You can survive this time

Sometimes authority is wrong. In America, it’s woefully wrong about the pandemic.

Everything is not ok. It’s not safe.

I’m not trying to be a fear-monger. I’m just telling you the truth.

I don’t want you to get sick. I don’t want you to spread this disease to your loved ones.

Look, our leaders are failing us. When leadership fails, we must lead ourselves.

When governments fail to use reason, data, wisdom, we must self-regulate.

We must stay informed and help, encourage, challenge, and bless each other.

I’m not saying this time is easy. No, it’s terrible. It kick-you-in-the-face challenging. It’s “unprecedented.”

We must use our minds, stay calm, and not rush into a world that no longer exists. It’s not safe.

But I have hope. I believe this will pass. It will be safe again. But it’s just not now.

In the meantime, practice caution, call friends and family, eat delicious food, read books, binge a show, learn a new skill, occupy your time with healthy, socially distanced activities.

And when you get through this, you’ll be stronger than ever.

Stay well, friends.

Love,

John


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The pandemic isn’t over

It’s a matter of life or death. What is? This: Who you’re listening to. Don’t listen to the stories, the ideological frameworks, the politics, businesses, even your own urges.

Everyone has their agenda; campaigners want to win campaigns; businesses want your money; government officials want to be voted back in office; you just want everything to feel ok. They, and you, are all biased and want something from you. Don’t heed them.

This week we had a school official reach out to us to get our child to come to a meet and greet at his new school, to meet his new teacher, which would be incredible—if it weren’t for the virus ravaging our world population. And the school official emailed repeatedly, asking us to come into the classroom with other kids. Yes, it would be a smallish group, but still indoors with others. We asked if we could do it out of doors. She said no.

We didn’t listen to her.

You shouldn’t listen to them either.

You should listen to the data.

And the data is speaking loudly. It’s saying this.

The virus is alive and well.

And it’s dangerous.


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Is normal worth the risk?

Quarantining, not hugging, being isolated, fighting the virus is exhausting. All of it. We want to get back to living, normal. But friends, we mustn’t rush.

Plunging into seeing people, going to the office, traveling, all of that, isn’t safe no matter what the politicians say, governments do, how those around you behave.

I’m seeing it around me: family, friends, neighbors, in Middle America, wanting life to resume in pre-pandemic style, wishing the virus away, hoping for the best.

At the end of this month my church will resume in-person services. They said they will have protocols to keep people safe.

I doubt it.

And I hope nothing happens; but the questions are How much risk do you want to take? and Is it worth it?

Seeing people is important, so is going to church in person, but is it worth risking your life when there is no treatment or vaccine?

There are things worth risking your life for, like saving another human, your loved ones, standing up for your principles, your faith, to love, serving your country.

But seeing your friends now, traveling for business, going to church when you can do all of that virtually isn’t worth risking the lives of your community, family, friends—your life.

The reality is that the virus is still here, alive—killing.

So, friends, please be patient. I want to run out and hug people, strangers even, but resist the urge to mingle, taking unnecessary risks.

Stay vigilant.

Be patient.

Lots of love, John


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You Have Great Power

You are not powerless; you have a choice.

You can choose to avoid the news, build a routine, exercise, connect with a friend, read a great book—hope.

It’s not easy in this time, I get it.

Shifting your mind from focusing on the negative to healthier activities is your decision.

Decide to feed your mind stories that lift the spirit, move your body even if it’s just for a few minutes, take a walk outside, meditate, pray, get to sleep at a better hour, call someone and ask them how they’re doing, and turn off your notifications for the news.

Whatever you do, make decisions to further your health and, where you can, the health of others.

You have far more power than you may realize.

You are powerful enough to change the way you think and feel.

Lots of love,

John


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Finding Rest Right Now

We’re tired. Fighting a pandemic is exhausting. Even if you’re home alone or with kids or whatever, this is taking a lot more energy than we ever imagined it would.

Who knew homeschooling was like herding cats and trying to teach them math.

And then there’s the militaristic effort to sanitize everything—I mean everything—before it gets into your house. That alone can grind you down to a nub.

Lately I even find myself getting a little sloppier with my sanitization practices. Usually at the grocery store I ask the person checking me out to sanitize their hands before touching our groceries. But recently I didn’t. Staying hyper vigilant is getting harder.

