I wanted to come at this topic with examining, from my point of view, this “pandemics” benefits and drawbacks. Analyzing it from where I can see this with my area I live, first-hand experience, with my girlfriend in Palm Beach Island. Seeing it from a real optimistic way “what’s the lesson? What’s the blessing?” Again, these are observations and things I see in my early morning walks, once a week supermarket runs, and our late afternoon workouts outside, keeping our social distancing to the best of our abilities.
“Every event has a pair of opposites – benefits and drawbacks, positives and negatives. Crises have their blessings, challenges have their opportunities, “terribles” have their “terrifics” and magnets have their two sides. We can make a heaven out of a hell and a hell out of a heaven in our minds. We are more powerful than our outer circumstances if we are willing to utilize the truly remarkable power of our minds. Discover the underlying benefits and blessings and you will be able to see your experience as on the way not in the way, instructive, not obstructive.”
—Dr. John Demartini
I will start with the drawbacks and see all of the obvious misfortunes across the line from what I can understand from statistics we get from online sources (like the Florida Department of Health) and whatever mainstream network you watch. Their oxymoron motives lead no one to any sense of security or certainty because they don’t know themselves. All they can do is implement precautions and protocols in place to fight this “invisible enemy” which strikes at its own accord and we must cooperate to lower the curve by sheltering in. I do wish they’d slow the fear campaign and just inform with nonpolitical discernment. Data from Florida's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard of Palm Beach County, as of April 27th, 2020, there are 2,703 total cases, 156 deaths, with a median age of 56 years old. Total cases in the state of Florida are 32,138. Recovery shows 686 in Palm Beach County. Total US 0.15% per capita, .005% death per Capita, with 30,364 in recovery according to these simulations.
What I do find interesting is these recovery articles in finding multiple sources:
As of March 24th, ”About 80% of people get a very mild illness and they recover uneventfully. That's important to realize," said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
April 5th, “As of Sunday night, according to the Johns Hopkins website, more than 260,000 people across the globe have recovered after testing positive for coronavirus, which includes about 17,000 in the U.S.
“The very definition of recovery is a contested issue – are you recovered once you’re no longer symptomatic, or contagious, once you get a negative test result, or no longer require hospitalization? Are you ever ‘recovered’ if you suffer long-term effects from having the virus? Until some of these issues and definitions are worked out at the local, state and national level, we will not be providing a metric for recovery.” Source
This is basic research with what is at our disposal using browsers like Google, Firefox, and I have also been testing out DuckDuckGo. Just looking up the data and keywords lead you into a rabbit hole of sparse real and misinformed information, outside only, looking at one data source like the Florida Department of Health and the mainstream media. We don’t have cable but social media and youtube get the messages pushed into our subconscious via our laptops. Everyone screams for references when anyone has a question outside the mainstream or it triggers their values so here was minimal research for the unfortunate drawbacks. Again, no one wants anyone to die and we hope these organizations, in place, have the best of our intentions for humanities, as a whole, well-being. Another observation is seeing the alarming amount of deaths related to the flu, those numbers are alarming, I had no clue. Considering that people take a yearly Flu shot from their doctor or any given CVS or Walgreens with a $10 gift card, but that is a whole other topic.
In my own life, my godmother, her son, and his wife all tested positive for COVID-19. Her son, a first responder firefighter, tested positive and started to get some of the symptoms. His wife came down with the symptoms as well and over a couple of weeks, they have all recuperated.
Now, his mother, my godmother, got really bad symptoms and ultimately had to go to the hospital. After a week's stay, testing positive as well for COVID-19, she’s recuperated and home safely, thank God. It gets that much more real when it hits close to home. When you actually know the family members our concerns exasperate and all hands are on deck. Shit got real. The prayers and compassion unite the family by making the phone calls to our loved ones, trying out FaceTime or zoom, and literally head down in the pillow praying my beloved godmother makes it through. The drawbacks of being powerless to a solution but, at the very least, the benefit in return is to physically access our smartphones and make the call. In hearing their voice, even if it's been so long, and without hesitation, tell them you love them. All of the updates on my godmother were known via Facebook but the intentions and phone calls followed suit without any hesitation.
