I’ve seen many parents send their kids off to school today/this week. So many holding their breath, not knowing what to expect. Some can’t ask their child’s teacher if they are vaccinated. Some live in states, like mine, where masks are still optional for teachers and kids.
If you are pro life, GOP governors, why would you crate laws making it illegal to mandate mask wearing to protect children and the vulnerable? It’s an honest question. Pro life should also entail what happens after a child is born. At least it does to me, that’s why I care about climate change and education and fair pay.
Parents are being forced to make decisions to keep their kids home and give up employment opportunities because their children’s lives are being used as political ping pong balls and talking points, or they can’t afford to stay home and are faced with the guilt of sending their kids into a petri dish.
Arkansas is reporting that more than 700 children are in quarantine during the first week of school. It’s only going to get worse.
Now there are reports of even more transmissible variants than Delta. We are nowhere near the end of this trial, mostly because personal responsibility has not only turned political, but also turned inward instead of outward.
PS – still working from home… for the foreseeable future.
I can’t believe we are at the end of 2020. I started off the year by choosing “Roar” as my One Word 365 choice. Little did I know I would not be the one roaring my way through the year, but COVID 19 would instead.
Today is social distancing day 291. Trying to bring my thoughts together is difficult, simply because the circumstances of my life haven’t really changed from day to day. I had so many plans for my staycation, but mostly all I’ve done is survive. That, my friends, is a worthy goal achieved. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Last night, I took a late call from a friend who lost her mother to a savage, quick-spreading cancer. We talked about all COVID had taken from us, robbed from us in broad daylight. Though she was able to have the final, precious moments with her mother, her confidante, her best friend, she was robbed of all the moments she could have had if she had been able to visit her in the hospital the last few weeks. My aunt could have had her family visit her and not leave her wondering if everyone was dead because they weren’t coming to see her. My aunt didn’t understand. My friend doesn’t understand. I don’t understand.
None of us understand.
COVID has robbed me of visits, precious time with my family. Some aren’t getting any younger, and some are getting older at a pace that if you blink, so much is missed. Kids are missing the camaraderie of choir, sports, clubs, and special dances. The adults are missing some semblance of preciously needed down time. Others are missing company. We are all missing something.
Yet there are still people out there who complain about masks or doing anything to prevent COVID for their neighbor. Even if it was only symbolic and not effective, as they claim, they still show their selfishness putting their supposed inconvenience against showing they care for their neighbors, their families, OUR families.
One of my childhood “Dads” passed from COVID recently. Two more adults from my childhood have died as well in the same time period, and while they may not have passed from COVID, COVID is robbing the families of proper funerals, robbing them from the normal first steps of the grief journey.
Compassion is free. Kindness costs nothing. Empathy means you are emotionally mature enough to realize it’s NOT ABOUT YOU because you’ve felt someone else’s pain and you can understand what someone’s going through. Our country is full of people who cannot muster any of those three emotional states or actions. That’s one of many frightening revelations COVID has shown me about America in 2020.
I am hopeful, that as vaccines are distributed (disturbingly slow) that COVID, the great thief, becomes COVID the great professor of how to human better. Many lessons yet to learn, many battles yet to fight, but we made it to this point in time. A time to look back (20/20) and a time to look forward.
I haven’t chosen a “One Word” for 2021. I don’t know if I will or not. After all, I chose the voice of a lion for a year that began hopeful and bright that turned into a roaring storm that has tossed me about while staying rooted in the same place for way too long. I need to think more carefully and reflect on lessons learned in 2020 that began like a lamb, and is ending as a rain-soaked roaring lion.
If you peruse my Instagram account, you’ll see many photos of items on the sidewalk, from the sidewalk level or on the ground or beach from that level. I was asked why I had decided to switch to that point of view.
Every photographer has a style or particular themes/subjects to their photos. Even if you aren’t a professional photographer, most of us take photos to freeze moments in time – memories, stories that are revived and remembered from that visual cue.
