Posted in anxiety, De-stressing, dealing with stress, happiness, Health, Home, mental health, stress

My Small Bubble

This weekend we had a hectic and stressful time as we considered a home purchase. When the whole thing proved to be impossible I retreated into my small bubble.

I like the idea of a bubble.

I like the idea of my own personal space.

Here is how I define my own personal space, my bubble. It includes immediate family and a few close friends, and their welfare. It excludes media. This is where I retreat when I need a fresh perspective.

In my bubble there are three things I can control, for the most part. I can control my mind–my thoughts and the decisions I make. I can control my setting, which is my home, the place where I live. I can make my home as comfortable as I want. And, finally, I can control my body–what I do, where I go, what I eat.

That is about the extent of my control.

When I retreat into my small bubble, I do homebody things. I bake. I clean. I read. I watch relaxing watercolor painting videos. I listen to soothing music. I do a little piano playing. I watch the birds outside. And I think.

I happen to like to think. I like sorting things out in my mind.

Today I eliminated everything outside of my bubble and pretended I was starting from ground zero. I saw what was most important to me was right inside my bubble. And from there I began to consider if there was anything outside that I wanted, or needed, to attend to.

Whenever I watch the birds I think about the verse that talks about God surely caring for us, if he cares for the birds. Then I think about The Lord’s Prayer, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And that leads me to the thought of God’s will. What is his will? How do I determine his will? My most simplified answer is the answer Jesus gave his disciples, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself. This summed up the Ten Commandments, the Law.

But then I get into a difficult place. I ask myself, Does God speak? Does he speak to us today? Who is God? I firmly believe there was some form of great, unfathomable intelligence behind the design of this universe, a universe which we humans have only barely begun to understand. We are observers of what exists and from that we make our estimations and calculations and propose our theories and draw our conclusions. We build on the flawed knowledge passed on to us. We are so ignorant.

Does God speak? Has he spoken in the past? I believe he has. There have been prophetic messages that came to pass. Does he speak today? Many theologians think not. They say revelation ended after the writing of the New Testament portion of the Bible. This is something I don’t understand. I mean, how could God decide to suddenly stop speaking?

Well, enough getting out of my bubble. I’m heading back there now.

Posted in Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, faith, happiness, mental health

Surviving the Pandemic – Coping When the Props are Removed

Available at Art’s Nursery

If there is one thing that seems to be common to everyone, as a result of COVID, it is that this has presented us with time for reflection. I have looked at my life and identified a number of props I relied on for my contentment. Your props will be similar in some ways, yet different. For instance we find various ways of meeting our need to be with people. We have different forms of entertainment to occupy our time. We take care of our physical needs in different ways. We find a variety of ways to refresh ourselves. Many of our former options are not open to us now.

I’ve slowed down and had time to look inside, to evaluate my choices and my lifestyle. In a sense I’ve taken stock of the “essential services” in my own life—the things I can scarcely do without.

My greatest burden these days is for people who are responsible for caring for other people. They have to do this while postponing their own needs. My hat goes off to the parents and care givers.

I’ve looked inside and had a sort of crisis of faith. Or, put another way, I’ve seen that in crisis, faith is all I have. I can only continue to cast my cares on God and believe he will make a way. And if he doesn’t, I have no alternative but to wait and see what happens next, still trusting for a good outcome down the road.

I want to give answers, but I don’t have anything besides what I am doing. What I am doing is looking at my life when the props are gone, when the things I relied on for a good life are stripped down, or stripped away.

Who am I without props? How do I face my day without these “helps”?

Many times I have gone back to thinking about pioneers, people who came to a strange country and built it up. The props we’ve relied on are things others have put in place for us. They were instituted by people who had little to work with. I find it encouraging to think about the basics. In some ways I find myself at a kind of “Ground Zero.” This is when I become aware of the importance of inner resources like faith, courage, steadfastness, hope, insight, creativity, resiliency, perseverance.

These are the building blocks that are still available to us for the future even when we have lost many familiar supports. I’ve seen the importance of doing all I can to preserve my inner strength and I know nobody will do this for me.

I think we will find that some of the props we relied on will not be as necessary to our well-being, going forward. Life is going to be more about essentials and inner strength.

