Part Two

Because we are living in uncertain times, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to blog. I don’t know if it will be every day, every other day, or every few days. But, I want to share information and stories with you I think are important, along with some positivity. The blog post I shared yesterday was very well received, which makes me happy.

Over the last week, this change has really begun to settle in. With closures of restaurants and schools, entire countries and cities shutting down, I’ve gone back and forth from feeling alright to feeling panicky. This isn’t something to be taken lightly. That being said, a lot of people doing what it recommended by health officials and staying home. This gives me hope.

For those of you who is choosing to continue to live your normal lives, please reconsider your choice and look at some of the links I provided on my last post. Also, check out this Instagram post by Nikki Reed that provides some powerful thoughts on why social distancing matters right now. She sums it up perfectly, in my opinion. It’s important we all work together by staying away from each other as much as we can.

San Francisco is sheltering in place. New York City’s Mayor is urging New Yorkers’ to prepare to shelter in place. Things are getting serious as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise. Mental health and self-care are always so important but they’re especially important right now. You can read a Therapist’s Guide to Emotional Health in a Pandemic or go down a rabbit hole on Bon Appétit’s Gourmet Makes (FYI – the Reese’s episode is my favorite.).

I’ll end with this important video from the Atlantic. It’s an urgent message from Italians telling Americans and citizens in other countries what they wish they had known ten days ago. If you click on anything from this post, please click on this. And share it with everyone you know and love.

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Stay home. Go for a walk outside if the weather’s nice. Keep your distance from people. Call your doctor if you’re feeling sick. Drink water. Stay safe. Stay calm. Take care of yourself.

News
Cases surpass 5,000 in U.S. – NBC News
National Parks Are Finally Taking Coronavirus Seriously – Huffington Post

Articles & Stories
10 Days Later: What Italians Wish They Had Known – The Atlantic
The Diary of a Grand Princess Crew Member as the Coronavirus Spread on the Ship – The New Yorker

Podcast Episodes
It’s like a War – The Daily
Why People Distrust Experts And What We Can Do About It – NPR’s On Point

Self-Care
A Therapist’s Guide to Emotional Health in a Pandemic – The Atlantic
Gourmet Makes – YouTube
Lizzo’s IGTV “Because I Love You” – A meditation and mantra to promote healing during this global crisis.

Life’s Going to Change

I’m a young woman with lung disease and a thyroid autoimmune disease.
I was born three months early.
A ventilator helped my under-developed lungs breathe for the first six weeks of my life.
I was on oxygen for the first 2 1/2 years of my life.
I’ve been on oxygen a couple of times since.
I take an inhaler twice a day every day and a rescue inhaler as needed.
I was breathing the wrong way my entire life up until recently.

I know what it’s like to have scarred lungs.
I don’t want your lungs to feel like my lungs.
I don’t want my lungs to feel any more abnormal than they already are.

This virus isn’t a hoax or some made up scam.
You can’t test for this virus by holding your breath for ten seconds.
You can have this virus, not know it,
and pass it to those who are more vulnerable and at risk.
Despite what the White House is saying, currently not everyone is able to be tested.

Life’s going to change.
We’ve already seen it changing with schools closing,
sports seasons ending,
and restrictions on large gatherings.
The likelihood of this continuing is high
with confirmed cases continuing to rise every single day.

Countries around the world have shut down,
forcing people to stay home
to help reduce the spread of this disease.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens in America
in the upcoming days or weeks in some way,
even if it’s decided by individual states.

Here’s my message to you – don’t be stupid.

I don’t care what you believe in or what political party you’re in, wake up.
This shouldn’t be about politics or religious beliefs, this is a public health issue
This disease doesn’t care who you voted for or what god you do or do not believe in.

If you want to work out, work out at home.
Go on a walk if it’s nice outside.
Find an exercise or yoga video on YouTube and follow along.
There are apps and websites for guided meditations that can calm anxiety.

If you have to go to work
and your employer doesn’t have a work at home option,
keep your distance as best you can
and wash your hands as often as possible.

