Personal, National and Global Values
Since reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s May 1 online New Yorker Magazine article “The Corona Virus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations,” I’ve been thinking about how the virus is impacting personal, national and global values.
Climate Change and the Virus
It’s abundantly clear that Climate Change has dramatically changed our lives. We’ve known since the 1960s that the planet was in trouble. Now we see the results of humans polluting the air and the oceans, melting the permafrost, and encroaching on animals’ habitats, making the animals sick … and now the animals are making us sick. (One theory is that a sick bat in Africa bit a pangolin – it’s like an aardvark – and the sick pangolin was sent to a wet market in China, where it was eaten.) Now everyone on the planet is impacted.
We Need to Stick Together
This time, we truly are all in this together. In the past, it was a matter of crisis by region. In California, where I live, we’ve lost lives to fires, earthquakes, and power outages. Other parts of the country and the world have faced droughts, floods, hurricanes and worse. Today we’re seeing how everyone in the world is interconnected: all facing the same crisis. We used to talk about saving future generations; now we know it’s our generation that needs saving.
The Economy versus Saving Lives
We have big questions to consider: What are the rights of the individual versus the needs of society; the needs of a region versus the globe? Do we protect “the economy” versus protecting our health and human lives? Do we want to continue with the old “normal” or are we willing to change to save the planet?
How our Values have Changed
My friends and I discuss how our values have changed. We used to enjoy eating out, going shopping, and traveling. Now we value time with friends and family more than ever. We have a higher regard for the people who work in healthcare, grow our food, educate our children, and provide shelter and clothing.
Can You and I Save the Planet?
Personally, I’m focused on saving our planet. How? I can reduce my carbon footprint by driving and flying less. I hope to convince others to do the same. I’ve always tried to be mindful of how much I consume, how much water I use, and how I handle my trash, but I hope to do better.
Will you join me? What will you do to help our planet?
Optimists Live Longer
Why You Should Look on the Bright Side
Even in times like these, remember to look at the bright side of life. Research at Harvard’s School of Public Health shows that optimists’ odds of living to 85 or longer are more than 50 percent greater than pessimists. Optimists tend to bounce back from difficulties more readily. Perhaps it’s because optimistic people are better able to regulate their emotions. And they have healthier habits – they are more likely to exercise, eat well, and less likely to smoke.
Live Longer with Healthy Habits
In my county, Marin County, California, living to 85 is the norm, and all of us want a future where we live to that age or longer. I’m pleased that my neighbors are applying healthy habits and helping to “flatten the curve” during the Covid-19 pandemic by sheltering in place and practicing social distancing. One way I know my county is doing a good job is by looking at published GPS tracking data. Other than going to the grocery story, my neighbors are staying home, and thus, less likely to contract the virus or spread it.
Keep Your Spirits High
To stay healthy and optimistic, we’ve found ways to keep our spirits high. We connect every evening at 8 PM for The Howl. Up and down the hills, from all directions, I hear my neighbors making coyote-like howls, which keep us connected in dark times.
Connection is what it’s all about now. We meet online for Zoom chats; we send each other photos and our latest drawings; we call friends we haven’t spoken with in years; and we exchange jokes and cartoons on Facebook and Instagram. Have you seen this one?
My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary
- Day 1 – I Can Do This!! Got enough food and wine to last a month!
- Day 2 – Opening my 8th bottle of Wine. I fear wine supplies might not last!
- Day 3 – Strawberries: Some have 210 seeds, some have 235 seeds. Who Knew??
- Day 4 – 8:00pm. Removed my Day Pajamas and put on my Night Pajamas.
- Day 5 – Today, I tried to make Hand Sanitizer. It came out as Jello Shots!!
- Day 6 – I get to take the Garbage out. I’m So excited, I can’t decide what to wear.
- Day 7 – Laughing way too much at my own jokes!!
- Day 8 – Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen”. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have No clue how this place is still in business.
- Day 9 – I put liquor bottles in every room. Tonight, I’m getting all dressed up and going Bar hopping.
- Day 10 – Struck up a conversation with a Spider today. Seems nice. He’s a Web Designer.
- Day 11 – Isolation is hard. I swear my fridge just said, “What the hell do you want now?”
- Day 12 – I realized why dogs get so excited about something moving outside, going for walks or car rides. I think I just barked at a squirrel.
- Day 13 – If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face.
- Day 14 – Watched the birds fight over a worm. The Cardinals lead the Blue Jays 3–1.
