- No sympathetic suffering. Your suffering does not abate someone else’s. You can care and act in a loving way without taking on more hurt. One time when my youngest was like 2 years old, all tiny spriggy piggy tails and freckles and frocks, I opened the car door with her itty bitty finger caught in the small space between the door and its frame, and smooshed it. It looked flattened and crushed, bone and all, and I lost my ever loving mind. Because I had done this to my child. So there I was waiting for paramedics because it was a small town and there were no clinics, sitting in a chair in the nearby grocery store, sobbing hysterically while my sister held my child, when this lady knelt down in front of me, made eye contact with me, and very gently, kindly told me “You are scaring her”. And in that second I realized that in fact, my distress was not actually helping my daughter, the one who was hurting, even though I felt truly kicked behind the knee by what felt like my failure to protect her (from like my own carelessness). And just like that I caught my breath and picked her up and held her until we got things taken care of. Baby bones are bendy, so while it was gross to look at, it was not actually even crushed! The point is, your hurt over their hurt doesn’t help their hurt. And if you are actually enjoying the break from your back breaking workload, or whatever the fall out of Covid has been for you, if it has corrected some imbalance in your life it’s okay to feel better, or joyful. That does not make you cruel and indifferent to the suffering of others. Joy heals suffering. Period.
- Throw out your garbage. Not your actual garbage, silly. I mean you might want to throw that out too, simply because you don’t want to be stuck inside with whatever weird foods you are stress eating on day 779 of your confinement (okay whatever, day seven, I am using hyperbole thanks). I mean the other garbage, the judgments you make against yourself and your life and your relationships and your world. Clear the slate, shake the Etch a Sketch (man wish I had one of those right now). Pardon. Forgive. Embrace, emotionally not physically we know the rules. Do it while your liquor cabinet is still full friends. We have the power to make this a giant do over, while still respecting the grief of those who have lost loved ones and while doing our part to protect everyone. I mean doesn’t it make sense, to forgive all of that old emotional debt —to save hearts while we are saving lives *wipes a tear from her eye and steps down from the podium. Just don’t drunk text your messages of forgiveness.
- Do not hold yourself to traditional standards of efficiency. Are you working from home? Without your usual resources, tools, leadership or coffee supply? Does your job even make sense anymore because oil has no value, or because it’s hard to conduct a physio appointment via telephone? Are you struggling to get a straight answer from the cat? It’s okay if it all feels weird and futile right now. Do what you can from a place of love and blind faith that giving something makes sense. And take a few more breaks than usual. Take a coffee break over the phone. Pretend you’re Matt Damon in The Martian. You need encouragement because it’s awfully hard to do a job well when the infrastructure of the job, industry and world has temporarily collapsed. Now is not the time to pressure yourself or evaluate your worth vis a vis your traditional markers of accomplishment. It’s okay if you don’t save the company and the world between the hours of 9 and 5 with an old tube of mascara, some fishing tackle and your good intentions #dontletthecatdecide. Which brings me to our next rule of survival.
- Do not make decisions that can wait. Remember Jerry McGuire? The memo. Well now is not the time to marry your ex or your Facebook crush. Now is not the time to make big commitments because your fear factor is ramped up to level Scorpions, Lions and Scaling Tall Buildings. What makes you feel safe today may not actually land you peace and prosperity tomorrow. You might not survive quarantine with your ex. Jail may seem like a fun party now when Fluffy gives you the piss off stare, and then when you sober up and realize you don’t actually have a cat, but it won’t be fun, later, when the world is not ending. #Orangesithenewblack
- Know the difference between fear mongering and protective behaviour. I know this one is hard friends! Should I be afraid, running around in fear, planning for my dystopian future? NO! But the whole business about staying home and handwashing ETC. is actually not perpetuating fear, it’s lovingly stopping virus transmission to the vulnerable populations AND to those who will become vulnerable with enough lung scarring. Fuck. We are so pressed to rise above and tough it out that we walk around with this warrior mentality but beating this thing requires us to dump that mentality STAT. Do it for love, not for fear. But do it. Be vigilant about protection. Overachieve that. So we CAN get to the place where we are like “it wasn’t as bad as it could have been”.
- Do not neglect YOURSELF. It’s okay to not wear pants. But at some point you’re going to wanna wash your hair, because you look at you. And more than your hair, you’re going to NEED some help feeling okay, because all of those scary feelings are looking for nooks and crannies to hide out in. You think you’re fine and then the dog barks and you feel like the guy in that game Operation, and someone has just touched metal trying to remove your femur. BZZZZZZT! You try to reason with the dog, explaining that there is a world pandemic, and that while you are managing just fine, if she barks one more time you’re going to send a report to GOD and there won’t be any bones for her in heaven, and then you cry and cry because that is just plain mean and what is next? Farming Dalmatians for a new coat? You’re going to need to make up a night off, find a creative outlet, do something KIND for your inner child.
- Do not put all kinds of weird pressure on yourself. I know you’re stuck at home, but the last thing we all need is to expect ourselves to channel our stress into doing every chore that has been left since forever, write the next best novel and solve world peace while keeping sane and supporting our loved ones, or our company, or Fluffy.
- Do not performance review yourself. Unless it’s like this: Hey there little trooper, good job not losing your shit today in the face of so much shittiness. You look good with those new bangs and skinny without pants.
- Forgive yourself for snapping. How fast did the dog forgive you? Well that is your new standard of self forgiveness. Immediate. You can do no wrong in your eyes.
- Forgive everyone for snapping. How fast did the dog forgive them?
- If your Higher Power is an asshole it’s the perfect time to upgrade. This one is SUPER IMPORTANT. GOD, GODDESS, PRINCE, GREAT SPIRIT, MOTHER EARTH AND YODA, DID NOT SEND CORONAVIRUS TO PUNISH YOU FOR SLACKING ON YOUR COMPOST OR FORGETTING TO VISUALIZE GREATNESS. Yes, some shit may get corrected through all of this. But that is LOVE taking your hand and saying “Hey, let’s find a way out of this calamity”. If you signed up for a MEAN GOD, it’s time to renegotiate the contract. Truly, you’re allowed right now.
- If you’re a leader, you don’t have to be perfect but you do need to include yourself. You can accept help and support and feel vulnerable. The best you can give your people is encouragement. ENCOURAGE them to be their best, bravest, kindest strongest selves. To SEE the everyday hero within, to FEEL worthy and good. And don’t give power to their fears or their shitty behaviour when they stray. We all need to know that we are not our worst fears. Give them a value to stand behind, like we tell our kids, like our family stands for kindness. They are part of a whole. They belong. And so do you. You don’t have to be the ocean, just the ocean whisperer.
- Reach out. It’s kumbaya time. Warm and fuzzy the shit out this virus. Smother it with love. I have lots to share if you’re running low.