Soooooo, almost a month (but what easily feels like a year) later, this is what I have to show for my best intentions in my last post. Yeah, I was pretty good for the first couple of days, but then Covid continued to tap on my window every morning when I woke up. Even though I thought I was being easy on myself with just a short list of 6 simple tasks to do every day, I quickly found that Covid's incessant tap, tap, tapping just kept pulling my focus, slowing me down, and draining my energy. Every day became its own microcosm of what felt like a week's worth of decisions needing to be made. Every day required deep breaths before reading the news. Every day greeted me with a world that felt pretty darn different from yesterday's world.
And now, the strain of staying home and being isolated from friends and family is steadily changing over into the even more difficult nature of wading through so much uncertainty during reopening. The decision fatigue is real folks. So, looking at my valiant attempt at reinventing my daily routine--yet again--I needed to re-reinvent my approach. I needed to generously revise my expectations:
Take a shower
Also applicable: floss, put on real pants, eat breakfast, stretch, take a nap, sit in a different part of the house, do the dishes, etc., etc.—take your pick. It's these little things that are so easy to put off until tomorrow because today handed you more than you're used to or more than you feel like you can handle. And it's OK. But try to remember that these little things, as much as they are easy to put off, are precisely the things that help keep you grounded and sane. (And just for fun, check out these adulting merit badges.)
This is a no-brainer, but it hasn't been all that enticing for much of this spring. <cough cough snow in May cough cough> And if you're nervous about running into people, this is a perfect opportunity to find a new hiking trail or park that might be a little less popular but all the more worthwhile to check out. I recommend looking at the Finger Lakes Land Trust interactive trail map. Otherwise, porch-sitting and yard-lounging are great options.
Be kind to yourself
This is the real doozy on this list. And I'm going to be candid about this: pre-Covid, I definitely had workaholic tendencies (and I know I'm not alone). Optimum productivity was the be-all-end-all. Burnout was #normal and almost weirdly expected. And the strangest part: I have worked from home for much of my adult life, but working from home during Covid is not the working from home I used to know. For many, the transition from office to home was understandably surreal. Since that transition didn't apply to me, I thought I'd be immune to a change in productivity. But NOPE.
So, yes, I've been struggling with complex feels around my own productivity and motivation and coping mechanisms. And again, it's OK. A lot of significant and profound change is happening and happening in quick succession. There's a ton of mental and emotional strain involved. And one more time, it's OK. There's no need to add to that strain by trying to hold yourself (or myself, for that matter) to #normal expectations. And lowering expectations is not a sign of weakness or fault. It's actually the most wise thing to do right now.
To wrap things up: may our expectations be reasonable and our self-compassion be plentiful. Hang in there everybody. Hang in there.
OK, I'll admit it: readjusting to "these times" has been a little more challenging than I anticipated. In an earlier post, I had playfully taunted the new WFH folks, waving my self-employment flag and flaunting my I've-been-WFH-for-years veteran status. But a few weeks later, I have also had to come to terms with the fact that WFH during non-pandemic times is still not even remotely the same as WFH during a pandemic.
In times B.C. (before COVID), the occupational hazards of WFH included: less frequent showers, more frequent loungewear, old coffee mugs and dirty dishes accumulating in the "office", not leaving the apartment for days, feeling like every day was a work day and every day was a vacation day simultaneously. But now, in times A.D. (anno dirunitas - or, in the year of the long duration (and yes I'm totally cobbling together bad Latin)), hazards also include: bouts of acute existential dread, compulsive news-reading, and an even worse disconnection from any sense of what time or day or month it truly is.
Over the weekend, I was struck by the renewed need to get back to the basics. So, I created this daily checklist for this upcoming week and wanted to share it, in case any of you wanted to join in with me. Similarly, if a checklist feels like a good thing to try this week, but these items are not quite what you need to focus on, feel free to create your own checklist!
Invent & wear a new outfit
I bet many of you have been stylin' the loungewear look for a while now. At first, it probably felt pretty cozy & comfy; but now, at least for me (and after years of heavy loungewear usage), I plain ol' miss dressing up. B.C., at least I could come up with interesting outfits to wear to arts events and parties. Now that I've lost my normal reasons to get fancy, I need to make it part of my routine instead.
Make a donation or send a tip
Even though my income situation feels precarious (like most folks out there), I still have enough to spare to help others out. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to donate or tip on the COVID19 resources page. Even if it's only $5 a day, it can still make a tiny difference. In fact, I've received a couple of tips via the FLX virtual tip jar, and I know for a fact that it feels pretty dang uplifting.