Posted in Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Health

Surviving the Pandemic – Change Happening Here

cypress hike
Bowen Lookout on Cypress Mountain

The other day I was thinking about my “Home Body” Daily planner and how appropriate it is during this time of isolation. When I bought it I debated getting a more motivational organizer. However, I didn’t write in my planner for the month of July. What happened?

I have a bit of a habit of falling off the face of the earth for awhile. I see it in all of my journals, how I keep disappearing for chunks of time. But last month I had a reason. I went to the doctor and my fasting blood sugar was too high. So, I decided I needed to do something. I began intermittent fasting. I watched a couple of videos of Dr. Jason Fung who gives a pretty convincing presentation in which he claims that weight loss, low carb eating and intermittent fasting can reverse type two diabetes.

Last month I lost ten pounds. I recorded my blood sugar and my weight, daily. I still have another ten pounds to go, and maybe another five after that. I will see how I feel. This was my focus and the reason why my planner got neglected.

sympathy

I also experienced the loss of two family members, an uncle and an aunt. They were from two different families. One had just celebrated their 60th anniversary and the other was not far behind. I can’t imagine losing someone after so many years together.

I was distracted thinking about how we wait too long to get in touch. They lived in another country and I always meant to travel to see them. Since I don’t live near family, I am not around when relatives come to Canada to visit, so I don’t see them then. Even though our contact was minimal, what there was endeared them to me.

I discovered that I am a bit more interested in extended family than some of my siblings and this might be because of my long absences from the people I love and care about. COVID sort of highlights lonely times. I groan at the cliche, We are all in this together.

sympathy 2

This month I did something remarkable. I paid off the major portion of my credit card and will have the remaining $1000 paid by Christmas. I reviewed my spending record in the past five years and saw I have a habit of spending an extra $200 a month, on average, above budget on gifts, Christmas, travel, writers conferences and furniture/home decor. I see now that these are things I can’t really afford, so something will need to change, because I’ve decided no more delayed paying.

Another change that happened is my doctor set me up for a colonoscopy as a result of my sister’s recent colon cancer diagnosis and surgery. This is not a pleasant topic, but a necessary one. Look after your health. I had to change my eating during the week leading up to my test. I didn’t realize how much my body needs high fibre nuts and seeds and whole grains for balance.

I received a COVID screening phone call from the hospital and was asked a myriad of questions. If I have any symptoms, or if I’ve had any suspected exposure to COVID-19, my procedure will be postponed. I do hope I get everything right so I can get this over with.

my bonsai

On the fun side of things, I’ve started some small bonsais. I’m amazed how relaxing the process is for me. I think I seriously needed to spend some time planting and pruning and playing in the dirt. I grew up doing a lot of gardening. This time of year we would be harvesting vegetables in our family garden and there would probably still be strawberries and raspberries to pick. I miss it.

The difference between me and my husband is rather apparent when I look at our approach to bonsai. He has two quality projects going while I managed to get seven for the same price. We kind of went above budget this month, but it is our anniversary month and we are doing this instead of going away for a weekend or out to a fancy restaurant. I didn’t realize how therapeutic bonsai gardening could be, but of course, bonsai combines art and design with gardening, and there is no time pressure. What more could I want?

We see some activity going on next door and I think things are gearing up for a construction project. This will mean we lose some lighting on the side of our condo, as we will have a building next to our balcony. It will also mean losing my distant mountain view. I am grieving this. We knew this would happen when we bought and are actually surprised at the delay. Since the project was planned as part of the completion of our complex we expected it to start immediately after our condos were sold. Once again, my husband and I see this whole thing differently and he is excited that we will have a view of another courtyard and there will be a walkway beside us.

rose bowl

In addition to bonsai, I cut back a small rose bush and put it in a planter. It seems to be doing well. We also bought a trellis for our star jasmine. I love the scent of jasmine on the balcony.

We went out for Two for One Seniors Tuesday at Ricky’s this week. I’ll just let you know that this is false advertising. First of all, the price is higher for one senior’s meal than any other menu item. The meals are smaller, and you don’t get the “deal” unless you purchase two beverages. But you do get your choice of a tiny dessert that is included with the meal.

