Daisy, Ashwood (Melbourne), Australien:
Hi my name is Daisy and I am overwhelmed by having to stay at home all day & having to do school online!
I miss being able to get out and about for example: camping with my family, playing at parks, playing sport and most importantly meeting my friends. I really miss going to the park every day. I am certainly not getting as much exercise before Covid-19.
I definitely miss seeing my friends although I have done a few Skype & Zoom sessions with my friends. I just really want to meet them in real life & do physical activities with them. For example soccer (mine and my friends’ favorite sport), basketball, walking around and chatting, playing cops and robbers and gang up.
I have done a few things to keep myself occupied, such as cub scouts activities over Zoom. For example making a tower out of recycling. I have a twin brother and a big sister so I have been playing board games, card games, K’nex, making Lego creations and riding my scooter to the park down the road and back. Luckily Easter is on Sunday so I can eat my Easter chocolate all day!
By Daisy White, age 9, Ashwood (Melbourne) Australia, Primary School student
It’s Easter Sunday in Melbourne, Australia.
Last night we put some Easter eggs in the kids bedroom to discover in the morning. They are old enough not to have bothered with the Easter Bunny for some years, but it is something fun to do when there isn’t much else to do, in terms of visiting or group celebration. They are 15 and 13 and seemed happy with the little ‘hunt’ I had created.
We might have attended an Anglican church service but this is questionable as we are not Christian per se, but have been brought up in a very Christian society where the religious holidays of Christmas and Easter are marked as public holidays. So, as such, I think it is important for the children to acknowledge the reason for the holiday and so we might have attended church. Although my personal feelings are that Jesus was not the son of God, I do think he was a wise and peaceful man and should be acknowledged for the good he did for the world (even if people have since done so much ‘bad’ in his name). I am sure there would have been some online church services we could have hooked into but without being able to physically prise the children away from their screens and into the car, I doubt the services would have kept their interest for more than 2 minutes.
So, instead I opt for my meditation and yoga practice. Normally these would have been cancelled because most people go away for this 4 day weekend. But, they are still running the session live online.
My meditation session starts at 8am. The facilitator is a Swami who lives in a rural area. Because of this, her internet connection is very poor. She gets us all to connect via a ZOOM session. We start with singing an Arati in praise of guru Nityananda, then we meditate in silence for 45 minutes but still connected via ZOOM. I can hear household noises from one person and the wind from another and birds singing from another. Should I ask everyone to mute their microphones? I don’t mind hearing the sounds and connecting to the other meditators and their lives – it’s only annoying when they become more than background noise. But then, in meditation, we learn to notice our mental reactions. I can choose not to be irritated/disturbed, although it can be hard. Before this day we would meet in a little meditation room but there also was noise – people outside talking, cars passing, trains hooting and yes, the wind and birds too. So, the difference is not having to leave my home, get into the car. I can wear what I like and if I was running late, I can do it in my PJ’s. But the face to face conversation is much harder online so I mainly opt to just listen.
And that is one of the disadvantages to my yoga class too. The background noise. At my studio, the teacher plays music but that is not possible with the platforms that they are using; the music is too soft. And I miss not having those little chats before and after class with the regulars. Still, it’s great to see everyone’s faces and still be part of the community.
I’m really pleased yoga is still on today – it keeps me in a routine. I have needed routine in the past to keep me motivated and now, for so much of my day, I need to find my own routine and stick to it if I want to be productive. I am learning a new skill, a necessary skill – self-motivation. Will it stay when we get back to normal? The other routine I had was Jazzercise classes. Another community I miss seeing but they have classes online on demand. I am very grateful for my large deck and back yard where I can exercise in the fresh air. The garden has been a great source of joy and exercise too. When I am there, my mind always goes to those who live in apartments or cramped spaces during this time and the gratitude for my personal situation is almost overwhelming.
Yoga class finishes at 12pm and finally I will have some food. I haven’t been hungry in the mornings and because I am home, I don’t eat just because I am leaving the house – I can eat when I feel hungry. Certainly there are times when I am eating out of boredom or just because, but that doesn’t happen in the mornings. And now my incidental exercise (like walking around the teaching campus, moving with the students during class…) has been reduced, I need to watch my calorie intake without being obsessive about it. So, this morning fasting is working out well.
