Week 3 – Working From Home

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Dear Friend,

I have mixed feelings about working from home.

On one hand, I am whole-heartedly grateful to have a job that can be done from home. Being able to work, maintain the majority of my income, and pay the bills in the midst of this pandemic is a blessing. To be able to do this from home, without the risks associated with being an essential worker? That is even more of a blessing and one that I don’t want to dismiss or take lightly. I am also grateful for the small gift of simply having something to do, something to try and structure my days around.

On the other hand, working from home is hard for me on the best of days, nevermind when I feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and anxious. I am a lover of routine, a celebrator of controlled work-spaces, and an enthusiastic separator of work time/space from personal time/space. This week has been a struggle with all of these things. My routine is a non-existent mess, my work-space is the opposite of controlled, and separation between work and personal time and space? Forget it.

I saw this tweet earlier in the week and it has been a soothing reminder as I struggle to focus, realize that I missed yet another email, hunt for where I wrote down that note in the stack of notes I’ve accumulated, etc. A reminder that I am human, this is difficult, and it’s ok for me to feel frustrated sometimes.

I took yesterday off from work in need of rest, peace, and space to not spend all of my energy trying to be “productive.”  As each day passes, I am learning more and more just how important it will be for me to listen to myself and ask for what I need in order to survive this period of physical separation from the world.



WEEKLY CHECK-IN
Body
This week I’ve felt… sluggish. I’ve had moments where I realized that I’ve done nothing but scrounge my way through snacks all afternoon, and others where I realized that I hadn’t eaten all day. I can feel that I haven’t moved as much as normal over the last few weeks and there is a very real sense of inertia and a struggle to even want to move after being in one place for so long. I am hoping that I can convince myself to get up and moving in the coming week.

Mind
This week my mind has been all over the place. I’ve had days where I felt that I was able to do what was needed work-wise, and others where I felt that I couldn’t focus on anything. Moments where I was able to stop and sit with some of the thoughts that have been ruminating in my brain since this period of staying home began, and moments where my brain was moving so quickly that I couldn’t keep up. This swing back and forth between relative calm and inexplicable anxiety has been constant, and I assume that it will continue as the days and weeks pass but become less extreme over time.

Spirit
My spirit has felt less peaceful this week. Being separated from CJ has been really hard and it is difficult to come to terms with not knowing when this will end. To go from seeing each other basically every day to only having technology and conversations from across a distance to connect us is emotionally exhausting. Not every day is hard, but some days have left me feeling emotionally beat-up and bruised, wishing for something as simple as being able to hold his hand while we watch the news together every night. Of all the things I miss right now, I miss him the most.

 

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo

Week 2 – Connection

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Dear Friend,

It’s been two weeks since I started working from home, and one week of having a shelter-in-place order.

In some ways, it doesn’t feel that much has changed since the order was put in place. I was already working from home. I was already avoiding leaving my house as much as possible. I was already wiping down surfaces and washing my hands at a much higher frequency than usual. The biggest change has been that the shelter-in-place order marks the beginning of CJ and I quarantining separately. This change is one that I imagine will be increasingly difficult, but so far we’re taking it day by day and it has been weird, but not awful.

Despite this new separation, this week has generally been one of connection. I’ve spent time checking in and catching up with friends and family. Today I had a Zoom call with some of my close friends since high school, a group that has been nicknamed by one of our siblings as “The Brown Haired Girls” and is very rarely gathered together in one place. In fact, our zoom call took place with the four of us in 4 different timezones. And I have another Zoom call scheduled for tomorrow with several other close friends who live back in Harrisonburg.

I’ve also been able to check-in with friends and family who I haven’t talked to in a while. Being separated from everyone who isn’t one of my housemates and equally forced to connect with everyone via phone or computer makes reaching out to people feel less daunting somehow. And, I also know that we’re all in the same boat which makes me feel like I have a conversation topic to fall back on if needed.

One of the highlights of my time being stuck at home, and honestly my life in general, is the adorable updates on social media from my friends of their kiddos. It doesn’t matter what your day is like, videos of a toddler going on a walk or exploring the universe makes everyone smile. The curiosity, joy, and innocence of children is a beautiful thing. Also, I am fully committed to doting on the children of my close friends. This is partly because I don’t have nieces and nephews, but it’s mostly because I want to support my friends well and know that this includes their spouses, children, etc. AND all of this gives me an excuse to celebrate these younglings growth, new skills, and milestones. Seeing their wobbly steps, quiet giggles, and sense of wonder as they experience the world brings me a lot of hope and joy, and I’m super proud to be their “Appa/Aunt Mandi.”