While we were at the restaurant we saw a nice family gathering of fourteen people seated at three different tables. There were lots of hugs and photos after the meal. I wanted to offer to take a group photo but my husband discouraged me. I guess this is not the time to do so. On our hike on Cypress Mountain, a couple of weeks ago, someone asked my daughter-in-law to take a photo and she got out her wipes and cleaned her hands before she handled their phone, and then cleaned them again afterward. There are still options.

patio at gc
Inviting Patio at Cedar Rim Nursery

We’ve had a lot of fun going to local garden centers and checking out bonsai plants and containers. Touring Garden centers is a great activity during COVID, I’ve discovered. Restaurants, not so great, unfortunately, although it’s important to give what support we can to local businesses. We made our first visit, after lockdown, to our favorite Pho restaurant. We don’t want them to close. They have the best spring rolls!

I watched a couple of YouTube videos of Dr. Debra Soh, who is a sexual neurologist, as she talked about her new book The End of Gender Identity: Debunking the Myths About Sex and Identity in our Society. An Amazon review summed up the following myths debunked in her book:

  • Gender is a social construct. (No, it ain’t.)
  • There are no real differences between trans-women and cis-gendered women. (The height of absurdity.)
  • Children with gender dysphoria should transition. (No, they shouldn’t.)

Giovanna Roma posted this in the comments:

If gender is a social construct then how can you be born in the wrong body? Also they don’t want to be defined by gender, but are willing to let gender roles define their sex??

We wonder why we are even having this conversation? Why are we having a lot of crazy conversations these days? My tolerance for some subjects is seriously disintegrating. I don’t know if this is due to lockdown. It’s a possibility.

Go J.K.Rowling! I identify with your unique experience as a woman. And thank you to Dr. Soh for pointing out the damage we are doing by transitioning children. Keep having these conversations, even if I’m losing patience.

crescent beach aug
Crescent Beach in August

Posted in Communication, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Home, Love, Marriage & Family

Surviving the Pandemic – 12 Good Things That Have Happened

condo

Good things that have happened because of the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown:

  1. I’ve slowed down to think. I feel like I have more room to think. It’s like the bookends of my life have moved out. They were pressing in on me. I have more space now. I can take my time, and it’s alright. I’ve been forced off the high speed treadmill of my life. I’ve opted out of the rat race–the crazy habit of busy, busy, busy. The “busy” was in my head. My brain has found a lower gear, now, and I like it.  More “frames” have been added to the movie of my life, stretching out the scenes. It’s not flash/flash to the next scene.
  2. I’ve arranged my house the way I like it. Each room and the balcony give me joy.
  3. With my husband being home, he has learned what it is I do as a writer. He has seen my rhythm and grown to appreciate it. It took awhile for me to ignore him and go about my business. But we settled into a groove of sorts.
  4. I’ve reassessed my role with my grandchildren. I’m taking a more long-term approach and planning games and activities that will not only entertain but prepare them for the future once we can be together again. I’m also realizing that there are stories of my past I need to share with them. Most importantly, they will learn by watching how I interact with them and others and how I live my life.
  5. My husband has learned it is possible to “plan” a once a week grocery shopping trip instead of just hopping over to the grocery store when we need something multiple times a week.
  6. I’ve learned to “tame” my compulsion to go out and I now have a greater appreciation for the activities I am able to do outside the home.
  7. We cut out eating cakes and cookies and ice cream, for the most part, and are consuming healthier food on a daily basis.
  8. We prioritize going for daily walks, even if they are short.
  9. I understand my husband better as a result of being together, working on projects and talking. For example, when I was videotaping his children’s music videos I only suggested improvements when it was absolutely necessary. Otherwise I would suppress his artist instinct.
  10. My husband calls his parents more frequently now and they appreciate it. Previously if we called more than once a week they would be surprised and think there was an emergency.
  11. The biggest conflict we’ve had as a couple has been around watching and listening to news and commentary, and talking about reports. My husband has a much lower tolerance level and over the weeks I’ve learned to adjust. Sometimes I watch when he is not around, or even suggest he go for a walk while I watch. I’ve reduced the amount of conversation time around certain subjects. Our children, like me, want to talk, so we’ve had to modify our conversations around their dad.
  12. I’ve consciously tried to add humor to our days and this has made life more fun.
Posted in Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Food, Food Security, Home, Marriage & Family, Music, sustainability

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 7 at Home

tsawassen Mills
Tsawwassen Mills May 3, 2020

Went to Tsawwassen Mills for our weekly social distancing walk yesterday. I realize now what I am subconsciously doing. I’m conditioning myself for the new normal. My brain feels like it is spinning, sometimes, like it lacks traction, when I try to imagine what we will be walking into in the next months, maybe years.

