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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Barker

The COVID-19 Diaries: Do I Even Want "Normal" Back?

Contributed by Meredith Kasheta

As a serial entrepreneur and proud workaholic, Corona was not what I was expecting for quarter one of this year. I had just quit my full-time job six months earlier to focus on GROWING my own business and that simply doesn't happen when the world shuts down.

I also have an auto-immune disease. And get severe asthma whenever any minor virus tickles my throat. Suddenly my job is in jeopardy, I'm on the "immuno-compromised" list and 2020 isn't looking so hot.

Although I technically work from home, my life was pretty active most days. I would drive to clients, coffee shops and connect with friends and family almost every night of the week. Even "low-key" nights often involved dinner and a movie out with my husband.

Pan to our new reality. It was far from my normal. I'm not prone to panic but I can't say I wasn't scared. I heard a therapist on a podcast say if you weren't feeling anxious about life right now, there was probably something wrong with you and I found some solace in that.

My husband is also self-employed, and we just got married last summer. This was one of our first real-life "how are we going to handle this" situations as husband and wife.

At first, it was a little tense. I mean news outlets seemed to update us every three seconds with another death count or isolation restriction. Who needs that? I get being informed but I have always preferred the blissfully unaware route over putting too much content into my life that was going to increase fear or worry. I can't control it. I can only do my part by staying at home and following whatever guidelines the government and powers that be come up with.

So, about that normal. Now that we're a few weeks in, here's what it looks like. Work, yes. Thankfully. But not at the chaotic level I had always tried to sustain. Evenings are spent cooking with my husband - not eggs and cheese at midnight (guess who else is a workaholic?) - but real meals, from cookbooks! Those meals are often followed up by bike rides or taking our dogs to the park together, which we usually only had time to do on holidays before.

And sure, we've watched our fair share of Netflix (I cannot confirm or deny whether Tiger King was on the list, but I may have a shirt on order that says, "Hey all you cool cats and kittens"). But that Netflix is relaxing, enjoyable. There's no worrying about the 5 am morning that is just around the corner. The same with cooking, staying active and playing board games. What I've found is that outside of the whole scary pandemic, this time is relaxing.

Are we worried about our expenses? Yes. Are we budgeting weekly to make sure we bring in enough to make it? Yepper. But we're also connecting on a whole new level.

And that connection many of us are finding isn't just with partners, spouses or roommates. It's with ourselves. When this started, I hoarded all the snackies and prepared to eat my feelings. But about a week in, when it became obvious that it was going to be a much longer quarantine than we thought, I made a decision. A month is a long time. And I'd been meaning to start meditating. To start journaling my goals daily. And to work out consistently. I had to get real with myself. Was time the issue or was committing to myself and following through? Thirty days is enough time to put all those things into practice and start reaping the results. So, I did. Was it easy? No! But I wanted to come out of this with a clear head, a focus on others (including my husband) and a stronger body than I started with.

And now a few weeks in, I'm starting to wonder. Do I really want my old normal back? Do I want to work twelve to fifteen-hour days and cook eggs with my husband at midnight before we pass out? Do I want to give up meditating by the lake outside my door or walking my dogs a few miles before dinner?

Fear is a real thing. Anxiety is a real thing. Losing your job is a real thing. And those all freaking suck. No question. But what if amidst all those realities, there is an opportunity to connect in a deeper way than you ever thought possible - with God, with yourself, with your quarantine partners and friends that you're always too busy to call - just by slowing life down? I think there is. And frankly, when this whole social distancing thing is over, I want that to be my new normal.

Meredith is the owner of Meeting Meredith Creative, an Orlando-based content strategy and copywriting agency. Along with loving words, she's obsessed with Diet Root Beer, her husband and their ever-growing pack of rescue dogs.

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