I’m feeling a bit better today. This morning I woke up and practiced a Yoga with Adriene yoga practice. Adriene has compiled a Yoga for Uncertain Times playlist. It felt good to stretch and get moving before I sat down in my straight-back chair rigged up for work. I made myself get up and stretch or move a little between each meeting. I ate a salad for lunch and a healthy snack in the afternoon. It was harder to drag myself into my workout room to do a Daily Burn workout. But, like a badass, I did it. I hated every minute of it from the time I put on my clothes til the last stretch. But, I feel so much better now, and I broke the ice. The 2-week hiatus is over.
Last week I threw away my ice cream when I noticed it was impacting my sleep and my anxiety level. Before I went to the grocery on Sunday morning, I made a list of healthy snack ideas that would keep me satisfied but provide less sugar. I bought whole wheat tortillas to make banana-chocolate-peanut butter burritos, some truffles made with dark chocolate, apples and bananas and Endangered Species dark chocolate. I also got some popcorn and decided to make real, movie-style popcorn with coconut oil and real butter. If I can’t have sugar, I should be able to splurge on something yummy.
So, I put on the movie Judy, and popped my Amish popcorn in coconut oil. I salted it with pink sea salt and cracked pepper before dousing it with melted ghee (clarified butter). OMG. It was DIVINE. I’m not sure I could ever eat the fake movie popcorn again after eating this stuff. I question the decision I made on the movie. I’m not sure I was in the mood to watch Judy Garland spiral to her death, but the decision I made on the popcorn was sound. It’s is my new decadent treat. And there was no inevitable sugar crash!
My sister texted me this weekend and told me that animal shelters were begging people to adopt animals. She suggested that maybe I consider a kitten since I lost Buster recently. I normally wouldn’t get another one so soon, but, since there’s a need, why not? Oh, who am I kidding? When there’s an opening at my house, I like to fill with a new warm, cuddly baby. After all, I’m providing them a good life. Why wait? It’s weird to think that when I adopt this baby, with any luck at all it will accompany me into my 70s.
On a sadder note, Joe Diffie died from complications of this stupid virus. I love his music, and, he’s only a few years older than me. I hope we aren’t going to see a bunch of our heroes and legends dying of this thing. There just seems to be no rhyme or reason on who does well and who doesn’t. Twitter was full of tweets today about friends, sisters, and spouses dying. These are really terrible times and grief is hanging heavy in the air. But all we can do is be gentle with ourselves and try to do the best we can. This truly is a time to just keep doing the next right thing.
I hope that you are faring well this week. If not, I suggest you go out and buy some coconut oil, ghee and some great popcorn. You know what to do. If you like country music, put on some Joe Diffie and give him a proper send-off. If that doesn’t work, have a good cry and be kind to yourself. This is going to be a one day at a time, one moment at a time sort of thing. None of us is going to do it perfectly. But I know we can do it.
I’ve been interested in what other people have been doing to try to piece a life together during this crisis. Those first few head-spinning days I watched all of my fitness gurus switch from promotions for their gyms to offering free online programming. Restaurants immediately moved to promotions on Instagram and Facebook. My direct reports’ conversations turned to Shipt delivery dates, where to find toilet paper and how to entertain kids while they work. Of course, everything and everybody featured reports on how they are dealing with the virus, how hard it is to keep parents grounded and blame for just about anybody for the crisis we are in.
One of my favorite mantras is “Do the Next Right Thing”. When lots of things are coming at me at once and messages are conflicting, it helps me to focus on what is before me. I can’t tell the future any more than I can erase the past. But if I’m standing in an aisle in a grocery store during a pandemic, and I’m faced with the lucky circumstance of a full shelf of toilet paper, I can consider my choices. Is the next right thing to hoard the toilet paper in front of me? Or is it to take what I need, trust that this same circumstance will repeat itself in the future and know that this is a small thing in comparison to feeding my greedy impulses?
I know what the next right thing is in most cases. Sometimes it is to follow the instructions of people who know more than me. Sometimes it’s to let people meet their own consequences. Often it’s to consider a relationship over being right. And it’s always to be honest, be aware of my motives and take a few breaths if I need them. No harm has ever come from those actions.
