The world is not on fire

So the world is changing in front of your eyes. Things are shutting down and a message is going out about social distancing. So maybe you are freaking out. Or maybe you are wondering if you should be freaking out. Perhaps you’re the person enjoying poking fun at all involved. Then again you might be that person who is sure this is the proof of that conspiracy and you just need people to see it. But here is the thing….. you are all experiencing something and its time to do it together (you know, like in spirit, not really together together).

I decided I wanted to just share some thoughts and advice with you.

1. Shopping: I made fun of the hoarders and panic buyers a bit in my last post. I am not going to do that again. Instead I want to talk about shopping for most people (non-elderly and non-immune system compromised). I personally do not believe you need to hoard anything. I went shopping everyday during our lockdown. I bought what we needed for that day and maybe the next. I don’t have a stockpile of canned goods or dehydrated goods. You really shouldn’t eat a lot of this packaged processed food. Most of your diet should come from fresh foods. Stocking up on a bunch of vegetables doesn’t work well because they go rotten before you can eat them. Throwing out food is the worst! Some vegetables can last longer then others but you don’t need to stockpile potatoes and carrots. I also don’t think you should buy and store a bunch of meat. Yeah, you can store the excess in the freezer but there are time limits to how long things should sit in a freezer. They start being funky after a while. So buy things for the day, and if you must, buy for a week out at the most.

2. Get out: Look, I want to stress that sitting in your house all day for however long isn’t good for you or anyone you live with. So go for walks or hikes. I know some areas are probably struggling with weather challenges but get out when you can do so safely. It’ll do wonders for your mental health.

3. Physical activity: Some of you are now finding yourself at home. I have already touched on getting out and walking. It’s important to do something physical and allow your body to have some release. There are a lot of different ideas you can find online and some of them don’t even need any equipment. The truth is that your body and mind work better when you are exercising both.

4. Mental activity – This is a good time to learn something new, read that book, or create that art. Your mind is going to need something besides overhyped social media perusal. Maybe you already have that new language learning book you keep meaning to start. Maybe you have an instrument you wanted to get better at. This is your chance. If you don’t already have the materials, don’t worry there is a lot of online places to learn. Coursera has a bunch of classes that allow you to audit them. Udemy loves having course sales on the regular. There is stackskills, skillshare, masterclass and more that are ready to welcome you to a class. And there are a lot of free online youtube videos that teach you how to do things (admittedly you may need to watch 10 to find one decent one but they are there). If you are an artist, writer, teacher, or in any other industry that encourages learning new things, this is totally the moment to do it.

5. Routine – When ‘work from home’ started for me, I went way out of my routine. I was up late and out of bed late. I spent hours on my classes. I was always grumpy. As the time extended, I started to make a routine. The routine helps me become and stay grounded. It is flexible and changes a little but I do try to adhere to a waking time and an ending time. Here is a normal day for me… I call my dad when I get up and usually chat for a while. Then I work on school related things, or I do one of my teacher courses I signed up for. I try to keep my brain in teacher mode in the morning. I give myself brain breaks during the working times but I don’t let myself get consumed by the break. I set an alarm that reminds me to get back to work or to take a break and move around a bit. Then at 1 PM I have my two 30 minute meetings with my students. I have connected occasionally with struggling students outside of this time period but that isn’t a daily thing. I sometimes work for a bit after the meeting because my interaction with the students helps me tweak the next day’s plan. I like to take a break from the computer and get away from my house around 3 (even if I’m not quite done). I go for a walk and I shop for dinner and the next day’s breakfast and lunch. When Michelle and Carter are here I get to spend time playing in the sand or watching Carter enjoy the slide. Then I get home, make dinner, and eat. I check my emails to answer questions and check student work. Then I record a video to go along with my daily work that I send out nightly. I usually watch a show, work on a class, write, or create some art after that. The thing that is important is that I have a routine that helps me get what I need done but also reminds me to make time for fun and family.

If you are a parent with kids at home a routine is especially needed. They need to know what to expect each day and what is expected of them. Have them get up and ready for the day. Eat breakfast and then get to doing something. If they have online school figure out details. Is there online face to face time? How are the assignments sent? What if your child needs help? Ask the teacher these questions, let them know you are paying attention and care about your child succeeding. If your child does not have online school a plan is needed. Chores, some online learning (Khan Academy, IXL, and Brainpop comes to mind here but I know there are other sites). Lots of teachers have posted free sites online. If you are home too then teach them some life skills. Have them help prep food, clean, and do laundry. Notice the word “help”, it’s always easier to work when others work. So spend a portion of the day learning and practicing real life skills. Encourage them to learn some tech skills, look at your app store. I play with Mimo to learn about coding. Encourage creative time, whether it is digital or not: painting, photography, drawing, writing, collage, and film making. Either way, have things that need to be done each day. Then work on finding time to follow up and be interested in what they did and what they have to say.

