so, i have some questions…

last night i locked myself in the bathroom. seriously. just being in my own space wasn’t enough, i needed to close and fully lock the door. i can’t remember the last time i did that. maybe just after i gave birth to alegra 10 years ago?

regardless, last night i found myself locked in my small bathroom; simultaneously listening to npr on my phone and alegra reading aloud to me from the other side of the door while dozens of questions swirled around in my mind.

i don’t presume to think that my questions are too radically different than most peoples’. and, to be fair, my questions are, mercifully, not of the day to day existential variety.

i KNOW that i will still have a roof over my head tomorrow, and i will have more than enough to eat. my children will be able to continue their studies over the internet; comfortably, warm in their own rooms- content with their 3+ meals a day.  even if our economics do eventually change due to the global pandemic, i will still be blessed with plenty. and in the case of a health emergency- covid-19 related or not- i am privileged enough to be certain of sufficient health care.

but even armed with this knowledge- i am still human.  and an over functioning, type a human at that. and so, despite all this certainty- and all these guarantees- i can’t help but worry. almost obsessively.

And so, i have some questions…

on a grand scale… when will this all end? what would it be like to get the coronavirus? is my (are our) immune systems strong enough? what will happen to the girls if erim and i both end up in the hospital at the same time? what is going to be the economic impact of all this- not just in my household, but nationally; globally?

on a knowledge and medical scale…what the hell is an antibody and how important/effective will they be in the case of covid-19? even if the virus seems to disappear over the summer will it just reappear in the fall; or in the winter? is it better to just get infected and move forward from there? or is that worse? what are the long terms repercussions of getting sick going to be? if (and hopefully when) a vaccine is developed will i feel comfortable being vaccinated; having my children vaccinated?

on a smaller, more personal scale… what is going to happen to schools? seriously, what is the deal with the SAT? will colleges open in the fall? how will admissions work going forward? how much impact is this time in self-isolation going to have on my children?

and once life gets going again… (it is going to, right? eventually?) where will we feel comfortable going? will i be ok with the girls going back to school, to activities, to riding? when will we feel comfortable travelling again? what about going to the US again? what will the short- and long-term global reverberations really be? how much future planning makes sense and how many of my plans will end up being little more than daydreams?

what is frustrating and also, from a social science perspective, fascinating; is that really no one, no scientist, no politician, no researcher, no educator, no one has the answers to these questions.

a virologist may have some preliminary notion of how immunity to covid 19 will likely work in the future. i also feel certain many virologists and researchers are working hard to discover, perfect and produce a viable vaccine. 

politicians and civil servants are working; each in their own way, to serve their publics. i would argue many are still working to serve themselves; we’ll see how long that is sustainable.

meanwhile, educators around the world probably have many valid and reasonable ideas concerning how education will and should shift in the coming years.

parents, children, families and friends also all have valid and reasonable ways in which they envision organizing their lives- at least for the foreseeable future.  and business owners, big and small, around the globe, are more than likely holding zoom meeting after zoom meeting as they attempt to reorganize, reorder, and eventually, reopen their businesses.

but for now, regrettably there is no real end in sight; and no magic answers to my never-ending questions.

so, i am going to do what i can. i will start each day as it is; a new day…i will get up earlier than everyone else in my household to have a quiet cup of tea, write in my journal and do some yoga; i will oversee e-learning and help with brainstorming and editing; i will make sure we all have lots of healthy- fulfilling meals; i will get fresh air as much as possible; i will give back when and where i can; and most importantly-  i will try to remember to take deep breaths.

anxiety is just as contagious as covid-19

one of the most important pieces of advice I received before we went into “stay at home mode” last month was to make a schedule (or “program”, as alegra calls it) and stick to it. each day we have specific times for all our routine activities, breakfast, lunch and dinner; e-learning; exercise; socializing with friends; creating through art, cooking or music; and even blocks of time that we all know can be used for free-time or “alone time”.

during these uncertain times, watching the nightly news has also become a key part of our routine; as unalterable as e-learning or walking the dog.  as we watch the news, inevitably our phones start to bing and ping and light up- signaling messages from friends and family all over turkey who, like us, are trying to figure out exactly what is happening here and abroad, and glean any possible information about the future; either from official messages or from shared information.

last night was interesting, the president addressed the nation in a live press conference, detailing government efforts to combat the spread of the virus and keep deaths to a minimum.  messages from friends meanwhile cautioned that full lockdown; in turkey this is called “a ban on being on the street”; was certainly coming this week. friends also indicated that the government may soon decide to seize private assets in order to have more cash at their disposal.  rumor had it that private individuals would still be able to access their money; but only a certain percentage during a given time period- probably a month. 

the girls heard this, rumors coming from an anxious place, and oh boy, did that anxiety spread like wildfire throughout our house!

you could call it serendipity, or maybe just plain coincidence, but over the weekend two close friends sent me brene brown’s podcast on anxiety and calm.  i finally found time to listen to it yesterday morning while the girls had “e-school”. it could not have been better timing…

in the podcast, brown explains, and demonstrates, just how contagious anxiety is. and then she offers some advice on how to handle it. be it with a child, a co-worker, a friend or a spouse, the tools she provides are simple, and last night they WORKED.

despite the fear i felt rising in my chest as the questions flew around the dinner table; i took a deep breath as calmly as possible and said, “we don’t have any official information indicating that any of these rumors are true. until then there is no need to worry about this. once we have more information, we can-if necessary-make a plan that will work for us.”

honestly, i am still a little surprised that i managed to say it all so calmly, and i am equally and pleasantly surprised at how well it worked to calm not just the girls’, but my nerves as well.

there will be more rumors to come, decisions made by the government, the schools and other institutions that will surely make us anxious. just remember that anxiety is contagious- so take deep breaths, be sure you have all the information and don’t forget to wash your hands.

you can access the podcast here:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bren%C3%A9-on-anxiety-calm-over-under-functioning/id1494350511?i=1000470370881

let me know how your family is handling all these big questions; sharing resources and tools is crucial in these odd, odd times.