In my current situation, the next right thing is to follow the instructions of those who know more than me. It means to be discerning over what I consume – food, media and conversation. When someone is afraid or sad, I try to offer support instead of telling them how to feel or to suppress their feelings. If I’m afraid or grieving, I focus on the next right thing in front of me and try to keep my head out of projecting my fate. I am trying to be more available to chat or talk on the phone and am favoring video chat so we all get to see other human faces. Essentially, I’m okay at the moment. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.
The bigger challenge is finding the next right thing if boredom is my issue. So I’ll share some of my favorite things at the moment. There are so many things available at the moment that didn’t even exist two weeks ago. So, enjoy and please respond with whatever is interesting to you these days. Pick one of them and do it!
What I’m Reading:
I love the New York Times. This morning I read this lovely article about this elderly lesbian couple and the crises they have endured.
My current open novel is A Little Life. It’s really good, but I’ve been so distracted by other stuff that I am preferring light, short content. However, today on this stormy day, I hope to get back to it. Click here for the book review.
I bought a new cookbook on vegetarian cooking from Runner’s World. It’s definitely food for thought as I make my next grocery list. Avocadoes are definitely on there!
I’m reading Eating Well Magazine and the content on their website. It’s sort of weird to be reading last month’s magazine, and there is absolutely nothing on the coronavirus. Times have changed so quickly.
What I’m Listening To:
I’ve discovered Audm (another NYT product) and have been enjoying listening to long-form journalism on a variety of topics. One of my favorites was a Rolling Stone story about a woman trying to get her Boomer parents to social distance (Why Don’t More Boomers Care About Coronavirus? E.J. Dickson). Since then, a number of people have described to me their own adventures with their disobedient parents.
One of my favorite podcasts is Left, Right and Center. The balanced opinions on the show help me understand other views and, generally, there are times I see myself nodding in agreement with an alternative view. It also helps me understand that journalists are people with varied experiences, opinions and charms. That is the truth whether you are on the left, right or center.
Other podcasts I listen to every day are The Daily from the NYT and NPR Politics Podcast. I love Nocturne for unusual and well-written storytelling, Michigan Runner Girl for fitness and local running tips and On the Media for commentary on how the media is covering the current circus.
Brene Brown just launched her own podcast called Unlocking Us. Beware those of you who don’t like talking about feelings or like living in denial of reality. Her first one on FFTs (Fucking First Times) helps us walk through our first time in a pandemic as well whatever new things we are learning during this time.
What I’m Watching:
I binge-watched the first season of Virgin River on Netflix. I cannot wait for the next season!
I’m watching celebrity videos on Instagram. They are all casual, homemade and quite charming. I love seeing their spouses and grandkids. And, of course, they are the celebrities of my time. I love Goldie Hawn, Alec Baldwin, Sharon Stone and Keith Urban. Urban’s Monday night concerts are adorable with Nicole Kidman dancing around like a star-struck teenager.
What I’m doing:
I’m exercising to Daily Burn exercise videos, practicing with Yoga with Adriene yoga videos and meditating to the Calm app and 10% Happier content. I just signed up for a two-week trial for MyYogaWorks. A friend says it’s great. As an FYI, the Daily Burn has a 60-day free trial going on right now. No loss if you just use it during this time!
I’m also considering content from my local gym (the RAC) that has come online and yoga and fitness classes from my friend and life-long trainer, Coach Sprenkel. I just have to #getoffmyass! Coach Sprenkel has free yoga classes on Facebook on Sunday, other content on her blog and workouts on Instagram and YouTube. It’s free. Check her out!
I’m frequenting as many small businesses as I can for other supplies, but Michigan is under a strict quarantine. I noticed today that my favorite local grocery, the Sawyer Garden Center has made curbside pickup available. I’ll choose them over anywhere else at the moment. I want them to be in business when this is all over. I’m also eating take-out from Caffe Tosi whenever I get the itch. Check out their Facebook or Instagram accounts for the menu. This weekend it’s Chicago Dogs!!