I read an interesting speculative article in the National Post. “We’ll have to reinvent ourselves,” futurist Nicola Danayov says.

Regarding the measures to control the virus, Danayov says, “when you’re selling survival you can justify anything.” He adds that the public will have to weigh in on these measures with “debate and discussion and a vote.” We will need to give careful thought to the best way to move forward, calculating the risks. As I mentioned in a previous article, I pray that we will come up with new, creative solutions.

One solution I saw this morning, in an article, was body temperature scanning at a liquor store. The concern, of course, is around privacy and the storing of information. Maybe the risk is minimal if there no identifying information attached, like when your speed limit is read back to you from a road sign. I don’t know anything about this technology, but it sounds like a possibility. You can go to Science World and have your body temperature scanned without submitting any information about yourself. Maybe it’s like that.

Looking ahead I picture there will be a lot of mask wearing. Airlines already require passengers to wear masks during flights. We will continue to physical distance. Sanitization and hand washing will continue. Full face shields might be required at public events.

We will need wise leaders to guide us into the future. People who are actually thinking things through to their logical conclusions. We’ve all seen knee jerk reactions that have not proved to be helpful.

Apart from keeping the food supply chain going, and people keeping their homes and having a means of providing for themselves and their dependents, my concern is that we not be trapped by fear. That is why I am traipsing about a little now. We went out twice this week.

I see meet-ups in parking lots, distancing by six feet. I see families doing “virtual hugs” with grandchildren after a social distancing walk in a park. Face-time and Zoom are great but we need to figure out how we can move forward in closer proximity with one another, with some degree of physical connection. I read that handshakes may be a thing of the past. Let’s find a way not to allow that to happen.

I’ve thought a lot about “essential services.” Never have lowly tasks been so highly valued. I think there is a lesson in this for all of us.

What is truly essential, I ask myself? Some businesses will collapse under the strain of protective restrictions and this has made me ask the question, “What is essential?” What could we reduce or even live without?

In my youth we were not wealthy. Most of the time our family lived very frugally. One advantage we had was that we lived on a farm and were pretty self-sufficient in terms of fruit, vegetables and meat. We bought our milk from a neighboring dairy farm. We still purchased staples at the grocery store.

I think of the list of non-essentials we did not spend money on back then because we could not afford them. A lot of businesses would close today if people lived as we did back then.

I spent a number of years in the Philippines and was impressed by how well people could do with so little. I was touched by their sense of gratitude and joy, too. My parents grew up in poverty. My mother told me that her family was able to write a letter once a month when they tore the page off the calendar and wrote on the back of it. Often when I see junk mail in my mailbox I think about the fact that not once did we receive a flyer of advertising in the Philippines. The average citizen could not afford a newspaper.

What would our society look like without non-essentials? Jesus admonished us to be content with “food and clothing.” That’s really paring it down to essentials. Analysts are saying that we will be spending less on non-essentials in coming months and maybe for years. What will that look like? Can stores reopen and stay open with the restrictions imposed on them? Will there be customers? How many people will hesitate to go out? Will their spending habits change?

As I said previously, in one of my updates, I am troubled when I look at high rises. I wasn’t sure why, but I am beginning to get some clarity. They are the exterior symbol of prosperity, of modernization. But when we really think about it, they are a visual of how people are treated like a commodity. They say, all you need is a box to live in, a space from which you can go to make money and then go to all the places where you will spend your money. You are needed to keep the economy going and the more of you we have in a small space, the more money will be spent.

The economy is reeling. But suddenly the economy is taking second place to life itself.

Where I lived in the Philippines life centered around harvest, not the economy. Essentially life centered around procuring food. A good harvest provided food and a little money for essentials. If you had a job or a business, your aim was to make enough to buy food. Unlike Canada, the focus was not on bringing in as many immigrants as possible to boost the economy.

I read today that the coronavirus will affect enrollment of foreign students in Canada. Why is this a concern? Because International students contribute C$21 billion annually to the nation’s economy, according to government data.” International students “are crucial to Canada’s higher educational institutions as they pay higher fees. They make up more than a fifth of the post-secondary student body and bring in close to C$6 billion ($4.3 billion) in tuition annually, according to a Royal Bank of Canada report.” (see article)

It is essential to train students in Canada so that they can then stay and work here, which means we are draining the best resources out of developing countries. Of course, the U.S. has done the same to Canada, head-hunting our most skilled. I read recently that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) send home money equivalent to one tenth of the Philippine GDP. I have witnessed mothers separated from their children for years on end. One mother’s young son died while she was working as a nanny in Canada.

flag

These are thoughts that run through my mind as I ponder our future and the future of the whole world.