Yes, we shouldn’t slack. We need to continue herding the cats, sanitizing, etc., but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn how to rest even in the midst of a battle.

Just because you’re working a lot or not at all doesn’t mean your mind isn’t overworked. That’s what a crisis does. It makes you worry, stress, think. That’s a lot of work no matter how busy you are. So finding a respite for your head is essential.

Find times to stop working or worrying. Watch a funny video or read a chapter of a beautiful novel that doesn’t have anything to do with viruses or a pandemic and sit back and enjoy the ride. (Need some material? See below.) Pray, meditate, exercise, but whatever you do don’t read the news.

Find ways to practice self-care. Create space for yourself or your partner, so you can do the things you need to stay as healthy as you can. They don’t need to be long moments, just long enough.

Even in a pandemic, or especially so, we need to know our limits and take the time to find restoration. Doing that will help you continue this fight.

Stay well.

Great Reads To Divert Your Mind

In These Trying Times I Want to Remind My Followers I Have A Ridiculously Hot Body :: Beware! Laughter will pour out of you if you read this. My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore? :: This is related to the pandemic, but it’s an incredibly well written story that gives us all perspective. It’s strangely diverting. 

Jeff Bezos’s Lazy Saturday Morning Routine :: Another funny gut busting piece. 


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Good Grieving

It’s good to grieve. We should.

Because, you know, the new normal is too new and it shouldn’t be normal, and in general things just suck right now.

I won’t visit my mom to avoid any chances of getting her sick. But I visited a friend while standing over six feet away from him and thought that it was “intimate.” Every day I’m wondering if I got this virus and dreading that I might give it to my wife and kids. This “normal” sucks.

But I haven’t lost anyone I know. So there’s that. It’s a blessing, really. Also I haven’t gotten sick.

But there’s a strange guilt or feeling of unworthiness or sadness because I’m healthy. And it’s odd, and twisted, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Now we live in a world where those who aren’t sick feel guilty for feeling well. That’s sickening.

Then there’s the other side where those who do get the virus are shamed. They are seen as other, lesser, leper. Not only are they physically ostracized, they are emotionally as well. Loneliness kills like a killer virus. And those who fall ill shouldn’t be ill-treated.

This pandemic is sick. And it’s making us sicker than we want to be. And we’re getting desperate, even our governing officials are, too.

Just because the government is trying to open the economy doesn’t mean customers will just stroll into restaurant and grab a burger. Too many people are still afraid. And it will take more time than we think before we all feel safe again. This is not the time for desperation. We need discernment during a fight: Winning doesn’t mean we’ve won. Reaching a peak in a crisis doesn’t mean it’s peaked. When we can smell victory is when we must be most vigilant against defeat. By letting our guard down now is when we are most vulnerable to stray punch that can knock us out. This war isn’t over. We are not yet safe from this enemy.

Speaking of safety, just the idea of not worrying every time I touch some random piece of plastic or a shopping cart or whatever outside of my house or domain that I haven’t wiped down with a sanitizing wipe multiple times will feel like heaven. I mean liberty from the stress of wondering if there are invisible little bugs, on some random surface someone accidentally sneezed on, trying to kill me and stop my lungs from working would be AMAZING!

But that world is gone and it’s a longtime before we get it back.

So I grieve. I grieve for the world, for those who’ve lost loved ones, those who are still fighting for their lives and those who are on the frontlines fighting to keep others alive, for the loss of hugs and handshakes and restaurants and meeting strangers and flying in planes and touching things without wondering, “What if…?”

There is much to grieve. Let’s do it together.

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One Great Thing From Social Distancing

Strangers are waving at me, and I find myself waving back. They smile, and so do I. And you know what? It feels really good.

In all of this we’re learning to appreciate strangers.

There’s a longing for connection that we all have, especially when we’re as starved of it as we are these days.

Yes, Zoom is good but not enough. We were meant to grab beers and clink mugs together, shake hands, hug—be with each other. Zooming is great but it’s a bastardization of what we really want, need.

Maybe your living with family, which makes it a lot easier. But there’s still that desire to connect with other people who don’t have your surname.

Strangers are now those people. And it’s nice, you know.

It’s strange yet natural. It’s awkward, but refreshing. It makes us all feel better, somehow.

