Day 24 Coronavirus: 4/9/2020 Thursday

wow! Somehow five days passed since my last blog post. Well, I know why. I was under deadline for my Master’s program (David Lynch Master of Fine Arts/Screenwriting), with a treatment for my pilot which was due Monday, and some reading and watching assignments. We also did some work around the ranch, taping up holes in the screens, cleaning the windows. Man! I cleaned those windows but they are still grubby. I’ll be circling back around when it warms up again. We thought we’d have a week of warm weather, but it was one day. And it got hot up here!

bug 4.5.20

 

I saw this bug.

 

We weren’t sure what it was, but with the bug book and our friend, Google, we realized it’s a snakefly. A beneficial insect.

 

I Googled ‘bug with long neck and stinger thing.’

 

 

 

 

BigTippy

We built a ramp for the sweet old fat doggy, and staple-gunned a couple of pieces of carpet to it from the garage to help her with traction. (I tried it without the carpet first and she slid down it on her butt. She didn’t get hurt, but it scared her.) Once we got the carpet on there, we had to coax her up and down the ramp with treats so she’d get used to it. This girl will do just about anything anything for treats. Now she’s always using it to go down, but still likes the couple of stairs to go up. It’s her front left leg/shoulder that hurts the most. You can kind of tell from the photo that she puts her weight more on the front right paw. Arthritis, because she’s about half her weight overweight. Or so. Chonker.

BigGirlTippy2

We also had a few nights of a gorgeous moon, Sunday and Monday nights

JaeneSaysCoronaVirus

and then again Tuesday night, the Pink Super Moon, wasn’t so pink but was gorgeous, especially in the swing under the oak tree.

pink supermoon swing

Last night, my brother called me, a bit anxious. He said he watched a report about someone working at Home Depot (as he does, still), who was 63 (he’s 58) who was fairly healthy (as he is) and got sick and died in a matter of days from Covid. We talked about trying to pay attention only to what’s right in front of us. I asked if he’d been meditating yet. He said no, but he will on his days off. Then he told me about the friggin’ approaching asteroid. Mitch had mentioned this a few months ago, but I didn’t know that it’s basically upon us. The target date for the fly-by is April 29th, according to NASA’s Asteroid Watch. (Who knew they had an Asteroid Watch?!)  Whatever you do, do NOT go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories on this one. I’m still getting my heart rate back to normal after looking for the legit links on this one. As an older friend of mine, who passed last summer, liked to say: It’s just one more damn thing. Deal with it.

And Stay. Present.

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Day 18 Coronavirus: 4/3/2020 arising, unfolding, dissolving

Mitch is going back to Oakland today. I was having a great sleep, but was unable to go back to sleep after 5am when I woke up thinking about it.

Then we got in a heated argument because I wanted him to take a roll of paper towels in addition to toilet paper, just in case he needed them for his dad or his grandma. He refused because there are napkins in the glovebox and a roll of shop towels with the tools in the trunk. I don’t know why I care so much about him taking the fucking paper towels. It’s my little tiny input on his journey, which I’m apparently terrified about his taking.

But his father has cancer. Today is his birthday. Despite the risks, he wants to see his son. It won’t be a great visit — Mitch will be wearing a mask and gloves and won’t be able to hug him or stay long. But he’ll give him the peanut butter cookies he made yesterday and the card we wrote out to him. And it breaks my heart right now just  thinking about it. I know that we’re just moving into the real stuff with this pandemic, but I also know that many have already experienced tragic loss. Many friends feel this deeply and regularly. Others do, too, but are soldiering on as best they can. I waffle.

the doggy knows

The sweet fuzzer girl knows when things are feeling immeasurably difficult.                        She just knows.

This is a time to be with what is. Allowing what is arising in our consciousness — be it fear, sadness, confusion. My beloved teacher Richard Miller says everything is arising, unfolding, dissolving in our consciousness. So, too, is the movement of this virus through our experience. It’s arising in some places, unfolding in others, perhaps dissolving in some…

Om, shanti, shanti, shanti.

Peace in body, mind, spirit.

Stay. Present.