Write & mail a letter
First, it is almost always delightful to receive a handwritten letter in the mail. Second, the amount of time it takes to write & mail a letter is almost always at least half of what you'd think. Third, recent tweets about the US Postal Service, calling its usefulness or legitimacy into question, definitely motivates me to make sure I keep buying stamps and keep having a reason to visit my favorite post office to see my favorite postal worker, Kate. (I will wave from a safe distance!)
Look out the window for 15 minutes
Call it mindfulness. Call it meditation. Call it appreciating nature. Call it zoning out. Whatever it is to you, the simple act of intentionally doing nothing and thinking about nothing in particular is very important these days. As much as I was tempted to say "avoid reading the news" or "one hour of no screens" as the daily prompt, I realized picking something more proactive would be better instead. (Plus I have a new bird feeder setup to watch!)
Check in with a vulnerable friend or loved one
Last week, I had a nightmare that a loved one had died lonely & alone, and part of it was that I had neglected to call them. I woke up filled with that weird false dream remorse, which was very unpleasant, but it also made me pick up the phone and call. So, if there is a friend or family member who you know would love to hear from you: send that text, write that email, or give them a call.
15 minutes of exercise
Duh. But still. It's hard. In the midst of the continued efforts to settle into this new living situation, I've lost my space where I had a small dance studio. Dancing is my favorite way to get my heart going, but it's tough for me to get jazzed about dancing in a 4' space on carpet. But, dangitall, I just have to make myself do it. And this week doesn't look especially great weather-wise, so I might have to look into local streaming yoga classes on the new Health & Fitness calendar here.
Attend a virtual event or webinar
Yep, this is totally self-promotional. But, to be even more bluntly honest, as much as I scour the internet to find local virtual events to add to the calendar, I haven't exactly been the best at following through and attending more than one or two a week. Part of it is that, yes, virtual events just aren't the same. Perhaps it's that they actually make you miss being around friends and folks in real life more than if you didn't see them at all. (And I have more thoughts and ideas about this, but I've decided to dedicate a post to this later.) At any rate, the folks who are putting in the effort to make their events virtual deserve to have audiences who let them know that their work is appreciated and valued.
All in all, sometimes there's no shame in taking a deep breath and getting back to the basics. So, [deep breath] wish me luck!
#mood & scene from earlier this week
Ummmm.... what happened to the last week? How is it that every day feels like it's at least 30 hours long but also only 5 hours long? How many days have I been trying to faithfully observe self-isolation? Does time even exist? How long will I have to live under layers of stuff during this odd transition of melding three households of stuff into one? Where did the toaster oven end up? Where is that one pair of socks? Who am I? What are all these feelings? When will it be safe again? What will that look like?
Yeah, this last week was an intense one.
Perhaps it's because it feels like life is squeezing in harder than it ever has before. Perhaps it's the fact that I've had to instate a new rule that I am not allowed to read the news after dark and under no circumstances right before bed. Perhaps it's this wonderful upstate rollercoaster weather. Perhaps it's that I felt heartbroken seeing an elderly and clearly vulnerable gentleman with no mask or gloves on in the cereal aisle at Wegmans. Perhaps it's everything all at the same time.
Meanwhile, I know so many others are dealing with big change and loss and heaviness. My heart goes out to the shut-ins and elderly who are living alone, to those who are sick, for whatever reason, to those who were already down on their luck before all of this began, to the brave medical professionals making heartbreaking decisions, to the parents who are trying to work from home and care for their young ones at the same time, to the gig workers and hospitality industry folks who lost their jobs a month ago, to the extroverts, to the folks calling, calling, calling, calling the unemployment phone number to no avail, to those struggling with mental health issues, especially those who were already susceptible, to the folks who are suffering and dying because of the injustices of rampant inequality, and to anyone who has lost a loved one during all of this, no matter the reason.
It's a lot.
It makes a lot of sense to feel overwhelmed. And that's OK.
Feel your feelings. Write down what you're experiencing. Get in your car and cry or scream or sing at the top of your lungs. And most importantly, remember that you're not alone.
If you're feeling overwhelmed and need support, please visit the COVID19 Resources page, and look under the "Mental Health" heading for emotional support resources and phone numbers. It's always OK to reach out for help, because you are awesome and deserve to feel OK again.
Hi all my newly WFH friends! I'm smiling to myself knowingly, thinking of all of you and how disorienting it must be to enter the weekend after spending the whole week at home. I bet you have no idea what day it's been for a while now. Welcome to my world. #EveryDayIsAWorkDay #EveryDayIsAVacationDay
Also: for those of you who are running out of things to do and feel called to volunteer, I've come across a couple local face mask drives (for Arnot Health and Cayuga Medical) and instructions for how to 3D print face shields. There's also a blood shortage, so if you're healthy and able, consider donating blood. Lastly, I've expanded the resources list on the COVID-19 page, including the new Unity Fund.
