As I enter week 4 of quarantine since hoofing it back from Patagonia in an impromptu 48-hour travel marathon, the new norm is feeling oddly normal with punctuated pangs of panic against a backdrop of low key anxiety.
It’s early April, and I’ve more or less been following my planned month of boring, except I’m in Hawaii instead of Austin, detox is going to last more than one month, and the whole world has decided to wingman it with me. Thank you and sorry!
It’s a reset button for everyone, and we’re all dealing with it in different ways. For me, I took up apple carving and setting it to music against backdrops in my maritime-themed Airbnb… Jokes aside, there’s actually a lot of highlights:
- More playmates: As an unemployed nomad, I often have to figure out how to spend whole days by myself in a random part of the world, which usually results in boredom and too much screen time. The difference now is that there are way more people who have the time, freedom, and attention to hang out with me virtually, providing participants for me to lead yoga, organize hangouts with my communities, facilitate discussions on mindfulness and wellbeing, and start a group on women’s pleasure. I get a huge sense of fulfillment from creating spaces to connect and bond.
- Relief from FOMO: There is literally nothing to miss out on, although I’m starting to wonder if I’m not getting invited to some Zoom calls!
- Forced transition: Even though I’ve been headed towards exploring a more geographically stable pace of life, it has been hard to stop the travel momentum and mindset. This pandemic has forced me to grind that momentum to a halt.
- Reprieve from planning for the future: I’ve been pondering settling down somewhere(s) and potentially getting a normal job (which even considering makes me uneasy). With so much uncertainty about the virus and its economic impact, I get a break from figuring out my future, and I feel calmer knowing it’s okay to have no idea of what I want to do next, or what’s even possible.
- More QT with my parents: I decided to stay in my Airbnb for another month to reduce the risk to my parents and also to have my own space. It’s different than when I’m home for a month during Christmas, because I normally spend a lot of time outside. I felt a little selfish about the additional rent costs and not spending more QT, but my dad agreed we’d get on each other’s nerves, and it feels great to retain my freedom. And I actually get way more QT now than if I were in Austin…the operative word being “quality.” It’s nice to see them every other day or so for short but meaningful visits to pick up food and TP!
- Incredible gratitude for health care workers, concerned neighbors, tireless parents (now also homeschool teachers), and technology that allows us to connect virtually. And for all the people doing their part by staying home.
- Hawaii’s beauty: Not a bad place to be locked down. Beaches are pretty empty but still beautiful for walks that break the prison-monotony of lockdown.
Of course, these highlights are outweighed by a few big downsides:
- People are dying around the world, and I have many friends and families who are health care workers at risk without proper PPE.
- The economic impact is going to hurt everyone from rich to poor, but especially the poor. This will understandably lead to increased crime, which impacts everyone.
- I have low-key anxiety almost all the time. At first, I thought I might have covid since I had trouble breathing and tightness in my chest. But I had no other symptoms and another friend independently described the same symptoms of anxiety (although who knows? #asymptomatic?). I’m concerned about my own health, but I worry tons about my parents getting sick. There’s an excellent HBR article that the discomfort of not knowing much about the storm on the horizon is a form of grief–anticipatory grief. Solution? Spoiler alert: basically mindfulness; staying present, observing your emotions, and letting them flow. I miss the early 2000s when the solution was always Xanax.
- My parents are also anxious and that often means retreating to long held beliefs, whether they’re still beneficial or not. My mom has increased her subtle and not so subtle pressure on me to settle down and make money, even though I’ve only taken one year off without salary. This in turn triggers my fears of not being on the traditional path, even though I’m financially okay (for now though got hit hard like everyone else). I need to remember that my mom has her own values, and they’re not mine. Her concern and judgment comes from a place of love, and at the end of the day, I need to own my life decisions whether they coincide with her views or not. I’m responsible for my own happiness and financial stability. Maybe now more so than ever.
Update on April Month of Boring: what an oddly self-fulfilling prophecy my plan for April became…here’s what I predicted in Feb. and how it’s turned out!
- No alcohol
- Err…had a quarter-glass of a Sauvignon Blanc I opened up last week! So hard to get through a bottle on my own, although at least I never confuse which glass is mine.
- No drugs
- Check! Although now might be a good time to try CBD calming products.
- No sex
- Check! I would be happy with a hug now or ANY PHYSICAL HUMAN (OR ANIMAL) TOUCH.
- No meat (pescatarian diet)
- Pretty good except for turkey spaghetti
- No sugar
- Yogurt bar with chocolate chips and banana nut muffins…period-related necessity. Not to mention, you need a little hit of sugar here and there if the apocalypse is upon us.
- No social media
- BIG FAIL. Constantly hitting the screen limits I imposed on myself on my cell, and that’s not even counting the time I spend on my laptop.
- No to red flag dead ends for dating
- Yes, although virtual dating is virtually non-existent and even more discouraging than real dating. But I’ve been trying to set a mindset of discovery! Best case and worst case scenarios are dead ends anyways!
- No to emotional drains, including people who have some positive effect too (e.g., my ex-bf…our interactions are often inspiring and engaging but I’m always left with a lingering sense of longing and “what if?”)
- After years of trying to do crazy stuff for myself and not just so he’d find out about it one day and be impressed, I just sent him my manuscript to provide consent to publish. The book contains a very raw and vulnerable account of five years of processing…so weird how something I obsessed over for so many years was shared nonchalantly almost as an afterthought to make publishing easier
- The other emotional drain: places like SF
- Well, I won’t be going to SF or anywhere else soon!
And saying yes to:
- 8 hours of sleep
- Yes! For the most part, I keep grandma hours / maintain Chilean jet lag. I try to sleep around 9:30pm and wake up at 5:30am. I dig it! I feel like the whole day is in front of me and only depressing news watching happens after 10pm.
- Boring activities: grocery shopping, squeegeeing my shower (hopefully I get a glass one!), knitting (?)
- Did a bunch of grocery run, though I think I’m switching over to Instacart, because Costco was incredibly stressful. And unfortunately, no squeegee and no glass in my shower! Not knitting yet but have my 1500 piece puzzle and ukelele here.
- Building my coaching practice
- Yes! I joined the BetterUp platform to do executive coaching and am also working on my own private practice
- Figuring out the next chapter of “work”–how I intend to spend my time, talents, and resources whether it earns income or not
- Lots of conscious and unconscious musing on this topic as unemployment expected to reach >30%(!). New plan is to hunker down and keep costs super low until the economy improves
- Yes! Especially through my women’s pleasure group.
- Healthy eating and exercise
- Yes! 3 mile walks every day and teaching yoga twice a week. Also learning EFT tapping methods!
- Meeting people, but not necessarily seeking out dates
- Well, I’m meeting people online and not getting very many dates, so yes! I’ve swiped through Hawaii and thinking of trying out Austin or Berlin? I mean, it’s the same whether she’s next door or on the moon, so why not?
- Being the prey, not the predator; the flame, not the moth
- There are no flames or moths! 🙁
- Empowering beliefs around abundance, my attractiveness to the right fits, and the openness to living my dreams in whatever form they come in
- Yes! Leading a group abundance meditation online and trying to stay open to what comes into my life! It’s all about reframing!
- I’m also exploring how to publish my memoir! I’ve finished my manuscript draft with my writing coach after 6 months of writing and 3 months incorporating feedback from my beta readers. It’s headed to the line editor now, and I’m stoked to explore traditional and self-publishing options!