Sunday, September 20, 2020

Right Now Life Is A Struggle: What Can We Do to Make It Through?

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Almost none of us have experienced anything as widespread as COVID-19. In fact, it probably never crossed your mind unless you are in epidemiological research or related fields. These are the people who have studied the past outbreaks, predicted the inevitability of future outbreaks and shared these concerns with leaders of government, some who paid attention and some who thought their country wouldn’t be affected even IF it did occur.

So, here we are in the midst of a world-wide crisis, trying to procure life-saving equipment for the health-care providers and the people who need treatment for the virus, not to mention the others with heart-attacks, kidney failure, strokes, accident victims and other potentially fatal conditions, who might not be given priority because of the numbers of virus-stricken people. 

At the recent count, there were over a million, that’s 1,000,000 human beings infected, and the total is multiplying on a daily basis. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know and that probably has you more than fearful, trying hard to tamp down your anxiety that climbs like in an imaginary mercury thermometer on a hot, summer, Florida day.

Breathe; like most of you, I’m confined to the house with once a week early morning forays to the grocery store when other people are scarce. Fortunately, I haven’t witnessed any violent behavior. Mostly, I see people eyeing others over their masks, staying silent, keeping their physical distance and saying a quiet “Thank you” to the amazing men and women who are stocking our shelves, without getting into their spaces. We have a lot to be thankful for in this country—trucks are still bringing supplies, we have lower gas prices, there’s less traffic, and we also have a lot to be concerned about.

Because of the stringent immigration rules, migrant men and women have been standing at the borders hoping to work in the US, but now are waiting without any hope of getting work. Our farmers all over the country are about to lose their crops because they have no one to pick them and they will rot in the fields. Milk is being poured into the ground because people are not buying as much milk. Blueberries, strawberries, squash and more fruits and vegetables are ripening and there’s not enough help to harvest them before they go bad. One farmer said that there aren’t people in the US who will pick crops, they seem to think that’s beneath them. Really?

With unemployment rising exponentially, we could be helping the farmers and our fellow Americans suffering under the heavyweight of uncertainty. “Will I die from the virus? How about my family? Will I die from starvation? Will the scarcity of TP be my downfall?” 

My mother-in-law, who lives in Liberty County, relayed that there were people fighting, actually throwing fists at each other in the aisles over toilet paper. If this is happening over TP, what happens when a food shortage becomes a reality and unemployed workers have no income to be able to pay for food or rent? And, let’s face it, unemployment will continue to grow until the virus declines, when safety is declared and there is a demand to go back to work.

What can people do to maintain their level-headedness? Since the libraries are closed, neighbors are donating their books to a street book box—sanitize, put one in, take one out, return, repeat. Additionally, if you have a library card, you can borrow eBooks and audiobooks FREE! Check out the directions included in this article.

Write about your experience during COVID-19 and share it with the rest of your family now or later.

Send that “Christmas” letter now with all the updates and love that you would normally do later. Or, start a chain letter with your relatives as each adds information and sends it on to the next relative until it comes full circle. If the virus continues, the chain letter continues with updates.

Learn a new skill, i.e. plant a flower or flowering bush that makes you happy. Right now, you can go to most any garden shop at a major store and the selection is magnificent, like no other time in a normal Spring, sketch your house or children or yourself, take a walk to a part of the neighborhood you’ve never explored, take an online course, learn how to sew and make masks for our first-responders, bake cookies or send notes of appreciation to our health care workers in all capacities. Discuss Neighborhood Watch possibilities—just in case—plan “end of driveway” cocktail parties and BYOB and BYO Snacks, or take your chairs and move one driveway down to the left or right to meet/chat with your neighbors. 

Erect a badminton net perpendicularly across the street and play—keeping your physical distance of course from your opponents and the crowds of bystanders and cheerleaders, who should also keep their distance. Play to five points and decide whether the winners or losers take a swig of whatever they have in their cups. Use a frisbee over the same net, from a distance of mutual agreement—same penalty after five points!

If there’s a positive that’s come out of this pandemic, it’s that our creativity and coping skills have been honed to a sharper level. Parents are finding ways to teach the academics, some for the first time, and realizing the challenges that exist in a classroom of 25-30 students of varying abilities and attention spans while teaching the required standards; and is expected to bring all of them to grade level or above by the time testing begins. 

Note: All state testing has been canceled this year due to the disruption from COVID-19. Decisions will be made in the future about schools resuming and what’s in store for next year.

Although the abuse/neglect hotline calls have risen 30% in Collier County since the beginning of the pandemic, there are strategies that can lower this number, save lives and ensure more positive relationships. One of the easier strategies is to reach out to your neighbors, and while maintaining physical distance, talk about the challenges and strategize how to overcome them. Some ideas are suggested above, but if you have others, send them to the Coastal Breeze Editor, Val Simon, for inclusion in a future article. We’re all in this together and together we CAN surmount the challenges and come out on the positive side of the crisis.

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