We had planned for some time to visit my 92 year old Mother-in-law for Easter afternoon tea. We had been isolating and staying clean, going out infrequently and only for essentials. But, in the end, we decided the risk was not worth it. She is in good health but she is in the age risk. Instead, my husband visited alone, kept his distance and took his own thermos of tea to avoid touching anything. Easter eggs were delivered and these had been bought 3 weeks ago so we knew that the wrapping was clear of any contamination. While he was there, he set up a ZOOM meeting with those of us left back at home so we could enjoy a cup of tea and a Hot Cross Bun together. I tried to have some conversation with her, but with her hearing aid, the sound quality is not good.
I have been on 2 weeks of school holidays, so without any obligations to attend activities or visit friends, we have done a lot of house organization and sorting. Particularly cleaning out the children’s bedrooms (both teenagers) to make them ‘study’ ready for a Term’s worth of home schooling online. On this particular day, most of that planning has been done so I can concentrate on some study that I have been putting off. I am finishing a qualification and need to do a practical exam by the end of the year, but that timing is in question. Without having to take the children to activities, I have found more time to sit down and do this work.
The other thing we have had more time for is watching movies. I am not known for sitting down in the loungeroom of an evening and watching a movie with the family – they will do it without me because I am too busy finishing the day or getting ready for tomorrow. Now, I have more time for this shared activity. We have been watching the Indiana Jones series, Grease 1 and 2 (2 was a disaster!), Ferris Buellers’ Day off, The Nutty Professor with Jerry Lewis and lots more classics. It has been a great opportunity to enjoy these loved movies again and introduce them to the children. The chosen movie on Easter Sunday was Amadeus. A strong favourite that sealed my love of Mozart’s music forever.
Preparing a meal has become such a chore for me as life continues to move at an alarming pace and I am rushing from one task to another. Without the commute, I have more time to plan and cook, finding some pleasure again in the process. And again, feeling so grateful that my husband and I still have an income and can provide for our family. But, I am feeling a little lazy tonight and there are hamburgers in the freezer that have been there for long enough, so tonight, that’s what is for dinner.
We are eating in front of the television while we watch the movie and so when that winds up at 9.30pm, we start getting ready for bed. This is another benefit of the lockdown – I haven’t neem rushing around during the day and thus having to spend every last moment getting jobs done – so now I can ease into bed by 10pm, even 9.30pm some nights, and read. So much better for calming me down for sleep. And I have been sleeping so much better.
Sunday April 12th, 2020.
Easter day, Melbourne, Australia, In the midst of coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
I’m Emily. I’m 40 years old (as of yesterday), and I am an Anglican parish priest in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. But this year is an Easter like no other I have ever experienced.
Easter day is not an ordinary day in any year, anyway; but today we are having to reimagine Easter. Normally I would be up in time to have our first service begin at 6am, in the dark before dawn; today there can be no gathering for worship. I do get up and ring the church bell (in my pyjamas) at 6am; let the suburb be reminded that Christ is risen, that a new day is dawning, that hope and joy and peace ring out even in the middle of this pandemic. Maybe my neighbours will grumble at being woken, but I hope that for some, at least, it will be a sound reminding them that God is bigger than this temporary situation.
I have pre-recorded some worship material which goes live on Facebook and Youtube at 6am as well; and at 10am I livestream a morning prayer service. For many of my community this Easter the lack of being able to gather and celebrate together, the lack of the usual observances, and the lack of holy communion, in particular, will be a very deep grief. I am determined to give them what I can, even though I can’t make things normal. I have a significant group of church members who do not use computers or the internet, and for them I have prepared and distributed ahead of time some printed material for their prayers and reflections.
This is our third Sunday without services, and I observe that while, for the first couple of weeks people were very meekly compliant, now that we have reached Easter, and the school holidays, and so many of the things which people look forward to as a special time, people are feeling more anxiety, more grief, and are becoming more demanding of me, both pastorally and in terms of what they expect in online presence and in other ways. It has been a draining process having to reinvent my role, given that so much of what I usually do is impossible, and I am finding those demands both slightly unrealistic and somewhat unfair. There is not a lot of support coming either from the church as a bigger institution, or from the wider community. As is often the case, I seem to fill the “gaps” where formal services fail to meet people’s needs.