And fingers crossed for much better weather this weekend! I'm aching for warmth & sunshine something fierce. Hope all of you are staying safe & hanging in there!
So, yes, these last two weeks have been taken up by 1 week's worth of moving and another week's worth of getting used to this new but old home, this new way of life, and all that extra stuff that goes along with it. Well, and, um, I should also come clean that I was introduced to the game Animal Crossing, which has become a satisfying respite that might be a little too satisfying, even for a non-gamer like myself. (Here's a great article that explains this current phenomenon a little better (with an added bonus of a great video talking about linguistics and localization of game languages).)
Nevertheless, I sincerely hope all of you are staying safe and taking care. I hope to be back to posting regularly as much as I can from here on out.
*Which is totally false, I know.
screenshot of post
Watch the video here.
This is a repost of a poignant message from Michael Simons this morning:
8:09 a.m. on the first day of home-based instruction, and one of my kiddos is in tears – lightweight, but tears nonetheless — about an assignment, guidelines for doing a thing. (It's NOT a big deal — and I'm thrilled for the instruction from the teacher; it's something I teach my HS students about in design, but it set my kiddo off this morning.)
So - tears. 8:09 a.m.
I think we're all in shock. Maybe a low-grade, creeping shock, but shock nonetheless. I'm sure there's an official term for it.
But — please be patient with your kids. Your children. Please. Moreover, be patient with yourselves. This is all surreal, and NONE of us are going to get it right.
None. Of. Us. Are. Going. To. Get. This. Right.
We're doing the best we can. And we're packed into our homes - places of comfort and togetherness. Well - shit just got real. We're going to have a whoooole lot of togetherness for the foreseeable future.
Routines are going to be crucial. Kids need them. Hell, *I* need them. We do better on routine. Routine will keep us from parking it on the couch for six hours a day for the next eight weeks. Routines will keep us moving, learning, growing, exercising, and so much more. Structure will matter.
But — let's acknowledge something here. I saw a couple of my students yesterday as they were picking up flutes and learning packets and graphing calculators and jackets and all the rest of it.
"How are you doing?", I asked.
Every. Single. One.
And I learned this from someone, somewhere, in the way back machine, and I've remembered it, and I replied with it:
"Hey. Hey - it's ok to NOT be ok. It is. I'm not ok, and if you're not either, that's ok."
Can we acknowledge our not-ok-ness right now? Together?
And can we recognize that as we embark on this new reality together, our 12-year-old sons in tears on their tablets as they get ready to sign into class, well, they're not ok. And that's ok. And we need to be there for our children.
And each other. And we need to do the best we can. And give each other — and these precious, precious kids — some grace. Some flexibility.
Some laughter and fun.
We're taking things one day at a time. And we've set up nooks for the boys to use on the regular for their distance learning. Routinely, you might say.
But more tears will come. I've already shed some myself.
I'm not ok.
And that's ok.
Michael Simons is a high school teacher & advisor in the Corning-Painted Post School District
Reposted with permission.
for more, visit the The Greater Good Science Center Facebook Page.
This is just a quick post at the end of a long day. For a brief moment, I was thinking to myself that maybe writing at the end of the day might not be the best strategy. I stared at the screen for a little too long, having to get past all the not-so-happy thoughts to get to the happy-thoughts. But thankfully, I found them: so, here is a list of small victories from today:
P.S. Humans of New York is now dedicated to posting uplifting stories of victories, called #QuarantineStories, starting with this one.
Today felt like it had at least two to three days' worth of stuff crammed into it. A new routine is emerging for me, and I'm sure for the rest of you, too. I took a nice long walk, and again, almost every person I passed said Hi! and even How-are-you?-Good!-Good! It's stunning how swiftly resiliency sets in—how we almost automatically make adjustments—how folks rally to find the best possible outcomes despite a day of tough decisions.
I've started attending live stream events, and I can tell that this first week or so might involve a lot of patience as we all get the hang of this. Nevertheless, I attended one dance party, one literary reading, and attempted to go to the opera. The literary reading was thoughtful and somber, which I needed. The opera really wanted to be viewed via its own app, which was a little annoying, so never mind.
It looks like it might become a daily thing, at least for the foreseeable future, so I highly recommend you join me tomorrow. It will get your heart rate up and your blood moving through your body, which is needed after all the Netflix and video conference calls and scrolling, etc.
BTW: Dance Yrself Clean by LCD Soundsystem is also such a great toe-tapper & good therapeutic dancing music.
Photo credit: Maxwell Harvey-Sampson