I recently decided to not ‘sweat the small stuff’ (as the advice goes).
So, what do I mean by ‘the small stuff’? Well, I will stop worrying if every tile on the kitchen floor is not immaculately clean. Who cares? I will not worry if the doona on the bed is crooked…really, did I ever fret about that? I will not sigh in the morning when my newly shampooed hair looks like a rat has chewed it in the night. I will not be upset if the dog smells like a dog. I will not worry if I have pruned a shrub unevenly and I will not worry if I mistakenly wear my oldest shoes out shopping. (They are comfortable, and I didn’t notice)
These are but a few small things I will not sweat over.
But…how to not sweat the BIG stuff? That’s the problem.
Most of the ‘small’ stuff I can change - or have control over. Not so with the BIG stuff.
Take for example:
The growing lack of equality in our country - and around the globe. Where is the equity, or the fairness, giving everyone the ability to receive what should be theirs? The gap between rich and poor is expanding massively, with governments (worshipfully & generously) giving to the well-off, while demonising the ‘battler’.
According to the ABC, Australia's richest increased their wealth in 2019, by more than 20 per cent, which seems to be ongoing. There has been a staggering 53-fold increase in wealth for the top 200 in just 35 years.
(Back in 1984, Australia's 200 richest people had a combined wealth of $6.4 billion. By 2019, they had a combined wealth of $342 billion).
But. the poorest 40 per cent of households, remain stuck with just 2.8 per cent of the nation's wealth between them.
The irony at this time of COVID-19, is that it is the poorly paid workers to whom we turn to keep us safe and keep the wheels of what’s left functioning: they clean the buildings, they care for the nursing home residents and the disabled, they mind the children. They unload the goods and stock the supermarket shelves, while the well-off isolate themselves in their comfortable homes.
There is little recognition given to those good and worthy workers.
The obscene worship of money, encouraged by today’s politicians is creeping into individuals’ lives - generating admiration for, not good work, but wealth. Any form of equity and (I might even say) decency, seems to have vanished.
There is nothing I can do about this. So why should I ‘sweat’ about it?
Another big thing I ‘sweat’ about is the plight of our (our?) asylum seekers.
What changed us from being welcoming to those souls who seek asylum…notice the words, ‘seek asylum’…not seeking to do something illegal or to scare us, but merely to seek asylum.
It has been said that no one would get in a leaky boat and set off for unknown distant shores if they didn’t think the water was safer than the land they had left.
What made us change? What made us – the people who welcomed refugees from Vietnam with open arms and helped them settle here in safety (and others before them) - What has made us harden our hearts in such a terrible way?
Has this cruelty come about simply because we’ve been educated to be afraid of strangers?
I can sign every petition offered to me, I can verbally express my concerns, but nothing will change the opinions of those who firmly believe the lies pushed by certain forces.
There are so many other BIG things that I ‘sweat’ about:
Australia’s unemployment hitting 20%, due to the havoc wreaked by coronavirus, is one.
Trump’s America is a very BIG one! What can we do about that catastrophe? Bugger all, I think.
The pandemic’s toll in U.K. is of huge concern to me. I can do nothing about this either, apart from encouraging my loved ones who live there to continue their watchfulness and care.
But the biggest BIG worry of all is Climate Change.
It is ‘as plain as the nose on your face’ that Global Warming caused by human activity, such as burning of fossil fuels, is a HUGE worry for all. Yet, the ‘worship-of-money’ thing rears its ugly head constantly as politicians reject science and follow the money-men as they deal irresponsibly, lying, pushing, shoving and DONATING big amounts gained by exploiting the ground we rely on for survival.
The Australian Museum & other responsible organisations tell us that ‘Humans have the solutions, skills and capacity to address what is needed to help our ailing earth’
Meanwhile, as just a small current example, Queensland farmers are continuously trying to protect their land and water from the destructive forces that push for coal and gas exploration at any price.
It’s a never-ending battle.
Where is the hope? Where are the positives?
There are many, many more things that worry me (and others) and I could fill pages with the horrors of such subjects as black deaths in custody, domestic violence, the neglect of small children, the mistreatment of the homeless and on and on….
But, while we worry (rightfully) about this awful pandemic and I personally have given up ‘sweating the small stuff’, the BIG stuff remains.
Sadly, there are many who never give a thought to these big issues. But perhaps they are the lucky ones.
Television ‘life-style’ shows, celebrity gossip, sports, Foxtel, Netflix and shopping provide escapes for those who don’t care. A few somewhat mindless pursuits provide them with all they need for something to think about.
I feel helpless but am I also feeling hopeless?
We must have some hope.
Meanwhile, I’ll stop ‘sweating the small stuff’ and see if that helps.
Two things: ONE – I was going to stop writing about Covid-19 and, TWO – I knew I was coping well with my relaxed, confident approach concerning my ability to avoid any threat of catching the dreaded virus.
After all, I was isolated at home for 95% of the time – only emerging for necessary purchase of food. I continually washed my hands (the instructed way) and anointed them with sanitiser if I ever ventured out.
But then, one day, I awoke with a terrible sore throat. Eeek!
