Two months.giving back during COVID-19

That is how long it has been since life threw us into a sea of unknowns.  With the destruction of our normalcy and the alienation of our basic need for human touch, the Coronavirus has left behind a trail of unforgiving reminders of disbelief and shock.  But even still, from the depths of this despair, heroes have emerged. And the human race has once again united into a melting pot of compassion in a fight for global healing.

Have any of us ever seen, experienced or lived through anything like this?

I know for me, the last two months have been an extensive time of reflection, healing and self-expression. It has been the start of a time in my life that has offered me a humble opportunity to serve humanity in ways I couldn’t be more thankful for. But, I still ache to do more. 

Many have told me how helpless they feel and have asked how they could become part of the circle of healing hands that is so desperately needed around the world.

That gave me the idea for this month’s blog.

Although the Internet offers multitudes of organizations looking for volunteers, it can become overwhelming and confusing.  So if are wanting to become a part of this movement of giving back during COVID-19 while #StayingHome and #SavingLives, try some of these simple ideas.

  1. Online tutoring. In a few short days, schools around the US will be closing out the 2019-2020 academic year. We must not forget how this pandemic has affected the youngest of our humans and the adults who care for them. With little warning, teachers were thrust into going from a classroom based curriculum to an online schedule, while still trying to maintain the same level of teaching and discipline. Many students may have struggled with adjusting to computer based learning, causing them to fall behind on their academic potential. In an effort to keep the learning gap small, tutoring is a much needed service to help students stay on track.  Virus or no virus, education must go on. Reach out to your local school district and see how you can help mentor the children of the future.

  2. Sewing. I know many of you are already involved in some form of PPE design and donation. On behalf of all of the essential workers, our most sincere and humble gratitude! Sewing is one of my favorite hobbies. The therapeutic hum of the sewing machine is so cathartic on those stressful days. I belong to a non-for -profit group that has continued to sew masks for various hospitals, homeless shelters, and nursing homes. The need is great! Masks will be part of our lives indefinitely and we can never have enough. If all you can do is thread a needle, we will take it.  Help is needed to order fabric and replenishing sewing supplies. Even help with cutting the fabric is vital. Whatever way you can volunteer, it is going towards something great. Every stitch and every hand brings us together.

  3. Calling all cooks. Are you a genius in the kitchen? Or just love being there? Food is desperately needed all throughout the communities. Various organizations are heading up food deliveries everywhere. Whether you offer to buy the groceries or drop them off, your help is invaluable. Vulnerable, high-risk volunteers who want to help but are afraid of becoming exposed can still help by staying safe and preparing meals in their own kitchen. The prepared meal will then be taken to the needed locations by other volunteers. PBJ sandwiches count. Anything that feeds the soul. #StayHome #SaveLives.

  4. Photography. No doubt, these are milestone moments. Whether you choose to forget them or cherish them, these unforgettable family times maybe worth grabbing that Kodak moment. We can look back and say, “Hey, remember how we spent 24/7 for what felt like a gazillion years?” So if you love looking through the lens, how about offering to take portraits for family, friends or neighbors from across the street maintaining the six-feet distance? This small act of love will do amazing things for families going through hard times.

  5. Online learning. This is absolutely one of my favorite ways to give back. Look, let’s face it. The next few months and maybe years, connection through the cyber portal will be the new normal. We can either choose to wait to go back to “normal” or we can CREATE our normal. With the online platform, learning has exploded into an infinite canvas of creativity.
    I would like to share a small example of this. You see, I absolutely love fashion.  If I didn’t go into medicine, my back up plan was to enter into fashion design, albeit, I can barely draw a stick figure.  One of my friends, who has studied and taught fashion design, knows how crazy I am about this. Out of her generous kindness, she offered to teach me. I can’t tell you what this simple gesture has done for my morale.  This is something I never would have even thought to do in our “old normal.”  

    If you have a talent, share it with the world!! We need it now more than ever.  You can teach someone to draw, paint, cook, sew, sing, dance, speak a language, learn computer programs or play an instrument.   If you are handy, conduct a home repair workshop. Lead your friends through a guided meditation. If organizational skills are your forte, get online with your friend or friends and walk them through the best way to organize their space. The possibilities are endless. We know these services are all available on YouTube. But, wouldn’t it be so much better learning from someone you know and who knows you?   Think of all the things you do in your everyday life that brings you joy. Take that light and spread it to a whole online community that will become a little happier and little healthier just by your sharing.

The actions of each one of us MATTERS! No one service is greater than the other.

You don’t’ have to be on the frontlines of a NY hospital to make an impact. Your simple acts of kindness plays a CRUCIAL role in keeping people out of there. So, don’t underestimate who you are and what you can do.

I don’t think of us as Frontline workers, but rather as FRONTLINE HEALERS.  While this virus has physically distanced us, it can NEVER break the spirit that connects us.

One final note, the virus is still amongst us. Be smart. Be safe.


covid-19 one month laterI can’t believe it has been just ONE month since every conversation, every thought, and every move of our life has fallen mercy to this bully we call COVID-19. Could we have ever imagined this is how we would be living life, at least for a short time anyway? Just when we feel we have understood a minuscule part of this eluding novelty, it reminds us of how little we really do know.