Health care workers,
thank you for treating those who are sick
and doing the best you can during this stressful time.
Store employees,
thank you for dealing with panicked shoppers
as calmly as you can.

Stop voluntarily going out into crowds.
Stop going to concerts, nightclubs, and bars.
Stop attending church services and religious ceremonies.
Cancel or reschedule your travel plans.

Use your better judgment.
You’re not resilient or undefeated by a disease humans have no immunity to.

Yes, most people who get it will recover.
Some will may make a full recovery,
others will have scarred lungs for the rest of their lives.
And some people who get it will unfortunately die.
This isn’t the flu or common cold,
it’s something we’ve never seen or experienced before.

This isn’t a time to be selfish or stubborn.
This isn’t a time to resist change.
The normal you’re used to will fade if we want this disease to stop spreading.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to accept the change before it happens and change your routines before it’s possibly forced upon you.

I don’t say these things to scold you or frighten you.
I say these things because you need to be aware.
Aware that some media outlets will downplay the seriousness of this situation.
Aware that misinformation will only harm you.
Aware that choosing to continue to live life as normal isn’t a smart choice.
Aware that choosing to live in your bubble is dangerous for everyone.
Aware that panic buying isn’t helpful.
Aware that everyone needs everything you need
and you don’t need everything at one time.

As a global community, we need to look past our differences.
We need to distance ourselves from each other for our safety.
It’s better to be prepared and aware than ignorant and resisting change.
This change isn’t forever, it’s just for a while.
When this is all over, we will know better and we will do better.

If you’re feeling sick, stay home, call your doctor.
If you’re sick and if you can get tested, get tested.
If you have underlying health issues, stay home.
If you’re healthy, please stay home or limit where you go.
Wash your hands as much as possible.
Use hand sanitizer when you’re unable to wash your hands.
Try to break the habit of touching your face.
Use Clorox Wipes to wipe down surfaces and technology.
Stay hydrated, drink a lot of water.

I know this blog post is heavy.
What we’re going through is heavy.
I do hope I’m wrong and this isn’t going to be bad as they’re predicting.
Again, my goal for this post isn’t to rain on your parade,
it’s to make you aware that it’s raining
and that it’s best to stay inside as much as possible for the time being.

I’ll provide more links down below to stories and facts.
I will also share some of my favorite things
that bring me comfort during uncertain times.
If you have anything you use for self-care, comment below.
I want all of us to be safe and informed.
We’re all doing the best we can.

Links Referenced in Post
How to Breathe Correctly / Calm Anxiety
No, Holding Your Breath is Not a ‘Simple Self-Check’ for Coronavirus
Testing in the US
Everything You Need to Know About Coronavirus Testing
Limiting Social Events in the US

Facts
CDC
Key Facts
Higher Risk
If You’re Sick
Reducing Stigma
FAQ
Tracker of Every Reported Coronavirus Case in the U.S
Tracker of Every Report Coronavirus Case around the world.

Stay up to date on the Coronavirus.

A state-by-state breakdown of US coronavirus cases

Articles & Stories
The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors
How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart
The best thing everyday Americans can do to fight coronavirus? #StayHome, save lives
How Coronavirus Hijacks Your Cells
America Isn’t Testing for the Most Alarming Coronavirus Cases
After Trump promised ‘anybody’ can get coronavirus testing, patients and doctors still complain of roadblocks
‘Shut It Down’: Colorado Woman In Italy Issues Stark Warning On Coronavirus
Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day
Cancel Everything
A coronavirus cautionary tale from Italy: Don’t do what we did
From an Italian to the rest of the world: you have no idea about what’s coming.
A newborn baby in London has become the youngest person in the world to test positive for the coronavirus
YOUNG AND UNAFRAID OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC? GOOD FOR YOU. NOW STOP KILLING PEOPLE
This Is How You Live When the World Falls Apart
Please Just Stay Home!

