COVID Chronicles: Chapter 1 of 7 … my thoughts

“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human” – Brene Brown 

Happy Monday friends + welcome to Chapter 1 (aka day 1) of the COVID Chronicles! That’s right friends, you’re getting a new post every day for the next 7 days!

I thought I’d start off this little series with a few of my thoughts and give you a bit of insight into what my life has been like during this crazy time. 

So if that sounds like something you’d be interested in reading, then just keep on scrolling! 

Today marks the start of week 4 of working from home, and let me tell you friends, what an emotional roller coaster it has been. If my mental state were a cake, the recipe would go something like this: 

2 cups ANXIETY

5 cups FRUSTRATION

1 tbsp DESPAIR 

1/4 tsp HOPE

a pinch of INTRIGUE 

a dash of a JOY 

Combine all ingredients in an electric mixer on high and do NOT cover! Allow the contents to fly everywhere! 

Anyone else feeling that way? haha (Thankfully I can laugh about it now, a couple weeks ago, not so much). 

By all accounts, COVID seemed to be well under way by mid-March. The world was reacting, which is more than I can say for the company that I work for, where it was business as usual. I work for a company that charters private jets, so when the world was essentially shutting down, we were still getting requests for VACATIONS (yes you read that right). I was  très confused! I had NO idea that the virus skipped over people with fat wallets… or did I hear Trump say that?! I tell ya, in those first couple of weeks, I’ve seen the best of humanity, and I’ve seen the worst. I’ve seen people try to profit from the panic and desperation of others and to say that I don’t like it would be an understatement. People show their true colors in times like these, and I think once all of this is said & done, there’ll be a lot of people questioning whether the company that they currently work for is the right one for them…myself included. 

It was surreal to watch the news and see that state by state, the US was nearing a full on lock down. There was talk of border closures and they were preparing to declare a National State of Emergency. Yet, in my little corner of the world in a small town in Ontario, Canada, each day, I was getting up, getting dressed and going to work as if nothing was wrong. The streets I travel on to get to work were…empty. Yet at work, I kept hearing “everything’s fine”, “THEY” (as in, every other person on the planet) are overreacting. 

In the week + a half that followed, we were busy doing lots of “rescue” missions for Canadians desperate to return home to “safety”. Now, with the pandemic in full force, I didn’t like the idea of our pilots travelling all over the world, coming in contact with people who clearly couldn’t give a flying fiddle about anyone else’s health or well-being. We also work in a facility that welcomes pilots and planes from all over the world. So in my mind, there was a higher probability that someone could have been exposed to it on their travels + would bring it into the building. Which would also mean that we were likely to bring it home with us. 

While I was still working at the office, it was confusing. You couldn’t turn on the TV or be on your phone without being bombarded with the doom and gloom of it all. Yet, you were still expected to go about your business as if everything was fine. That plays with your mind my friends, and unfortunately I wasn’t the only one feeling it at work. We struggled to get our bosses to understand the severity of it, to get them to understand that if we contracted it, it wasn’t just US (who are young + healthy) that it would affect. Finally, after a whole lotta frustration + tears, we convinced the one level-headed manager in our department we would be more than capable of doing our jobs from home. I will admit, the thought of working from home was appealing. I mean, talk about one hell of a commute! I could set up my own little home office, wear my yoga pants, send out quotes,  answer the phone, and drink ALL of the coffee. 

The novelty of that lasted…maybe 2 days and then the panic set in. The only way I can describe it is to say that I felt, trapped. And that’s when the alarm bells inside me really started going off. Once our boss told us we could work from home, we made sure to stay connected with our twice daily WhatsApp video calls. For the first 2 weeks, I think it’s safe to say I wore all of my emotions quite clearly on my face. For my 11am calls, I was visibly…out of sorts. More often than not, the tears would roll down my cheeks without being prompted.  I felt like I had lost all control and the frustration was beginning to erupt. It didn’t help that I was eating like crap and had just completed stopped working out. 

It wasn’t just my mental health that took a hit. As someone who’s active on social media, it’s like I had fallen off the face of the earth. I disappeared for days at a time, leaving my beauty loving followers with no new content. My passion for all things makeup had vanished. Why post about a lipstick when the world is in complete shambles?! Not to mention, that Instagram has always been such a perfect little distraction from the stresses of everyday life. But once I noticed that my content now consisted mainly of people in hospital beds, people wearing masks, people begging for prayers because their loved ones were sick…it became too much. I must say, I am so lucky to have some of THE most amazing followers. After being MIA for a few days, several of them reached out to check in on me. They understood my frustrations and encouraged me to take my time coming back. Mental health is way more important than any makeup post ever will be.

