Hey friend, can we talk? Not about style like we normally do; but like, really just get into some of the feels we all may be navigating with COVID19 calling the shots? I don’t know about you; but at the time of me writing this article, it has been 27 days of limited connection with anyone outside of my home (although the UAE has opened up the option to use Zoom video calls so that has been amazing!) and the last 16 of those, none of us have left the house once. So…yeah, can we talk. (Warning this is a long one).
CAN WE TALK – ABOUT THE ANXIETY
I sure wasn’t planning on feeling anxiety like this. Here’s how it went for me:
Low on the anxiety scale. It’s a new flu, which is a virus. That means there’s no meds, just managing symptoms. Ok, I’ll get more over the counter meds and other immunity boosters, Clorox wipes for the house and vehicle and we should be fine. I do this every cold & flu season…we’ll be ready. Just try not to touch your face too much (yeah…right. Anyone else SHOCKED at the amount of times you touch your face in a day, now that you are trying not to?! HA!)
Business and life as usual, and also watched Pandemic on Netflix. (not helping). My concern is for Sophia, she’s the one out of any of us that struggles with respiratory illnesses. She’s not asthmatic, she doesn’t get bronchitis; but a cough can hang out in her lungs for WAY too long.
Went from low to high over the course of a couple weeks. DUDE, this is spreading alot, some countries with closed borders and in full lockdown, but people are still travelling all over the world and taking it with them. It’s becoming more serious, it’s proving super contagious, and you may not even know you’ve got it for 14 days before symptoms show…what?!
I’m buying a few extra essentials every time I’m at the grocery store so I don’t have to panic buy, and I’m casually taking note of all the people I’ve been around lately, because COVID19 is here in the UAE. Every time I hear a cough while out in public, I hear it like the person is holding a megaphone, and it makes me anxious. Before February ends, all extra curricular are cancelled for the kids, large scale events are being cancelled, and now they are shutting down the campus completely in March for an entire month, and more borders are being closed. Whoa….ok, this is no joke.
Social distancing is mandated and eventually becomes self quarantine, kids begin homeschooling, no more gatherings of any kind, EVERYTHING is closed. In fact, they don’t want you leaving your home unless for groceries, the pharmacy, or the doctor. The only other exception is if your work is deemed essential.
Now shit is hitting the fan in North America, it’s there and spreading like crazy and responses are an equal mix of denial and hysteria. WHY IS EVERYONE STILL GOING TO THE FUCKING BEACH! Geez Florida…no means no!
I was chatting with my parents in Alberta about how it’s escalating quickly here; but doesn’t seem to be taken as seriously in North America. They were cautiously optimistic, and had hopes to fly down to Houston with my Grandma, before end of March to visit my brothers. They just had to wait for her mandatory quarantine to be finished, since she had just returned from Arizona to Alberta when the Canadian Government was saying it would be closing it’s borders soon. (She got home, her 14 days ended a few days before I wrote this, and I felt a weight lift off my chest).
This is the FIRST time COVID19 panic legit hit me. Like. A. Truck. I cried. I tried to hold it together; but I went into the ugly cry. My exact words were, “Mom, I’m begging you, do not put yourselves on a plane”. (Even though it took a little longer for the reality of this virus to set in, you can rest assured, NOBODY got on a plane.)
Here in then UAE, a country wide sanitation program is underway, giving us all a curfew from 8pm -6am for almost 2 weeks. Not only that, now significant fines are in place for those who do not do as they are told to social distance. In other words, they aren’t messing around here. And I’m super ok with it.
On the last day of the month, it is announced online learning will continue throughout the rest of the year. Life is looking VERY different. It’s serious everywhere; but I’m still surprised at how many people around the globe are only picking and choosing parts of the social distancing / self quarantine guidelines that work for them, according to them, and ignoring the rest. It’s looks like alot of people don’t think this inconvenience is meant for them. Their carelessness feels like nails on a chalkboard for those of us who ARE doing what we are told.
