Post 11: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Day 11. We’re chronicling our experiences during the #COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions. Join us!

The Upside of COVID-19

Cindy Castellana, Falls Church, VA

I believe we would all agree (at least those of us who do not live on Pennsylvania Avenue) that this whole #COVID-19 thing is pretty serious – and not in a good way.  Recently we have heard about the true nature of the human spirit rising up.

There have been countless stories of people taking care of their neighbors and thinking of those less fortunate. Then there is the seemingly worldwide outpouring of thanks to medical professionals who are stepping up, often at their own risk, to take care of the rest of us.

But how about those who, in the process of going about their everyday jobs, find a way to provide us with a little bit of joy and just put a smile on our faces? For example, there is Adam the Zookeeper at the Melbourne Zoo who used the Giraffe Cam to show us how to bust a move. 

There are those Policia in Spain doing what they can to keep their communities calm and safe. And today I heard that Starbucks is promising to pay their employees for the next 30 days, whether or not they are able to work.

We need these stories to counter the unbelievable things we hear that just make us sit up and say…WOW.

For example, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is willing to risk his own life to get the economy moving. He feels that if he is willing to be out amongst his peeps, so should the rest of us. 

I don’t think so. 

Then there is the woman who licked a public toilet seat, hoping to get the Coronavirus so she could build up antibodies and then go on about her life.  I guess she isn’t thinking about the whole I could die from this thing. And, of course there are those folks who partied hardy on the beaches during Spring Break, who are now surprised that they are getting sick with the virus. 

Maybe these are just examples of the natural order of things helping to thin the herd


Fiction vs Reality

RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

Collecting thoughts these days is tough. Only a month ago, I thought of a dear friend who lives in Milan and it took me a whole month to get in touch and check in on her and her husband.

Upon updating her on life in Lebanon, I came into a realization that was both frightening and surreal. Inasmuch as I was in the act, I was emotionless. Now the deluge of emotions is finally hitting me hard.

After the October Lebanese Revolution, my business suffered. This month, I had to close it down. The week I was calling the finale after 23 years, we were ordered as Lebanese to go into lockdown. Even though I couldn’t say goodbye to my team and clients, the emotional closure, grief, anger, frustration, and helplessness are taking their grip on me and making me feel more down than I ever imagined.

I spent the last few days weeding through paperwork, small items that made my business experience special, packing, discarding and donating…and I stopped a few times in tears. You can’t discard 23 years, a whole career, an identity into boxes and trash piles. I can’t. I wanted to celebrate and embrace the end. The age of Corona has robbed me of that…the Lebanese politics, economy and corruption took that away from me.

True, my anguish is nothing compared to the poor(er) people looking for a piece of bread…nothing considering the people being buried with no one to say goodbye…nothing if you think of war victims…refugees…nothing in light of the world gone amok I say to myself. But it was my world and I need to take a few days to mourn it, I say to myself, I am allowed to grieve.

I am trying to remain real and not imagine that I am living a fiction movie right now. I must hold on. My friend’s words, from Milan, resonated with me all day:

“I’m so sorry my darling …your place will always be the best there ever was! But an end is inevitably a beginning. Beirut….akh! But we must look ahead. Which gets harder as we age. Fail we may, but sail we must! Bhibbek kteeer. Lots of love from your Italia! 😘.”

From Milan

I love you too, ragazza 💜💜💜💜 and I shall sail…


Shut Down by Coronavirus

Tina F. in Fairfax, VA

As the time passes, I forget what day of the week we’re on and the news sounds a bit repetitive.

I think it was a few days ago that our Governor of Virginia gave us all new directive and instructions to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus. It included the usual list of closures and listed essential establishments to stay open. GUESS WHAT?? Turns out that liquor stores are essential and will remain open. Hallelujah!!!

But that’s not what got me thinking. It was the announcement that all schools in Virginia will remain closed at least until the end of the school year. Within a few minutes parents were posting about how sad it was that their high school seniors’ school year is over. They will not get to experience the right of passage that every privileged high school senior experiences. No Prom, no photos, and no walking across the stage to receive their diploma.

I get it!!! It is a blow. But honestly, I was secretly thinking that this maybe what is needed to curtail all the unnecessary and extravagant rituals that have developed over the years. Those elaborate “Promposals” for a start. They were really getting out of control. Teachers would allow students to “Prompose” during class. The media was plastered with clever ways to get someone to go on a date with you. All this was the beginning of hundreds of dollars’ worth of expenses. There were the tickets, attire, dinners, limousine hires, and photographers. Not to mention the announcement and the block parties and all those monetary gifts. So look on the bright side, think of all the money you will save!

We are facing an unprecedented time of disappointing firsts for most of us. But I think I can help.