With so much free time (thanks to my little hiatus from Instagram), what have I been doing you ask? While some people are busy building squat racks in their backyard and others have taken up a new hobby, I’ve been doing A LOT of … online shopping (well eating AND online shopping). But seriously, I’m online shopping like it’s an Olympic sport. For those few minutes that I’m scrolling through the virtual aisles of Sephora, ULTA, + ALDO, everything seems “normal”. My mind isn’t thinking about the craziness happening outside my 4 walls.  On the plus side, once this is all over, I’ll have everything I could possibly ever want (or need for that matter) so I won’t need to do anymore shopping haha.  

Considering all the shopping I’ve been doing, I’ve actually only left the house, maybe twice.  Early on in this craziness, my best friend met me with a coffee and we just walked (at a socially responsible distance of course). The next time I left the house was this past Saturday as I had to go into the office to complete a task I wasn’t able to do from home. With the car windows down +  the music turned up, I felt like I had just escaped from prison, FREEDOM at last. Once I was done there, I thought I’d zip to the only Starbucks drive thru I live close to. I could practically taste my long lost Americano, until I turned the corner and noticed about 20 cars in line. Yeah that’s right…TWENTY CARS! I laughed (literally out loud) as I quickly made my way back out of the parking lot. Clearly the coffee gods were not on my side, so I decided to just go straight to my next stop…sans coffee. 

As I drove through the little town that I call home, I could feel the anxiety building. With the music up, I slowly felt myself becoming more and more…nauseous. For a second it felt like any other day. Cars were on the road, the birds were chirping, there were tons of people walking down the sidewalks…and then I noticed the lines.  The lines of people, standing 6ft apart, waiting to get into grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at what I was seeing. Had I made a wrong turn and ended up in Gilead (from The Handmaids Tale)?! 

I’ll tell ya, for a couple minutes I thought that perhaps I didn’t need a Shoppers THAT badly, because this was too much. After parking & giving myself a little pep talk, into the spaced out line of 15 people I went. The woman in front of me, had on her mask and gloves, the couple in front of her, the same. It was 7 degrees Celsius and after not having set foot outside in days, I was happy to be outside (even if I wasn’t dressed for it). After waiting outside for about 20 minutes, I was invited to stand on the blue line that was taped down between the 2 sets of automatic doors. My anxiety was clearly causing me to sway because the doors kept opening haha. After a few minutes, I was able to actually enter the store, where I was given a squirt of some hand sanitizer. About 5 or so minutes of small talk with the Shoppers employee (who was saying how rude some customers have been – honestly, what is wrong with people?!) I was allowed to have free reign of the store. 

I made my way through the aisles, keeping my eyes to the floor because this just felt too weird, and I almost felt ashamed for not wearing all the protective gear that everyone else was wearing. I could not get out of there fast enough. Back at the car, with the music turned up, I couldn’t help but just sit and stare, with my hands on the wheel. What is usually such a routine task became something much, much more. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that trip to Shoppers. 

I’ll be honest, I’ve beat myself up for not handling this the “right” way. For not just going with the flow. But tell me friends, is there a “right” way to handle something like this, something that we’ve never experienced before?

In the last few days, as I find that I’m finally adjusting to life during COVID-19 and getting back(ish) into the swing of things, I’ve made a point to be more active on social media and boy, am I ever glad I did! As I was scrolling through some Insta stories, I came across something that a friend had posted. I skimmed through it and then swiped for the next story. It’s like my brain had finally caught up to what I had read, so I immediately swiped back. With my thumb held on the screen, I read that post one, two, ten times. I took a screen shot of it and sent it to anyone and everyone. This.was.a.gamechanger. 

It was at that moment that the light bulb turned on and I realized that for the last 4 weeks, I had been looking at this whole situation in the wrong way. Perhaps it wasn’t the universe punishing us, but instead giving us the opportunity to slow the EFF down + breathe. I also think that I needed to go through ALL of the emotions before I could appreciate a post like this. 

Living through COVID is a day by day kind of a process. Like you, I have my off days. Some days I’m able to put on my positive pants and find the silver lining in this whole crazy situation. Others are a struggle and Negative Nancy comes out to play. Luckily those days are now few and far between, but I still have moments, like all of you do that … suck.

At the end of the day, I have to remember that my family is healthy, I’m still employed, I have THE most amazing friends (who have made little surprise Starbucks and chocolate drop offs), things are good. I’ve also realized that I miss human contact more than I thought I would. As someone who finds herself generally frustrated by people in general, I miss being around them, even if it’s only to be able to complain about them later haha. 

