When Tragedy Strikes- Are we handling this right?

DSC_0269We are over reacting, we are not taking this seriously enough; when it warms up the virus will diminish, sunshine will not lessen the spread of the virus; stock up on supplies, don’t wipe out the markets; this will blow over in no time, it will take years to recover; this will wreck our economy, we have lots of support in place so we will be fine; our leaders are doing a good job of keeping us safe, our leaders are nuts, just what are they thinking? 

Likely you have heard all of this, and more, over the last few days. Truly, we are all in awe over the events of the last week or so. Last week, as I was finishing up some missing work with one of my 6th graders in my classroom on the last day of the trimester, and the last day of school until who knows, he and I talked. He had some questions about the virus, school and what was going to happen. I had to tell him I just didn’t know. He was shocked to find out that we haven’t had a pandemic of this caliber in modern times. This is new territory; none of us really know how to act, what to do or what is needed. Truly, our leaders, our communities, our churches, our work places and yes, even our doctors, don’t really know for sure what is the best course of action.  In truth, we may have some ideas and educated guesses, but really, we are all just making it up as we go along.

Wow, Mrs. Dimick,” said the 6th grader when I explained we don’t really know what we are doing, “this is really serious.” Yeah buddy, it is. In a world with so much information at our literal fingertips, it is pretty unusual these days to have a world-wide event that truly we don’t know exactly what will happen or how to handle it. We are so used to having experts and leaders with the answers and advice that really, we are all feeling just a bit anxious.

Some day in the not too distant future the hope is that we will look back on this event and say, “Remember when?” And we will be able to add, “That was a bit crazy, but we got through it, and we did learn something.” But, what will be learn? What are we learning? What are the lessons that will help us better navigate our world going forward? Well, no one knows for sure, but just from what I have seen so far, here my top 9 lessons.

9- Don’t put it off!  Whether it has to do with stocking up with emergency supplies, attending your house of worship or visiting that friend that you can’t get to now, I think we can all say there is probably something you meant to do before, that you can’t do now.  So when the store restocks and we can freely recirculate once again, grab a few more cans just in case, buy a few extra rolls to have on hand, and put a few more things in the freezer because you never know.

8- Appreciate Technology- Yeah, there is the bad side, but can you imagine all of this without it? I am just amazed how many different emails I got with offers of free things to do, or watch or, experience. All I can say is wow, just wow.

7- It’s Okay to Push the Pause Button on Life- Okay, face it people, we live fast paced, crazy lives. Can you not say that having a slower pace for a bit was not refreshing? Was it such a terrible thing to just have your calendar cleared for once? Would it be so bad to really just make that choice for yourself or your family once in a while?

6- Reach Out to Others- With time to slow down I keep thinking about reaching out to others, visiting others, taking them things. Well, that kind of defeats the purpose of where we are right now, so I had to rethink that plan. But it did get me thinking. We need each other, we need human contact. Do we really take the time to reach out when we can, or do we put if off until it is too late (see #9 above). I know I can do better.

5- Grow a Garden– My granddaughter and I have been working on a garden.  She was ecstatic when she found out food may be scarce because we could eat her vegetables! She was a bit disappointed when she found out that it will be many weeks until we have a harvest, but what a great way to be in the out of doors, spend time with your family and produce food that may come in handy when the next disaster comes along.

4- Learn to Cook– So, it is looking like if everyone has enough food in their house to eat at home for a couple of weeks the stores are empty. I was raised in an era where eating in was normal, eating out was for special occasions. When my kids were young I once had a woman ask me if I cook. I felt like answering, as opposed to, what, starving? I didn’t really get the question, I didn’t know there were people who didn’t, with the expectation of maybe the most rich and famous. Now, with just me and my husband home we eat out a lot, but I do keep a stock of food, and I have the capability to cook meals. This is a life skill people, figure it out, and teach your kids.

3- Some Necessities are not Really Necessary- Here is a news flash, life existed before bottled water, before baby wipes, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer and yes, even before toilet paper. Guess what people, we still have running water, electricity and natural gas available in our homes so we are actually way better off than those who had to live without those items.  Sure, it may be way easier and cleaner to wipe with something we can just toss, but I bet you have plenty of things right in your own home that you could substitute, if you had to.

2- You Are Ultimately Responsible for your Family- It is easy to think the government will take care of us, that the school will teach our kids or that someone will bail us out. But, when it comes right down to it, it is your responsibility. As a middle school teacher I am daily responsible for upwards of 100 kids a day. I take my charge seriously, and I think I do a good job. But guess what, when we had an emergency where did we send those kids? They went right back to their parents. When it is time to get back to basics in life, you are in charge, you have the responsibility to do what it takes to make sure your family is fed, clothed, educated and taught. Treat it like that.

1- Go forward with Faith, not Fear- This may seem religious, but it is actually biological as well. You see, fear does interesting things to us biologically.  There is a fight or flight response that we often have little or no control over when perceived danger is in play. Having faith and hope that things will work out, that you can handle this, that you can do what it takes keeps the involuntary responses turned off, and the brain turned on.  Stay in the game people, we can do this.


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