The NEW Business As Usual

When I first started writing this post the world was on the fringes of falling apart. Were there signs of anxiety here on the East Coast of the US, sure, but the first cases of the coronavirus in the states were few, and although I was cautiously concerned, I was trying to live life business as usual.

That all changed suddenly when the first cases showed up in Pennsylvania, the state I live in, and quickly started popping up more and more across the country.

Then the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic, and the daily dynamics changed, and so did the behavior of the general public.

Chicken Little came to cry, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Now I am certainly not trying to lessen the severity of the situation, but the behavior of a large portion of the human race was certainly one of histrionics.

And to be honest it caught me off guard.

Was I concerned about the situation?

For sure. How could I not be?

With the media pounding fearful data at you daily, it’s hard to act like everything is normal. It seems hourly there are new stats being thrown at us, or some high-ranking official is declaring a new rule to live by.

I did however try to function on a business as usual mentality with a realistic sense of cautionary behavior.

When I was told about the run on the grocery stores I was actually stunned. I miss one night of the news and this is what happens.

This started to trigger more of a panic in me, especially because my Son was away at college. The last thing I wanted was to see him stuck at school.

For me I was counting down the days till I could pick him up for Spring Break. Hoping nothing major happened before I could get him home.

Once he was home I could focus on figuring out how to attempt to behave “normally” when the world around me was going mad, if that was even possible.

Although I appeared calm on the outside, my insides were slowly tying themselves into knots.

After every trip out of the house I would Lysol wipe everything down that came into the house, including my shoes, coat, purse, wallet, even credit card if I had to use it, and wipe down my steering wheel, shift, dashboard and door handles in my car.

My Son thought I was nuts, but it was my way to help ease my anxiety. I felt if I did my due diligence as far as sterilizing I could help to prevent bringing the virus into the house.

After a grocery store run I even wiped down my re-useable grocery bags and packaging. Especially after I saw the virus can stay on cardboard for 24 hours.

With each passing day I limited my runs to anywhere other than work unless I had to, like for a prescription. I was fortunate to be able to work up until Governor Wolf put a stop to all non-life sustaining business, which went into effect 8AM Monday March 23rd.

The print shop I work for prints for medical practices, but the week leading up to this we saw orders dwindling because most practices were converting to tele-health. Except for serious cases where the patient needed to be seen everything was being done over the phone or via video chat.

A part of me was relieved because this meant I had to stay home. Up until then I was starting a new 14-day countdown every time I had been out in public, to include work.

My co-workers and I were diligent in our wiping down computers, keyboards, file cabinets, etc… and washing hands, but each of us in our own travels could have interacted with a carrier of the virus and never known it.

Every time I felt a little off I began to worry. Was it the virus, or just allergies?

Add to it, my anxiety was starting to cause me to have shortness of breath at times, and that freaked me out. I had no other symptoms, so I knew it was anxiety, but it was most certainly a catch 22 situation.

As my official “stay at home” started I knew I needed to take advantage of this “lockdown” time and use it for positive things, like my writing and house projects that never get finished because I don’t have the time.

The first thing I did was work on a schedule, allotting certain hours during the day for these things. If I kept structure in my day it would help keep me from letting my mind meander into dark areas of worry.

Beyond the virus, the worry of income lingered in the peripherals of my mind. Yes unemployment is there, but I work for a small business, and the owner is hoping the stimulus package will allow him to keep us on payroll instead of collecting unemployment.

So, while the senate argued amongst themselves, we all played the waiting game. Our saving grace was the shutdown came at the end of a pay period so we had a check coming the first week of our shutdown. If we didn’t have an answer that first week, anxiety would once again take a stronghold.

(By posting date the Senate has approved the bill, next up the House, then the President.)

I knew my focus needed to be on making a schedule that worked, so my time was filled constructively.

The more energy I put into the things that brought me joy the less likely I would be to worry.

At least I hoped so.

I found the longer I was in lockdown, the more relaxed I began to feel. Especially because I had stocked up on essentials, and knew once I was told my office was closed I had no intention of going anywhere except for a walk.

Knowing I didn’t have to be in public was the key to easing the anxiety.

I told my Son we’re making due with whatever we have in the house. I didn’t want to start another 14-day countdown.

With each day I was tweaking my proposed scheduled. I knew it was a fluid thing and as long as I gave a certain amount of time to creative pursuits, and the business side of my writing, I would feel like I had a successful day.