I do NOT claim to have all the answers (or any for that matter), HOWEVER there are a few things that have helped me when I’ve been feeling down that I want to share with you. Some of them I’ve tried and others are ones I’ve heard others try. So, to prove to you that this isn’t just one long diary entry, I thought I’d share them with you in the hopes that they can make this time a little more pleasant (or tolerable). Maybe they’re silly, maybe they’ll make you laugh or roll your eyes, I hope that just means that I’m keeping you entertained. 

So, let’s get into it! 

*Get Some Fresh Air 

It doesn’t have to be for a long time. You don’t need to get to 10,000 steps. Just move. 

*Netflix + chill (literally CHILL) 

Tiger King, Glow Up, and Nailed it! season 4. I literally binged them all within the first week of working from home. My only advice, pace yourself. Because once you’ve watched every show there is to watch, THEN what are you going to do? Slow and steady wins the Netflix race my friends!

*FACETIME IS YOUR FRIEND! 

This one took a little bit of time to get ready for. After a week of being an emotional wreck on my work WhatsAPP video calls (my gosh, those coworkers of mine are troopers for being as patient as they have been with me), I was ready to FaceTime. My bestie + I are used to getting together at least once a week for Starbucks dates, strolls around the Mall, we had even been trying out new restaurants every Friday night. Clearly things have changed and not seeing her on a regular basis has been so tough. So when she suggested we try and cheer each other up on FaceTime, I was there, phone in hand! 

*Put.down.the.chips. 

That one’s really just for me. I’ve lost track of the amount of food I’ve shoved in my face since this started. That being said, does it make me happy, you bet it does. Okay, I’m on the fence about this one haha maybe keep eating! Once this is all over, we’ll all be working our butts off at the gym again (ugh I actually can’t wait). 

*Try & Get Back into Your Pre-Pandemic Routine

Okay, this one is WAY easier said than done since I’ve become SO out of touch with my routine it’s not even funny. That being said, it’s on my mind and I’m determined to find a way to get back into it! I’ve been missing my early morning workouts and I find that when the alarm goes off, I hit the “snooze” without even thinking about it. That being said, pre-COVID, I was going to bed super early so that I could wake up earlier. Perhaps now’s the time to try and be in bed before midnight! 

*Waste Time on TIK TOK 

What are some things I’ll remember about COVID-19 you ask? Tiger King, #wfh (working from home) AND TIK TOK. It’s THE perfect distraction and there’s no way you won’t exit the app 100 times happier than when you first clicked on it. 

*TURN OFF THE NEWS 

It’s 24/7 doom and gloom and let’s be real, that’s not helping anyone! So turn off the news, plain and simple! I’m not saying don’t keep yourself informed with what’s going on, but I definitely think it’s important to limit the amount of time that you’re spending watching it! 

*Start a Gratitude Journal!

That book on your bedside table isn’t gonna write itself Ashley! I’ve been gifted MANY a gratitude journal in my day. I’ve written a few pages worth of things I’m grateful for in the time that I’ve had these books, but then I got negative and stopped. Now’s THE perfect to get back into it. You don’t need a special book, make a note in your phone or write it down on a scrap of paper.  

So, today I’m grateful for….

1) sunshine

2) coffee 

3) still being employed 

4) the fact that I’m fortunate enough to be able to order a thing or two (or 20) online 

5) the song “Keeping Me Alive” by Jonathan Roy – it’s amazing, listen to it! (click here to listen)

I’ll be honest, some days all I can come up with is “being alive”, but you know what?! That’s okay. Just get in the habit of recognizing what you’re grateful for. It really does help set the tone for the day (if you’re doing it first thing in the AM of course). 

*Get Ready

I’ll admit, for the first few days of working from home, I was a disaster (although I think I’ve made that pretty obvious by now). Once ALL of the feelings passed, it was nice to put on makeup and wear something other than Lululemons. It also might be good to start wearing ACTUAL pants every now and then…you know, to make sure they fit haha

*Indulge in ALL of the #selfcare. 

I’m talking light a candle, put on a sheet mask, have a bath, spend some time coloring in your adult coloring book! Heck, why not do all of them at the same time! Take care of your mental, physical and emotional well-being.  

*Journal 

Write your thoughts down, no matter how ridiculous you might think they are. I promise you it helps!  While it’s not something that I do everyday, I do find that when I’m feeling especially kerfuffle’d, it’s kind of therapeutic to write down exactly how I’m feeling. I’ve been known to order a brightly coloured Moleskin a time or two in my day. I find when the notebook is something bright and cheery, you’re almost excited to use it! 

