Monday, April 27, 2020

The Extended Impact of COVID-19

We all know that COVID-19 is causing many problems all over the world. Of course, the most obvious being the health risk. While immunocompromised individuals and the elderly are more at risk for serious sickness and fatality, it can affect any age group or prior health status. Young, healthy people are still dying from this disease as well.

And obviously, that is in no way unimportant, but there are many other hardships that are being caused by this pandemic. Many are suffering financially because their workplace is "non-essential" and they are out of work. Many are essential and are having a hard time with still being at work while the schools are shut down.

There are shortages on toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and basic food items. I live in "hurricane country" and I have never seen shortages like these. It's scary to wonder if there will be enough meat, or bread, or eggs in the stores. And the supplies that are available seem to be priced higher than they would otherwise be. Not price gouging or anything ridiculous like that, but no sales on toilet paper or anything. It's not really plausible to do that at a time like this. But it's definitely another strain on a budget that is already stretched too thin.

There are still more problems, especially with the boarders closing and the restrictions in place for travel. Immigrants are getting the worst of these restrictions. Many cruise lines are banning people based on nationality. People who hold a Chinese passport are banned from boarding their ships. That is a disgusting form of racial profiling that should have no place in our society.

I've seen quite a lot of that kind of bias. It makes me so sad. We should all be coming together (metaphorically) to lift each other up and help one another through an ordeal that we are all facing together. Instead we are a house divided against itself.

For example, I noticed that our local Chinese restaurant is closed. With stay home orders in effect it is not that shocking, however restaurants are essential businesses and most are still open, including the small, independent ones. Knowing how diligent the family that owns that restaurant are, I sadly suspect that the reason they are closed is because of irrational fear and negative reactions to them based on their nationality.

I hate that, on top of feeling isolated and cautious, and worrying about work and supplies and everything else that I also have to think about racism, or at the very least ignorance. We should be above that. And what is really strange to me is that some people seem to think it's not happening. Even if you haven't seen it directly, it is still happening. Jean Danhong Chen has some great articles about the impact of COVID-19 on Chinese nationals. They are really informative.

I know we are all just trying to get through this, but we can't truly be okay unless we are coming through it together. If we only look out for ourselves I don't feel like we deserve to make it. If we start hoarding and blaming and turning a blind eye to cruelty and injustice then what is the point? We can be better. We have to be. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Shower them with Love

Times are so strange right now. I know we are all feeling the physical and emotional effects of social distancing, but some of us are impacted even more than others. People are unable to have their weddings, their funerals, baby showers. It's hard.

I recently saw a viral video of a mom being given a "drive by baby shower". It was so sweet. Her friends and family basically made a parade of their vehicles and each took a turn stopping, getting out and placing a gift in her yard. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen.

Now, I am not suggesting that everyone has to do such a grand display. I know that it is not always possible or practical. However, there are still ways to celebrate and support expectant mothers. The easiest way is probably to order gifts online and have them shipped directly to the mom-to-be. There are several online baby supply stores that are still shipping.

I never actually got a baby shower. I don't know many people and it just never really happened, but I know how vital they can be to some mothers. In times like this, especially, any semblance of normalcy is so reassuring. We need to be there for one another in all the ways that we can.

As rough as all this is, I think, or at least I hope, it will help us realize what things are truly important. For example, material things are great, even necessary in many cases, but they can never replace the feeling of love and companionship. So while sending gifts and supplies is a great help, the recipient will still be missing your company. Because you are the real gift in their life.

When this is all over, instead of going back to "normal" we should try to surpass that. Go into appreciating everything on a deeper level. No longer taking people for granted. No longer taking casual gatherings and simple coffee dates and movie nights for granted.

I am already planning all the fun "girls days" my sister and I are going to have. I am so looking forward to having nail appointments and lunch dates and "boring" hangout sessions in the living room.

And, though it's pretty far off, as in, not even a thought in her head yet, I may or may not already be planning her baby shower. It's never too early, right? Like I said, I will be making everything count from now on.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Sustaining Our Planet

As hard as this whole quarantine ordeal has been, it has opened our eyes, collectively, to the negative impact that humans have on this planet. Just form the short time that people have been outside less, pollution has started clearing, quite noticeable. This includes air pollution and water pollution.

Obviously, I am not suggesting that people remain locked away in their homes even when the pandemic is behind us, but we do need to start looking at ways to help the earth. Now, no one can confidently say that "there's nothing we can do" "our changes don't matter", etc.

We all need to start finding ways to lessen our footprint. Recycling, walking or biking to nearby places instead of driving every time. Carpooling. Reusable shopping bags. Reusable tumblers for coffee instead of disposable cups. Not using plastic straws, etc. There are many ways we can make a difference.

We, of course, need our leaders to make the big changes as well. One huge area we need to focus on is renewable energy. There is no reason that we have to pollute the planet just for power. Not when there are so many other options. I am not saying this like I am some sort of expert. In fact, I don't know as much as I probably should, but I do know it is necessary and completely feasible if a proper effort is made.

I've been looking a lot to Douglas Healy to learn more, as well. He shares a lot of great information that I would generally not come across anywhere else. There are always more resources to find, but he is a good starting point.

