All of life matters

COVID-19. South Africa. 2020.

We have learned.

All of life matters.

It starts with our own lives.

The air we breathe. The water we drink. The foods we source to keep our bodies healthy. Our thoughts about ourselves and self-talk. How we treat ourselves matters. How we care for ourselves matters.

We learned we need to be gentle with ourselves and allow positive, meaningful activities to occupy our minds and time.

As women, we learned it is okay to be without nail varnish. It is okay to let our hair grow naturally for a while. Natural colour whether streaked with bits of previous colour adventures, sun highlights or strands of grey are okay.

Surrounded by nature, fresh air and warm sunlight shining down on us no matter where we live, we are quite beautiful just the way we are.

We learned it is okay to sit at a working space in knitted boots with pom poms, socks, leg warmers made for us by a loved one or leather boots.

We learned we feel safe with others who take care of themselves the way we care for ourselves, who share our life values and whose behaviour we understand. It has become clear the way one treats oneself is the way one treats other living things including animals, one’s own family and friends.

If you belittle yourself, you are likely to belittle others or allow yourself to be belittled by them. If you consistently ‘beat yourself up’ mentally, it could take years to heal yourself. If you belittle others it could take them a lifetime to heal.

Best is to care for yourself in every positive, special way you know. That will then radiate out to all living things close to you in your real or online world.

Corona-19 has changed the world forever. The way we interact, live and do business from Corona on will be different. Different in a positive way. If we allow it. There will be no looking back.

Corona Lockdown Level 05 took me into my grandmother’s life for a few weeks. Without all the conveniences of instant and connected everything of today, my grandmother lived a good life.

She had a coal stove in the kitchen. Family reminisce about the times they almost lived in the kitchen. The kettle was always on the boil and the smell of a thick, healthy soup and homemade bread greeted you. It provided the kind of comfort one needs in difficult times.

Everyone loved the coal stove and kitchen atmosphere. Friends would catchup, share good and bad times in my grandmother’s kitchen like it was an outing to the finest coffee shop in the world.

My grandmother had a little toolkit which she was never without. The toolkit consisted of cotton hankies embroidered with initials and flowers, always washed and neatly folded. She had miniature soap in delicately decorated boxes, the perfume of which seemed to last forever. The make was RogeR and Gallet.

Her toolkit included a facecloth with pretty trimming. She said if she was any place all she needed was some water to ensure her hands were clean, she was safe from threats. With clean hands she could make a good impression.

She said be careful of what you touch, what and who you allow in your space and where you go. She said take care to observe everything and everyone.

On her passing her little toolkits became the most sought-after items for remembrance. Her soaps still fill family cupboards with their familiar and delightful perfume.

Natural soap making at the time was a popular activity. People shared their recipes and exchanged their soap inventions. Homemade soaps are still a business today. We never entered my grandmother’s coal stove kitchen to chat before making sure our shoes were clean and our hands washed with soap.

Corona has brought these life-preserving habits back to us. It seems for a time such simple precautionary survival tactics for humans have been forgotten.

Over time my grandmother’s toolkit became regular family gifts. RogeR and Gallet’s soap was replaced by Pears transparent soap, Vinolia, natural glycerin, Longmarket pomegranate, Nesti Dante or homemade soap cut into bars and placed in a little bag with a ribbon and bow.

Great care was taken in gifting soaps by my grandmother in her day and great care is still taken today. My mother gifts goodie bags filled with soaps, crochet-trimmed washcloths and tissue packs instead of cotton hankies.

Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician and professor of medicine, who practiced and taught in Canada, the US and the UK played a key role in transforming medical education. His book, The Principles and Practice of Medicine was a leading textbook. It is said Sir William in a team of four made John Hopkins the most famous medical school in the world.

Sir William’s quotes are many. There are two from his time (1849 – 1919) that help us with Corona today. Easy to understand, simple to implement at no additional cost.

“Soap and water and common sense are the best disinfectants.”

“Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day’s work absorb your entire energies and satisfy your widest ambition.”

Lockdown 5 brought my grandmother’s time and the teachings of Sir William back to us. It has helped us to survive each day with Corona and the daily feeds of scary infographics from around the world.

My grandmother said if you have a garden remember to make space for a veggie patch with tomatoes, leafy greens, carrots and cabbages.

If you have space, live on a farm, an enclosure like a school, medical or other facility such as our new compound, estate lives, make sure you have a lemon tree, a pomegranate bush, a fig tree, mulberry, an apricot, a pecan nut tree and of course an apple tree.

