Meditation, Mental Stability, Prioritizing Life, Positivity, Wholistic Living

5 Ways to Cope with working from home during COVID19

I dont know about you but the last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride for me! The world has changed and will most likely never return back to the normal that we knew  prior to December 2019. With all of these new changes underway, it is important that we learn to adapt to those changes, flow with the tide so that we are not swept under by the current. The way we have now been forced to live, move around and communicate has tested even the very fabric and theory of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

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In my own personal experience of being in lockdown since March 16th 2020, I have had to process how this new norm has impacted me emotionally and physically.  When the national address by our local authority (Bahamas) was issued on Sunday March 15th announcing that all schools would be closed until further notice, I immediately began taking the necessary steps for the way forward.  I knew that given the present circumstances, it was only a matter of time before the domino effect would begin.  If the children were now out of school then the parents of those children would obviously be working from home next.

Work laptops had been distributed and a Business Continuity Plan set in place at least two weeks prior to the national announcement. None of us were truly mentally prepared for what is now the second month of a 24hour curfew with complete lockdown on weekends.

Back in the day, this would have been my ideal arrangement! Being able to home school my son while working from home would have been a dream come true for me.  They say be careful what you pray for, you just might get it. Well, its now 6 weeks in and I am just now settling into this new temporary set up of being a working professional wife and mother operating from home.

The first two weeks were a major challenge to say the least. And there were a few days of total melt down and temper tantrums…not from my son, but me!

You see, I work in a very fast paced, high intensity environment where my primary function is not only time sensitive but carries a very high degree of risk. Where I would normally be sitting in the front of two large computer monitors which assists me in my daily routine of working between multiple applications; I was now confined to a small laptop doing the exact same work, volume and all.  My husband, who is classified as an essential worker, has continued as normal, going out each morning and working a full day. So imagine the chaos in the first few days! Now I had to manage an over active demanding three year old boy at home alone while trying to meet the demands of this new virtual office set up. Oh did I mention that I was only 2 months into this new position before COVID 19 lockdown started?! Not to mention that my every move was being closely monitored.  Lets just say anxieties were high and so was the pressure to deliver on everything I had sold myself to be…

Between the noisy toddler who refused stay in his section of the house and me trying to adjust to my new work environment outside of the new position, my stress level had hit an entirely new high!

In the first week I attempted to keep the usual morning routine. I woke my son up as I would normally do for school, getting him and myself dressed (bath and lounge clothes).  I would prepare breakfast, set it up in the t.v. room and put on his favorite educational program and then anxiously proceed to my work station which I had set up on my family’s dining room table.

After the first week I realized that  I was working longer hours in my attempt to meet unrealistic deadlines given the circumstances, closing down my laptop sometimes way past the 5pm cut off.

By the end of week two I was feeling extremely drained and depleted mentally and physically.  I was not enjoying this work from home experience at all and at some points I felt very far removed from enjoying the opportunities that had really been afforded to me.  I needed to recalibrate my mind.  I could not do anything about what was happening but I needed to change how I viewed the entire situation and focus on what I could change.  The serenity prayer needed to be invoked.

I needed to stay calm. I needed to reevaluate my responses and reactions in all situations before I allowed my thoughts to be released from my mind.  It took a few weeks but I am finally getting into the groove of truly being at peace with everything.

I am finally seeing the privileges that the present circumstances have afforded us rather than the pains.  I enjoy the privilege of sleeping an hour later and being able to walk the short distance from the bedroom to my work station at the dining room table in my PJs.  There is no morning commute traffic and no pressure to look my best during the daily virtual team meetings.

I enjoy opening up the front door and sliding door located right off the dining room to let in the morning breeze, inviting the sunbeams to shine through as I make my morning coffee at my leisure. I now allow my son to sleep longer.  He wakes up at whatever time nature allows, and this affords me a smoother morning flow; a time to mentally and spiritually prepare for the long day ahead.

When MJ (my son) wakes up I do not restrict his play time or the time that he takes to complete his school assignments. I don’t pressure him or get upset when I see him losing focus.  He’s three and if he retains anything right now, it will most likely be the memory of how he felt during his time spent at home with mommy. My only request from him is that he allows me to work undisturbed in my work area while he plays in his.  “Only interrupt mommy if you need to eat, use the bathroom or change the channel.” He is catching on and this new arrangement has proven successful over the last 3 weeks…Thank God! 🙂

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I don’t know for sure how long this new lifestyle is expected to last, but I have determined to make the best of it.  I plan to take in every moment and see it as an opportunity to grow, reflect and retreat. Once its gone and we return back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I dont want to have any regrets about how I spent this time.

