Looking for helpers during the pandemic

After weeks of social distancing, quarantining, staying home as much as possible, an overload of information on social media, and daily news briefings, it’s not uncommon to feel tired, anxious, restless, and just plain unsure.

As a journalist, I’ve been getting weary of writing COVID-19 stories at times. Brene Brown recently said that everyone is handling the pandemic in different ways, but collectively, people are tired— physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.

In challenging times, I am reminded of the quote by Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” It’s a quote that still resonates today.

I’ve been able to look for the helpers in my job and report about some of the things that people are doing to help others during the pandemic. Many people are making face masks for health care workers and donating hospital gowns or other protective gear to nursing homes and others have donated food and time to serve community members.  

There are endless stories of people helping others and I’m choosing to focus on that and look for ways that I can help when the weariness kicks in.

How are you doing? what helpers have you seen during the pandemic?

Writers write, right?

I don’t remember how old I was when I figured out that I wanted to be a writer in some shape or form when I grew up. I do remember writing that I wanted to be an author in a “what do you want to be when you grow up” prompt in grade school.

I remember writing short stories on tan paper with wide lines that were used for writing lower-case and upper-case letters. They were mostly tales about a girl exploring a woods and pasture and discovering a magical tree. No doubt, inspired by my childhood home and the books I read at that age.

I remember my high school English teacher approaching me and telling me about a contest that involved writing a novel. I procrastinated until the week it was due and spent a day and night writing nonstop while my mom and cousin helped me edit it.

I remember getting ideas for stories or novels and filling line after line in moleskin notebooks that still line my plastic organizer draws in my office. I haven’t reread all of them, but I have reread some of them.

For the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to write for different jobs I’ve had. It’s been behind a computer screen instead of a pen and loose paper, but I know I’ve been lucky to be able to keep that dream alive. That’s one of the reasons I restarted this blog. I wanted to get back to writing for fun and for me.

Marie Forleo, in her book Everything is Figureoutable, highlights something that’s been on my mind:

“One of the biggest obstacles to figuring out your dream is this: you incorrectly assume that ‘it’s all been done before.’ You don’t believe you have anything original, valuable, or worthwhile to contribute. You don’t feel special or talented enough to add your voice to the mix. It’s time to set the record straight. No matter how many times you think an idea or creation has been shared in the world, sometimes it takes that one person expressing it in their unique voice, at the right time, in the right place, for it to actually make a difference…there’s always room for more. There’s always room for you.”

I’m using this little space on the internet to share more of my voice. Thanks for joining me along the way.

Learning to work from home

For the past two years I’ve worked remotely. I travel quite a bit on work assignments, but it has still been an adjustment.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about working from home. Be honest- did you just picture someone working in their pajamas, watching tv, and doing laundry and other chores whenever they want? You’re not the only one, but that’s not what it’s like.

I still don’t have it all figured out, but here’s what works for me.

1.) Create a morning routine

I can’t just jump right into work right away because my brain still needs to wake up in the morning. So each morning I read a devotion. I’m currently reading 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs. I then spend 5-10 minutes meditating. I like the guided meditations by Tone It Up. They are free online and really set the tone for the day. Click here for an example of one.

2.) Take breaks

If I don’t make myself take breaks during work I will sit at my desk all day. I try to take a 10-minute break in the morning and the afternoon. Sometimes I take my dog for a walk and other times I read a chapter or two of a book outside on my deck. Giving my eyes a break from the computer screen and my brain a break from work helps me come back to the desk refreshed.

3.) Create a welcoming space

I have a giant canvas photo over my desk. It was a gift from my brother and it was taken at Holden Beach, one of my favorite places in the world. I have a standing desk with a tall chair so I can sit if I want but I also have the option to stand. I have a globe from my grandma and some wedding photos in frames around the room. My office is in our guest bedroom and the windows are at my back when I work, so I also bought a floor lamp to light up my workspace (I found some cute décor at World Market and Target).

4.) Stay organized

There is something at home that makes it harder to stay organized. I purchased a desk calendar and a planner to keep organized. I have a lot of interviews and meetings throughout the week so the only way I keep them straight is with seeing them on the calendar and planner. I don’t like setting calendar reminders on my computer because I get too many of them and seeing them in writing on my desk keeps me on track.

5.) Shut the door to your office and walk away from your work at night

The one thing no one told me about working from home is how easy it can be to keep working through the evening. When you go into an office you physically leave the building and drive home at the end of the day. That doesn’t happen when you work from home. It’s so easy to continue answering emails and keep working into the evening hours without realizing it. I’ve made a conscious effort to stop working at a certain time, turn off the lights and my computer and walk away from my desk. I sometimes still check my email on my phone, but I’m working on it. 🙂

These are some of the ways that I’m learning to work from home and maintain that work-life balance.

What about you: do you work from home or have you worked from home in the past? What works/worked for you?