As I hear from friends and loved ones who are struggling with unknowns and not able to pay bills and they worry about their mortgages or rent or losing clients... I can't help but flash back to my twenties.
Granted, it was different. The world was open for business; I was just broke and irresponsible. A huge difference, there. But maybe the experiences and the lessons can be of use...here and now. Circumstances change - reasons and causes differ - but broke and uncertain is broke and uncertain. It's scary for anyone.
I've always worked. We were one of those families that lived on a posh street, in a middle-upper class neighborhood, and went to great public school - and also, went to St Pat's in Glen Cove for trash bags full of used clothing (you could fill a bag for $5.00.) My father, a Vietnam Vet, worked hard, assimilating back into life as best he could, my mother took care of the kids and the house, and they stretched the cash as far as they could. We even roasted our own Cheerios in a skillet and would smuggle them into the movies for snacks - instead of buying overpriced popcorn. When you don't have a lot, you live within your means. You scrap, you get creative, you make it work. They did what they had to and i couldn't wait to earn my own money, I won't lie. I wanted to work. And to be sure, my childhood sounds like a dream compared to some others. I wasn't born to drug addicts or left homeless or in an impoverished country with no resources to help me, or anything else that would be more dire. I was just... hustling with less, somewhere in NY. We were okay.
I babysat, early on. Back then, I made about $3/hour. I stashed it away for a year and bought a pair of Guess jeans. I was hot stuff in those jeans, make no mistake. I earned them. I loved those jeans.
In high school, I tried all sorts of things. I did cold-calls for a chiropractor once - it lasted a day. I hated myself doing this work, I got stomach sick. Not for me. I was a terrible conniver. Next, I worked in a boat shop, boxing up parts to ship out to people with boats, I imagine. Great people, basic work. I broke the vacuum, I think. I made a couple of bucks for a while and was glad for the experience.
Later, after graduation, I made the move to Glen Cove, and stayed with the Italian side of the family. Glen Cove is Little Calabria, if you didn't know. At least it used to be. My mother grew up there, and I moved in with her and the man who would become my stepfather. He's the one who found me work down the block, at Blockbuster Video. He just walked in..."hey, hey. My daughter needs a job." (He's Sicilian, so...there you go. )
I loved the job. I loved the movies. I started by running a cash register and putting VHS tapes on the shelves. Late nights, overnight inventory shifts, lots of labor, low wages with no benefits - but I made lasting friendships and had such good times. Memories for life. Friends for life. Diners became a mainstay. When you get out of work at 2am, what else is open?
I stopped going to school for a while. I just wanted to work, I was having fun and making money. My grades were terrible, I wasn't showing up to classes, I was still a school screw-up. I enjoyed working. I loved saving money and watching it grow. So, I un-enrolled for a while.
In summers, I would hop on the truck with my stepfather. He had his CDL and worked for nurseries and oil companies and would drive these enormous rigs all over the coast, delivering goods. And I would ride with him, in my ball cap and jeans and t-shirt and a 19-year-old puss on my face, and earn my way through the summer. We stopped at the deli, super-early, before sunrise, and got our signature bacon-egg-and-cheese-on-a-roll...and I'd get a large iced coffee. For the road. I threw bags of Speedy Dry on my shoulder, I carried potted plants, bottles of motor oil, all kinds of things. Labor, real physical labor. For about $20/day. I was glad to get it.
Old men would tip me, $.50, $1.00, "go get a cup of coffee..." they'd say. I'd roll my eyes. And my stepfather would say, "be nice, say thank you. He doesn't owe you anything." So, I did. I learned to be gracious. He was right, that's $1.00 I didn't have before. Every bit counts. I scrapped back then, for everything that I had. I bought my first car, a beat up old Chevy, a red Chevy Cavalier, with the roof-fabric falling down, for $500, matched by $500 by my folks, I think. Used, from a dealer somewhere on Hempstead Turnpike. I loved that car. I took good care of it. I learned about dipsticks and checking oil and idiot lights and gauges and spark plugs. Maintenance. I learned about taking care of things that you value. At this point, I worked to pay for my own car insurance, my own :coughs: beeper/pager and early model cell phone (it was the size of a shoe, with a carrot for an antenna, for Pete's sake.) But I earned them and paid for them, they were mine. I ate simply, and not very well. I stretched my money.
