Blog Archive

Living and working from home through Covid-19 feels like the movie, Groundhog Day, except Rene and I don’t wake up every day to Sonny and Cher singing I Got You Babe.

We are maintaining our daily schedule, but since our commute to work is a 20-second walk downstairs instead of a 20 to 30-minute drive, we get up at 4:59 instead of 4:44. Call me a slacker, but those extra 15 minutes of sleep give me a mysterious jolt of energy that lasts until early evening. That, plus we stopped watching the news before falling asleep. These days, we watch a few minutes of Hogan’s Heroes on MeTV before turning out the light.

Since transitioning into work- and stay-at-home mode on March 16, I have worn yoga pants every day, started playing the piano again, am determined to master one-armed push-ups, and am neck-and-neck with hubby in our Covid-19 ping pong tournament.

Rene Driving

For the first time ever in our 13-year relationship, a couple weeks ago Rene and I went out for a drive. A drive! It wasn’t my idea—the idea came to me after catching up over the phone with a dear friend and co-worker at Bye Aerospace, who said he and his girlfriend had recently taken a long drive in his Tesla X (he’s a retired Navy Captain and F-18 driver, so he appreciates the need for speed). Rene and I decided to drive to Centennial for our outing. Along the way, we sang along to the radio, stopped at Sonic for burgers, and waved hello to other drivers

Speaking of waving, even our neighbors in the Highwoods are waving! Whenever Rene and I are out on a long walk or a short jaunt to get the mail, everyone who drives by either initiates or returns our greetings. That has never happened before.

Are you seeing a pattern here? I’m doing the stuff I did as a kid again, and I’d like to believe we humans are realizing how much we need and appreciate each other. Despite not being able to see or hug friends and extended family in person, I am focusing on the activities that bring me joy.

Life got unimaginably complicated and upsetting over the past six weeks. The resulting fallout from job losses, furloughs, layoffs, salary cutbacks, business closings, and bankruptcies is already being called an economic downturn of epic proportion—like nothing we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Payments to qualifying taxpayers and business bailouts from the U.S. government are providing some short-term relief now, but the rout has hardly begun.

In his daily Freditorial several weeks ago, our dear friend and Rene’s high-school buddy, Fred Ford, reminded his readers of this quote by Dr. Robert Schuller:  “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

I would gladly give up my extra 15 minutes of sleep and more if I could somehow share it with the exhausted healthcare workers, first responders, government leaders and the others who are on the front lines of this pandemic. So how do we help bring healing to those who are hurting or drowning in the depths of depression and hopelessness? I believe we should love and care for one another in creative, human-centered ways. I’m not talking about posting a link for a Zoom webinar on mental health. I’m talking about personal, individualized, sincere attention, the same type of psychological care and support I advocate for all cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers to receive. A few weekends back, I reached out to eight of the young professionals I have had the honor of mentoring over the past 10 years. Many of them now are in their 30s. I asked them to respond to these questions, followed by samples of their most intriguing responses:
  1. How are you doing and feeling?
    • These life events have been powerful, and the pandemic has been a blessing in some ways. Through self-quarantine I have been able to spend valuable time focusing on myself through journaling and self-reflection.
    • I’m simultaneously doing just fine and on a downward spiral. My coworkers are showing their anxieties in destructive ways. While my family is healthy and safe, they’ve all been one by one losing their retirement funds and their jobs. I’ve never felt so isolated and so connected at the same time… but on some level, this isn’t anything new to people in our demographic. Our earliest memories involve 9/11 and the fallout thereafter, so we either entered or exited college during the 2008 financial crisis. Is it any real surprise that 2020 would bring a new, catastrophic event?
  1. Is there anything you wish you had done differently to prepare for what you are currently experiencing?
    • Not directly. I do wish I had trusted our government’s response to this less. I did not personally think it would get this far after watching other countries react. Because I trusted the US to put forth a competent response, it left me under-prepared.
    • Personally, I feel I prepared as well as I was able to be when the quarantine came about. I have been fortunate to avoid The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, and was even able to give away toilet paper, hand soap, and food to others in need.
    • The only thing I wish I would have done differently was to be more strict with myself and my schedule. I feel like the last few months have completely flown by because early on I allowed myself to relax into a near-catatonic state. I didn’t get dressed, I slept in, I ate all day long and a piña colada was never outside of arm’s reach. Crawling out of that lifestyle and establishing routine was incredibly challenging.
  1. Are you more or less optimistic about the future than you were in February 2020?
    • Honestly, about the same. I survived the recession of 2008-2011, so know that this too shall pass.
    • (More) optimistic. The whole field was turned upside down and those who were willing to adapt and shift focus were able to survive. I’m trying to figure out what my shift in focus will be, but I’m finding more and more confidence and hope as I examine what’s happening on the cutting edge of my field.
    • I feel I am slightly less optimistic about the future than in February of this year. How can your spirits not be dampened by the sickness and loss of life in our community and all around the world? However, I still have hope and optimism for the future despite the challenges we are all facing.
    • This is a huge year for me, virus or not. Getting married, competing in big contests, a new job, AND a deep dive into my career as a speaker is on the books and happening for 2020.
  1. What makes you happy these days?
    • Honestly, reminding myself that I’m in my 20s in every way possible. It’s hard to remember because of my mortgage, upcoming wedding in a few short months, and all my financial obligations, but trying to connect the silliness and goofiness in my heart every day helps. My fiancé and I learned the dance moves to a scene in our favorite cartoon movie from when we were kids, we stay up late playing video games and laughing over pizza, and we try to stay active as much as possible.
    • Take trail walks outside (when it’s not snowing), do yoga, read, drink wine, shower, zoom happy hours with friends and family.
    • To find moments of joy I remind myself that there are many, many bright spots in the world. I am fortunate to live in a neighborhood where inspiring messages in chalk adorn the sidewalk reminding me, “We are all in this together!” and “We will get through this!” Individuals and families are donating time and resources to help their fellow Coloradans, and across all types of social media I have seen so many friends and family members are making more masks than I think (hope) will be used.
  1. Is there anything I can do to help you?
    • I think in times like these, businesses finally realize how important a good banking relationship is and if they don’t have that it’s a good time to have that conversation about making a move.
    • My number one priority right now is surviving work and this speech contest on Saturday. After that ends, one way or another, I would love to sit down and do a catch-up call. Get your advice on what I’m doing with students.

These responses helped me realize that we are on the initial fringes of a “moment of reset,” an opportunity to clear out the junk, develop a new plan to keep moving forward, and re-launch. Adversity is no fun, but I always learn and grow in creative ways when faced head-on with unimaginable challenges.

Along the way, we will grieve for those lost to this frustrating pandemic, shake our heads in frustration, pout for a bit, then clean out another closet, watch Netflix, do another Zoom call, and end each day marveling at our resiliency. And we will remember not to take ourselves too seriously. Watch for “Rene & Diane’s Excellent Stay-at-Home Adventure” video to be premiering soon on our Facebook pages!

In closing, I once again credit Fred Ford for sharing these words from M. Kathleen Casey:

 

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.


Sending you strength, love and hugs!

April 28, 2020

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