Woman sitting on her floor with laptop computer

I was traveling and on holiday when the pesky virus unfolded into a full-blown pandemic.

I went from mild consternation to great foreboding – mainly for fear that I might not make it back into the country.

I boarded one of the last planes out of Costa Rica, just before the frontiers closed.

Today, I nestle at home with a full larder and a fidgety mind. How can I stay relevant and at peace in the time of pestilence and social distancing? I found five things that are keeping me on track and focused on what’s important.

1. Eat well and cook often.

Upon reentry, the first thing I did was visit my local natural food store and stocked up on organic grains, beans, pulses, meat, eggs, and fresh produce. I did not overbuy, but I wanted enough variety, so I could whip up my favorites without missing an ingredient.

It feels good to have the time and attention to focus on chopping, sautéeing, braising, and baking.

My Indian dal full of vegetables and spices fills the house with savor. The homemade pickles ferment in mason jars in the fridge. Free-range omelets, roasts of organic beef, and wild mushroom lasagna emanate from my little kitchen. The bouquet of snickerdoodles completes the aromatic parade.

2. Reread a favorite book.

Perhaps it’s time to reread that book that once profoundly touched you. Picking up a copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring published in 1962 makes me realize I may not be writing to you today had I not read this book.

Rachel Carson ignited the environmental movement with her writing. In turn, it influenced the organic food and farming movement that has governed my being.

Rachel challenged the idea that we humans should have mastery over nature. She warned about the dangers of misusing chemical pesticides. “It was a spring without voices,” she wrote, “In the mornings, which had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, and wrens, and scores of other bird voices, there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marshes.”

Her profound piece of work led to the reversal of the U.S. national pesticide policy, a ban on DDT in agriculture, and it helped inspire the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Rereading it again, I am touched by her fearless eloquence and vision. I just may share the book with someone who has not heard of it. What an excellent gift to give in this time of uncertainty.

3. Dance every day or walk in nature—just keep moving.  

It’s hard not to become addicted to the gaggle of news and movement in a way to combat the stress. It also keeps the body lithe, the heart beating, and the endorphins flowing.

I am lucky enough to have a tribe of neighbors that walk diligently—rain or shine, dark or dawning—at 6:30 each morning. We walk and talk, sharing stories and news—we often gossip. But we have stretched our limbs across three miles before 8:00 am.

These days we still perform our morning march, but at a safe distance, forming a six-foot V formation of migratory neighbors.

In the evenings after dinner, my husband and I put on Middle Eastern music and dance on the red Persian carpet.

Staying active keeps me sane in a world gone slightly awry.

4. Stay involved in your virtual community.

Since being ensconced at home, I have been inaugurated to Zoom. I can stay in touch with my community virtually. So far, I have sipped through cocktail parties and sweated through Pilates workouts on the Zoom app.

Even the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting will be held virtually so that everyone stays healthy and can continue the work of continuous improvement in the organic standards. The board will be able to deliberate in an open and public setting, without anyone needing to travel!

There’s no excuse not to participate in the democratic process of the NOSB. Since I’m at home and can easily go online, I attend the meeting virtually and be part of the organic community dialogue.

5. Love and take care of your extended family.

There are a lot of us wondering what’s next, and many of our friends, family, and loved ones are alone. It’s the perfect time to ring them up and hear their voice. Share fears and worries, stories, and poems.

If my hair is washed and my face is straight, a good FaceTime is even better.

The truth is we don’t know what’s going to happen next, and we are all in this crazy mixed-up place together.

We are alone together at this time, and our beloveds are the most important thing we have.

Stay safe in body and mind.

What are you doing to keep healthy and focused?

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About The Author

Melody Meyer's picture

Melody is the Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations for United Natural Foods (UNFI). In this role she is responsible for communicating and educating all stakeholders on critical organic issues. Her Blog www.organicmattersblog.com covers a range of organic and sustainable food issues.

She is the executive director of the UNFI Foundation which is dedicated to funding non-profit organizations that promote organic agriculture  www.unfifoundation.org. Melody serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Organic Trade Association www.ota.com.

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