It is now the sixth week that our entire company has been working from home. To be more precise, week 6, day 28, hour 5. But who is really counting?
How is everyone doing? We are in the thick of it now. Everyone has, more or less, really settled into their routines. The weekends are the same deal and look a lot like the weekdays do, but I still look forward to the break. The big difference now is that the CDC has advised us all to wear face masks. This has really emphasized to me that we are actually living in a real-life sci-fi movie. Have you read or seen “The Stand” by Stephen King? Way too many similarities for my liking.
It seems so long ago, in a galaxy far far away that everything was normal. I miss the normalcy.
Before this crazy pandemic happened, I think I would classify myself as a “homebody.” I liked being at home. I liked re-doing our house, doing all the fun HGTV projects. Chip and JoJo were my best friends. My bookshelves are organized by color, I know, super weirdo. My husband is a chef so “we” (he) really enjoy making dinners, listening to music, dancing, primarily watching him dance like a crazy person to Neil Diamond. We love Neil, BTW, he is amazing. Give a listen to “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” it’s a goodie. We also loved having our friends over to throw dinner parties. We’d have summer happy hours on our porch. We are constantly watching movies, mainly suspense and thrillers, sometimes I can sneak a rom-com in occasionally. I convinced him to watch “Little Women” and in my opinion, a movie all men should see.
Anyway, you get the picture. Homebody!
Well, guess what, to everyone’s surprise including my own, I am no homebody. I do not like working from home, I miss everything about that big old world out there. I feel trapped, my skin is crawling. Is it because now I am told I can’t go do all things? But I have reconsidered my entire homebody stance. You should know I haven’t really left our house since this has started. Yes, I go for small walks and occasional grocery store runs but nope, I don’t go anywhere. Maybe it is out of sheer terror or perhaps I am just a very strict rule follower.
The rules are:
#1: You can only go outside for exercise and walk your dog. Check.
#2 And to the grocery store or pharmacy. Check. Check.
“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” echos in my head.
Ok Dorothy, but there is a big world out there with beautiful places, interesting people, things to do, and so many adventures to be had! In the brilliant words of Dr. Seuss “Oh the places you’ll go” will become my motto when this is over. It’s that light at the end of the tunnel that’s getting us through all of this. That glimmer of hope is what gets us up in the morning and continues to keep us motivated every day.
But that future remains in the shadows and learning to be thankful for the little things in our lives is tangible. And very important, I might add.
This pandemic has undoubtedly opened my eyes to how grateful I really am. I feel very fortunate that I have my family nearby, my health, and my job. Watching an episode of “60 Minutes,” I clung to a segment about a woman sharing a story about her great-grandmother that has helped her stay calm through these challenging times. The story went like this: her very wise great-grandmother, who had been through more than her share of terrible things—countless wars, the Great Depression, sicknesses—reminded her great-granddaughter, “This too shall pass.” Those four simple words really resonated with me. They give me hope. We all need that hope. Hope is what will get us closer to that small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, even when it feels so very far away.
Everyone is handling this crisis differently while adapting to our “new normal.” At BMD, we have several employees that don’t live in Denver and had been working remotely before this pandemic even began. We are now all in this together as a company. Working remotely together. At the end of the day, we are going to be stronger for it. I know it.
One of our employees, Lauren Bates, moved to San Francisco over a year ago. Which is my hometown, Go, Giants! And side note, once we can safely travel and explore again, SF is a must-see. I wish I could go into every detail why here, but that’s a post for a different day. Anyway, we are very lucky that LB (that’s what we fondly call her) has remained with Blue Moon Digital and continues to be our Senior Copywriter and part of the Marketing team.
I thought it would be interesting to get LB’s perspective and how the Coronavirus has affected her, her job, and her life.
TG: Hey LB, How are you doing today?
LB: Well, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it? I do love that you ask me that, though. Not just here, in this setting, but daily. It really makes me feel seen and appreciated.
