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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 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.

Categories
Mindsets Sports

New running goal as COVID-19 restrictions ease

I paused my Garmin Coach 5K running plan when we were restricted to short distances from home due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now that our restrictions for sport have largely been lifted, I wanted to continue with the running plan. It turns out that you can’t pause a Garmin training plan this long, so I needed to start again.

I initially started the same 5K plan again, and then thought: “Why not just do a 10K plan? I’m already running 5K distances in my workouts.” So I did that, and set a new running goal.

I’m starting my 10K plan today with a goal of running my 10K “race” at the end of July.


I just watched “The Sky Project” about endurance runner Magda Boulet while I waited for my breakfast to settle.

This has become a mini-tradition before my weekend runs, and it’s a little extra inspiration before I start my new plan.

Categories
Events and Life Wellbeing

A face mask hack for runners

Many regions have started recommending, or even requiring, that citizens use face masks when leaving their homes. If you’re curious why we’re now being told to wear a face mask when, previously, we were told not to (unless we were sick), this Sci-Show video explains why:

I’m a runner, and I found it difficult to run with a mask. The main reason is that I run with glasses or sunglasses (otherwise I can’t see where I’m going), and my glasses fog up with a mask on.

I tested a workaround for this, this morning, and it seems to work:

The key is to tape the top of the mask to your face. I used a surgical tape that I bought at a local pharmacy. Just don’t use the very sticky type, it can be a bit painful when you remove it afterwards.

Making a mask

If you’re looking for tips on making a mask at home, here are a couple links to get you started:

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Wellbeing

Strive for a bronze medal in parenting when you work from home

Even though we parents are increasingly working from home during the current crisis (and even if you work from home anyway, like me), we still feel the pressure to be stellar parents to our kids.

That pressure is intense, especially when our kids are trying to adjust to a new distance learning model, and all the craziness that goes with that.

One of my colleagues shared a wonderful article titled “Advice: How to Work From Home With Your Kids” that’s worth reading, and taking to heart:

Now is the time to embrace what work-from-home parents learned long ago — it’s not about winning; it’s about striving for the bronze. This is a perfect time to finally recognize how much you’ve been trained to perform parenting. To design a cozy little reading nook so your Instagram followers can see it and grudgingly approve. To bake your vegan muffins (and take a photo) or pack your kids’ bento boxes (and take a photo) or set out art supplies in a scattered but not too scattered way, if you catch my drift (and then definitely take a photo). To head into the woods and make flower crowns or whatever the fuck it is you’ve been doing out there. Give. It. All. Up. It’s time to take this parade float and strip it down to four wheels, a floor, and a functioning steering wheel. It’s time to be basic.

Kimberly Harrington

Perfection is utterly unrealistic. Most of the time, we’re trying not to take drastic measures just so we can continue working, and earning an income while so many are losing theirs.

I certainly find the new distance learning situation challenging. I don’t want our kids to lose months of progress because we’re increasingly confined to our homes.

At the same time, I don’t have the time I’d like to have to sit with them, and guide them through their lessons (or other learning materials). For me, it’s work as usual, and I have my days planned out between customer support shifts, and virtual meetings with my colleagues.

I certainly don’t have the time to cook nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I mostly just want to check that our kids have eaten something decent every meal during the day (and my wife has been cooking some amazing dinners in the evenings). You won’t see any Instagram gems from me there.

So, if you’re working from home, and trying to grab moments of sanity, while feeling guilty that you’re not winning any prizes as a parent, you’re not the only one. Let’s just strive for that bronze medal, maybe.

unsplash-logoArren Mills
Categories
Education Wellbeing

Why soap is the nemesis of the coronavirus

You already know that we should wash our hands (frequently) for at least 20 seconds, but do you know why soap is so effective against the coronavirus? Here’s a great explanation from Vox:

On a related note, it’s also worth watching this video:

A quote from the video that stands out for me is this one:

To slow the virus down, you need to act as if you already have it …

Why fighting the coronavirus depends on you

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Giorgio Trovato