I’ve been working from home the past four months or so. I’ve really enjoyed working from home. For the first time, I have an office with a window. It has been lovely watching the birds and people walk by with their dogs. I’m in a lot of meetings – far too many fucking meetings – and it has been great to turn the mic off while letting out frustration. Sometimes, I’ll just take the headphones off and do some laps in the house to cool down. Work has been insanely stressful. I think most who work in a manufacturing environment are feeling the heat. I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t been furloughed or received reduction in salary while most I know in mfg have taken some sort of hit, including layoffs. My department is completely dilapidated, so I pray there will be no changes to our work force. I’ve been working crazy, long hours. Working from home has helped, because I haven’t lost time with the commute or the craziness of putting on a bra or anything. It all does need to come to an end, though, as I do report to the office again on Mon.
Living through a pandemic certainly helps to put a lot of things into perspective. I haven’t enjoyed what I do for a long time. The current climate of where I’m working, is just not healthy. Not long ago, a former coworker of mine, opened her email and just thought – I can’t do this anymore and quit right there. The job was taking too much of a toll on her health. I was happy to hear she did this, as I knew what she was feeling and had been worried about her. There are days, that I too, feel like the job is not worth it. I’ve been saving money to give myself options. The thought of walking away from the most money I’ve ever made is scary, but what’s even scarier to me these days, is living through this intense stress every day. Even though, I realize I can’t live like this, I am being cautious – the job market is terrible now. Brian and I lived through having to completely rebuild from the ground up after the crash of 2008-10. The company Brian worked for and thought he’d retire from was essentially gone in the blink of any eye. There’s much to consider but I do know what’s most important in life – and it’s not the size of the paycheck.
The COVID crisis really did do a number on me for a couple of months. My anxiety level was through the roof. I ate and drank (meaning wine) everything in sight. All the changes I’d made to my diet were suddenly out the window. I work about eight feet from our pantry, which is also right next to the fridge. I’d get stressed and walk over and grab a couple cookies, repeat an hour later, and so on. I was grocery shopping without thought, buying Hostess products and all sorts of shit that should never enter the house. I cooked up a storm, without regard for health, using butter nearly daily. Our whole house was really hunkered down. Brian and I would only go shopping every few weeks (and buy enough for two months with every trip) as to limit exposure to the outside world. I’m not sure how I would have reacted, had Caleb not been so sick a month or two before the world went crazy. He scared me to death. He couldn’t shake the fever and was so weak. He would get these terrible bloody noses and I was cleaning blood off his bedroom wall and the bathroom. When he was younger, he had a terrible immune system. Seeing him this sick, worries me that he still may not have a great immune system, so the thought of bringing COVID home to him – scared/s the shit out of me. Who the hell knows, though, maybe he had it then. I’d been sick with what I thought were terrible allergies for six weeks or more, with terrible fatigue and lost sense of taste and smell for quite a while, even after getting better. I thought maybe it was an allergic reaction to CBD oil, so I quit taking that, but it didn’t make a difference in how I was feeling. But we are just like many, who think maybe we had it but probably didn’t. I just know, I don’t want to see my kids get that sick or for them to see their parents (who both have high blood pressure) go through it.
Thankfully, the awful anxiety about COVID did wear off and I began to leave the house. At one point, I remember I had not been in my car in nearly a month. I went for a drive and it was like the weight was lifted from my shoulders. I also started seeing my therapist again. Simply being in a room with someone outside my house was a big step. I did wear a mask for a while but have not for the last couple of visits. Presently, I’m the only patient she sees in person, which helps to put my mind at ease. I know some reading this will think I’m crazy – but we are all different and hope that you pause before casting judgment or thinking of it in a political sense. This is my truth. I have not handled it well, but I am getting much, much better.
Once, I was able to stop and breathe, I really focused on the things I thought would bring me peace and happiness. I bought my first hummingbird feeder and that is probably the best $20 I’ve ever spent. I started listening to new music again. Through this, I have been lucky to have lots of Zoom happy hours with different friends. There are three of us who have spoken nearly every Friday night since this started, including for over three hours last night. These friendships have been so good for the soul. More than anything, we laugh, but there are the occasional tears. We can talk through anything. I learned about “Flawless” from them, and it is my second favorite $20 ever spent. It’s a facial hair remover and it’s a lifesaver. I also got one for the eyebrows as couldn’t wax for so long.
