Keep Going

This week has been intense and overwhelming for pretty much every person on the planet. The collective grief of this whole situation is impossible to fully grasp. Reading the HBR article about naming our grief has helped me more than anything else I’ve read or heard.

The quotes below from the article resonated with me in a big way:

There is something powerful about naming this as grief. It helps us feel what’s inside of us. So many have told me in the past week, “I’m telling my coworkers I’m having a hard time,” or “I cried last night.” When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion. It’s important we acknowledge what we go through. One unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement is we’re the first generation to have feelings about our feelings. We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not victims.

Instead of pushing our feelings down, it’s important to feel them so that we can move on. Since reading that, I’ve really let myself cry when I need to cry, and then I pull it together and take care of whatever I need to take care of. Instead of pushing it down and trying to “stay strong,” feeling that feeling in the moment allows me to feel lighter for the rest of the day.

Another quote that shifted my mindset was this:

This is a temporary state. It helps to say it. The precautions we’re taking are the right ones. History tells us that. This is survivable. We will survive. This is a time to overprotect but not overreact.

No matter what, we’re stuck at home for the near future. The open-endedness of that is really overwhelming, but over the last few days I’ve decided to turn around the attitude in our house because we don’t have a choice. When I start to panic about how long this is going to last, I remind myself that this is a temporary state. Although I don’t know the end date, I know there is an end date.

You can also think about how to let go of what you can’t control. What your neighbor is doing is out of your control. What is in your control is staying six feet away from them and washing your hands. Focus on that.

We have to be quarantined right now. The only thing we can control is how we act and how we feel while we’re home. I can’t control anything going on in the world out there right now. But I can control what happens between these four walls… to a certain extent, anyway.

We can choose to make the most of a shitty situation, or we can choose to wallow in it. To resist it. I’m choosing the former. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days when I feel like garbage. Heck, I cry most days. But it’s what I do in between the tears that matters. What I do in between the tears is what will make my family feel secure and happy.

It’s easy to push back against this new normal and resist it in every way possible, but accepting it and focusing on making it the best possible scenario for yourself and anyone else you’re quarantined with is where the power lies.

My focus is on making our new normal a happy place.

What has really helped us this week is creating new daily traditions and schedules. Anel sees virtual clients every morning while I hang out with Amalia. We come together to eat lunch and then he takes over while I work at my computer in the afternoons. At 5:00 pm, I stop working and we all play soccer (or basketball, as Amalia calls it) in the driveway before dinner. Bootsie runs around as we kick the ball between us. Amalia loves it and is actually getting pretty good! It’s quickly become our favorite part of the day, and we all come back inside feeling refreshed and giddy.

Here are a few more of the daily traditions we’ve adapted:

– Every morning after breakfast, we get dressed and “go to school” in the living room. Amalia (the “mommy”) puts on her backpack, packs a pretend lunch and brings me (her kid) to school to see my friends.

– After pretend school, we do little lessons in letters and colors and shapes. If she doesn’t feel like doing it, I don’t push it, but she usually loves it.

– After lunch, she gets to watch an hour of TV. If she doesn’t listen or misbehaves in the morning, we cut that out. While we were all sick, she was glued to a screen and has since turned into a monster obsessing over it so we knew we had to nip that in the bud. We’re not super strict on the screen time right now because we have to get work done, but we try to keep it to about an hour give or take. Some days it’s a lot more though, and that’s ok.

– We cook dinner together as a family! Before all this, we never did that because things were always rushed, but now it feels like a great way to kill time and Amalia gets to see where her meals come from. She loves cooking and Anel has gotten really into it too.

– Before bed, Amalia and Anel play a game called “smooch town” where he tickles her with kisses and she laughs hysterically. I usually clean up the kitchen while they get this sweet bonding moment.

– After Amalia goes to bed, Anel and I have a glass of wine or cup of tea and connect about work, how we’re feeling, and what we can do to stay positive. These chats are lifesavers. Even though we’re all together in the same house all day, we’re not really connecting so this is a really important part of our day.

