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 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 Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Food Security, Health, Home, sustainability

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 2 at Home

daffThis week my thoughts and prayers are centered around long term consequences of the coronavirus. These are areas I am concerned about:

  1. Truck drivers. Truck drivers are being affected by closed restaurants and bathroom facilities. With awareness growing, something is being done about this, including having food trucks at stops. Remember that truck drivers are also impacted by the stress of being distant from families who are coping at home.
  2. Farmers and crops. In Europe migrant workers are needed to harvest crops, but countries are currently on lock-down to prevent the spread of the virus. Here in Canada we also rely on migrant workers in our farming industry, particularly fruit farmers in the Okanagan and vegetable farmers in Southern Ontario. Borders to the south are closed to unessential traffic. Opening them to migrant workers is essential, unless we can fill their shoes with local workers. We may have to step up to help in an unprecedented way. We cannot afford to break the supply chain. The result would cause untold suffering and devastation. We don’t need to complicate an already difficult situation, by failing to provide for our future food supply.
  3. Cancelled medical procedures that are urgent and will permanently affect future well-being if they are not carried out in a timely manner. Wisdom and courage is needed on the part of health care professionals to make the best decision in each individual case.
  4. Safety in home situations where violence is an issue. Being isolated in close quarters, under stressful conditions, increases the risk of abuse. It is essential to practice patience, give each other the benefit of the doubt, not instigate conflict by starting subjects that are controversial, and not thinking we have the “right” to vent our feelings with aggression. Physical violence is not acceptable under any circumstance.
  5. Caregivers of children at home. I am always thinking about and praying for parents who are unaccustomed to having to care for their children 24/7. It is challenging to oversee their activities at home, to provide nourishing food daily, without the option of going out, and to help them with emotion regulation. Families are consistently in my thoughts and prayers.

This week has progressed in much the same way as last week in our home, with my husband losing more of his income sources. We are staying inside except for walks and getting groceries and essentials. We discovered a park that has wide sidewalks where we have room to social distance as we go for a walk. We went for a walk in a light drizzle with our married children one afternoon. This was a real boost for my spirits.

Spring flowers are cheering me as well. This week we also completed our third Children’s YouTube Music video with Mr. Sheldon (my husband), hoping to add some joy to the lives of children at home. My father-in-law says he watches the video when he needs a lift. This brought a smile to my face.

Please keep the above concerns in prayer. I know there are many other concerns to add to the list but this is sufficient for today. Blessings!

Posted in Eco-responsibility, Food, Health, supplements, sustainability

What is Missing?

organic proteinI find so often when I read an article, be it in the news, or in a magazine, that something is missing. But then articles are not generally written with full disclosure in mind, or the inclusion of a balancing viewpoint. They are written from a bias. I’m sure even my own articles have bias. So, I accept that.

At the same time, it is helpful to have a discussion around what is being said and what may be missing. This week I was given a complimentary Alive magazine with my purchase at a local health food store. The full title of the magazine is, Alive: Canada’s Natural Health and Wellness Magazine. With special attention to Earth Day occurring in April, the magazine features eco-conscious articles and content about eating whole foods, composting, urban gardening and re-using instead of recycling. It also has an article on food insecurity, multiculturalism and inclusion. What struck me, though, was that within the magazine there are no less than 25 full page ads for supplements in capsule, tablet, or powder form, packaged in plastic bottles/jars, and sometimes packaged additionally in paper boxes.

The connect is obviously missing. Here are two very distinct messages. One says, buy these plastic bottles. The other says, care for the environment and eat natural. The message to BUY is coming across much louder and clearer than the very eco-friendly articles. How can this message about caring for the earth be believed when there is such an obvious contradiction in the magazine?

This, to me is just another one of the many examples we have in our society of do as I say, and not as I do. We need to start talking about what is missing from the conversation. For instance…

  • How many factories does it take to produce these highly “processed” supplements?
  • How much plastic is lining the shelves of health food stores?
  • Why are there such small quantities per bottle?
  • How much bio-waste is produced by these factories?
  • What portion of their budget is spent on advertising…on bottles, boxes, paper inserts, in magazines, on websites?
  • What is their profit margin?

It seems a little hypocritical to include a short article in the magazine about the importance of “inclusiveness” and “food security” when literally every third page page screams “elite” and “privilege.” Face it, who can afford supplements at $40 dollar a bottle for a month’s worth of product? And clearly you will need to buy multiple bottles, probably at least a dozen, but it could be much more. The magazine also contains an “Alive Shopping list” to help you with your decisions about which supplements in the magazine might be for you, so you can “tackle the supplement aisle with confidence.”

I admit that for me it has been a financial strain to buy supplements and I’ve never been able to afford as many supplements as I apparently “need.” So, this magazine is geared for those who earn more than I do–probably at least twice as much–who can comfortably afford the products. Think about that for a moment. While guilting those who are consuming, it is simultaneously enticing them to consume more of the highly processed, highly priced, plastic-packaged products.

As a society we may slowly be learning to walk the talk, but we still have a long way to go. We will have to ask ourselves some serious questions, one being, do we really want the sacrifices involved in the eco-friendly, whole food message?