of us had anticipated. Among the key issues:

Honor System - I swear to you, I got the COVID-19 vaccine. I have a picture of that stupidly-oversized card on my phone since it's too big for my wallet. But we just don't know that to be true of everyone else who's ditched the face coverings.

Confusion - Sure, we know we can jettison the mask indoors and outdoors if we're surrounded by just a few people, but how many is too many? What about stores? What about public venues like The Dort or Comerica Park?

Comfort of Others - You may wonder if your newly-found freedom makes others uncomfortable. It's as awkward as taking your clothes off in front of someone for the first time. Maybe I'm exaggerating.

I'm on my soapbox (just a little)

If you're hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, is there a way I can urge you to do so without getting preachy or making this political?

I honestly don't give a damn who you voted for and know people on both sides of the political aisle who are in favor of getting the shot or not getting the shot.

But if I can offer one bit of encouragement for anyone who's on the fence about getting the vaccine, I'd say the freedom ditch the mask is incredibly liberating. Seeing the bottom halves of friends' faces is a real treat. And having conversations that are complete with facial expressions is a much-welcomed change.

It's like not being grounded anymore.


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