Through this time, I have tried to do things that just made my soul feel good. I’ve always tried to be someone who did those types of things but COVID has made me a more generous person. My friends have also been generous in so many ways. I’ll randomly get gifts in the mail from people who are thinking of me, and I’m always beyond grateful. A few people have given us masks, including a work contact from China who was upset we didn’t have any at the beginning of things (when we were told didn’t need masks). This kid sent us two packages of masks from China. Another friend ordered me one that she thought was fitting (Ninja warrior 😊, while a close friend’s mom made our family masks. This will always stay with me. Her husband is battling terminal brain cancer, and she took the time and effort into wanting to know were taken care of. Just thinking of her act of kindness, makes me tear up.
In thinking of what makes me feel good, I also started following through with things I should have always been doing. For the past few months, I have made sure to do all of my neck exercises every single morning and night. I have always been notoriously lazy when it came to brushing my teeth at night. I would go in stretches of being better about it but now I haven’t missed a night in months. I’ve also made it a point to make my bed every day. It is so simple but makes me feel good – should’ve been doing this all along. Anyway, the COVID situation had made me put a lot of thought into the things/people that make me happy.
Brian and I celebrated 28 years together and 25 years of marriage last month. Celebrating during a pandemic looked a lot different than it normally would, but we had a nice night. We took a drive and got takeout from our favorite restaurant and ate it on the river. I am really proud of our marriage. As anyone who is married knows, marriage is not easy. Sometimes it feels like the easiest thing on earth while other stretches, it feels like it’s not simply not feasible. We have been through a lot but I’m lucky to be married to someone who loves me the way he does. We have doing quite well, which is quite an accomplishment for two people who have been around each other pretty much 24/7 for several months.
Our youngest got his drivers license this week, which freaks me out to no end. I am so proud of him. COVID had been especially hard on him as he did not see any of his friends for months. He has recently started relaxing more and will hang out with friends outdoors. He is doing well as is Ryne. Ryne is super social and had been home for a couple of months before we let him have a couple friends over (outside) to socially distance while celebrating his 19th birthday. We knew this would open the floodgates and it did. He now spends nearly every day with friends (he has a tight group of five or so). They are cautious and I’m proud of how well he handles all of this.
I have really been into hiking again, which has felt so good. The parks were all closed for a couple months, but once they opened, it was great to get back out there. It was also the beginning of seeing friends. I have hiked with some friends and have also had some drinks and meals with friends on our deck or on theirs. Being around people has been huge for my mental health. I’m not nearly as social as I once was, but I do truly treasure spending time with my friends – these days. I did bite it a few weeks ago when hiking. I felt a giant sneeze coming on and was freaked out about it getting on my friend, who was walking behind me, and of course was clenching trying not to piss my pants. Amid sneezing into my elbow, I caught a root with my foot and next thing I knew was on the ground. Lots of parts of my body were sore but my knee felt it the worst. I was limping and think that is what ended up throwing my back out. I haven’t hiked since as have been heeling but I did start walking couple miles this week and plan to try small hiking tomorrow and hope the back/knee hold up.
I’m not much of a t.v. binge watcher, but the COVID days have allowed me to watch Dead to Me, Upload, and the movie Wine Country. All of which I give super big thumbs up. I felt so hip with the binge watching.
I know people who have gotten terribly ill with COVID and have a friend and a relative who have each lost someone (both in their late twenties) to the virus. The virus not only affects those who are sick and their loved ones, it touches anyone who is going through any other medical issues. There is no more of a helpless feeling than to have a love one in the hospital and you’re not able to travel or go to the hospital (as no visitors are allowed) or to even be there for your other loved ones as you can’t be near them after travel. Picturing those in the hospital – alone and scared is gut wrenching. We are not the only ones that have gone through this. So many close to me have experiences losses or have had family that had babies and cannot be there. It’s a cruel time all over the world. I pray every morning and night for the end to this damn thing.
I’ve talked about a lot of things, including the terrible anxiety I had in the beginning of all of this. I’m really happy to say, that I’m in a great place now. I’ve gotten my eating habits back in the healthy zone and have taken off some of the fifteen pounds I gained between Costa Rica and the virus months. I really do have a peace about me and am so glad to see the family doing well, also.
I hope this entry has found you well. I know we all are dealing with this in our own ways, some are not at all changed by the threat of the virus while some I know still won’t leave the house. Whatever side of the spectrum you fall on, I wish the best for you. Please take good care of your mental and physical health. Also, I hope this time, has also given us a lot of pause for thought on what is most important in this life.
-Oh, you must know this song.