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’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!
I surprised myself today by submitting an application to a local art show for closet artists. Since leaving my corporate job in 2014, I’ve had time to take watercolor classes and a pastel class. It’s so much fun!
Then, my girlfriend invited me to do paint pouring (also called fluid art) on her deck. The finished painting kind of looks like images from a 1960’s light show. You don’t know what to expect as the paint flows onto the canvas. You do have control over the colors and some control over how the paint flows as you tip the canvas at various angles while trying to get the canvas fully covered with paint.
I love experimenting. I’m learning tricks that I can apply in a different media. Best of all, at this stage in my life, I don’t have any judgment about how it comes out. If I like the result, I can put it on my refrigerator; if not, it goes in a pile in the garage.
Benefits of Art
Meanwhile, the benefits are tremendous. Here are some listed at the Creatubbles.com site - https://stateoftheart.creatubbles.com/2017/02/08/10-important-skills-learn-art-education/
I want to add stress-reduction to this list. When I’m focused on my art, all my cares disappear. Try it. Get started by taking a class. Let me know how your art is coming along. I hope you enjoy some of my art work on this site.
I've been selected for the art show starting in mid-September through October 2019 at the Tiburon, CA town hall. If you're in the neighborhood, come take a look.
The holidays bring up such mixed emotions – there’s joy and hope…and there’s stress and sadness.
When I taught a class on managing holiday stress, participants gave me a long list of stressors that include worries about budget and creating a “perfect” holiday, and feeling sad when remembering loved ones who won’t be here this year.
Find Balance and Watch your Budget
Class members had plenty of ideas for reducing holiday stress. They want to set realistic expectations, create a better balance between personal time and social time, and spend more time with supportive people. Some people talked about reducing financial worries by changing some of their family traditions; instead of buying gifts for everyone in the family, they will have a white elephant exchange or arrange for secret Santa gifts, so that each person only buys one gift.
Stress Reduction Tips
During the holidays, more than at other times, it’s important to manage your stress. This is the time for deep breathing exercises (breathe in for 3 counts, hold for 2, breathe out for 3 counts). Progressive muscle relaxation is super helpful. Sit in a chair with your eyes closed. Tense your right fist; let go. Tense your whole right arm; let go. Do the same on the left side. Then scrunch up your face and hold it tight; let go. Tense your shoulders and your chest; let go. Tense your stomach muscles; let go. Tense your thighs and calves; let go. Tense your toes; let go.
As members of my class completed the exercise and opened their eyes, the energy in the room became light and peaceful.
Help Yourself to Help Others
So, first take care of yourself during the holidays. Then help others. If you take time to volunteer or collect toys to donate, you’ll feel the joy of giving. Plus, when we change the focus from materialism, we reap the benefits of feeling the spirit of the holiday season.
Remember: You have the right to enjoy the holidays and even buy a gift for yourself. You are also entitled to feel all your emotions – from happy to sad. You don’t need to attend every party and eat all the food offered to you. You can design the holiday you want to enjoy. Make some new traditions. What can you do differently this year?
My friend Harry was laid off from his job at the age of 64. He took some time to think about his future….and then took some more time. His savings were slim, so he said he would look for another job. I’m not sure if he looked. I do know that he spent a lot of time on his computer, going to movies by himself, and watching TV. Mostly he was alone. Then he got sick. Then his cognitive thinking declined. He was depressed and isolated. He is one of the reasons I created the “Reinvent Yourself after 50” workshop. I want to help people feel fulfilled, joyful, and passionate, whether they are working or not.
For many people the most difficult aspect of leaving the workforce is losing daily interaction with work colleagues and the people you meet when you’re at work – the coffee barista, the bus driver, the cashier at the deli. In the workshop we discuss the many benefits of social integration and how to ensure we don’t lose it. This video demonstrates why our relationships are paramount to our longevity and to having fulfilling lives.
What does it take to live for 100 years? These are the surprising predictors of a long, healthy life.
Susan Pinker at TED2017 – The secret to living longer may be your social life