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Here are a few tips that I applied to my current lifestyle change that I feel would be helpful to my readers:

  1. Take Mental Breaks:  You cannot pour from an empty cup. It is imperative that you find the time to focus on your self care.  Your physical body needs rest in order to operate at its optimum level.  You need to know when you have reached your limit-take a break from the work.  This was one thing that I was failing to do during my daily routine and that is why by the end of the work day I was feeling so drained.  You might not be able to take a full lunch hour break, but find at least 15-20 minutes within the work day to move away from your workstation and do what relaxes you.  For me its simply moving into the t.v. room, kicking back in the recliner while I enjoy my lunch then closing my eyes for a few minutes before returning to work.  Sounds simple but I found that it has made a world of difference to simply get away from the virtual office for an hour or so.  At the end of the work week I literally break my workstation down and put it away in a room where I don’t have to see it.  Literally, out of sight, out of mind! And I enjoy my weekend in the company of my family, doing the things that we love together.
  2. Be Creative:  Being restricted to your home does not restrict your ability to create. What would you normally do for recreation, fulfillment or selfcare?   Perhaps its a service that you pay for others to provide to you.  Maybe its a place that you retreat to at the end of a busy week.  Why not try recreating those same experiences from the comfort of your home! I am a girly girl, so I love being pampered.  Getting massages, hair and nails done professionally at least once per month is that selfcare gift to myself. So in my attempt to feel some level of normalcy during the lockdown, all things considered, I purchased a nail gel manicure system on Amazon, which cost me under a $100.00. I unashamedly admit that I had the most exciting and exhilarating feeling when it arrived, two weeks ago! Just to see the colors and quality of the product was enough for me to connect with my past spa experiences (my happy place).  I was eager to test my own skills out and even though the first time around I didn’t quite meet the standards of my regular nail tech, it still gave me a sense of accomplishment and recreation. I have friends that like to dine out on the weekends-trying new restaurants and their favorite dishes takes them to their happy place.  So since they couldn’t get to their favorite spots they instead spend their evenings and weekends recreating different recipes at home. If the things you like to do requires hand skills then your creative juices should thrive in this current environment.  I found that Pinterest is a very useful tool to help harness your creativity. The only limitation is your state of mind.
  3. Find Inspiration: It is important to tune into the positive especially during this time of bad news constantly bombarding the media; which can play a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing and balance.  Sometimes you have to intentionally disconnect from social media and find inspiration for your soul. It might be a book, an album, a song, a YouTube channel but it is vitally important to recharge mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Some days, the stress level is higher than others.  On those days, I am intentional about replenishing my spiritual energy.  I draw a hot bath, pour in my bath salts and bubbles, set up my personal laptop (away from the water!), find a topic that is fitting to my spiritual needs at the time and I tune in.  Feel free to add in your favorite cup/glass of beverage, maybe some scented candles for that added effect.  Whatever your preference, it is important to note here that your spirit is more vulnerable than you think and you must choose a reputable source to draw from. Just as you would not eat physical food from anywhere for fear of falling sick physically, so is the same for your spirituality. Be careful what you allow into your hearing. Shut down anything that makes you feel depressed, condemned or sad. Choose wisely, listen, meditate, relax- create your own sanctuary of peace and serenity amidst the chaos.
  4. Stay Connected: In a world of new technology, physical distancing doesn’t mean that you have to disconnect from family and friends.  Now more than ever, it is important to remain technologically connected with the people that you love and are unable to physically connect with.  Use platforms such as WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom to check in with your family and friends regularly, specifically those living alone.  I would imagine that this lockdown might be weighing more heavily on those persons emotionally.  When you speak to your family and friends, make sure to keep the communication light hearted though.  No COVID 19 topics of gloom and doom, you hear enough of that already…Find out how your loved ones are doing when you connect?  Truly listen to them, not with the intent to respond but to understand how they are really doing. Let them know how important they are to you. Talk about regular life happenings, events and future plans.  Keep hope and faith at the forefront of your conversations, always.
  5. Plan Ahead: I think it is safe to conclude that out of the human needs according to Maslow, the need for safety/security seems to be heading the chart right now.  With the level of uncertainty around us and the ever changing tides globally, no one is exempt from the possibilities of the trickling effects at the end of COVID 19.  The only saving grace that we have is to be as prudent as possible when it comes to our plans where it involves spending.  Now that I am working from home, I have found that I have been able to save more because I don’t have to worry about filling up my car tank with gas for the commute to work.  At least 3-4 days out of the work week when I was in office I would carry my packed lunch from home, treating myself to Starbucks or a nice lunch some Thursdays and Fridays, whereas now I make all of my breakfast and lunch meals at home.  The same is true where our son is concerned.  We would have normally been paying school fees on a weekly basis which included breakfast and lunch.  We were able to save a few hundred dollars for the month of April since our son has been homeschooling, purchasing most of his favorite foods wholesale/ bulk which has saved us a good chunk of change as well.  In fact, I have found that our largest bill at the end of the month is not the mortgage or utility bills, its food.  So what we have now committed to doing is purchasing none perishable food items and household necessities such as toiletries and cleaning products wholesale as appose to retail purchasing.  This small lifestyle change has already saved us at least $1,000.00 in just a few short weeks.  Also, my husband and I have already concluded that our travel plans for 2020 are cancelled. Although I had such high anticipation for our summer family vacation abroad, I chose to see the brighter side of things with the monkey wrench being thrown in our plans.  The money that we were allocating towards travel expenses and recreation we can now add back to our savings.  All monies will be applied to contingency planning and other much needed family goals to be accomplished should everything go well once the dust has settled.  And, instead of airline tickets, hotel accommodations and rental car expenses we can do a staycation,  planning entertainment activities around local sites which we anticipate to begin opening back up by summer at the very least. That’s a whole lot of savings if you ask me…and who would complain about that?

