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Working from home? Social distancing? A few ideas to get you through the Pandemic of 2020

Photo by James Fitzgerald on Unsplash

So by now, I’m sure every human in the civilized world has heard of the novel corona virus or COVID-19. These are strange times.

It’s easy for me to get anxious and let my mind wander into worst-case-scenario territory, so I’m counteracting this by making a list of things I can do outside of working from home, that can maybe help you too.

Take an online class

I love online learning. It’s the answer, for an introvert like me, to keep learning without actually having to attend class. I currently have many classes I need to finish, so I’m planning to focus a little more on these. I find that taking a social life out of the equation is good for my focus.

There are all kinds of offerings online – Skillshare, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Creative Bug etc. And if you search through the YouTube, you can often find discounts for your desired platform. Many also offer a free first month – which might be just enough time for this pandemic thing to run its course.

Stay in shape

If you are already regularly working out, now is not the time to take a break. This is probably fairly obvious, but its easy for me to forget about this when everything is topsy turvy. Exercise has the added benefits of reducing stress and boosting our immune systems.

One of the yoga app companies I use, announced they were making all of their apps free until April 1st, as yoga and exercise are excellent for self-care and they wanted to find a way to contribute. Check out Down Dog‘s offerings.

Work on a craft; do an art project; bake

Crafting is my happy place. I am at my best when I have a crochet hook in my hands, using paint in an art journal, or gluing down random bits of paper in a #junkjournal. Learning to sew my own clothes has long been on my crafty to-do list, and Seamwork is a great place to start.

Bake something new. I find baking really therapeutic. Unlike cooking [for me, anyway]. There are lots of complex skills you can learn when it comes to baking, and I want to tackle french patisserie. Duchess Bake Shop’s book, is going to help me do that.

Start that side hustle

Making some extra income, often takes time and effort that many of us don’t have. Reduced commute times however means there may be an extra hour or two in your day where you can finally work on those ideas we have been toying with.

Learn to meditate

If ever there was a time to start, it’s now. When I take ten minutes and listen to a guided meditation, I am always the better for it. The Calm app offers a wide variety of guided meditations as well as music for relaxation.

Do a closet edit

Over the last couple of years, I have been much more serious about what I put in my closet, refining my style, and ridding myself of items that are not ‘me’ anymore. It’s a really slow process though.

Luckily there are hundreds of resources on the web to help get you started.

You could also consider hiring a professional like Leah, to give you some advice and motivation. She is currently offering virtual sessions!

Complete odd jobs

Me and my partner had to replace the handle on our front door recently, as the old one would occasionally fail, and lock us in. Not safe. So the other night we replaced it with a new, modern one and it sure is satisfying.

Maybe its time to finally touch up that base board, or fill those holes in your wall. Home improvement is a great way to fill that extra time you may have when your big event has been cancelled.

Learn a language

I really love the app Duolingo, but I don’t use it as often as I would like. Learning languages is really good for the brain, short- and long-term.

Read a book. Or three.

I have a lot of books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet. I always have a couple on the go. But I know my partner doesn’t get much time for reading outside of what he reads online, when he has to go into the office all the time. I work from home so am able to make it more of a priority. Reading an actual book is much more relaxing, and far more beneficial, than bingeing yet series on Netflix.

Lastly, don’t get stuck in a thought loop

For many, the current restrictions and recommendations in North America on travel, socializing, and washing your hands are a lot to take in. It is changing how we live our lives, day to day. It can be very stressful.

Mental health for everyone, should be a priority. Your mental health can deeply affect those around you. Remember to put down the smartphone, turn off the TV and try something different that is not related at all to COVID-19, and your life will probably be the better for it.

On Planners

There are so many things to write about planners. I have always been obsessed with them. Which one was/is going to solve my life?

I am so happy that in the last several years, paper planners are appearing everywhere. Check out #plannercommunity on Instagram and you’ll be amazed…not only at the variety, but also the creativity.

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

I’ve been a bullet journaler for almost 4 years, which in times of great stress, has been the most helpful, easiest way to stay somewhat organized. But it doesn’t solve all my current issues – it could, if I didn’t procrastinate so much. Ryder Carroll‘s book ‘The Bullet Journal Method’ is one of the best I’ve read on goal planning without losing the point of being human and being alive.

I have just set up my bullet journal for the month of October, and I feel more on track already. But I do have some issues with productivity in general ⁠— working at home is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be ⁠— so I’m going to try out the Productivity Planner, by Intelligent Change.

A work-at-home friend of mine recommended it and says within a week she was getting way more done (in combination with The 5 Minute Journal). I have actually owned the Productivity Planner for a couple of years, but have not started using it. This week though, this week for sure.

So we will see how it goes. If you like, I can update you on my progress.

This post does not contain affiliate links.

When it’s hard to say goodbye to summer

Photo by Marc Richards from Pexels

We have had a beautiful couple of days here in Calgary, Alberta. Feeling the hot sun, on my skin is divine. It’s been pretty cool all summer, with a lot of rainy days, so the heat has been a treat (sorry).

I’m well aware that the picture doesn’t represent this part of Canada, but whenever I see a palm tree, I think SUMMER.

Fall is right around the corner of course- it’s much cooler in the shade, there are a few leaves starting to turn and the sun is going down faster at night. The city glows at night, when the sun sets, as the days begin to get shorter again.