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Day 17 Coronavirus: 4/2/2020 Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed Lip breathing

A colleague in Colorado reported that she is recovering from Covid-19. A tip she shared: She spent way too much time and energy trying to get tested. Tests just aren’t that available. She went to ER twice because of shortness of breath, and still couldn’t get a test.

She did get a finger blood-oxygen sensor and said that it was helpful because even even though she felt like she wasn’t getting enough oxygen, the sensor would tell her otherwise. She said 95% and above is good.

This made me circle back around to tools we always have with us.

My Mother was my First Yoga Teacher; though, neither of us knew it at the time. When I realized this many years later, I cried for a day.

My mother had congestive heart failure in 1993. She was a lifelong smoker, and her addiction was fierce. It talked through her — saying things like, ‘But I like it.’ ‘If it’s going to do any damage, it’s probably already done it.’ She was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and put on oxygen. She quit smoking, thank goodness, but was a bit in denial about her health saying things like, “I’m going to wean myself off of this oxygen.” I think it was because she secretly hoped/(her addiction mislead her to believe) she’d one day be able to smoke again.

After she was released from the hospital, we started going to weekly ‘breathing classes.’ We learned about the mechanics of Congestive Heart Failure.

  • Basically, because of the damage smoking causes, the lungs are unable to push out/exchange carbon dioxide (the used up air in the exhale) for rich oxygen (the cleansing air of the inhale).
  • This leads to a buildup of carbon dioxide in the lungs and in the blood. The heart reads this as the body not getting enough oxygen, so it starts pumping faster (going into fight mode).
  • This faster-pumping heart leads a shortness of breath, because the automatic systems of the body are focusing solely on increasing the oxygen in the body — via the inhale. So there are lots of big inhales happening without sufficient exhales, making the blood-oxygen levels even more out of whack, which gets the heart pumping ever faster.  The body is going into full-on panic mode.

The good news, and the reason I keep preaching about meditation over and over in these posts, is that we can learn to control our breathing. It takes practice! But with practice, we can circumvent a panic attack, or congestive heart failure by observing when we are feeling agitated, and turning focus inward.

The best tool that my mother and I learned together, and practiced together, is Pursed Lip Breathing. WATCH  this 2-minute video from the American Lung Association about it. The short story is that you focus on the exhale, blowing out through pursed lips (like you’re blowing through a straw). This helps get the used air/carbon dioxide OUT of the body. There’s a lot more carbon dioxide in our bodies than we know.

  • So extennnnnnd the exhale each time through pursed lips.
  • Lengthennnnn the exhale. Lengthening the exhale also has the added benefit of  activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System or “Relaxation Response.”

Here’s another great information page from the Cleveland Clinic.

What the hell does this have to do with coronavirus, Jaene? I think it could very well help because:

  • when we clear out carbon dioxide by extending the exhale, through pursed lips if need be, we make more room for oxygen.
  • we also keep our bodies in repose and relaxation, so the body doesn’t go into panic.
  • when we keep the body calm, we’re also supporting the immune system and helping to quell inflammation.

Pursed Lip Breathing could be an excellent tool for anyone feeling short of breath due to the inflammatory response of the body against the (previously) unknown virus. It could help one feel a bit more in control and allow the body to do what it is designed to do and knows how to do: FIGHT and move back toward balance.

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Day 16 Coronavirus: April 1, 2020

Exhale. That is my mantra today. I’ve found, as I start to get stressed, I hold my breath. I realized we’re all kind of holding our breath right now. As the coronavirus spreads, we’re all bracing for what the next wave will bring. This easy-to-understand Google map of the progression of the virus is indicative of the reach of this pandemic. Everyone is some shade of blue. We are all connected. This inhaling and exhaling thing has me thinking about the contracted and expanded way of looking at this thing. If I get too micro, it’s devastating, it’s terrible, it’s frightening. If I zoom out, though, it’s humbling, it’s profound, it’s unifying. On March 24th, a friend sent me a video poem from an artist I’d never heard of, Riya Sokol. It starts by thanking the coronavirus. In the moment I received it, I was definitely operating from the contracted place and I wasn’t open to what she was saying. It seemed too new-agey weirdo, even disrespectful, especially in the face of all the deaths in Italy and the wildfire-like spread. I circled back around to it a few days later, when I felt a bit more expanded, and I found it has some good things to say. This havoc this virus is wreaking is forcing us to slow down — or, rather stop — our business-as-usual and take stock of what is important. I just hope (contracting here) this goes all the way up the chain to landlords and insurance companies and mortgage holders and creditors. I hope they, too, can find a way to exhale and sit in what’s truly important. People. The Planet. Wellness. We’re looking at things from a different perspective now. It’s a new world.
Exhale. Stay. Present.
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Day 15 Coronavirus: March 31, 2020

