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Bug in a Jar – Isolation 101

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Isolation 101: Bug in a Jar

I awoke from a dream. I was walking through sand. The weight of my body pulled me down. Was it quicksand? The feeling of entrapment jolted me.

It’s been 40 days and 40 nights without any human contact. It has become a physical thing, extending past the difficulty of the mental strife. I can feel it in my joints and in my bones. It actually hurts. My body has a new vibration, like a rough running carburetor. The functional machine I had been is broken.

I feel like a bug in a jar

If we are all energy, as I believe, it explains how this feels. It feels like dehydration of my soul. It feels like all of the energy has been sucked out of me through a straw. It feels like I am carrying a piano, that is carrying an elephant, that is carrying the world. There is simply no place for my wonderful, plentiful, bountiful energy to go, and with none coming in, that symbiotic exchange that is as natural as breathing is no longer happening.

Yet I am still this massive energy factory. I throw some of it into the world, hoping it will land somewhere good and needed. The rest rebounds off of my walls. Some simply drifts into the abyss.

At least before, I could be in a hot room with other yogis and we could let each other’s energy fuel our souls, like osmosis.

I am not appeased by zoom. I have all but stopped texting. I am not interested in television. I’m past the point of binging on anything, even cookies. There’s nothing that will soothe me. Nothing replaces people. Period.

I feel like a bug in a jar. Some bratty kid came along and put me in a jar. I am a bug in a jar. Sometimes the kid shakes the jar…

Sometimes I see a flash of light. It is not the sun. It is the hot, searing magnification of this situation.

I am a bug in a jar. My jailer plucked me out and pulled off all my limbs.  I am now a bug in a jar, with no limbs.

I did not expect the physical part of this isolation. How could I? I have talked to people about the various ways we are sheltered in place. Some people are alone, like me. Others have their family. Some have a roommate, or friend. Some are in a care home. In each scenario there are challenges, difficulties and obstacles. Because I have empathy, I can let myself imagine how hard it would be in a worst-case, or bad case version of any of them. There is no good place to be forced to isolate. Period.

I was deeply in need of a hug, or any simple human touch. People say at least knowing other people are in the same situation makes it better. At least knowing some people are worse off makes it better. These things are all true. But nothing makes it better. Period.

Yesterday, I reached my breaking point. I was proud of how I handled the complete loss of my yearly income due to the full stop cancellation of large live music events, which is how I make my living. I was proud of how I was handling being alone. I was proud I had not reverting to the default and repeat cycle of self-pity and pacifying. But then someone I love was admitted into the hospital. Now I’m a bug in a jar with no limbs and I can’t go be there. Even if I had my legs, it’s not allowed.

“…My jailer plucked me out and pulled off all my limbs…”

When I was struggling with isolation before this all happened, I gained many important skills for living better and coping during trying times, but I realized I did not have a crisis plan, despite having a plan for almost everything. I suppose you don’t know you need one, until you need one. I thought I knew the people I could ask for help, but I realized I was wrong. There were times I told friends I was struggling and they didn’t understand I needed help. Once I even used the actual words “I am in emotional distress” and eight months later I have still not heard from the person I said that to.

Yesterday I enacted my new crisis plan. This plan includes a list of friends I have previously and specifically asked to verify, “if I tell you I need help, will you believe me?”

I asked for help and the cavalry arrived. At first, I just explained what was wrong and was told it’s okay to cry, so I did. I. Then I was told everything is going to be okay, because you need to hear it will be okay. Later, the cavalry brought so many donuts, along with wine and take-out.

The cavalry also gave me a hug.

There’s no way to describe getting the one thing you’ve needed after more than 40 days of having no human contact. We knew there was a small risk in the hugs. But it was necessary to take the risk. You can’t leave a man down. You wouldn’t leave a person in the middle of the street as bus with no breaks hurtling towards them. You can’t leave the damsel tied to the tracks when the train is chugging towards her. Yesterday, I got a hug and some time, love and laughter with two friends who came to pick me up off the ground. I was told the mission was not just for me; they needed it too. I said we had to fill our collective souls. We need people. Period.

With all the rules we currently have in place, we can’t lose our basic human kindness. We can’t lose our compassion, and we need to have empathy for everyone and everything, even if we can’t possibly understand. I am not condoning the practice of breaking the two metre distancing rules, in fact I was following them to the letter without exception until I could not carry on without help. Yesterday required us to break them. I was a bug without limbs in a jar who was dying, and today I am just a little bit more myself.