Later, I moved to Boston with some girlfriends - amazing women that I'm still in touch with, today. We got transfers to a Blockbuster on Mass Ave, close to the hospital. Great view of the Pru Center. Assistant Managers, all of us. I loved the town. I loved the vibe. Our apartment housed a soccer team of Irish boys... one of them got drunk and urinated on my bedroom window, from a floor up. (We were out in Allston, on a bar brawl. It was never, ever quiet - except maybe at 3 - 4 am.) So many stories...many not worth repeating. I lived on Ramen (I'd buy cases in bulk, they'd be $.25/cup.) Grilled cheese sandwiches. Instant coffee. Tap water. Candy bars. Cheap booze. I lived very, very simply and was very unhealthy. Going to the doctor for anything would cost me a fortune. I'd have to borrow money. So, I just didn't do anything dangerous. I didn't ski or run or play sports, for fear of getting hurt and not being able to pay the bill. It's a terrifying thing to know that medical care isn't available for you, if you don't have the right job or the right insurance. That getting sick could bankrupt you. I lasted four months in Boston, I was home by Christmas. I knew nothing about managing money, sound decision making, how important nutrition and exercise were for my health... I thought it was all genetic and that what I ate was irrelevant. One of many lies I'd believed throughout my life.
Christmas, 1999, I was back home. I was in a deep, dark hole. I had left school. I left my job. I sold all my belongings, including my guitar and my car to get to Boston, to follow my dream... and I was home again, with nothing. Starting over. Humbled, lonely, a bit broken and desperate. The world as I knew it...had stopped. I was stuck at home, with nothing but family and my senses. More sandwiches. More sacrificing and simple living. I did odd jobs for money. I regrouped. I stayed with family as long as possible, and counted myself lucky to have tried and true blood family that got me though anything. They always have. I decided, at this low-point, that shift work in retail wasn't going to cut it, long-term. I was made for more. And I soon began designing my life, intentionally. Consciously. Reading, absorbing, learning, and gaining insight. Empowering myself, from virtually nothing. Thank God for family.
That's when I went back to school - on purpose. I had done the blue collar thing. I hustled, I got my hands dirty, I earned my keep, I did the blood, sweat, tears thing. I knew I was tough. I knew I had grit. I knew I could survive on very little and take hand-me-downs and borrow and pay back and make ends meet. But I was smart, if unfocused. So, I went back to school. My Pops let me borrow his car, a powder blue, gigantic old T-Bird with rear-wheel drive. It was terrible in snow, and I got stuck a few times. But I got through it all. Somehow.
In-between classes, somewhere in those years, I worked to help set up the Kohl's in Westbury, on 25A for a while. I had never "set up" a brand new department store - I was fascinated. I was in college then, at NCC (Nassau Community College.) AAS in Marketing & Advertising, minoring in English. I got to see everything I was learning in action: merchandising, product placement, suggestive selling, all of it. I think I left before the store opened... I went on a date with a team leader and it got weird. (Don't mix business and pleasure, it never works.) I don't remember much about him... but that he borrowed a super-clean car with "new car" scent sprayed everywhere, wore one of those corny horn necklaces, and that he loved Depeche Mode. Nice guy, but no fireworks.
I switched to Liberal Arts, because I fell more smitten with English, with each course. I was writing and journaling and reading, voraciously. I soon finished my degree, moved onto to a SUNY school, and finished the last two years in American Studies and Women's Studies. I won honors, I shocked absolutely everyone - because it was the right time for me. That's all. I wanted to be there. I was committed. I was doing it for the right reasons, I had a future in mind. I was looking forward... not spinning my wheels going nowhere fast.
The course load at SUNY was a lot, and I stopped working. I became a full time student, and did chores for money, again. I did laundry for money so I could go out once a week and shoot pool. I took better care of my body, I learned about wellness and nutrition and yoga. I was on the path toward self-care.
Fast-forward to the present - I'm nearly 15 years into a career as a Public Reference Librarian. I love what I do. I help people get what they need, I form relationships with folks in my community. I'm healthy. I have medical insurance through the state. I've discovered that I have hypothyroidism, and need to follow certain protocols to feel good. I discovered that I have an anxiety condition, and needed to learn certain tools and meditation techniques and mental health practices to function at my best. All of these things that I didn't know about... were there, percolating, keeping me from a well-lived life as I scrambled and reacted my way through those years. I'm glad I took the time to unravel and understand myself. I'm glad for those years that led to it.
And now, I get to inspire people, connect people, share information, maintain collections that nurture the dreams or livelihoods of others. I get to connect with kids struggling in school who saw the world how I did once... and steer them toward an education or a trade or a creative dream... something to believe in. It's gratifying, it's meaningful, it's rewarding, to me. It's good money and paid medical, and I worked the first half of my life without those things, in the dirt, so believe me when I say... I cherish it and all the work I put in toward getting here.