Tomorrow we will create another Music With Mr. Sheldon episode for the children. My husband is doing a few domestic things these days. Here is the kombucha he bottled this week.

kombuchaMy mom is somewhat improved after her I.V. so this is good news. My sister’s cancer surgery is scheduled for Thursday. She will not be allowed any visitors during one week of hospitalization. As difficult as I find it not to be able to fly out and be with her at this time, it must be even more challenging for her family. She has been isolating from them for three weeks now.

While some send cheers, thoughts, sighs and best wishes, my deepest comfort arises out of the knowledge that my concerns are brought before the throne of God in prayer. The same God who pays such intricate attention to every detail of creation will care for me and those I love.

On a final note, I know families are struggling relationally while being isolated in close quarters. There are ways we can approach these challenges that can actually draw us closer together if we have a long term vision for our relationships. Show a little faith in each other. Speak words of support. Your kids and your spouse are trying. Give love room to grow.

Posted in art, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, De-stressing, Health, Home, Music

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 6 at Home

latte
Latte delivered to my “office.”

I missed my weekly distancing walk on Sunday with family. I was sad about that, but it’s OK. I’ve been having some minor health issues, not coronavirus related. My system has always been sensitive and requires a delicate balancing act.

This past week I celebrated a birthday, in isolation, as many of us are these days. The day before I was a bit down about this, but then I told myself I would make this day great! And I did! Our son and daughter-in-law gifted us with Skip the Dishes so my husband set up the app and we ordered a meal. Another new experience!

skip the dishes

For breakfast I requested that he make us waffles. His first time.

“I gave you the opportunity to do something special for my birthday,” I smiled at him as we were in the living room later that evening. He smiled, a little tentatively.

“I had never made waffles before.”

“It’s really not that difficult. The only thing you have to do is be willing to stand over a waffle iron and know how to beat egg whites,” I told him.

The waffles and the latte (above) were his “gift” to me. We used bacon drippings in the waffles and had them with eggs. The drippings gave the flavor of bacon and eggs. It was delicious!

During this time we are trying not to waste anything, however, we pulled a glass container out of the fridge today and neither of us were able to identify what it was. It was green and furry. Well, we try.

I just finished my part in the production of Music with Mr. Sheldon. My husband has gone down from full-time work to about five hours a week, but he is a trooper. I’m glad I live with someone who insists on being optimistic. This morning when I awoke feeling really off, he had to take over the filming on his own, for the first time.

Guess what I did, after I rested today? I got out my guitar and started singing. I even printed three new songs off of Ultimate Guitar. I want to put a plug in for the site. It is one of the best investments I’ve made. Lately I’ve learned to sing Tennessee Whiskey, Chris Stapleton. Never thought I could do that, but it’s amazing what you can do if you try!

For about twenty years I stopped listening to the old Rock’n’Roll music I used to love. I think music was my surrogate parent and taking a break was actually a good thing. During those twenty years I was a worship leader. Last week I organized all of my worship music. I have a huge collection. Now, strangely enough, I’m picking up some of my old secular favorites again. I can’t say why a lot of the worship music just does not appeal to me at this time in my life. It’s not like I’m having a crisis of faith. But I am re-evaluating a lot of things.

After singing for awhile I decided I might as well put my adrenalin to use editing and I finished the Mr. Sheldon video in the bedroom, with a latte–did I mention my husband roasts his own coffee beans? He stayed in the living room to teach a couple of groups of students in a school that has gone online. Earphones come in handy these days.

I noticed flags near our place are at half mast this week. I haven’t seen any news report on this but between the coronavirus and the shooting in Nova Scotia, we have reason to give acknowledgement. Yesterday we met a lot of people applauding health care workers with bells and other noise makers during our walk, around 7:00 p.m. I became teary-eyed because I had just got off the phone talking with our son who is a health care worker in the U.S. Three people died in his dementia unit this week, but not of the coronavirus. I could hear his heartbreak over the fact that relatives were unable to visit in the past month and only came in during the final hours to be with their loved ones, outfitted in protective gear from head to toe and not allowed to touch their family member, but needing to remain six feet away. I do hope there is more leniency for seniors to have visitors soon.