Global or at least national renewable energy is obviously the goal, but that doesn't mean that we can't, as individuals, move towards renewable energy on our own. If you have the means, if you own your own home and can afford to do so, installing solar panels to power your home is a really good step. If you can't go quite that large, you could do solar panels to heat your pool (if you have one).

There are hand crank flashlights and radios that you can use instead of consuming so many batteries. There are even solar powered device chargers, so you can charge your phone, tablet, etc using solar power. They are great for camping, hiking, etc, but are also just good for anywhere outdoors, like at a sporting event or on a picnic, or fishing. Anywhere you want to charge your device away from an outlet. Plus, you are saving electricity.

So, we all start doing our part. We keep making small changes, big changes, getting informed, campaigning for what is right, voting for the people who share our concern for the planet and our vision of a more sustainable future. That part is essential. We have to use our votes. We have to make sure that we elect people that are going to get things done and take us forward, not pull us back into coal mines and fossil fuel dependency. Be the voice. Be the change. And be well until next time.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Social Distancing While Self Employed

It's not new information that social distancing is affecting us all. So many people are out of work (for the time being, at least). That includes many self-employed persons, such as myself. While I can still write from my home like nothing has changed, I am still affected in the capacity that with PR firms and business and manufacturing centers being shut down, there are no products to send or no one there to send them.

I am trying to work on other things when I can, but things are hard all around. Of course, there are other self employed people who are even more severely impacted. There are individuals that have had to shut down completely, in some cases leaving them without any income at all. Not only that, but some still have expenses to pay for the business that they cannot even use at the moment. Things like rent, utilities, maintenance, security systems, ect.

For some, this loss of income is could be crippling. It's always hard to stay afloat when you fall on hard times, but when, as a country, and a nation, we are all on hard times, it can be nearly impossible. Some of the support systems we could otherwise rely on have also been shut down. We can just have a garage sale, or babysit or be a handyman for hire.

Not being able to be close to people affects us more than just socially, that's for sure. And as much as it's disheartening to have usual safety nets go by the wayside, I feel a slight cause for hope in the fact that there are still some ways to stay afloat.

While taking out a loan can maybe seem like a cold, impersonal way to keep your head above water during this turbulent time, it is obviously way better than the alternative. And, really, it's not so bad. I've looked into self employed loans pretty thoroughly. There are many options available, and interest rates are not terrible at the moment.

The most important thing is to not give up mentally. Don't let your drive or your spirit be hindered by these hardships. From the ashes we will rise. We will overcome, we will be wiser and stronger. We will skip "normal" and move on to bigger and better and more beautiful things. And for now, all we have to do is make it. Get through. Have hope. Be hope.

Another thing you can do, if you have the means, is support self employed people and small businesses. If you have local restaurants open and you're buying takeout anyway, choose local. If you're buying/sending gifts for anything, check out Etsy or other small businesses online. Even if you can't help financially, you can always support small business by sharing links or recommending them in (social distanced phone/text/email) conversations.

Support is priceless right now. It costs nothing to care about others and to life people up. We are all in this together (but at least 6 feet apart.) Be kind, stay safe.

Being Prepared for Everything

In the midst of all of this chaos and uncertainty in the world, it is very easy to get wrapped up and preoccupied. And it is all too easy to end up with tunnel vision, only seeing the risks and consequences of the virus. And as much as I wish that was the only thing in the world that could go wrong, the sad truth is that life still happens. Other health problems, other financial hardships, other injuries.

I had actually thought myself into this bubble and sort of forgotten all of that. I literally overlooked the fact that there are still other things that put my family and I at risk. One of which, I was painfully reminded of, by seeing the aftermath, is car accidents.

Even though people are going out less, there are cars on the road. Essential workers, people getting essential supplies (which is why I was out to see the sobering remains of an accident.) And while I hope it's not something that will happen to me, or anyone I care about, or anyone at all, for that matter, it's important to be prepared.

If you are in an accident, no matter what else is going on, you still need to focus on the accident, document everything, seek medical treatment, if needed, file insurance claims, and, if necessary, talk to a lawyer. If the other driver was at fault, you might need to take legal action. Just because there is so much going on with COVID-19, doesn't mean that other things are not still important.

If you need a car accidents attorney, find one. I recently found a car accident lawyer Tampa, and it's a small comfort to know where I would turn if I ever needed it. To have a plan in place in case the worst should happen. The preparation, no matter how minor, helps me feel less worried. We could all use a lot less worry right about now. 

Of course, not everything is doom and gloom. Being prepared is just smart planning. But there are many other things to plan for that are much more comforting. Like planning what fun things you will do when this is finally over. A spa day, a day at the park with the kids, a nice dinner out, all of the above. Planning on traveling, seeing family and friends that you've had to be away from for too long.

And you can also plan fun things while you are still in social distancing mode. Like planning a fun craft for each day, or a new recipe to try each evening for dinner. Sending nice, long, letter style emails to people you can't see in person. Playing dress up. Having a theme week (PJs day, crazy hair day, etc.). Anything to make some good memories in spite of the inevitable fear and despair.

We are all together in this, even when we feel alone. You are still living, life is still moving forward and being part of this pandemic, and separate from it, as well, all at the same time. And we will persevere. Be kind, be safe.