And I only say all of this, I only share these bits of my past, my work-history, my lean, sandwich years, to suggest that... if you're in the dark right now - and so many people are - it could be a blessing in disguise. To look deeply into who you are, what your life looks like. The choices you've made, until now. What you truly envision for yourself, and do you... have a vision? Or do you just show up in your life, day after day, reacting blindly, without asking questions? Is it easier to curse the "system..." rather than asking questions about yourself and your life and your choices? Of course, it's easier to blame. But the deep-dark can be a place to start anew. To allow reinvention, to become a greater version of who you are, to pull out your best, when you're at your worst. If you have that foundation, if you're lucky enough to have support behind you. If you can get out and past it, every brick you lay down becomes a piece of empowerment, in your own story. A story to share back, later.
Every step, a journey toward who you get to be. And on and on.
Realistically, you're not going to enroll in expensive classes if you can't pay rent right now. That's real and I get that. But you've got the world wide web at your fingertips, maybe. You've got free tutorials and classes everywhere right now, as companies and schools open their learning modules up for all to use and learn from - FREE - many of them. Right now; but not forever. Delayed tuitions. Deep discounts. Opportunities.
You can use your library resources to learn a new skill, to get proficient on computers and comfortable with technology. You can find ways to sell or generate content online, you can earn CEUs for free, through classes and webinars, you can find companies that are hiring people to work from home. You can skill-up, in this time, if you believe that you can. You can empower yourself to grow grit through it all, to level up in some way. You can focus your energy on learning and improving, not just trolling and worrying. It's a choice, though it's hard sometimes. And we all cope in different ways. It's scary and hard and challenging and the usual opportunities aren't there - because we're on lockdown. It's not easy, at all. I know that.
But it's possible, with the right mindset.
"Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are." - Theodore Roosevelt
And there are free ways, right now, to get the mental health counseling that you might need, to help you through. There are so many ways to go about getting help and motivation and direction, right now, if you're willing to learn or adapt and put the shield down. That doesn't make it fair or right or easy. All of this is uncertain and difficult. There's no question. But we can stay in the mud and dwell upon it, or start building a way out, regardless of circumstance. There's always a choice - to be resourceful and scrappy and positive about it - or not. We could sit in the mess and wait for it to rain miracles. (Pssst... it usually doesn't happen that way. Give the miracle a head-start, and get involved.)
You can live on less, you can borrow, you can reach out to friends and family, you can practice simple things to get you through, one day at a time. You can practice self-care. You can try to sell off things on eBay that you don't need anymore. None of it is easy - to be considering financial health, on top of everything else. But that doesn't mean that you can't dig out. And it doesn't mean that you have to give in to misery. We've all had sandwich years, most of us. It's where we learn resilience.
I've personally never been more grateful to be in a position where I can work from home, maintain my life and expenses, and to keep finding ways to be of service. And service can get repetitious sometimes. It's not that glamorous, it's not going to make me wealthy, it won't get me a Lamborghini or a mansion in the Hamptons, it won't make me famous. But it gets me peace of mind. It serves my soul. It teaches me leadership and community and patience and compassion.
And in times of crisis, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, and every turn in my life, every year of eating sandwiches and turning in coins for bills, and collecting soda bottles and riding big rigs in summer when my friends were at Jones Beach... they inform my present, and my perspective. And I hope to pass all of this onto my son through these days. That we don't waste things. That we're grateful for what we have and we take care of it. We learn to garden and grow things, from scratch. We learn to cook and prepare food, simply, with what we have. We share when we have extra, because people shared with us... when we had nothing. It goes on and on, it's the way of things.
"Tutte le strade portano a Roma," - or "All roads lead to Rome."
We're all walking through this life together, whether we choose to accept it or not. We are all part of the same system - one world - hyperconnected and inseparable. And we ought to take care of each other, because we're all in it together. And we'll be alright.
The Simple Dollar
You Tube Tutorial
Dream Grow - Social Media Marketing
https://www.creativelive.com (deep discounts at present!)
There are tons and tons more out there worth finding... give yourself a boost. Get tech-savvy.
Post-dinner musing... sipping a Blanc. It's what I got. A bit sweet and chilled. It's rather nice.
I don't often talk about politics. But, we're entering the season of fake Facebook profiles with political slants making their voices heard. I can smell it. I can see it. I block and delete them.
But it's an election year, despite all the rest. And who've we got?
You know, George Washington had no desire, nor plan, to become President. He didn't seek it out, he was reluctant. They chose him, and he chose to serve, out of a commitment toward Duty to his new country. He didn't want to, he just... couldn't *not* serve. And I get it.
That Office used to hold such meaning and integrity. In the Reagan years, I remember sitting in school and pouring over my White House official booklet, that I sent away for. Just a magazine, a guide to the rooms. I loved his style. His empathy. His mannerisms. And his dealings with Gorbachev felt inspired and full of hope.
"Tear down this wall!" I watched it live, on TV. I still get chills. Good chills.
He was the first President that I can remember knowing about. And during that time, I was excited about Washington. Proud of my country. And of my President. He came with his own economic plans, and moves toward peace, ending the Cold War. He had wit and compassion and intellect and the camera loved him. I adored him and cried when he was shot.