I didn’t always enjoy summer. I don’t like being overly hot. I also always felt pressure to do all the summer things, when mostly I just wanted to read or learn to draw or be quiet. It also meant that my mood wouldn’t be so good probably because I didn’t spend enough time with people my own age. It was easier at school to make friends and hang out, but when summer came around, it was a bit lonely. Being bookish did not lend itself to a booked social calendar.

I have turned my summers around now. I embrace my need for quiet and aloneness, and address the need to spend time with others as well. Being on the water is my favourite way to spend hot days – swimming, boating, SUPing or reading adjacent to the water. I also look forward to dinners on the patio with my partner, and being in the local parks. Mountains are a draw too.

I don’t worry too much these days about what I’m not doing, and I can truly soak in those days that are dreamy and soft focus, and what everybody talks about, when they talk about summer.

Moving forward

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Photo by Lynnelle Richardson from Pexels

I promised an update on the recovery program I enrolled in through the BCSCF. I had planned to write during the program, and let you know how it was going, but I found it fairly all-encompassing.

When I first started going to the sessions, I was very tired, and also wondering if I had made the right choice? It was difficult to revisit some of the feelings and experiences I had had over the last year and a half. And also to hold space for 11 other stories of hardship, fear and suffering.

It has been worthwhile though. Halfway through the program, I experienced a real shift emotionally and physically. Some of the weight of cancer, got lifted off. I think it’s a combination of working on the exercises that were given, both mentally and physically, and sharing space with others who have gone through much the same experiences as I have. It’s connection that is difficult to find on my own.

I am more relaxed than I was. I generally sleep better. I have more hope for the future and what I’m going to do with it. If I have a bad day, I know that I can talk to my new friends – because we all have bad days, where the worries of cancer come hurtling back.

It was difficult to move on from the program once it was finished. If felt like I was grieving another loss. But once another 3-week cycle was up, I felt better about getting on with life and also had been in touch with others from the group. And that’s how life goes. Full of beginnings and endings and hopefully you keep the positives and shed the negatives along the way.

I am trying not to ‘waste time’ although there can be benefit in time wasted. For the last couple of months, I have felt very grateful to have the room to just be happy and enjoy life, and not worry too much about working, or my health or anything else. It’s been a real gift.

I am truly excited now about pursuing my passions. One of the gains I’ve made, since having cancer, is that I am more confident about my place in this world, and what my talents are. After all…we only get the one chance at this life.

 

I did a good think for myself, recently

pexels-photo-268533.jpegI had a surge of energy at the turn of the new year. I was so excited to start 2018 without any cancer treatments scheduled, no planned trips to the hospital. I was so ready to just get on with life, and all the things I want to do.

February rolls around (granted, it’s winter) and my energy and enthusiasm has significantly waned. There has been a ton of snow, so many very cold days, still so many appointments to recover my back health, and it has been exhausting.

I find that I am getting stuck in ways I don’t want to be stuck in anymore. I am falling into old ‘cancer’ routines, where I would watch TV for hours simply because I was too tired to do anything else. This is not the case now though. With a bit of planning, I am sure I can accomplish more.

I tend to overwhelm myself with projects I want to do. This, in itself, leads to indecision about what to work on. I am driving myself a bit nuts.

Some of this is recurrent-stress related. I had my 18-month exams this week and while I was totally expecting a ‘normal/unchanged’ result (which I got), it is still nerve-wracking.

I do not want to get stuck in ruts in anymore. The time to do things, really IS now.

So I signed up for a recovery program through Breast Cancer Supportive Care, here in Calgary. It is designed to get you living your fullest life and feel more normal again in many areas that make up the whole person. Our first session seemed really good, and I am looking forward to diving into more of the homework for this week.

I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes.

One day at a time…

…as the old saying goes. How true it is, when trying to recover from cancer treatment.

I’m very lucky to say I am cured of the particular type I had. But it’s also a really frustrating period too. My body desperately needs reconditioning. I know I am going to have to do a lot of physical work in order to get my stamina back.

It is frustrating because I feel ready to dive into this blogging thing and really making a go of working online. I often get sidelined by fatigue, and also overwhelming emotion. You would think I would be joyful most of the time, but I’m finding that that is just not possible.

So I’m trying to relax a bit more again, and take it easy. I will read some helpful magazines. I will do art. I will not beat myself up for not doing the work (yet) that I want to do.

The Next Steps

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I am taking my time to figure out what my next steps are.

I am enrolled in a variety of online courses, which I am working through slowly. It is so refreshing to learn something new, and feel excited about implementing the lessons.

I have read all different types of blogs for years and feel pretty comfortable with what I like and don’t like. I think I can do this.

After yet another lay-off from the corporate world, making my dreams a reality is now first and foremost. Mostly I dream of being financially abundant and not have to worry about the state of the company I work for. I want to be able to take care of my family, travel modestly (including visiting family members more regularly) and contribute adequately to the life my partner and I are building together.

After this past year, and being treated for breast cancer, putting a priority on health and reducing my stress is also paramount. My back-to-health plan includes going after what I love doing. Financial security is so important when it comes to major illness. It’s just one less thing you have to worry about at the most difficult time in your life.

It’s time to share what my experience and lessons have been in hopes that I can help someone else. I’m looking forward to the possibilities.