Self-Isolation, Sacrifice and Love


Last year, some friends and I were extras in an excellent Stan series called The Commons. 

It depicted isolation, the ramifications of global warming, border security and what happens when a virus is rampant in the community. We were evacuees within this odd world, and our scenes depicted life within a temporary facility, and then a huge camp, complete with a makeshift hospital and medical staff. At the time of filming, nobody had heard of Covid-19, because it wasn’t apparent in humanity. There were times when I got chills, watching the ‘fictional’ story unfold, and there were scenes where I had tears in my eyes. Some of us reached for fellow extra’s hands. I watched Series 1 on my iPad over January, from the place we were staying in the city. The dystopian themes had begun to mirror real life, with people walking around with face masks; choking smoke and bushfires decimating Australia…

Boy, has life changed since The Commons was filmed in Sydney!

I know we have all been affected by limited supplies of medications and supermarket goods. We’ve seen appalling footage of brawls and greed on display. However, there have been many more outstanding  examples of goodness.

My friend Van, has set up a group to make masks for our frontline workers, and it’s going gangbusters! If you have the skills, you can sign up here.  To request masks, join the sister group.

I have been unwell this week, and have had a bag of goodies left at my door, been gifted hand sanitiser and soap, had a fairy godmother help more than she will ever know, and had many friends message to ask if I need them to get us anything from the shops. Thank you with all my heart.

Many people I love have lost their jobs, and are in precarious situations. Personally, I have felt helpless, being unable to visit and administer hugs and comfort in person. How do we keep our spirits up? A friend messaged the other day, admitting that her anxiety was all-consuming, and she wasn’t coping at all. She was berating herself for feeling like this, and I assured her that she was having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. For humanity, the events of 2020 are unprecedented. There is no ‘right’ emotional response, for we haven’t been here before; not on this scale.

I spent three years isolated in my room, from 15-18 years of age. I was studying via correspondence, only leaving my confines to go to hospital for surgery or procedures. There was no internet back then, so I was pretty much cut off from my peers and society. I learnt to lean in, in order to mentally survive. Here is what I did:

  • I kept a strict routine so I didn’t flounder. I wrote a timetable for each day of the week, detailing when I would exercise, eat, study, read and even watch tv. I broke it up into 30 minute segments.
  • I dressed and groomed as though I was going out to work.
  • I ensured I learnt new skills, to make the most of these years. I read about financial matters, ethical investing, different cultures, the arts, nutrition, the art of writing and so much more.
  • I prepared a bucket list of all I was looking forward to doing once this time was over. Things like taking a ferry across the harbour, visiting certain restaurants, finding ‘my tribe,’ and what I wanted my future to look like.
  • I ensured that I enjoyed my own company. This is imperative. I would make myself laugh with my own private jokes, kept myself as healthy as I could with exercise and good food, and talked to myself as I would a friend, with kindness and encouragement.
  • I made time to dream, to stare out the window and zone-out. Every creative soul requires this.

It is just my daughter and I in the household, and as I am unwell, I have to isolate from her, ensuring we aren’t in communal areas at the same time. Before she started highschool, I home-schooled her for four years, and fortunately, she is a stickler for routines too. I am so grateful that we have the internet and mobile phones to connect with society throughout this strange time. We are a lot more accessible than when I was fifteen; trying to cope with my isolation. We will get through this.

The tension was ramping up last week; we knew it was coming, an intractable period, which nothing could prepare us for. It’s a day-by-day proposition, doing what we can, when we can. Zoom and Google classroom will be our new best friends, as lessons go online, from drama and singing to dancing. It is a brave new world, and also a strange one. One day, we shall all open our front doors, run into each other’s arms, and embrace. We will celebrate each other’s birthdays in person, and file into restaurants. We will go back to the theatre and cinemas, and attend concerts. Nothing is lost forever.

 

World Vision.


My gorgeous friend is a World Vision volunteer, and put the call out for an assistant to help her sell Ken Duncan’s new book, Vision of Hope: Mother & Child. Grateful for the opportunity to hang out with my friend, I said I would come with her. The rain was heavy as we made our way over, and we were amazed at the amount of cars and people at the Parkside Church, Edensor Park. You know the feeling of uncertainty when you are in unfamiliar surroundings? That’s what we experienced, at first. There were food stalls set up, catering for every culture, and the aromas were delightful. Inside the hall, a man was strumming his guitar and friends were seated at tables, hanging out. We found our World Vision guide, Warwick, and he explained the intricacies of the Eftpos machines (which I prayed wouldn’t fail me), and that all money raised from the sale of the spectacular book would be going to their typhoon appeal for the Philippines. The cover is smothered in saffron and honey tones, and I marvelled at how gorgeous our world really is. How blessed are we that photographers live in the mindful state required to capture such beauty. We put on our orange t-shirts, and talked to our new friend Warwick, sharing snippets of our lives, his in Melbourne and ours in Sydney. He loves his job, and is fantastic at it.

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Listening to Ken Duncan talk in the church, I discovered a dynamic man. He is in love with life and filled with faith. In our Western world, it is easy to become insular, and see the issues facing others as suffering on a different planet. His images, of little girls becoming Indonesian princesses in gowns, after having been rescued from the sex trade, of mothers and babies and little ones smiling, are heavenly. They are us and we are them. We are one. People came up to our table to buy the book. People of all cultures and walks of life. Gracious people who waited patiently as I fumbled with the Eftpos machine. Those who inquired about sponsoring a child, well, I wanted to jump the table and hug them in appreciation. The thrill of seeing the photo of a child being removed from the board after sponsorship had taken place was an event that will stay with me. http://trans.worldvision.com.au/visionofhope/