What a Crazy Time with Coronavirus (and more cute kittens), Part 2

Kitten on pink blanket

In mid-March, I wrote a post about the craziness that was coming down surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At the time, everything was starting to close down in the United States, but I was still going to work until right after I published that post. I went grocery shopping the day before that post. Many things had announced closure for 2 weeks.

But this pandemic continually changes things, sometimes on a weekly if not daily basis. The day after that post I began working from home. I haven’t been back to the campus and I’m not allowed to go. Officially, that has been extended into summer. I’m truly grateful to be employed and to have a job that will allow me to work from home. The latest number of unemployment claims in the United States is 36 million, the highest since the Great Depression!

Public schools were closed for 2 weeks, then 4, and now children are finishing the school year at home. High school seniors will not have the usual end of year experiences. My son will not be in his first-grade teacher’s classroom again. We were instructed to do guided homeschool, which has been challenging.

The stay at home orders remains in effect in some places and not others. In Tennessee, for example, they’ve been lifted and we are wondering if we will now see a spike in illnesses. In the United States, they are discovering between 20,000-30,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day and the death rate is sure to go up. How long will this go on?

We don’t know.

Kitten on blue and white carpet

Uncertainty

On top of that, the Southeast experienced tornados on Easter Sunday. An EF3 hit Chattanooga and dozens lost their homes and some lost their lives. Thousands went without power for a week or more and lost some of the contents of their refrigerators and freezers. This is concerning during a time of partial food shortages, especially the meat industry.

Now there are wildfires in Florida, forcing people to evacuate their homes. Hurricane season begins in just a couple weeks and they are predicting stronger storms this year. Natural disasters just add to the stress people are experiencing.

Everything seems uncertain and distressing.

Kitten on leopard print

But positivity abounds

The Kitten Academy, featured in my other post, celebrated a new litter of kittens one month ago. I’ve featured photos of their kittens again because it’s something cute and positive and happy.

Our local school district provided Chromebook computers to students who needed them. Several internet companies provided internet for free to low-income families. The school district has even been providing meals for students who need them. People who received their stimulus checks in the last month are donating portions (or all) to those who need it more. Many funds have been set up to help the tornado victims in several states.

Kitten on blue and white carpet

A chance to slow down

We’ve been given an opportunity to slow down. There’s no daily rat race to get from one place to another. No lessons to rush to, no errands to run, no places to be. Minimalist Seth Riley wrote an article and it echoes my thoughts: if we are healthy and safe, we are blessed. We have this rare opportunity to reassess our values and behaviors to decide what really matters to us.

“This is a rare chance to take stock. Through all of the anxiety, we still have the option to start practicing those values we usually ignore and, with all of the closures and cancellations, we have been given the blankest slate we can ever expect to receive.”  -Seth Riley

Lots of people are trying to use this time to do new things or to be creative, but it’s ok if you aren’t. Courtney Carver wrote a post on staying calm during an anxious time. It is a good time to think and reevaluate your life, however. Here’s a good article from Joshua Becker about things you can do during this time – they are not all life-changing things. Activities as simple as going outside, teaching your children a new game, or simply reading.

“May the silver lining of today’s crisis be that we get the opportunity to think about how we really want to live, serve, connect, create and BE in our new normal.” –Courtney Carver

We have had more time to spend outdoors. We have more time together. We planted a garden. We ate dinner on the patio. We have time for evening walks. We literally flew a kite!

My son flying a kite in the backyard.
My son flying a kite in the backyard. Photo by me

Maybe it’s a good time to let go

Some are using this time to declutter or even go minimalist, and let go of mental and physical clutter. At the very least, maybe it is a good time to reassess and simplify. The Minimalists released a good article on reevaluating our belongings. Here’s an article from Courtney Carver about how to start during the quarantine. Becoming Minimalist recently launched an app called Clutterfree. You can try it for free before paying the monthly subscription. Here’s some advice from minimalist Joshua Becker:

“It’s a good exercise in reminding us that we just don’t need a lot of the stuff that we have. When times are bad, having each other, having your health (is most important). We can do with a lot less and I think that’s an important lesson I want my kids to understand… Be grateful for what you have and be ready to share it when the time comes.” –Michelle Obama

What about remaining eco-friendly?

If you’re trying to remain eco-friendly during this quarantine and struggling, know that you are not alone. It’s obviously harder to maintain an eco-friendly or zero waste lifestyle right now. I’ve had to struggle with unwanted plastics in my grocery deliveries and curbside pickups. Bulk bins foods are not available and it’s harder to get my usual products in glass. As one of my favorite zero wasters, Kathryn Kellogg wrote in her book ((101 Ways To Go Zero Waste), regarding having plastic water bottles in her emergency kit: it’s ok if every part of your life is not zero waste. “Putting your health and safety in jeopardy in the name of wanting to reduce trash is silly.” This is especially true right now.

