Wow, what a time. How are you feeling? Really, how are YOU?

Here’s how I am feeling – confused, scared, at times strangely excited (what on earth does the future hold?), fearful, curious, frustrated, concerned… the list goes on. 

While I live in Australia, my mother is in Scotland – fearful; my brother is in San Francisco – locked down in his apartment with his wife. My Dad, in isolation in Florida; at an age where he would be a victim of the battlefield triage approach which medical staff have been tragically forced to adopt in Italy.

I feel like I (and I know others can relate) have been living this viral nightmare way ahead of the country I live in. Conscious of everything that has affected my friends and family overseas over the past couple of months; unable to ignore the magnitude of the problem; while we’ve been business as usual here in Australia. It’s finally hitting home here. Or is it? We aren’t in lock down. We are being asked to social distance. We’re receiving a barrage of mixed messages – “stay at home; don’t leave the house unless you are an essential worker (ie. you have a job); but work from home; or go into work if you need to; and you can still go to a car yard (sounds very essential?). Hairdressers must remain open, for thirty minute appointments only*; *correction, let’s backtrack; for any length of appointment, as long as they practice social distancing – an art I have no idea about, given the inevitable contact between a hairdresser and a client – perhaps the Ministry of Magic can advise. Goodness knows the world could do with some magical intervention right now.  

I have been made to feel sensationalist at times; trying to observe social distancing “early” on. Quietly concerned with what is heading our way but worried it seems I should be donning my tinfoil hat and ringing an “end is nigh” bell. Not feeling it’s my place to say too much (I’m no medical expert; I’m not the PM; but I can see the trends elsewhere); but not necessarily going out for that “one last catch up before the corona”; visibly making choices outside of friendship groups and the general consensus on the ground here in Australia.

Working in mass participation events, it hit us earlier than some in Australia… It seems surreal to think that less than two weeks ago we were making the incredible decision to cancel a 3000 person event in June. At the time it seemed like a tough call – we searched for direction from governing bodies, to no avail; but seeing events shut down worldwide and mass gathering restrictions coming into place, we knew it was inevitable and after all – how could we risk the safety of our participants. It is even more incredible that I have found myself responding to said participants who have criticised us for making the decision “too early”, for not “waiting six weeks for it to blow over”. Yes, even now, with everything we see in the rest of the world, that is the thought pattern of some people here on the ground. It astounds me. It WORRIES me. Every day moves so quickly, it’s surreal.

However, in such challenging times, it’s important to recognise that it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Ultimately, we are being asked to do one incredibly simple task –  STAY AT HOME. 

We are allergic to bad news. We are accustomed to freedom and choice. We don’t like being told what to do. But is what we’re being told to do, really that bad? Stay in the comfort of my lovely home, with a fridge freezer full of food; electricity; internet to keep me entertained and connected; the ability to call friends and family and see their faces and chat in realtime. Really, is this so bad?! I admit I have been nervous about the enforced social isolation – I miss long bike rides and coffee catch ups. HELLS, I MISS HUGS. As much as I love my own company, I have found the prospect of social isolation very daunting. But, after some powerful conversations this week, I have come to realise that although initially confronting, this can be turned into the most incredible opportunity, if we choose to see it that way. 

How often do we have the chance to sit with ourselves? To not be able to succumb to distraction, or to run away? To not be stuck at home; to be safe at home. 

Here are some of the things I plan to invest my time in. I would love to hear your ideas too. Goodness knows there’s going to be time! And on a side note – I realise I live alone; don’t have any kids to entertain, and now have no work to do… We are all in different positions. I am happy and healthy and incredibly fortunate in the grand scheme of things. 

  1. Invest in my physical and mental health and self care: practising yoga on my balcony each morning; finding workouts online and spending more “virtual” time on my bike on Zwift. Taking time to read the stack of books I never get around to because I’m “too busy”; working on my meditation practice. (which currently looks like someone sitting, fidgeting for five minutes with a million thoughts darting around her head. Know the feeling?)
  1. Invest in the environment. There won’t be any travelling around in my diesel van; no fuel emissions from my vehicle. I’m fortunate I am less than 100 metres from the grocery shop. There will be less food waste as I purchase groceries economically and efficiently and have time to prepare and cook them. There is time to fix broken things; not just throw them out and buy new. And I’m sure a myriad of other tiny steps to make a little difference – I’m keen for more ideas on this one?
  1. Making time to check in with friends and family. This past year I’ve been an absolute disaster at keeping in touch. Now, I have time. And instead of a quick text here and there – a phone call or a video call. A warm hello from the comfort of my home. An important check in with friends and family, far and wide.

    And finally, as a serial – let’s just avoid those thoughts and keep busy – offender, I shall be sitting with my thoughts and my feelings. Knowing it’s okay if things don’t feel okay. Knowing it’s okay if things do! We are all sharing a collective angst and it’s okay to feel the feels; to speak openly, with no shame. You can be vulnerable. You are loved. IT’S OKAY. 

As we were reminded on a beautiful group Zoom call with Lululemon and Amber Hawken this morning, “How you show up in this time, is your contribution”. 

Don’t find yourself tomorrow, regretting your actions today. Yes keeping active is key to a healthy mind and body, but is that group ride really essential (current guidelines suggest solo rides only)? How are you riding? What if you end up crashing and put unnecessary pressure on our vital hospital system? Do you need to pop out for just one grocery item? Can’t it wait, to minimise trips and exposure? Every single person you have contact with is another chance to catch or unknowingly, asymptomatically spread this virus. This is not just about you. 

I’m no expert, I know. I’m not doing things perfectly. But I do know that it is not a big ask to focus on love and community right now. As Jacinda Ardern powerfully directed: “Act as if you have the virus”. Wash your hands; practice great hygiene and

please, please, please, STAY AT HOME. 

And thank you, to all of our staff on the frontline. We appreciate you x

(Feature image side note – neither Jess nor I have COVID-19, that we are aware of).