Besides storytelling, my style or theme has always been to take normal, ordinary objects, people or scenes and make them extraordinary by showing or revealing something new from an unusual angle or view. Art is everywhere, you just have to fine tune your eyes to see it.
My creative juices are stimulated by travel, seeing my tribes and visiting parts of the world I’ve never been before. I’ve been social distancing for 222 days now with no end in sight. To say that being in the same place for this long really stagnates the creative well is an understatement. Walking the same sidewalks and trails over and over does not lend itself to inspiration – unless you cultivate it yourself.
A few weeks ago, there was something on the sidewalk and I turned my phone over and put it where the lens was next to the sidewalk to see what that perspective would bring me and the On the Sidewalk series was born.
I’ve been trying to cultivate creativity wherever I can – photography, cooking, blogging. Being creative keeps me more balanced than when I don’t do anything at all. While photography is a love of mine and I do it well, writing is my first love.
That brings me to NANOWRIMO 2020. A typical November finds me traveling for nearly half of it, and I spend a great deal of time in photography mode. This year, I will have ample time off, but nowhere to go due to COVID and Covidiots. I’m challenging myself to do NANOWRIMO and write 50,000 words in 30 days and see if that sparks anything, or at the very least, keeps me sane.
Whenever one well (photography or writing) gets a little dry, tapping the other well seems to bring both back up to a healthier level, which brings me up to a healthier level. I have a few days left to prepare and next Sunday I’m diving in!
It’s Day 100 of social distancing/working from home/protecting myself from COVID 19. I celebrated with a glass (or two) of wine, homemade turkey meatloaf (with feta), and an ice cream sandwich.
While COVID 19 cases continue to climb where I live in Texas, I still see people outside in groups without masks. ICU beds at the Texas Medical Center are at 97% capacity. I think the evidence speaks for itself. It’s serious, y’all.
I know humans can be selfish creatures, but politicizing mask-wearing seems almost criminal. The science says we’d save thousands upon thousands of lives for this supposed interference with personal freedoms. If you can’t find it in your heart to do something so simple to help your fellow man, well, search your heart. We all can do better by each other.
It’s been rainy, so I haven’t been out for a walk for a while. I try to keep busy reading, working, cleaning, writing. As the news pours in that COVID is holding my freedom hostage (not the masks, the disease), I get discouraged. I want to take a vacation – visit people, places. I want to not be afraid to go to the office. I don’t necessarily want normal – I never relish normal – but I would like some freedom to return without having to put my health at risk to have it.
Yet there are people in my life who tell me it’s not real. It’s not serious. I’m overreacting. Well, I don’t believe that and I’m sorry you do. Really. I hope you and your families stay healthy. It saddens me, though, that if you cared a smidgen about the people around you, wore the damn mask, all this would be over all that much sooner and all of us could move on.
I’m tired of bargaining with people. I’m tired of presenting facts and being met with cognitive dissonance so deep I know there’s no hope of reaching a person. Most of all, I’m just tired.
Fortunately, I still have my sense of humor, and social media, Teams, FaceTime, and texts keep me connected with the outside world. I’m grateful for all the people that are sincere with, “how are you doing?” and for the ones that send me jokes that make me groan. This is what community is all about.
I’m watching the tribute to this year’s high school senior class, “Graduate Together.” I know I graduated some 30+ years ago, but I can’t imagine being in the throes of the final semester of high school, going home on a Friday and then being told, “that’s it. That’s your year. The end.” Missing out on all the Senior things. The final moments with friends you might not get to see very often after you cross the stage and get your diploma. All of it. Goodbye, normalcy at an age where you’re already standing at the crossroads.
I know normal is never really constant. At least mine hasn’t been. But I do miss my routine, as boring as it may have seemed.
This is the last photo in my queue from when my life was “normal.” My team from work went out to eat at the only In & Out in the Houston area, knowing that I was going to start working from home the next week. Never did I imagine I’d be sitting here two months later watching the country’s senior class be honored on tv.
