Ignore everyone who is posting productivity porn on social media right now. It is OK that you keep waking up at 3 a.m. It is OK that you forgot to eat lunch and cannot do a Zoom yoga class. It is OK that you have not touched that revise-and-resubmit in three weeks. Ignore the people who are posting that they are writing papers and the people who are complaining that they cannot write papers. They are on their own journey. Cut out the noise.
Aisha S. Ahmad
I’ve had my productive, break through days and moments of anxiety and fear. I’ve done a few “see 10, do 10” push up challenges, and a five days of 5K runs, too, but I haven’t learned how to play the piano.
The lull of the holidays is one thing, but we’re in the middle of a global crisis. Over 100,000 Americans might die. It’s totally fucking okay to not have all your shit together.
Since I started running in 2016, I learned that the first mile sucks. It just takes awhile for the muscles to loosen, the heart to get pumping, and mentally you have to power through it all.
This week started pretty bad, though looking back there wasn’t one external force that made it that way. A combination of many things add up and whammo, you’re having a bad day.
But it’s not a bad day, it’s a bad moment. I’m not saying we don’t get bad days, to just “toughen up” and carry on. But I mean some crappy moments don’t have to always write the full story of the rest of your day.
I wasn’t feeling in the mood for a run this morning, or in the afternoon, and figured, eh, I’ll get it tomorrow. But then… I felt like it. Or rather, things were in order mentally and emotionally and physically to just, what the hell? Let’s go for a run.
And that first mile sucked. Headwind, felt stiff, shoulda wore gloves. But by mile four, and a few hundred feet of climbing, I was feeling great.
In summary, bad mornings don’t have to become bad days, and a bad Monday doesn’t need to dictate an entire week.
It was today, three weeks ago, when my friend and client agreed that cancelling our work meet up – in downtown Manhattan – was probably a good idea.
Sure, less than two weeks earlier (Feb 28) near Seattle someone died from the Corona Virus, but that was just one person, right?
But we saw the headlines, and how things were unraveling overseas.
To think that the night of March 11th, when two NBA games were postponed because a player tested positive for the virus, was when the shit really hit the fan.
Tomorrow it’ll be three weeks. In those three weeks I’ve left the house for supplies maybe five times. My usual afternoon trips to Starbucks, to break up the monotony of working from home, are no longer. My trips to visit friends on the weekend for group runs don’t happen anymore. I’d usually meet a good friend for pizza on Friday nights in Philadelphia, and now that doesn’t happen. It can’t!
Can I go another month or two or three like this? Well, there’s no other choice, really. It’s just one day after the next, until things change.
Just 16 days ago everything was sort of normal. I was scheduled to head into NYC to meet with a client, on Wednesday March 11th. The night before we made the call to cancel, since this whole “corona virus thing” was starting to grumble.
That night I was fired up Sling to watch some NBA games when they got cancelled for some unknown reason. I stayed up past midnight that night, watching everyone ESPN talk about the situation. The NBA suspended the season. What the heck is going on?
On that day, March 11th, my state of PA had just 16 confirmed cases of the corona virus. By the 18th, it was 133. Seven days later it was 1,127.
Sixteen days to go from 16 to 2,218. And that’s just what we know out of who has been tested. The real number is probably bigger, which is how it’s spreading so fast.
Today also the marks the last day of #quarantine5x5K. A few of us on Instagram got out every day this week to run at least 3.1 miles. Some chilly days, some rainy, and then today, Friday, the last day, it was in the 60s.
Like running up a hill, you know the pain will stop. You can see the point at which your muscles will stop screaming, and your heart beat will return to normal.
Like a 5K race… you go, you run, you go fast, your heart is screaming but you know, hey, it’s just three miles. Two more. Okay, one more, we can do this.
This pandemic? No idea when it’ll end, but it will. There’s gonna be pain and grieving and anger, but we’ll get to the finish line eventually.
To calm yourself, you want to come into the present. This will be familiar advice to anyone who has meditated or practiced mindfulness but people are always surprised at how prosaic this can be. You can name five things in the room. There’s a computer, a chair, a picture of the dog, an old rug, and a coffee mug. It’s that simple. Breathe. Realize that in the present moment, nothing you’ve anticipated has happened. In this moment, you’re okay. You have food. You are not sick. Use your senses and think about what they feel. The desk is hard. The blanket is soft. I can feel the breath coming into my nose. This really will work to dampen some of that pain.
I know that trying to go toe to toe with the stress expends a lot of energy. Lately, I open the Headspace app and start a 10 minute meditation. Feeling where my feet are, the sounds, focusing on my breath.
We have lost a lot right now, some more than others. We’re grieving the loss of what our normal lives used to be.
Many local shops aren’t set up for times like this. They don’t have the online webstore, the e-commerce gift card set up, or an easy way to just GIVE THEM MONEY ONLINE.
My record store growing up was Main St. Juke Box, on Main St. in downtown Stroudsburg, PA. This is the shop where I bought White Zombie, and Mr. Bungle, and Faith No More CDs. This shop, in a way, set me on the path to where I am today, from way back in the 90s.
They don’t have an online store, and the owner Tom sometime posts vinyl on Instaram, but I’m not much of a record guy, but then I saw this post:
Heck yes! I’ve reached out about getting a care package of thrash metal CDs.
Ready Set Run is the local running shop in town. It’s where I bought a pair of trail running shoes before I started running (I just wanted something better to hike in), and when I eventually started running and got hurt because I was buying $45 junk running shoes on Amazon, they set me up with some real running shoes, not to mention some neat group runs that involved ice cream and tacos!
They offer gift certificates on their site, so I ordered one for $50 towards a future pair of shoes when things get back to normal. What a fun trip that is going to be!
Finally, my favorite coffee shop (well, the only one besides Starbucks) is this tiny place called Cafe Duet, and I can’t imagine how hard the recent shut downs have affected them.
It might take some digging, but see if you can throw some money towards one or two of your favorite local shops in the coming week or two (or three, or four…). Check their website (if they have one), or scroll through their Instagram feed (the damn algorithms may not show you some of these really important posts).
This whole post and my purchases tonight were inspired by an email I got from Freshbooks:
I recognize this “idea” and this call to action will not work for every kind of business, or in every circumstance. I recognize not everyone has money to share right now. These are indeed imperfect times, but perhaps you can take the spirit of this message, find the good in it, and evolve my proposal to suit your needs or those around you.
I stayed up late on Wednesday night, watching all of the commentary about the NBA game cancellations. Since Thursday morning, things have been hazy. My head just feels in a fog, with so many reports, stories, and noise.
What’s the best course of action? What to do next? Should I get extra cat food?
Then a Friday call with a good friend set me at ease; “just do your work.” I’m paraphrasing, but the first thing I need to do is my work, because it needs to get done, so I can send an invoice and get paid.
Does it NEED to be done? In the grand scheme of things? Doesn’t matter. Now isn’t the time for grand thinking, and figuring things out. Do the work, then do what else needs to get done.
I was supposed to travel to NYC on Wednesday, and I’m glad I didn’t. That night I sat down to watch some NBA basketball, and then all heck broke loose. One game cancelled, then another, then the entire NBA season was suspended. Other leagues followed suit in the next day or so.
So just two days later the Queens Marathon got pushed back to November 15th. All schools in PA are closed for two weeks.
Nearly all the people I work for, they’ve got bands who were just heading out on tour, and those tours are cancelled now, which affects a ton of people.
Everything feels foggy now, in a haze. It feels like 9/11 did, but that was this moment, whereas with this we’re still in the after shocks, and we don’t know when it’ll end. All we can do is wait.