Categories
Events and Life Mindsets

17 years and I miss my father every day

My father passed away 17 years ago, today (at least based on the Hebrew calendar – he passed away on 12 July 2003).

We commemorate the day with a candle that burns for 24 hours, and think about what could have been, the time we had with him, and what I could have done differently.

I think that, over the years, regret has given way to contemplating missed opportunities with my father and, hopefully, drawing on those lessons to improve my relationships with our children, my wife, and my family.

That said, it’s not easy for me. I can be pretty self-obsessed, and that isn’t a recipe for success in relationships where my focus should be on my loved ones around me. Still, like most things, it’s a work in progress.

This last week has been a tough one for my family for another reason. My uncle passed away last week after a brief battle with COVID-19. It was pretty sudden, and I think the family is still reeling from the week.

So, today as we commemorate the 17th anniversary of our father’s passing, our cousins, aunt, and our expanded family are mourning too.

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Wellbeing

Reality tapping you on the shoulder

My family suffered a tragic loss this week due to the coronavirus. Last night, I read Om Malik’s post “The Pain of Distance“, and noticing reality tapping you on the shoulder –

If this is how I feel, I can’t even internalize how my mom must be feeling. She said it is cold. She didn’t even tell us about the fever. She can’t remember parts of the day. Even staying awake is tough. She is trying to be brave. She keeps saying it is nothing. And my dad is behaving as if there is nothing wrong. It is all so strange and all so sudden. You don’t realize the reality is just tapping you on the shoulder.

The Pain of Distance – On my Om

It’s easier to ignore a “common” cold. We see them every year, they’re part of our annual routines. Even that virus takes its victims every year, but we have a vaccine to help with it.

With COVID-19, we don’t have that. It doesn’t take long from the time you start to feel the effects of the virus, until you find yourself in a hospital bed (if you’re fortunate to have access to one, and act on the warning signs early enough), facing your mortality.

Pay attention when you feel reality tapping you on the shoulder.

Beyond that –

  1. Wear your mask over your mouth and nose;
  2. Wash your hands for 20 seconds, frequently;
  3. Keep a safe distance from others.

If not for yourself, do it for your family, and loved ones.

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Wellbeing

Tragedy of Normalcy in the Coronavirus Shadow

When I walk around the city, and go for my runs, I see Israeli kids playing in water fountains, while their parents watch on. Few of them are wearing masks, or maintaining a reasonable distance from friends and relatives. Despite that, I empathise with people who lived in the coronavirus shadow during our initial lockdown, wanting to return to some semblance of normalcy.

In the shadow of a looming disaster

Then, I look around again, and I see how only a few wear masks over their mouths and noses, and make an effort to keep a safe distance. I feel like I’m watching a movie scene where people are unaware that their lives are about to be horribly torn apart by some unseen enemy.

Because that’s what seems to be happening here, in Israel, as we increasingly see headlines like this:

Virus infection numbers vault to record-breaking 859 cases in 24 hours

Virus infection numbers vault to record-breaking 859 cases in 24 hours | The Times of Israel

As much as I want everything to go back to how it all was before this virus fractured our society, I don’t think we can ever go back to the freedom we had before. Certainly not unless someone discovers a wondrous vaccine that reduces COVID-19 to a minor cold for the majority of our neighbours.

In the meantime, I see too many families behaving as if wearing masks is just a formality to avoid a fine from the police. Masks have become a fashion accessory for chins, and elbows for most of the people I see around me.

Some wear masks covering their mouths and noses, but not enough. For everyone else, the sun is shining, and there’s no need to keep apart. In the meantime, the virus’ resurgence started in schools, and instead of being horrified, we see school graduation events that cluster kids close together for dances, and photo opportunities.

Outrage doesn’t help. I just feel waves of sadness when I see this, and hope that perhaps there is some sort of magical bubble to protect our friends, and neighbours this time around.

This coronavirus is an insidious thing

This coronavirus is an insidious thing. It separates us at our weakest, and pulls families apart when they desperately need to be together. Parents diagnosed with COVID-19 are sequestered into hospital wards, and isolated from their families, fervently hoping/praying for their recovery, fearing that they may not.

