I don’t know about you, but everything is taking me twice as long these days. Sometimes more than twice as long. When you throw a pandemic into the mix, once-simple things seem to take forever. This is the reality of writing and working in the time of coronavirus.
The Downs and the Ups
Everyday tasks like running to the store have been elevated to the level of a campaign – there’s planning and strategy, timing and cleanup. There’s store debriefing, for crying out loud.
Me, last week, after a two hour shopping trip to Target:
“They're still out of Jif and apple sauce, so I got SunButter and apples.”
“Everything on the right side of the table is sterilized, but I’m letting it rest for a few hours.”
“Don’t touch anything on the left until tomorrow.”
“Still no Softsoap or wipes. But I found toilet paper!!!”
All of us from developed countries are fortunate. We've never had to consider most of these challenges and frustrations. Although some people are rolling with the empty store shelves, many more are not. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is a hard philosophy to live by during a period in our lives when much of the small stuff feels large.
I still feel lucky (most of the time)...
With so many people being furloughed or laid off, I feel incredibly blessed that my husband and I are employed . Yes, I’ve added homeschooling and multiple child meals and extra dishes (So. Many. Dishes.) to my day, but I have a job.
I spent many years worrying about my next meal and wondering if I could pay my rent. I’ve worried through illness so dangerous I wondered if I’d see morning. I'm grateful I'm not re-visiting those fears during this pandemic.
Despite my profound gratitude, I still worry.
- About furloughed friends, older relatives and immune-challenged neighbors.
- About Italy and New York and the economy.
- About whether my child will learn a damn thing for the rest of 4th grade.
- Wondering when I'll get to write something (anything!) that isn’t corporate communications related to Covid-19.
I worry about whether I can survive another trip to Target where people shuffle around in their masks, staring at fellow shoppers who stray too close like they're the Unibomber.
And then I go back to being happy we are blessed with jobs. And thinking six feet seems awfully close...
It's a wonder if we get anything done with our brains this busy.
Life Lessons I Need to Revisit
Put on your own mask before assisting others.
We all need to give each other as much patience and grace as we possibly can right now. We need to begin by giving ourselves that same healthy dose of patience and grace.
Change is hard in the best of times. These are not the best of times, so I hope y'all are taking all the time and energy you need for the self-care that is so important right now.
Here's my favorite Facebook meme this week. Which number are you?
This too shall pass.
Grandma was right. These periods of crapola end. We know it, but we forget. We've all had breakups and layoffs and challenges, and times we were 100% sure life would never right itself.
I remember feeling annihilated when my mom died when I was 35, and terrified when I almost died of a bajillion pulmonary emboli at 37.
I remember worrying I’d never have my life together... get married... have a child... publish a book... fill in the blank.
And I remember the friend who listened to my woes and held my hand and told me, “You are exactly where you need to be. You have everything you need to have to get all those things you want. You just need to be patient, and keep working. Those things will come.”
The worries pass if we let them. My friend was right, and so was Grandma. I need to revisit their advice. Perhaps you do too.
Perhaps you need someone to listen to your worries and virtually hold your hand.
Here is the advice I’d give my wonderful writing comrades today:
“Even if you don’t feel you’re where you need to be right now, and you have no energy or heart for your writing, you can do things for your mind and creativity that you might not allow yourself otherwise. Those things are important, because lifting your spirits is important.”
- Read through your To-Be-Read pile without guilt.
- Take a Master Class. (There’s a BOGO offer until April 19 if someone wants to share with me.)
- Plan (and maybe even execute) a website.
- Binge watch that show you never had time for.
- Learn a skill you’ve dreamed of, like drawing or a new language.
- Wallow in book research.
- Take naps.
Research has proved both panic and calm are “catching.” If taking a nap or reading a book helps keep you calm and focused, DO IT. If nothing else, you can spread your newfound calm to someone else you love.
In the meantime, here is Some Good News from John Krasinski. (You might remember him from The Office or Jack Ryan.)
p.s. This is my 100th post here at Writers In the Storm. All of you make me thankful every day. Thank you for the time you spend with us here.
As this pandemic marches on, how is everyone doing? Are you well? Are you feeling motivated, or not so much? What (if any) Corona Life change is making you crazy? Tell me all about it in the comments!
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By day, Jenny provides corporate communications for professional services firms. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.