But do we need to standby and take this? Well, yes because it is staring right at us, and no because we have the power to fight back!

Hear me out. I want to diverge from the normal medical tone that is often written in my blogs to one of motivating the human spirit. Anyone that says they are not scared clearly has not understood the gravity of the situation. But being scared doesn’t mean we have to give into the fear.

What is fear? Fear is when we feel we have lost control of a situation. It is the uncertainty of not knowing where we are going, how long it will last, and whether we will reach the end of a situation safely.  Fear is taking your hands off the steering wheel in a car that is going 100mph.

There truly is so much to be scared of here. It is scary not knowing who the virus will take down next and how it will do it. It is petrifying to know there is not yet a PROVEN treatment or approved vaccine. It is gut-wrenching to watch your friends and colleagues keep a smile while crumbling on the inside.  There is also an overwhelming sense of desperation to want to do more to help, but somehow can’t because the best thing we can do is stay away and stay home.

If any one of the things I mentioned above hit a nerve, join the club. Every single one of those things is exactly what keeps me up at night.

The truth is, neither you nor I can control any of those things! We can’t speed up the vaccine trials. We can’t control when drug testing can safely be completed. And we certainly can’t predict (not yet) how the virus will behave next.

But, we can control our thoughts, our breath, and our actions.

I invite you to take this precious time we have been given and channel it into light, love, and healing while taking your hands off the steering wheel.

This is not about the separation of beliefs or religion. This is not about the polarizing and often times confusing sprays of information coming from our leaders – because the truth is, NO ONE has all the answers.

This is about something so much greater!! It is an urgent plea to come together to help in unifying the spirit of the human heart. Let’s build a wall laid with the bricks of love and compassion and show that bully how tough we really are! #CovidMessedWithTheWrongHumans

FIND YOUR LIGHT AND SHINE BRIGHTER!!

How do we do that? By not giving into the fear! By releasing what we can’t control and by taking back power of what we humans do best: LOVE AND LOVE HARD!

Studies have shown that the thoughts we have carry vibrational frequencies that affect the functioning of our cells and the cells of those that the thoughts reach. Positive thoughts emit higher vibrational frequencies. Negative/fear based thoughts emit lower vibrational frequencies.

If we continue to live in fear and think of only worst case scenarios, we lower our cellular vibrations and the ability to fight off the virus. Our immune defenses become weakened allowing the virus easy entrance into our body.

Don’t get me wrong. We must still do our part and maintain social distancing, hand washing protocols, and follow all other guidelines. But there is so much more we can do!

In my eyes, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US IS AN ESSENTIAL WORKER! We each have a life-saving role to play.

  • The farmers that work so hard to keep providing their crops.
  • The scientists – trust in their knowledge to experiment in the unknowns to unravel the mysteries and find the long awaited answers.
  • The healthcare workers who serve those that can no longer stand on their own and reach for a desperate hand up.
  •  The custodial services that lovingly sweep the residual reminders on the battlefield so that the healthcare troops can be ready for the next round.
  •  The grocery staff and restaurant owners keep us nourished and fueled because without that, nothing else is possible.
  • The construction crews that keep us protected with a roof over our heads and remind us there is a safe haven to come home to at the end of the day.
  • The postal services that allow us to stay connected to the world during this time of ironic dissociation.
  • The IT folks that keep our grid lines of communication open so that ‘virtual’ togetherness can continue to happen.
  • The artists and art, in any form, that remind us that life will not always be black and white. And that we can paint the town any color we want, because nothing can take away one’s imagination.
  • The teachers, God love them, that create a safe haven for the youngest of our humans so they know that everything is going to be ok and not to mention, keep the parents sane in the process.
  • And to every single human reading this  -the loving thoughts you think, the continued prayers uttered with deep faith, the kind gestures extended and anything you do to help in this global healing is reaching EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Don’t underestimate the power of your light!

However you choose to put forth your positive vibes is just perfect!! At a time when we have more questions than answers, know that your role is just as important as anything else. It is like a puzzle. Every piece matters. Even if one piece is missing, the puzzle is incomplete. Such as is the case with this fight. Your light matters! Humanity is incomplete without it.

I have found affirmational meditation helps me to stay in a positive mindset. These are just some affirmations I have created for myself that brings me comfort and peace when I have no choice but to surrender what it is I cannot control.

“Fear is an illusion for what I cannot control. It is not real! My light offers divine protection to myself and to all those that I share it with. I am greater than the invisible threat that has taken away my sense of security. My power lies not in my ability to understand, but in my willingness to trust. I trust I will guided into making the right decisions when I am confronted with doubt. I stand in faith knowing that having more questions than answers right now will protect me from becoming hasty in my actions. I release the need to understand everything, knowing that clarity will come when I have completely surrendered. And when I sink into moments of fear, I remind myself that it is during times of great darkness that my light shines the brightest.”

I leave you with one final thought.