I had a terrible thought: Imagine if a child becomes ill, and is isolated in one of these hospital wards. Will their parents be able to visit them, comfort them, or will their child be forced to face the fear of being sick, in a clinical environment, where they could lose their fight, alone?

It’s a truly awful thought, and yet we’re not doing nearly enough to keep our children, and ourselves safe.

When I look around at the people I pass, they don’t seem to have contemplated the nightmare that this virus could visit on them, and their families. Perhaps they don’t want to contemplate it, and prefer to pretend that everything is ok.

A cliché in Israel is the phrase: “הכל בסדר” – “Everything is ok”. It isn’t, and it won’t be for a while yet.


Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets

Free fall

The world feels more than a little crazy at the moment. Relative to what 2020 has been so far, that’s saying a lot. Lately, I’ve felt a bit like we’re in free fall, pretending that the air rushing past us as we hurtle down is just a refreshing breeze on a Spring day. It’s almost as if we’re all desperately hoping it can be ok again, faking it until we make it (if we do).

Societies are in massive upheaval, and few politicians are making any real sense (again, relative to what they usually do).

Annexation?! Really?

Here in Israel, our Prime Minister is intent on annexing settlements in the West Bank (aka Judea and Samaria) next month. I imagine that reclaiming that territory for Israel is what most Zionists hope for, but does this really need to happen now, and like this?

Israel, like most of the world, is still reeling from the initial wave of COVID-19 infections, and we see the beginnings of what could be a second wave emerging from schools (that is horrifying in itself). Our economy took a serious knock when Israel went into a lockdown to try curtail the virus’ spread.

Most Israelis are more concerned about paying their bills, not dying from this virus, and trying to return to a semblance of normalcy (whatever that is now). And yet our Prime Minister is intent on dragging Israel into war with our neighbours, International condemnation, and even more strain on our society.

What’s pretty clear is that annexation will either utterly undermine Israel as a democratic, Jewish state by adding millions of unwilling Palestinians to Israeli governance, or create a 21st century Apartheid. Neither option is a recipe for our continued survival as a nation.

And why? Good question. I imagine the prospect of Donald Trump losing the November elections, and the USA’s current proposal that theoretically enables Israel to claim more territory being rescinded by a Democratic president is a factor for Netanyahu.

About the virus

When our restrictions started to ease, many Israelis started to behave as if the virus had magically vanished. People quickly forgot about physical distancing, washing hands, keeping gatherings small, wearing gloves … all the habits we started to learn during our lockdown.

I can understand the need to feel like things are normal again. At the same time, these are not normal times, and the virus didn’t go away.

We’re seeing new waves of infections, and this time they’re starting in schools. Teachers are not always enforcing Health Ministry rules about wearing masks, and maintaining a safe distance between kids. Heck, some teachers our our kids’ school don’t wear masks, and this only encourages kids who are reluctant to wear masks, not to do so.

The fact that these new waves of infections seem to be starting in schools is shameful.

It’s not kids that aren’t paying attention to the rules we still have to try limit the spread of the virus. I looked out our window on the weekend, and saw a gathering of a few families at a park near us. They were sitting close to each other, and weren’t wearing masks (wearing a mask on your chin doesn’t count).

Wearing masks is unpleasant, but so is the prospect of being sick with this virus. I just looked at this group, and shrugged.

We each do what we can, and many people still wear masks, give each other space when passing in the street, or on parks. I worry that it’s not enough, and that our bubble will burst soon, leading us back into another lockdown, and more devastating human losses.

Black and LGBTQ Lives Matter too

Outside our borders, it looks like the United States is in utter turmoil with a questionable response to COVID-19 in the first part of the year, and the explosion of outrage, and protest over deep-seated prejudice against people of colour, and people in the LGBTQ community (I’m probably making a mess of the community reference, so apologies for that).

It’s jarring to see how pervasive racism, sexism, and gender-based prejudice is in a country that holds itself out as a bastion of equality and freedom. Of course, this isn’t a disease in the United States. I am almost speechless about this display of misogyny here in Israel.

Still falling

With all of this going on, I can’t help but feel like I’m in free fall. Again. I’m not sure what I can do about any of this, except do my best to be present with what I’m feeling, look after my family, and do the best we can each day.