The previous day, I had read an account from an infected passenger from the Ruby Princess cruise ship. He stated that the first sign of illness for him was a ‘scratchy throat’.
Swallowing a couple of Panadol, I grabbed the two lists of symptoms we had attached to the front of the fridge and went through the ‘identifying the symptoms’ message:
SORE THROAT: COVID-19, rates ‘Sometimes’
Ah, well, that’s assuring.
BUT, on the other list, (‘Important announcement – CORONAVIRUS’) I read something very unsettling:
I hopped on to ‘Doctor Google’ and searched ‘sore throat’ to see what usually causes such a complaint.
It seems there are virus-caused and bacteria-caused sore throats. What was mine? And where did it come from? I hadn’t been anywhere – or near anyone.
Throat infections – sometimes called ‘strep throat’ have to come from a source. But I hadn’t been near anyone!
A couple of days went by. As my Panadol taking increased, I resorted to the age-old remedy of gargling with salt water, but I still had a sore throat and my anxiety was rising. My head hurt, and my ears were aching.
Perhaps a walk in the park would provide relief from my (hopefully imagined) deadly virus attack.
It had been raining and the towering gums in the park emitted a gorgeous eucalyptus perfume that did, indeed, help me feel better.
But then I sneezed – not once, but five times. So, home to check the list of symptoms again. Sneezing?
From COVID-19 message No. 1: Sneezing rated ‘NO’ Great!
From the second info sheet, ‘sneezing’ is only mentioned as a distributor of the virus. Not sure if that was reassuring or not.
By day 5, I was taking fewer Panadol and only gargling with salt water once a day. My headache had eased considerably and my ears were only feeling a little raw. Hardly enough to worry about.
I settled down to read the latest news on COVID-19, and found that here, in Queensland, there are only 12 ‘active cases’, with a mere 4 people in hospital suffering from the virus.
That was very comforting.
I swallowed – to feel my previously angry throat was very subdued.
So, it seems I probably had a case of the ‘Common Cold’ – source unknown…but it showed that I was not such 'a smarty pants’ after all - so confident that the virus wouldn’t touch me…
which it didn’t.
BUT a sore throat sent me into quite a spin.
I may not be alone.
Anyone else imagined they’d possibly succumbed to the ‘rona’?
A basic acknowledgement:
I wasn’t going to write any more about COVID-19.
I had simply had enough; depressed by reading news and sick of listening to radio and television, with counts of how many people had succumbed to the virus. (None around here, incidentally). BUT….( a little piece of positive commentary):
After a quick visit to the local shopping centre early this morning, I took a little time to be impressed by what we have so quickly become used to.
At the main entrance to the shopping centre there is an automatic hand-sanitiser dispenser. You simply place your hands under a small barrel-shaped container and out squirts just enough sanitiser to carefully rub into both hands.
Once at the entry to the supermarket, there is another slightly different hand sanitiser dispenser, alongside a dispenser of sanitising wipes to use on the trolley handle.
So, even though (like me) you may have already applied sanitiser at home, you are able to add a second or third coat, as it were, to your hands - as well as cleaning/disinfecting the trolley.
There are signs directing customers to keep an appropriate distance from each other, with marks on the floor and airport-like barricades leading to checkouts, where you find a friendly assistant behind a Perspex partition.
So super safe!
Speaking to family members in UK, I was surprised to hear that none of these precautions is available there.
It seems simple enough.
Figures of coronavirus illness and death in the UK are horrendous. Surely a small, manageable safety addition to the shopping experience would be the least authorities could assist with.
Anything - no matter how small - that might help.
So grateful for our shopping centres’ helpfulness for what they are offering — and a shout out to COLES and WOOLWORTHS in Australia.
(And, ALDI also)
PS: But be aware that easing of restrictions has proven to be disastrous in some countries.
Please continue to stay isolated as much as you possibly can.
The news of the day (well, yesterday) is that the PM has decided that we are near the end of the dangerous part of the pandemic. He is sharing plans for a “COVID-safe” economy, with the gradual re-opening of restaurants, cafes, shops, libraries and playgrounds.
And schools, by July.
The Chief Medical Officer describes it as being a “cautious and gentle” approach.
Well, gee, I hope it’s the right decision. I worry about a possible ‘second wave’, as seen horrifically in Singapore, when they eased restrictions too soon.
Time will tell, I suppose. Nothing I can do about it, apart from keeping myself and my family as safe as possible.
But, can we please just for a little while, forget the coronavirus (yes, I know it’s hard), but I’d like to share a few thoughts about the bushfire victims whose plight has been largely forgotten - overtaken by the pandemic panic.
It’s probably not even debatable as to which disaster is the greater, but I am aware that people affected by our ‘Black Summer’, over six months ago, are most likely still asking the question they were asking way back then. That is, ‘What are we going to do now?’
Remember that THOUSANDS of houses were lost, burnt, obliterated. Not just five or six, not ten or 11, not even a hundred, but THOUSANDS.
And, thirty-four people DIED.
After the fires, the federal government announced an amount of $2 billion to be used to help rebuild and aid the many families and communities affected. That now seems to have been a theoretical pot of money. Or, as the PM said not so long ago, it was ‘a notional’ amount. (No, I don’t know what that means, either). It has not been listed in the latest budget figures, so…?
