Advice for Virus Times

First, I want to recognize that lots/most of us are being pushed and stretched in different ways.  Business owners/leaders are concerned about their businesses and employees, employees are concerned about their companies and paying their bills.  And people are concerned about their health and the health of those they love (especially the vulnerable).  I understand that, and really do empathize.

But my job is to help you refocus.  So, here are some tips for this Monday morning:

  1. Limit access to the news: Get the news in the morning and the evening (if you must) to find out what’s going on.  But don’t listen to the same recycled, dismal loop on repeat all day.  Nothing’s going to change, except your mood.
  2. Take accurate stock of your finances and options. Stop dealing with ‘what if’ and find out for sure where you’re at.
  3. Access your support systems. This may include family or friends or colleagues.  Or people you haven’t talked to for years.  This week I spoke with a couple of friends that I haven’t spoken with in decades.  Exchange ideas and wins and concerns.  Reach out virtually to people you think may need support.
  4. Engage in hobbies without guilt. If you have extra time, don’t just watch Netflix.  Do all the work you can and then get gardening or modeling or working in the garage or taking a course.  For my part, I have become obsessed with learning bluegrass guitar from Billy Strings.  My wife is not a fan.
  5. Spend creative time with family if they’re with you. Nature is not closed.  Get outside.  Go for hikes.  Make a puzzle.
  6. Count your blessings. Many parts of the world live in brutal conditions as a matter of course, and we never notice because… they just don’t matter to us, for a variety of reasons.  To our shame.  We have food and clothing.  Power is on.  We have clean water.  Law and order is intact.  We’re going to be okay.
  7. Recognize the silver lining(s). I’ve given a lot of thought this week to my grandparents (long dead) and what they endured during their lives.

My dad’s parents emigrated from Norway by ship, assuming they would never see their families again.  They homesteaded in Northern Alberta, and my grandfather walked from Grande Prairie to Edson and back every year to catch the train so he could work in Edmonton to support his new farm.  Walked.  350 kms one way.  He was permanently disabled after lifting one end of a haywagon to change a (wooden) tire, ruining his back.  And together they raised a successful family and had a happy marriage and were positive and strong.  Rocks really.  Pillars of the community.

My mom’s family first fled persecution in Europe to make a new start in America.   But because they were conscientious objectors, they were preyed on and threatened by the Ku Klux Klan.  So they packed the little they owned and fled overnight, also ending up in Northern Alberta.  They left everything they had built, twice, and started over.  And they had amazing children and stayed married and were resolute and strong, and were circumspect about both suffering and joy.  They expected, and received both.

Here’s the secret:  We’re not genetically any different from this incredible generation.  We’re just shaped by our times.  They expected hard times, and those hard times made the wonderful times especially sweet.  And hard times shaped them into strong, self-reliant, people with a ton of pride.  My great grandfather angrily ripped up the first pension cheque he received from the government in the 50’s.  He had no intention of accepting their charity!!  Imagine that today.

So, the silver lining is that we’re being made stronger.

And, we’re all going to get a chance to refocus on what matters in life.   And what matters (to me at least) is in this order:

Faith.  Family.  Friends.

That’s it!

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