While 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us, it has been especially difficult for country music legend Reba McEntire, as she lost her beloved mother Jacqueline Smith the very same month the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States back in March.

After the death of her mother, McEntire dropped everything and headed to Oklahoma to be with her family, spending her quarantine there. Now, she is opening up to talk about how this year has changed her.

“The pandemic didn’t hit me as hard as it did a lot of other people because mainly I was in southeast Oklahoma,” the McEntire told Sounds Like Nashville. “I was on a working cattle ranch. There was more cattle. There were more dogs than there were people at that place. Chockie, Oklahoma is little bitty and I was with family.”

After years of touring and staying busy with work, McEntire’s time on the ranch allowed her to experience a different pace of life than the one she was used to.

“It’s changed me,” she said. “First of all, it slowed me down. I go 900 mph all day long. I’m exhausted when I lay down and I sleep really well, but I love life and I enjoy doing what I do, so I just re-channeled that to try to be more creative. I’ve even co-written a few songs.”

Throughout quarantine, McEntire focused on spending as much time outside as possible, and she shared some of her favorite activities.

“I’m getting out in nature, enjoying what God has given us. I’ve got a garden. I’ve got a horse. I’ve got a little farm that I’m just enjoying so much, the peaceful slowdown,” she gushed. “I haven’t had this much time off since I was in high school, so it’s been a reward and a joy to me.”

“My heart goes out to all the folks who have been sick and who have lost loved ones,” McEntire added. “My heart goes out to them and to anybody who is suffering and hurting with this illness. It’s not a nice illness at all. It’s hateful, but I do need to say honestly, I have enjoyed the rest. I’ve enjoyed the time off to be creative, but mainly to be still, just to be still. I’ve loved that tremendously.”

That being said, the 65 year-old singer has found some aspects of life in quarantine to be difficult.

“The thing that is the hardest is I can’t hug anymore,” she admitted. “That hurts worse than anything. I can’t shake hands. Daddy always told us, ‘You look them in the eye and you shake their hands,’ so that’s two things that’s very foreign to me, but it’s for their safety as much as it is for mine.”

“That’s why I wear a mask no matter where I go,” McEntire continued. “If I do go out, I wear a mask. I stay away from people as much as I can. It’s funny. They still want pictures and they want to hug. I just have to say, ‘Guys, we just got to keep our distance,’ but it’s for their good. I’m not surely a snob about it at all, and I never want to hurt anybody’s feelings.”

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