Covid-19, the pandemic, like a thief in the night, has taken from all of us. In many cases, it has taken friends and family. Those are the greatest losses. It’s interrupted our children and grandchildren’s ability to get a sound education, thus leaving many less fortunate impossibly behind where they should be in their studies. For me personally, it’s robbed me of any peace of mind. You see, I care for my nearly 88 year-old mother, and I’m terrified that if I got sick, I would end up being the catalyst that took her life. Fear of infection has seized our ability to move throughout society without fear, forcing us to hide behind masks while wondering will life ever be the same.
My assertion is that it will not. Stripped down to our very essence, we’ve been forced to go inside ourselves to find the fortitude to go on day after day not knowing exactly when this will end, oftentimes without the comfort of close family members, social gatherings and weekly worship.
I ask, “What good can come from this?” During this time of forced isolation where I’ve been deprived of birthday celebrations, holiday gatherings and travel to see loved ones at a distance, I managed to lose my footing, and I’ve had to battle depression on a regular basis. To top that off, we are a nation divided when unity and closeness is what we need most. Why?
My faith has led me to believe it’s because as a society we needed to be stripped down to the core where all the accoutrements we constantly surround ourselves with to show and tell others just how happy we are needed to at once become meaningless, so that we might finally see what we really need is something much greater than what can be purchased online. We need to finally admit to ourselves that we are not in control. The sun rises and sets each day not from any power we possess but from a power much greater than what can be found in flesh and blood. Recognizing this simple fact is freeing in that no one must feel the need to always have the answer or to feel in complete control. Faith is amazing. Finding faith will allow you not only to find God but to recognize His plan for your life leading you to rediscover who you really are without all the finery.
We also need to see and appreciate our families, both those we’re born to and those we find. They are who help mold and shape us into who we are, they keep us grounded and are the only ones we can count on to be brutally honest when everyone else tells you what you want to hear. Family gives us roots that reach back into history and children and grandchildren to point the way ahead. We need to see, hug and truly appreciate these people who hold such special places in our lives, because without them, we can hardly feel whole.
And last of all, we need to recognize that we are a small part of a greater community. We belong to social clubs and organizations, we ban together to make the world a better place, we have water cooler discussions at work and we mobilize behind a common goal in order to make things happen. Social media, staring at a monitor or a phone can never replace one-on-one conversation, because this is where the magic happens. This is where ideas are born and dreams take flight. Our community is where we find validation for all our hard efforts, and if we’re lucky, we can sometimes discover the contentment in just being.
I assert that we cannot discover God’s plan for us or realize our true potential until we as individuals embrace the tenets of faith, family and community. A three-legged stool cannot stand with just one or two legs, it must have all three. I believe it is just that simple. For all this pandemic has taken from us, if we gain these three things, then we end up with a glass half full as opposed to feeling empty and alone, and that’s a really good place to start in terms of re-entering society post pandemic.
#COVID19 A strictly human perspective....
I am, at my core, an optimist. Part of that comes from living a faith-based life, but perhaps an even larger part comes from the fact that I have to be. I find negativity to be far too heavy a load to carry around with me all day. The burden makes me feel tired, and that means I cannot be there for others who depend upon me daily.
Times are difficult now. Covid-19, or the coronavirus, has taken over our lives. It is an invisible enemy whose power far exceeds anything I’ve endured in my lifetime, and yet I remain optimistic. Even though we are being asked to live our lives in ways and manners that feel foreign and uncomfortable, we are also being granted hidden opportunities.
With exception to the medical industry, governments and certain manufacturers, most of us are being told to take a necessary time out, to shelter in place while those on the front lines wage this war on our behalf. So what do we do with all this time? For me, the journey begins in my mind by asking myself the simple question, “Why?” Why is this happening?
I don’t believe in modern day plagues hurled upon a supposedly evil sector of society, but barrowing from an economic term, I do believe in corrections. So much of the world at large has become far too ego-based and materialistic in nature. Whether it’s spending exorbitant sums of money on homes, automobiles and entertainment, or spending more time on social media than we do with our families, our value system seems to have become skewed. Greed rules and enough is never enough. Maybe that’s why this current virus is primarily attacking more privileged nations while leaving those less developed more or less unscathed.
Peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350, the Black Death, often referred to as “The Plague”, wiped out one-third of the continent’s population. According to Wikipedia, short and long-term effects included a series of biological, social, economic, political and religious upheavals, which had a profound effect on the course of world history. Therefore, is it outlandish to perceive this pandemic as an opportunity to re-prioritize our lives in a manner more becoming to the essence of who we are as human beings?
We have a real opportunity to become more relationship-based, kinder and gentler in our day-to-day interactions with others and less preoccupied with where we’re going and instead appreciate where we are. We can reacquaint ourselves with what it means to be a good human being while seeking leadership from those whose values line up with our own. And last of all, we can say a resounding “no” to fear, hatred, lies, divisiveness and bullying, because such behaviors never made America great.
