My First Global Pandemic

The Little Man said to me the other day, "This is my first Pandemic!" After giggling a bit, I replied, "Buddy, I'm 51, and this is my first global pandemic too!"

Over the last few days, several things have stuck with me, and while I am trying to focus on getting certain things done around the house, I felt it was important to address a few thoughts I had.  I will probably get a lot of flack for some of these thoughts; it doesn't matter, I believe I'm being called to speak up.

This indeed is an uncertain time for not just Americans but our entire world.  As Matthew McConaughy has said, "We have an enemy, in coronavirus that is faceless, raceless, sexless, non-denominational and bipartisan…" It is scary because of all the unknowns.  As humans, we want to control things; we want to know the outcome, and in this time of immediate news and social media, we are being bombarded with information overload, all leading up to BIG unknowns.

I'll admit I've watched and read more news in the past four days than I have in months. I've been on social media more than I have been in months.  But I've also been in contact with friends and family more than I have been in months, too.  What I've noticed so far can mostly fall into two categories, focusing on negatives or focusing on positives.

That realization brought me to this point; we can learn the facts, look at both the good and the bad, feel the emotions, and then make a choice.  Rick Warren says, "Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can be thankful for."

We have a choice after we've weighed the information given to us.  We can choose to focus on the bad or do our best to focus on the good by getting creative, being kind, and choosing love. I've seen political sides bicker and spew hate through social media.  Is this really productive?  How is this helping anyone?  I don't believe there is one person in a leadership position that is sitting back and saying, "Let's do nothing, and where the chips fall, they fall." I genuinely believe people are doing the best they can, with what they have right now.  None of us that I know of has vision into the future.  We have not had this particular virus to fight in the past.  We are learning as we go.  As a nation, we have come to expect our leaders to be omniscient and do precisely what I want, and if they don't, God help them, insults, and hate are spewed at them through social media and anyone that hints at thinking the way that leader does!  How does that help anyone?!

I've also noticed so many posts about feeling sorry for groups of people that are missing out, concert-goers, bike week attendees, sports fans or players, kids, students, employees, employers, etc.  The list is long, and I am not trying to invalidate any one of those groups of people.  What each of them is feeling is a loss, in some ways, a considerable loss.  I believe it is vital for them to feel the loss, grieve, and for us to validate their feelings, but let's not get stuck there.  As the story of the Two Wolves ends with, "…which wolf will win? he old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed.""

We have a unique opportunity right now to help others, especially our children, to grow emotionally.  Be the example for others and teach our children; this is a hard and scary time; however, let's get some perspective.'s second definition of perspective is a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.  Are we focused on the slightly flawed brush stroke in the painting?  Or, standing back, taking in the entire masterpiece?

Yes, events have been canceled, huge rights of passage events, fun events, life-changing events.  Our lives are impacted, vacations canceled, weddings shared only with close family, loss of life, loss of jobs, lots of loss.  The source and summit of my faith, sharing in the Eucharist at mass, has temporarily been suspended until further notice.  But guess what?  Many people before us have suffered tremendously, and maybe even more so.

Let's take a short inventory; we are not:
·       Not living in a concentration camp
·       Not currently fighting a physical war in our own country
·       Not dealing with famine, at least not yet
·       Dealing with any current significant natural weather-related disasters in our country
·       Living in the dark ages, we have modern conveniences like electricity, water, and technology
·       Suffering in dirty tents, we have advanced medical facilities and amenities like teledoc
·       Slaves, we live in a free country, and while we may not like some of our leaders, they are still working with what they believe is the best interest for our country (Remember this is an election year, depending on how this plays out, many could be out of a job soon.)

We have much to be thankful for!

So, what can we do to change our perspective?  First and foremost, follow the CDC US government and your state and local government's guidelines to protect yourself and prevent the spread of Covid 19.  Visit these websites for more information