So here I am sitting on my sofa with Bella and Ashok snoring beside me much like the person who began this social distancing journey two weeks ago. I think I may have even eaten the same takeout from Caffe Tosi’s complete with Creme Brûlée for dessert. But I’m not really the same person on the inside. At that time, I didn’t know what this would be like. Toilet paper supply dwindling, I thought we might fall into a great crisis and, by this time, the world would be at its end. I’d be using Runner’s World magazine pages as combo reading material/toilet tissue. Or, maybe it would be over as quickly as it began with everybody making fun of the dire predictions that turned out to be ridiculous.
Caffe Tosi at the beginning of the crisis… Caffe Tosi in the middle. If it ain’t broke…
Thank heavens I purchased some at-home hair coloring so I can touch up my gray roots. On Instagram, all of the stars are lamenting their mistake of not getting their hair colored or cut right before this started. Alec Baldwin is about to start cutting his own hair. To be honest, he does look a little rough. I am almost out of dark chocolate, and my favorite supplier is closed. I sit at my dining room table every workday in an uncomfortable straight-backed chair. I am sick of back-to-back meetings. It seems like work is actually busier during a stay-at-home pandemic.
One of my friends made a sign for our webinars at work…..
The benefits have begun to rack up as well. I’m saving lots of money since I don’t really have any place to go. Two spring trips were canceled, so I pocketed that cash. I try to get groceries only when I really need them, and online retailers are running lots of specials. I’m talking to lots of friends and having fun teaching them how to use video chat. Everybody is learning something new. My alumni group – composed of many senior citizens – have flatly refused using webinars for meetings. But, yesterday, I got an email from one asking if we could hold our next meeting via the web. Gone are the excuses about looking bad on video or not having time. Nobody cares what they look like in this day and age, and time has become plentiful. We just have to look presentable from the waist up unless we take a walk outside.
I’m watching free Keith Urban concerts on Instagram….
The lack of a routine has turned me into a lazy bum. I try to walk most days, but I can’t seem to muster up the energy for anything more intense after sitting around all day. Today, I had to drop Bella off to get her teeth cleaned, and the vet is offering curb service. After taking my charge card over the phone, a vet tech brought my cat out to the car. Ashok looked at us like we were crazy. It must seem really odd to her that my life is spent completely at home now and almost completely sitting on my ass.
There’s curb service at the vet, but my babies are doing fine….
With the extra money I’ve accumulated, I’m trying to be more generous with the people that I interact with for deliveries and services. I’m also stocking up on necessities like quart-size bottles of hair product and generous amounts of supplements and pet food. If we do start having supply issues, I want to have the necessities without having to fight crowds. I still have another week’s supply of food, so I hope I’m good for a bit. The toilet paper, though. is a problem. The generosity of strangers is getting me through.
One of my employees is making masks for the hospital. (Don’t even ask me what I think about the local hospital not having enough masks at the BEGINNING of the crisis.) Several of them have kids at home, and they are now regulars on our webinars. Me and my supervisor are single, and we spend our time pulling our hair out trying not to go crazy on our own. He is panic-decorating, the decor in his office improving as each day passes. As for me, I ate ice cream for awhile but then had to throw it in the garbage because I could draw a direct link between my insomnia and panic and my ice cream consumption. My lack of tolerance for vices is driving me crazy. You’d think I could tolerate at least one bad habit during a global crisis.
I’m staying in gratitude for my health except for the occasional panic attack that strikes me as I lay my head down to sleep. At those moments I worry about what would happen if I got “it”, or, even worse, if everybody else got “it” making the world an awful place to be. Oddly enough after my experiences with being laid off over the years I’m not too worried about the economy. It always seems to rebound in time. And, if something like that came to pass, there’d be a whole bunch of us in the same boat. People are pretty resilient if they can keep their health. My acupuncturist gave me an immune-boosting treatment last week and sent me home with immunity-strengthening herbs. There are no guarantees, but if I go out, it won’t be for a lack of trying.
How are you making it? Are you afraid? Making the most of the quiet time? What do you miss the most about the good ole days?