Kitten on pink blanket

Be gentle to yourself, allow yourself time to evaluate, meditate, and reassess everything. Decide what is most important to you. Let this time of fear and stress also be a time of mental clarity. Love those close to you and call the people you can’t see right now.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

Happy 50th Earth Day!

Pair of hands with the world painted across them.
Image by stokpic from Pixabay

Happy Earth Day! Today marks the 50th year of Earth Day. I’ve got several posts that I’m working on right now, but I couldn’t let this day pass without writing a quick post to honor this day!

I recently read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, who is often credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Carson “stirred an awakening of public environmental consciousness,” wrote her biographer, Linda Lear. By 1970, Earth Day was established. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1970. Additional important legislation followed, such as the Clean Air Act in 1963, the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970, the Clean Water Act in 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

50 Years!

Sadly, this year there will be no great gathering to observe this day nor its anniversary because of COVID-19.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t honor this day anyway! From Earth Day‘s official website: “While Earth Day may be going digital, our goal remains the same: to mobilize the world to take the most meaningful actions to make a difference.” They’re asking everyone to participate in 24 hours of global digital mobilization.

“While the coronavirus may force us to keep our distance, it will not force us to keep our voices down. The only thing that will change the world is a bold and unified demand for a new way forward.” –earthday.org

Image of Earth, Africa front facing
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Earth Day Should Be Every Day

Let’s remember that Earth Day is just one day of celebration and action. Every day should be Earth Day! We should be thinking about the changes we can make – from the small daily changes to the large conservation efforts we need to put forth. I know all of the environmental problems can seem overwhelming and people don’t always know where or how to start. I want to tell you that just by thinking about these subjects, you are already doing something. Congrats!

Small globe in a person's hand.
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

The world is in our hands. Remember, it’s the Earth we are honoring today, but it’s humankind that we are trying to save. The Earth will go on without us someday.

There are so many things you can do. Stay informed, educate yourself on environmental problems. Subscribe to this website, and many others like it! You can start with these How To Quick Start Guides and my Resources page, in which you’ll find many resources, individuals, and organizations that have lots of information. Here are 50 things you can do even after Earth Day. Just start. Don’t worry about being perfect. And if you need help, feel free to leave me a comment below!

I also made Earth Cookies and shared my method here.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Earth Day!

What a Crazy Week with Coronavirus (and cute kittens)

Adorable black and white kitten

This has been a crazy week! I’ve been working on part 2 of my post about the packaging industry, but I wanted to pause and write about the recent turmoil. Coronavirus has turned everyone’s lives upside down across the globe. The constant news updates, travel bans, canceled trips, closures of schools and organizations, and cancellations of classes, conferences, and appointments.

Besides sympathy for those hit by the virus and the fear of contracting it, our daily lives have changed for an undefined amount of time. Everything has been canceled for the next 2-3 weeks, but it could go on far longer than that. We really don’t know what’s going to happen, because this is unprecedented. There are so many things to worry about and it’s all a bit much at once.

Adorable black and white kitten

Adorable Kittens from Kitten Academy

I thought I’d feature cute images of kittens in this post to make people feel happy and warm, even if just for a few minutes. My office mate and I often live stream the kittens in our office and they’re a nice break between tasks. Those who stop by our office notice the kittens and almost always comment or ask about them. A few will sit and watch them while chatting with us.

Adorable black and white kitten

Now, I feel the kittens are really important. The campus I work on is closed but we still have to go to work. We are supposed to mostly confine ourselves to our offices. So my office mate and I will at least have each other to talk to, and the kittens will brighten our day a little.

Which brings me to you, dear readers. The next few weeks or months may be very trying. So let me ask:

Do you have kittens in your life?Adorable black and white kitten

What I’m really asking is, what do you have in your life that is solid, constant, warm, happy, and brings you joy? Is it a person, your family, or a pet? Reading a good book next to the fireplace? Long walks in nature? Finding time to finish that sewing project, jigsaw puzzle, or finally learning how to make vegan cinnamon rolls from scratch? Spending more time with your spouse? Perhaps additional time to write, or do yoga. Maybe you want time to simply throw a ball with your child in the backyard. Or perhaps it’s finding time for a (cat)nap. We should use this time to focus our energies on those things…and just slow down.

For me, it’s all of those. But the thing that brings me the most joy is having more time with my son. I’ve already gotten to spend some extra outdoor time with him, doing nothing but play and exploration. We chased bubbles and played in the mud, and it was awesome!

