Wow, a lot is happening in the world right now. It’s hard to believe. As of yesterday, they closed public schools in NY through mid-April. If it wasn’t feeling like a crisis before, it certainly is right now. The implications of this will be even larger than moving colleges to online modes of learning, and the toilet paper flying off the shelves. The economic impact of this is huge, and current leadership is not doing much to keep the public calm.
For me , this last week has been filled with extreme anxiety. I found myself obsessing, hovering around my email for updates and having several “what-if” conversations with colleagues. None of this was in any way productive, and all fueled increased heart rate and sweaty palms. The halls were soaked with worry and panic emanating from our students. Any kind of empath picked it up immediately. Even more distress was caused by the cancellation of our spring show- it was extremely hard to witness the students’ tears of disappointment. Suffice to say, it was, and continues to be, a stressful time.
I knew on Friday that I needed some good self-care. For me that means exercise, plentiful sleep, eating some fruits and vegetables and something fun: hanging out with friends, cuddling with the hubs or reading a good book. Now that I’ve had a little bit of time and perspective, I’m ready to share my thoughts on how you can make the most of living through a pandemic.
Stay with me here, I know that this sounds super lame, and definitely not like the top item on this list. However, pretty much everybody I talked to, myself included, has done some mad cleaning as things develop. I think it has to do with two things. One, it’s really nice to be in a clean environment. It’s very calming to look at your favorite things and fresh flowers, rather than a bundle of dirty socks and some tote bags needing to be put away. Seriously, the flowers+sunshine+cup of fancy tea combo are really doing it for me right now.
Additionally, cleaning is a way of organizing chaos, and I think we’re all struggling to regain some control right now. Wiping down surfaces, putting things away, turning dirty into clean, are all great manifestations of control. Plus, for the lucky few who scored some Lysol, you might even be disinfecting your space as well. Cleaning is a really great place to put your nervous unproductive energy- it occupies your hands, and you really can make a difference in as little as 5 minutes.
Everybody has some type of project waiting around to get finished (or even get started). For us, we want to redo the interior of our micro-home and build some custom pieces for it. We even already bought the supplies. To be fair, we already planned on working on this over break, however I think this will allow us to focus more time on it, and get even further than anticipated. It’s also almost time to plant- the last frost and snow should be happening this weekend. I’m itching to get some things in the dirt (in my regular haphazard way, who knows what will actually pan out), but I will try to wait until next week.
I also have a wood burning tool I’ve been meaning to experiment with but haven’t gotten around to it, so that should be fun. I’m sure I can make something fun. I also have a grant application to submit, this blog, and several books to read. I’m never searching for special projects, and I look forward to being able to embrace them more.
This is different from special projects, although it feels similar. This is the work that makes your heart sing and is perfectly aligned with your passions and values. This is also dangerous work- the stakes are high here. Failure will feel horrible, success will feel great- after all, this is tied into your value system. You might know what your dream work entails, or you might need to do some soul searching. When you hit on the idea, followed by the immediate response of “I could never do that”, you might be close to your dream work. I have been making some advances here, and will be writing more about that.
I feel like anything I write about will be instantly outdated. As of yesterday, NY closed down restaurants, movie theatres, bars and gyms. Yikes! There are plenty of articles written about this. The advice I really liked was taking this time to reconnect with friends from your past. I had a really nice chat with my best friend from college, and it felt great.
I’m conflicted on hanging out in general. We were just at a friend’s house on Sunday, for dinner and board games, and now I’m wondering if that is still an option. Probably, until we hear otherwise? I do think this is a great time to be grateful for technology, and the ways in which it is currently allowing us to stay connected. I know I see a lot of video chats in my future, and I am hoping to touch base with folks I’m not typically in touch with.
“The only constant in life is change”.
We all know that, but we’re not perfectly comfortable with change. In general, it creates feelings of anxiety. There is no denying that currently, we are dealing with massive change, affecting many areas of folks’ lives, all around the globe.
This is excellent practice, if you think of embracing change as a muscle. We are burning it out! It will be so buff the next time something big (or small) happens, that we will have no issues adapting to it. It’s crazy to think this right now, but the longer we live in this state, the more normal it will feel. We’re all bulking up our impermanence tolerance. So buff!
-A touch of history
This might be a “me only” thing, and helpful to no one… but I have a massive hard on for any moment where “we’re making history”. There’s no denying that this is one of those moments.
It started when in school we were learning about WWII, and I started considering really hard whether I would be the kind of person who hides a Jew in their attic. I really wanted to think that I would be… but there was no way to be sure. We all want to think that we are good people, but are you really willing to risk everything? I remember thinking that those people had history to test them, and then realizing that I will too. Ever since, I’ve been really tuned in to historical moments, and how I react. I’m living history, and leaving a trail of evidence regarding my “good person” past. FYI, I don’t remember exactly how old I was during this philosophical meandering, but I know this was in elementary school. This realization is probably the best thing I’d done in my snotty past, go young me!
Of course, the flip side of the coin are things that would be best avoided. For me, these are:
It’s seriously challenging not to give in to feelings of panic, as more and more things are closing and changing. It’s not feasible to unplug, with constant updates from work either. Focus on what’s good, and try not to let the tide of information overwhelm you. This video does wonders at keeping me calm.
I’m overwhelmingly tempted to park myself in front of Netflix for the whole day, and I’m fighting to resist that urge. I think it could easily turn into a habit, and I really don’t want to spend a month that way. So I’m limiting it to the end of the day, when I’ve achieved something productive.
-Lack of routine
The closing of gyms is very hard on me. I just completed my first at home work out, and while I love the endorphins, I hated the experience. I’m going to see if I can utilize some spaces on campus, and try to keep my workouts to their regular times. Then do some work. Then relaxing. I’m also going to keep to a decent bedtime and wake up time.
-Be kind and flexible
This is affecting all of us. Rules are changing by the minute. It’s easy to want to lash out, but try your best to be kind to others and to yourself.
Hang in there everybody, hope you’re staying healthy and safe! Reach out if you’d like to connect, and comment with your own advice and stories.