TG: I know, how are you is a hard question to ask and answer these days. Ok, let’s change it up. Since COVID-19 has started, how has your job changed?
LB: Well, I went into this thinking “I have got this remote thing down! Welcome to my world everyone!” Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, right?! Wrong, so wrong!
I don’t mind working from home, typically. I love my apartment, I can see the Golden Gate Bridge out my window, and I can head to a coffee shop when my cats start to require a little too much attention. After months of struggling to find an apartment, and almost giving up, I really enjoy and cherish the place I call home.
But that was then. Now, there is no escape. Instead of bouncing from my apartment to the coffee shop, I go from the couch to the kitchen. The surroundings that once soothed tend to peak my anxiety and I often find stress around the next Zoom meeting. Tbh, I have never been so irritated at seeing my own face. My face is fine and whatever. I mean, I was voted most likely to take a selfie at our last company meeting, a badge I wear proudly, but those selfies are on my terms.
That’s probably the biggest change, there’s no escape and you are constantly “on.” Then, there is the fact that everyone is online. I mean, we all were before, but you had office culture added into the mix. Now, there are meetings in the mornings and the pressure to respond to messages right away to show that you are “actually working.” There is no easing into the day like there was before. I’d turn on my computer in the kitchen, check emails, make coffee and breakfast, and be ready for my first call at 8:30 am PST. Plus, working an hour behind forces me out of bed even earlier if I want to get my full routine in before being available with somewhat of a pulled-together appearance.
TG: Yeah, the whole morning thing would be tough for me, too! I am not a morning person either! So how are you coping?
LB: I think that I am in a better spot. Week 5 was brutal. I found myself in the throes of grief stepping dangerously close to depression. I was angry, sad, frustrated, disheartened…I was in it. I had all these heavy emotions and I didn’t have my usual ways of coping: no coffee shop, no beach, no happy hours, and dinners with friends—even my favorite pier was closed. I had to dig deep. I had to lean into the things that I knew I could control; my reactions, my routine, the media I was consuming, and how I was talking to myself.
I have been dealing with depression since I was in high school, it is a constant companion. So thankfully, I know myself well enough to understand my edges and how to feel these emotions without getting absorbed by them. I can’t say that it is always manageable, but I know where I can get help if it comes to that (my therapist is wonderful). Plus, having someone check-in is very meaningful, too, because reaching out can feel needy when we are all dealing with this heaviness in our own way.
TG: I am glad you are feeling more like yourself. How are you keeping yourself sane, what are you doing to keep yourself grounded?
LB: I have had a morning mediation practice for a few years now and it is the foundation of my mornings. I use Insight Timer, but there are a lot of other apps to help people start their own practice. I cleanse my space both physically and energetically every day or every-other-day and I do 15-20 minutes of yoga almost every morning.
TG: I may need to look into that app, it definitely would help with anxiety. So besides me, obviously, what do you miss most about being in the office?
LB: I miss you and the team a lot! The transition from working in the office to working remotely was really a challenging one for me and the team. But this was over a year ago, that’s part of the reason I was so cavalier about this “everyone works from home now” situation. Here I was thinking, “I have already done this initiation process, I have passed this test.” It was almost as if the universe said, “hold my beer.”
Yeah, that’s what I miss. I miss seeing my friends. I miss traveling back to Denver to be in the office for a week each month. I miss the hugs and getting breakfast in the morning. It is those simple things that I took for granted that really stand out.
TG: We miss you a lot too, and I think we are a great team! And if we weren’t, I don’t think you living in San Francisco would have worked! So, working from home has been tough for me. What is your favorite way to break up the day/time spent on your bum?
LB: A wee yet mighty team we are!
But to answer your question, switching from the kitchen table to the coffee table has been vitally beneficial. Like I mentioned before, not having that coffee shop to retreat to is a steep learning curve. Not that my apartment is large by any stretch of the imagination, but it really helps to break up the day. As a writer, where I write was a part of my routine, part of the creative process. Now, I am being required to create new processes. Just when you think you are starting to get the hang of something, ya know?