– I try to schedule Zoom calls with groups of friends or Facetime with one friend every two nights. I need and crave that social interaction and it helps to talk to the people I love and laugh with them.

These traditions are keeping us going. Keeping us on track to some extent. And as we stay home for longer and longer, they’ll evolve and change into what we need them to change into. But the most important thing we can do is accept that this is our life for now… and make the best of it.

I want to send you into the weekend with love and light from my family to yours. Stay safe. Stay home. Feel what you need to feel. And try to have some fun.

Subscribe to my newsletter here to get recipes and ideas for activities with your kiddos for this weekend. I’ll be sending it out this afternoon.

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  1. Lillie said:

    Great perspective! Has Amalia given up napping? Yikes!

    3.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Oh months ago! It’s probably been 6 months. Naps would be a godsend right now!

      3.27.20 · Reply
  2. Dana said:

    I totally agree! I think this is the healthiest way to deal with things RN. As a fellow anxiety sufferer, it stresses me out that one of the important symptoms of the Coronavirus is shortness of breath, since I experience that when feeling anxious. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if necessary. Anyone else with me on this? Today, for example, me and my husband were supposed to go to the supermarket (we hadn’t been in 2 weeks) and I couldn’t sleep last night thinking that I would have to get into contact with potentially sick people. Also, the fact that the virus survives for several hours/day on surfaces makes things ten times harder logistically.
    Anyways, this is just me talking about my feelings rather than supressing them. Thank you for being here and trying to encourage everyone! Sending good vibes back to you!

    3.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I know what you mean about the shortness of breath! I promise you, you would be able to tell the difference though. Because you would also feel sick and have a cough most likely.

      Would you ever send your husband to the store alone to help alleviate anxiety? Another helpful thing is virtual therapy sessions!

      I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. Sending you so much love and light.

      3.29.20 · Reply
  3. Jenn Lake said:

    Sending you guys lots of love!

    3.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Back to you, friend!

      3.29.20 · Reply
  4. Sarah said:

    Love your new little traditions such a great way to keep things structured during an unstructured time.

    Sending you guys a bunch of love!

    3.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks Sarah! Sending you love back xx

      3.29.20 · Reply
  5. I saw this article too and it really resonated with me…. so many highs and lows this week.. what a roller coaster…stay strong <3

    3.27.20 · Reply
    • I’m sorry.. I didn’t mean to write stay strong..esp. after rereading your post. You don’t have to stay strong. Let it all out whenever you want..sending lots of love <3

      3.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Major roller coaster. In it together xx

      3.29.20 · Reply
  6. Coco said:

    Thank you for this post. So helpful and love knowing I’m not alone in the amount of TV time right now.

    3.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      You are definitely not alone. But so far Amalia’s head hasn’t exploded so I think we’re all ok in the screen time situation 🙂

      3.29.20 · Reply
  7. Christine said:

    Just wanted to say thank you for being honest and offering help, compassion, and a little bit of your life during these times <3 You are doing amazing and the best you can right now. I am glad you all are feeling better too! I appreciate you sharing your experience and what you did to survive while sick. I also deal with anxiety, and your stories have helped a lot. I don't have a toddler anymore, but a 15-year old teen. Kind of the same thing, right?! He just throws different kind of tantrums :). I am usually an organized person, but this whole situation kind of threw that out the window. Your traditions here are wonderful, and I am going to implement them. Routine really does help calm the mind and spirit. Sending a hug, and lots of good energy and wishes to you all!

    3.28.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you so much for saying that, Christine. It means so much to me. Sending you so much good energy too!

      3.29.20 · Reply
  8. Reading this brought me back to reality.
    Fear is the enemy right now. There is so much uncertainity, but one thing is certain… this too shall pass.
    We keep holding on ❤️

    4.11.20 · Reply