- Day 15 – Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month? IS THIS YOU, yet?
Artificial Intelligence May Save Us
On a more serious – but still optimistic – note, some of us are attending online conferences where we discuss the future. Attending Stanford University’s April 1st conference on Artificial Intelligence gave me some hope.
- Some politicians see progress being made on global health security coordination and tracking
- We’re learning how changes in public policy and greater transparency could help us better respond to future biological threats and diseases
- Using AI we’re making better predictions and can better track how the virus spreads
- Biomedical informatics is making it easier to use existing data, including GPS cell phone data, for surveillance
- Medical doctors are sharing global best practices
- Researchers are discovering ways to treat patients at home using cameras and smart sensors
- AI is being used to identify vaccine candidates
- Finally, we’re waking up to the need for a healthy planet, because if we continue with climate change and deforestation, animals will continue to get sick, and they will make us sick again
Let’s be optimistic about the future. Stay well and safe.
If you are practicing social distancing, life needn’t be boring. Scottie Andrew at CNN has lots of ideas….and I’m adding a few of my own. By now you’ve heard the basics of the new normal:
- Avoid going to places where 25 or more people may gather
- Go places where you can maintain at least six feet of distance from other people
- Keep in mind your personal risk: If you’re 60 years old and up or have a compromised immune system, you should stay home as much as possible
So, what can you do? Try this:
Make art. This is one of my favorite activities. I like to put on music and pull out watercolors or pastels. Or, perhaps, you prefer pottery.
Read a lot. Even though some libraries are closed, download e-books and audiobooks. Discuss the books via webinar or Skype with your friends or your book club. My book club is using Zoom.
Listen to music. Make music. Go on-line or pull out those old CDs and records.
Take a virtual museum tour. Use your smartphone for an online tour of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum or visit Google Arts & Culture for a virtual walk-throughs for dozens of international museums.
Be in nature. Hike. Get out of the house and keep 6 feet of distance from other people.
Start birdwatching or identifying plants. Find out what birds and plants reside near you. Download bird and plant maps and identification cards. I just spotted the Douglas Iris you see above.
Do yoga at home. Keep your immune system strong.
Make that recipe. This is a great time to make chicken stock or your favorite soup.
Find new recipes. Read your cookbooks or look up all those recipes you’ve downloaded on your computer and never prepared.
Video chat. Why not use Facetime or Skype?
Meditate. I like Headspace.com. There are lots of wonderful meditation apps. And, in times like this, meditation is helpful.
Bring out the board games and huge puzzles. Get competitive or treat yourself to quiet time with a challenging puzzle.
Get handy. If something needs fixing around the house, get to work.
And watch my free upcoming webinar. On April 15, I’ll be discussing how to reinvent yourself after 50 at an online event hosted by FairyGodBoss.com. To register for this free event, click here:https://fairygodboss.com/events/HyOVnubVL/how-to-reinvent-yourself-after/?utm_source=partner&utm_medium=multiple&utm_campaign=lynnryder
If you’re lonely, write your memoir.
Writing about yourself in a journal or in a memoir writing class will soften feelings of isolation by putting the focus on you, according to AARP Magazine.
Befriending yourself and appreciating your feelings and accomplishments is an affirmation of your life. That’s important. Once we see how much we matter, we see the rest of life more clearly. We start to pay attention to the sensory details around us – color, touch, taste, smell, sounds – which results in a joyful feeling.
When I’m most in touch with the good in me, I feel happy looking at the sky, plants and trees, and the rest of nature. This joy opens me up to appreciating others.
Plus, if you share your writing with family, friends and others, they will benefit from the lessons you’ve learned and the tales you tell. I’m grateful that my father wrote a memoir before he died. There are wonderful family stories that he never told me…or that I had forgotten.
This winter I’m offering two opportunities to write about yourself. The first is a new 6-week memoir writing workshop at Sausalito Books by the Bay in Sausalito, CA. The second is Reinvent Yourself After 50 at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA
“Writing your Story: A Memoir Class” – 6 Tuesdays from 9 – 10:30 beginning January 28, $180. To register call (415) 887-9967 or visit this website for more information:
You’ll have a chance to do some journal writing in “Reinvent Yourself After 50”, Sunday Feb. 2, 1-5 pm at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. $110. Call 415-927-0960 or sign up:
I hope to see you in one of these classes. If you live outside of Northern California, we can arrange to come to your town. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a happy, healthy, loving, abundant New Year!