Allowing time to play was also a key thing. I’m not always that good about that. Sure I take walks and bike rides and after dinner watch a movie or TV show, but actually playing doesn’t always fit into my days.

My Son and I always talk about playing board games or even putting a puzzle together, but that doesn’t happen much anymore now that he’s older. Some of that is because he’s an online gamer and spends a lot of his free time with his buddies online. This lockdown is nothing for them. They’re use to social distancing, to an extent.

Now the problem is getting my Son to leave his online buddies to do something with me. That could be more challenging than the lockdown.

Another thing in the play category is reading. I have books everywhere, but never seem to have the time to read. I have no excuse now.

As I settle into this new norm, I’m learning to accept and enjoy the freedom to create the day I want. This is a luxury not many have until they’re retired.

So although this situation was caused by something horrific, I’m trying my best to look at the positive side of this lockdown.

Being a full-time writer is my dream, and I am working at that as my retirement plan, so I’m looking at this time as my training ground for the future I want to create.

Considering I will be 59 the end of this month, retirement years are not that far off, so getting a head start on the training is a gift, even if it came wrapped in the worst possible way, a pandemic.

How are you handling the freedom to create your day? I’d love to know. Please share your story. That’s how we’ll all make it through this together.

ONE FINAL NOTE

I want to give a shout out to all those working in the medical community on the front line of this battle. I am eternally grateful for their sacrifices. I have family and friends who are part of this community and pray for their safety and health daily.

As a “non-essential” worker, staying at home, I think about all those other “non-essential” workers who are using their stay-at-home time to sew masks or make PPE’s with their 3D printers and feel bad that I don’t have the skill set to do something like that. To a point I feel guilty that I can’t contribute, but then I realized, just staying home is enough to help the cause.

Also, a great big thank you goes out to all the other “essential” workers who are also risking getting sick just to make sure those of us on lockdown have the supplies we need to stay at home.

Stay healthy, and stay safe everyone.

AND stay home, if you’re considered “non-essential.” Remember this category includes professional athletes and actors too! Who would have ever thought we’d see that day?

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Breaking News – ©123rf – Iryna Shatilova

Cleaning – ©123rf – Soratoki

Panic Attack – ©123rf – Druzhinina

Freedom to Choose – ©123rf

Photo from personal collection

#WakingtheWoman

#MomMemoir

#StayAtHome

#NewBusinessAsUsual

#Coronavirus

The Best Laid Plans

As each new month starts, I tend to take the first couple days to ponder the theme for that months post.

Sometimes I know exactly what it will be because of some epiphany I had or something that happened.

This was particularly the case when I was writing “Waking the Walker – a Mother’s quest to survive her Son’s zombie years – aka his teens.” When raising a teen, there is always something happening.

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/twd-apocalyptic-parenting-tactics/

Other times I can spend half the month tossing ideas around, seeing what sticks, even struggling to make something out of nothing.

Which is kind of odd when this blog is about self-rediscovery. 

Am I so lost I don’t even have a clue which way to turn?

With this not just a new month, but a New Year and New Decade, I thought for sure I would venture down the road of aspirations, goal setting, intention and purpose.

Especially after I read my favorite astrologer, Melissa Stratton’s https://twitter.com/hevmelissa?lang=en column for January 2020. I felt the energy around this New Year didn’t feel like other years and Melissa’s column confirmed my gut was right.

After reading this I was pumped to shake off the overbooked, too much to do holidays and get back to some sense of normalcy

I was beyond ready to hit the ground running and get back to focusing on all I had already set in motion in 2019.  My long-term goals and aspirations for my future could once again become a priority. 

Not that I don’t love the holidays, but between work, home and the holidays, something had to give, and outside of getting my December post written, anything else related to writing as a business got put on hold

I had to set boundaries for my own sanity and health. Especially with my Son home for a 5 week Winter Break.

So, as 2020 dawned, I busted out the blog business plan, and started to update it for 2020. With full-hearted enthusiasm I stepped backed into allowing my mind to focus on my personal journey, and on pinning down a clear intent for my future.

Yes, writing full-time is the central point, but having a clear purpose for this writing has still not been completely solidified. Without that, the vision for my future is still fairly hazy

I told myself 2020 would be the year I pinned that down, and formulated a clear and precise plan to make it happen.

