This was a hard week. (You too?) Here’s what happened for me…
I guess it technically started at the end of last week. I was travelling in India for my dayjob and the coronavirus situation started to take off. I wasn’t worried because I knew India had only 5 confirmed cases at first, then 16 cases but in a completely different state…and it’s a big country.
My odds of being directly affected were literally 1 in millions. I was a white woman staying at a 5-star hotel — in a city where Muslim people had been burned out of their homes in horrific nationalist attacks. I was feeling extremely aware of the bubble of privilege (class privilege, racial privilege, religious: all of it) in which I live.
But then my phone started dinging. At first it was just multiple messages from my dad [waves at Dad] wondering if I was okay and defending his right to worry about me as my father. OK, fair enough. Then came similar messages from friends who had seen I was travelling, and there were also concerns among my colleagues as the situation back in their home countries grew. (My boss, for example, lives in Italy and did not make it to the meeting in India due to visas being revoked by India.)
I get it. It’s a serious situation and people are concerned about public health. But this felt like the world moved beyond concern very quickly. As I went online to check for updates from WHO (for work purposes, as we were making decisions about travel) I also saw the many, many news stories. Some of those stories were reporting science, and some were reporting nonsense.
And then social media started to fill up with stories and memes and a whole freakin’ lot of shouty judgement. Within a space of days we were suddenly all shouting at each other over hand-washing and toilet paper.
I began to feel bombarded.
I got on the plane — still a very full plane from Delhi to Toronto — to come home. I took precautions and felt fine, but also planned to do some self-isolation for a few days. All still good at this point.
Then jet lag ate my brain.
I deal with jet lag all the time. Travel as much as I do and jet lag is just a way of life. But this time it was EXTRA. After 24 hours of travel, I got two hours of sleep on Sunday evening, and then three hours on Monday night.
By the time Tuesday morning rolled around, I was at the stage of wanting to weep when anyone asked me how I was. This was jet lag to the point of feeling nauseous. Dying to sleep, but can’t and then trying all of the things:
- Chamomile tea, check!
- Melatonin, check!
- Walking in daylight, check!
- Screens off, check!
Ugh. I’d reached peak input and maximum possible output at the same time.
To cope, I went on a cancelling binge: YOU ARE CANCELLED, AND YOU ARE CANCELLED AND YOU ARE CANCELLED. Then I basically went to bed for two days, got out for a walk and then ate some vegetables. A little bit of extreme self-care seemed called for.
In the midst of all this, I did manage to do a writing session with my Writer’s Flow Studio gang — bless them. Sometimes writing really is the answer to all of the questions. I immediately felt calmer and more grounded.
Last night I slept for 8 hours straight and this morning I woke to angels singing. People, I have heard the secret chord that David played to please the Lord, and LO I am reborn a new human. I’m more excited for bed tonight again than I was for the last Beyoncé release.
But in the process of my teensy wee meltdown this week, I realized that part of my feeling so overwhelmed was that I was due to open the doors to my First Book Finish program next week, on March 18th. I already had potential students asking me about it, and I just didn’t feel ready.
So I’m not going to open the course again until mid-April. (April 15th to be precise.) There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to get the program ready to receive new students, including adding new features and enhancements to the program based on feedback from the last group of students. I got some really great feedback and want to do it justice so the course is that much better for the next group of writers who trust me with the dream of finishing their books. It’s something I take very seriously.
April 15th the doors will open for First Book Finish. Mark your calendars. 🙂
And when I made that decision, I immediately felt lighter and knew I’d made the right decision, even before I got 8 hours sleep. (That sense of lightness is how I can tell a decision is the right one for me.)
I wanted to share that with you, and also just share that it really was a hard week, because I suspect I'm not the only one for whom that is the case, with or without the jet lag. And from this week I’ve been able to hit the reset button, mentally and emotionally.
Here’s my current thinking on the coronavirus, and specifically all the anxiety and heightened emotion that seems to be going with it right now. This is how I’m managing for myself:
- I’ve reset the applications I use to limit social media. If the nonsense is bothering me, then I need to limit my exposure to the nonsense. I’ll still be on social — my friends are there, after all — but less so. And I won’t be reading all the new coronavirus articles.
- I’m seeking out conversations and interactions about anything OTHER than the coronavirus situation. I’m not being willfully ignorant (I will read the news occasionally) but I’m not going to wallow in it either.
- I’m back into my morning meditation routine.
- I’m diving headfirst into my current work-in-progress and really concentrating on enjoying my writing practice. Because if there’s one thing that works well when you do it alone, it’s writing. I’m intending to make the next few weeks some truly productive writing time and rack up that page count.
- I’m washing my hands, coughing into my elbow and avoiding large group events.
Oh, and if you’re a friend in need? Let me know: I will share my toilet paper.
I'm sending lots of sanitary virtual love to you, my friends — let’s manage our emotions like the grown-ups we are and make the most of the moment as we can, taking care of each other as things evolve. And maybe even getting a few more hours of writing in while we’re spending all that time at home.