Our other observations, on the drawbacks, are to go outside during the coronavirus outbreak, as long as you practice safe social distancing. In Palm Beach and Florida in general, rules said residents had to stay in except when they left to pick up groceries or medicine, exercise, or complete essential work that couldn’t be done at home. We are by no means rebels here and my girlfriend and I adhere to all the rules given the pandemic. We stay home, work from home, and unfortunately, my girlfriend was in a non-essential restaurant arena and is currently unemployed, but our workouts are a high priority for us. Sunshine on our skin and a good sweat to keep up our immunity healthy and strong, as we always do all year long. On my morning walks in the past, there are usually some people out, but not many. Now there are a lot of people, but most are still twenty feet or more from each other. If we get close, we consciously disperse to the recommended distance and get gradually merge back on track.
What I find fascinating is the number of essential workers in; construction, landscape, plumbing, refrigerator maintenance, light bulb changers, teak painters all going to the big mega homes to do their maintenance and none of them respect the crosswalk. So I stand there and wait to cross the road and play chicken at 7 am.
Our other mistake was posting online, Instagram stories, videos of how many humans of all ages were walking, biking, rollerblading, breathing in the fresh air, and keeping their social distancing, to only get the backlash of private messages showing how I am part of the problem. Apparently their concern was of my negligence and unwillingness to oblige, and that we will be the spreaders. They say even if your asymptomatic, now we're all using these medical terms, we will spread it to the next elderly person who gets my essence of a viral cloud, and now the lock-down shall be extended because of what we exude from our infectious nostrils.
The supermarkets are doing their best, they really are. The drawbacks are the risk involved after staying in our homes all week and going to get our groceries so we can eat for the week.
Masked crusaders of all ages walking past each other like a couple of gunslingers ready to draw a two-step backward if you get closer than six feet. They started a little late in our supermarket implementing precautions but they have to follow corporate orders so it’s not their fault. They put up glass protectors (or a sneeze guard if you will) at every cashier station a couple of weeks after, and blue tape was implemented to mark every six feet before entering the supermarket. A note outside says, "mask is highly encouraged," but by now, if you’re not wearing it you are strongly frowned upon and people will give you the stink eye. One way avenues down every aisle are the norm now and the idea is to get in and get out as fast as possible. The other drawback is seeing our cashier sneeze and tell us, as we are looking at her the whole time, and I ask her to please clean her hands or my girlfriend is going to pass out and her reply was, “I already did” and she clearly didn’t. So when we got home we formed a supply chain and my girlfriend washed ever item outside our door and I put everything away in the kitchen.
Now, to the benefits.
I have worked from home for quite some time now and since Ashley had been temporarily let go from the restaurant group, she had to transition into staying home and waiting for the unknown date of return. Like so many other non-essentials this transition, in our case for Ashley, was scary and kind of exciting all at once. Of course, we were scared of getting symptoms and staying home doing all the precautions of staying in our quarantine, but she felt liberated. She was free, from that monotonous routine and stressful environment a seasonal restaurant has in its busy season, which here is from October through April.
She got to see how many Zoom meetings I was involved in and scheduled team meetings I had with people around the States and overseas. I installed Zoom on her laptop and taught her the basics so she can talk to her family and even me down the line to start our own company. We started our blog www.blessthenests.com and she was diligently and creatively writing new posts and recipes. I encouraged her to learn from some influencers on youtube on how they run their Instagram accounts. Also, reach out to some of our neighbors, who make a living from Instagram, to teach her some tips on their experience and how they manage their social media. So many new skill sets are accumulating and inspiring her to think of more creative arenas to expand our blog and more. We got to really connect on some levels of sharing the work-space, eating lunch together, and talking out any of her concerns or fears during this transition. It’s new for all of us and our best advice is to talk it through, and don’t wait, the sooner better. Overall its connected us on a deeper level and ultimately inspire her to find her authentic self.
We always did our grocery shopping together, but now we have to mask up and go in before the line wraps around the building. We set a time now to go every Friday at 11 am, before the lunch rush. Remember all the construction and specialty essential workers, well, they line up around the block at around noon. Recyclable bags in hand, recyclable wine bags, custom masks made by Ashley’s sister wrapped around our face and we get our full shop calculated down to the following Friday. Home-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner now and Ashley cooks divinely. I cook breakfast some mornings, but Ashley is the star chef.
