Press Pause

2020 has been quite something. Sometimes I wake up, and I honestly think I’ve been dreaming.

I have been following the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning. It’s consumed many of my waking hours. When I got news on February 21st that my relatives’ small Italian town had been hit by the virus, I really couldn’t stop reading the news. Seeing photos of the town in major newspapers was surreal. I mean, noone goes to the town unless you have family there. It was so bizarre to read about it from afar.

Not long after we learned about the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, my uncle was admitted to the hospital, and he’s been fighting this deadly virus for nearly a month. We have been praying. We’ve tried to not look at the numbers. Luckily, he has made some progress this week, so we maintain hope.

The pandemic news seems fake until you know people who have been seriously affected by the virus.

In addition to concerns about family well-being, like many others, I’ve been forced to move my work life fully online. I’m grateful that I’m tech-savvy enough to make this transition, but the workload has been overwhelming. And the stories I hear from my students about stress levels about grades, exams, graduation, housing, and employment are additionally overwhelming. Everyone has so much to manage right now. It’s distressing.

Today, instead of watching the numbers rise (if you’re like me), you might consider reading this poem (or listening to it in Italian via the link below).

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An Imagined Letter from Corona to Humans

Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the planes
the trains
the schools
the malls
the meetings
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?
Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?
Stop.
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask why.
Stop. Just stop.
Be still.
Listen.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you, if you listen.

– Kristin Flyntz (Listen to the poem in Italian.)

English poem via Swiss Miss

***

Be well. Have a peaceful weekend.

Personal: February Update of 2020 Goals

Here’s the original post and my January update if you’d like to get caught up. If not, here’s how I’m making out with my 20 things I’d like to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020.

***

1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.

Two movies got crossed off my list: Manhattan (I liked it) and Die Hard (I liked it, too). There are non-movies on my 40th-challenges list, but I haven’t accomplished the others, so nothing else to report.

2. Travel.

No progress. My dreams of traveling to Singapore and Italy in 2020 are currently on hold on account of the ol’ Coronavirus.

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.

Last month, I let you know that I read Blackberry Town by Chuck Howitt. I have since met him in real life, and we’re meeting again soon. I love that KW is small enough that you can meet people online and offline, too.

4. Experience more art.

No progress. I didn’t attend any shows or exhibitions in February.

5. Play more board games.

It seems that anyone who comes over to my house has been forced wanted to play Sequence with me. I like the game a lot. I played it with friends when they were over for dinner at the beginning of the month.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

No progress. I was going to make it for Valentine’s day, but I made these sugar cookies instead.

7. Wear more dresses.

I’m still doing okay with this one. I cleaned out my closet and got rid of a bunch of old ones. Now I have more space to add a few more dresses to my wardrobe!

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.

Nope. I still haven’t made progress. I was sort of close to buying a pair of royal blue pants recently, but I ended up passing on the purchase. Maybe spring will inspire me to wear more colour.

9. Save money.

I have made a bit of progress here. I’ve created a spreadsheet. That’s something, right? I’ve also made some changes to my savings and spending habits.

Last month, I wrote about a drastic decline in my Starbucks visits. I went 5 times in January (spending about $18). In February, I went 2 times (spending about $12…including a time I treated someone else). I haven’t yet tracked non-Starbucks visits, unfortunately. I think I grabbed a coffee out and about maybe 3 times in February.

I ate out a lot in February – lunches, dinners, ordering food in – and I’d like to focus on reducing this in March.

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.

Zero progress. I fear this reno is still a long time away.

11. Eat more vegetables.

I’ve continued to add salad into my daily meals, which is good.

12. Buy more fun socks.

No progress.

13. Connect people.

I connected two more people this month. That was fun.

14. Clean closets regularly.

I did a pretty good clean-out mid-month, which resulted in a big donation. Yay!

15. Trust my gut.

This remains a kind of daily affirmation. I think it’s definitely helping me make decisions.

16. Get a facial.

Zero progress.

17. Embrace soup.

Yes, I made potato leek soup this month.

18. Clean up my shoes.

Zero progress.

19. Pass on my magazines.

Yes! I did this a couple of times in February!

20. Have fun.

Yes! I did a lot of this in February. I’ll definitely continue this in March!

***

So there’s my February recap. I’ll aim to post another update in March if you care to follow along my progress with me.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Here’s to a great start to March!

Art: Roger Wood

When my friend sent me this photo, I knew I needed to learn more.

It’s a close-up view of Story Without Words No. 1904 by Canadian artist Roger Wood.

Wood composes his scenes in white using small objects. The layering is incredible, which means you’ll discover more each time you view one of his pieces.

Photo by SL.