Its a strange time to be alive…..
Honestly, I think I have said that around 10 times a day for the past 3 weeks or so. Truly, it really is! All around the world we are united by a global pandemic — the novel coronavirus and its associated disease, COVID-19– and it’s strange and stressful, and we are all filled with so much uncertainty.
How is everyone doing? How has this impacted your daily life? How are you hanging in (literally!!)? How are you coping? Wait, are you coping? What have you learned about yourself, or your loved ones through this? And finally, what is good – if anything — about what is going on?
It probably sounds strange, or perhaps even insensitive, but through every tragedy there is always some good amongst the crisis: people stepping up, people acting selflessly, people opening up their hearts and homes. In the past few weeks, I have seen hotels light up hearts in their windows and offer healthcare workers free rooms in which to self-isolate. I have seen doctors and nurses tape photos of themselves smiling on their scrubs so that their clients don’t feel like they are being cared for by robots. I have seen ingenious and creative ways for people to connect and show love. And I have seen so many selfless acts of others showing up for each other and going the extra mile.
It makes me think of this quote by Mr. Rodgers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words…”
I am doing ok. I have days where I am like “F-yeah, I got this and I can do this forever!” Days that feel like vacation: doing nothing but eating good food, doing yoga, finding isolated trails and new spots to walk, cooking with my partner or for her, playing games until the wee hours of the morning and not having to set the alarm, or all the great cuddlefests and Netflix binging with my partner and our dog and cat.
Then there are days that feel so heavy, they feel never ending — days where I have low resources and I can’t stop thinking about the future, and my business…. Will I have a business after this even? I find myself thinking about this summer: about all of the weddings and the excited clients I have been working with for so long, all of them now stressed about their weddings and all the hard work and money they have all put into it, to now be so unsure of everything. I get sad about my cancelled travel plans and worry it will be a long time without seeing my family that live 5000 kms away. And then there are the financial worries, and whoa… they are heavy some days. I have lost ¾ of my income.
However, so have most of you.
All of this is also filled with intense guilt for even feeling like this. I mean, I am truly one of the lucky ones. I know this. I mean, I am quarantined with my partner, a woman who not only enriches my life but is also funny and helpful, a really great cook and conversationalist among other things. We may have lost a good chunk of our income but we have enough to survive. Even though we only have each other, or so feels some days, we are happy and healthy and we are safe in our home. Safe with each other. Many folks are not so lucky. The domestic violence rate has doubled and so many people are unsafe right now. And I balance that with feeling pity for my own situation, despite recognizing that so many others have it so much worse off than I do.
I have also come to realize just how much photography is a central part of my own personal mental wellbeing and self-care. It truly is my escape: a healthy place I could go to — to edit, to get lost in creation and artistic vision. And although I have things to edit, it doesn’t feel the same and I am unable to focus like I once was. It feels forced and like… dare I say it… work. As well as photography, I was working as a barber and I miss the therapeutic part of that work too. The interactions with clients, the satisfaction, the smiling clients and the banter. Wow…. I never thought I would say it but, holy shit, I REALLY MISS THE BANTER!
I am noticing some things. I am noticing the days seem much better when I don’t focus on it… this pandemic, the deaths… too much, or look for updates and news as frequently. Where I get my update and then I let it go. I am being cautious about where I get my news from, too, as there’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there.
I am noticing that I feel better when I am able to get outside for a walk, however, even that is a loaded statement. I have begun avoiding certain places downtown (I live downtown) as the poverty, addiction and homelessness are glaringly obvious now that there is nothing open to distract from it. I am not saying that’s a bad thing… We ALL need to be thinking about this and seeing it, of course, but it’s heartbreaking right now and some days I am barely keeping it together. I have been driving out of the city to walk in forests and trails that I have not been on in years and that are going to be under populated so I can safely social distance. It’s just too hard to be constantly vigilant and worrying about how you will avoid people when you live downtown and the sidewalks are so narrow.
I have been noticing that when I start my day and get a little bit of work in, I feel accomplished and feel better throughout the day. However, I am not pressuring myself to do too much when I really don’t feel like it. And when I don’t get any work done, I am allowing myself to be ok with that too.
I am noticing that doing Yoga has been helpful, and as cliché as it might sound, I am able to regulate my emotions better after starting my day with it. Most often my whole day has been calmer, clearer, and more focused when I start my day with a quick yoga routine. I have been doing the 30-day yoga challenge on YouTube called “Home” by Yoga with Adriene. Check it out or message me to join my Facebook group.
I am noticing that I am happier when I find ways to stay creative: writing, working on my website, cooking and being creative with food, repotting plants and rearranging. I thrive when I can create.
And finally, I am noticing I am feeling much better when I actually get dressed and showered and don’t sit around in my track pants all day. Although days like that are still very much needed and will still happen, but I definitely feel better when I have a little bit of a routine.
I hope you are also finding ways to get through this. The aftermath and the forthcoming mental health crisis (or, the “4th wave” as its been called) is a great concern to me and it’s important that we all take care of our minds and our bodies during times like this: times of high stress, times when we are forced to adapt and cope in new ways, and times we are spending in extreme hypervigilance. We need to be good to our minds, and bodies and be extra gentle with ourselves right now.
Although so many of you feel so incredibly alone right know, we really are all in this together. This can strengthen us, and our communities and our small businesses. We now know how truly interdependent we are and how much we need each other to not only survive, but to truly thrive.
What are you doing to keep yourself feeling grounded? Do you have tips and tricks you want to share that are helping you get through this strange time? Leave me a message or a comment below and let me know what is working for you. And please, stay safe and stay home.
Here’s a few images from some of my favorite recent travels! I can not wait to travel again. The very first place I will go is Vancouver, where I will spend about a week hugging my mother! Get ready Mom!