Living and Learning in a Time of Change an ongoing series featuring women leaders, founders, makers and executives. These interviews are focused not on those that are used to a media spotlight, but by those who can benefit by having some light shone on them to support, lift up and get through to the other side.
SE: What has changed most significantly about your daily work routine in the last few days/weeks/months?
ED: Knowing that if I get the virus, I’ll be hit hard because I’m immunocompromised and a solopreneur with a small team of contractors; so I’m overcompensating. I’m constantly worried about every sniffle and cough I get. For example, last week I got what was likely an allergy attack in the almost-spring weather of the East Coast, and went through a box of tissues in a day. Still, I isolated myself for 3 days after, and worked only the most critical business tasks, so I could rest and reboot. Because if I get sick, it means many pieces of the business come crashing down.
SE: What are the new routines you’ve integrated to ensure you still meet other personal needs (emotional, spiritual, exercise…)?
ED: I’ve always tried to be fairly balanced in this respect, with things like yoga and meditation in the morning and reading nonfiction at night before bed. But lately, I’ve found myself integrating a lot more time for talking to friends and family, whether by phone and video chat, or just email and text. Keeping in touch with those that matter and making sure that they are ok has almost become a routine itself, as I check in and make sure people are all right almost daily. It’s what keeps the emotions a bit happier and tethered in the sweeping fury.
SE: What’s a pleasant surprise or something you discovered because of social distancing?
ED: This is going to be silly, but I’m finally jumping on the meal kit delivery bandwagon. I love cooking, but as a single self-employed person, I don’t always have time to plan meals, go shopping, prep, and cook different foods. I end up eating a lot of the same “go-to” dishes, merely for ease and convenience. But I’ve recently started trying out different meal kit delivery services (like EveryPlate, HelloFresh, and Freshly) and been able to try different cuisines and dishes, when most of the work is already done for me.
SE: What has been the most frustrating change?
ED: We had an event that we were just about to start sharing, a small yoga and writing retreat for the end of April at the coastal inn I’m completing my writing residency at. Though the social distancing may be lifted by then, it just didn’t feel right to try to get people to sign up for something that would potentially be dangerous for them. Or, that we wouldn’t be able to deliver on. There was a lot of time and money that had already gone into this planning, and event partners I let down. But beyond frustrating, it was just a bit sad to be so excited for something that would likely not happen.
SE: How is this impacting your business: pros, cons, neutral?
ED: We’ve been getting a bit of an uptick in business, as brands and writers are asking for second opinions and editing reviews on emails and marketing projects they are working on or want to send out. It’s heartwarming to see clients who want to do the right thing for their audience, but want to make sure they are doing it in the right way. It can be easy to sound self-serving when your writing is serving…yourself (or your brand.) Things that are totally well-intentioned sometimes don’t come across that way. So we’ve been helping folks to understand their comments from an outside perspective, and revise to stay true to their message, but do so compassionately.
SE: Where do you need assistance or support that you have yet to ask for?
ED: I’ve been very fortunate in that I haven’t needed to reach out for assistance yet from any official channels. Though the acts of god I had to enlist (like a 3.5 hour Amazon customer service chat) to get toilet paper shipped to my parents’ house after the hoarders bought it all up was probably something that I shouldn’t talk about in online print.
Have friends, family or co-workers changed the way they communicate with you?
As I had mentioned before, I’ve noticed a big increase in the frequency of communication with people. We’re all isolated and have more time to zip off a quick text or Facebook message to someone when we’re thinking about them. Or give someone a quick call to check in — that sometimes spills into a 2-hour wine o’clock conversation. Plus, we’re more aware of the people that matter to us. Deeply or “just” online. I’ve messaged with so many people the past few weeks to ask “Hey, are you doing ok?”
SE: What gives you hope?
ED: The way people are rallying together, even when we are separated. There’s the saying from Mr. Rogers, that in scary times we need to look for the helpers. But now that I’m an adult, I don’t necessarily look for the helpers, I want to be the helper. And I see so many others stepping forward to be the helpers in their own fields and communities. Whether it is leaving a note for your elderly neighbor offering to get groceries or buying gift cards from your favorite local spots to use when you can go out again…heck, staying inside so that you protect the people who can’t protect themselves is helping!
As the grown-ups, we should be the ones doing the work to make this world a better place and get through this; so that when the kids are looking for the helpers, they can see them everywhere. I’m finding hope in each moment that I see those helpers out and about (or in and tucked in.)