This is an incredibly surreal experience.
Completely uncharted territory with only hope as our light at the end of the tunnel.
I bet on January 1st, 2020, everyone woke up not thinking a pandemic was in our near future. I mean, to be honest, I didn't know the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic until now.
Fear, panic, boredom, anxiety, stress, food rationing, job layoffs, etc. It all feels like a terrible dream. Frankly, I found myself feeling numb not knowing what feelings to feel since everything changed/changes so quickly. Per hour.
Behavioral scientist, Dr. Zelana Montminy, shared the most perfect response to this:
With that, we're all likely wondering the same thoughts:
When will this end?
Will our food last?
What am I going to do with these kids tomorrow?
Will I run out of toilet tissue?
Will my retirement disappear entirely?
Why did everyone scramble for toilet tissue?
Will my company make it through this?
When will my kids go back to school?
Are my parents really OK?
How long do I have to play "teacher"?
Will my family fall ill?
Will I fall ill?
How far will this all go?
Will the ports close?
Will food still deliver?
What if they shut down grocery stores?
Oh the spiraling thoughts...
Instead of spinning into more fear and doubt, let's use this space to share positivity. I am no expert, but I've picked up very quickly that use of social media is likely at an all time high. As you read this, you likely found it on Facebook or Instagram.
Now that we've been through week one-ish, here's 10 ways our family is surviving this lockdown. Maybe you'll find inspiration 😘.
Or maybe you'll judge me.
Either way, we're all in very similar boats...let's help each other.
#1 - Take a walk. Ride your bike. Walk your dog. Within 6 feet distance, of course.
Let's be real. How long can we really stay indoors without access to fresh air?
With two super-active boys, we NEED the outdoors. Air. Space. Nature. It's a fact that the outdoors cultivates mental wellness. So when we're in distress, guess what will help? You guessed it...
Yes I know, I know. This doesn't look like 6 feet a part, but this was taken the 2nd week of March when the 6 foot rule wasn't rolled out yet.
#2 - Check the news, only once a day.
Me and my two boys came back home from a trip to Guam on March 7th. Approximately one week before all the chaos kicked into extreme high gear. When I returned, I found myself reading the news at least 20x a day. Seriously. Always anxious.
Every hour, this built immediate anxiety and fear ALL DAY LONG. After I'd read/listen, I'd get even more panicked and spin into the "what if..." or "what will happen when..." thoughts.
Although it's important to be prepared and aware, there is no need to self-inflict anxiety. It's the media's job to report truthfully and accurately, but when we have access to our friends/family sharing updates every 3 seconds, who knows what's real and what's not.
For me, stepping back from the the overage of information to only once a day, eliminated the unnecessary anxiety and stress. Also, choose what time you read the news. If you do it right before you sleep, guess what happens?
Ya can't sleep and go to sleep in fear 🥵. No one needs that.
#3 - Cook. Make that dish.
All this extra time at home leaves you eating, every hour. For our family, it gives us an opportunity to make things we've never tried or dishes we rarely make.
Meet these amazing Korean pancakes filled with cinnamon goodness. Before we were put in the "STAY HOME" mandate, I found these stellar desserts in the frozen section at our local HMart grocery store. Delish.
Meet Austin and a delicious Chamorro coconut dessert called manha titiyas. Cooking is his jam/hobby. He's proud to share. Trust me, they're amazing.
2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 - 16.9 fl oz. can coconut juice with pulp
1 - 12 oz. jar of macapuno strings (cut these)
1 - Pack of the Kara coconut powder
Butter to grease/cook in pan
#4 - Create/Join a Virtual ___________ Session.
It's fascinating to see the variety of virtual/online sessions have been popping up this past week.
My work hosted a production department virtual happy hour last week with over 50+ attendees using Zoom. Super way to stay connected and keep your employees engaged.
You can even create virtual backgrounds to pretend you're in some other non-home location 😂.
Yesterday, a friend invited me to her Beach Body country line two-step dance virtual class. It was a first, which fulfills my need to keep things spicy, and the group was judgement free. Our mission was to get our blood flowing. We did it - virtually!
Today, a good friend inspired a kid's art session. Our kiddos, ranging from 5-11, shared a Zoom conference video link and used the uber-talented Art for Kids Hub father+child as inspiration. We drew characters like Pizza Steve, hot cocoa cups, Tinkerbell, Hello Kitty and a leprechaun in celebration of the mis-celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Just under an hour, which is likely how long you can keep the attention of young kiddos.