One bit of good news is that my sister’s cancer is localized, so she will only require one surgery. We are so relieved that it has not spread. We are still working at stabilizing my mother’s electrolytes, with family taking her for weekly lab tests and an intravenous intervention that left her feeling unwell this week. She is a very stalwart and positive person of faith, so I read between the lines when she said, “I’ve had better days” and seemed eager to get off the phone to rest.

paintings

This week I finished a painting I’ve been working on. Two paintings, actually. I’ve recently tried my hand at acrylics, after painting watercolors for years. It’s been a challenge. Here is another painting I did this year.

roses painting

We haven’t dug out the puzzles yet. Still time for that. Cheers!

Posted in Children, Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Home

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 5 at Home

tree with green blossoms

Saw this lovely tree during a walk in the park on Sunday.

I read recently that this is a good time to analyze your life strategyThis assumes we have a strategy. I haven’t really thought of a life strategy, in those exact words. Now I’ve been looking at my life to see what sort of strategy I have and it’s caused a bit of a shift because a strategy involves a plan and an objective–how to get the thing we want.

When I think of strategy I imagine scrambling to the top of the heap and I’ve never been that kind of a person. I like to come alongside. I like to help others. I’ve worked under people who clearly had a life strategy and I was part of their success plan. I actually didn’t want to be like them. My life has been guided by principles like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “Give and it shall be given unto you,” and be “faithful in the little things.”

Yesterday my husband explained to me why I am having a difficult time with this isolation. It is because I want to help everyone. This morning I checked a few sites I follow to see what others are doing, what “strategies” they have, or words of encouragement. Here are samples of what I found.

Tim’s Blog “We are wandering, perhaps, but we are not lost. And we are not without opportunities.” Taken from his audio recording while he walked in the early morning. This is a great time to look for opportunities.

Another Slice writes with a beautiful pathos and optimism about an 18 year old son who is missing out on all the celebrations around graduation that we have always taken for granted.

Harsh Reality ‘s ten year old daughter set up a google classroom and was discouraged when no one showed up. Her father told her something I needed to hear today, too, that “if she wanted people to interact she needed to really take the reins of destiny and put herself out there.” Sometimes I wait when I need to take action.

Diane Reed is going through her house and reflecting and organizing, as many of us are doing these days. She ran across cards she made years ago and writes about the Early Diane. I encourage you to check out her lovely artwork and maybe buy something from her Etsy site Diane on a Whim.

Patrick Ross shares some insights for creative types who may wonder why they are not able to seize this opportunity for creativity as well as expected.

What I know from my past experience interviewing creatives about their process…suggests this isn’t a great time for many of them. A key element found in most creatives is empathy.

Empathy is what allows creatives to produce works that move the reader/viewer/listener. It also makes them more vulnerable to experiencing the pain of others, in ways that can at times be debilitating to the creative spirit.

I love these glimpses into the lives and thoughts of others at this time. They are so relatable.

This week I heard about one of the many amazing new things that have come out of this isolation. On Sunday friends and family celebrated two very special women by doing a drive-by “birthday parade” for one, and an encouragement “parade” for the other who will be having cancer surgery shortly. I was moved to tears by this show of love and support, even though I wasn’t there to witness it. There were cards and signs and balloons and gifts left at the end of the driveway. Both of these women are very giving and social. This isolation is particularly difficult on them. Maybe it is not a coincidence that the birthday girl is also a cancer survivor in the same family.

On a somber note, I’ve heard this week about a nurse whose ears are raw from wearing a mask as she sometimes works back to back shifts covering for others who are sick. Isolating may be difficult. Wondering how we will pay the bills may be difficult. Looking after young children 24/7 may be difficult. Not getting out to see the people we love may be difficult. But I could think of worse things, like being on the front lines without relief.

These days I draw encouragement from whatever sources I can, and try to give support in return, without beating myself up over how little I feel I can do. I remind myself, everything counts. This is my short term survival strategy (as I keep looking for ways to serve). Smile.

After four weeks of solitude, I broke out of jail for a few hours this week. I bought flowers at Superstore, making a swift ‘in and out’ of the store, from the outdoor, fenced, gardening area. We did our first take-out meal in five weeks – burgers at DQ. We took the burgers to the home of a senior friend and sat outside on the patio and shared them with her. It was lovely. Chilly, cloudy, but lovely. Human contact is suddenly so precious. (I know the admonitions to not meet with anyone outside your family, but let’s be reasonable.)

