Post 28: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re friends and family from around the world, sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 28. Important Note: WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship. No copyright infringement intended WRT photos in this post.

Roula B. is back, and our Barcelona writer joins us for a third post!
Today is our writing free-for-all, so we cover fears, anxieties, hope, love, and allergies.


Schizophrenia

Roula B., Falls Church, Virginia

I’m a Gemini, so I’m already a bit dual in my nature. This lockdown is starting to make me schizophrenic. Is this happening to anyone else out there?

One minute I’ve got it all under control. The yoga and zen are kicking in. I see beauty in everything that is happening. I pay attention to all the positives. I come up with more little ways to make people around me a little happier, like those “stone-buddies” my son made and distributed as a Random Act of Kindness project. Then, something triggers and I get angry and unreasonable. RAGE! I want to erupt like a dormant volcano, or burst like a flood of tears.

It’s been a challenge to keep a balance 24/6. On Saturdays, my beautiful boy gets to go to his dad’s for his one day/night a week, which is nice. Sure, dad does try to step in every now and then when work allows. You see, he’s a database network architect and these guys are bizi-bizi during these times because the network traffic is so heavy with everyone working and playing their lives online. Anyway, after going out for bloodwork this morning, homeschooling, hearing tragic news about friends, dealing with the repair scheduled for my mother’s smart TV – which we only bought 3 months ago, laundry, and cooking three meals, I finally sat for a moment to listen to author Glennon Doyle’s daily “Morning Chat” on Facebook and she really hit the spot with her message. I encourage you to look into her and her books. Her latest, Untamed, is currently #2 on the New York Times Best Seller List for non-fiction. I’m waiting to get it in the mail any day now. It’s been sold out!

Basically she said to parents like me: “LET THEM WATCH TV! LET THEM EAT WHATEVER, DO WHATEVER. THESE ARE NOT PEACE TIMES. THIS IS A TIME OF WAR!”

Oh. My. God.

I almost cried, almost! My eyes definitely welled up a tiny bit, but inside, I felt like someone wrapped my heart in warmth and gave me permission to CHILL OUT. But I feel guilty. I don’t want this to end up with my son being malnourished, brain-damaged, and screen-dependent!

It’s hard being a Gemini. It’s hard being anyone during these crazy times.  Who doesn’t have a story? But as Doyle says, “we can do hard things!”

Inward and onward…


Where will our fears go?

I., #Barcelona, Spain

Will the fear that justifies social distancing lead to justifying renewed cultural distancing, racism, and xenophobia? Will it lead to further economic distancing and a bigger income/class divide? Will it lead to further political distancing, with countries losing more common national grounds to stand on, resulting in more civil, regional and world conflicts?

If I force myself to see a silver lining, I am grateful that we’re fighting a war to save lives as opposed to killing each other, a war where courage and bravery are defined by care and humanity, as opposed to muscle-power and brutality. 

Family outing in Barcelona

But then again, my 50+ years have taught me to listen for a fat lady singing, before thinking that it’s over and passing judgement.  Could this be the beginning of the next age of warfare?  Have we gone where we thought no SOB would ever dare go? Who (P) would (U) do (T) something (I) like (N) this?  I wonder…

A couple of things to add to the other predictions that have appeared in this blog: ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. Billionaires around the world probably already have a ventilator for each member of their household, Millionaires are on the waiting list. The capabilities and capacities marshalled to produce ventilators and PPEs will result in the rapid development of such product designs, models, and the launch of personal ventilators and PPE sets. Ventilators and PPE sets will replace the camels and livestock in dowries. This leads to an interesting question: are we watching the creation of a new industrial complex that will need to be kept alive by creating demand for its products? I (U) hope (S) not (A). WWII and the military industrial complexes that it created are a scary precedent.

They think that after the quarantine our freedoms will be given back to us gradually; however, we should expect a surge in the number of divorces as soon as the civil courts reopen. That’s what happened in China. Also, many people will be reluctant to go back to the old ways and will stay socially distant and homebound. We will become more conscious of our safety space (a radius of 1.5 meters), and some of us will freak-out if their space is violated. Reminds me of a bully who beat me up as a kid because I stepped on his shadow.

Like Osama Bin Laden took the fun out of international travel, tourism and an endless list of little freedoms we enjoyed prior to 9/11, COVID-19 is going to rain more shit on our freedom parade and the whole brotherhood of man bullshit. Whether you like it or not, your temperature is going to be measured and your biometrics used even more intrusively for population safety and control measures. Plastic gloves are going to give some people bad, bad ideas. And ja, ja, und ja will eventually be the voting options.

This brings us nicely to November 2020, a month which will either bring the resurgence of a great nation that can once again unite and lead the world, or the birth of up to 51 new nations, if not more.

And for those awaiting the Messaih, it’s on Netflix.


Pass the Benadryl

RafifJ, Malaga, Spain

Well before my now-28 days of CoronaCaptivity had started, I knew a couple of things could send me into near-anaphylactic shock: mustard and Donald Trump.

Usually a strong does of Benadryl takes care of the mustard thing. I have not yet found the right antidote to combat my other problem. In fact, my allergy is getting worse. Take yesterday.

Among the headlines, one in particular stood out to me: “Oversight erased, Supreme Court hijacked: Trump turns the presidency into a dictatorship.” This was on USA Today.

I often feel myself gasping for air when I read the headlines coming out of the United States. Dictator Trump’s “antics” long ago stopped being like those of a spoiled child; the headlines these days, during this anxiety-ridden time of global pandemic, remind us that history repeats itself. Apparently, totalitarianism can proliferate easily – just like rats or cockroaches – and is more difficult to stamp out.

Are we seeing Totalitarianism enjoy a steady march into our United States of America? I think yes. I’m listening to the words he uses, this self-aggrandizing, self-trumpeting dictator as he wraps himself in the cloak of White patriotism and simultaneously gnaws away at the last vestiges of our illusionary democracy. What I hear is our dream of democracy shattering.

The noose around the media’s throat gets tighter every time Trump lashes out at a reporter who asks a legitimate question. Apparently, anything that hints at requiring accountability – or an honest answer – from this White House occupant is branded as fake news, a nasty question, or an unprovoked attack. I fear that Inspectors General, who are meant to safeguard against corruption and drive transparency in their institutions, are an endangered species because they keep getting fired for doing their jobs. Meanwhile, Trump surrounds himself with sycophants who are too cowardly or too corrupt to stop the gradual chipping away at America’s democratic institutions. My throat closes up and my ears hear only the thundering approach of jackboots; they’re getting closer. I want an antihistamine, but there isn’t one within easy reach.

Instead, there’s Trump doing his daily show while the Coronavirus ravages communities across the country. In hogging the limelight, pushing aside experts, and touting unproven drugs, Dictator Trump is practically pulling the trigger on hundreds of thousands of Americans. And in my state of near-suffocation, I remember that he’s “the Donald” – the one who so famously boasted that he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York and get away with it.

I hope America (and the world) finds a cure for the Coronavirus. And while we’re at it, a high dose of Anti-Trump to reverse the current political tide. Otherwise, we may emerge from one crisis only to find ourselves in a far bigger one: dictatorship in America.


Moving Forward

Norma Bea Wallace, Bend, Oregon

I had just finished my Yoga while watching the plasmaquarium and listening to the soothing music when my family called for a FaceTime call.  What a perfect way to start the day! Starting the day like this is the best anxiety-reducing I can imagine in these times, and actually, anytime.  

One of the questions this week was, “what will life be like after this is over?” Will it be the same as before the Coronavirus?  No one knows what it will be like. Everyone’s past experiences are different and therefore how they relate to this situation is different. I have one experience I am sharing:

Two years ago, Bill, the love of my life, passed away. We had been married for 54 years. For the past 2 years, life has not been what it was before he passed. I have struggled with doing simple things alone, and I have been most fortunate and grateful for my family and friends who have helped me along the way.  In fact, I am even writing a booklet about my journey through grief. 

In many ways, this parallels what I think that life after #Covid-19 will be. You know the stages of grief as Shock, Pain, Anger, Depression, Reflection Loneliness, Upturn, Reconstruction-working through, then Acceptance and Hope. Isn’t that what we all have been going through?

It sounds like a straight line of going through the emotions. It’s not, going through it is a jumbled mess of going through one emotion, then the other.  Before this started, I was preparing for a cross-country trip alone in my little 13-foot teardrop trailer to see my grandson graduate from high school. Well, that was cancelled. Just like all of your plans were cancelled. Another setback and I will learn to adjust. 

In my journey through grief, I have been trying to find a new way of living and am inspired when I think Bill would want me to move forward and figure out how to do things differently. I think that I will be inspired to move forward but do things differently after this (?), I can’t even think of a good word for what we are going through.

I was inspired last night by a young single mother in Bend. She had been been laid off from her job as a hospitality worker. She is homeschooling her daughter and was interviewed on TV. She said, 

Wouldn’t it be nice if, after this, my daughter and I can look back and say the Coronavirus time was terrible but we got through it. We loved each other and we got through it and now we are moving forward.   

I like the expression, “moving forward,” rather than moving on, as it seems more positive. I believe we will move forward; it will be different than before, and we will figure it out.

So I end this post with HOPE! We will figure it out!


Sistas

RJD, Beirut, Lebanon

Today I would like to share the love and gratitude I have for women, specifically those in my life whom I cherish dearly.

Women are expected to exist with superpowers and some days, we need to shed those superpowers and just be. Mothers have their children and husbands; some have pets. Parents and family. Work and bosses. Home and daily needs. Self care. Intellectual and cultural development. Friends. Juggling all day can be and IS exhausting. 

So to these women who manage, I bow to thee. Specially since I can’t hug you these days!

But to a few women in my life, I want to say “thank you,” because without you, your humor, support, and love, the current situation would have been unbearable. 

My mother. Can’t say or do anything possible to show you my respect, love and gratitude. 

My sister. You are my everything. Life would not be the same without you. 

My friends, some of whom I have known as a kid in summer camp, some from college, others from adulthood. To you, you have shaped who I am today. 

The giggles when we used to make prank (landline pre-caller ID) calls. The nights out getting drunk and dancing til the wee hours of the morning. The boyfriends and the heartbreaks when we supported one another. The weddings, births, graduations, deaths that we have been through together. The books we told one another to read. The trips we made together. The advice and moral support we gave and still give one another. To you, I salute and say thank you for being an integral part of my life. 

Today, I just want to be grateful and content that I have you in my life because who knows…

Ok, done being sappy. Back to reality. Tomorrow is another day. 


Post 26: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re friends and family from around the world, sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 26. Important Note: WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship. No copyright infringement intended WRT photos in this post.

Today we feature a new writer from Barcelona!
We’re discussing #COVID-19 anxieties…what they are to us and how we deal with them. Do YOU have any suggestions? Send them on!


COVID-19 Anxieties?

A. from Barcelona

Will my 92-year-old mom make it through this? Will my 93-year-old stepmom, who just got #COVID-19 in Germany, survive it?

How about my brothers, all of whom are over 60 years of age (each with a cocktail of the underlying conditions)?

Will I make it? Who will I lose from my family and friends? Will any of us die alone, without the warmth of human touch? When and where do we get personal ventilators and personal PPE sets?

Will I still have a job when this is over? When will this be over? What will my work be like when it’s over? Do I postpone or cancel almost all of my projects, because they don’t work anymore?

Will I make it through this recession? Will I still afford to travel back and forth to Lebanon? When will I be able to enter Lebanon again? Will I be able to see my mom and bro again?

How will my friends behave after this?  Who is huggable and who isn’t?  What are the new cues?

Will I get a refund for the gym membership I bought a week before the quarantine? Will I need the gym now that I’ve discovered how to work out at home? Do I buy more gym equipment? Do I want to be stuck with gym equipment? Is this…?

Will I ever eat at La Maroteca (best fish in BCN)? Will I ever have my OJ, croissant, and cortado breakfast at Chicaboom, and get to see both Chica and Boom again? Do I really need to eat out that much, or should I learn how to cook and prepare food more at home? Barber? Manicure/pedicure? Waxing? Other personal treatments? Oy!

Will I ever meet the love of my life now that you can’t go near anyone, or will we all jump on each other the minute they let us out? Will one-night-stands have a minimum two-week incubation period?

How do I go to my next medical check-up?  What if I have an emergency? Oy fuck!

Retrieved via Google Images.

Are these anxieties going to continue to eat at me?  Do I add them to the other anxieties I had before COVID-19? Are they going to make me sick? Is this the wrath of nature because I’m not separating the metal caps from the glass bottles? Is it God again, for all the obvious reasons? 

Who the hell choose this damn topic to start with?


Fear and anxiety in the time of corona

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

A few days ago, I read this headline on the BBC news: “US pastor who criticised coronavirus ‘hysteria’ and went to Mardi Gras dies of virus.”

The news is still grim and unsettling, yet I find myself glued to every headline. It’s quite mind-boggling that despite all the devastating statistics, there are still people who think this #coronavirus is a hoax. Many reports discuss the bipartisan attitude towards the virus. Some still believe that the stories and statistics of the virus are overblown. Some Republicans are of the opinion that the Democrats are playing a part in forcing the economy to tank so Trump has a lesser chance of winning the upcoming election.

Well, let’s just get our heads out of our delusional butts and understand that this is a global pandemic!

My anxiety over this virus just goes up when I hear the discrepancy in the news. Today it’s about our President and the WHO bickering over actions and responsibilities. I want to scream out: Stop pointing fingers and get on with it!

This virus is so highly contagious and kills people all over the world in a slow, painful way. They are dying as they gasp for air and basically suffocating.

The hardest part for most people is this feeling of being a caged animal. We are glued to the ticker tape of daily headlines and news reporting deaths and new cases.

Two days ago John Prine, an amazing American country folk singer, died from complications due to the virus. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who has been sick with the virus for 2 weeks, is now in intensive care. The UK , like the USA, was slow to respond to the threat of the virus.

Honestly, I’m not sure what it will take for world leaders to protect their people. Maybe the deaths of a few famous people or high-ranking politicians? Would that bring a united approach to the fight against coronavirus?

I also read about a nursing home in California that has 27 positive cases of COVID-19. The 27 constitutes more than half of the residents. Actions have been taken to isolate the infected. Which conjures images of these people being left alone in an empty room for days. But of course, I know from my daughter (who is a nurse tech at INOVA Fairfax Hospital) that the Covid-positive patients are still cared for, fed, and bathed. But they are not allowed visitors.

According to my dear friend, the isolation and lack of interaction with loved ones will ultimately kill both sick and the healthy patients alike. I see her point. We are a social people. We thrive on human interaction and love. How long can this go on before healthy people crack and die from broken hearts? But the affliction of a broken heart and all other emotional disorders are not contagious. I don’t want to minemize the effects of drepression and anxiety due to this pandemic madness.

Fear and anxiety can be paralyzing, and loneliness can be debilitating. Especially when you watch the news. If you have read this far, you are probably experiencing a little twitch in your belly. This is the feeling I get on a daily basis from media exposure. So now to think about what we can do to can help because there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  1. I suggest limiting your exposure to the news (duh! That’s a no-brainer) and taking a walk or opening windows for fresh air. Distract yourself with funny TV shows.
  2. If you are gaining weight during all this it’s ok! Just let go of any guilt associated with that. Try some online exercise routines if you feel up to it. But don’t judge yourself.
  3. Do a good deed for someone else and keep in touch with others. The phone and video chats are not off-limits. Please remember that help is a phone call away. You can reach out to a family member, a friend, a hospital, or a help line. You should never feel alone. And if you don’t need the support, think of people you know who might need yours.

I send you all big virtual hugs and kisses, hoping we will soon be out celebrating the end of this crisis.

Photo credit: Robert Neubecker

Anxiety Anxiousness

RJD, Beirut, Lebanon

Back in January, when Lebanon was just beginning to realize the depth of its financial and economic crisis, I started feeling anxious. As many of you already know, I was dealing with a difficult decision regarding my now closed business. January felt like a whole year. 

Then came February and it felt a little shorter than a year, and BAM! came March! From January to March now feels like a decade has gone by since we ushered in 2020. Along with this decade of three months, came more anxiety, especially with the spread of the Coronavirus. 

At first, I wasn’t dealing with the anxiety. It became a part of me; I embraced it as part of what I was going through and accepted its existence in my being. Until…until it grew and spread its roots into my mind and body so deeply, I could no longer function. It was here to stay, a cement block on my chest, not allowing me to breathe. It took over my mental capacities, my appetite (nothing ever gets my appetite), my sleep, my motivation, my desire to go on, and most importantly, my physical state. I couldn’t move, get out of bed, I felt aches and pains that never existed before. 

So how does one deal with anxiety in stressful times? Here’s what I did:

  1. I reached out for help – as introverted as I am about my emotional wellness, I decided I needed help. My general practitioner, a gem, put me on some natural remedies that eased the sleeplessness. 
  2. Once I was sleeping better, I was waking up more energized and able to get out of bed. 
  3. Then, I was able to acknowledge where I had been and started talking to my family and close friends about it. Sound boards are essential in life!
  4. Once I got out of bed, I made a daily schedule of things I need to accomplish. I kept myself as busy as possible. 
  5. I was able to eat better. That gave me more energy.
  6. I started moving – not exercising at this point – just moving. 
  7. Then, when I felt stronger, I started practicing my version of yoga. 
  8. Then, I started dancing, such a fun and motivating exercise and at the same makes you spew all that anxiety out. 
Tuscany, Italy – Aug. 2019.
I am coming back soon!

It doesn’t work for everyone, but for those who are feeling the anxiety of being home all the time, feeling lonely and alone, unable to move on and adjust to our new normal, please reach out to someone (general practitioner, counselor, psychologist, life coach, family, a friend, it really doesn’t matter) and start your building blocks to get rid of the dark cloud that can engulf us unknowingly. 

Here is a breathing exercise I learned a while back: close your eyes, sit in any comfortable position, focus on the cloud above you. Feel it, visualize it, color it, shape it. Slowly with each breath, make it move over to the left or right as you make it change color. When you feel it has gone, slowly breathe out and open your eyes and do something nice for yourself. 


Mental in Malaga

RafifJ, Malaga, Spain

“Today I’ll go out. No, better to stay in. I have work to do. Well, it can wait. No, it can’t. Who knows if I will have work tomorrow. Eat. No, I just did that. Well, OK, I’ll eat again. WAIT! I’ll take a nap. Maybe I should do some lunges. Shit, I have to call XX to check in. Let me take a shower so they don’t see how crappy I look.”

Sound familiar?

It’s bad enough that we’re under lockdown, but when we start feeling caged in by our own thoughts it’s time to change things up a little. I know my friends offer sensitive, caring advice, but I take more of a hardliner’s approach. Here goes:

FIRST: QUIT WHINING!

Retrieved via Internet search.

You are alive, unlike about 90,000 others around the world. Now get off your butt and do these things:

  1. Play Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT. You don’t have to dance, but you have to sing along. TRUST ME ON THIS.
  2. Open the window and shout out, “Hello, world!” Only do once a day or your neighbors will freak out.
  3. Do 2 minutes of exercise. It can be dancing, stretching your neck, or raising your glass. TWO MINUTES won’t kill you. Over time, do more if you like this.
  4. Turn off the damn news and watch a Hallmark Channel or equally sappy show. Romances are best.
  5. Create an idea wall. On Post-It notes, jot down the things you have learned during your stay-at-home experience. Stick the notes on the wall and organize them. Check out the patterns you create.
  6. Do an online word cloud. List the words that describe how you feel, choose a shape and a font, and see the magic that happens. Repeat. You’ll find that the words eventually become happier.
  7. Plan an online party. Invite three people. Repeat, with others.
  8. Take a virtual museum tour. All the major museums around the world are offering free tours. You might learn something, and just think – later you can show off your vast cultural knowledge.
  9. Play online backgammon. Or some other game.
  10. Call someone. Anyone. Never, ever feel like you’re the only one going through this. We are all in the same boat.

Good luck to us all!


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We use photos we retrieve via Internet searches. No copyright infringement intended.