*Single?! No problem! 

Now, my friend, is the the time to get on a site! 

1) You’ll have no problem finding people to talk to, since everyone’s at home 

2) It adds a little bit of excitement and serves as the perfect distraction 

3) Set up a little FaceTime date! It’s the perfect, and least intimidating way to get to know someone (and all in the comfort of your own home). You can even wear your pajama bottoms and no one will ever know!  

*Girl, Put Your Records On 

If you haven’t listened to that song by Corrine Bailey Rae, I mean, you probably should because it’s lovely. But my point is, put on some music and tune out the world! Music always makes me feel better.  I’ve been listening to a bit of everything lately. 

What are some of the songs I’ve been listening to on repeat you ask? 

*Make The Insta Famous Coffee (AKA Dalgona Coffee) 

Just do it. But not today, wait until tomorrow because I MIGHT be showing you how to do it then (and by might I mean I am, so stay tuned!) 

*Take this time to get back into a hobby 

What’s one thing you loved doing but got busy and stopped? I played piano for years growing up and because my Brother and I were forced to play, we didn’t enjoy it. Now that I haven’t played for years, I’m kind of itching to try it again. And so, by the time this whole thing is over, I WILL know how to play “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I on the piano! 

*Clean Your Space

Again, this is the reminder that I need to stop acting like someone fresh out of an episode of Hoarders haha. Okay, my space isn’t THAT bad, but I mean how many books next to your bed is too many? And is that empty sugar free Red Bull can acting as a book end or a decorative piece? I think a little bit of tidying up might be best for all of us! 

*Plan a Trip 

So this past weekend, my bestie + I were supposed to be walking the streets of NYC. We were so disappointed at having to postpone this little 4 day getaway, but we really had no choice. So friends, if you like to travel, then use this time to plan a trip! Pick a destination, look up hotels, find out where you want to eat, what there is to see + do. Now, there are two ways this vacay can play out. You can actually plan this trip for some unknown date in the future. With all this spare time, you can cross every “T” and dot every “I” and plan THE best trip ever. OR…you can take THE best, and cheapest trip right now…virtually! That’s right friends, to help us get over our sadness about not being able to play out all of our Gossip Girl NYC dreams, my bestie + I FaceTimed and took a tour courtesy of Google Street View. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of fun and in a teeny tiny way, we still got to experience the city together. 

*STEP AWAY FROM THE ONLINE SHOPPING CART…yes YOU! 

Speaking from experience, no amount of online shopping is going to fix this situation. No, that lip gloss is NOT going to be the one that makes you happy. Sitting in front of the computer, browsing Sephora’s “NEW” section does seem normal, and I get that it’s the perfect little distraction. But you know who’s hurting during all of this? Your bank account. I’m all for treating yourself, and maybe I’m wrong in saying that I think you actually deserve it. But at some point it just becomes a tad ridiculous, and we need to find a new way to pass the time. P.S. hauls 1 – 20 coming atcha soon haha  

*Virtual HAPPY HOUR

Okay, so I’m not a big drinker on the best of days. And I’m definitely not suggesting that you drink yourself silly every night (although if you do, then YOLO). My besties and I had a little virtual cocktail night a couple weeks ago and it was lovely. We gossiped, we laughed, and we drank. It was THE perfect little distraction. Oh, and you can thank me for this one later.  Makemeacocktail.com  allows you to select all of the ingredients that you have at home and it generates actual cocktail recipes that you can make…GENIUS RIGHT?! 

*Lists, lists, lists 

Make a list of the things you can’t wait to do once all of this is over! I am SO looking forward to sitting in a coffee shop, going back to Orange Theory, going to a mall, and going out for dinner! Writing them down does kind of get you excited and helps you visualize what you want once all of this is over. 

*Get To Know Yourself 

This one might be a little deep, but why not! Do you know who you are at your very core? What makes you tick? I genuinely believe that the majority of people don’t actually know who they are, what they want out of life, what their purpose is. Might as well take this time to ponder it! And who knows, maybe once this is over you’ll have a better understanding of…YOURSELF!  Definitely wouldn’t be the worst thing ever! 

And there you have it friends! If you’ve made it to the end of this VERY long post (or TED TALK, you decide)…thank you 🙂 I genuinely appreciate it and you! 

I hope each and every one of you has had an amazing day! And if you’re feeling up to it, maybe try one thing from that long list of suggestions to make your day just a little bit brighter.

Don’t worry, tomorrow’s post will be a lot more fun (and will be MUCH shorter) than this one!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by & I’ll see you tomorrow for another post!

Stay safe, 

    xo 

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