It’s been over two weeks here in self-imposed exile to Mendocino. In the interim, I’ve gone into town maybe three times, mostly wearing a mask and gloves. Others in my crew — sis in law, brother, boyfriend — have gone when I’ve gone and at other times. My brother is a nurse at a small medical center. So our exposure here to Covid19 is both limited and front-and-center. I’ve had some ringing in my ear for many days now, which could be due to the the altitude. I’ve had some gastrointestinal distress, which passed after a couple of days. I’ve noticed some indigestion the past couple of nights, but that may very well be red-wine related. I’m also a bit snarfy — stuffed up, phlegmy — but we’re living in a dusty old farmhouse that gets quite cold at night and burning wood for warmth. It pretty much resolves in the daytime, with the help of a neti pot, warm tea, and herbal tinctures I’ve had in my medicine cabinet, like Wishgarden Herbs, which I purchased a while back at Pharmaca.

Key to keeping one’s immune system thriving is to keep cortisol levels down — which means minimizing stress as much as possible. Turn off the television. Create art. Tell stories. Stretch. Find online communities. Do a little yoga. Play with your loving pets. They really know where it’s at. Easy meditation resources are available to you. I’ve listed many of them in previous posts. I urge you to take advantage.

Now here’s one of my sis in law’s sweet fuzzers with what looks like a pioneer hat. But it’s a rat.

Not a real one. A stuffed toy rat.

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Day 14 Coronavirus: March 30, 2020

Today I spent the morning finishing up some reading for my pilot-writing class, which resumes tonight, after Spring Break last week. It’s fortunate that my Master’s program, the David Lynch MFA in Screenwriting through Maharishi University, is low-residency, and we were already conducting our classes on Zoom. I had a bit of an existential crisis right before spring break — what’s the use? What will Hollywood be like after it’s all said and done? Will there even be a world to go back to?

Real questions. Real talk. We’re not even really in this yet.

But it’s a welcome distraction to write. This blog and my projects for school. Pepper in a good cry for the world every so often, and then I get back to the program credo: Meditate and Create. I’ve been leading meditation with OperationEVAC a couple of times a week, which is an honor and a gift. Sharing iRest meditation with people during this time is a must for my own health and calling. The veterans of OperationEVAC are familiar with iRest; I’ve been working with Ryan Miller since his Harborside Heroes days, back when were both budtenders there. So they’re open to its benefits. Even the new ones coming in are fairly open to it, because their comrades know the practice. They inspire me. I know this coronavirus is triggering them as well as the rest of us, but they’re showing up for their mental health and that’s exactly what we all must do right now. Anything and everything we can to stay present. And to foster restful sleep at night.

With regard to meditation, there are several amazing communities I’m honored to be part of, and I highly recommend any and all of them to you if you’re looking for a way to stay grounded and connected.  Transcendental Meditation, the receipt of which is part of the the DLMFA program and has been amazing for my daily life, is a 20 minute practice, 2x per day.

I’m also doing the twice/weekly iRest free meditation program.

And, the 21-day Oprah/Deepak Chopra free Meditation Experience.

I highly recommend as much meditation and self care as possible these days. If you’re meditation-averse, know that it is a normal part of entering into a practice. The mind gets nervous about its possible extinction. The chatter will grow louder at first. But it will quiet and it will get easier. Just show up. Do what you can to Stay Present. Here’s an easy meditation if your belief is that you don’t have time.

