A random group of photos from recent walks to our favorite beaches and parks. I need some peaceful images on this election day!
Perhaps the only upside to what I call the “pandammit” is that I’m not shopping like a drunken socialite, to quote my friend S. Which doesn’t mean I’ve stopped shopping altogether; it’s more that I’m buying different things.
Big-ticket items flew out the window as life got simpler and our activities remain close to home. Meanwhile, entire categories (hello, hand sanitizer) became essentials. What a topsy-turvy world! (Google reports that the expression “may be an adaptation of the medieval verb ‘tirve’, meaning ‘to turn or to topple over’. It has also been suggested that ‘turvy’ is an allusion to ‘turf’ and that ‘topsy-turvy’ means ‘with one’s head on the turf’.”)
- Amazon – miscellaneous household items, esp. hard to get stuff
- Whole Foods delivery in the early months
- Fresh fruits and veggies from farmers’ market and small specialty grocers
- Cooking gadgets
- Wine and booze – do you even have to ask why?
- TV streaming services
- Zoom membership
- Vitamins, supplements, acetaminophen PM
- Face masks — whoever predicted one would need a wardrobe of these?!
- Cute socks
- Cleaning supplies
- Fresh flowers to maintain sanity and illusion of elegant normalcy
- Makeup, especially lipstick – kind of pointless when wearing a mask, no?
- Hair salon – spreading out appointments and doing trimming/touch-ups myself until desperate
- Pedicures – My toes are not worth dying for
- New clothes – to go where, exactly?
- Cultural events/theatre/opera tix
- Massages and facials (see pedicure)
Yep, things are definitely tirving these days.
From the Department of What’s The World Coming To…
Barcelona’s Liceu opera reopened on Monday. Its first concert was performed in front of an audience of plants, NPR reports. Much nicer for the performers, I surmise, as at least plants don’t cough, rattle candy wrappers, and forget to shut off their cell phones.
Then again, this plant appears to have nodded off.
Remember the “freshman 15”, aka the pounds everyone seemed to gain their first year at college? It’s déjà vu all over again.
Back in the day, the culprits were pizza, beer (and/or weed), and nerve-wracking new experiences like late-night cramming and unprecedented freedom.
This is different, and not just because I’m older. Month after month of the same old, same old has led to inertia and tedium with a constant low hum of anxiety buzzing along underneath.
I don’t really care what the government is recommending… Dear Husband and I are staying put except for essential and unavoidable tasks. Since we can’t travel or eat out with friends, we’ve amused ourselves by cooking food from different cultures and pretending to be elsewhere. Unlike traveling, however, we are not burning calories by walking extra miles through cities, museums, and the like. Even my Fitbit is bored. The result: packing on extra poundage like a wild animal in captivity.
Like many of you, I eat when I’m stressed even if I’m not physically hungry. And what I’ve realized, as my own little world keeps shrinking — while I’m not — is how many of my essential needs aren’t being met… which leads to stress… which leads to snacking.
- Order and control. Toss this one right out the window. We have no idea when this will end and can’t do much about it except to continue social distancing and wearing a mask. Plus, staying informed is highly overrated when so much of the news is just plain sickening.
- Anticipation. It’s hard to plan for a trip or special event when there’s nothing on the calendar. And being worried about catching the virus en route does dim one’s enthusiasm.
- Personal space. If you’re someone who needs lots of alone time, a pandemic is not your friend.
- Sleep. Stress and worry make sleep elusive, or fitful at best. Which in turn affects your body’s balance of the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin decreases it. When the body is sleep-deprived, ghrelin levels spike, while the level of leptin falls, leading to an increase in hunger, especially for junk food. (I don’t know how it knows, but it does.)
- Variety of experiences. When going to the grocery store is the weekly highlight, life’s a little blah no matter how nice your home or neighborhood is.
Anyway, it’s useful to know the triggers. Now I need to get serious about my action plan, as I refuse to buy a larger-size wardrobe. Who’s with me?
There are so many things I miss these days, from the prosaic to the profound. Among them:
- Free samples at Costco and Trader Joe’s
- Visiting with my kids
- Dinner out with friends
- Responsible government leadership
- A proper haircut
- A decent pedicure
- My group exercise class
- Anxiety-free sleep
- News that’s actually news
- Space to roam
- My waistline
But perhaps the one thing I miss most of all is the anticipation of upcoming travel. For those of us who love a change of scenery — whether exotic or familiar — there is something deeply satisfying about planning a trip down to the last detail, while leaving lots of room for unexpected developments. (The good kind, not the “oh s*** I’m suddenly quarantined in a foreign country” kind.)
I’m enjoying vicarious adventures through other bloggers’ posts, but we all know it’s hardly the same. Having cancelled our London trip planned for March, and now deciding not to play “beat the odds” with the trip to France we’d scheduled for this summer, I feel a bit adrift.
And wondering… what do YOU miss most these days?