The other cool benefit was since we always remembered our recyclable bags, we are almost all out of the plastic bags we accumulate when we forget the recyclable ones. We reuse the plastic one as garbage bags for our smaller bins throughout our place.
Reaching out to loved ones more often makes you reevaluate what is important. Especially in these unknown times where everything is so indecisive and fear-based. We are all parroting, in a sense, all we know at our level of understanding considering the news or information we gather. We call our family daily to see how they are coping and send them positive energy, strong immunity, and, of course, tell them how much we love them. Ashley and I make our rounds reaching out to all of our family members and hearing them out and genuinely connecting. We want to make an effort to do this more often from here on out.
Lastly, the benefits of routine, even during the crisis, exercise. Getting your body moving, blood pumping, lungs expanding in the fresh air by going outside daily and doing some physical activity, and make a habit of it for the long-term. Now, more than ever, this is true for all the right reasons to upkeep and continually sustain a strong immunity susceptible to any contagions, pre and post-pandemic. Walking, biking, running, a 20-minute workout on Youtube with only your own body-weight (no equipment) in the fresh air and sunlight is so less dangerous than standing six feet away, with a mask on, in Walmart or the supermarket. One of the weekly routines I love to do is walk alone early mornings to hear my thoughts, stretch, pray and meditate and mid-way through the walk back I finish with an audiobook, just showing you my routine. In my quiet walks, you hear nature accentuated to another level, where we live, there seem to be way more birds chirping everywhere, it's loud! With no-one on the beach and less boat traffic, the pelican’s are feasting, diving in the water catching more fish than they can handle, I’ve never seen them doing this in my 3 years here.
You look down the main street that runs parallel to the beach and so many walks of life are in the distance. We see families walking with their elderly grandma, in the middle of their pack making sure she stays strong and keeps moving.
Everyone is literally ten to twenty feet apart, except for families and couples, and sometimes you run into friends and, even then, we still keep our six feet and say our hello’s. Full families enjoying the present moment, fathers, mothers, and the kids all on their bicycles with helmets carefully navigating through the streets. I wonder if the fathers and mothers or both together ponder, “Why did it take a pandemic for me to see how much work takes me away from these special moments with my kids?" Then, I wonder if they will make this into a routine once life goes back to work. I hope they do.
Ashley and I workout on these streets of Palm Beach all the time and occasionally see the solo walkers, runners, bicyclists, maids walking dogs, and one family in particular on a bicycle golf cart looking thing, but hardly any full families on bicycles and rollerblading. What’s up with the rollerblading?
When did this come back? So many rollerbladers are finally dusting off their old pair out of the trunk of their car or from the back of the closet and hitting the lake trail in style.
On to Lake Trail
Lake trail, in Palm Beach island, is a public divide between ultra-luxury homes on the water, an open public domain sidewalk, and then a continuation of their property to their docks and yachts that face the inner coastal. A good majority, if not all of them, have big landscape walls and perfectly manicured hedges that allow you to see just a glimpse of the house's upper half. More on why I painted this picture of the trail later. At certain times, the sidewalk is full of active people from all walks of life and a good majority of them don’t even live here.
There were so many bike riders at certain times of the day that they banned them from 9 am to 4 pm. Now, again, this whole thing is to show the benefits, and I was just painting a picture, so bear with me. We do our routine workouts around 6 pm, less heat at that time, and walk around the beach and end up, either walking or biking, at some part of lake trail. Before the pandemic sometimes you would see a lot of people walking, walking their dogs, biking, running and our favorite elderly man (has to be in his 90’s) slow pace running down the trail and he never says hello, but we love him. Then, other days almost no one is on the trail except for us. Also, all of these beautiful homes always seem empty and we never see one person using their beautiful docks or boats.