Later, I voted for Clinton. He was smart, he played the sax, he had a sense of humor and charm and reminded me of the Kennedys and that whole vibe. I was in high school, and couldn't be bothered with the rest. But I liked what he stood for, as I saw it then. I threw up on my mouth when Monica Lewinsky shared her story. My hero fell off the mantle.
Next, I voted for Gore, and I saw the whole dimpled chads and recounts and corruption and I lost interest in following politics for a while. Disheartened. My vote didn't matter...? I still followed Gore and more importantly, I followed climate. He loved Mother Earth as much as I did.
2008 was a good year. It was the first year that I felt how I felt... when Reagan was President. Alive, hopeful, engaged, interested and patriotic, again. It became clear that I was leaning toward being a Democrat. I loved the Obamas and still do. I miss their presence and Grace in the White House.
This last election, I voted for Jill Stein - she was my pick. These days, I vote my heart, I vote for who I think will best realize my dreams and represent us. Represent the future. Our future, my son's son's future. "A Better World for Our kids." Forward thinking and better use of our resources - long-term. Better decisions and long-game thinking. Sustainable. Honest.
But leadership. Leadership for the sake of leadership, because free people need and want it. Not control, not manipulation, not gas-lighting, not blindsiding, not big sales, not deep pockets and special interests and petty mudslinging and big medicine and big pharma and big oil.
Leadership. Service. Guidance. Role models. Solutions. Sound decisions. Compassion.
The American People used to be the primary interest. Personal progress and social betterment were the motivators; not greed. Not in the beginning. A free country, far from corruption and feudalism and all that we escaped in coming here to found this country. To revolt and start anew. Free, from oppressors. Not judged and ostracized for our beliefs or creed or heritage. Equal beings, united in a common purpose in a new land. And we didn't do it right, back then. We hurt people and we weren't respectful, in many ways. We weren't perfect; though highly ambitious. But we learn as we go, I would hope.
It was always a good idea, this little country of ours. So many states, working together, with such values and passion for the pursuit... of a well-lived life. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."
Oh America, I do miss you, sometimes. 🇺🇸
Goodnight, folks. I hope you're getting through okay. I hope you're staying home and letting science do its work, for our sake. For our health and longevity. It's hard right now, and there's a lot to stress about. But there's a lot of beauty to notice, too. And not just Mother Nature, but oh, she is shining, right now. Beautifully.
But human beings... oh, do we rally. How we come together. How we care for each other. How we love.
It's only been twelve days, since the schools closed. And then the libraries, then the businesses, and everything else began to close their doors, too. Most of them, anyway. Twelve days, and it feels like a different reality, in so many ways.
We had some collective denial, at first. We joked and made fun:
"...hey...don't forget to wash yer hands, haha..." But, uncertainty lingered beneath.
A few more days went by, and we stopped laughing, but still didn't really take it too seriously.
"It's not all that bad... we're not Italy... most people are fine... it's just like the flu..."
And so many continued to gather, to crowd, to assemble...despite dire warnings against it. Officials at all places of government were putting out mixed messages at different times, in different communities, in different states.
A few more days went by, and the local cases doubled, quickly. Tripled, maybe.
Each day, the mystique around the virus grew more ominous than the next. The fear grew. That's it, really. The fear really took hold of our psyche. Every story we heard about the illness. Every cough, a cause for concern. Every sniffle; every symptom.
It reminded me a bit of trying to conceive (which took us, my ex-husband and I, about a year.) And each month, I'd play this game: every symptom was scrutinized and obsessed over. I have a pimple, could that mean...?!? I got dizzy today, maybe this is it? It feels like that now, in ways, except that the pending diagnosis is not a joyful one, but a frightening one. Could it just be a sinus infection, a stomach bug, the regular flu, allergies... there is so much in the air, as it is. Or could it be..."covid?"
And we're on alert...shoulders in our ears, some of us. Oblivious, some of us. Calm inside the storm, some of us. But the fear...when not properly managed and confronted... fear can turn the human being into an ugly creature: anger, jealousy, greed, cruelty, depression, and despair can all grow outward, from fear.
And we must meet it, head on. So, what does it stem from?
And so it goes.
There is a lot of fear and some days it hangs heavier in the air than the contagion, itself.
And it's real. And it's okay to be scared and afraid or downhearted and sad or lonely. Feelings are natural and normal. They're human. And I think to by-pass them completely is detrimental, overall. When heavy emotion gets stuck inside, it wreaks havoc upon us - in our minds, in our hearts, in our bodies, in our ability to trust, in our overall outlook and perspective. It's okay to feel it, but we shouldn't stay there.
