I Just Couldn’t Get Out Of Bed Anymore — Hitting the COVID Wall
I couldn’t get out of bed last week. I usually do the 5-minute snooze but my routine had devolved to a 30-minute and eventually to a 1-hour snooze. I finally would get up when something inside told me I was down to the wire. I would then race to take a shower and would be ready “just in time” for my first Zoom call. And my princely husband would bring me his most-excellent coffee shortly thereafter to help remove the cobwebs from my head.
After too many days of this shenanigan the inevitable discussion with my husband happened: “You need to get up when your alarm goes off. This is getting ridiculous. Either move your alarm time or get up! I am losing an hour of sleep every day on account of you. What is going on? Why aren’t you getting up?” “I don’t know.” I said. “I am just so tired.” But instantly I did know. I simply didn’t want to get up. I couldn’t bear another day of being five feet from my bed in my “Work From Home” office on another day of back-to-back video calls. I had hit the COVID wall.
Many of us have come to the realization that life DC (during COVID) is now our life, and will be, for some indefinite time to come. Groundhog day, every day, infinitum. A painful reality.
Hitting the COVID wall was my lowest point in my COVID journey since March 12 — the day we closed the Denver office. My previous life of traveling to different places in the world every other month to see our incredible water and sanitation programs at Water For People, meeting the people whose lives we were helping improve, and making presentations and deals came to a screeching halt in March. My positive energy reserves have been steadily depleting since then. It has been a rough four months of: keeping our employees in 11 countries safe and healthy; managing the revenue shortfall at Water For People due to cancelled fundraisers and through cost cutting and starting new fundraising initiatives; keeping our organizational culture intact in virtual times; confronting the issue of systemic racism in the US and how it is now on the forefront of our everyday lives; dealing with some very difficult non-COVID situations at work; and helplessly watching as the virus is running out of control in the US while keeping us trapped in our homes. I didn’t sign up for this life and want a rewind to February! But do I really want this? As my friend and self-awareness speaker Tasha Eurich asks: “What gift did the current-you give to the future-you?” during COVID? Well I needed to figure that out.
Ironically, through all this turmoil and stress, I feel that I am becoming a better person. My future-self would thank my current-self for slowing down and focusing on my inner wellbeing. This is time well spent and has opened up greater opportunities for change. Let me share with you my unexpected journey.
Last week, fortunately, I was able to speak to my friends from the Well Being Project and share with them my deepest and most intimate sorrows from recent experiences. Through my tears I realized that 1) I have a safe community that deeply cares for me and I for them, and 2) Life is really hard right now for all of us — and we must help each other get out of bed every day. And we do. And then I had a major ah-ha moment that brought me off the COVID wall. I have become a different person than I was a year ago, and I like this new me better. I credit the Well Being Project for enabling me to unlock myself to find this new me. And I am so grateful! I need to keep these learnings top-of-mind so I can stay optimistic DC. I can do this. I need to do this — for me.
Being able to talk about my personal challenges with more than just a few very close family members and friends is something new for me. I used to keep it all bottled-up inside. I am unlearning my lifelong habit of not letting my feelings show. Unlocking my heart through talking, emoting, painting, and sweating feels so good! I am able to get my pain and anger out of me — let it go instead of dragging it through life with me like a ball and chain. And it had become an unbearably heavy ball and chain! I have arrived at the point of being able to release this weight through deep personal work with people I trust. I know innerwork is a lifelong learning journey with many ups and downs, yet I am finding it is worth it.
I had so little time to enjoy the small things in my PC (pre-COVID) harried life. Slowing life down has been terribly difficult on one hand, but on the other hand it has opened my eyes to the gems in my life that I was overlooking. Being more mindful means that small things have taken on greater meaning and have brought me unexpected joy.
Here are my Top 10 reasons that DC-life has made me a better person:
1 — Spending more time with my boys and my husband — we haven’t spent this much time together in… how many years? Thankfully we still really love each other! The conversations are rich and deep. Our relationships grow stronger even though we need some alone time every now and then. We are weaving a rich fabric together.
2 — Connecting with important people in my life — the irony of our video conferencing world is that we are deliberate and proactive about who we talk to. Among my many calls, I regularly talk to my close group of high school friends, and every week with my family and my three best friends from college. We unpack our weekly trials and tribulations and help each other cope. I’d be lucky if I had a group text once a week PC with either group! Even my 91-year old mother joins our weekly Zoom calls with my brothers. More time with the people I love fills my bucket!
3 — Gardening & mushroom growing — I had forgotten how much I love to garden. Everyday I do my therapeutic weeding and pest removal and check on the progress of my beloved plants. It makes me so happy!
And now I am a novice mycologist too. I am cultivating various types of mushrooms in my indoor mushroom lab.
4 — Puzzling — I had also forgotten how much I love puzzles. The last time I did this many puzzles was when my older son was young — at least fifteen years ago. I can’t seem to get enough of them now. Puzzling gives my brain an escape; it is so satisfying to complete a section and link it to the main puzzle!
5 — Journaling — I think the last journal I seriously kept was my Dear Diary in elementary school. Now I have a High Performance Planner thanks to a recommendation from a friend. I find it useful because I not only reflect on what I am grateful for and who to thank each day, I plan the most important things I need to do, revisit my affirmations, visualize how I want to show up, and think about who needs me on my A game each day so I can be there for them. Sure, I am not 100% compliant with my journaling, but when I do take the time to go through the prompts it helps me make my life more intentional and fulfilling.
6 — Practicing Tai Chi and Meditating — this may be my biggest stretch goal (not being a morning person). My attempt at Miracle Mornings includes a brief Tai Chi routine following Chungliang Al Huang’s five moving forces. Now I can do it with my eyes closed. Love it. Never in a million years would I have done Tai Chi PC. And (almost) every evening I meditate. I did start meditating PC, but I was an inconsistent dilettante. Now I am committed and have a record streak on Calm. I look forward to this sacred time every day and find it so relaxing.
7 — Reading — I have read a lot of books recently. Over the last month or two they are all on racism. Right now I am reading Ibram X. Kendi’s “How To Be Antiracist.” Trying to rewire my life of white priviledge to be more enlighted and consciously antiracist is difficult, exhausting, and exhilarating all at the same time. As stressful as 2020 is in America, I am hopeful that this awakening will also be an opportunity to change the direction of history of our country into a different and more antiracist society.
8 — Daily walks & hiking — walking our dog, Roger, almost every night with my younger son as the sun sets in the state park across the street (and we have gorgeous sunsets in Colorado) has become sort of a ritual.
Pinch me. How could I have not had this daily walk part of my life before?
Hiking in the Rockies, or even in the foothills, is such a treat and always re-energizing. And the beauty of the wildflowers in July in the mountains? To die for.
9-Biking — a year ago I had just finished the Race Across America. It seems like a dream now. I still love to ride my bike, expecially in the mountains, and I think I have convinced my husband to do the Race Across the West next summer with me! Fingers crossed.
10— Reducing my carbon footprint — no air travel means great things for the environment. And my 100,000+ miles per year is now 0. Can I take the pause to develop my own CO2 budget to reduce my carbon footprint? Of course I can! We are investigating how to reduce our carbon footprint at Water For People, too. I really do believe the climate emergency is getting out of control and we each need to do our part to reel in our impact on the planet to preserve it for future generations. We can make a difference by making deliberate changes in our lives.
In summary, how am I going to keep my sanity in my new slo-mo DC life? I think this pandemic will have a long tail and this will be my life for some time to come. With that in mind, I will continue to enjoy my Top 10 above (and grow the list), set goals for myself for things to look forward to (like the Race Across The West), and be fully committed to my work that I love at Water For People — helping develop lasting water and sanitation services for Everyone Forever. That is enough.