How about you?
Can I ask if this is a safe place to open up?
Since I can’t hear your response, I will imagine you nodding “yes.”
First, I’m a foreigner living in a Middle Eastern country. That’s curious enough and a surprise to me as well as it is to anyone who knows me. And second, I’m in a high-risk age group of the population. But, I LOVE Istanbul and I feel safe here and yet, afraid at the same time. If I allow myself to look at the negatives, I will drive myself crazy—and raise my BP. I don’t speak the language. Would that matter if I had C-19 symptoms and showed up at a hospital? But I also feel super secure in the fact that the health care system is one of the best in the world. And the Turkish people take care of their own. And as long as I’m living in their country, I’m certain they will take care of me.
So here’s what I’m doing.
First, I got my hair done yesterday. And then walked to my neighborhood Starbucks. It was business as usual but fewer people on the streets. Still, I nodded at the familiar smiling faces and thanked the staff at Starbucks by slipping an extra big tip in their jar when they weren’t looking. I know it will be lean times for all workers over the next few weeks. Some businesses are already closed down.
It was freezing out and windy but I’m grateful for the fact that I’m healthy and can walk and afford to go to the hairdressers, the pharmacy and Starbucks.
I glanced across the street and witnessed this. It the first time I’ve seen this in Istanbul.
“There, but for the grace of God…” It made my heart hurt. What will the poor people and the refugees do during this scary time?
Further on my walk I looked up and saw these event posters hanging everywhere.
I LOVE YOU. And that made my heart sing.
I came to a decision yesterday. In life we always have choices. I chose to be the LIGHT, I will do what I’ve always done. I will put my own fears aside and show strength and compassion.
So I opened up my computer and did a FB Live. I said hi to friends and readers of my novels and memoir that I’ve met from all over the world. I connected and made people smile. Then I shared something I learned from Elizabeth Gilbert—the author of Eat Pray Love—she called it a grounding technique to bring us back into the present.
And now I will share it with you.
5 4 3 2 1
Name 5 things you can see right now. I. I see the sun streaming in through my loft window landing on my white cotton comforter on my bed 2. I see a colorful pocket notebook with Istanbul and a sketch of the Hagia Sophia on the cover 3. I see my iPad where I have a thousand books and several I have not yet read so I know what I will do with my time if I self-isolate 4. I see photos in a stack in front of me, the only things I kept from my past when I packed my suitcase and left my life in Mexico to travel in 2019 5. I see the fresh coffee I just made from the extra bags of beans I bought at Starbucks yesterday.
Name 4 things you can hear right now. 1. I hear the hum of the heater—it’s cold today. I’m so grateful to have electricity. 2. I hear the Call to Prayer at the Mosque. I know Muslims all over the world will stop and say their prayers in the privacy of their offices or homes because groups are forbidden by the Iman during this time of the virus. 3. I can hear a seagull calling. The Bosphorus Strait is at the end of my street 4. I can hear the keyboard click as I type each word and hope I’m inspiring you.
Name 3 things you feel right now. 1. I feel happy because my boyfriend came over last night and made me laugh and helped me get centered. 2. I feel loved and cherished to know that someone cares that I’m okay. 3. I feel purposeful because I made a decision in the midst of my anxiety that I would do what I do best and spread LIGHT and LOVE.
Name 2 things you can smell right now. 1. My steaming black coffee 2. My Chanel Chance perfume that I put on my neck just for me.
Name 1 thing you can taste right now. I can taste the bananas with honey sprinkled with Chia seeds that I’m eating while I write this piece for you.
And finally, since it’s the eve of my BIRTHDAY, this is my birthday wish:
I will send an intention out to the Universe that when this virus is finally under control, governments, countries, and people can somehow begin to truly embrace the fact that #weareallone.
As always, thanks for reading. And if you’re looking for something to read. ULTIMATUM Code Raven 3 is free right now!