It's easy to shrug and pretend it's not happening, if you're far from the effects of this virus. I admit, I walked that line for a few days. But day by day, I let the world in. Slowly. The reality. The grief. The collective pain. And I think an evolving people on an evolving planet ought to feel things with each other. As one. We ought to process, together, as much as we can. We need to face the shadows and walk through them, graciously, with kindness and altruism and a good work ethic and a bit of faith. Faith in something...whatever you prefer. There's no wrong answer when it comes to faith, as long as you don't cause another person intentional harm in your practice. What matters most is how we act, I think. How we behave toward one another in these times.
But to push right past it all, I think, helps no one. There is great meaning and medicine to found in these times. The trick though, is to be aware and alert to what is going on, yet also to stay calm and present to your life. To each moment, as it arises. To look around your life and find the good - and elevate it, even as we all go through this crisis, together. And beauty looks different on different days to different people.
Always, in life, there will be fear and terrible things to focus on, if we so choose. Always, in life, there will be beautiful and sacred things to notice and celebrate, as well. And we have these moments, to choose our experiences, if we can just get out of the way of our incessant thoughts and reactions.
We've got these magical moments to slow down into, to feel into, to connect to, deeply. To ask questions, to consider what we might learn, to reflect on the human story, so far... and when have we been here, before? And what did we do, then, and did it work? Why and why not? And how might we grow and become better and not repeat past mistakes? How could we honor our history - good, bad, and ugly - and take its lessons in stride, to become a healthier, kinder, more efficient, more devoted people? Devoted to each other, to our resources, to all the other beings on this planet? How do we get through this moment in the story... with Grace, with resilience, and in such a way that generations later the text books will remember us with gratitude, for having done the right things for our/their futures?
Big questions, certainly. And we have big opportunities to study them. And I think we ought to. We ought to learn and course-correct as we go. We are conscious and creative human beings with wildly beating hearts and intelligent and powerful minds and we can do incredible things together. We're all lit from the same spark of life, initially. And when we remember that, oh...what we're capable of.
Uncertain times, for sure...but I have great hope for what lies on the other side of all of this.
And on a lighter note...
Today, we played in the yard. A soccer ball and a net, lots of green grass, a fresh Spring breeze, the sounds of children playing in their yards throughout the neighborhood - it was exquisite. And it's not lost on me, how lucky we are to live in such a place: a warm house in the suburbs, with a big yard, and trees, and sky, and toys to play with. Our own private oasis in the storm. And when we came back inside, as we washed up and I began to get things together to make some dinner (which I LOVE, I never have the time to do this... it's usually take-out or grill-it and chill) - I began to think about my grandmothers.
On my father's side (British-Celtic-Canadian-Nordic) - my grandma hustled Avon, when I knew her. She schlepped me around, on calls, sometimes, and was the epitome of a shark. She'd literally open the catalog to the lipsticks in someone's living room, while I waited on a chair, and say something like, "by some of these, I can earn something extra...no, these, here..." and they'd just do it, they didn't know how to say no. She was tough, so tough. She had a grit about her. But she earned it. When my father was a kid, both she and my grandpa worked at the local airplane manufacturers. They took the bus - one worked the day shift, one the night shift. They went into Republic, or Grumman, and worked the line making airplane parts for the war effort. Everyone worked for the war effort, it seemed.
We rallied, we came together, we fought the foe, together. The United States of America. United. Individual, but empowered, together, toward a common good, and it was not easily won - a nation of the people, by the people, for the people (Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863). And in crisis - states band together, and countries band with allies and wars are won - together.
Grandma was a working wife and mother with four boys to feed and lived through the Depression. She told stories of going to the butcher and asking for the scrap-cuts, the chewy cuts, the cheapest pieces...and she'd stretch it and make it work. Fishing in the bay for dinner - snappers. Growing gardens for fresh vegetables and berries. Canning and preserving in the off-seasons, using every bit of everything because it was hard to come by. The humility, the gratitude, for the simplest things... it wasn't lost on me. She was resourceful, because she had to be, and it lasted the rest of her life.
On my mother's side (Italian-French-Greek): Mimi grew up in an Italian Catholic household with four sisters. All she ever wanted was to go to college, to learn, to absorb the world, but she couldn't. In her family, women were raised to become wives - they learned to cook, to clean, to take care of a husband. And she married, and spent many years in a life that wasn't really her own. She'd been poor, she'd struggled, she'd held her tongue. But later, she found freedom. With four children at home, she started working in the city. My own mother became a caretaker for her siblings. They all sacrificed. And when times were hard, they did the same sorts of things: they went to the markets and got the cheapest cuts, some beans, whatever they could afford.
And through both of these women, both gone now, their stories get to live on in my memory. They struggled, early on. They went without. They ate to live, and not vice-versa.