 

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Day 13 Coronavirus: March 29, 2020

Today, I spent the morning setting up my Día de los Muertos altar. I had it set up at home, and that was one of the things Mitch retrieved for me. After seeing the animated film Coco, which I so loved, (and which a playwright friend worked on), I felt a draw to create an altar in order to gift myself a space for my grief.

In it I have various photos, trinkets, ashes of friends and family now gone — Mom and Dad, and my siblings Maureen, Mike, George, Colleen, and Kathy.  Five of the eleven  of us have gone from this world. I have sugar skulls and marigolds, candles, stones and other beautiful mementos. I cannot tell you how healing it is to have a place that is reserved for honoring the dead, and a place I can go to to look at and touch my grief. It feels as though, before I created the altar, I was carrying all that grief around inside me. Now it lives outside of me and I pay my respects daily in passing and, on occasion, more deliberately — when something is coming up to be observed and processed.

DDLM altar Mendocino

I also have an angel tree, which is specifically for my dear sister, Colleen, who always sang pretty songs and talked to the angels. She had a near death experience while she was in the hospital before she died in which she got to meet some of the angels. It’s a beautiful story. I did a solo show about Coll a few years ago. I told Mitch to leave the actual metal tree (which isn’t my favorite). When it dried up a bit, I’ll find the perfect branch to put the angels in. Right now, they sit on the table next to my bed.

I may have mentioned, I was considering either letting my hair grow through this or shaving my head. The head shaving idea didn’t go over well with Mitch or my sis-in-law or brother. So I’ll let it grow. But I won’t be coloring it. I read that hair color is flying off the shelves in stores. Fuck it. It’s time. Silver is beautiful. Here’s a photo of me today. We’ll see what it looks like at the other end of whatever this is. 

growing hair day 13 Mendocino

I took the Furminator to dear, sweet old doggie and her coat is already starting to look better. I’m beginning to fall in love with her. It is my hope we can get her weight down while we’re here and get her back a little more healthy. She still begs terribly when we’re eating, and it’s hard not to give her bites and treats, but table food is not good for her and she’s starting to go lie down when we tell her no. Still, she watches us.

sweet old doggie eye

It is raining and freezing tonight, and the fire was stubborn and didn’t want to catch. I’m wondering if we left the flu open and maybe it got damp inside the stove. It’s working now, and not a moment too soon. I was chilled.

Not sure if I mentioned, but I’ve been having a bit of tinnitus the last couple of days…

Safety and wellness to you all. Stay. Present.

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Day 12 Coronavirus: March 28, 2020

Saturday. Rain. The fellas went into town to drop trash at the dump and pick up groceries for an elderly friend and his wife. They also made it to the natural foods store to pick up some herbs and more neti salt. We don’t know if neti potting is contraindicated for coronavirus, but we’ve always used it to fight viruses, which supposedly hang out and replicate in the sinus cavity. So we’re doing it.

There’s so much we don’t know. I didn’t sleep well last night, again, knowing they were going out to be around a lot of people and people are kind of being assholes out there.

I delivered another meditation to OperationEVAC, the peer-led cannabis support group for veterans. We had more people – fifteen this time. That’s hopeful. I’m grateful that to Ryan and Alex for doing what they do, and that I can share a deeply restorative practice with them. Some were lying down, really snoozing. I love that.

My sis-in-law and I did some yoga and then worked — she’s still running her small business online. I am getting ready to start classes again (onine) for my Master’s degree in screenwriting, after spring break. It came at an opportune time, as it was hard to focus last week on things that seem really inconsequential in light of the times. I’m looking forward to getting back into it, and though I know this time is made for writers, I also know that, like after 9/11, it’s hard to write about exactly this — and I can say so even with this blog — because the psyche is still adapting to the new paradigm, the new reality.

The guys returned without incident, even said that there were not a lot of people out at the stores they visited. They also said lots of other people were wearing masks and gloves — not just them. (Last week, as I mentioned in an earlier post, we wore masks and gloves when we  went to town and got tons of dirty looks from people, which is still just weird.)

gnarly head

We called family and friends and drank a little wine. My sis in law got out her art books so we could start drawing/painting. I’ve never really done that stuff but I’d like to. I reposted some short meditations. I also plan to record some more short practices. As soon as the rain lets up. I hope to be outside to do it.

