During these unsettling times, it’s easy to get knocked “off-center.”
Last month, I asked you to reflect and take stock of your life. This month, I want to help you get back in balance by looking at where you spend your time now and where you want to spend it in the future.
There are many life-balance wheels, such as the one above created by Brendan Baker of Australia. Most include these components:
- work (paid or volunteer)
- family and relationships
- leisure and physical activities
- personal pursuits – creativity and education
- spiritual pursuits
- healthy habits – preparing healthy meals and keeping fit
- physical environment and home maintenance
Do you agree that it is important to have these elements in your life?
What would you add to the list or delete?
Look at the list above and check the areas of life that are most important to you.
- Place a number from 1-10 next to each item to indicate how satisfied you are with that area of life (10=very satisfied, 1=dissatisfied).
- How would you like to balance these areas? How would you like to allocate your time? Put a percentage next to each area.
You can regain some of the balance your life has lost. Draw a circle and divide up the pie slices. One slice for each activity in your life. Slices for activities that take more time will be proportionally larger. Sleep may take up a quarter of the pie.
Divide up the pie to show how your time is spent now.
Now draw a new circle with pie slices that reflect an ideal life balance. What activities have you added to the pie? What could you give up or reduce to attain this balance?
Sometimes it’s helpful to work with a coach on this activity and on the steps to take next. Let me know if I can be of assistance.
Covid-19, our modern plague, is tragic; but there is an upside for many of us.
Because I have some financial security from social security income, I ‘m able to step back and see over 30 benefits from the pandemic. I hope this list helps you feel more positive.
Our Collective Experience
- Globally we are all in this together. There’s shared humanity
- World-wide there’s a greater appreciation for front-line workers, teachers, healthcare providers
- We have global cooperation to find a vaccine
- More volunteerism
- Younger people are feeling inspired to create change
- Underlying inequities in our society have been exposed – in finances, education and healthcare
- We had time to watch and reflect on George Floyd’s death – and react
- There’s increased focus on how to solve the inequities
Impact on Nature
- By staying at home, we have created less air pollution. The earth will have a 7% decrease in carbon dioxide this year
- Nature has begun to heal
- Plants are healthier
- Animals are more abundant
- The birds are happy
- As a society, slowing down has made us kinder
- We’ve had a chance to refocus on what really matters
- We learned that when working from home many of us are more productive
- Zoom works well for meetings and gatherings of all kinds and for small group learning
- We’ve seen an upsurge in new music. There’s the Rolling Stones’ “Living in a Ghost Town,” plus 5000 songs on the Spotify virus playlist
- We have greater appreciation for “normal,” such as haircuts, eating out, travel
The Personal Impact
- Feeling humility in the face of fragility
- Becoming more patient. With the uncertainty, I’m learning to take things day by day
- Feeling more relaxed. Reduced traffic makes driving less stressful
- There’s less pressure – no longer over-scheduling every day
- Appreciating the quiet and listening to the birds
- Time to be one on one with friends via zoom, phone calls or walks
- Getting to better know my neighbors and their children
- Time to paint, practice the guitar, bicycle, hike, clean the house, cook, garden, and read
- Finding new TV shows
- Watching “Conversations with Authors” from Book Passage
- Thanks to Zoom, taking online classes – yoga, Pilates, sketching, guitar, and gardening
- Finding new local hikes and bike rides. Exploring local neighborhoods
- Making new hiking and biking friends
- Saving money – no gym dues and reduced restaurant expenses
A Huge Change, But Not All Bad
It’s true our world will never be the same. So, when you feel discouraged, please refer to this list. I hope it helps.
Note: I’m eager to hear your thoughts. What would you add to the list?
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.