In this battle of uncertainty, the only thing we can be sure of is that NO enemy can ever touch the spirit of the human race!

Wishing each of you safe and healthy days to come!

 


COVID-19With this surreal reality of life, it would very difficult to not talk about the elephant in the room. Although “this elephant” is invisible to the naked eye, it has made its presence known in all eight corners of the world.

A virus that has been mocked for being named after a beer, the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 has caused the very essence of human living to be turned into fear and panic.

But is there really a need to panic? No!

This is a pandemic, not an apocalypse!

There will be enough food. Miles of toilet paper will be at your disposal. We will be ok!

When I decided that I wanted to write on the Coronavirus, there was nothing more I could add that the CDC and leading health experts haven’t already taught us. Things are changing rapidly. From the time I finish writing this to the time the email goes out, this information will be obsolete.  So rather than regurgitating more factual information, I would like to share my heartfelt views on COVID-19 and its effects on the human spirt.

The following editorial reflects my own personal views and biases.

In the almost 30 years I have been in the medical field, I have never seen nor experienced anything of this caliber. I think it is fair to say neither have any of my colleagues.

In early February before COVID-19 made its way to the US, I had been closely watching the unfolding crisis in China. At that time, my instincts were telling me that this would be us in a few short weeks.  I began to express my “concerns” out loud to anyone who would listen.  Many of family and friends would say to me, “you are in the medical profession and you know that this virus is mild to most of us with a very slim margin of mortality rate. And it is not even in the US, so why are you panicking and getting into a frenzy? Have faith. Stay positive.  You are making too big of a deal of this.”

I have ultimate faith that everything happens for a reason and that all is going to be ok.  Although the circumstances surrounding the situation have been less than optimal with the massive shortage and limited access to testing kits, often times the exaggerated media hype, and the chaos and confusion amongst the healthcare professionals of knowing what to do next while still trying to take care of our patients like they deserve, it has been two weeks of pushing us into unchartered and often times very uncomfortable territories. But, I truly do believe in some remote distant way, all of this has been a gift, a gift of time.

That precious commodity of time we so rarely get to experience these days. With more employees working from home, stores shutting down in an effort to contain and mitigate (my heart aches for small business owners and workers that are unable to work from home), college kids moving back home three months ahead of schedule, families are under one roof with nowhere to go. This is not the way we would have wanted to come together, but this has forced us to step outside of our hectic lives and isolate into self-reflection. It is minutes in the day we now have to look out the window and remember that tree that was planted years ago, but somehow didn’t realize its growth.  It is moments inside the divine structure of our home that becomes our church/temple/mosque where we pray for our neighbors, those that live next door and those that live on the next continent. It is trying to take an impossible situation and look for that single ray of hope while waiting to return to some level of normalcy.

Ultimately this time has given us the space to come into the realization that we will win this, as a global unified team of humanity.

Trust me, there is NOTHING about this that any of us want to be going through. There have been more missteps than one cares to count.  But, the reality is, we are here, in this dark tunnel of unknowns that has us hanging on for the next split second turn, not knowing if it is the way out or just another dead end in this maze of eluding mystery. All I do know is that the only way unto the other side is if each of shines brighter than we ever have.

Learning the facts helps turn panic into knowledge, desperation into reprieve, helplessness into service, and social distancing into remote kindling. It has given us the chance to pick up the phone and ask, “hey, you doing ok? Anything I can get for you?”

Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot yet to come that causes me to lie awake at night praying that I have done whatever I could for my family, friends, patients and anyone who I could be of service too.

I wanted to end with a post that I shared on my personal Facebook page that pretty much sums up my thoughts, feelings and prayers on this elephant known as COVID-19.

March 12, 2020

“Just to be clear, I’m not in a state of panic nor do I live in a state of fear. The reference to the 2% fatality rate includes family and friends I cherish more than my own life. It includes my patients whom I have come to think of as family. That 2% are the humans that deserve for people like you and I to do whatever impractical things that inconvenience us to help save their lives and be a part in helping slow down this life that appears more like a dream than it does a reality. I’m not saying we shut down life. I’m saying think about making different choices for a brief period of time: workout at home instead of the gym. Postpone parties for the time being. If going to the grocery store, wipe down the cart before and after, knowing COVID-19 is present on surfaces for days after. Shutting down my life to save a life is worth the sacrifice. I can’t imagine going to bed at night knowing I selfishly chose my convenience over the 2% of people, knowing that if they contracted a virus that for you and I would mean a 2 week hiatus of life would be a death sentence. I don’t know if the small things I’m doing help in anyway. And frankly, I don’t care to know. I see it as my duty and my humanitarian obligation to be a part of stopping this Tsunami of an unknown enemy that has not only invaded our country, but also our very earthly existence. Are we all going to be ok? Of course we are!!! But only if we do this together. Every time I question if I am doing enough, I keep coming back to the saying, “EVERY VOTE COUNTS.” So when everyone does a little something, it counts in ways we have yet to understand!”

Be safe everyone and rest easy knowing your healthcare team is on the frontlines fighting for you!!