I guess it depends on when you started taking this seriously but, for me, this is Day 9. I went out a couple times this week for takeout from Caffe Tosi and I went to the grocery and pet store to stock up on food on Thursday. Last Sunday I walked around Reeds Lake in Grand Rapids. Otherwise, I’ve been at home. The weather has been nasty and cold, so I really only got out for a few walks. The only time I felt uncomfortable was when I went to the grocery. Just too many people coming in and out, and I had to touch so many things that I’m sure other people have touched.
We are supposed to get an inch of snow tonight. But the sun is shining, and the temps are supposed to rise into the 40s. I have to get out. I know this will be another week where I’m glued to my computer as I meet with people isolated in their own homes. Oh yeah, and it’s 26 degrees right now. C’mon sun, warm us up.
Yesterday was a bit of a rough day. Some of it was grief. Some of it was fear. All of it was somewhat debilitating. I walked downtown and to Silver Beach. But I couldn’t pull myself out of the funk. Then, in a move that was totally unproductive, I ate a cookie and a bowl of chocolate ice cream. Good in the moment, sure. Good in the long term? Uh…. no. Self-sabotage 101.
I finally finished binge-watching The Ranch yesterday. The last two years of it were horrible. I found myself screaming at the computer screen about the idiot characters. Colt began as an immature asshole and never matured. I just don’t find that funny. Wife Abby kept forgiving him and then acting like the dutiful co-dependent wife who continues to give trust to an untrustworthy narcissistic person. The season ends but I can tell you how that would all end. I laughed out loud at the chronically relapsing heroin addict who went to treatment for a week and was miraculously cured. It’s no wonder people are so clueless about addiction and codependency if this is the story lines they consume. Addicts don’t get better because they see the light. They get better because they get effective treatment and they work their asses off to stay sober. Of course you can’t really put a bow on that at the end of a thirty-minute episode.
I decided to check out my local news this morning, and my company has used our procurement resources to source masks and medical supplies for our local healthcare system. I have been so proud of Whirlpool’s measured response to this crisis. We have offices in Italy and China, so we are definitely impacted. Last week our CEO and our Medical Director gave messages to the whole company that made me extremely proud. Not only is he committed to supporting our employee base, but he feels we have a public duty to provide essential equipment to clean clothes, dishes and refrigerate food during these times. I would follow our CEO into the abyss. He doesn’t spin the message, he believes in doing the right thing and he’s not afraid to buck the system. THAT is a true leader. I wish he was our President.
It’s a gorgeous day today….
I’m trying to stay in the moment. I’m very lucky that I have a job where I can work from home. I have health insurance. I’m not on the front line facing this crisis. I’m worried about our health care workers and wish there was something I could do to help them. I guess the best thing I can do is stay out of the way of this virus and remain healthy. It’s hard to believe that doing nothing is doing something profound. But that’s the irony of these times, isn’t it?
How are you coping?
Right before I woke up this morning, I dreamed about Buster kitty. He and Bella jumped out of the car as I was parking and they ran off together to explore. My beautiful Buster sashayed around as he did when he was young, occasionally searching for me with those big golden yellow eyes. I know it was a visit because at one point he communicated to me as only he could do that he was well and felt young and happy. “I love you,” those golden orbs said. And then he ran off to play with Bella.
I am still crying on and off as I think about my boy. So much time was spent the last few months trying to get him to eat and worried about what was wrong that I didn’t truly get to say good-bye. I was relieved when the decision was made and knew that he was out of whatever pain he might have been in. I’m so glad we did that before this panic hit as I had already been so stressed trying to get him to eat. Almost daily visits to Petsmart distracted me from my real pain of losing my companion of 15 years.
But seeing him last night so young and beautiful and happy reminded me of his best days. He was a force in my life. No matter what happened – and lots did during his lifetime – he gave me a blow by blow of what was going on in his mind. Buster was the last of my kitties that were present during my second marriage that ended so horribly. He was born in Indiana and lived in Memphis, Louisiana and Michigan. He was always quick to adapt and helped both of my other animals get settled in whatever new situation we encountered.
When we first brought him home from the shelter, we tried to quarantine him to have a slow introduction to the other cats. From the empty room upstairs he was so loud that we finally opened the door and let him out. He made himself at home and got along with the other cats from the first instant. He followed me up to bed and plopped down on my shoulder that night. The next morning my husband told me that when he came to bed, Buster was asleep on my pillow curled up at the top of my head. He never knew a stranger. He knew nothing but love.
One year I took him to the vet for his annual checkup. I didn’t use a carrier for him because he was so relaxed no matter what we did. He was walking around while I paid and when I turned around we couldn’t find him anywhere. The veterinary staff looked everywhere and eventually we all fanned out into the field behind the office. Eventually one of the vet techs came down from the break room laughing. Buster had sauntered up the stairs to the employee break room and was napping in the middle of the table.
My Memphis vet called me in the middle of the workday to come get him. I had left him there for his checkup. This particular vet tech carried him around on her shoulder when he was there because that was the only way to quiet him. It wasn’t working that day. “But I have meetings and can’t come til 4,” I told her. “Come get him now,” she said. “He’s driving us crazy.” His big mouth is the reason I ended up with Buster in the first place. My ex and I had been wandering around the shelter looking at the cats and kittens, and Buster was yowling the entire time hanging on the fencing on his cage. Finally, we paid some attention to him because he was so obnoxious. We were struggling with a decision, so we let him make it for us. He was the boss.
Buster was my lap cat. As soon as I sat down or got in the bed, he was right on top of me. He was in my lap for just about every blog I ever wrote. He’d push aside Ashok or Bella or my computer to make space. At night, he had a habit of jumping into bed and plopping down on top of my chest right next to my chin. I’d put the cover over my head to keep him from licking my nose with his prickly tongue. His purr never stopped. I noticed in the last year or so that he wasn’t purring as often. I’d reach up and pet him to get it started. It soothed me as much as I like to think it did him. The last night he was alive, he was perched in the usual way on my shoulder with his two paws and his head right next to my face. I had the premonition that this would be the end, and I took a picture with my mind and heart.
I learned from Buster to ask for what you want, insist on the best and be adaptable to any situation. The first time I noticed that he wasn’t jumping anymore, I learned to deal with the sadness of watching my beloved pet inch his way toward death. I watched him learn to navigate steps instead of jumping up on my bed. I weaned him from hard food to wet food and had to stop answering his call for milk as it made him sick. But even on his last day he comforted me. As they gave him the sedative in that lonely room, he relaxed and began to purr. His liquid gold eyes held on to me as I assured him he would be okay. And last night he assured me that I was right. I miss that damn cat. Buster Kitty, please stop by anytime.
Last night was the first night I did not sleep.
Ever since I discovered magnesium, I have been sleeping through the night – coronavirus or no coronavirus. I stockpiled the stuff awhile back, and I take a teaspoon before I go to bed. Sleep like a baby.
The economic fallout has begun. The novelty of being home is wearing off. Bella has decided she has to attend all virtual meetings and is not happy with anything on the agenda. We laugh as she hisses, growls and spits at our discussions. She is the grumpy office cat. My direct reports are stressed. Fear permeates the humor and even, at moments, the gratitude. We are human after all. We can’t sort our fears into nice little boxes during the workday.
Our Medical Director hosted a talk yesterday, and I listened to the recording this morning. His thoroughness and clinical explanation comforted me. After listening I truly felt this crisis might not bring us to our knees. It will hurt, but there is a method to this social distancing madness. If we can flatten the curve, we could bypass the worst of this.
I ventured out for groceries and kitty litter yesterday. It was weird to be out during the Apocalypse. People were nicer. Normally a trip to the grocery wouldn’t promise much interaction, but even the woman behind the deli counter asked me how I was doing. I thanked her for helping us by being there and working. I’m tipping everybody I can and frequenting local restaurants for takeout. I’m lucky to be working and getting a salary. Sharing the wealth doesn’t feel optional.