 Then use the following suggestions and ideas to better yours and your families life in this time of crisis.
·       Get eight hours of rest if possible
·       Take a social distant 20 to 30-minute walk every day
·       Get some sunshine and fresh air daily
·       Make healthy choices when eating, choose (fresh if you can get it, then frozen then dried or canned, and remember dried always has more calories) fruits and vegetables, a lean source of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and comforting treats only occasionally.  (Use food delivery services such as Instacart, Shipt, Uber Eats, GrubHub Walmart delivery or pickup to cut down on your exposure to others.)
·       Limit alcohol, caffeine, and sugar
·       Drink lots of water, stay hydrated
·       Do something for your mental and spiritual health daily
o  Pray
o  Read
o  Meditate (Headspace and Calm are both offering free services to help you through this crisis)
o  Do mental puzzles such as sudoku, crosswords or solving riddles
o  Limit your time watching the news and online
o  If you must watch something or be online, make sure you are reading, viewing positive sites that report the facts, and offer uplifting stories.
o  Learn a new language; it's never been easier with apps like Duolingo or HelloTalk
o  Color
·       Laugh every day!
·       Watch uplifting shows and movies or comedies only.  Some of my favorites are:
o  Secondhand Lions
o  Finding Nemo
o  Mulan
o  Mrs. Doubtfire
o  Old Dogs
o  RV
o  The two new Jumanji movies
o  Bringing up Baby
o  Arsenic and Old Lace
o  Babe
o  School of Rock
o  Cool Runnings
o  Togo
o  I love Lucy
o  The Carol Burnett Show
o  The Good Place
o  When Calls the Heart
o  Signed, Sealed, Delivered
·       Play games, including online connection games like words with friends, or chess online
·       Do a 1000 piece puzzle
·       Create whether through art, crafts, sewing making music or cooking
·       Beyond a walk, exercise in a way you enjoy
o  Dance (have a dance-off with your family)
o  Wii fit
o  Many gyms are offering free online fit videos
·       For those of you who are missing sports events
o  watch great movies about your favorite sport
§  Remember the Titans
§  Moneyball
§  Miracle
§  The Blind Side
§  Chariots of Fire
§  Caddyshack
o  find something that is going on, and follow it online (we were following the Iditarod this week)
·       Connect with others through Skype, EBuddy Messenger, Boxcar, Hicup, WhatsApp, and Hangout, to name just a few.
·       There are many things you can do together, apart… virtually, get creative
o  Watch a movie, Netflix has something so you can do this simultaneously virtually
o  Join an online book club or start one
o  Play a board game (how funny would Pictionary be on Skype?)
o  have a cook-off or dance-off using one of the above apps
·       For your students missing out
o  Host a virtual class on something fun
o  Host a virtual party or prom for them
o  Let them connect virtually with their own creative ideas
o  Have a virtual talent contest, tape it and post it on Facebook or Youtube
o  Create your own fun graduation
§  Make a scrapbook or photo montage of your student's life
§  Rewrite Oh the Place You'll Go using your student as the main character and your own ideas for them, get it printed through Shutterfly, Blurb, or another online photo book company.
§  As homeschoolers, our kids get to send in an activity photo, baby photo, and two graduation phots along with a fifty-word biography of the student's life or achievements.  Put something together for your students, include your friends, and have a virtual graduation for your students.
§  My kids were always teased, "How do you graduate, walk down your hall to the living room?"  Why not you have a unique opportunity to really celebrate your kiddo's achievements, get creative make it a graduation they'll never forget!  They will love you for it.
·       Create a Bucket List
·       Create a Gratitude List
·       Search the internet for other fabulous ideas to keep you and your family engaged during this crisis.
·       I saw an idea about hanging you or your kid's artwork in your windows so that those taking walks can enjoy it.
·       Clean
·       Organize
·       Listen to music
·       Write
·       Take an online field trip/tour, again there are a plethora of places offering this right now.
·       Watch some documentaries or educations shows; we  love:
o  Horrible Histories
o  the Who Was Show
o  Drain the Oceans
o  Brain Games
o  Drive Through History
·       Learn online; this is especially important for your kids; there are tons of free resources out there to help you right now.
·       Find resources online that build you up or help you laugh such as
o  The Resilient Option
o  Proverbs 31 Ministry
o  Z88.3
o  Dry Bar Comedy
·       Build your relationship with your spouse/significant other; here are some great resources:
o  The Dating Divas
o  Crated with Love
·       Build with Lego
·       Watch a virtual Opera or Broadway show; both are being offered right now.
·       Above all, try and keep as much normalcy and routine in your life as you can, breathe, recognize your feelings, feel them but try to focus on the positives in the world, connect with your loved ones and have fun.

If you have been laid off, know that you are in my prayers. Seek to find all the local resources you can - food bank, unemployment, any aid available to you. Then get creative, search the internet for ideas on making money at home, check Pinterest for ideas on ways to cut back or make money, sell some things, take some odd jobs.  Have your emergency fund, and you're in a good place?  Great! Take this time to catch up on stuff at home and help others in any way you can.

This crisis will eventually pass.  We are resilient; we will survive.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with this.

I'm praying for you all, stay safe, wash your hands and to quote one of my families inside jokes, "GET SOME REST!"


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