Grandma knew that a big ol' pat of butter on the vegetables meant that we'd get more nutrition from them. I never knew if that was true, but I trusted it. Later, as an adult, I looked it up. She was right. Many nutrients in our foods are fat-soluble and can't be absorbed without fats. Like butter. Thanks, Grandma. Mimi would demolish chicken bones... she'd eat the wing or drumstick, clean - to the bone, then suck the marrow out of the ends and even crunch the cartilage. We shudder at the thought, right? But she was getting nutrients from it. Waste nothing.
Living through World War II taught them great lessons about portions, health, needs vs wants, planning and preserving, the value of hard work, humility, the magic of random generosity and the kindness of strangers.
And maybe...here, now... we can pay attention. We can learn. We can't go to the store and get everything that we're used to getting right now. Not right away. We're unaccustomed. We're used to instant access. Now, now, now. But we can evaluate our true needs. We can focus on essentials: food, health, shelter. And PS, many people live like this everyday...
But there are rich lessons from our past that we can tap into - to get through these days.
And that might be the most important lesson of all, right now...
How many times in your life have you wished for things to slow down? What you would do? Something around the house, or would you write something, learn a new skill, take a course? Or maybe you're like me and simply wanted a break...to catch your breath and relax and rest and simply enjoy your life with your kids more?
Well, if not now...when?
Stay kind out there... stay healthy. Stay home. xo :cheers:
I've been thinking...about this country...
Thoughts after morning meditation:
We're going through a great deal of change, right now. There is a lot of fear, a lot of concern - rightfully...
- financially - unemployment is beginning to soar, businesses lay people off, stocks plummet...the floor is unsteady...
- education - families scramble to keep up with their children's lessons and learning, while dealing with the outside world, the state of their jobs, household management, how important are lesson books, what else could they be learning...etc...
- health - who will get sick, when, how long will it last, are we prepared?
- entrepreneurs- using different ways to make an impact, to promote their businesses, to gain clients in new ways, to think outside the box, to stay relevant, it can be new and stressful
- people who are techno-phobic are being forced to embrace a new medium, and there can be a learning curve
- being separated from friends, co-workers and our normal routines can be stressful
There is immediate fear - (will I or someone I know, get sick and die from this? Will we weather this financial crisis?) All legitimate. But when this subsides, and it will...at some point... we will have some collateral effects to wrangle as we go on. And we will go on.
There are so many things to be concerned with. So many pieces to this puzzle...
And when I rest and zoom out, above the surface scramble.... I see so much opportunity. Everywhere. Hope, change, transformation, growth. Opportunity.
And I'm sure I'm not the only one...I know that I'm not. I can feel it.
Cleaner industry -
We can see how the air clears, when we remove our industrial pollutants. How our home, how Earth, breathes and self-heals when we stop adding toxic fumes into the air. Much like the human body - when we stop adding pollutants and harmful substances, the body usually heals itself. Quit smoking soon enough; the lungs will regenerate. When the air is cleaner, more humans can go outdoors and enjoy their birthright - breathing clean air, visiting natural spaces, which promotes their own wellness and health. Healthy air, healthy humans, healthy humans, better work output, better work, better world function, overall. How can we produce our goods, all these things that we, as buyers, consume... with less toxic exhaust? Can we change how our motors are powered? Switch to cleaner energy, maybe. Utilize all the systems that we have in place, the science is already there. Solar, wind, hydro, etc... can we finally, maybe, get off oil? It's a house of cards, anyway, it has been for a while. There's not time like the present. Perhaps, we're testing ourselves... can we survive the inconvenience of change for a greater good?
Green Jobs -
Employ all these folks who've been let go so quickly, without a hope, by scrambling businesses afraid of losing money... in rebuilding our infrastructure - intelligently. Forward-thinking, worldview. Install wind-farms. wide-scale solar projects. Hydropower. Use Nature's gifts to generate power, to employ the unemployed, and to restore public health, worldwide. Dirt, clouds, humans, wildlife. It's all connected, and all interdependent, and it's out of balance. A simple fix. Not easy, but simple. Let the needs of our world create new jobs, that will create solutions. Green infrastructure, green jobs. Makes sense.
Adjust and Support Education and Community Institutions -
Develop better learning models, that ensure life-skills and basic intelligence and compassion and clear communication and creative talents. We have an opportunity to change the way we do life. We can start with schools, in training the newer generations differently. It's all there, in pieces, but we can raise the bar and let the tired, old, standardized curriculums fade. We can make and implement new ones, envisioned by teachers who teach, not board-rooms of individuals who are too far from the students, and don't work closely enough in the field, to even see what matters. We can develop better models of learning, that cater to creativity and not to generic memorization. Creative and healthy minds make creative and healthy worlds. Conscious parenting, conscious teaching = conscious children > conscious future leaders. The coming world will need them. We can start now.