Something weird was happening with me as I passed people in the store and in the parking lot. My radar went up. I measured the distance. Is it 6 feet? Are they too close? What if they have it? Are they a carrier? We might share a greeting, but I’m sure they were thinking the same thing of me. Is she safe? Where has she been? It seems that the farther I distance myself physically from others, the closer I feel emotionally. I worried about the senior citizens I saw. I worried about the man with a limp. We are all walking time bombs. The enemy is invisible, and it is in us.
I woke up at 3 AM in anxiety. Fear flashed through me that I could get this thing and die. What if? Denial is really not an option at this point. My health has become a public service. Your health is a public service. I feel a responsibility to exercise – and I did yesterday, indoors – and to eat right. I made a commitment to myself to do the only thing I can do. I can take care of myself and be no closer than 6 feet to others. The rest of it I cannot control.
Amazing what a difference a week can make. I stocked up this morning on 3 months of pet food and Ashok’s supplements. I have plenty of food including beans and rice if things head south. I don’t even know what tomorrow will look like. I think I’ll just try to stay in today, eat healthier than I did yesterday and maybe go for a run. Oh yeah, I won’t forget the magnesium. I need the sleep.
How is your adventure going?
I’m doing okay. I’m spending all day in meetings and video conferences. I’m sitting on my ass too long and not exercising enough. I’m eating too much junk, and I really don’t care at this point. It feels good to have something yummy to anticipate and enjoy. I feel lonely. I am scared about the economy, and I’m worried about the future since I work for a consumer products company. I’ve also been laid off before so I know it’ll all be fine one way or another. I’m at a different time of life now where retirement might actually be an option if the stock market rebounds. If not, I’ve got skills. Maybe it’s time for a change.
My animals are confused. Bella likes to sit in on my meetings and hiss and spit. Ashok just wants to curl up next to me and sleep. I eat lunch in my kitchen. I’ve got plenty of vegetables and only a few rolls of toilet paper. One of my direct reports brought me a care package today with dog treats, human treats and two giant rolls of TP. I’m set for a bit unless I keep eating so much.
The sun was out today, so I took Ashok for a walk. People in my neighborhood are following instructions and not really interacting. It feels a bit weird. I need to run but I’m not doing it. Maybe I’ll get back to it tomorrow. With no drive time, I get to sleep in a little. It feels good to wake up when I want.
My team today committed to using our videos during meetings so we can stay more connected. It’s fun to see their kids, spouses and animals running around. A spouse almost changed his pants today before he realized there was a webcam on in the room. I’m sure we’ll see somebody’s spouse or kid in their underwear before this is all over. Some people work from their beds. Others are in the basement with their sports banners. I’m at my kitchen table trying to be comfortable in a straight-backed chair.
We are living in interesting times. I’m grateful for the ability to work at home. It keeps me employed and at some level of sanity. I’m grateful to have a quiet place to be. I’m grateful I have food and a good back. My kitchen is full of delicious tea, homemade yogurt and almond milk and fresh vegetables and fruit. I won’t have to venture out for awhile, but I’m a bit curious as to what it’s like during the apocalypse. I also want to support some of my local businesses with their drive-thru service so they have a little revenue. I don’t want to lose them. I look forward to normal again – whenever that might be.
Tell me again, how are you doing?
The Daily podcast yesterday featured a reading of a beautiful article about Tom Hanks. The writing was excellent, and the journalism was typical of the best long-form journalism available in The Times Magazine. It felt like a long, cool drink of water on a hot day. I’m tired of idiocy and the inability of narrators to tell a coherent story. I never have time to read those long, well-written articles, but I love getting lost in them.
At the end of the reading, the podcast host recommended trying the app Audm where articles such as these are read. Immediately I downloaded that app. I’d been debating subscribing to the New Yorker but it’s only one publication. I’m getting tired of having to buy multiple subscriptions for all of the publications that interest me.
For $60 a year I can listen to the best long-form journalism on my phone from a variety of publications. I drove to Grand Rapids today and listened to beautifully crafted and researched articles about Angola, Megan Kelly, digital campaign advertising and a writer’s devotion to his cat. I don’t remember a thing I saw on the road. I was riveted to that tapestry of beautifully crafted words.