TG: Yeah, I try and move around too, it does help! Let’s do some fun, quick questions, shall we? What is your spirit animal?
TG: I definitely knew that answer! What are you reading right now?
LB: Rise and Resist: How to Change the World by Clare Press.
TG: Hmmm, sounds like a very timely read, adding to my list. What show are you binging?
LB: It is a great read. Gets me really fired up and sparks my activist spirit.
At this point, I am refusing to watch Tiger King. I heard it is like Blackfish and while I am glad that I watched that documentary, it scarred me for life. I can hardly think about it without getting emotional. So, I am watching Futurama. They are like old friends that I have over each night to keep me company.
TG: Yeah, Tiger King has made me never want to go to a zoo again. Also been thinking about what I can do to help tigers. So, what new activity have you started?
LB: I wouldn’t call it new, not necessarily. Structure is my new activity. Especially since the days seem to blend together. I talked about the importance of my routine earlier, but it really has become even more important as I navigate what my new normal looks like.
Oh my gosh, how could I forget my weekend virtual dance parties! My friend told me about this one in particular, and there are a few good ones out there. But my favorite one is put on by a man named Ryan Heffington and he is everything I never knew I needed. This has become part of my weekend routine (read, me trying to establish weekdays from weekends) and it is one thing that I will truly miss when all of this is over.
TG: Do you prefer sweet or salty?
LB: Salty. But I really like sweet with a salty back if you know what I am saying. Like, Nutrageous, for example.
TG: I am the same way…I make this delicious caramel popcorn and put sea salt on it…so good! Kind of the same question but what is your favorite NEW snack?
LB: This isn’t so much of a snack as it is a problem! I am addicted to It’s-Its. You know what I am talking about! They are a San Francisco staple. A mouthful to say and most people look at you like you’ve forgotten the actual name of the thing. An It’s-It is a frozen delight; it is ice cream sandwiched between two thin oatmeal cookies and dipped in chocolate. I try to limit myself to one per week, but I have easily put away two in less than 24 hours. Not sorry. Not even a little.
TG: It’s It? I would have guessed french fries…What is your fav condiment?
LB: Oh, French Fries, they are my first love and nothing can replace them. But my favorite condiment is Mayonnaise. I have been creating a lot of aiolis lately, which I am very proud of.
TG: I do love a good aioli. Ok, I am going to end on a positive note. What have you learned about yourself during this whole crisis?
LB: That I am a work in progress.
This is a collective trauma and is happening to everyone on the planet simultaneously. This pause has shown that we are truly alone together, we are beautifully interconnected, and we are astonishingly different. Perhaps this deep breath (so to speak) can serve as a not so gentle reminder that we are all moving through this “new normal” at our own pace.
Sometimes we get it wrong and we need to give ourselves and others the space to make those mistakes. Mistakes like…beating my chest in triumph when I thought people were entering my WFH normal only to find there was nothing normal about it for me either.
I find myself growing in this uncertainty. Growing in love, growing in resilience, growing in self-reliance, growing in acceptance, and growing in patience…and with too many more It’s-Its, I’ll be growing right on out of my pants. But that’s ok, I hear you don’t need those for zoom meetings anyway.
TG: Thanks, LB for being so honest…now go get yourself an Its-It!
After talking with LB, it’s is good to remember you just never know what someone is feeling or going through. Everyone is handling this pandemic so differently and there’s no right way to feel or cope. What works for you might not work for your peers.
You never know how much asking “how are you?” can mean to someone.
As you might know, we are a digital marketing agency. This makes us in no way experts in grief or depression. But we also wanted you, the reader, to know that you are not alone and that there are resources available to you if times get heavy.
Here are some resources.
Talk to Someone:
Online Support – Talkspace https://www.talkspace.com/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (talk)
Show Your Support:
Local – Yellow Ribbon https://yellowribbon.org/
National – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention https://afsp.donordrive.com/
Thanks for reading, sending virtual hugs to all!