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March 2020

Observation on the New Normal

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Zeke. Not my dog, but I love him like he is!

I send my most sincere wishes to all reading, those they love, and those their loved ones love and so on and so on!  I am staying with a friend in Burbank, CA and am lucky to have Zeke to walk multiple times a day for fresh air and exercise.  I am also using the time to work on the story cut with what is already shot of The Silent Goldens.

The first thing that struck me about self-isolation was that it was going to have an opposite effect on me, actually forcing me to shelter with another person.  The very busy pet and housesitting business that provided me with both housing me and regular income  evaporated overnight. Needing a place to “shelter-in-place,”  a friend took me in.  Rather than having lovely large homes all to myself with just the furry beings, I’m now in a small condo with someone working from home with many daily conference calls.  I’m thoroughly grateful, just pointing out the difference!

Pre-COVID-19, I didn’t see many people daily,  and am generally protective of the time I spend with the pets as my companions, using this time to work on the documentary or to just sit and be quiet.  I stayed connected to others through e-mails and texts with my current clients, going to multiple homes  for walks daily.  When the pets’ parents came back in to town, I move on to the next client – kind of like being on the road with a production, just without a crew. As much as I might wish I could be alone, just me and the four-leggeds, I know it is way better for my mental health that I am not.

As a species, we are experiencing collective trauma from an invisible, potentially lethal enemy attacking randomly from all sides that has rapidly and without mercy changed every single thing about the way we go about our lives – individually and globally.  There is nowhere on the planet to run to be sure of escaping it and anyone of us might be the next victim or the one inadvertently spreading the disease.  My heart breaks thinking not just about those who are sick and dying in hospitals without their loved ones nearby, but also for those loved ones who will have to deal with the unexpected and sudden loss alone, in solitude.  The ramifications to our lifestyles and finances once the world “reopens” is truly unknowable.  We can no longer picture anything about our future the way we did just weeks ago.  Everything has changed in a heartbeat.  

I’ve felt what I just described before when my world and all my expectations about life were ripped away after my mother killed herself when I was 19 and for those who have or will tragically lose someone to this virus, the grief on top of all the uncertainty will be acute.  It will also put them in a new “club nobody wants to belong to” of  COVID loss survivors who, despite the collective trauma, are the ones who have faced the worst.  The health care workers of this country are another group who will need much emotional support when this crisis subsides – having essentially been thrown into the frontlines of a war.

The purpose of my film is to show how being able to talk to others who really, truly “get” a trauma like you’ve experienced is because they have too. This is not only comforting and validating but their stories can help you get perspective on your own.  It’s something I learned when I first began speaking with other survivors of suicide loss 30 years after my mother killed herself. It’s something I remember from 9/11.  It’s something I’ve seen in action watching the #MeToo movement rise.   It is something I think many are beginning to understand as the world experiences this current coronavirus crisis.  

May one of the silver linings to this surreal and sad time be the reality that every single human is in this world and lifetime together and plant the seeds of compassion and communication so they can bloom when we next see each other!  

Be well, be safe and let’s all just talk to each other!