WEEKLY CHECK-IN
Body
This week I’ve stopped having the stress-induced, rumbling, grumbling stomach issues in the evenings, but I’ve started struggling to sleep. I’ve been staying up too late (aka 1-2am) and then trying to get up at a semi-normal time so that I can get some work done. I usually, however, have ended up sleeping in later than I hoped to because I’m exhausted and then don’t feel tired until late at night again. It’s a nasty cycle. Also, I had a day where I forgot to take my meds until later in the morning than usual and then wasn’t tired yet at 2:30am… so that definitely didn’t help.

Mind
Mind-wise… I’m pretty much in the same place as I was last week. I’ve made some improvements to my workspace that have helped, but staying focused and on task is just really hard to do these days. 

Spirit
This week has been alright. I had some hard moments at the beginning of the shelter-in-place order and recognizing that CJ and I had to decide to “quarantine” apart from each other. I know that this was the best option considering all the different factors, but I still wasn’t happy about it. But as I’ve talked about already, this has generally been a week of feeling like I’ve been able to stay connected or reconnect to a number of friends and family. My work also started using new tools that allow us to stay connected to each other and my office “cube buddy” and I got to check in with each other for the first time in what felt like forever. So grateful for technology.

 

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo

Week 1 – Social Distancing

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Dear Friend,

Who would have thought that 2020 would be the year I return to this old familiar outlet for my thoughts. Yet, here I am searching for clarity within the thoughts in my brain and (if you’re reading this) here you are joining in to listen to my meandering ramblings.

It has now been the first full work week of working from home as the world attempts to ease the impact of COVID-19 aka the Coronavirus through the process of “Social Distancing.” It feels a bit too-fitting that I moved to Corona St this last year and am staying home for a pandemic that shares a name with my street.

As each day passes, I become more and more aware of the fact that I will need to find a way to process and reflect on this time of social distancing and the upheaval COVID-19 is bringing to our world and communities. I am also realizing that this is only the beginning of what could be a very extended period of changing my usual routine and patterns and that I am already impacted greatly by it.

So, as I find new normals, new routines, and new habits to keep me sane and healthy, I thought I’d capture the experience in some way through a weekly blog check-in. Right now, I think I’ll have a theme of some sort for each week… but that may morph and change as time goes on. What I do, however, want to commit to is always including a check-in of how I’m doing in Body, Mind, and Spirit. So here goes.

WEEKLY CHECK-IN
Body
This week I’ve been able to feel the stress and anxiety of being in a time of uncertainty in a very physical way. During the day I’ve felt relatively normal but, in the evening, after dinner each night I’ve been experiencing a very loud rumbly grumbly tummy that goes on for well over an hour and causes poor CJ a great deal of concern. Particularly after a bout of food poisoning at the beginning of the week. Last week I struggled to fall asleep some nights and have been grateful to not be experiencing this anymore. However, I’ve found that I am exhausted in the morning, even when I’ve gotten a full night’s sleep. Uncertainty, worry, and change are proving to be exhausting.

Mind
Focus has been elusive this week. I’ve struggled to adjust to working from home and my thoughts have felt very disjointed as I try to make sure I complete an already chaotic job in a new setting and in new ways. Simple questions now require an email or instant message to my team lead or my fellow team members instead of
simply popping my head into their office/cube space. My office cube, set up to limit distractions and interruptions, has been replaced by a make-shift table in the sunroom where anything as simple as the weather seems to change and distract me from minute to minute. My ADHD has always impacted my writing and ability to focus on a particular task more than any other aspect of my life so the increased writing down of things that were previously spoken and the increased distractions as I complete tasks that I had perfected the process of removing distractions from in my office cube has been particularly frustrating and difficult.

Spirit
My spirit, unlike the other two aspects of my life, generally feels at peace this week. I have been able to call and/or FaceTime with family, I’ve been checking in with old friends, and I’ve been able to do things that bring me joy. In the midst of uncertainty about what is to come, how I will be impacted by this novel virus, and the changes it is making in our world, I feel a sense of contentment in knowing that I am only expected to do my best and that I am not alone in this experience. I have joined my neighborhood’s “COVID-19 Support” group on the Next Door app and feel more connected to my neighbors through the simple act of checking in to see if I can support them on a daily basis. I want to put effort into using this time of change, not to be socially distant, but to connect socially as I physically distance myself. It is, I believe, the biggest thing I can do to take care of myself in a time of unknowns.

 

I hope you are all staying safe and healthy.

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo