The Side Effects of the Pandemic, not the Virus. Hitting the Breaking Point.
The world is facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Nations and states are scrambling to contain the spread. Approximately 1/3rd of the 7.8 billion people on the planet are under quarantine. “Non-Essential” business in my home state of Pennsylvania have bee shutdown. Two days ago, the Governor extended the shut down indefinitely. 33 of 67 counties are under a stay at home order. The Stock market plummeted 35%. It is not a pretty picture.
The world has changed overnight from an invisible invader with no known cure. This is how I have been affected, chosen to respond and the changes I am making.
The Direct Effects: My Family & Home
Schools and Colleges shut down. My son, Christian, came back from Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology as it shut done for two week. About a week into that initial closure, the college announced students could not return. He will be completing his first year online. His early return and the global travel restrictions meant I needed to cancel some trips and potential work aboard plans.
The panic buying started. Watching what people placed importance on was interesting. Milk, Toilet Paper and Cleaning Supplies. Shopping during that time provided some insight to how unprepared most people are and that food preparation is a lost art. Most of the unhealthy prepared, packaged and frozen foods were sold out, but vegetables, basic supplies/ingredients and raw foods remained.
The run on Toilet Paper and sanitizing products amused me. Until I realized I was down to 4 rolls. Fortunately, I was saved by an act of humorous kindness from a non-profit client. I had helped them with some web site needs and they paid me in TP! It was perfect and appreciated. Additionally, I had some jumbo rolls of TP at The Center of Harmony’s Opera Hall and Event Venue that would not be used either. The coast was clear.
I haven’t worried about food or survival. I buy 1/2 of a cow each year (organic, grass-fed, local and delicious). That beef, the Salmon I catch each year, plenty of chicken and the eggs from my tiny flock is enough for a long while. The cupboard has dried goods and staples. I am not a “Prepper” but I am prepared. There is great comfort in that. It also highlights how much more I can do.
The challenges these days are occupying the hours stuck in the house, finding activities to enjoy and warding of the “cabin fever”. I am grateful that I have a self-sufficient, responsible and helpful 19 year old. Parents with young children have a lot on their hands.
The Direct Effects: My Businesses
The infection rates and death tolls around the world exploded quickly. Since its appearance in the US, it was clear that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) would be a national emergency. The CDC’s, Federal and States orders to came out to social distance & close down large gatherings. My event venue and commercial real estate property, The Center of Harmony, needed to be a part of the solution. I cancelled or rescheduled all events in March. Within a week, I extended that to all of April. Right now, I am not sure how long this will have to continue. Workshops, Yoga classes, Family Parties, Baby Showers and weddings were all affected. My heart goes out to those people, and the their responses have been amazing: Kind, Understanding, Responsible. This year I invested heavily into new equipment, staff and marketing for events. The worst unforeseen timing ever, but it needed done. With the financial loses of being shutdown, it will be a long time to dig out of this hole. Two weeks in to shutdown, there was regional flooding and the basement took on a few feet of water on a Friday Night. Until that point, I was in full reaction mode, pushing forward with what I could.
During that time, my consulting, photography and web design work has at an all time high. I was putting in 12 hour days, struggling to manage both businesses and the commitments to my clients and tenants.
A short video of the afternoon before the water began flooding the basement. It was caused by a broken storm drain that runs underneath the building. It is a problem that Harmony Borough knows about, but has not been able to fix yet. There are some plans being discussed but no date or expectation to when it will be started. This has been known for years and I will be advancing this issue until it is remediated. While this directly affects my property during times of heavy rain, it is a major source of back up and flooding across the street and in the other side of town.
The Breaking Point & Surrender
That Friday night, pumping out thousands of gallons of water from the basement, I broke down.
I cried. I swore. I laughed. I surrendered.
