Ufff, folks.

Unless you are Naomi Campbell & can quarantine yourself on a private jet in a bespoke hazmat suit… we’re in for a traumatic collective experience (air)borne of individual suffering on a rarely documented scale. I put together a starter info-kit for me, myself & y’all to brave the incoming tide. Seven items below address the challenges coronavirus poses to the healthcare system(s), fake news media landscape, the idea of social “norms”, mental health, specifically for the kids and the elderly, and evolutionary spirituality; plus, art that goes beyond the memes. AND… how you can enroll in a free COVID-19 online course from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Proceed below.

I love y’all. And Naomi, too.

1. The Big Picture of Coronavirus: The Why of How This Is Happening

To get a systemic insight into any homo-social pandemic, watch this TED Talk from Alanna Shaikh. She has overseen outbreak responses in seven countries and is the author of “What’s Killing Us: A Practical Guide to Understanding Our Biggest Global Health Problems”. Her comparative medical staff stats alone gave me major pause…

My friend Katharine Burke who runs the Small Earth Institute in Norway, has shared two great pieces on virology & human evolution. This may or may not be of any immediate consolation, but worth understanding loooong-term.

Viruses revealed to be a major driver of human evolution” by the Genetics Society of America. Published four years ago, this is not knee-jerk scientific “propaganda”.

We are the sneezing ape” claims Time magazine in a breathtaking (pardon!) survey of correlation between respiratory conditions and our evolution as vertebrate mammals. #VertebrateMammals4Life


2. Twitterverse of Expertise

The truth is always somewhere between a senior government official press conference and an anonymous conspiracy theory rant online. Here are two Twitter accounts for credible contagion information and analysis. I’ll add some more as the digital noise gets filtered more.

Helen Branswell, senior writer on infectious diseases at STAT, a bio-medical think-tank.
Jeremy Konyndyk, humanitarian aid specialist at Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

3. #Facepalm… Except, Don’t Touch Your Face! 

For a friendly reminder to always search for a brighter/lighter side and an extra shot of anti-racism. Anti-racism is like vitamin C: you cannot overdose on it and your body will absorb as much as it needs to stay at 100%.

I am using stock photography in this story as a way to encourage reconsideration of our “mental stock” when it comes to perceptions of authority and expertise in the medical, scientific and first-response communities. stock-photo-chief-project-engineer-holds-briefing-for-a-team-of-scientists-that-are-building-machine-learning-741648175

4. Jokes Aside… THIS. SHIT. IS. STRESSFUL. AF.

Here are two well-done articles on different aspects of the ongoing and forthcoming impact of coronavirus on mental health, yours & those around you. But first, a great post from Haley Jones, a non-binary mental health practitioner with an insightful e-platform.

Coronavirus will also cause a loneliness epidemic” … if you watch or read anything from this post, please, read this. The seemingly necessary social distancing can lead to “social recession”. Check on each other. Check on me.

How to manage OCD & anxiety amid the coronavirus” is an important piece for people living with mental health challenges. Hand-washing is a common compulsive behavior and even Alanna Shaikh’s well-intended plea to wash-wash-wash can backfire on folks. Good on Harper’s Bazaar for publishing this. Y’all done fashion media proud (this time)!

I also defer to the embodied wisdom of my friend & yogi Jean-Jacques Gabriel: “our withdrawing, when aligned well, progresses us on the path to wholeness and union. so i’m asking can our withdraw not add to our isolation but can it help us to find our health and also reach out to others that might need our support?”

5. The Young + The Elderly + The Vulnerable = Us

Two step-by-step articles to help you address this difficult issue with kids and seniors:

How to talk to your child about COVID-19“: an 8-point guide developed by UNICEF.

How to care for the elderly with/out risk of coronavirus“: a Q&A with chief medical officer at AARP.

My friend Yom Odamtten Fox, an extraordinary educator raising her family in New York City, has also made a great point:

Yom Odamtten Fox

My friend Sophie Engel of the Goethe Institute shared a suggestion from choreographer Ihsan Rustem and as a creative freelancer, I cannot not agree:


6. Unlearn a Lie, Save a Life 

To avoid any further confusion throughout the predictably prolonged period of dealing with the spread, the impact and the aftermath of the pandemic, folks at FutureLearn and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine have put together a comprehensive FREE three-weeks online course “COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus”. It opens to the general public on Monday, March 23. However, when you register now, you already get access to science-approved advice, resources and latest data tracking.


7. The Spirit Runs Deeper Than Deep

The Big Picture is always way-wider than our collective blindspots. I am not a doomsayer nor a fan of the defeatist “everything happens for a reason” mentality. Here is some food for thought if spirituality informs your physicality. 

My default astrologist Rob Brezsny quotes anthropologist Richard Grossinger on this: “The virus has an intrinsic intelligence … as part of an interdependent transmission that includes our own minds and participates in a greater knowing and pre-conscious phenomenology. We are colleagues, partners, in a deep ontological dialogue … The collective is projecting onto the virus its own state of profound unrest, dissociation from reality, existential homelessness, materialism-generated nihilism, inability to address unequal distribution of resources, etc.” Please, read & reflect on the full passages here.

Unfinished sculpture “This Too Shall Pass” in Valencia; part of cancelled festivities for Fallas 2020

P.S. Ditch the Virus, Keep the Corona, My Love(s)

A reminder to breathe… and smile… from a terrific Turkish artist Ahmet Öğüt whose socially-astute work I first encountered at the Timisoara Biennale in 2017. The black face mask reads: “Even Behind This Airspace – there is a smile tricking our brain into happy chemicals – dopamine – serotonin – endorphin – oxytocin”.

The cover image for this story comes from the brilliant mind/hand of Khalid Albaih, a cartoonist featured in my 2019 tribute to Sudanese artists.

Wash hands. Hydrate. Check on your loved ones. Doctor’s Orders!

happy female african american scientist holding cup

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