Gratitude In The Time Of Corona

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Gratitude In The Time Of Corona

“Enough” is a feast.” Buddhist proverb

Some days are great. Things go as planned and you bounce from meeting to appointment to lunch and you feel wonderful inside.

Then there are the other days. Like being in the house for four and a half months quarantined with no end in sight – wondering  if things will ever get back to the way they were in the old world. There are days when you do not feel motivated at all.

I’ve done gratitude lists before.  Writing five things I am grateful for in quarantine became rote because I did the same thing every day. I realized that if I wrote one thing a day and really thought about it, it worked better. Here are some of the things I have written down. Maybe they will resonate with you during these times.

The easiest thing to be grateful for is having a roof over my head. I live in an area with a lot of homeless people. I fear it will become worse from this virus.  I choose not to take this for granted.

 I am grateful for easy access to good drinking water. We can’t really drink from the faucet like in Iceland or New Zealand, but we do have tap water that we can boil in our homes. One eighth of the world’s population do not have access to safe drinking water.

 I recently read that the  ancient Greek philosophers  started their day outside in Nature to feel calm and grateful.  I try to spend at least a few minutes having coffee outside looking at the beach. Being in “prison” for four months with people not wearing masks here, has made my relationship with the beach complicated. But every morning, when I sit and look out at the ocean, I am so grateful that I get to see this and smell the ocean air to start my day.

I am grateful that everyone I know is healthy. They have either recovered from the virus or not gotten it.  While I do my part to stop the spread  of coronavirus by staying home, others are going to work, risking putting themselves and those they love in danger of exposure. My gratitude toward these front-line professionals not only is well-deserved, but it also helps relieve stress which suppresses our immune systems.

I am grateful for the time to read good books. i wasn’t allowed to watch TV as a kid and getting lost in a book was a familiar feeling. Now with so many options for entertainment, focusing on a book is harder.  But now I read every day and when a book grabs me in, I remember the feeling I had as a child. 

I am also grateful for access to the internet during this time.  Can you imagine going through this without the internet? We are able to order food, medicine, clothes and any random thing we can think of – mostly with free shipping. We can take classes with our favorite teachers, talk to friends, family, doctors  and work on ZOOM.  We have access to a crazy number of TV shows and movies from all over the world. We get theatre productions and we can still look up every thing that comes into our head. There is instagram and facebook to stay connected with the world. 

I am grateful for Banksy my dog. He is my constant companion through this time and is endlessly entertaining. He keeps me sane during this time of social distancing. 

I am grateful for small kindnesses. A person who actually puts on their mask when they walk by me, a pretzel delivery from my daughter, a funny youtube video sent from a friend or the perfect eggplant parmesan prepared by the BF all help me get through this.

I am grateful for my friends and family. We are all in this together and when we are reunited it will be even more special.

I am grateful to be spending this time with the  BF.  Day 145 is definitely different then Day 1 in quarantine. It is our first year of living together.  What we were able to tolerate easily before is a bit different now. Trapped in close quarters, tense moments are inevitable. But we get through it with communication, laughter and hugs and we are really lucky to have found each other.

Stay Safe,

JAz

The  Best And Worst Thing About Quarantine With A Little Help From My Friends

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The  Best And Worst Thing About Quarantine With A Little Help From My Friends

“The best way out is always through.”  Robert Frost

BEST: I’m doing qi gong, yoga and meditation and a beach walk every day. It is helping my anxiety and I sleep great. WORST:  I cancelled two trips and I’m not traveling.  JZ

BEST is cleaning my desk, watching great tv and finally finishing a series. WORST is not being able to hug & kiss my kids, missing my friends and working out in a gym! EH

BEST is being with my dog 24/7. WORST is cooking three meals a day for my husband. SR

 BEST is that I don’t have to get dressed up and put on makeup to go to work. WORST is not going out to eat, to the movies, a play or concert with friends and not having home cooked Sunday dinners with my kids.  Oh and not having my housekeeper!  JL

BEST is pretty easy.  My immediate family and girlfriend are here all day.  WORST is my fears for people who are facing huge problems  and also some personal health fears.  Just thinking about the worst list makes me sense my blood pressure increasing.  LA

BEST is catching up with friends and relatives virtually. Also more time for reading, Spring cleaning and watching Netflix. WORST is not going to movies, the Grove, shopping, church, and hugging friends. EM

BEST:  As an extrovert, I was delightfully surprised to find that I no longer suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), because there’s not much to Miss Out on.  Instead, I can be fully present and do one thing at a time. WORST: My husband has “underlying health conditions” that make true isolation necessary for him, which means I have to be extremely careful, too.  So my time outside is limited. LM