There was nothing more I could do, fighting a pandemic and flooding was futile. I needed some time to allow those emotions to move through me. I was holding that tension in my body and I felt every bit of it. The next day Chrisitan suggested we spend some time in the wood shop. He knows how much that settles my mind, calms my emotions and brings joy. We started to build a new island for the kitchen, something that has been on my mind for a while. It worked, just like it does every time I step in the wood shop. There was a joy in spending that time with my son, watching him build and create. He has grown into a skilled craftsmen. The act of building and creating made space for my to relax into and see things in a different light.
The Side Effects & Lessons Gained
My body let me know that I needed rest. After checking the water problems on Saturday morning, I crashed. I did nothing all day. If I could have done less, I would have. Breathing was enough. Sunday came and I felt better, restored somewhat. My day started with 20 minutes of sketching, something I have gotten back to recently. That act of creating centers my mind. It is a part of my morning routine. There is no pressure, no deadline, no expectation, just presence with the process. It was a reminder of its importance to me. A reminder that I am important and my self care is a priority.
One thing I truly enjoy is creating videos, content and sharing interesting stories. This “crisis” provided me with the time to do more of it. I started making videos of random things, sharing my thoughts and experience. I wanted to provide a distraction from the constant stream of news, fear, death, lack and all the heaviness. This was confirmed with the response I got from a ridiculous video of me making a pizza dough. I have been creating content regularly since then. It doesn’t feel forced or rushed, just enjoyable and easy. Building up my YouTube channel has been on my list for a while. Guess what, it worked! I have tripled my meager subscriber numbers since then!
Fun (Pointless?) Personal Videos
- Pizza Dough, Coronavirus & Business Philosophy
- Time Lapse of Sketching
- The First Motorcycle Ride of the Year
- Building the Kitchen Island. Part 1: The Top. Part 2: The Base
- Target Practice at the Range
Videos Supporting Local Business & Getting The Word Out
- Wunderbar Coffee & Crepes. Curbside and Take Out Updates.
- Two Fraus Bakery Curbside and Take Out Updates
- evolve Wellness Relocation
- New Yoga Classes at The Center with Alison Schuster
WordPress & Elementor Tutorial For My Clients
- Paste Text without the formatting in Elementor & WordPress
- Yoast SEO Premium Meta Data Updates and Configuration
I Started a Podcast!
The time has even allowed me the space to create a podcast, something I have been wanting to do for a while. I created the first episode on Monday with Robin Lee Kennedy. Robin is a business coach and I have worked with her for almost two years now. She is absolutely fantastic. It just felt right to have her as the first guest.
Get the first episode on BuzzSprout
The Final Diagnosis?
I am safe. I am here. I am ok. There are things to be done, there are things that can wait. These times are unprecedented in our lives. They have changesd plans, both big and small.
“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
Life goes on. It may be different but it goes on for those of us lucky enough to wake up each day. Priorities are being challenged and are being made clear. It may be messy, hard, emotional or trying, but it is what is before us. None of us know what is next. Trying to figure it out will drive you nuts. Its my view that nature, the Universe, God, Spirit (call it whatever you may) is giving us a time out and showing us how to be present. A lesson needed in this fast paced, technology-centered and consumer-driven world. Time to be present with ourselves, families, friends and choices.
Trust & Flow. The concept of “Trust & Flow” has been a mantra of mine over the last year. It ebbs and flows, but I keep getting brought back to it. I believe that is the way to navigate and come out of this situation.
- I Trust that the universe will provide and I will be ok.
- I will Flow with whatever comes, making adjustments as needed.
This isn’t to say that some planning and direction is needed. You do need a direction, just not extensive & detailed plans. Those create expectation of how things “should be”. That creates an attachment to the outcome, and that create suffering. Just ask any good Buddhist!
We are responsible for ourselves, our families and our communities. It ALL starts with each of us. The acts of kindness and good nature of people can be seen everywhere. This is a time of monumental changes and shifts. Let’s take advantage of that and change what we need to as we emerge from this pandemic.
Stay well. Stay Safe. Ask for help if you need it. Offer help if you can provide it.