ANXIETY OVER TAKING CARE OF MY FAMILY – BUT NOW I’M PISSED AT EVERYONE ELSE
Fine, I admit it, I’m a bit of a rule follower. I’m happy to be the “teachers’ pet” in this situation. So when the rules are laid out, and I’m following them to the best of my ability, it really pisses me off when others don’t.
It is maddening to see people still taking their Spring Break Trips, cruises, vacations, not to mention still taking international trips for work or pleasure, and posting memes and images of them doing it, making light of the situation. My anxiety shot way up because now the spread is just anywhere and everywhere, dragging this self quarantine we’ve been adhering to, out so much longer. It’s one of these people that will get my or your parents, grandmother, immune compromised family or friend, or perfectly healthy family member or friend sick, and I feel angry and helpless towards their entitlement.
My anxiety is showing up as judgmental anger when I see people mocking the precautions, or acting as though only part of it applies to them. Like those University Students in Florida living their “best lives” no matter what. Oh…they waited 2 months for that holiday? That’s why you get to go? No! People are cancelling their weddings, every single high school senior for 2020 is looking at having no prom and no graduation ceremony. THE WINTER OLYMPICS, the holy grail of sports, ARE CANCELLED! You are kidding me, right?
God grant me the ability to only focus on the things in my immediate control.
CAN WE TALK GRIEF?
You might be thinking grief? Why grief? Well, because we’ve all lost something, haven’t we?
It’s not just grieving life as we knew it, trying to figure out a new normal, and grieving the loss of our way of going through life. We may also have grief associated with the anticipating. The fear and unsuredness of the unknown to come.
How long will this last? How bad will this really get? We just can’t know. I can’t imagine this going away any time soon. Especially if half the people who are asked to social distance, don’t.
We’ve turned into a world of people who don’t like to be told they can’t do something, even if it’s in our best interest to listen. It’s been seventy five years since humans have been asked to truly make a sacrifice for the greater good (I’m talking World War 2). Turns out, we’ve lost our touch.
While it is clear now the virus isn’t just taking out one particular age category, it is wiping out those in the age category (65+) who DO know how to sacrifice. And everyone from Boomers to Gen Z, have decided they are willing to “take the chance” with their health, while seemingly completely forgetting, they are passing it around to people who absolutely do not want to chance anything. Ugh….you can lead a horse to water; but you sure as hell can’t make them drink.
CAN WE TALK – FINDING THE GOOD
In order to combat the anxiety and grief, I’m trying turn to gratitude. If I’m honest, somedays it’s easier than others; but even if it works for a few minutes on the bad days, that’s a win. Our mind can only think one thought at a time, so let’s try to make it a good one as often as we can. Of course, all of this is just my opinion, from my experience to this situation, and how I see it from my eyes. I don’t speak for anyone but myself…this new normal is going to take some getting used to, that is for sure.
All that said, here’s what I’ve learned, in my house, about being quarantined with my husband, teenage son, preteen daughter and dog:
- Even after downsizing, there is plenty of room for all of us to have a space to work, then come together as a family. We’ve made the dining table our work and meal space, and couch our family space. Creating boundaries and dedicated spaces for specific things has helped. How are y’all doing?
- When we ask our kids about how they are feeling, or what they think of everything going on, they have some really insightful things to say. I mean, not everything that comes out of their mouths is insightful; but there’s some good stuff there.
- My kids are both responding very well to the online learning their teachers have provided, and their anxiety level is low and only one mini meltdown. Now, we are just finishing up week 2, with 10 more to go, so this is very likely to change! haha
- I’m seeing things they are capable of that are surprising and delighting me. Turns out, they light up when we tell them how proud we are of these qualities. We all feel like our skin has been turned inside out, so any assurance we are doing ok is very welcomed.
- I have about zero problems being able to walk up to any of my people throughout the day, and hug them. Especially if I’ve just browsed through Apple News on my phone. If nothing else, this quarantine gives me the chance to intentionally love on my people, without distraction. It’s those random moments that often mean the most.
- The extra time I DO have is mostly dedicated to cooking great dinners or baking, not as much content creation as I expected to do. I know I could, and I have no shortage of ideas of ways to put my voice out in the world; but I also know, none of y’all need me like my husband and kids right now.