6. Remember your favorite small businesses: That local brewery, restaurant, hair salon, and game store is experiencing this a little different then you are. They need to make rent and also keep everyone safe. When all this ends and life resumes (possibly changed a bit) it sure would be nice for those businesses to still exist. I started thinking about this that first week after reading about some local restaurant’s various challenges. So I made sure to pop in for something about once a week from a few of my favorite restaurants. Bagels, tacos, and pizza joints. I know the people at these places because I always visit them when the world isn’t crazy. I decided to start getting takeout from them. I don’t go daily (see the above point about the schedule or shopping) but I do try to buy something as close to weekly as I can muster. So keep those small business owners in mind and try to help them survive this.

7. Health: Wash your hands more often. Drink more water. Eat healthier. Get some exercise. Keep some space between you and others. *

8. Turn off the news: Look, I said it before and I want to say it again; the news is not looking out for you. They want you to continue to watch so they can get more ad revenue. They are trying and succeeding at scaring you. Panic inducing keeps you glued to the news feeds. So what should you do? Check out the cdc or who websites for real deal ways to fight this virus. When I want a little more, I quickly scan headlines and read articles but I no longer allow myself to do the deep dive. Stress is hazardous to your health and worrying about things like this is stressful. Stop panicking and worrying. Instead be aware and educated.

9. Social media: Look social media is part of our daily lives. I am not going to tell you to disconnect from it. I am going to recommend that you to limit it. Don’t lose hours to it. And if you are going to post something about the virus try to make it helpful. The current social media climate is kind of one filled with bullies and hooligans. Misinformation, harmful advice, and mean spirited memes abound. Now is a time to start posting good things. Share the clever thing. Share the wonderful and amazing thing. Share some good experiences and memories. Share that walk, the new exercise plan, your new skill your learning. It sure would be nice if the next time I got on the place was a little less hostile and a little more positive. Stay in contact but make it meaningful.

10. Stay connected: Just because being in a large group isn’t smart doesn’t mean you should hibernate like some crazy human bear hybrid. Keep in contact with friends, family, and colleagues.

11. Protect others: Keep in mind that some people are more susceptible to the bad sides of diseases than others. This simply means that what you do might not matter to you but it might matter to the people you come in contact with. Spread helpful messages and help people stay rational. Be there for others emotionally. Be kind to the people you interact with in your life digitally or in person. Let things go that aren’t really a big deal, we all have too many things to worry about to hang on to stupid stuff. Be mindful, courteous, forgiving, and respectful.

12. Give yourself a break: If you have freaked out, it’s okay, now is the time to regain control. This includes the people with the stockpiles. It happened. Now let’s figure out a way to make better and smarter decisions. If you haven’t freaked out, something may happen that does cause you to freak out. When that happens it’s important to forgive yourself that panic moment. Educate yourself about our current reality, adapt good practices, make smart changes, and be nice to yourself and others.

My next post will focus on pictures and less advice giving. This time I stuck with words. Until then,

Stay healthy!

Below are some silly thoughts rant form.

*7 Secret Rant Masks: In China, we are still required to wear masks. I have heard from a lot of people about masks both for and against. I am mostly against them. I think one reason a government might require everyone to wear masks is to calm them. It sends a message that the government is taking this seriously. The positive of this is that then the people start taking it seriously. There has been a whole lot less coughing, sneezing, and snot rockets on the streets of Shenzhen. This has been amazing and a very good change. So why do I say I am mostly against them? When this first started I remember the talk of masks revolving around how to use them. You needed to put them on a certain way, not touch them, and throw them away after and use a new one the next time. Of course the supply did not meet this version of mask use. So then it changed to it was okay to reuse the masks for a while. You needed to make sure they were clean and stayed dry (hahaha how? Breath is wet). If they were clean and dry it was okay to use them again. Then this message disappeared as the reality was that there were not new masks being made. The stores are stocking them again recently but the illusion of safety that I clung to at first has eroded. I think the mask simply acts as a reminder to pay attention to what you touch, when you wash, and to keep some distance. I am glad it was required here because I think there was no culture about minding where your sneezes and cough germs went. I also hate that it was required here because masks suck. They are itchy, they can sometimes make breathing challenging, and they are impossible not to constantly touch and move around. Oh, most importantly, I got yelled at for eating an icecream in the park with my mask off. How can I enjoy ice cream with the mask on? So I put it on, walked off, and once I was out of sight I went back to mask off enjoyment of that ice cream bar.

13. Secret rant: Politics: You are right, it’s the other sides fault. It’s also your sides fault. It’s your non-stop villifying of the other side that is at fault. Look, I get it…. it is totally somebody’s fault. Let’s figure that out after the virus has been dealt with. Let’s argue…. no let’s not argue. Let’s learn how to discuss hot button topics when we all know we are safe.

14. Secret rant: Conspiracy theorists, get your proof in order. Have it all waiting and ready for that revealing documentary, youtube video, blog post, and fb rant after we are on the back end of this. Who knows you might even be proven right, but until that day stop spouting your half baked ideas.

15. Secret rant: Tips. They should not be how a worker gets paid. This is a practice that needs to change. A business should pay its workers and tips should truly be something you do when someone excels. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case so….. take care of each other. Tip if you go out to eat.

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