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 Coronavirus, faith, Food, Food Security, Home, Marriage & Family, Self Regulation

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 1 at Home

As I watched Survivor yesterday, I thought to myself that this show is not a good example of how to survive a crisis. Everyone is out for themselves. And they lie to each other, to win! In real life we need to work together, helping each other, and trusting one another.

I’m not in survivor mode, exactly, but the hoarding reminds me of the show. Remember, if one person has all the sani-wipes, then we are not protected as well as if everyone has wipes and soap and alcohol.

At our house we are trying to stay healthy emotionally, physically, financially, relationally and spiritually.

I’m going to make this fairly brief and write about what we are doing in each of these areas.

  • Emotionally

It’s extremely important to take care of how we are feeling. Each of the other areas impacts our emotions, and is affected by how we feel.

The main emotion to keep under control is fear. As I’ve said before, fear only serves you well if it moves you in a good direction. So, for me the answer is to do things that are helpful, going forward. Focus on the positive things I can do.

I journal, plan meals, and watch uplifting YouTube videos. I stay informed of current events but limit the time I read/listen to the news. I play occasional games on my own or with my husband when I need to “isolate” my mind. I keep in touch by messaging family and friends.

  • Physically

We go for a daily walk. I use a few light weights and elastic bands to exercise. We’ve taken extended walks up and down a hill to get our heart-rates up. I need to do more, but this is a start.

We have a regular bed-time, around 10:30 p.m. I still find myself awakening frequently at 4:00 a.m. Sometimes I can fall asleep again after a couple of hours.

The big change is cooking for two people during the day. My husband has difficulty keeping his weight down so he has been on a low-carb diet for a long time. We are both making some adjustments.

It seems to work best to have two full meals a day. We supplement with snacks in between if we are hungry, such as a slice of cheese and an apple, or a taquito (heated), or frozen fruit with yogurt.

I’ve pulled out old recipes like meatloaf, beet borscht, butternut squash soup, chicken fajitas, and sweet and sour pork, this past week. I’ve also started baking bread again, because this is more cost-effective than buying. I add all kinds of healthy ingredients.

We are spending a lot more time in the kitchen. Breakfast is generally eggs, in some form. Eggs are a staple of the low carb, or Keto diet, and fairly easy on the budget, so this works out well. We cook one other significant meal, mid or late afternoon.

I’ve started to look at mealtimes as the central, highlight of our day. We are deeply grateful for a good, healthy meal. This is our new form of recreation and pleasure. Since my husband is home, he helps me out in the kitchen.

  • Financially

We are spending less. This is a positive things we are doing. It means our money will stretch further.

A month ago I wrote down all of our fixed expenses, things that don’t change every year or month, like housing costs, car/travel expenses, utilities (electric, phone, wifi), payments and subscriptions. The only subscription we still have is for Amazon Prime.

Other than these, our necessities are food, toiletries, cleansers and prescription medication. This week we spent $140 on food and toiletries. I am budgeting $600 a month for this “variable” area of our finances. Generally, other expenses can wait.

My husband is experimenting with a few online possibilities and I am helping him. There is nothing income-generating at this time but perhaps something will work out in the future.

In Canada the poverty line is $24,000. The government will help people in our situation with $2000 a month for four months, or the equivalent of a poverty level income. I think this is extremely generous. It is an effort to keep small businesses from closing permanently and jobs from disappearing when this is over.

  • Relationally and Spiritually

I am doing what I can to keep the home pleasant. Just being aware of the importance of this makes a difference.

Like others, we are unable to see our children and grandchildren, so we are keeping in touch via phone and video chats. My husband is a music teacher. You can take a look at what we have been up to here. In the past I have wished for a larger home (see photo of grandkids) but today I am very happy to live with less.

Our parents live in another province and have health issues. We do hope that they will not end up in the hospital at this time. We have great compassion for those who have a variety of health, family, and financial challenges at this time.

I try to see good in each day. I pray for the people serving on the front lines, and those with the responsibility to make decisions that affect others. I pray for our food supply chain, as I am realizing the importance of the very basic things in life, such as food.

I know there are still challenges ahead, but I trust that God will help us through this.