BEST is getting a lot of sleep, having the time to try new recipes and beauty products and catching up on movies.WORST is being alone, stuck at home and not seeing, hugging or kissing friends and family. It is worrying about losing jobs, money and the future. NC

BEST is remembering what I am thankful for.  WORST is thinking that I will never travel again.TN

BEST is eating good food and watching good movies and TV shows.WORST is not seeing my friends and getting fat. DB

BEST is the confirmation that I definitely married the person in the world I would most like to be quarantined with. WORST is the constant low-level non-specific anxiety.  LO

BEST  is that I am finally getting rid of shit in my house.WORST is that I can’t spend time with my mom.This Sunday is her 95th Birthday. SF

BEST  is spending all this time with my boyfriend, just the two of us.WORST  (aside from missing personal grooming – Brazilian wax, fillers etc) is not getting together with friends for a meal. CL

BEST is getting to sleep later in the morning  and reading the whole NY Times. I’m even doing the Friday and Saturday crossword puzzles.  Also, having the time to reconnect with people in my life that I haven’t seen or heard from in a long time.WORST is that I miss seeing the people in my life. Zoom just doesn’t cut it after a while. HM

BEST is slowing down and having time to do a new project.WORST is isolation. MU

 BEST is that life is way simpler and more meaningful. Time is slower and faster and I am more aware of how precious life is and that what really matters most doesn’t need a new pair of shoes, dress or anything else to make it special.WORST is not being able to touch, hug and kiss family and friends. My daughter is pregnant and I worry about her. DG

 BEST Being with my family all the time.WORST Being with my family all the time MA

BEST is learning to cook.WORST is having the Corona Virus. AA

Thanks for the help.

Stay Safe,

JAZ

We are Jews. We Bring Food. We Sit.

We are Jews. We Bring Food. We Sit.

“My feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping, but I shall go on living.” Pablo Neruda

I went to pick up my friend for a movie and her 30-year-old son was found dead in bed minutes before I got there.  I have to process another senseless death. There are orphans and there are widows but there are no words for parents who lose a child.

Senseless deaths always stir up the questions of faith and fate for me. I guess it must help to believe god has a plan in the face of tragedy but that saying never works for me. It helps to have a tradition – a set of rituals to go through at a time when your brain shuts down, a religious structure to follow, to get through the unthinkable.

I am very close with my friend. I knew the son that passed away – but not the other kids or shocked family members who had started to arrive. I said to my other friend who was with me. “I’m not sure that I should be here now.“ She said “We are here for a reason. We are Jews. We sit.” That is our tradition.

This is a pretty religious Jewish family and they will follow the laws strictly. Jewish people believe in a season of sorrow. We take a lot of time to mourn and heal our souls. Normal life seems over and it is a struggle to deal with the new reality. We need time. The mourning rituals are about the great value that we place on the life of each person.

I didn’t grow up understanding the Jewish traditions and the death ritual seemed bizarre to me. After a funeral service you go back to the house and laugh and tell stories about the person who passed away. Everyone is eating, deli platters and dry Jewish pastries. In fact, every Jewish event in Brooklyn, came with a deli platter. – the births, after the bar mitzvahs and the deaths. There was some weird cycle of life familiarity when I saw them bringing in the platters of corn beef, turkey, coleslaw, potato salad, pickles and lox of my childhood and family events.

It is an ancient custom for loved ones and friends to visit the mourners after the funeral.  The mourning period is called shiva and it means seven. The mourners sit and have visitors for seven days. It is a time to remember and tell the stories. They sit in my friend’s house which carries her son’s spirit so  that the memories will come more easily. It is important to do this to let the family know he will be remembered in our hearts always. Bobby  would have wanted us to be laughing. Bobby would have loved the stories.  It is emotionally and spiritually healing to have mourners and friends around for this time. If you are religious, you sit on small stools, to show that something has changed and to be close to the earth.

The first meal after the funeral is the most important. It is brought by friends and family. You must eat now to affirm life. You must eat because it signifies that you must go on.

We have a prayer that we say called the Mourner’s Kaddish. It is not in Hebrew but in Aramaic, which was the language of the people at that time. It has been said for centuries and there is some comfort in that link to the past. Praying is not easy for me, yet I have no problem saying this one since my mother passed away. I say it and talk to her at the same time. We have the same conversation each time. She says ”What are you doing in temple on such a beautiful day?”

But I also say it for other people who have died. I said it last week for the people in Charleston. I said it and thought however painful and unfair life can be, I hope their families can find a way to make their life good again. Not to forget their loss but to go on different than before.

I will say it often now for Bobby and his family, for the HUGE empty space in their hearts and for a sorrow so big it feels like it will never go away.

Fly safe Bobby

JAZ