- Alternatively, while I should feel grateful that I’m needed so much, I mean, I’ve not heard my name called this much, EVER. I don’t think I need to be asked EVERY question…..you know?
RUNNING THE HOUSE:
- I stress eat, right after I stress cook and bake. UGH….let’s all agree we are eating our feelings; but we can’t let it take over. We still need to move around, get our blood flowing, stay strong and fit. if I didn’t work out in the morning, it WOULD NOT get done, so if you are having trouble fitting it in, maybe you could try that?
- Grocery delivery day is like a major event, and the feels it gives me, can be likened to that of the first day of school for the kids, pre global shut down. That likely has largely to do with me not having set foot out of the house in over 2 weeks, sooooo pray for me. Are you still going out to get your own groceries? How does that make you feel?
- Lunch is my WORST meal in terms of wanting to make it. Can we go back to everyone packing a lunch and I’ll get back in the kitchen for dinner time?? No? So what you are saying is you ALL want to eat 3 meals and multiple snacks every single day? Got it. Feel free to lower those expectations….
- Content creation seems tricky right now…do people want to read about style tips while navigating quarantine in their jammies?? I actually think you do! I won’t stop completely, and I’m working on a video series; but turns out, I’m SUPER SHY to record myself in front of anyone…so that’s a challenge!
- RIGHT before this pandemic hit, I had a fully booked calendar for March and half way through April for helping women with their Wardrobe Review & Refresh, and every appointment has had to cancel, with no sign of when we could confidently reschedule. All of these women are looking forward to when we CAN get together, and so am I.
FINDING BALANCE AND HANDLING THE EMOTIONAL ROLLER-FUCKING-COASTER
- I’ve gone into the ugly cry twice. One time was mentioned above when I didn’t want my parents travelling. The other time, Kent and I were laughing super hard about something just before I was heading to go have a shower, and as soon as I shut the door of the bathroom, I was bawling. I was completely caught offguard. That came out of nowhere! I was grateful I was alone for that. While I want to teach my kids it is OK to feel the whole range of emotions, I’m not sure me losing my shit, and all composure in front of them is the right way to go about it….
- What I know for sure is that I need alone time to feel balanced, and that’s a challenge; but when I really need it, everyone in my house gives me space. In fact, if I disappear late afternoon, they don’t even come looking for me. I always reappear to make dinner and they know I didn’t leave! ha! What are you doing to maintain a clear head through this?
- I’ve never been more aware of things to be grateful for…are you doing the same? Instead of waking up and saying, “another awful day of quarantine in these 4 walls”, maybe rephrase that to be something like, “another day of being safe and caring for my community in the best way possible” The sooner we can get a handle on this, the sooner we can all see what is on the other side of this “red light” as Matthew McConaughey said.
CAN WE TALK – LET’S JUST KEEP DOING OUT BEST
What we all know for sure is that we can never know what someone is going through, so we can never fully understand why they be acting a certain way, or doing things a certain way. I try to remember that when my judgmental anger wants to surface. Maybe, there is a reason I couldn’t possibly know, that people are responding to this global pandemic differently than how they’ve been asked?
Not all days are good, not all days are bad. Some are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, and some days feel slightly calmer. This IS new territory for all of us to tread through. But if we all just promise to do our very best, to think of a big picture, and know one person CAN make a difference to a community. (I mean, let’s just remember this all started with ONE person). Be that person who sets the example for the people in your house, and the people around you.
Lean into your faith. Take some deep breaths. Be grateful for the little things. See the gifts in this adversity; but most of all….friends…neighbors….wash, your, damn, hands and don’t come within 6 feet of each other….KAY?!
PS. If you read all this, thank you so much. This took a very long time to write; but felt very therapeutic. Writing about all of this ensures there is, at the very least, a reminder of how me and my family managed a global pandemic, one of which we could never have dreamed up, and will live in the history books forever.
I’m grateful you took the time to read it. Even though we have loads of that on our hands lately, we still get to pick and choose what we spend it on. Thank you for spending some of yours with me.