The Crazy Roller-coaster that is Self-Distancing

It has been two weeks of working at home and about three weeks since total chaos came to town.

I would describe current events as an indoor roller-coaster; you know nothing about what is up ahead, just hang on for dear life and pray the handlebar is snapped securely into place. Of course the entire time you’re screaming at the top of your lungs to get off this insane ride.


 

I knew things were getting bad when I did a special story time event and only eight people came when just the week before I had a full house of over fifty.

My suspicions were right, on the following Monday an almost hourly update was given on how work would progress and what the state of the world was; I simply tried to figure out if I was under-reacting.   People were scared, confused, and even a bit angry.

My emotions that week fluctuated between irrationally angry and completely confused. My email was blowing up with Covid-19 “news” and quarantine wine sales, neither of which seemed beneficial.  Every social media outlet, radio station, and break-room chatter was about this crazy virus that had taken the entire world hostage.  By Tuesday I was sick of it all, and tried to distance myself from everything in order to stop the noise.

Adding to the stress and chaos of things was the constantly fluctuating assessment of what was to become of my job.  One hour we were good to operate just with extra cleaning, then two hours later we were talking of shutting down.  Sometimes we were being paid, other times we would not be; the “powers that be” couldn’t seem to make up their mind.  Throughout a standard eight hour day, we would have at least four updates, each contradicting the last arrangement.  To ask questions was pointless as the director knew little more than the staff.  Anxiety set in for the entire crew, adding to the fear and instability of our current life.  This continued for the remainder of the week and into the next.

When at last the final order came in, we took comfort in the reluctance of the board to pay us.  That Tuesday we began working from home.  However, due to the board’s fickle nature, we all still hold our breath wondering when they will again change their mind and decide we are not worth investing in.  Until something changes, we work from home, making short trips to the library to do small projects or deal with the mounds of returned materials that fill the drop box to overflowing.  I search for some semblance of normalcy, a schedule to keep me focused and away from dreaded depression.  A bullet-planner becomes my new pet project, divided into subheadings titled WORK, HOME, ME, AND WRITING.

Surprisingly, the first week of working from the house went well.  I completed some on-line training, answered emails, brainstormed, researched, and planned.  The non-work related stuff even flowed smoothly with letter writing, daily walks and house cleaning; I even finished the manuscript revisions that I had procrastinated on for over a year.  I felt accomplished and confidant that I could navigate this strange scenario; I should have known that it was going too well.

Week two began with bad weather.  Dark skies, rain, and unseasonably cold temperatures prevented the daily outside walk and dampened the spirit.  I felt lethargic and unmotivated.  That day I would learn that many of the plans I had made and begun for work were thwarted by the possibility of an extended closure.  Suddenly everything felt futile and pointless, worse still was the total isolation being experienced.  You see, I’m the type of person that gains energy and a sense of purpose from helping others; a natural people please if you will.  Though I can plan, do the work, and all that good stuff from the safety of my home, what I cannot do is see the faces of those I am working for – the kids, the caregivers, the public.

I missed my people!!!!

Recognizing the rabbit hole I was about to go down, I quickly fought to avoid the trap.  I would walk even if it meant doing so in the rain.  I would play the music loud and sing off key to drown out the sound of my own brain.  I would be productive even if I didn’t want to be, and when I was ready to binge watch a show, I would do that too.  As with everything else in life, my moods are not stagnant and each day brought a little ray of sunshine back into my world, literally and figuratively.  By the end of the week I was feeling fine and focused once more and the pretty weather had returned to allow for a bit of outside time.


It is easy to be overwhelmed by the negative of a situation, but if you simply flip the coin over, you can see the other side.  There is so much good coming out of the current situation.  Families are reconnecting as parents and children are forced to live and be together, no distractions of events, jobs, or school.  We are cooking again, getting to clean, even enjoying the great outdoors.  What better time of year to sit outside on the porch then in spring when all of nature is coming to life, and for once you aren’t too busy to enjoy it.

Civilization was going too fast, losing touch with what truly mattered, maybe this is the planet’s way of saying, “slow down, look around you, enjoy what you have.”  Life is not the car you drive, the overflowing calendar you look at, or the things you buy – it is the small moments, the quiet ones, that are shared with the people you love while listening to your own heartbeat.  I see children playing outside now, neighbors talking across fence lines, and young people taking care of their elders.  It’s truly a beautiful thing.

Who knows what next week will bring?  I can’t think about the month of confinement that lies ahead, it is too maddening to comprehend, instead it is best to focus on one day at a time, leaving tomorrow to be a surprise.  Just as a roller coaster is full of twists and turns and can be rather scary, at the end you get off with a smile and a bit wobbly kneed, knowing you just had a new experience.  This pandemic, this new way of living, it is an experience, and we can learn and grow from it.


 

Share your sanity secrets and insanity scares here. We could all use a bit of camaraderie right now because knowing you are not alone on this ride is essential to getting through it.

 


Some things my family and I have been enjoying:

Walks (fresh air does the body and mind wonders and if you need motivation look into doing a virtual race where you get a medal and help a worthy cause all at the same time)

Diamond Art Kits (can be ordered on Amazon and delivered still)

Reading (I’m currently reading Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type, It’s a compilation of short stories tied together by the mention of a typewriter.  So one book provides many adventures.)

Playing cards or board games (great way to get everyone off their devices and have some laughs.)

Trying new recipes (Hectic schedules meant little time for experimentation, now you have nothing but time. And a little spice up on the menu would be great after a month of cooking three meals a day)


 

And as always, stay SAFE and WELL, my friends.

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