Our brave new world

Hi my friends,

Today was a gorgeous spring morning. The forsythia are blooming, and those purple magnolia trees, some cherry blossoms, daffodils. I’m pretty sure I saw a tufted titmouse at the bird feeder (they are my favorite) — he looked on the small side though and my resident expert was not at hand to confirm or deny the sighting. There was a bit of rain Thursday night which gave everything a bit of extra spring-i-ness.

My children are home from school starting yesterday through April 6. Sam is working on a book of mazes. Maggie is sitting at the piano trying to figure out a new song. Dave went to work yesterday but will work remotely for the rest of the month.

On Thursday I went to the grocery store around noon, after refreshing CNN compulsively for two hours. What did I buy? Four onions, a bag of carrots, two loaves of bread, a bag of frozen cherries, four frozen mac + cheeses, a bag of bagels, one piece of frozen catfish and some broccoli. Six cans of tomato sauce because they were on sale. Some pasta (two bags). A bag of flour. I had no idea what I was doing, assessing my cart it seemed these were not the foodstuffs for an emergency.

I finished some paid editing work in the afternoon. I have no more work on deck. It seems unlikely that anyone will require my services in the current climate. Which means I have more flexibility to take care of the kids. It also means I won’t be earning any money.

I have a friend who waits tables for his livelihood. There are many fewer people dining out and he is paid in tips. He mentioned that he will be able to use credit for a while to cover life expenses. As long as the restaurant reopens… As long as he doesn’t get sick…

I have been trying to figure out a way to use this situation “for good.”

I’ve been thinking about how to be most helpful, other than keeping two hygienically challenged vectors of disease 6 feet away from anyone over the age of 20 (well, really from anyone).
I know local businesses will struggle. I purchased two books from a local bookshop I love today. We bought bagels from a small local shop and I left an exorbitant tip (it was only two dollars but at least a 30% tip on what we had purchased). These seem like strange measures to take in the face of a global pandemic.

I’m not allowed to donate blood (I haven’t been allowed because of the places I’ve been but maybe it has been long enough). I know that blood donation is desperately needed right now (I learned this while binge-watching the CNN live updates on the web) but I’m not sure where I would go to make a donation even if my blood is now acceptable. Also, what if it turns out I’m sick?

I know the WHO is requesting donations from governments, businesses and individuals to be able to maintain their work around the world to meet the crisis. I don’t know what is going to happen in countries without good healthcare infrastructure as the virus spreads.

And I have at least three weeks of together time with my kids so I’ve been thinking about how to make the most positive use of that time.
One of the books I ordered was Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring (book one in the trilogy). We read The Hobbit last fall and I figured now was a time when we could stay up a bit later to read without too much of a problem. The children practiced making their own lunch today. I’ve thought about projects we could do at home, spring cleaning, or clutter clearing. I’ve thought about yard projects: I’ve wanted to make the yard into a wildlife refuge or a bird-friendly habitat or something along those lines. Now would be a good time to do the research. I’ve thought about making things with the kids, writing a book together, teaching them how to sing harmony or ?

My neighbors have been talking about playdates and vodka. I have wondered, how much distancing does social distancing require? And the vodka thing, I don’t know. I can see the draw, but I also feel that we need to take care of ourselves, to be strong. (Today I read an article about social distancing which confirmed my suspicion. Its titled Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day.)

In terms of resources, my neighbor (thank you Bette!) sent a list of education companies offering free subscriptions during school closings. And something called GoNoodle which is videos about movement and mindfulness for kids (could come in handy). She also sent a ‘day at home’ schedule that was helpful (I’m not going to post it here because I don’t have the source, but if you want it, write and I’ll forward it).

Another friend sent a quote on the training and education of children in the arts, crafts and sciences:

Be ye in that land vanguards of the perfections of humankind; carry forward the various branches of knowledge, be active and progressive in the field of inventions and the arts. … Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art.

Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha’

I really liked it. The kids and I did some Headspace meditations specifically for kids yesterday. They literally begged for more at the conclusion of each one. They said it was because they like Andy’s voice but I wonder if that’s all. So we will be practicing some family meditation.

I’m trying to think of how I can use this forced slow down, this time of not knowing, to move towards good. Not to tread water, not to wait holding my breath. To use the time to consider, to grow, to heal, to help, to connect. I’m thinking about all of the tools we each have now for connecting and for creating. I’m thinking about ways I can help, today, and in what comes next. And I’m thinking about the world as it will be, as we can make it.

I’m planning to write more, to share more with you over the next while. It will give me something to put my mind towards that feels nourishing, and I hope I can share something of use. I am always nervous to write, that readers won’t like it, but I’m going to try to write more often, with more openness and even less perfectionism. It will be an experiment!

I hope you are well, please take good care of yourselves and try to find ways to interact with others (Facetime, Skype, Zoom) and keep your spirits up — I will be sharing ideas for ways to do that here. I spent a lot of time in my yard today which helped to get me away from the news and checking one thing and then another. I would also recommend reading a great book, like E.B. White’s One Man’s Meat (my constant recommendation) to remember that people have been through so much and have behaved so beautifully towards one another in very hard times.

Here’s to being a force for good : )


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