These are difficult times for everyone, everywhere. The rules keep changing every day, and most of our daily routines that keep us grounded have been tossed out the window.
I have only been back in the U.S. 10 days, after a much needed break from the daily drama I deal with as the owner of a family law firm, part-time professor and full time parent to a teenager that thinks he’s already 21. When I left for vacation on Feb. 26th, I was only aware of 2 cases of the coronavirus in the West Coast. Upon my re-entry, there were over 1,000 cases.
March 9th, my first day back at work was pretty normal, with court operating as usual and a successful mediation that afternoon. The next day, I went to GWU Law to connect with my clinic students, who had just returned from their Spring Break, and we shared stories about our trips without any possible indication that those might be our last for some time. On March 11th, I drove my partner to the airport, fully intending to join him in Florida a few days later. Then, Thursday morning everything changed.
Instead of getting on a plane to visit family in Florida this past weekend, I stayed home and went shopping for food and supplies. My son’s school notified all parents that for the next 2 weeks (at least) students should stay home. Then the emails started to roll in with all the cancelations of mediations, court appearances, conferences, networking events, presentations, and no more in-person classes or meetings with my own students.
If you are an extrovert like me, this exercise in social distancing can be a particularly difficult challenge. We derive tremendous energy and intellectual stimulation from live interactions with others. Isolation is soul crushing.
If you are an uber planner (again like me) all these sudden cancelations can also be devastating. Networking events, family trips, outings with friends, etc. are all off the books for the next several weeks with no certainty of when we’ll be able to reschedule.
But even if you are not an extrovert or planner, the uncertainty caused by the current situation is unprecedented. Things we once took for granted, like the ability to go to a yoga class, or pick up toilet paper at any store, or meet up with friends for a quick bite at a restaurant are no longer options. Many of us are worried about paying our bills next month. I’m not even sure if tomorrow I will be able to go for a walk outside, as some are predicting even further restrictions are coming our way.
We are all having to make significant adjustments at rapid speed. Some people are more resistant to change than others, and not everyone you know or love will act in a socially responsible way. Tough times in my experience have a tremendous tendency to bring out the worst in some, but it can also bring out the best in us.
Find ways to stay calm. Play a game with your children, listen to some soothing music, practice meditation or yoga, take an online class or virtual tour of some of the museums with that option. Catch up on reading, cleaning, or your favorite shows. Most importantly, make sure to connect with those you love because truth be told, they are the key to helping you get through this all.
This too shall pass, but in the meantime, do your best to stay safe and well.
By Regina A. DeMeo