Once again, we recorded an episode of Music with Mr. Sheldon for the children. I’ve discovered a new gift. I simply love editing and producing video! This is not work for me. It is pleasure!

Now I have started a new prayer for wisdom for those who are deciding how to open up the economy again. I pray for creative ideas, things that may not have been considered, which can be implemented to help keep people well and make things work out better than expected. I also pray for the right timing. I’m leaning towards sooner, like two months, maximum, of isolating before beginning to loosen restrictions.

There are concerns about which I am not writing here in the interest of being mostly uplifting in my conversation. Our words make a difference. During this pandemic I am paying more attention to how I use my words.

tree curved branches

I saw this unusual tree on our walk. A good root system helps this tree to survive. If I think about my life strategy, I would say it boils down to learning to draw sustenance from my Source.

Trust in the Lord, with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

 

Posted in Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Food Security, Home, mental health, sustainability

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 4 at Home

fungi

Saw this interesting fungi on my walk, like a flower growing out of a dead branch. It made me think that when we feel like something is dying, a new thing can spring forth.

I’ve noticed this week that the isolation is getting to my husband a wee bit. He’s a very positive person and that is definitely a good trait to have at this time. He believes some good will come out of this. People may begin to reconsider what is important in life. We may come out of this kinder and more grateful.

My heart is especially with people who are struggling emotionally. There are days when I feel a wave of despair wash over me as I lie awake in the pre-dawn hours. I think this is a universal pain, not my personal distress. At these times I pray for peace and hope in the hearts of those who are losing hope. I pray that special things will happen to encourage people.

Yesterday there was an attempted break-in at our condo and as strata members gathered to examine the evidence, I forgot about social distancing for a brief moment. To tell the truth, it was a relief to be in a “normal” space for awhile. I sensed we were lingering. Human contact is becoming very precious.

I continue to pray for farmers and the food supply chain. I’m very grateful for truckers. They find it challenging to get their cups of coffee at stops, I was told by a friend whose husband is a trucker.

I learned this week that there are 1.2 million small and medium sized businesses in Canada employing 13.6 million Canadians out of a total working population of 15.8 million. Small and medium sized businesses are some of the hardest hit in this crisis.

We once owned a restaurant. The profit margin is very small in a restaurant. Imagine going to the grocery store, buying food and then trying to re-sell it after transforming it a little. Business expenses include equipment, supplies, rent, permits, credit/debit transaction costs, utilities, and wages for staff. All of this is covered by converting the food you bought at a grocery store, or from a food supplier, into another consumable form. This is what businesses do. They develop and sell a resource or a service.

It is capitalism that allows this. Capitalism is good to a point. It provides an opportunity and an incentive for people to develop a product and market it. It rewards ingenuity. Its downside is that it can be manipulated by the kind of people who hoard hand sanitizer and try to sell it on Amazon for $70 a bottle.

Years of capitalism has resulted in larger companies squeezing out and swallowing up smaller entrepreneurs. Add globalization and you see international entities with huge buying power taking control of industries world-wide. As a result of this crisis I am becoming more convinced of the importance of small businesses, self-sufficiency and good borders.

These are things I ponder.

Some think the distancing actions that have been implemented are extreme. I read an interesting statement that said we value lives over style of life. Some think the government is over-reaching their control and are very eager to re-start the economy. A few are outrightly disregarding the safety measures. In Sweden we are seeing the consequences of not instituting a lockdown. Sweden already has five times the deaths per million that Norway has and three times that of Denmark. 

Last week I shared that some of my family members are facing serious health issues. A friend reported coronavirus in her family this week. As family members are heading to hospitals for tests and surgery, I pray they will be protected from the virus.

I don’t know where my readers are in terms of faith in God, but I want to say that in years past we have often not known where our supply would come from and God has provided. I believe he rewards our faith in his goodness.

For anyone who is planning to watch this week’s episode of Music with Mr. Sheldon, I want to add that Mr. Sheldon’s haircut was courtesy of his wife. It is a skill I taught myself in early days when we were pinching pennies.

Mr. Sheldon now has a dedicated YouTube channel and one school is using his program. Good news! He teaches a few lessons online, but most of his small music business has shut down until this is over.