I offer my Photoshop expertise. Send me a photo of your high school senior’s face and I will send you a series of photos of them in graduation gowns and prom dresses. ALL THIS FOR $100!


Even a simple delivery can kill you

RafifJ in Malaga, Spain

Every day of our extended lockdown I learn new realities associated with coronavirus. Today I realized that anything I order for delivery must be sanitized before it enters my home. After I bring it in, I have to sanitize my home all over again. I should probably even take a shower and wash the clothes I was wearing.

You think I’m overreacting? Well, I take precautions – not because I’m paranoid or a hypochondriac – but because my 17-year-old son lives with me. Anything I drag in, he gets.

The sad reality is that we can no longer take for granted our daily routines. Think about the steps you take in performing the simplest of functions – all the things or people you touch, what you eat or drink, how many times you touch your face in between these activities. Try counting them and the numbers might surprise you. In short, every thing or person you touch is potentially going to kill you. A lockdown and proper care can save lives.

A lot of people still think nations and local governments are overreacting. There’s a particular so-called leader (and his sycophants) who wants to save the economy instead of saving lives, and I’m delighted that #NotDying4WallStreet was trending yesterday. Maybe People Power and Twitter Power will turn the tide against the insidious incompetence in the White House.

With the number of cases exceeding 47,000 in Spain (and rising fast), it’s obvious that we can’t be too careful. As numbers rise exponentially in the United States, more people realize now that the problem is not just the economy vs the people; the fundamental problem is the utter lack of leadership in the face of this deadly virus, which claims people of any age, any race, any belief.

COVID-19 is forcing humans to change a lot more than our processes. We’re re-examining our values. Some communities are doing what they can to help one another, learning along the way how to deal with new rules in an increasingly virtual world. Other groups – well, let’s just say that this deadly pandemic is exposing more than just our immune systems – it’s highlighting the greed and corruption at some of the highest levels of the very governments elected to protect us.

So I’m #NotDying4WallStreet; neither should you.

#StayHome #StaySafe and #WashYourDamnHands.


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Post 9: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Here’s our installment for Day 9. We’re chronicling our experiences during the #COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions. Mayya S. in Herndon, VA, came up with the idea for us to share our experiences.

Care to join us? 

A mother’s dilemma

Tina F. in Fairfax, VA

I have two children. My 21-year-old daughter is in college and works as a nurse technician in the coronary unit at INOVA hospital. She already lives at home. Her college will begin online classes and her job is obviously secure. She has not really had to modify her work life because of the #Coronavirus. But after her 12-hour night shift at the hospital I greeted her and asked about the state of the hospital and she said, “the shit is going to hit the fan in a couple of weeks, Mom” and disappeared to shower off her hospital germs and sleep.

My son is 18 and is attending culinary school in New York. Last week his university moved up Spring Break and sent the students home for an extended 3-week break. Since they are on a year-round school, that meant they were utilizing the 2 weeks of summer break too.

He has been home for a week and yesterday he was told that the university will be closed until at least May 11. They are going online with classes, but as a hands on learning school this will be a challenge.

We gave my son a well-deserved several days off; he is on break after all. As a matter of fact, we have all been watching more TV and binge eating. But his isolation has become a concern for this Mama.

At 11:00 am I knock on his door.

“Sweetheart, don’t you think its time to get out of bed? “


“Well, so you can get things done and give yourself a sense of accomplishment?”

“Like get what done?”

If it were a normal day I would have yelled GET A JOB! But I said, “I don’t know like….”

“EXACTLY! There’s nothing to do!”

Well, that’s not exactly true. My husband and I have given him household chores like taking out the trash, changing light bulbs, etc. And most importantly, going to pick up food for everyone. He accomplishes these tasks in record speed, then retreats to his cocoon with his PS4 and online streaming.

At dinner, I told him that I would like to spend some time together and asked him if he had any ideas about what we could do. His answer was vague and evasive. My suggestion of ping-pong was scoffed at. Then he said, “We could play Monopoly!” A glimmer of hope washed over me. “Sure, honey, that’s a great idea!”

“Ok, maybe tomorrow” and returned to his room.

Prices have gone up since Tina was a kid!

My question to you all is, how do you get through to your adult children who are stuck in this unprecedented limbo? Especially college-age kids, who have discovered their independence and think any time spent with their parents is being a loser.

Tomorrow after Monopoly I will start a new strategy. I just have to think of one.


Time to Stop Brawlin’
and Start Compromisin’

Sunny, a Global Cowgirl® in Frederick, Maryland

Life in the time of Corona is chock full of dire messages from the Dark Side, but what about a message from the Light? Of course, today’s medical town criers obsessively tell me in this time of Corona there’s just one degree of separation between me and the Grim Reaper. But I’ve been to the near-death rodeo a few times before and no horse has bucked me off yet. So, I’ll just do what I’ve always done—saddle up, shove my boots in the stirrups, and show this latest horse the meaning of true grit. And if I get bucked off? Well, everyone gets bucked out of Life eventually.

