Life as our kids will know it: A more mindful one?

by Juliane Wisata, co-founder Rocky Trail Entertainment

A virus outbreak? Are you serious?
That can’t be true. It’s soooo far away over there in China. That won’t affect us anyway.
Hold on, maybe it’s all happening here too?
I must get all the information I can get.

That was me in Austria 3 weeks ago. We had been there for almost three months over Christmas and New Year and to teach again at university until mid-March. After returning to Australia over the course of a week I spiralled straight into panic mode.

It’s happening here too, people aren’t doing anything, everyone still seems to go about their normal days, what are these photos on Facebook of people mingling, riding, hugging, throwing kids parties with grandparents around?!?
Why isn’t the government reacting stronger? Social distancing? People seem to either laugh it off or completely freak out, fighting over freaking toilet paper in the shops, panic buying everything they can…

We had put ourselves into self-quarantine even though we came in before that infamous Monday when every incoming person into Australia had to.
Still the daily updates from Austria… I am clinging to the phone, trying to feel close to my family still… my sister and brother staying calm, working from home, the horrified expression on my sister in law’s face – as a General Practitioner there she is at the front line, scared for her own life every day and at the same time even more worried to be locked away from her three kids if she comes into direct contact with a virus patient… my parents telling me how they communicate via open windows with their grandchildren who are crying “Grandma, I miss you so much” standing outside, placing flowers, paintings and little handicrafts on their doorstep… they bring it all in and cherish it, sanitising everything they can right away.

And yet… for me personally this virus outbreak couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. Let me explain…

The ‘Big Bang’ in my life

This all comes on the back of a stress-related Tinnitus diagnosis is January. Now, I know, this isn’t life-threatening, but for me this was life-changing. Never before had I felt so vulnerable.

Looking back, Christmas and New Year are a blur and the stress, sore back, painful neck, headaches, sleepless nights and anxiety that I suppressed, ignored and even denied over the course of a good six months last year resulted in a literal “Big Bang”. I felt my head was about to explode, this intense whooshing sound that would dominate my days and kept me up at night. Specialist appointments, high-dose cortisone treatment and more sleepless nights… the shame! I felt weak, how could I let myself fall into this hole?!? It’s all my own fault I kept thinking. I couldn’t work for all of January and most of February. All the while trying to put on a brave face.

Healing nature walks

While we stayed with my family and in my home village then suddenly it all just fell into place. What helped me so much were walks in the forest. Alone. I kid you not. Minus eight degrees C, ice crystals all around, me venturing out all by myself and just breathing in the cold air, breathing out all that dark and old, breathing in the new, trying to force away that whooshing sound in my head, which felt like it was about to burst.

On one of those walks I stood at an intersection and I decided to pick the trail that would lead me back to a way of life that would allow me to deal with it all. I realised that my body had stopped me in my tracks, literally screaming at me: slow down, relax, be more mindful, take time for yourself, let go of all this tension. So, I gave myself permission to heal.

The whooshing turned to a hissing static in my head that is still there, however, the headaches are gone thanks to osteopathy treatments and some natural remedies. I can sleep again and I’ve come to accept ‘my Tinnitus’ as my gage of stress and anxiety. During the day I don’t hear it anymore and at night and in those quiet early morning hours it’s there. As a reminder.

Spiralling back into anxiety

These last few days in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak in Australia the static has become louder as I spiralled into panic mode again. My husband Martin has been my rock throughout it all. Whilst I stopped watching the news, scrolling on Facebook and Instagram last week, he kept me up to date, dealing with the situation in his own way. He has been analysing data from European sources as well as the Australian health authorities giving me his daily ‘report’ and I admire that he has been able to be so vocal with blog posts via our Rocky Trail website. –

My Tinnitus continues to remind me to stay calm, to keep it together for the sake of my sanity and the happiness and mental state of our son and our family.

This self-quarantine has allowed us to spend a lot of time together as a family. It slowed me right down. Again. And again I am taking this as a life-lesson. We were ready to hit the ground running with a calendar of 30 events in NSW, the ACT and QLD with a bigger team and full of motivation to make this the biggest Rocky Trail year yet. And this coronavirus again stopped us in our tracks. We effectively shut down our business for now taking a massive hit, but we know it’s the right thing to do.

So I continue to learn how to meditate. I try even harder to have some “me-time” and on those quiet(er) mornings, we have breakfast together. We are working on some projects to be ready when we can hit the racing trails again and have been transferring our overseas lectures onto a digital format as Martin can’t travel to his assignments in China and Azerbaijan this year.
The rest of the day (it can be loooong, hey?!?) we play in the garden, go on rescue missions with Robocar Poli & Co., we paint and read and tell stories to our son – we watch all those Disney classics together and maaaaany Bluey episodes on ABC Kids, again and again! We play a loooooooot with Lego and hide-and-seek in our house. It’s not always easy (ever tried yoga with a four-year old bouncing up and down ON TOP of you?), but I still cherish this time.

Acceptance and action

So on Sunday night I forced myself to watch the PM’s press conference and for the first time I felt somewhat safe again. And it’s also the reason why I am writing down my story and thoughts – to beg our community to stand together and follow the measures announced.

Please work from home if you can.
Please stay home in general, don’t travel domestically.
Please wash your hands whenever you can.
Please adhere to the social distancing measures so that this virus can be slowed down and the pressure on the medical system can be contained.
Please call 1800 020 080 if you are worried and think you have any of the symptoms, which include fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Australian officials have the luxury of seeing what other countries overseas have been experiencing and which of their measures have been effective over the course of the last few weeks. Schools are still officially open at the time I am writing this and the PM and Chief Medical Officers shared their reasoning for it on Sunday night. We had planned to keep our son home from preschool at least until next week anyway and at this stage we take each day as it comes. But my “mum gut-feeling” tells me that we’ll keep juggling play and work time at home for a while longer.
Please try to eat nourishing food to help your body to have an immune system to fight the virus should you be exposed to it. From what we hear from overseas, none of the countries have shortages of food or medical supplies, the problem, like here, is the speed at which the stores can re-stock the shelves. Even in full lock-down people can still go to the shops – in my family only my brother and sister do a weekly shop if they have to. We have been ordering fruit and vegetables online ourselves and made sure to have the basics at home and to help the elderly neighbours however we can in a safe way.
Please don’t do any bunch rides anymore. Ride or run by yourselves or only with people you live with – being out in nature can be so healing, I know now, but right now we must be vigilant and keep our distance. Like Martin said in his blog from Monday, we really, really don’t want to start our first race later this year with black bands on our arms.
We must all do our bit – we are desperately doing ours.

And in all this I believe (I must!) there is a silver lining.

What, if this virus slows us all down. Yes, economies will suffer, but maybe, it’s not all just about powerplay and money and manipulation and influencing in future? Smog in China has lifted and people are breathing fresh air again.
What, if we enjoy spending this time at home and with our families and kids?
What, if this is an opportunity to re-think our way of living? People have become inventive communicating and singing with each other through windows.
What, if we start appreciating these beautiful human traits more? That we long to be amongst others, to hug each other, to shake hands, to slap each other on the back. To be close to each other.
What, if we can establish a new way of living? A more grateful one. A more mindful one. A more nurturing one? Dolphins have been sighted in the water channels of Venice, can you believe it?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to become mindful of the good again.

… And as I close my computer and step out into the garden to jump on the trampoline with my son at nine am on a new morning, the hissing static in my head melts away. For a while at least.

“I am safe. I am happy. I am healthy. I am loved. I am grateful.” – My nature walk mantra.