Woman lying in fetal position with iPad tablet

A lot has changed in the last days.

I am getting more and more hopeful for humanity in some ways. Seeing yoga instructors doing free courses online, meditation apps being given away for free and gym teachers going on Instagram once a day to help parents home school their kids... love and empathy are all around us. Things are hard right now but I am heartened by how many people have decided to use their skills and passions to remind us we are together and together we are much stronger.

Conversely, I'm so sad when I see people not taking this seriously, partying on beaches and not standing an appropriate distance away.  It's so easy to be good, to keep yourself and therefore your community and family members safe. All you need to do is wash your hands and stand apart. For animal people this is easy, the distance is a llama or a leatherback sea turtle. Imagine you are being followed by a llama or a leatherback and don’t let anyone come between your animal friend. For the macabre and those who need to hear the awful truth to remember how real this is: the distance of your sick family member is how far you should be standing from others.

Some people have decided to use this time to learn a new skill, start new projects or finish those projects that have collected dust for too long. But I do also want to remind people that rest is important. You are not on holiday, these are not normal circumstances and we don’t have a defined timeline. This isn’t a contest on who can be the most productive with this time. This is a time to not compare your life on social media- as we know comparison is the very thief of joy. This is a time to learn from yourself, what do you need to be healthy: mentally, physically and spiritually. Do you need to sleep more because the idea of a virus passing through all the countries of the world is hard to fathom and makes you very sad? Then sleep, rest, be good to yourself. Do you need to run or do push-ups or do HIIT guided by someone on YouTube because the idea of being in isolation for months gives you nervous energy that you need to get out of your body? Then sweat it out and breathe it out. Do you feel like you need to eat more comfort foods like chocolate, salad, pop tarts, Kraft Dinner or anything in between because your body is asking for comfort in a time of mass uncertainty and fire hoses of information? Then nourish your body and remember there should be no guilt in pleasure, let the soft animal of your body love what it loves ( Mary Oliver). Do you feel like you need to Zoom with friends more or you have zoomed so much this weekend that another video conference hangout makes you feel overdrawn? Listen to what you need in the right now and make choices for you now. This is a marathon, not a sprint and every single day will be different.

There will be good days in which we celebrate together (apart) and there will be devastating days that we cry into our pillow and mourn deeply.

What you need today may be different than what you needed yesterday and tomorrow—that is okay.

But, do remember this is the same with everyone around you, we are all going through this devastating time of grief and anxiety so while you are being kind to yourself, be kind to others. We will get annoyed with our housemates talking too loudly on the phone. We will glare at our partners when they leave their towels on the floor, even after we asked them not to. We will be angry that our kids thought unsupervised science experiences in the kitchen were a great idea. We will be overwhelmed and overdrawn at times and we will snap. That is okay because we are humans and humans are complex emotional creatures and we can say we are sorry. And just as we can apologize, we can accept apologies.

I am not sure how things will look in a month or a year from now but I know humanity will find a way to keep on surprising me with joy.

I know in these times I will cry and I will laugh and I will experience everything in between. I will be as gentle as myself as possible and I hope you are as gentle with yourself, too.

When it is safe we will volunteer again, we will go out in great numbers and show how committed we are to these animals we love so much. We will help those community leaders that are still on the ground right now helping horses, dolphins, monkeys, pangolins, dogs, elephants, sea turtles and more. Until then, my dear friends, be kind and be safe and do remember that we are all in this together.

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About The Author

Nora Livingstone's picture

Nora Livingstone is the Co-Founder and CEO of Animal Experience International, a B Corp that matches animal lovers with beneficial and adventurous volunteer experiences around the world. She has volunteered with animals in more than 25 countries, including Croatia, Mongolia, Sierra Leone, and Guatemala. Nora holds a double major from Trent University in Environmental Studies and Cultural Anthropology and holds internationally recognized certifications for guiding, leadership, crisis intervention, and deployment during natural disasters. She carries a tiny plastic horse and stuffed mouse with her every time she travels.

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