Like many of you, we are over here, sad-mad about the audacity of germs and a little punch-drunk with what it means for us and the rest of the world. The first few cancellations hit us in the gut. The following national panic sent us whirling. Wait, WHAT?! Calm down. SLOW down. Let's get a little bit of a grip here and assess the next couple weeks. WHY ARE YOU CANCELLING JULY!??
To be transparent, we were counting on March, both financial and mentally. We had been powering through the last six months, knowing that easier times were just around the corner with the daffodils and pastel colors of spring. I can't speak for Alex, but my ugly cry leveled up last night. We spent the last year and a half preparing for this adventure and now it feels like some joker pulled the rug out from underneath us and the floor is lava.
We can't even think about playing music today. That's how heartbroken we are. We are grieving. Watching all the virtual concerts pop up feels like peer pressure, which may seem silly, but it's our reality for a minute. In the midst of the chaos, we are finding that having tangible, actionable things to do each day is helpful to our mental well-being. So below you will find our unsolicited advice and connection ideas for the coming days of sheltering in place. We need to connect now more than ever. Both with our loved ones and with ourselves. We need to engage on a significant level. Our feel-goods and relationships depend on it.
THE FIVE STEP ACTION PLAN SAVING OUR LIVES RIGHT NOW
1. Date Your Partner/Spouse
The first things that suffers during a traumatic event are your safe relationships. Things like a marriage and parents/kids can get neglected because subconsciously, we know they probably aren't going anywhere and we are just trying to survive here. Consider putting energy into learning about your spouse or partner the way you used to when you HAD energy. Before the kids or jobs or fur babies took your attention and priority. Before the 'should' set in and the obligation to the rest of the world took precedence. Ask their opinion on something. Then ask why. Be curious. Do you eat popcorn the same? Do you park the car in the Walmart parking lot the same? Just notice the daily, usually mundane actions you both have to perform and see how they are similar or different. It can give you common ground where it feels like there's none. It creates conversation and play! Connect. Engage.
2. Get to Know Your Kids
I'll say it again in case you thought I stuttered. Get to know your kids. Think of how often we, as grown adults, change our minds and our preferences. Think of a time when you felt 'less than' because your nearest and dearest didn't see you. Maybe they didn't ask about your new job or notice your different hairstyle. *crickets* WINE. Let's remember how little time you are usually able to spend with your kiddos without something else on the schedule. Change that. Play word games at the dinner table. Do sit at a dinner table! Ask them their favorite color or smell or memory. See what their opinions or questions might be about all this 'time-off' of school. Address emotions and encourage storytelling. Reconnect with your children. Pull them close before the hustle settles in again. Look into their eyes when you speak to them. Smile. Start a book series and read it aloud to them. They might be able to remember this time of crazy as the BEST family time. Connect. Engage.
3. Leave the Agenda Behind
This one will get some eye-rolls. Just hear me out. This mandatory shutdown of schools, businesses and places we are used to having in our day might feel like a death sentence for our sanity. We are so used to having a strict time schedule and resources in order to make everything work. Our routines are probably shattered. Instead of hustling into this new day, sit with your people (or yourself!) and take a minute to connect with what you WANT, not what you feel like you need to do. Do you want to read that book you got for Christmas? Take a bath? Make your favorite cookies? Ready the garden for spring? What if you could take a portion of each day and engage in things that delight you and your family? Make connection and discovery your agenda. This time of isolation and social distancing will pass and the opportunity for slowness might as well. Follow your delights while you can! Connect. Engage.
Many times the normal hustle of the daily grind contributes to our feelings of, "Get out of the way, it's faster/better if I do it myself." Then we are frustrated and overwhelmed because, "Nobody ever helps around here!" I get you. It's legit. But it's also a breakable cycle. This could be a great time to reset expectations and feelings about the demands of life. Get creative. Make it a game or a challenge if you need to. Take the time to work beside one another. Teach everyone how a job well done is such a blessing to those you love and care for. Kids (or partners!) don't always know how to interpret instructions, but watching you do the task WITH them and hearing your reasons why can leave a lasting impact. We are not meant to shoulder the household or work responsibilities all by ourselves. We are meant to live in community with one another. Cultivate a helpful community in this strange time. Connect. Engage.
5. Get Grounded. Find Your Anchor.
Find the things that ground you. It's not a woo-woo term. It's not new age-y. Finding the activities, moments, tasks and people that bring you back to center is a truly healing practice, especially in chaos. In our transient lifestyle we have found that comfort is grounding. What brings you comfort? Is it a movie night? A special blanket? A walk in the sun? Yoga? It might be as simple as checking tasks off of a list. A sense of accomplishment can gives us a sense of control when life is askew. Yes. You can write a task on a list just to cross it off. Still works. It's science. Deep breathing is always good and if sharing helps you, call or message someone who will listen. You could take up a journal and write the words if they are too hard to say right now. Connect. Engage.
Y'all. This world is frantic right now. It is a heady, overwhelming experience. It can literally set our bodies spinning. Raise your hand if you've been dizzy this week. (Raises both hands.) The things that make sense don't work and the crazy sounding ideas are being sold as the best game plan. Up is down and down is sideways and good luck keeping friends if you sneeze in public. Nobody knows what the heck is truth and every ounce of news is being disrespectful to our collective blood pressure. Connect. Engage. We are going to be over here, finding our feet and learning to adapt as quickly as possible to each disturbance that assaults our delicate life plans. Give yourself room to practice some of our ideas. They come from the heart. We hope they serve you. We love you guys and are looking forward to feeling better about everything very soon.
Be wise and kind,
Alex and Amanda Jo and girls