I know this post was long but as usual I had to take you through my journey so that you can see how my methods have been tried, tested and proven before providing any kind of advice or suggestions to my readers.

I do hope that this post has been not only an inspiration to you but also a guide to a healthier, happier lifestyle change…

Be safe, stay healthy and continue to do your part to help heal the world.

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Blessings and Love.

 

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I’m NOT Coming to The Party!

Some time last week, I was having one of those days where I was feeling down and sorry for myself. I was thinking about all of the things that I had not yet accomplished and how far fetched my aspirations all seemed in the grand scheme of things. How everytime I took 10 steps forward, I was being pulled 5 steps back because of circumstances I could not control. I wasnt where I used to be but I was far from where I wanted to be. I was looking at the glass half empty instead of half full. For a good few minutes I began to throw myself a pity party, inviting self doubt and anxiety in to join me. Before I knew it, depression was trying to get in too. …Even caught myself asking the question “Lord, is anyone praying for me?” Dumb question right? I know! In that very moment, it was as if God came in the room and whispered in my ear “I am always with you. You are never alone!” Then He reminded me of His promise in Jeremiah 29: 11. With that said, I knew that fear and faith could not coexist in the same space- I had to choose. At the end of that little conversation in my head, I had no other choice but to leave the party!

If you are not careful, the enemy will try to catch you off guard, he waits for the opportunity when you’re most vulnerable. All he needs is a foot in the door of your heart and he will begin setting up! Don’t give him the attention! Slam the door in his face; tell him he’s not welcomed in your space! AND you will NOT be attending his pity party!

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Faith Versus FUD

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.  People often become more committed to a familiar discomfort than they are to an unfamiliar new possibility.” Lisa Nichols