These are the essentials she said. Then add your shade and fresh air trees. Then add your decorative plants to bring simple joy to your life for each season.

“When times are good you will have jams, syrups, lemonade, hot winter natural drinks to keep you healthy. You will have nuts, spinach and juices to support a busy and happy life.”

“If you don’t have space, grow whatever you can in pots.” Herbs and spinach grow in pots or in  small spaces. Light and water is all you need for things to grow she said.

Wherever you look there should be something growing you can eat and share with those in trouble. My grandmother had many baskets which, at any time, could be filled with veggies, fruits and jams to help families temporarily in distress. She had water tanks or miniature dams you could say to catch and store every drop of rain.

During Lockdown 5, I started living my grandmother’s life between online development and writing work. My kitchen became the site for making breads, soups, all types of homemade comforts to fill the cupboards.

I think my neighbours had the same idea. At one point we could not find yeast. The funny story being yeast was sold out for bread and beer activities. I opened up more areas for veggie growing, established new compost heaps and spent many peaceful hours raking up beautiful autumn leaves.

There is something magical about changing seasons. The sights, sounds and smells fill one’s mind with positive things. This then becomes the base for other ideas to make life easier, different, more positive and more hopeful for every living thing in one’s care, own space and virtual world.

Observing the Corona goings-on around the world, great leadership with the view of “doing the right thing for citizens”, fetching stranded people and returning stranded people to their homes makes a huge difference in the mood, care people take, talk, reporting and overall attitude of nations.

Positive, “this is the action we are taking” visuals make a difference and impact on the immediate and future well-being of a nation. Its recovery will be determined by its leadership. As a proud citizen, one then wants to do the right thing as best one can.

With united, informed, open, present and strong leadership with the means to enforce any new laws there is an incalculable sense of pride, belonging, ability to share positive thoughts, ideas, create opportunities for others, fight for things and provide security for those in one’s employ.

We learned we need to work our money. We need the best quality affordable clothes and goods that, with our care and proper handling, can last, can be repaired and later, if necessary, resold at a fair price.

Corona has ended the throw-away era.

We need to know the food we buy is not only filling tummies but is serving the purpose of keeping us healthy, is free of toxins and provides comfort. Comfort foods are different for each family. Cheap food of which part has to be thrown away is not good enough.

Corona has taught us it is the care with simple things that become the most important. For employees with limited resources knowing with certainty funds have been allocated to them for the lockdown and being paid a few days earlier to relieve family stress is a huge thing. It provides a form of security in uncertain times.

Giving people who work with you the means to take care of themselves and their families in the way they need to at the time is perhaps the most powerful coping tool you can give them. It gives people a feeling of being in control, of hope and dignity. The simple thought of “things are okay” can get one through days and months.

We learned if you own an international airline, you probably own an island and the best real estate in the world. An airline hit by Corona will most likely need an island as collateral to qualify for recovery funding. Worrying about who has what serves no purpose as one does not know for what they are paying and how many jobs could be lost, gained or created through their assets.

We learned a five thousand euro investment can cost one hundred thousand rand if the value of our money changes. Many jobs are lost or gained through fluctuating exchange rates.

We learned to fight anything on the scale of Corona, we all need rest and warmth.

Getting home early, restful sleep for the required hours and peace are essential Corona-fighting weapons, together with the right foods, thoughts, info, friends, family, faith, soap and water.

Funny Corona stories are many. Mine includes giving myself a black eye which cut out any Zoom, Teams or other online events for a while. My energies until my black eye was no longer visible went into giving back, living each day with great enthusiasm and investing in the future.

Giving back knowledge and experience to teachers just starting out on their online teaching journey using Zoom, Teams, Google, Seesaw and other online teaching apps.

Giving back fun things to do, relaxing things in the form of projects to make learning from home easier, with less stress, with more fun, for learners, teachers and parents. Then freeing up my team of exceptional people to take care of themselves, their families and to deliver their best, creative work in their new, happy working spaces away from their offices.

Years have been spent preparing teachers and learners for this moment, teaching anywhere, anytime using every available technology.

COVID-19.

A new time. When all of life matters. Starting with our own special lives. Then gently filtering out to our families and through our neighbourhoods, our networks and our wildlife in our own countries.

Best we look after ourselves, our space and all of life in our care with every energy we have today and every day.

Because all of life matters and every day we get to live life is a gift.