Are you feeling weighed down lately, bored, or even a bit stir crazy (or actually crazy)? Is quarantine still happening where you live and maybe your kids are home with you? My husband and I both work from home and have two little ones ever-present, so I feel you. Here’s the thing: we’ve both been working from home for close to three years now, so we’ve had some time to work on and work out the kinks. A HUGE element of keeping our sanity:
SPEND TIME OUTSIDE.
There is tons of research that backs up the benefits of getting outside. The bottom line: outside time is beneficial. Getting out around more trees = even more calm for your mood and brain. Getting outdoors and exercising has some additional benefits (especially for your heart, muscles and bones). But just getting some fresh air improves cognitive performance: i.e. helps your sanity and job performance. It is also something to do that is not screen time.
I read and hear about a lot of parents concerned about or even feeling guilty their kids are getting tons of screen time…what else are they going to do? Let’s just pretend it’s 1820 or 1920 and we’re in quarantine… pre: Netflix and Youtube, Smartphones and Tablets, even PC’s and TV’s. What did kids do back then? There was plenty more time spent exploring one’s imagination and the incredible planet we live on.
While reading Richard Powers’ The Overstory this spring, I found the characters Adam Appich and Patricia Westerford particularly intriguing. They were full of questions and deeply observant of the natural world. They studied trees and insects with more depth as children than I have, now well into adulthood. I found them inspiring. There’s no time like the present to get better acquainted with nature, so with my toddler and infant in tow, outside we go to observe, explore and create. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing ideas for getting better acquainted with the outdoors. Maybe you’ll try some or even brainstorm more ideas. Please feel free to drop any further suggestions in the comment section.
Always wonderful, but especially perfect for this time in which many of us are missing the people usually around us, Tammy Sauer and Dan Taylor’s humorous and tender But the Bear Came Back touches home. In Tammy Sauer’s laconic and lovely text, a boy grows increasingly perturbed by visits from an unwanted guest: Bear. As Bear persistently returns, the boy’s frustration rises, as does the humor in this charming tale. That is, until one day when Bear doesn’t come. As the days pass (this book also packs in a lovely little lesson for kids on the days of the week), the boy comes to realize how much he misses his friend.
Tammy Sauer’s powerful text empowers its reader to go after what you want. It reminds you to be a little more kind and patient with those who bother you. Dan Taylor’s colorful illustrations play up the humor that can lie in frustrating situations, while sensitively illuminating the broad spectrum of emotions this book touches on.
To enjoy a masterfully crafted book that may incite laughter, tears, and thoughtful conversation, make sure you read But the Bear Came Back.
The wind blows a lot right now. Maybe it always does, but I’m noticing it more these days. I think we all do as we stay home…or if we are some of the few who need to go out. We feel it in different ways, but it is all around the world. Whirlwinds of economic upheaval push down the market so heavily that oil prices are getting a swirly. Heavy gusts of unemployment abound. There are tornadoes of sickness and tragically death. And when this storm passes, we’ll have a world with trillions of dollars of debt from recovery efforts to try to dig out from.
As these gusts pummel us right now, I watch a forest of oaks that tower behind my house handle the natural gusts on a daily basis. They are strong, thick, tall creatures, many of whom have stood for decades. Each planted as individuals once, they now intermingle above and below earth, an incredibly interconnected community, much like our own human society. Because of their strength, I’m always amazed they have the flexibility to wave in the wind, but they do –all the time.
Trees’ ability to move with the breeze, to lean and move based on what comes, to occasionally shed leaves, fruit, or even branches from time to time, then grow up and out again, is what allows them to stand the tests of time. We could learn a few lessons from them right now as we likely all have to make some adjustments. Maybe this year our bank accounts or investment portfolios (for those so fortunate to have either) won’t be as robust as last year. Maybe this year we learn to be a little more grateful for food banks either through dependency on them or the chance to fill them more so we can ensure our neighbors can eat dinner too.
Perhaps this year we learn to truly appreciate our sanitation workers and that they keep our homes and streets clean as they risk their health and safety. Maybe it’s grocers, agriculture laborers picking our food, the drivers who deliver letters, gifts and produce all over the world.
The wind never blows forever. There will be times it lightens, times it even stops. We already have and will continue to lose some magnificent humans, businesses, relationships and opportunities through this storm. But it won’t ruin everything. Destruction forges a space for new growth. It lays a foundation of new strength.
So sink your roots deep to connect with who and what truly sustains you. Lift your hands to help and sustain others however you can. You are not alone in the current struggle. Let this storm move what it will on the surface. When we make it through, we will recover and keep growing.
For months the world has been watching the unfolding of what is perhaps the most unifying and isolating shared human experience in over a century. There are plenty of mentions of needs in the medical community. Not a lot of in depth reporting on their experiences and concerns. The medical community is communicating inside their network though and their fear is very real and ingenuity astounding.
I have several close friends who work in hospitals. My husband has been living in a hospital all week. The untold truth is: medical professionals are SCARED. And rightfully so. I spoke with a doctor this week who couldn’t get the proper (N95) mask to wear in a surgery she participated in- there weren’t any. When scared people flooded the market and bought up all the masks, they left medical professionals, who are risking and some even giving their lives to help those suffering, without this much needed protection. Now there are doctors preparing to make their own protective gear, including face masks out of vacuum filters.
To all the front line workers- you are making a difference. Many more people were diagnosed this week than last week with COVID-19. This information gives the world a more honest picture of what is happening and a better idea of who needs to be completely quarantined. Thank you to those creating, dispersing, and working on the front lines to handle the tests.
Doctors, nurses, first responders, phlebotomists, techs, janitors, managers, laundry attendants, receptionists, food deliverers, pharmacists, and everyone else who works in hospitals and many other medical care professionals are out on the front lines 24/7 putting themselves and their families at risk. They are saving lives! Thanks to all of them, more people recovered from COVID-19 today than died from it.
Hospitals are doing what they can.
The challenges are momentous. At the hospital where my husband is being cared for (for a vital, but non-covid-19 related procedure), he learned that elective surgeries have been cancelled or postponed. He said it feels eerie with so many open rooms and few patients on the floor. This is the calm before the storm. Lots of people are ramping up to work harder than they ever have. They are doing the best they can, but limitations make the situation far from normal.
You may not like being at home.
A lot of people feel isolated, worried, perhaps even bored. Do you ever think: I feel fine, and besides, I’m not going to visit my grandparents, or anyone over 70, so going into restaurants, bars or stores right now isn’t a big deal? Do you worry about keeping small businesses afloat? Your simple actions- of going out or staying in- do impact countless people in the long run. Please do the whole world a favor and if your work outside home (for others) is not essential, JUST STAY HOME.
What CAN you do?
If you’re anxious, start by turning off the screens and taking some deep, slow breaths. You can even take free yoga classes online for a month here. Buy a gift card -essentially an interest free loan- to those small businesses, get your food delivered (please don’t even meet the delivery person at the door right now), and meet up with your friends online or on the phone.
What if You Don’t Stay Home?
More people WILL get sick. If you don’t stay home, more people WILL die. A Washington Post article explains this in more depth with helpful diagrams here.. Even if you don’t feel sick, you could carry the virus. Then more medical workers face more dangers. And as my brother shared with me this week: there will be more situations, he and many like him will face of having to make the terrible decisions already facing those in Italy of who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t. They will have to watch people die, not because they don’t know how to treat them, but because resources are limited.
Today YOU Can Make a Choice That WILL Save Someone’s Life.
So please, do the whole world a favor for the next several weeks. Stay home. And know that by doing “nothing” you are doing something to make the world a little better in this strange and trying time.