There has been what appears to be a lot of duckshoving and I can see no evidence to show that a couple of billion dollars has arrived in places of need.
Nor can I see where the millions of dollars donated by the public – and the ‘celebrities’ went – that’s still being wrangled over, apparently. (Red tape, or ?)
Sure, there has been some clearing of rubble around sites that once were homes. I don’t know whether that has been accomplished by government depts, or by the army, or by individuals. But each burnt homesite cleared has meant about six or seven truckloads per house, to remove what was once a lived-in (and loved-in) home. How awful would that be to see a life-time’s work and living experience carted away (in bits) on the back of a truck?
Many of these people – the ones who haven’t left in despair - are still living in tents and borrowed caravans. Their plight forgotten; taken over by the worry around the pandemic. Survivors have been left behind. “What are we going to do now?” some are still asking.
It seems the answer may be, “You’re on your own now. We have greater things to concern us; greater things to plan and budget for.”
Could we please have a little more of the “We’re all in this together” attitude, for those affected by the fires?
Of course, the fire disaster is not all that the pandemic has covered up (so to speak).
Have you noticed that the focus on Climate Change has evaporated? What of the catastrophic future guaranteed if we ignore our planet’s plight?
If we dismiss Global Warming and its terrible effects – those we are already witnessing - we will only add that horrendous mess to the current pandemic struggle, as we try to make life on earth liveable.
When I think about Climate Change, (and, yes, it does need capital letters), I am haunted at the prospect of the dramatic changes to be faced by my grandchildren. I really can’t imagine any of them – or their offspring – setting off in a spaceship to find another (more liveable) planet. What will they do?
So, if you must – if you can - feel pleased and relaxed about the pandemic’s imminent end - as the PM tells us that our lives will soon be back to normal.
But also give a thought to the survivors of ‘Black Summer’ and keep doing your bit to alleviate the effects of Climate Change. Don’t allow one disaster to hide the one before. Don’t push aside the threat of Global Warming.
It’s all a bit too hard, I know, but give it a try.
Keep social distancing, wash your hands, plant some trees - and nudge a politician to remember those affected by bush fires.
So, it’s a new month.
May the first, 2020… May Day.
In Europe, May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on 1 May. It is an ancient festival of spring.
(Is anyone in Europe celebrating on this May Day, 2020 ?)
In the late 19th century, May Day was chosen in many countries as the date for International Workers' Day.
In some Australian states, May Day is a public holiday, celebrated on or near 1 May. Nothing to do with spring – as we are now in our third month of autumn.
This year, Monday 4 May is Labour Day 2020, in Queensland – and a public holiday.
Queensland, for a few years, celebrated Labour Day in October, but that first Monday in October is now called ‘Queen’s Birthday’(!)
Not really as a celebration of May Day, but…The Queensland premier has announced that a few covid19 restrictions will be lifted from tonight. Nothing too drastic. Just a leavening of some draconian rules about visiting.
We are allowed to go driving, as long as it’s within 50kms of our home.
We are allowed two visitors at a time - and some retail shops will be open for non-essential items, such as clothing.
So, maybe some of us will feel freedom creeping back into our lives.
Whatever May Day may mean to you, the question is: Will this May Day, 2020, be remembered as a happy time or unhappy time, with more of the same – isolation, social distancing - and worry?
I worry about loosening our social isolation ‘shackles’ too soon.
I worry most of all about letting school children go back to school – no matter what.
The idea that the coronavirus hardly affects children is not altogether true, although children are, in the main, less seriously affected – the reason is, as yet, unclear.
Two days ago, there was a report of a four-year-old child in NSW diagnosed with the virus, leading to the closure of an early learning centre.
A similar report came from Melbourne, where it was unsure (then) if the child was infected or not.
There have been children infected in other countries – some of whom have sadly died.
And, now reports from Europe (UK, France and Spain) and US tell us that doctors fear that the virus may be affecting children in serious and different ways.
(ABC): ‘Several worrying cases involving coronavirus infection of children and younger adults have emerged from the UK and USA in the last few weeks.
In the UK, a few children have shown up at hospitals with a serious illness.
And in America, younger adults have shown up at hospitals after suffering from strokes.
While the total numbers are low, it reveals there's still a lot we don’t know about this virus…’
Health officials in the U.K. are warning that Covid-19 could be causing a new and rare inflammatory condition in children.
Shouldn’t that info give us pause regarding Aussie kids returning to school in large numbers?
Think about it.
But, back to our May Day…
What will this coronavirus style May Day bring for us?
Whatever the changes, if any...Please tolerate the isolation and social distancing a bit longer, everyone.
Hooray for the state premiers who have stuck by their strict isolation rules. It is paying dividends.
We are lucky Australians.
We can only hope that the government and other ‘powers that be’ can help the populace remain under control as much as necessary and that people remain vigilant.
This phrase from an old hymn keeps popping into my head:
“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…”
One day soon we may answer yes, to “Are we there yet?”
That’s all we can hope for, I suppose.
Happy May Day!
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.