Stay. Present.

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Day 11 Coronavirus: March 27, 2020

Hard to believe it’s been eleven days since we left Oakland. Now beyond the shock, we are doing our best to stay present and enjoy things in the moment. The trees, the fuzzers, the fire in the woodburning stove.

Here’s a post I made a few months back with three new meditations. Please share these – they’re very doable in this crazy time, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. They’re low-priced, but if anyone needs them, just reach out in my contact info, and I’ll provide them for free to you.

I plan to record a few meditations in the next couple of days, weather permitting. I want to be outside. With the sounds of nature. I hope to videotape it, but we’ll see. My hope is it will help all the workers out there in this stuff to down-regulate their nervous systems, help them be present, help them sleep better, eat better.

It’s been cold here. In the 30s at night. Foggy/cloudy. Supposed to rain all weekend, but next week’s forecast is sunny, 60s-70s. That’s when we’ll work on defurring the rug from the sweet, old, dog who’s been running the joint for six months. Crucial, or fleas could be a real issue in the heat. We’ve already put some diatomaceous earth on her and Mitch brought back the Furminator deshedding comb we had for Lovey. It pulls up all that matted undercoat. If you deal with a lot of pet hair and don’t know about the Furminator, you just must. It can be sharp, though, so only for thick-furred animals, and only in non-sensitive areas — back, butt, chest. NOT ON THE BELLY! OW!

Woke up again in the night. I guess this is my new processing. I saw an alarming post about the Spanish army finding elderly patients abandoned at care facilities in Spain. I couldn’t read all the way through it, because it’s horrific. For everyone. The patients who died there, their loved ones, the Army who found them, even the people who felt they had no choice but to leave them there for whatever reason — their own sickness, exhaustion, to care for family members, lack of resources. That’s a horrible choice to have to live with.

Stay. Present. Loves…

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Day 9 Coronavirus: March 25, 2020

Didn’t get a good sleep last night. I tossed and turned thinking about my brother and Mitch getting to our place in Oakland, the dirty elevator buttons and floor, the closed-off hallways. Then bringing stuff down in said dirty elevator and into the car and then back here and into our living space! I finally devised — and ran through a few times — an obsessive plan around elevators and doorknobs and hand sanitizer and gloves and masks and trash bags and Lysol and our stuff AUGH! Somehow, that plan allowed me to sleep a couple more hours before getting up to see them off. It felt like we were sending them off to war. Seriously.

I video chatted with my friend in NYC. Her niece in France is positive. My friend was very matter-of-fact that we all will most likely get it. She mentioned that losing sense of smell and taste is a symptom.

Truth be told, we aren’t getting enough tests fast enough here to know who is and who is not infected. My sister-in-law entered into a session with spiritual counselor to gain some perspective. Expanded views always help.

It’s cold in Mendo today. More fog. Hail. I’ve felt chilled to the bone. Spending lots of time near the woodburning stove at the main house. The fuzzers really help.

This morning I read that Prince Charles tested positive. Madonna got some flack for calling the coronavirus ‘the great equalizer,’ because it doesn’t discriminate. The flack may have been because she was in the bathtub. I don’t know. I went to her IG account but couldn’t find it. Maybe she took it down…

It’s very true. Another friend sent me an interesting new-agey thank you note to the coronavirus for connecting us all and making us remember what’s important.  It’s maybe a bit premature and a bit woo-woo for al the people who are FREAKED OUT. But I like the general premise. I may post it at some point.

I woke up yesterday with some solar plexus discomfort. Like I slept a little crunched. Lips have been chapped like crazy. Missing my Bear Balm in my night stand. For a couple days, too, my left ear has been a little stuffed, like I’ve been on an airplane…

The guys made it home in record time. Said they took precautions. Still I asked Mitch to leave boxes in the garage. It’s freezing here tonight. Hopefully it’ll help sterilize… We both did neti pots.

Just texted my friend at the Portland hospital. Only briefly. “Gotta go,” she wrote. “Trauma flying in. I can see the helicopter coming.”

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