The silver lining, for me, is that for today, my work day is actually much lighter than usual My online services are not as long or as demanding as “proper” church services would have been. I have time, after the livestream, to spend with my family; to cook a special meal (a blackberry-glazed roast lamb and vegetables), to play with my daughter (who is eight, and autistic, and not really coping well with all the disruption to her life). We miss being able to be with extended family (either on my side or my husband’s) but a fairly relaxed Easter together is something of a novelty for our nuclear family.
My big concern at the moment is that my role in this parish is due to finish in July, and while usually, I would be confident of finding another easily, in the midst of pandemic shutdown, many churches are simply not making appointments. In Melbourne all Anglican clergy appointments are officially on hold. I am looking to rural areas (always desperate for clergy, as for other professionals) in the hopes that they might be willing to offer me a role.
The questions I want to reflect on are along the lines of: what good might come out of this experience? How might we use this time to form new habits of loving our neighbours? Of building resilience, sharing joy, and cultivating peace? Might we be able to come back together more grateful for the gift that we have in each other, and less quick to take for granted or indeed to treat one another badly?
Partner, mother, part time senior research officer and part time horticultural masters student
Ashwood (Melbourne), Australia
The 12 April was Easter Sunday this year. Spending this day at home isn’t unusual for us as we often stay at home for the Easter long weekend (it’s 4 days in Australia from Good Friday to Easter Monday). My family – myself, Rose, Sam my partner and our three kids Billie, Daisy and Max ate hot cross buns for breakfast and Sam organised an Easter egg hunt for the kids in our backyard (the Easter bunny had delivered chocolate bunnies to the kids overnight as well). We woke to constant rain that day, which was glorious as rain is always welcome in mid-Autumn after summer. We would likely have met up with my parents for lunch somewhere at either my parents’ home in Geelong, at our house or one of my sister’s houses, but instead we spoke on the phone. Billie had broken her wrist the day before and we had spent nearly 6 hours at the hospital while her arm was set in a cast. She was coping well on Sunday acclimatising to having a heavy cast to manage but with little pain. For the rest of the day we relaxed at home and did jobs and activities before we gathered for a family dinner.
In some ways, coping with the restrictions caused by the pandemic has not changed much of our life. Certainly, there have been changes and quite large ones e.g. the kids are at home full time as their schooling is being conducted at home during term 2 and I am working from home as well. We have restrictions on meeting and gathering with other people, how close we stand to others. The kids cannot play any organised sport or group activities. I can’t attend rehearsals with my singing group or attend my yoga class. But, our family spends quite a bit of time at home anyway as we don’t eat out regularly. We can entertain ourselves doing solitary activities, like reading books and the kids play lego, draw or play puzzles. I think this has helped in this period of hibernation at home.
My emotions are fairly calm at the moment, possibly because my family and I still have our usual work and schooling routines despite the changes. This is great comfort at this time and I feel lucky. While I rue the loss of independence and freedom at the moment, and that I have less time to myself, this time will pass. Exposure to nature and the outdoors is very important to me so getting out for a walk with our dog or a jog each day helps. We have a large backyard with a veggie patch, so tending to my plants really helps. I’ve also connected to friends virtually and stay in contact with family and friends by texting and phone calls. My kids also seem to be coping OK, though they miss their friends and find online learning a little boring. If they were experiencing anxiety, I’m sure I would be worried but so far it’s OK. Having two other playmates I’m sure helps in this situation.
There has been a lot of reports in the media of people taking up new hobbies like learning a musical instrument, cooking or home renovations due to increased time on their hands. I haven’t experienced this extra time probably because my university study continues except it is now taught online. As a parent of three primary school aged children, overseeing home schooling as well as doing my own work is challenging and time consuming and I find I’m working longer hours to make up for regular interruptions from my kids. The same applies for my study. However, I see positives, however small. Saving fossil fuels by not using the car as much, not having to commute to work, spending time improving my bread making, not hurrying to plant and pot up vegetable seedlings are some of the positives. I’m even reading some fiction, which I don’t often do when studying as I get tired. I’m reading ‘The Secret Garden’ for the first time, though my two daughters have already read it. I’ve also started read ing books to the kids before they go to bed. They really enjoyed ‘The Hobbit’ and I have started ‘The Lord of the Rings’ with them, which I’m loving rereading.