Public Health -
We can put more attention and focus on collective health, knowing how integral we all are in the fight against disease and threats to homeostasis on Earth. It's all connected, and it all matters. Everything affects our health and we all affect each other and our world. We are all in the snow globe together - people, animals, sky, sun, water, trees, technology, dirt, disease. We can train medical professionals in holistic ways, understanding how interconnected we all are with everything else. New opportunities for specialization, deeper infectious disease studies to match a changing world. More emphasis in popular medicine on nutrition, permaculture, horticulture, caring for livestock in humane and non-toxic ways...how interconnected it is. The field of health can morph to adapt all of this, and it can start in childhood education. It all starts with our youth and how we educate.
Arts and Libraries and Museums -
Encourage and foster the arts, young, because art saves our souls and helps us to tell our story. The arts connect us to each other. Art helps us to understand ourselves and to live in healthier ways. Music is great for the brain and for the heart. Artistic expression is a boon to mental health, and a populace that struggles with mental health becomes dependent on too many other things, in efforts to correct that imbalance. Freedom of expression - to sing, to dance, to pontificate spiritually, to paint, to sculpt... creates a healthier and more inspired human being. Invest in libraries and museums, because they are a hub of information, connection, artistic expression, and acceptance, and offer community support and education and shelter during natural disasters.
A human being needs more than money to thrive. We need culture, connection, understanding, compassion, certain freedoms, creativity, healthy air and water, a healthy and sustainable food supply, and solid infrastructure and leadership that supports the evolving human being in and of an evolving world. Why not begin creative tracks earlier? If a student shows promise in the arts, why not mentor that? Why not create apprenticeships, early? Allow deeper focus for those with creative talents? In all public schools? More fine-tuned and specialized teaching jobs, greater freedom and focus for emerging artists and how to utilize their special skills in the world that they'll grow into. We've seen how very integral and important teachers are in the lives of our beloved children. Education is paramount, and often gets a backseat. This is ludicrous. It's where everything starts.
So many opportunities, here. There's so much, if you're paying attention.
Why wait until college to offer electives? And why let a bunch of folks in a board room decide how each child across the United States ought to be educated and tested? Children are different, with different skills and attention spans and talents, and we'll need all of them. Why not grow expert musicians, and creative therapists, and deeply attuned and empathetic psychologists and healers and leaders, and master artists to capture and echo the story of life on Earth, as it changes? These children are growing up differently, in a different world, and we need different curriculums.
We are on the cusp of a new Renaissance. If we allow it.
It's scary right know... in the darkness of this, as we walk through the shadow.
But, zooming out, forward into a vision of a healed Earth, all I see are opportunities to grow, evolve, and make better decisions... it's just a no brainer to me. Switch to green energy, educate and employ people to install it. In business, in homes, in libraries, all over the world, but why not in the US. Why not push forward, the time is now? More employed people mean more spending, and the economy rebounds. More green practices and healthier standards for businesses mean a healthier planet. A heather planet means we get to stay here at the party longer. I like it here. I don't want to live in space on a metal ship, and I don't think my son or his kids do, either. We love parks and beaches and farms and birdsong.
This is all nothing new. It's really not. It's not controversial, these ideas have been around for decades.
And yet, when I begin these conversations, today, in this reality, with so many folks... it's as though I'm speaking in hieroglyphs. It's as though we've been brainwashed, somehow, so many of us, and our minds have turned to input only, and our critical minds - the parts of us that thinks and decipher and mitigate and create change - have been asleep.
So much opportunity, so much joy and progress to imagine. And these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg... there's so much. And long-view, I'm excited. I'm hopeful.
There's a lot of tension right now. A lot of fear. But if you can anchor in, root down, and feel past it... knowing that we'll get past it. Consider where we might go. Consider this moment in time...this pregnant pause... with so much possibility to rewrite the story.
Maybe. What do i know, though? I'm just a librarian. Stuck at home. Trying to be useful, trying to be of service.
Stay kind out there. Stay in Love. It's what we got. it's everything, right now. xoxo
Corona. COVID 19. The Virus.
Schools are closed, libraries are closed, businesses keep closing, as the world scurries to catch up to this new menace brought to us by Nature itself. And it's worrisome, to be sure, all the unknowns. But I'm encouraged, at how swiftly humanity came together: science, faith, academics, business leaders, philanthropists, the medical community, political leaders, and consumers, alike. As one.
We found a quick-moving threat to our way of life, to our people. We acted, and we learn as we go, and then we share information. And that's what I love so much about the scientific community - the sharing. The information. The mutual learning. The respect of data and facts in decision-making and leadership. The rising of art and community and kindness and giving and teaching and caregiving, in the wake of crisis, to offer a respite from fear. To stay the course, with a sense of calm.