Good info on disinfecting your cell phone. In short, clean the screen and case with a disinfecting wipe, being careful not to get liquid in it. Do this especially after using it in public places.
Better yet, keep it in a plastic zip bag when you’re out and about. (Is that even still a thing?)
On the bright side, maybe this will be the end of people taking endless selfies.
Amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19, here’s a practical and uplifting guide to managing our anxieties.
As the author writes in today’s New York Times, the good news is that “even in the face of fear, we do have the capacity to act in ways that would help limit contagion during an epidemic. (If link doesn’t work, here is the article.)
Are you fearful about catching the coronavirus? Are you anxious about whether you’re properly prepared for its arrival? You’re in good company.
In the past few days, I’ve had more than a few patients call or email to ask me to double or even triple the dosage of their prescription antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication so that they could have a bigger supply on hand “just in case.”
Throughout the country, people are stockpiling food in anticipation of a shortage or a quarantine. Supplies of Purell hand sanitizer flew off the shelves in local pharmacies and are now hard to find or even unavailable online.
I understand the impulse to secure one’s safety in the face of a threat. But the fact is that if I increase the supply of medication for my patients, I could well deprive other patients of needed medication, so I reluctantly declined those requests.
As a psychiatrist, I frequently tell my patients that their anxieties and fears are out of proportion to reality, something that is often true and comforting for them to realize. But when the object of fear is a looming pandemic, all bets are off.
In this case, there is reason for alarm. The coronavirus is an uncertain and unpredictable danger. This really grabs our attention, because we have been hard-wired by evolution to respond aggressively to new threats. After all, it’s safer to overact to the unknown than to do too little.
Unfortunately, that means we tend to overestimate the risk of novel dangers. I can cite you statistics until I am blue in the face demonstrating that your risk of dying from the coronavirus is minuscule compared with your risk of dying from everyday threats, but I doubt you’ll be reassured. For example, 169,000 Americans died by accident and 648,000 died of heart disease in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Sunday morning 19 Americans had died from the coronavirus.
The reason this probably doesn’t make you feel better is simple: Just as we tend to assume the worst about novel threats — the safest, if not the most statistically justifiable, strategy — we tend to underestimate the danger of familiar risks because we are habituated to them. We are not very rational when it comes to assessing risk.
The good news is that even in the face of fear, we do have the capacity to act in ways that would help limit contagion during an epidemic. Specifically, we can behave altruistically, which benefits everyone.
For example, research shows that when people are told that it is possible — but not certain — that going to work while sick would infect a co-worker, people are less willing to stay home than when they are reminded of the certainty that going to work sick would expose vulnerable co-workers to a serious chance of illness. Stressing the certainty of risk, in other words, more effectively motivates altruism than stressing the possibility of harm.
The lesson for the real world is that health officials should be explicit in telling the public that selfish responses to an epidemic, such as going to work while sick or failing to wash your hands, threaten the health of the community.
There are other ways to encourage selfless behavior. For example, another study examined the neural activity of people while they played a game in which they made either generous or selfish choices to award or withhold money. The researchers found that when subjects made selfish decisions, the brain’s reward center was activated, whereas when they made generous decisions, a region of the brain implicated in empathy lit up. This suggests that people are more likely to be altruistic if they are primed to think of others and to imagine how their behavior might benefit them.
There is no question that we can all be encouraged to act in the interest of our fellow humans during perilous times. Specifically, public figures need to convey loudly and clearly that we should not go to work or travel when we’re sick and that we should not hoard food and medical supplies beyond our current need — not just give us health statistics or advise about how to wash our hands.
But that will require morally authoritative leaders who can inspire the better angels of our nature by reminding us that we are all in this epidemic together.
For generations, it’s been assumed that only mommies need to change their kids’ diapers in public places. What else could explain the general shortage of changing tables in men’s restrooms?
To remedy that, Pampers and Koala Kare have joined forces. Their goal: to install 5000 changing stations in men’s bathrooms in the US and Canada by 2021. So far, nearly 2000 have been added to libraries, parks and other public spaces.
Change is in the air, and it’s long overdue.
Lack of space and privacy, noise, too much togetherness, and family drama are some of the reasons. ‘Ya think?
However, knowing this, you might want to take a short walk around the block every few hours to clear your head and give you some alone time. Happy holidays! xx
Now there’s more space for America’s national mammal to be at home on the range. (No, not buffalo, as the song would have it*: buffalo are indigenous to South Asia and Africa, whereas bison are found in North America and parts of Europe.
In case you’re wondering what the difference is (of course you were), bison sport shaggy beards and buffalo don’t.
The World Wildlife Fund reports that bison in Badlands National Park now have an additional 22,553 acres in which to roam. In 2017, over 2,500 donors to WWF and partner organizations raised nearly $750,000 to build 43 miles of a new fence that extends bison habitat in the park to 80,193 acres.
This October, the WWF released bison into the new area—the first time they’ve set hoof on this land since 1877.
*Let’s be honest,”Give me a home where the bison roam” doesn’t exactly flow.