Australia’s rate of new infections are dropping and there is some hope that the virus can be eradicated from the country. This gives me hope that restrictions will be lifted at some point in the future, although there will be ongoing restrictions of some sort to ensure infections don’t rise again. I’m loathe to sign up to a new government app that will help track the spread as I value my privacy. I feel very sorry for the mostly young casual workers who have lost their jobs in hospitality, the arts, retail, tourism and those who have been threatened with eviction from their rental homes. I hope the government’s new measure forbidding evictions will help them as we need to support each other during this time. I hope positive and sustainable changes occur on the other side of this that recognises these losses. Things like increasing taxation rates for wealthier people to help pay for the extra government assistance and removing tax incentives on investment properties. I also hope there will be global cooperation on planning for any future pandemics as they are predicted to increase given our close proximity to animals that carry these viruses. If this occurs, I will feel more hopeful that changes can occur at a global level in fighting climate change.
By Billie, age 10, Ashwood (Melbourne) Australia, Primary School student:
A Different Easter
Hi my name is Billie and I’m totally BORED! Clearly this is going to be a boring Easter. I was devastated to hear we can’t go back to school for term two. I will miss school the most. Think of it no friends to talk to. But I will miss more than that. Netball is my favorite sport. I will also miss Cub scouts. I have two months left in the fantastic organization. I am working for my Grey Wolf witch is the hardest badge to earn.
I am keeping myself occupied by reading, skyping friends, by playing netball in the backyard and going on walks/rides and just about anything I can find (like sewing). My cub group are trying to stay in touch by meeting via zoom each week for an hour and a half. It is not normal but it is still a lot of fun.
I have not exactly enjoyed staying at home but it is a good experience for everyone to learn how to entertain yourself. Though I don’t like being cooped up with my Brother and Sister. I hope you are enjoying yourself at home. We all have to work together to get through this.
From Max White, age 9, Ashwood (Melbourne) , Australia, primary school student:
Hi I’m Max and I would like to submit my acrostic poem about isolation.
It is really boring.
Seriously, I mean it
Oh I almost forgot it is extremely disappointing.
Literally, I can’t do anything like I used to.
All I can do is draw comics and skype with my friend Kenji.
Tickling. It’s one of the only things you can do these days.
Isn’t it boring?
Oh, and don’t think I’m lying ‘cause I’m not.
No seriously I’m not.
Rosie, Melbourne, Australia
Sunday, 12th April, 2020
Today is Easter Sunday and we began the day with online church, we are Baptists, and we tuned in to some worship songs, a prayer time and then some teaching from our minister. After that we divided into our home church groups and did a Bible study together about Jesus appearing to His disciples on the road to Emmaus. It was very interesting to have a discussion with the other families in our home church group, while the teenagers met in a breakout room doing fun social things. This was the fourth week our church community has gathered online, so we are getting used to it. Our church has a Facebook page and we all know each other’s phone numbers and email addresses, so we stay in touch regularly. Our church community is like our extended family and we are so grateful for them all during this stressful season.
After church, we did an Easter Egg hunt with the kids. Last Thursday, our minister dropped in Hot Cross Buns & Easter Eggs for us to eat on Good Friday and Easter Sunday respectively. Everyone in church had the same delivery, so we all ate together as if we were at morning tea in the church hall. We had a relaxed help-you-self lunch and everyone did their own thing for a few hours. I did some piano and singing practise in the music room, my husband worked on the computer and my younger two teenagers got online with their church friends and had another game together. My oldest teenager wasn’t interested in joining us, which is normal.
Just after 4pm it was starting to look very cloudy, so I told my younger two kids that we should go for a bike ride before it started raining. We went riding around the local modern housing estate for an hour, playing a hide-and-seek game where one or two wait at a number (for example, number 6, 16 or 26) in one of the streets and the other person rides around all the streets looking for them. If you don’t find them in 10 minutes, we all meet back to the roundabout and they reveal where they were hiding. There are enough streets and little corners to have a good hour of this game. As it was getting dark, we rode home in time for dinner.
Dinner was some grilled fish with coleslaw (nothing fancy) because we were having a casual evening. After that, my youngest child did the dishes and tidied up the kitchen. An auction for a mobile phone on eBay closed, and my middle child won it, so there was much excitement! Another phone in the household, not that we have very much to go out for. Afterwards we made some popcorn with caramel sauce and watched Mission Impossible with the kids. This was the first time they’d seen it, and after watching it about 12 times myself, I believe I’ve finally understood the plot. Of course, when it was finished my kids said, ‚What? I don’t understand that!‘. I decided to let them figure it out like I eventually have, maybe they won’t have to watch it so many times before they work it out.
Everyone went to bed around 10:30pm and I’ve finally got the house quiet and to myself. This is a big challenge during this lockdown period. I always have people around me. My husband was home for 24 weeks recovering from shoulder reconstruction surgery and the day he finally went back to work was the day the government closed all the schools and told the children they were to do online school. So I don’t know when I will next have the house quiet and to myself. At least I have my garden, and a bike to ride for exercise and errands. Our house is larger than average, so we are blessed to have a lot of room to spread out in.
Current location: Canberra, ACT Australia
Occupation: Occupational Therapist
As I sit here on my balcony in Canberra Australia on Easter Sunday morning, listening to the chirping of the Cockatoos and lorikeets, I am provided with the time and space to reflect on all that has changed over the past month in my world. I find this moment peaceful and cathartic, a break away from worrying about what the future holds and how my life may look in another month from now. For now, a moment to be kind to myself, and be proud of the resilience built through a challenging and bittersweet time.
The Pandemic was declared on my 29th birthday, 11 March 2020. Here in Canberra, it didn’tseem like a big deal, I still went about my usual day at work and met up with my fiance and some friends for pub trivia to celebrate that evening. There was a COVID-19 related question during trivia, but by no means did it dominate the conversations the way it does now. Personally, my fiance and I were full of excited anxiousness, counting down the days to our wedding on 20 March 2020.
The next few days, I was still oblivious to the seriousness of the virus, viewing it as a rest of the world’s problem as there were still no positive cases of the virus yet in the state we live in. We were burying our heads in the sand, trying to wrap up and hand over our work as Occupational Therapists during our final two days before a two week holiday. At home, we were preparing our home for the arrival of my family and friends from Canada and America, set to arrive beginning on Monday, 16 March 2020.
Meanwhile in North America, the seriousness was beginning to set in and pervade all thinking amongst these family members, uncertain as to whether it would impact their trip. On Thursday evening, they began gently pulling our heads out of the sand, planting the seed in our minds that we may have some issues and our wedding day may not unfold as planned. They encouraged us to acknowledge the Pandemic to all of our guests via a mass email, and touch base with our vendors to inquire on what measures they were putting in place to mitigate the risk of spread during our wedding. Then, by Friday morning, reality got even more dire in North America as travel restrictions and recommendations began to ramp up, covering all travel
overseas rather than just to the most at risk countries. Thus, it was time for my family to completely yank our heads out of the sand via an early morning group Facetime call, with the reality that many of our guests from NA may not come. First it was my sister, the maid of honour, who was forced into two week quarantine after news broke out that multiple people at a dental conference she attended a week prior had tested positive. But still, my brothers and parents remained steadfast that they would be there, come hell or high water.
Then the Canadian government banned all overseas travel, making any travel insurance null and void. Two of my bridesmaids, my two best friends from childhood, were already in New Zealand, so this did not apply to them. However, by Saturday, it was confirmed, none of my family members would be coming to my wedding. The moment I had always dreamed of, my father–the most beloved man in my life–walking me down the aisle to my other most beloved man in my life, gone. For the next few days, there were many moments of grieving this loss, but also beautiful moments with my fiance, Glen, going through the pain together and putting our
heads together to adapt and adjust. Over the next few days, we continued to do so as each day brought new changes and challenges: The Australian government closed the border meaning my final two bridesmaids still coming were forced to go back to Canada; PM Justin Trudeau urged all Canadians abroad to get home while they still could which caused the last and final guest on my side of the family who was already in Australia for a week to go back as well; Everyday progressive limitations on number of individuals gathering in one area.