We have a very small park near our home. Lately when I have taken walks I have been a bit disproportionately grieved by the trees that have been cut down in the park. I see Weyerhaeuser plastic coverings on sections of logs. I would feel better if I knew there was a good reason for removing these trees. In another local park trees were removed because there is a risk of trees falling. They were not rotting. They were just near the pathway. Please, Parks and Recs, don’t worry about trees falling in parks. Let us keep our trees! We don’t want Weherhaeuser in our parks. My rant for the day.

trees felled

 

Posted in anxiety, COVID-19, De-stressing, faith, Health, Home, Marriage & Family, mental health

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 3 at Home

stevestonI feel like there is little to write about my personal isolation this week. Life continues much the same, with few changes. Perhaps that is the story.

We hear more bad news south of the Canadian border. Our eastern provinces aren’t doing so well. This week we were able to apply for financial assistance from the government and the process went quite smoothly.

What has been on my mind is how Sweden will do in comparison to the rest of the world, since they have decided to embrace the “herd immunity” approach and not put severe restrictions in place. We will wait and see. It might turn out to be a costly experiment.

I’ve been researching various mask designs. It appears we may soon be required to wear masks for going out or grocery shopping.

This week I ventured out to Walmart. It was a dismal experience. I wanted to replenish our SoftSoap but there was none in stock. I went with a bodywash instead. Liquid soaps were limited to one per customer so I bought a large bottle. The toilet paper we usually buy at Walmart was out of stock as well. So were the bagged oranges I was looking for. We walked out with the bodywash, two cans of cranberry sauce and a gallon of milk.

We cooked a turkey dinner for the two of us yesterday and dropped off a bag of “turkey dinner” for one of our kids and his wife. They came outside and picked it up at the car. When we got home we video-chatted with them while we ate our “Easter Dinner.” Our other kids live across the border. The grandkids are getting bored. I feel for their parents who need to look after them 24/7 without options for distractions outside the home. No organized sports, music lessons, playdates, going to the park, shopping, or even playing with kids in the neighborhood.

My mother has gone for repeated tests in the past weeks. There is always a concern when this happens. I can’t fly to visit her, or my sister who had a cancer diagnosis this week. She is anticipating emergency surgery.

My husband talks frequently with his parents on the phone and they are doing well and adjusting to being restricted to their suites in their seniors’ home. His father made a trip to emergency several times regarding his heart just before the lockdown. Thankfully he hasn’t needed to go again. Their biggest concern right now is both needing a haircut.

My husband and I video-taped another episode of Music with Mr. Sheldon. One school that remains open plans to use the video.

We are going for regular walks and enjoying cherry blossoms and spring flowers in bloom. We were scheduled to go to Victoria for a Chess Tournament this weekend but it was cancelled. Ferries are reduced to essential travel and the hotel we were booked to stay at is closed.

I’m trying to imagine how things will begin to open up again and predict when this might happen. In the meantime I try not to worry about things over which I have no control.

Posted in De-stressing, faith, Home, mental health

Shrink your world and stay sane…

leo-rivas-wtxcaDIdOCM-unsplash
Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

Are you going crazy thinking about climate change, immigration, intersectionality, racism, and a host of other world issues? Maybe it’s time to shrink your world.

Think back to what your great grandmother would have spent her day doing. I remind myself that there was a time when we did not have access to information as we do today. Knowing so much about the world can really cause a stress overload. The truth us, you are only responsible for a few things. The things that are close to you. The things that matter to you on a day to day basis. The things your great grandmother did (or your great grandfather).

We may feel the need to stay caught up on the latest world events, but there are times when, for our own sanity, we need to draw back for awhile and focus simply on what will make a difference in our lives today. For instance, our work, keeping our peace, and caring for ourselves and our family. It’s strange how comforting it can be to just look after our home and family for awhile, and not the whole world.

I believe in the power of prayer, but sometimes instead of listing my concerns I just lump them all and say, “God, please take care of this.” Then I go on with my life.

Of course, I need this message more than anyone, because I am the first to admit that I try to carry the burdens of the world on my shoulders. Not only that, I tend to be obsessive about doing research and finding out the rest of the story.

It’s the weekend now. Time to take a break form this kind of “work.”

Lately I have been finding my peace and holding onto it in this world of turmoil. Sometimes that means shrinking my world.