That was until my focus was blindsided by a massive headache that sidelined me for a day, and left me dragging for days dealing with what I was told was a sinus infection. Not strep, the flu or a cold, but a simple sinus infection. 

In all my years I have never gotten a debilitating headache from anything. Headaches that made me sick and knocked me down for a few hours, yes, but nothing that warranted an injection that knocked me out for over 12 hours.

That Saturday every time I made an effort to move, I had to lie back down. Nothing worked. Not ice, not Tylenol, not rest. The pressure in my sinuses was so severe I thought I was going to vomit. I could barely hold my head up. It took me till 3:30 in the afternoon to get myself together just to go to Patient First.

The doctor didn’t even need to ask what was ailing me; she could see it in my face. When she said they could give me an injection to ease the pain and help me sleep I was all for it.

Needless to say I had no idea it would knock me into the next day and leave me feeling a little woozy.

I was able to make up for some lost time that Sunday, but I was still dealing with the post-nasal drip and congestion from the sinus infection, so I was far from moving at break neck speed.

As was the case the following week. 

I had major brain fog from the congestion, which left my head in the clouds. Making it through work every day was a major feat.

So much for all my full-heartened enthusiasm to step back into focusing on my personal journey and future plans. My only focus was making it through the day so I could go back to bed.

All I wanted to do was sleep.

At first I was pretty upset about this set back, but then I remembered what the nutritionist said at my visit the week before I got sick. She told me I need to allow time for relaxing/restful activities.

The reason why – her tests showed high levels of stress, yet I didn’t feel stressed.

How could I be stressed, and not feel it? 

I was betwixt and befuddled, but when I got sick it entered my mind that I must have been running on adrenaline from the holidays and completely oblivious.

With my ass kicked, I realized maybe the nutritionist was on to something and what my focus needed to be on was how to allow more time for relaxing/restful activities, not just on doing.

This made me wonder if being a single Mom for so long made me become so accustomed to always being on “GO” that “STOPPING” to truly recharge my batteries may have gone by the wayside

Daily I do stretching/yoga and a short meditation period, take time to veg a little at night before bed, and of course get at least one vacation in during the year, but could it be after all these years I’ve forgotten how to really relax?

AND, it is finally catching up to me

I’ve always been a list person, even before becoming a Mom. My lists are my saving grace. I may not get everything done, but it helps to keep track of what needs doing and to prioritize

Crossing things off my list has always been very rewarding, although not necessarily refreshing.  

Some things on my list however, like personal projects, are a form of relaxing. Doing creative projects can be very invigorating. Unfortunately, these are the things that get bumped for other more pressing deeds

The more I thought about all of this the more I thought about how I used to be an avid reader, but now I’m lucky if I get the paper read. I used to curl up with a book, especially before bed and just get lost in the story. I have plenty of books to read, but I honestly don’t think I’ve finished one since I was in my twenties.

I do take bike rides and walks when the weather permits, but I actually have to schedule it into my day, just as I do my weekend workouts.

SO, although I may be driven to achieve making writing my retirement goal, I realized I need to find real balance between doing and not doing

In my mind I keep telling myself when I retire I will have more time to just relax and do the things that bring me great joy. 

BUT, the bottom line is I shouldn’t have to wait, especially if I want to stay healthy.

I want to retire on my terms, not my body’s terms.

I need to start working on doing those things now, and in turn lighten my load, allowing room for more growth. Growth that can only benefit my writing, and possibly help me solidify my purpose.

The issue at hand though is relearning how to simply relax may be the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I’ve become hardwired to do, and when I stop I think about what needs to be done.

Overriding that circuit board will take some time.

So, although my month may not have transpired quite the way I wanted it to, I believe I did have an “epiphany” which will make a major impact on my journey to rediscover myself.

AND, force me to be realistic about my plan for the future, namely my timeline for the business side of this blog and my retirement.

I can push and push and still not achieve if health challenges knock me down.

What better way to plan than to slow down, relax and take it easy?

OR, should I say, be easy on myself. Something I’m not always very good at.

Sometimes the universe nudges you, and other times it kicks you in the butt. This was one of those butt-kicking times and I have to make sure I remember that.

SO, my New Year, New Decade Resolution is to create balance in all that is on my plate. AND, to allow myself time to just be, because then and only then can I truly rediscover myself.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Clip Art – ©123rf 

Hazy Vision – ©123rf  – andreiuc88

Traffic Light – ©123rf  – Dvarg