I’m going to go insane. I guess I should be grateful I don’t live with anybody irritating, but it’s only been 24 hours and I am truly over it. It was only yesterday that we got the mandate to work remotely until 4/5. I do not like working at home. I am extroverted, and I like to be running around getting things done. But this is not about me. I packed up my essential computer hardware and headed for home.
I had to go to the grocery first. I needed some vegetables, and I am truly down to my last roll of toilet paper. There were plenty of vegetables, but the shelves were toilet paper-free. A coworker just made a Costco run, so he said he could set me up if I got in dire straights. I suppose we’ll have to meet in a parking lot somewhere and he can throw it through my window. The checkout attendant at the grocery said they were getting a shipment in last night, so I was relieved to hear that toilet paper actually exists somewhere in the universe and can be had. All hope is not lost.
I went home after that and began my social distancing phase. The idea of it that bothers me more than the isolation. After all, I spend much of my weekends at home doing things around the house or going into the woods anyway. I like being alone. It’s usually a much needed down-time at the end of a whirlwind work week. But knowing that Monday – Friday will look much the same as the weekend is causing a bit of a panic in my extroverted soul. I find myself less worried about toilet paper and more worried about remaining calm. Thankfully I’ve discovered magnesium, so I stocked up.
I could have gotten out for a walk or a hike today. I needed to go out for a run. I could have read or cleaned my house or washed clothes. I should have prepped some food for this week. Instead I parked myself on my sofa and binge-watched The Ranch. I remember why I stopped watching television almost 20 years ago. But I can’t seem to stop once I get started. I know I can’t keep this up, though. I will start getting depressed and anxious if I give up on all of my normal habits. Tomorrow will have to be a more productive day in that arena.
Sharon Stone just gave a pep talk on Instagram about how important it is to do this. I know that some people think this is a complete overreaction and others are in a panic (i.e. panic-buying toilet paper), but this is truly our civic duty at the moment. I think of the sacrifices people have had to make in times of war in the past, and I wonder if we are so soft we can’t do something this easy for 4-6 weeks. It’s a small price to pay to keep truly vulnerable populations safe. I can still go for runs and hikes, practice at-home yoga and meditation, visit with friends over FaceTime and take a little extra time for cooking, reading and good self-care. We’ve all said we’re too busy and stressed with the fast pace of life today anyway. Let’s enjoy the downtime and concentrate on the basics.
How are you doing with your social distancing?
Yesterday my profession made the New York Times Upshot section. Instructional designers help prepare faculty for teaching online. Well, all of a sudden, we are in demand and are being called out front and center. My phone was pinging non-stop yesterday with appeals for help from my teacher friends. Yes, we can help. For most of my career, I have been dragging reluctant people kicking and screaming into a world that they don’t want to inhabit. Forgive me if I enjoy being chased a little for awhile.
I got my Masters in Instructional Technology at Purdue in 2006. The class demographic was 50% corporate employees and 50% public educators. We all fought the tide all day long in our day jobs. And we lost more battles than we won. Corporate America had a business case driving the change but old habits die hard. Online learning and eLearning was considered a “cost savings” by most and accepted about as happily as email was 30 years ago. I remember being unable to figure out why I would email somebody when I could just walk over to their desk. Our education professionals fought an even more difficult battle in their work environments. But we knew that technology not only enabled more flexibility in learning, it could also increase its effectiveness. The key was designing it to fit the delivery method. And that’s why we were there.
“What is it that you do?” I’m often asked. Industrial what? You teach? Huh? I don’t get it. Designing online learning is a unique skillset and hidden behind the talent, the teacher or facilitator. It requires unique skills that traditional classroom teachers don’t have. But organizations don’t think that way. “Just do it,” they mandate to shocked educators – without providing the training to support them in the change. This gap drives a lot of bad online learning design which produces a bad experience which makes people think online learning is horrible. That has always been our fight.
Coronavirus turned the tide this week. I knew someday it would come. Unfortunately there will be a lot of bad online learning out there for awhile. But I think instructional designers will be having a heyday for the next few months. Hopefully the case will be built long-term for flexibility after we get out of this panic. We can help you. And, right now, we can stop fighting resistant people. We have your attention, America.
Let us make you shine!