News Podcasts
The Daily
Up First
Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction

My Self-Care
Calm App
Mindfulness & Meditation Playlist on Spotify
Late Night Jazz Playlist on Spotify
What I’m Reading
James Baldwin: The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity
The Paris Review Podcast
The Paris Review Crossword
The New York Times Daily Mini Crossword
Peppermint Tea
Yogi Green Tea Kombucha
Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater
Peanut Butter-Chocolate No-Bake Cookies
American Girl (Tom Petty) – Billie Lourd
Taylor Swift: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Lizzo: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Florence + the Machine: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Taylor Swift – Lover
Saxophone player playing John Lennon’s Imagine in Italy
Little Women Trailer
Little Women Screenplay
Frances Ha Scene David Bowie – Modern Love
73 Questions with Greta Gerwig
73 Questions with Lena Dunham
Patti Smith on Youth and Friendship
Patti Smith on Authors She Loves
Ours Poetica
Ashley C. Ford reads “Unwished For”
Rumi – The Guest House
David Wagoner – Lost
W. H. Auden – September 1, 1939
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
Wise Words from C.S. Lewis in 1948
Adrienne Rich’s Poems
Self-Portrait of a Panic Attack
Laziness Does Not Exist
Write Until You Bleed
Hello, 911? By Samantha Irby
Unbuttoned By David Sedaris
Meditation Is Not About Quieting the Mind
On Self-Respect by Joan Didion
Nitch

More Self-Care!
Calming Meditation Music
Diaphragmatic breathing Meditation
5-Minute Meditation You Can Do Anywhere
Guided Meditation to Let Go of Stress and Anxiety
Guided Yoga
Serenity Prayer
ASMR

My Health Story
My Body Has a Mind of Its Own

***

March, 17th, 2020 – Update Part Two

News
Cases surpass 5,000 in U.S. – NBC News
National Parks Are Finally Taking Coronavirus Seriously – Huffington Post

Articles & Stories
10 Days Later: What Italians Wish They Had Known – The Atlantic
The Diary of a Grand Princess Crew Member as the Coronavirus Spread on the Ship – The New Yorker

Podcast Episodes
It’s like a War – The Daily
Why People Distrust Experts And What We Can Do About It – NPR’s On Point

Self-Care
A Therapist’s Guide to Emotional Health in a Pandemic – The Atlantic
Gourmet Makes – YouTube
Lizzo’s IGTV “Because I Love You” – A meditation and mantra to promote healing during this global crisis.

***

March 19th, 2020 – Update Part Three

Herbal Animals
alexander graham bull with lavender, and lemon balm.
buddy bullfrog with lavender, orange, and linden flower.
camelia earhart with lavender, chamomile, and rose.
harry elephante with lavender, spearmint, and peppermint.
hoggy carmichael with chamomile, lavender, and orange.
isadora dolphin with chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm.
lena horne unicorn with lavender, lemon balm, and rose.
sydney greensheep with lavender and peppermint.
sylvester stallion with passion flower, orange, and peppermint.

News
10,000 Cases now in the US, BuzzFeed News – Twitter
Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) — United States, February 12–March 16, 2020 – CDC
Younger Adults Make Up Big Portion of Coronavirus Hospitalizations in U.S. – The New York Times
Do Not Travel Globally – U.S. Department of State

Articles & Stories
The Coronavirus Is Here to Stay, So What Happens Next? – New York Times
My Coronavirus Test: 5 Days, a Dozen Calls, Hours of Confusion – New York Times
‘I was pretty sure I was going to die’: coronavirus patient urges others to take it seriously – Fox 31 Denver
The Unending Anxiety of Coronavirus Content – New York Times
That ‘Miracle Cure’ You Saw on Facebook? It Won’t Stop the Coronavirus – The New York Times
No Age Group Is Immune to Coronavirus – The Cut

YouTube Videos
People Tell Us How Their Governments Around the World Are Responding to Coronavirus – Vice News
Air Travel During the Global Coronavirus Pandemic – The New Yorker
What can WE do? – iJustine