#5 - Chores
When Los Angeles county schools were officially released on Monday March 16th, my kids thought that were on summer break. They literally celebrated.
I, on the other hand, almost lost it. What the heck are these kids going to do all day? School work is great and all, but do I have the attention span/bandwidth (while working from home) to guide my children through their school work?
No sir, kids, you got chores to do 😆😂🤣.
During the school week, after we get some (key word is some, I'm not going to stress myself out with 6-8 hours a day of school work) school work done, I expect my kids to help with chores. Life serves no silver platters here.
Here's an image of this weekend's excitement plus their chore chart.
#6 - Find the humor.
There is SO MUCH out of our control right now.
It's all VERY stressful. For you and others in the world. Although it's so important to be empathetic to yourself and everyone else...it's also incredibly wise to find the humor.
Give yourself permission to LET GO and LAUGH at the silly stuff.
As I'm on video conference calls, my little guy writes me notes and sticks them on the corner right of my computer screen to get my attention. Here are some of his old-skool messenger notes that bring me joy.
Sure, why is the sink full with a random rag and a mess everywhere? I hope they had fun because now they get to clean it up. Just find the humor and move on.
#7 - Get creative.
I am incredibly grateful that the agency I work for allows us to work from home. There is not a second that goes by where I'm acknowledging my blessings. So now that I don't commute for 2.50 hours a day Monday-Friday, I have extra time for hobbies I've set aside.
For me/us, it's ART. Hands down.
The world wide web has SO MANY options/instructors to choose from. My 7-year old discovered a super talented artist, Shayda Campbell, on YouTube. With her simple illustrations, I'm now obsessed to fill my journal (also a new thing I'm exploring) with beautiful drawings.
#8 - Cherish the time.
Strangely, I think our present situation comes with a global message.
So easily we become busy, forget what's important and lose sight of our priorities. God, our spouse, children, family, vacations, education, sports etc. Now, we are forced to stop, reflect, stay home and either let our thoughts and families drive us crazy, or embrace it.
In these past 2 weeks, I'm learning about my children, husband and dogs.
Tonight I danced in the most corny fashion with my 11 year old. Watching him let loose and express himself with uncoordinated dance moves brought happiness to my heart. He was confident and didn't care if it "looked good".
"This probably looks terrible, but I'm having fun."
My other one visits me the most while I'm working at the kitchen table. Asks me countless times "what's for lunch" or pokes his head into my video chats. Here he is at one of his welcomed visits.
Sure, we've hit some hurdles (proof below). Somehow, we overcome it and we count these days, together.
Found this comforting sketch on my seven year old's room wall after I put him in timeout. Fun times.
Last Friday, Austin organized "Fort Movie Night". No, not the video game. He sliced what was left of our fruit and set up "activities we can do". These are the moments we can't get back. Make it count.
#9 - Take care of yourself.
No explanation needed here.
Hydrate. Stay moving. Let go. Stay healthy.
If this means letting go of the high expectations of school work, LET GO SISTER.
Or if it means YOU go on a walk by yourself without the kids (all in hopes that you have a partner/spouse/friend to help watch the kiddos) DO IT.
Write. Journal. Netflix binge. Garden. Call a friend. Paint your baseboards (I don't know, whatever you find therapeutic).
Whatever it is that makes you feel whole (without leaving your house 🤣), DO IT.
More importantly, let go of what you can't control.
#10 - Notice and reciprocate kindness.
These are scary times, but that doesn't mean that we have to be scary people.
I've read/seen/witnessed an incredible mound of kindness. People are really coming together and it's a beautiful thing to see.
The world needed everyone to STOP, reconnect and nurture friendships and connections.
Oh there is no doubt that COVID-19 is a dreadful, awful disease.
Somehow, it managed to remind humanity that kindness exists and we need to get through this dark place, together.
This past weekend I re-gifted succulent plants on a local trade site. In return, the recipient gifted me face masks (pure gold friends). Overwhelmed with appreciation, I knew that someone else needed it more. After a grocery store visit, I found an elderly man in the parking lot. Handed him the masks and said "here you go sir." His response, "OHHHH, I really needed this, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. The Lord is good." I turned, walked away in tears, knowing that I gave him hope in humanity.
When I walk or ride my bike for a break, we make eye contact with our neighbors. We nod and smile. I've never felt this as much as I feel and see it now.
There's a symbiotic assurance we share in our smiles that silently says, "We've got this. We're OK."
I hope this list sparks inspiration for you and yours. These are uncertain times, however I have high hopes that this will soon pass 💜.
Your friend, Jess