Although it wasn’t going to be the day I had imagined, I was still adamant that we must have some sort of celebration for Glen’s side of the family, as long as it was safe. But by Tuesday, the reality of the seriousness of this virus had a firm hold on our consciousness’. Glen and I were torn up with conflict. Family members from Australia, still insisting that they would be at the wedding no matter what. The venue and other vendors insisted that they could make do and work around the restrictions safely. But in our hearts, guilt and fear, knowing that we couldn’t
live with the consequences of a family member or friend becoming ill at our wedding when we knew the risks.
Thus, on Tuesday afternoon, we contacted the Priest and booked in the earliest possible time that he could marry us: 11 AM the next day, 18 March 2020. At that moment, Glen and I felt huge relief and for the first time, began to smile again, looking forward to the only thing that mattered, us becoming husband and wife. And we did! With some of his family there in person, a smattering of friends taking an hour off of work, and many many loved ones who couldn’t be there in person, watching over-live stream. I want to say it was a bitter-sweet day, but to be
honest, it was pretty much ALL sweet. We only allowed ourselves a few moments of bitter, but didn’t let those emotions overshadow the beauty of the day.
Since that time, Glen and I have enjoyed a honeymoon at home in social isolation, working on puzzles, facetiming loved ones, and cooking and laughing together. Half way through our final week off work, Glen developed a dry cough and cold like symptoms. Neither of us believed it could be Coronavirus. However, Glen was urged by his supervisor to get tested as after our holiday period, there was a high potential he could be redistributed from his position on a Community based OT team, to the Acute Care Hospital. So we did. And we were then forced to isolate from each other in our own home. Not even 1 week into our marriage, and we were already sleeping in separate bedrooms!
But we made it through, and both of us returned back to work. Me, working from home in our apartment, only leaving to go for a walk or run each day. And Glen, still going into the office, but waiting each day for the news he would be redistributed. Half the team has gone now, but in the ACT, it seems we are still waiting for the storm to hit the healthcare system. A very strange and eerie feeling. In my work with a small private company as a case manager for individuals injured in workplace and motor vehicle accidents, it is also a very strange feeling. With so many people
laid off and stood down, I am grateful to be working. But at the same time, I feel guilty that we are continuing to try to find ways to profit while the rest of the world seems to stand still.
This Easter weekend has been a wonderful break from it all. Although we are not able to go and visit Glen’s family as planned, one hour away in NSW, we have enjoyed the time alone together to rest and take time for leisure activities. Today, on Easter Sunday, we had hot cross buns in bed and sent Easter ecards to our families, with our faces pinned on dancing bunny figures. We plan to work on the puzzle some more, facetime Glen’s family up in Goulburn and Brisbanr enjoying their Easter, and I will do an online workout class in the living room later on. Before
dinner, we will probably go for a walk for some fresh air, and then settle in for an evening of comfort food (mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, turkey), games, and movies.
Tomorrow, (Easter Monday for us and Easter Sunday for my family in Canada), we have an online games time planned over video chat with my parents, my older brother and his wife, my older sister and her boyfriend, and my younger brother and his girlfriend, who are all staying in their separate homes. If we were all gathered together for a holiday in person, we would be playing the same game (You Don’t Know Jack). So having the opportunity to still do so through technology, whilst separated by thousands of kilometers, is really cool! And a memory I am sure
none of us will forget.
I do hope none of us forget this time, and not just that we had to stay inside and that some of us lost our jobs, or even worse their lives. I hope that we remember the resilience of the human spirit demonstrated across the world. I hope we remember that the health care workers who cared for the sick at the front lines and the grocery store workers and truck drivers who made sure we stayed well fed, were the true heros. The multimillionaire pro athletes and movie stars may have provided some laughs with their Tik Toks on social media, but to save the world, they
were helpless. I hope we learn to remain focused on what is important in this world, especially that we are all in this together, so be kind to your neighbour.