This may be our new normal, but it’s not ok. Things won’t be ok for a while. That will have to be ok for now, I guess.


Featured image by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Categories
Events and Life People Policy issues Politics and government

Stand against racism

The wave of violence spreading across the United States is shocking, even as the growing protests are understandable. It boggles my mind that this country, the “land of the free”, is still mired in deeply routed racism, and inequality.

Every society has its challenges, certainly. Israel is no different. We have divides of our own. Despite that, it’s up to each of us to move beyond those divisions.

As I mentioned on Twitter earlier:

It’s the 21st century, this shouldn’t still be an issue to fight for. Racial equality should be a given. ✊

Many organisations are sharing ways that we can support the protests against inequality. Here’s a post from Automattic that you may find helpful: Support the Fight Against Inequality: Resources and Ways to Act – The WordPress.com Blog.


Featured image by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Categories
Devices Events and Life Wellbeing

Screen time for kids during a pandemic

Back when we were in a “normal” routine, our kids’ screen time was pretty limited during the week. We only permitted them to use their phones and computers for school-related tasks during the week.

On weekends, they could play (there’s a limit on the Nintendo Switch, mostly as an experiment) for as long as their phone batteries lasted (well, that was the idea, it becomes meaningless when their phones last all day 😜).

Our kids would go out to meet their friends at parks, or at their friends’ homes.

Since our kids were basically confined to our home, and couldn’t see their friends in person, we basically lifted the screen time limits. The way I think about it is that they tend to play games with their friends, so this is the new “go out and play with your friends” time.

I noticed that Clint Edwards shared a post about a similar issue recently, and I agree with him, here:

I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier about online gaming, something only a pandemic could make me say. My son’s pretty social, and being away from his friends has been really hard on him. I usually hate gaming and we normally have serious restrictions on screen time. But right now it is keeping him inside and giving him a social outlet, and that’s made this whole ordeal easier on everyone.

Let Them Watch Screens – No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog

The challenge, now, is that I still want our kids to focus on what passes for their distance classes in the mornings. We expect them to stick to “normal” school days, finishing around the time they’d finish if they were at school.

I work from my usual space at our dining room, and they work in their bedrooms, so it’s difficult to keep a close eye on whether they’re actually focused on their studies.

Still, as Clint points out, a little extra screen time creeping in at the edges isn’t a calamity –

Listen y’all, we are going to get through this. I know it. But the last thing I think we should all be worried about is limiting screen time right now.

Let Them Watch Screens – No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Categories
Events and Life People Podcasts

Enjoying Sam and Liam talking about stuff

I noticed a new(ish) video podcast, AWNP Unplugged, with Critical Role’s Sam Riegel, and Liam O’Brien. It’s terrific, I’m enjoying it.

They’re basically just connecting, and chatting about the pandemic, the importance of being connected to each other, and more.

I’m sitting on one of our couches, blogging random stuff, and enjoying the conversation. I really enjoy these two people (and their friends) in Critical Role (we’re on Campaign One, episode 33, and going strong).

This is a very different, more personal context, and I like them even more as people dealing with this situation. Like the rest of us.

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Travel and places

“Those flags gave me hope”

My wife recently wrote a post about our city’s annual tradition of putting up flags ahead of Israel’s Independence Day. Apparently someone raised concerns on Facebook about how this extra cost was wasted in light of the need for more resources to combat COVID-19.

These flags aren’t an annual exercise in vanity and frivolity, they mean much more than that –

Seeing those flags made me smile. Seeing those flags made my heart feel lighter. It made me feel connected to people, my fellow citizens, when I had spent almost an entire month in my home with no personal contact with anyone outside of my immediate family.

Those flags gave me hope.

It was an affirmation. We are Israel!  We are Israelis –  and we can overcome anything that is thrown our way.

So, random Facebook man, I vehemently disagree!

Those flags are not a waste of money. Not at all. They are – JoyLove and Hope. And they are a promise.

We WILL make it through this.

We WILL survive.

It’s what we do.

Flags of Hope – A Bit of This A Bit of That

You can read the rest of Gina’s post on her blog, or on Lay of the Land where it appeared first.