Yes, the Midwest, where I live, is a place where social norms do cultivate a higher amount of niceness from its people. But these days they’re even nicer than normal. The waves are bigger and smiles wider. It’s like we all got the message of “We are all that we’ve got left now, so let’s make the best of it.”

And I like it. You probably do, too.

You might be noticing the change, friendly greetings from those who aren’t friends. It likely makes you feel connected, loved even.

This pandemic is tragic, horrid, awful. But there is good that blossoms from shit.

And learning to love the people around us no matter who they are, is a flower I hope continues to bloom in our daily lives and never gets uprooted no matter what season of life we’re in.Social distancing has brought us closer to strangers. And it’s great. 

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How to Think When the Lockdowns Lift

The lockdowns will lift, likely soon. If they do, be patient. Don’t rush out to find normal. It’s not there.

The virus still roams free. That means you shouldn’t.

I won’t be seeing my mom, telling her it’s ok to go back to church. It’s not.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t be optimistic. We can. We should. Things will get better.

I might have a few meetings here or there. But I won’t be hugging, shaking hands, getting too close. No. But seeing my friends in person will be a welcomed change.

You probably will, too.

But be cautious, vigilant even.

Use your face masks, gloves, wash your hands like crazy, socially distance.

Even if everyone is screaming to tell you everything’s ok, know that it’s not.

There isn’t a vaccine in mass production. We can still spread this disease.

Practicing vigilance will protect our families, friends, neighbors, the world, ourselves.

But we needn’t live in fear just because the future is shrouded, unclear, like a foggy night.

One day we will look back and say, “Do you remember that pandemic…” while sipping on drinks with a loved one while we share a meal together at a favorite restaurant, sitting under the shining sun, laughing.


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Feel Connected

Be the first to initiate, text, call, zoom.

Just because you’re in isolation doesn’t mean you need to be isolated.

You can be connected, connecting, loved, loving.

Reach out to your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors. Ask them how they’re doing. Wish them well.

And the loneliness you feel will somehow feel far less lonely.

You’ll feel rich, blessed. So will they.

That’s what initiating does.

You’ll connect.


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Three Ways to Improve Your Life, Even Now

You can improve your life, even in this pandemic.

I’m not saying life’s ok. It’s not. We’ve lost much.

Even with all of that, you can continue to grow, learn, rise. Here are three ways. 

 

Work Better

We can all work, even if you’ve lost a job.

Unemployment isn’t the end of the world. I know. I’ve been fired before. I had to shift, adjust, hustle. That might be you today. 

If so, it’s a perfect time to experiment, try new things, publish a post on Medium. Learn how to make a living online.

Never has there been more opportunity to make money online than there is now. Google up “Make money online”. And you’ll find plenty of ideas. Then try one.

Even if you fail. You will have succeeded in learning something new.

And maybe, just maybe, it will put you on a direction that you never imagined going. It will transform your life. 

 

Connect Deeper

And, yes, everyone is talking about reconnecting with old friends. Just yesterday, I reconnected with one I haven’t talked to in over a decade. And it’s true: It is great. If you haven’t, you should.

But why not try healing deeper wounds, deepening existing relationships through having hard conversations. 

This is hard. Conflict is painful.

But when it’s done well, it often yields a depth of relationship and healing many don’t get to experience because we avoid these types of situations.

Start by asking that person a question about the topic you’re wanting to discuss. Ask them their side of the story. Get them to open up and don’t interrupt them: Just let them share. When they’re done wait to see if they’ll ask you a question.

If they don’t, ask them if they want to hear your side of the story. And see where it goes. You may be surprised.

You may experience a greater wave of intimacy that will revolutionize the way you relate to others for the rest of your life. 

 

Eat Richer

Lastly, Why not eat better?

All of us are buying more groceries than ever. So instead of getting chips or other processed foods, get a great, healthy and delicious recipe. Then create it.

Not only will the process of making it be fun but feasting on it will make you feel just as good as your tastebuds do. You’ll feel like royalty. You’ll feel rich.

If you’re looking for recipes, my family loves Cookbooks by Danielle Walker (affiliate). They’re magical—really. Every bite feels like a coronation. 

Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean you can’t make each day an opportunity to get better, experience more, go deeper.

You can.

Try today.

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