Self-Care
The first minute and twenty seconds of this video. – YouTube
10 Ways to Ease Your Coronavirus Anxiety – New York Times
Bright Minded with Miley Cyrus – Instagram
Pablo Neruda Poems – Poetry Foundation
Ashley C. Ford Radio, video one – YouTube
Dressing Up Is Making Me Feel Better – The Cut
5 riveting memoirs to read right now – i-D
Celeste Ng, Ann Patchett, Min Jin Lee and Others on the Books That Bring Them Comfort – The New York Times
Ten Free Ebooks from Haymarket Books
Lazy River by Zadie Smith – The New Yorker (Free Story)
My very responsible 65+ parents are social distancing and threw themselves their own St. Patrick’s Day parade – Twitter
China sent medical masks to Italy, & wrote on the boxes a quote of a Roman poem – Twitter
I’m not crying, you are. – Instagram
Look at All These Baby Goats – The Cut
Penguins in the Amazon?! – Twitter
the Shedd Aquarium is closed to humans, so they decided to just let the penguins walk around because sure why not – Twitter
“Oregon Zoo took the baby elephant around the zoo to visit the other animals.” – Twitter
Bodega Cats – Twitter

Beach Day

The sun reflects off the sand and the water, 
Causing reality to brighten passed the point of comfort.

This moment is now blinded by light,
As many people continue on with their time.
How is everyone not impacted by this brightness?
She thinks as she puts her phone back in her bag.

Exchanging her phone for a book
Only creates more frustration,
With the breeze causing the pages the shut.

She decides to take a dip in the ocean,
Hoping it will cool her down.
The cold water causes her to scream
And run within moments of it splashing on her toes.

Sitting back on her chair, she takes a few breaths.
Maybe a nap could make this afternoon better.
She lies down on her towel then shuts her eyes.

Suddenly, she has sand in her eyes
From the kids running by.
She grumbles while pouring water
Into her burning eyes.

She sits in her beach chair wearing a hat and sunglasses
Watching the madness of the beach unfold
As afternoon storm clouds roll in. 

At this moment, she realizes
she forgot to put on sunscreen.

Mantra for the Madness

The sounds of a cold echo between buildings.
He ignores the coughing and sneezing,
Turning up the volume on his headphones,
Blasting a rock song into his brain.
Everyone's worried for no reason.
That's his mantra for the madness.

He walks into a bar as rain begins to fall.
There are people gathered together in booths.
By looks on their faces, they're clearly concerned.
While those at the bar seemingly don't care.
He chooses to sit at the bar.

A robot bartender greets him by name,
Then asks if he'd like his usual.
He nods and looks around at the people beside him.
Most are lost in their phones, sipping on their drinks.
The guy beside him is playing Candy Crush.
He wins a level and orders another drink to celebrate.

People in the booths are speaking in hushed tones,
Whispering their worries to avoid hisses and eye rolls.
He takes off his headphones.
Right away he notices the imbalance in noise.
Everyone's worried for no reason.

Another man walks in and sits on the other side of him.
The second man nods at the first man, orders a beer,
Then sneezes into his elbow.
Those in the booths aren't pleased by his behavior.
The first man rolls his eyes.

The robot bartender hands the second man his drink,
Then asks how he's doing since his wife passed.
He shrugs, shakes his head, then takes a gulp of his beer.
The first man looks at the second man,
Wondering how his wife died.

The second man sees him staring.
A subtle look confirms his suspicion.
He sneezes again then finishes his beer.
Some sitting in the booths exit quickly,
Clearly repulsed by his cold.
He pays for the beer.

The second man nods at the first man before heading out.
Solidarity isn't the right word.
Those sitting at the bar are perplexed,
Uncertain of what to make of their carelessness.
Maybe everyone's worried for a reason?

An eerie chill moves up his spine.
Something suddenly doesn't feel right.
He pays for the drink then gets ready to make a swift exit.
As he walks out, he nods to those still left in the booths.
Escaping into the night, he leaves his music off,
Replaying what just happened in his head.

Change in Vision

Once again, I'm dealing with a shift of something I cannot control.
My eyes are at the mercy of time and decrease swelling. 
This last week, I've noticed an increase of in double vision.
In looking at my phone or reading a book, words split suddenly.
This morning, I woke up to a reality hovering over each other.
Everything on my floor was either stretched or doubled.
I haven't experienced looking forward with double vision.
Certainly not when waking up. It's always been looking up. 
I want to document these changes as they happen.
I had another poem for today but that changed.
It's always an unsettling reality to live in. 
Experiencing new double vision is never not jarring.
I have hope that this is another step closer.
Another step to being done with this disease.