Inspiration and Positivity still abound

All of the bloggers I follow have published positive posts this week, and I found them inspiring and full of hope. We will get through this! Here are a few of my favorite reads from this week:

14 Achievable Tasks to Help Declutter Your Home While Stuck Inside by Joshua Becker. While he provides tips on how to stay productive if you’re homebound, he also writes that now’s a really good time to focus on being less busy. I couldn’t agree with this notion more, especially for myself. I have not yet managed to minimalize the tasks in my life.

“Spending a few extra hours or days over the coming weeks at home with family may be just what we need as a society.” 

Weekend Favorites: the comparison trap, broken news and comfort music by Courtney Carver. She writes about the heartbreaking decision to cancel her book tour that just started. She acknowledges that while it was something really special, it will be special again. “We are going to get through this together,” she writes so positively.

“What a year this week has been.”

Let’s Talk About the Coronavirus by Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists, who have postponed their current tour. Millburn encourages us to be mindful of our activities and behavior so that we limit the spread of the virus, but also to not panic. We will get through this.

“We never look in the rearview and wish we would have panicked more.”

Take a Break from Breaking News by Courtney Carver. While this article does not specifically reference coronavirus, it does have a positive message to take a break from the constant stream of news. We can catch up at set times so that our minds are not inundated with negative information all day long. Frankly, the frequent updates related to coronavirus are more than we can process at once.

“In the morning, don’t rush out of bed. Take in the birdsong. Brew a pot of coffee.”

Mel Robbins On How To Stay Centered With Coronavirus Anxiety Swirling on Youtube. In this video, she talks a lot about fear and anxiety and how to overcome those feelings.

“This moment is an opportunity for growth, even if it doesn’t feel like one right now. How about we go through these next weeks or months and help one another stay centered in our strength and our spirit.”

Social distancing doesn’t have to doom your weekends. We have ideas from CNN. This article offers a lot of positive, great ideas about how to spend time alone or with others virtually during this quarantine period.

“Social distancing doesn’t mean your weekend is doomed. You just have to get a little creative.”

The Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing’ from The Atlantic. This is the best article I’ve read yet that describes what to do in our real, everyday lives.

Adorable black and white kittens

Thanks for reading, please subscribe! Leave me a comment below about how you’re using new found time at home. Stay positive and strong!

Goodbye Earth Fare, with Love

Earthfare's Hixson, Tennessee store opening
Earth Fare’s Hixson, Tennessee store opening, November 2016. Photo by me

If you haven’t heard already, Earth Fare is closing all of its stores, citing financial troubles. I was completely disheartened by this news! The company sent an email to its customers on Tuesday, writing “with a heavy heart” about the decision to close all the stores after 45 years.

We only have 3 healthy grocery stores in Chattanooga, Tennessee; two Earth Fare stores and one Whole Foods. We will now be down to one healthy grocery store in this region.* It is so disappointing that the southeast is unable to support more stores like these.

Unsafe and Toxic Ingredients

Earth Fare is a healthy and organic grocery store, one which does not sell foods that have a long list of unhealthy or potentially toxic ingredients in them. But here is their general food philosophy:

Earthfare's food philosophy banner

I created a free, downloadable pdf “List of unsafe, unhealthy and/or potentially toxic ingredients in food and products that you should avoid.” You can also view it here.

I was able to buy foods from the bulk bins in my own cloth bags and glass jars at Earth Fare in order to avoid buying plastic. I can do this at Whole Foods too, but again, Chattanooga is going from three stores down to only one that offers features like those.

I Will Miss Earth Fare

Earth Fare is personal for me and I will miss it. Earth Fare is where I shopped while on my journey of learning the value of healthy, natural foods and about the dangerous ingredients in our foods. When my son was born and was in the NICU for 2 weeks, there was an Earth Fare just down the road from the hospital and we ate many meals there during that difficult time. It was the grocery store where I bought organic ingredients to make homemade baby food. And it is still where I buy food to cook for our family.

I plan to shop at Whole Foods as they have a very similar food philosophy. However, they are more expensive than Earth Fare for many things. Also, the Whole Foods in Chattanooga is in a popular area of town so it’s often very busy and crowded, with an equally crowded parking lot.

In the end, life will go on. We have many large environmental and health issues to face! Please subscribe and we can learn together! Thanks for reading. And thanks, Earth Fare, I’m sad to see you go.

 

*I am aware that there is a Fresh Market in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They have a different mission than Whole Foods and Earth Fare. While I am not against shopping there, they do not offer all of the same food philosophies about ingredients.