Today, as I sit at my desk sending out emails and autographing books to get in the mail, I have the news on in the background. Regardless of the channel, talk about COVID-19 Coronavirus disease is inescapable. Even though I pride myself for being the calm in the center of a storm, it’s impossible not to feel afraid, if not for myself, then for my 86-year-old mother, my husband, my children and grandchildren.
Staying informed is key, but when I see pictures and videos of grown-ups emptying retailer’s shelves of toilet paper, I can’t help wondering what children must be thinking. With so many unexpected changes happening all around them, from cancellation of large events to potential school closings, how do they begin to process this viral outbreak? Do they panic in private relying upon images they see on social media, which is not always a good barometer, or do they go to their parents for the answers they need?
I think it incumbent upon parents to take proactive measures by talking to their children about what’s going on and then appropriately answering their questions. You don’t do them any favors by hiding your concerns, but you can use your own personal fears to educate them as to what’s being done and how they can do their part to help stop the spread of the disease.
Knowledge is power, and I always feel better in control whenever I know what’s happening and what’s being done about it. I can’t help feeling like humanity is being tested. Response by those in control is being measured daily. Our nation has the best and the brightest working on this global pandemic, but we are also being measured as human beings.
Are we pulling together as a nation, or distancing ourselves. Are we finally going to try and heal this divide, or are we going to cement it forever? Before you answer that question please remember, our children are depending on us, we mustn’t let them down.
According to the World Health Organization:
What Matters Most
In Happy Tails, the animals take center stage while my husband, Bill, and I fade happily into the background where we take on more of a supportive role. As a writer attempting to reach out to young readers, this was a natural choice for me, because I’ve yet to know a child who didn’t respond favorably to a puppy’s kisses or a kitten’s purr.
Animals are simple. They are motivated by the basic need to find food and shelter while working to secure the love and affection of their families. Human beings on the other hand, are more complicated. Growing up, I’ve often found people can be motivated by any number of emotions and desires. For instance, I studied all the time, because it was important to me to make good grades. Other sports-minded students trained and practiced in an effort to perfect their game.
But not all motivations are pure of heart. Some people are unkind, because they don’t want to reveal their own insecurities. As a result, fear becomes the driving force behind everything they do. Another might play the class clown, because he or she has a dread of not being liked by their classmates. Oftentimes, when someone bullies others without considering the possible outcome, it’s because they want to control everyone and everything around them. Who knows why? Perhaps it’s because they live in an unhappy home. Should this happen to you, the best thing to do is confide in parents, teachers and friends who can protect you from harm. It’s never a good idea to try and go it alone.
What matters most is the basic understanding that everything we say and do has consequences. Our words and actions have the power to warm a cold heart and heal dampened spirits. But some who may feel wounded inside for one reason or another may act out in bad ways toward others. While their damaging behavior cannot be tolerated, it at least needs to be understood, because understanding opens the door to change.
Taking responsibility for your behavior has the power to raise you up as a human being making you important to all who know you. Plus, you will never have to apologize for saying and doing the right thing.
The story opens with a brand new litter of three long-haired, dapple dachshund pups, born in a modest cabin in the Ozarks owned by surrogate caretakers, Bill and Joy Munson, while the dog’s rightful owners are out of the country. Jitterbug, the runt of the litter, is mostly ignored by her two more physical, rambunctious siblings and she’s indifferent to her mother who she perceives as being cold. At odds with her surroundings, she cannot help fantasizing about a more glamorous life in the city where she dreams of making a name for herself.
Surrounded by a cast of eccentric characters, Jitterbug bides her time by making friends with Jetter, the family’s snarky but lovable feline who tomcats by night and lounges by day while watching out for the likes of Aunt Geneva and Uncle Ed, two noisy crows who make it their business to know it all. However, despite developing a real affection for the Munson’s, she can’t wait to leave for her real home in Chicago. Then one morning she is devastated to learn her canine family has been sent back to the city without her. Now sentenced to a life of mediocrity, Jitterbug sinks into a deep depression.
Concerned by their dog’s diminishing physical and emotional state, the Munson’s seek out a proper mate for Jitterbug by bringing Jasper into the fold. With his calm temperament, he immediately embraces his responsibility with the intent of sharing his passion for nature with his new partner. He introduces Jitterbug to numerous new woodland creatures including Dr. Steve, the wise old barred owl, the deer family, two hyper little squirrels and a one-eyed fox named Willis.
However, just as Jitterbug is about to resign herself to a simple life in the Ozarks, opportunity knocks when she is discovered performing along the sidelines during a lavish Christmas spectacle held annually in Branson. With an extravagant gift and an invitation to join the traveling show, she escapes her pet carrier at an opportune moment despite the Munson’s absolute refusal to place their beloved puppy in show business. Separated by a winter blast that produces record snowfall and massive power outages across the region, Jitterbug is swept out of town before the Munson’s can initiate a credible search.