Social distancing. Family time or isolation. Adjusting. Watching. Waiting. Adapting. Staying kind.
And the quiet. The downtime. In the peaceful spaces when I tear myself away from the news cycle and the feeds and the worry and the work - in the quiet, meditative spaces, I come home. I breathe.
The Sun has been out, the skies bluer than blue, the birds are singing their Springtime songs - yes, we've been out in the garden. It's only been a few days of trying to work a bit from home, to make sure my child gets in some reading, some exercise, some healthy food, and good rest. To make sure we all do. To be...home. To have what we need and to surrender some wants, for a time.
And out back, in the yard, with a pitchfork in my hands and the Sun on my back... there was peace. Stillness. An inner joy, a deeper connection, and believe it or not, a sort of gratitude, despite the chaos and confusion and worry that so many of us feel. I wouldn't wish for a plague to come upon us - but in the mess, I've seen the skies clear. Skies in parts of the world that were previously choking with fumes, with air so unhealthy that the people in these countries couldn't even venture outside on certain days.
Unable to breathe air.
To be able to visit with Nature on any given day is a human right. The Earth, air, wind, sun, water... are free to all lifeforms, here. And yet, somehow, we lose that balance, over and over, in the pursuit of industry and ease and progress and material wealth. And not all progress is bad, to be sure. Industry and technology bring us life changing things. We need all of it, in the right ways.
And I sat out there, today. In the dirt. Earthworms wriggling around in the freshly turned earth - new tunnels to make, new pockets to aerate.
"Look, Mommy! It's so wiggly and slimy!" My son ran to me with a new friend in his palm. I remembered doing the same when I was a child. Each generation, in this family, there is at least one who has a connection to the Earth and its sweet, simple magic. Her stories and wisdom. Her healing properties.
"Oooooh, that's a good one... let's get him back in so he can keep digging, right! He's doing his job for us..."
A new family of Blue Jays fluttered from treetop to treetop. There was a scuffle of Cardinals, and that neighborhood cat strolled by, and then a pile of red and gray feathers fell to the ground as the female escaped, quickly. A few squirrels danced through the branches, like cartoon characters, out-racing and out-maneuvering each other, knocking pinecones down as they ran. No bunnies, not yet.
And I remembered, when I first started this garden, about 5 years ago, how I would dream about giving Mother Earth a spa day. A break; some time off. "All she does is give..." I'd say. I've been a sad case, overly concerned about this planet, since childhood. It's where most of my anxiety comes from. Caring too deeply about this Earth-home that I call my Mother. Even before I learned about Pocahontas. I was just born this way - a nature girl. And I can't help but notice... how our Mama Earth is responding, as we stay home and stop producing so wildly, for a bit.
Sure, it's a mess for the economy, and that's real. We'll have to dig out, there's no question. It's scary, health-wise, and we may lose folks to this disease as we do to flu and cancer and so many other things. And it's hard to escape the updates, they're everywhere. But we'll get a handle on it. I do believe that. It'll take as long as it takes, I imagine. We don't know enough about this virus, which is why it's scary. We can't estimate its behavior, really. We're blind, until science gathers more data. And measurable data takes time to collect and gather. But we have the best and brightest working on it, as we lay low. And wait it out. And do our best to protect our healthcare workers.
But out there, in the garden, with all the gadgets turned off... it feels as though Mother Earth is breathing deeply. Her lungs are healing. Our air is clearing. Gaia sighs, and maybe, even smiles, for a while.
So, in the midst of the mess, there is a small miracle taking place. There is a silver lining, in all of this. And I do pray that we can continue forward, with all this simple wisdom in our pockets. Being able to respond and manage any new viruses that may come. And seeing how much harm we cause, unintentionally, in how we run our lives so busily. In how we do business. In how we consume. As far as lessons for the future go, for building communities and sustaining long-term, for urban and rural planning, we've got gold to learn from, right now. If we pay attention.
How our school systems work, how our business models work, how our communications work, how caring human beings really are for each other, what our vital needs and operations truly are, what our energy needs are and how better to achieve them, how quickly we can respond, collectively, in crisis. It's an incredible opportunity to study how we behave, and how to improve. Should we choose to. And we ought to.
It's not a far stretch...from PUBLIC HEALTH to the health of the planet. Our air, our waters, our forests, our outdoor spaces.... are all matters of public health. It's all connected, it's all the same. And I'm excited about how we're learning, and navigating these times, together. I'm glad to be here, to be awake to it, to watch it all unfold. We can't see it now... but we are in a very special moment in our story. How we write it from here on out, is up to us.
And I'll do my part...and stay home, for now, but oh...does it fire my creativity and world-view thinking.
Sending so much Love and patience... we're all in this together. xo
Mother. Librarian. Storyteller.