Settle into the Moment

I’m surrounded by people. I do not speak.
I half-listen as my mind bounces around from one thought to another. 
I catch words here and there. I clap and don’t realize I’m clapping.
Awareness allows me to settle into the moment. 
It takes several tries and I’m still not sure I got it.

I check my phone. I turn off my phone.
I adjust my purse that’s resting on my leg.
I try to make sense of what is said. 
When I recognize a word, I understand begin to get it.
I get down on myself for not being more educated.
I spiral, come back, and adjust within a moment.
I settle in, sip some water, and laugh when it’s appropriate. 
My stomach gurgles. I decide to wait until this is over to eat.
I grasp what I want to hear and continue on my way.

I’m now talking and somehow unaware of my words.
My mind has wandered off, only vaguely keeping tabs on the conversation.
When I walk away, I realize I spoke too much,
I remind myself to be mindful to allow my mind to stay present.
The more I'm aware, the easier I can find a balance.
This is what I tell myself, hoping it will one day stick. 

Turn Off

The tv is too loud,
screaming news
overwhelmingly bleak.
So I leave 
it off and 
turn to
books 
and podcasts.
I turn off my
phone for 
hours at a time.
I turn off 
social media 
and embrace the
quiet.
I lie down with
a pillow 
over my eyes,
listening to a
story.
I sit by the fire
and read.
I sit 
in the stillness.
I read
a book o
poems.
I give myself
space
to feel my
feelings.
I send a friend
a podcast
I'm enjoying, 
thinking
she will like it.

healing

breathe 
in 
breathe 
out
through the belly
close my eyes
focus on nothing
calm the mind
stop overthinking
i'm healing
my body is doing what it's supposed to do
things are improving
round up my distractions
they no longer serve me
their familiarity isn't comforting
like breathing is
in 
and 
out 
in 
and 
out
distractions don't cause my feelings to magically leave
pushing them away does not make them go away
belly breathing allows me to acknowledge how i feel
while calming them down
i'm healing
i will be okay
inhale 
exhale 
inhale 
exhale

My Body Remembers

My body remembers feeling the pain.
I wasn't supposed to feel pain.
And yet, it's ingrained in my body.
Something went wrong.
Nothing's wrong now.
And yet, I'm crying.
The fear my body holds is visceral.
My brain tries to calm me down.
It does not work. I keep crying,
I breathe. I panic. I breathe. I panic. 
Back and forth. Back and forth.
I'm 26. I'm 12. I'm 26. I'm 12.
I scream. My body's response.
The memory plays.
My body remembers.
I'm aware of the why.
My brain is calm.
My brain is silent.
My body shakes.

	

When Time Slowed Down

When I was a child, time moved slowly. I’d go out front and climb the tree that was in our yard. I felt like I was out there for hours when it was probably about thirty minutes. I was present. I wasn’t distracting myself with my own thoughts. I wasn’t worried about what I had done that day or what I still needed to do.

As I’ve gotten older, the time has sped up. Days go by quicker. Time is so easy to access. It’s in our cars, on our phones, and microwaves. We’re reminded throughout our days where we are in time. The more we’re reminded, the quicker the days go.

The other day, I felt time slow down. I was resting my eyes for an hour. I put my eye pillow over my eyes and settled into the darkness. I was listening to a New Yorker article that lasted one hour and eight minutes.

I probably spent the last thirty minutes of that sixty-eight minutes thinking the hour was almost up. But the article continued on and I kept guessing when would be over. Normally, I would give up before the hour was over because I would get restless. But every time I would adjust the pillow over my eyes, I would get hints of how bright the light was in my room. Then I’d relax into the comfort of the darkness.

For the first time, I welcomed the slowness of time. I trusted that the hour would be up eventually. And when it was I got up and walked to the bathroom to open up my eyes. I felt more relaxed than I had in a long time.