What fascinates me more than getting thrown by Corona, is the valuable lesson it’s sending me. Compromise. We need to stop our brawlin’ and start compromisin’.

Politicians and government officials may talk compromise, but, if the proof is the pudding, then the pudding they’re serving us is rancid. The willingness to compromise in this time of Corona—and after—rests with us, we the people. Right now, the US, and the world, is on a train headed toward a mountain where no one’s dug a tunnel. I think Corona is gonna kick our petards into the next life if we don’t put down our dukes and come together to send Corona packing.

Is compromise and peace between the human species possible? When I get discouraged, I reread a message I wrote to myself after going to Antietam Battlefield. It is a reminder from the Light that compromise is possible…

Burnside Bridge

Battlefield of Peace

Peace. Countries around the world search for peace with guns and megaweapons drawn. We’ve even got war colleges dedicated to developing new ways to fight for peace. All of this done in the hope of achieving this elusive human yearning.

While my own life is full of vexations, frustrations, and anything but peace, I’ve found a place where I can feel and even “see” the peace I ache to experience all the time.

Ironically, the spot is on a battlefield where the bloodiest single day of fighting in American history took place. September 17, 1862. The Civil War’s Battle of Antietam, near Sharpsburg, Maryland.

Antietam Creek ran red with the blood of Union and Confederate soldiers. Over twenty-three thousand were killed, wounded, or missing.

There is a bridge that runs over Antietam Creek—Burnside Bridge. When I stand in the center of the bridge, I see a delicate cloud coming up from the earth, blanketing battlefield and creek. Within the cloud’s mist swirls a Light not of this world. Looking into the mist, my mind and body go calm. All worries evaporate. The air is pure, and with each breath, I’m filled with the cloud’s peace. I can see the misty cloud and feel its serenity every time I stand on Burnside Bridge.

There is something else. I sense the presence of the soldiers who died there, Union and Confederate. There is no rancor between them. Each body released its soul, and these thousands of souls made a peace among themselves that is beyond our understanding here on earth. They rest in harmony at Antietam.

I return again and again to Burnside Bridge to feel the unfettered peace that stretches out to enfold and caress its visitors, no matter the horror of our personal or political battlefields.

(from A Global Cowgirl Takes Stock of Life’s Lessons, being released in Spring 2020)

In our battle with Corona, I hope I’m able to lay down my discouragements, frustrations, and anger around the battle and use this time to see the Light in every person. To open myself to the compromises we’re all going to have to make to stop that train from running into the side of the mountain where no one’s dug a tunnel…at least not yet.


Another Sunday

RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

Today is another Sunday in Beirut. Oh no sorry, it’s Monday, Tuesday? Not sure anymore. Reminds me of an old movie called “If it’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” (for those who need an oldie but goodie to watch!)

So on this Monday, it is the beginning of our second week in quarantine. Realistically though, for me, it started yesterday when the military actually stopped people moving and gathering. Essentially, that prolongs our 2-week quarantine.

Most friends I am connecting with are starting to feel the worry and anxiety. Boredom, fear, loneliness are setting in. To stay busy, I cleaned out our pool room and opened pool season early (it’s okay to do that when days and weeks seem endlessly intertwined.)

In the process, I blasted the speakers with Lebanese Revolution songs and danced and sang as I cleaned. It was quite an outlet.

Tomorrow, Thursday, I mean Tuesday, it’s going to be planting day in hopes of seeds bringing new life which will help us see the light at the end of our tunnel. I am sure there is one…I want you, all my friends out there, to not despair and stay with me to see the light. We shall overcome.



RafifJ in Malaga, Spain

Day 9. Cold and rainy in Malaga. The wet streets are oddly beautiful. The rain makes the only sound that breaks the silence in this city that used to be so full of joy and merriment.

The news is more disheartening than the cold rain. More than 33,000 cases reported, including nearly 4,000 health workers. Lockdown extended to April 11. No flattening of curves in sight.

Calle Larios in Malaga

Being on lockdown teaches you to be thankful. Maybe guilty, too, because there are so many who are sick or suffering, and you’re thankful for not being one of them.

Going to the supermarket becomes an exercise in introspection. You appreciate being outdoors. You become grateful for the legs that take you to the market; the arms that carry back your purchases; the money that made the purchase possible. We’ll get through this somehow.

Clapping Time, even though short, makes you realize that you are applauding someone who may soon be your doctor, your nurse, your caregiver. This virus knows no race, religion, nationality, or income level. Let’s get through this, somehow. #StayHome. #StaySafe.


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