I wrote this, so that’s a good sign.

Ilan Cooley is an Edmonton based entrepreneur and writer. She is a an avid traveller, rescue dog mama and advocate of kindness and community.

You can read a recent story featuring Ilan that was published in the Globe and Mail on April 27, 2020. Here is a a recent video story featuring Ilan and this topic on Global TV Edmonton.

Isolation 101

 

Ilan Cooley is an Edmonton-based entrepreneur and writer who proudly works in the live event industry.

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Volunteers help offset food insecurity being experienced by Edmontonians

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September 30, 2020

A new study confirms more families are experiencing food insecurity due to COVID-19. The disturbing trend was offset by volunteers, who mobilized to fill the gap to help families during the health crisis.

Edmonton-AB- ​A new survey reveals a concerning trend of more Edmontonians facing food security issues because of the pandemic. Volunteers can’t keep up and a city strategy is desperately needed.

Over the past two months, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights (JHC) in partnership with the Canadian Volunteers United in Action (CANAVUA) administered an online survey. Volunteers helped connect with the hard to reach population with street interviews. The survey of 127 people revealed a quarter of respondents were unable to access sufficient food for their families and more than half did not seek help with social advocacy agencies. Nearly forty percent of families also found it difficult to find culturally appropriate food.

Renee Vaugeois, Executive Director, of the John Humphrey Centre, added “The YEG Community Response to COVID19 Facebook group grew exponentially overnight, with more than 20,000 members and has served over 30,000 in the community in 6 months. Volunteers filled the need and continue to help the marginalized access much needed support. While this effort continues to fulfill basic needs it’s only a band-aid. It’s critical to develop a city-wide intentional strategy, which should include the voices of those facing food insecurity.”

The study also found barriers to food access were reported in West, Central, and North Edmonton. Many respondents reported loss of employment, reduction in support income, and rising grocery prices as reasons contributing to going witho​ut.

The findings were presented to the food distribution table, a city-led initiative including agencies dedicated to helping with food security. The Centre will conduct more research next quarter to monitor the situation and continue to inform food security efforts in the City.

Read more on Todayville.

 

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Mrdjenovich preps for fight in LA while YEG council waffles on allowing a return to the ring

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Edmonton’s leading fight personality, and clearly the city’s outstanding boxer in history, faces a chance to do “something therapeutic for myself” and shake off the effects of this everlasting coronavirus.

Of course, Jelena Mrdjenovich means returning to the ring where she has won at least 10 professional championships since she started her boxing career in 2003.

“We’re negotiating right now on a fight in Los Angeles,” she said Wednesday. “There are a lot of complications but I think everything can be done in time for a fight in November.”

Preparing for a bout in a foreign country, including the setup of a training camp, is more difficult than might be imagined. Sparring partners are always available but workout schedules often need to be adjusted. These are minor adjustments, Jelena said, “It’s important to remember there would have to be 14 days of isolation at some point.”

She reigns as women’s world featherweight title-holder in at least one of the three major international boxing regulators. Obviously, there has been little competition in her bracket — or any other boxing bracket — for the last six months or so, but she says the challenge of getting into top shape is no different for her these days.

“I always do my best to stay active,” she said. “There are always complications, but with my (downtown) boxing club, I’ve been doing quite a few virtual classes. I’m probably closer to my (126-pound) fighting weight right now than when I usually start working out for a fight.”

In every conversation about her sport for the last three or four years, the 38-year-old champion has been asked when she will give up boxing. Before the COVID-inspired interruption, she had reached the 50-bout milestone which she once openly considered her gateway to retirement, “but now I’ve got some other major issues to handle.”

One of them, obviously, is the future of her sport and the organization, KO Boxing Edmonton, that has kept the pro game alive in this city for several years.

Within the last few weeks, there has been encouragement and then discouragement. Promoter Mel Lubovac said Alberta Health Services has granted permission for boxing competitions under firm control and obviously without public involvement.

“Now, the city has refused permission,” said the daughter of Milan Lubovac, a boxing mainstay in Alberta for decades and Mrdjenovich’s trainer-manager throughout her impressive career.

“I’ve said for a long time that this city’s administration is absolutely opposed to combat sports. Some people say the council has no real interest in any sports. There is no reason for this attitude. It’s embarrassing.”

 

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