Her impromptu adventure takes her across the country, introduces her to reality television and even lands her a starring role in a national ad campaign, but the constant demands of celebrity coupled with intermittent bouts of homesickness force Jitterbug to realize not every dream is worth pursuing when measured against the sacrifices necessary to achieve a goal. Forced to grow up without the loving support of her friends and family, she learns numerous lessons, including the grass is not always greener on the other side, and that it’s not okay to run from an uncomfortable situation. However, through sheer grit and determination, a new deal is eventually crafted between the Munson’s and Jitterbug’s new owner designed to make everyone happy and bring Jitterbug back home.
It’s the eve of Valentine’s Day, and I find myself hurrying to meet the demands of a deadline. With shopping done, it’s time to get gifts wrapped, cards signed and those that need to be mailed off sent. Caught up in the midst of all this activity, my mind can’t help but wander. I’ve got an elderly mom I care for, a husband, three children between us, each with spouses, and five grandchildren. For me, love takes on many forms. While Valentine’s Day is traditionally set aside for couples who fancy one another with images of hearts and cupid crowding store shelves and checkout counters, to only see it in such simple terms is somehow cheating love’s bounty.
Love revealed itself early in my life when my mother took me shopping downtown to select fabric and buttons for my clothes she tailor-made or when my dad taught me how to ride a bike while helping me to rest assured I was not to be afraid. It was shown by my older brother and sister who taught me how to read and write at a very young age, and by my maternal grandmother who spent hours in the kitchen baking me one of my favorite – always lopsided – chocolate cakes.
When I started school, love was further demonstrated by friends and flirtations that carried me throughout my youth while reminding me I was never alone. It was also demonstrated by countless teachers and administrators who gave guidance to a student who showed potential, even though I occasionally stumbled.
Throughout my life, I have been blessed to have been surrounded by good people who oftentimes placed my needs before their own, and I’ve tried to give back whenever I could. However, when I couldn’t, I paid it forward by showing kindness to a stranger perhaps by holding a door open or sharing an umbrella. The truth is, most of us are surrounded by love’s bounty even when we get so busy we fail to notice.
So on the day set aside to honor love, why not be a little kinder to one another? And when you see someone in need, why not offer them a helping hand? I’ve learned over the course of my life if there’s one thing you can count on it’s that there’s always somebody out there who needs a good hug, and sometimes that’s all it takes to make someone’s day.
Hello! My name is Joy Metzer, and I’d like to introduce myself as a way of becoming better acquainted. My journey to become an author began when I was in the seventh grade when my guidance counselor at school asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Truthfully, no one had ever asked me that question before. Back when I was growing up, it was automatically assumed young girls would get an education, fall in love and get married, and then stay at home to raise a family. While there was nothing wrong with taking such a path, just like my main character, Jitterbug, I wanted more.
I’d always had strong opinions, and I had seemingly been blessed with the ability to communicate my thoughts into words, but I didn’t exactly know how to begin. It seemed every time I turned in an essay or report at school it came back marked up in red with grammar and spelling corrections. Therefore, I became afraid, scared I wasn’t good enough. So unfortunately I let those early dreams die away by the time I got into high school.
I wish at that time I’d had sought out someone to talk to about my fears, but so often we are even more afraid of letting others see our insecurities. We’d rather be known for what we can do, rather than risk the possibility of failure. Therefore, for many years I followed another path, and although it granted me much success, it failed to fill me up inside. True happiness felt out of reach.
It wasn’t until I suffered a devastating personal loss that I had so many emotions bouncing around inside that I had to find a way of letting them out. So I began writing a journal. I wrote about any and all kinds of subjects that mattered to me personally. I wrote about things happening in the world that I found upsetting, and about stories I found touching. I wrote about difficult emotions like depression and about methods I’d used for self-healing. I posted that journal on various blog sites as well as on social media.
My original thought process was that if I was writing for myself and only myself, then I couldn’t possibly make a mistake. Therefore, I didn’t experience that same kind of dreaded feeling that I didn’t measure up, but what I hadn’t anticipated was the amount of acceptance I would receive from complete strangers whose hearts and minds I’d managed to touch in a way that mattered. The reward was far greater than I could’ve imagined.
Since then, I’ve gone on to write several books including adult fiction, a personal memoire and an investigative piece. Happy Tails is my first attempt to reach out to young readers and my favorite work thus far. The youth is and always will be our future. Never underestimate your worth.
Stay tuned for more blog posts from Joy Metzer and Jitterbug!
About the Author
Joy Metzer worked as a professional interior designer for more than twenty-five years, spearheading projects both nationally and abroad, while cultivating an audience for her writing through several book publications and a successful online blog under her former name, Joyce M. Stacks. Though no stranger to real life portrayals intended to enrich the lives of her readers, this is her first effort at writing a children’s chapter book loosely based upon the private life she shares with her husband. She attended both the University of Utah and Texas Christian University and currently resides in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to be near her family, as well as in Lead Hill with her husband, Bill.