That was then, now, in these last couple of weeks that trail is full of people around 6:30 pm. Some older people walking with their masks on, others not. Bike riders with their masks on others not, rollerbladers everywhere again 50/50 mask usage. Everyone seems to drift six feet apart, as if we're all in this synchronistic dance, as you get close we disperse walk into the grass, hold your breath, and then come right back on the track. Everyone is getting their sunlight, good perspiration, and inhaling that natural air. Also, so many people, strangers, are saying hello and nodding as you walk by, and honestly, people seem nicer, not angrier. It’s as if we have been un-hypnotized and released from the daily anxiety of work pressure and now we can honor each other in these pandemic times. I don’t see that in supermarkets or essential areas were allowed in. Finally, these mega homes are being used. You smell barbecues, you hear families all having conversations behind the hedges. Music is playing in these homes that we would never hear in all the years we’ve lived nearby. The docks are full of couples and families enjoying a sunset together while sipping on some wine. They are enjoying these homes and not traveling to all their other homes, who knows. It’s not about the lucky or unlucky, in my point of view, because yes there are so many unfortunate circumstances, but this is about recognizing what we have and experiencing what we can control within our own lives. It’s just good to see the houses full of life and finally looking like homes.
In the end, I am obviously self-projecting my own values on where my head and heart stand at this moment in time. Writing my personal memoir of drawbacks and benefits in the current reality we are all living in during these unpredictable COVID-19 times. I hope to look back at this time and see how much we’ve progressed knowing what is important and who is most important in our lives and go all-in on that lifestyle. Acknowledging our hustle obsessed ways that take away time from our loved ones and/or exhaust us from taking care of our health. Your time is your life. Of course, we need to work and take on full responsibility for own lives and our family but know at what cost. The new income should spread out to your relationship, your family, your faith/spiritual connection, who you allow into your life, standing up for your work environment, knowing when to relax, and most of all take care of your temple, your self-care. Life really is a dance and the more I try to control the circumstances or make myself right I lose touch with what is real in my own inner peace. I can’t control the media, make the oil prices go back up, make sure economy is better by advocating who needs to be in power, or tweet Bill Gates to give us a better projection of real data, put myself into a category of right vs left, or tell someone they're stupid for not wearing a full-body hazmat suit, all I can do is take care of my unit, my family, my actions and what I allow in my own thoughts.
Maybe I’ve been inspired by currently reading 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson and he says, “Put the things you can control in order. Repair what is in disorder, and make what is already good better.”
The lesson learned? Who knows what they are going to call the new normal and my guess is, the powers that be, they already have a full plan in effect to drive the economy back in working order. The reality is and the question we should ask ourselves is “Was what we had a working sustainable order?” and “What was the lesson and what was the blessing?” All of us are so different and the one thing we have in common is we are all part of the human race diversified in the only way it can be at this moment. Each of our lessons, will have their own circumstances in life, aligned with your own values ultimately manifesting our own outcomes. We all see the world through different lenses and your blessings will vary from ours. All in all, we need to unite, someway somehow, and strive for a better future filled with growth and opportunities because the old model isn't working anymore and it's time to be resilient.
My blessings are enjoying my life with Ashley. Learning and supporting each other through these interesting times. Finishing our book that's coming out this summer called, Bless the Nest and getting it published. Starting our blog and writing these thought pieces and adventures. Cooking amazing experimental meals together and listening to jazz music on our Pandora radio. Working out outside around the neighborhood talking about life for a while and getting our heart health strong. Watching other couples and families, on our walks, doing the same thing, just walking to the beat of their own drum. Keeping in touch with my family via FaceTime and WhatsApp and always sending and expressing how much I love them. Reaching out to true friends who have been with us in the good times and the bad, you know who they are. My godmother's update, she fully recovered and they had a parade of cars drive by in front of her house and throw her flowers and honk their horns it was amazing. I love you, Tia Teresa. Lastly, I am going within and trusting my heart and mindset and dancing into in these unknown times. Start where you are, trust those instinctual gut feelings, stick to your word, and play your own song.
“When the dust settles, we will realize how little we need, how very much we actually have, and the true value of human connection.” —Susan Gale
Thank you for reading and hearing my thoughts. Keep the Nest Blessed.
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Our book is coming soon, Summer 2020 sign-up at our blog for updates on the release:
Bless the Nest, 33 Tiny Studio Living Tips for a Striving, Loving Relationship By Ashley Martin and Martin Casado