We don’t know when it will end, but I do know this, I will never take being out enjoying my boring routine for granted ever again.
I was going to write this tomorrow. A big milestone epic thing. I just don’t think I could do it without being maudlin. It hits me harder some days than others – the news changes daily. The main message I hear is that this is still the beginning and the end? No one really knows when that will be.
I came home March 13, for what I hoped would be a few weeks home alone. It’s been two months now. TWO. Two months without a hug. Two months without greeting all of the people in my department as I do every single morning. Two months without the familiar scents of our farmland location, or the the dust of all the construction around it. The auditory motivation during the the 45 minutes in the car each way listening to whatever music I need to get through those moments.
I am, however, okay without the anxiety of bump-drafting on I-10 every morning. I could list many positives, and trust me, I look for them each day as I am working from home in my pajamas with unlimited coffee and snacks. There are two sides to the COVID social distancing coin. It flips, it flops, but I do ok.
I remember coming to terms with my new normal after cancer. Those changes and losses were mostly in my personal life, but work was the constant. It was the place I went to every day, even as I went through treatment. I left the apartment to go there. Now every part of my life feels like it’s on hold in the same 700 ft space that I’m in every day for hours right now.
If I’ve learned anything, however, it’s that change is a constant I’m ok with most of the time. I think that’s where I’m stuck – two months with very little change except perhaps the color of my pajamas and the flavor of my coffee beans. Very little change, even in the work I’m doing. Everything is static – stagnant – and I need something new, and I’m not going to get it any time soon.
One day, I’ll return to that cubicle past the suburbs. I’ll see those gorgeous sunsets and enjoy my concert ride to work. I’ll get hugs. I’ll see smiling faces – people who are glad to see me (and some who aren’t – ha) and no one day will be like the other. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss that, but I really, really do.
Tomorrow will be Pandemic Social Distancing, Day 60, and I will be okay.
While some things are returning to “normal-lite” other things are still off limits. Even if restaurants and bars open, I am not willing to go just yet, no manipedis or movies. Even if the federal government wants the states open, they can’t force me out into the open. I am smart enough to protect myself when others will fail to protect me.
When you peel back the layers of abysmal federal intervention, the even sadder protections from state government, I am grateful to live in Houston, where at least locally, the government seems to be at work on my behalf.
Still, I plan on taking care of me, like I always do. I talked to one of my doctors on Friday morning, a tele-doc appointment. She wasn’t so confident I should try to take a vacation in July, but if I did, traveling by car would be the best way to go.
I know we are in this for the long haul. I know we all can’t stay home forever. It’s not feasible for a long list of valid reasons. Still, we all have to do what’s best for ourselves, with some amount of compassion for other people. I will wear a mask when I go out. It’s the least I can do. Wearing a mask isn’t for me, it’s for other people. It’s also an outward signal that I care about other people.
I went out yesterday for a walk and I had my face covered. Out of the ten people I saw, only 3 (including myself) were wearing masks. In my county in Texas, it’s a requirement when you go out for at least a couple of more weeks.
Unfortunately, I see this getting worse before it gets better, and I plan on making it through, whatever it takes. To do that will require a delicate balance of protecting myself and caring for others.
In the past, for the One Word 365 Challenge I’ve chosen words like, “Imagine,” “See,” “Adventure,” and “Hope.” One of my favorites that still resonates is, “Fearless.”
As I’m completing my fiftieth birthday year, it is now almost 2020. I set out to have certain goals met by now, some I’ve just squeezed in at the last minute. I am now living my most authentic life, still evolving and learning, but the most me I’ve ever been.
My word for this coming year is, “Roar!” Now that I feel the most me, the most authentic, it’s time the world heard my voice, my thoughts, my stories (visual, written, and verbal) and my truth.
Stay tuned. You are about to hear me roar!
Roar, by Katy Perry
I got the eye of the tiger
A fighter Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar