As I work from home, what I am working hardest on is staying positive and grateful as the world navigates through this uncharted territory.
We are seeing plenty of bad; just turn on the news, or scroll through your Facebook feed and you will see it. A lot of it.
But I am choosing to focus on the good. And I am seeing a lot of that too.
Settling into my new normal from the comfortable confines of my home, I am trying to create healthy and positive routines.
I am up early each day and on my laptop; feeling blessed that I have so much work to do and that I can do it all from my couch.
I am stocked up now with enough groceries to last us without leaving the house for at least three weeks, probably longer.
With Shelly’s brain injury and PTSD I constantly remind myself that my most crucial job is being her caregiver. Her brain is always on high alert, balancing near panic mode in the most normal of times.
So the uncertainty of this pandemic has her PTSD in overdrive. Yes, I was one of those putting some focus on stocking up the refrigerator and pantry over the past week. Not to hoard, but to make sure we had enough of what we need for the upcoming weeks. Without this reassurance, Shelly’s PTSD would immobilize her with a wave of fear, panic and terror.
My top task is to keep this trauma at an absolute minimum for her.
I am trying to be mindful of her space and the routines that she has in place each day, while creating new ones as I try to gracefully ease into being a constant within her space.
Sixteen months ago I was diagnosed with type-2 Diabetes. From the moment of diagnosis I have taken this with the utmost seriousness.
I totally changed my behavior and my way of life. I have eliminated carbs and sugar from my diet, which has tested all aspects of self-control as I basically live in a bakery (Shelly is a baker :)). I have lost 38 pounds. I am 53 years old and this morning I weighed less than any day since I was in my 20’s.
I am now stuck at home with a months-worth of food at my fingertips. But I am committed more than ever to keep the weight off and not give into temptation of snacking between meals. I am 5 pounds away from my 1994 wedding weight of 175 pounds. I am determined to come out of this weighing less than that.
I keep hearing and reading the reports that I am in an extremely high-risk group to have major complications. This has my attention as I need to be here to continue to take care of Shelly, so I am taking the precautions that I need to take. I am in a position now where I will only leave the house for Shelly, the dogs and I to do our daily walks through the neighborhood.
Music is my therapy, as well as my passion. I have been amazed and inspired all week long seeing artists provide their art for free from the comfort of their homes. They are doing this as a way for themselves to cope with their own isolation as well as giving back to us in our time of need.
Each evening, as we unwind from the day, Shelly and I tune into YouTube as Ben Gibbard (front man of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service) conducts a daily 50 minute performance from his home studio in Seattle. He plans to do this every day for at least two weeks. It definitely has provided a calming effect for me.
No matter what your music genre of preference is; by now you can find someone every day doing something with their art similar to what Ben is doing. I suggest taking the time to explore this.
I am a Mortgage Loan Originator; which is a fancy name for a Loan Officer.
My industry is in chaos. Early in the month we became inundated with refinance applications as rates hit historic lows. I turned in far more loans in a two week period than I ever have before. I am working diligently from 6 AM to beyond 5 PM each day. For that I feel extremely blessed.
Our industry typically closes $1 to $2 trillion in loans each year in the US. Suddenly $11 trillion worth of loans made sense to refinance. Our phones started ringing off the hook.
Since then, as realities and panic have hit the financial markets rates have been on a wild roller coaster ride with volatility like we’ve never seen before.
I lived through, and have written about (here) my struggles with the past economic downturn. In a lot of ways I hit what many would call rock-bottom. It has taken me all the way until now to finally feel like we have recovered from that as a family. I never can help but worry about what’s next.
But I always try to stay focused on the things that really can be controlled and what really matters most.
Through all of this I have witnessed the greatest example of leadership I’ve ever seen within a company. I was once an executive in the grocery industry and have been around upper management types my entire career. But I have never seen leadership like what Steve Jacobson has provided for us at Fairway Independent Mortgage.
By 4 AM PST each day we always have an email from him where he guides and leads from his wisdom based in common sense and his kind heart. I read it each morning before I even get out of bed, and from that point forward proper perspective is set for the day.
For those of you on Twitter, he is a great follow @Fairwaysteve1.
Now more than ever this type of leadership is crucial.
Here is an excerpt from Steve’s email to us this morning;
Fun——has not been cancelled
Being good to others——not cancelled
Learning; growing; maturing—-not cancelled Reaching out to others——-not cancelled.
Being grateful—-not cancelled
Being able to laugh—-not cancelled
How about——-EVEN IF WE just start today—-BE NICE to each other?
Immune systems must stay strong to BEAT this opponent. Being kind helps the “other person’s immune system and YOURS.
What would happen if each person who has read this far is one thing today?
Really, really, really, really, really NICE to anyone (and yes—-that includes YOUR fellow Fairway teammates) they come in contact with? Why not GIVE each other Grace—-isn’t that our choice?
Why not use this time to “REFRAME” how we think? Why not use this time to SLOW DOWN——not speed up?
Why not BE grateful to be blessed with another day?
We play on.
Encouraging that the entire company to work from home, amazingly he is purchasing Cybex workout equipment for all of us employees to have and work-out with inside of our homes (that’s unheard of!) as well as virtual fitness classes that the whole household can participate in.
He’s conducting daily conference calls communicating how to best do our job from home, walking us off the ledge of stress while always emphasizing that our jobs are not what’s truly most important right now.
He guides us to understand what the new normal is, leading us on how to best play the new game.
He’s given us all a bank of sick time to use if we or a loved one gets this. As well as having the corporate trainers develop programs to keep employees kids engaged, educated and entertained while we are all suddenly at home.
I share this as a real-world example of good that is going on right now. There are thousands of stories like this. It’s important that we focus on them and not lose sight of the fact that the good outshines the bad.
I know more about grief than any other subject. So I can’t stop reflecting on all of those that have already lost loved ones from this virus, and those that will very soon be losing those that are the most important thing to their world.
This makes my heart hurt, as I know so well what a life sentence grief provides.
I worry about Shelly.
I worry that I can keep doing my part to keep her safe. I am again blown away and inspired by her positivity, resilience and perspective as we hunker down into this together. But I do worry about her getting sick, as a widow it is only natural for my mind to go there.
I worry about our sons Dylan and Taylor.
They are grown now. As much as I wish I could keep them locked up safe inside our home, I can’t. They have their own lives. Shelly and I have provided the foundation for them to make wise choices.
But I worry that they are always safe.
I worry about my Mom and Dad.
They are in their 80’s and settling into the new home they downsized into just a month ago. Although it’s only 13 miles away. It feels a lot further now. I am in close touch, making sure they are taking the necessary precautions and have what they need.
It’s important right now that we focus on the good that is all around us.
We are resilient people. We will collectively be stronger than ever before.
Even though we may be physically apart, we will get through this together.
Wishing the best of health to you and your family, as well as the strength and perspective to keep fighting to stay grateful and positive.