Today I want to address the issue of fear, which has so many dynamics that it would be nearly impossible to cover it all in one blog post. After meditating on the topic for this post, I referred to google to see if my initial key phrase actually made any sense. In my search I came across the acronym FUD meaning “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” which was a term used in the early 20th Century to describe the marketing strategy of the well-known IBM computer company. It is speculated by its first competitor, that this strategy was used by IBM’s sales team to instill disinformation in the minds of potential customers who might be considering a new competitive product.
American software developer, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
“The idea, of course, was to persuade buyers to go with safe IBM gear rather than with competitors’ equipment. This implicit coercion was traditionally accomplished by promising that Good Things would happen to people who stuck with IBM, but Dark Shadows loomed over the future of competitors’ equipment or software. After 1991 the term has become generalized to refer to any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon.”
I am convinced that just as it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual realm. Isn’t it interesting how the adversary uses fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) as a competitive weapon against the children of God? He plants seeds of doubt by creating the illusion that the obstacles or setbacks that we can see are more real than the promises that God has spoken over our lives through His word. I guess he knows that in our finite human intellect, it is a lot easier to believe in the tangible (seen or proven) over the intangible (unseen or unproven). His ultimate goal is to replace our faith with FUD. If he can get us to believe that staying in the comfort or safety of what we know will protect us from unforeseen failure, then he has successfully created fear thus producing stagnation. And the enemy knows full well that that is not a spiritual environment conducive for our faith to thrive.
Trust me, I speak from years of experience in this area but I am about to tell you how I was able to conquer my fears, uncertainties and doubts.
One of my favorite writings by the Apostle Paul is found in Hebrews 11. Whenever I need a boost in my faith I go there, it never fails! He outlines the precedence of some of the greatest miracle stories in the bible to sum up faith in action, but the part that resonates most with me is verse 6 when he said:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
So if our faith pleases God, and the absence of faith is fear, it suggests that the enemy’s plan has dual purpose! He knows that once he can get us to become doubtful of God’s promises, fearful and uncertain of the unknown, not only do we ultimately derail God’s divine plans for our lives, we also displease God by the very presence of our fear. I can guarantee that there is nothing the devil loves more than to feel like his plans have succeeded over our trust and confidence in our Heavenly Father.  Let me remind you  that his strategies are as old as time; he has been using FUD since the very beginning of mankind. Case and point: Adam, Eve and the apple!
I think Paul recalls the stories of all of those ancient saints to prove to us that God’s plans always prevail once we put our faith into action.
Let’s look at verse 7 and 8:
7 “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”
Wow! So here we have a man who in holy reverence to God builds this massive ship on dry land proclaiming to his family, neighbors and friends that a flood was coming. Now bear in mind that this floating vessel was the first of its kind back then. They knew nothing about The Titanic or Royal Caribbean’s Symphony. Additionally, their world had never experienced a flood before so I’m pretty sure to his native people, Noah looked like a walking talking lunatic! He came up against incredible opposition during the building process of this boat. I would imagine as a normal human-being although he maintained his faith, he still went back to God a few times just to verify that it was really God’s voice that he had heard. After weeks of building, with no sign of rain, he was probably tempted to give up. However, after being laughed at, scorned and ridiculed, his character beaten down and his self-esteem completely deflated, each day that he woke up to make his way down to that building site he made a conscious decision to maintain his focus on completing the work that God had entrusted to him.

Needless to say, the flood came and it not only solidified Noah’s confidence in his ability to hear God’s voice; it also reassured his faith in God’s protective and redemptive power because he and his family survived the storm and God eventually restored everything that had been destroyed. As for the mockers, sadly enough the flood proved to be dooms day for them because of their disobedience and lack of faith in a God they could not physically see.
8 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”
Now here is another phenomenon that required much faith. Here is a man that left everything that he knew to go to an unknown place under the instructions of God. Imagine leaving the comfort of your birthplace to wonder around in a strange land in hopes that you will eventually reach this never before seen “promised land”. With no map, compass or directions, travelling thousands of miles on foot, horse and donkey as a means of transportation, this scenario would’ve definitely spelt disaster and defeat for most of us living today, but not Abraham. He had tunnel vision to continue on his journey in hopes of reaching Canaan; BUT his path was by no means clear cut. It consisted of many unexpected detours, obstacles, and opposition along the way that would’ve otherwise create FUD. In the process of travelling to Canaan, he had to overcome exile, abuse, hunger, family disagreements, and the list goes on.

This is the same man whose wife, through a promise made by God, did not bare him a son until they were both well in their 80s. Now if that isn’t faith in action, I don’t know what is! And to top it all off, God later challenged Abraham to sacrifice the very son that had been promised and given to him after 80 years of waiting! Though saddened by the strong possibility that he would have to kill his own son out of obedience to God’s instructions he goes up into the mountain still believing by faith that God would provide a way out. And just in the nick of time God steps in to save Abraham’s son from death by his own father’s hands! Can you imagine what level of faith it must have taken for Abraham to come so close to killing his own son all because of His desire to obey and please God?

So in essence what Paul was telling us is that with all of what Noah and Abraham endured and still maintained their faith, then it gives us more than enough ammunition against the tactics of the enemy!

Nowadays, we are no longer restricted to a horse or a donkey with only the stars as a guide if God gives us instructions to move. The advancement of technology has given us computers, navigational systems, cars and airplanes to make the process a whole lot easier. You may say, but what about the resources needed to do what I need to do? Like Abraham, it is important to see beyond the limitations of our present circumstances, to block out all doubt and dispel the fear by activating our faith to action. Sometimes making the first step though small it might be, could very well be the step in the right direction to seeing those plans come to fruition! The resources may not be readily available yet but perhaps writing the vision will lead to the next step and then the next until God makes the provisions or the way clear for the next level.
I can attest to the fact that every time I faced an obstacle, whether it was the loss of a job, a broken relationship, a failed endeavor or a disappointment from derailed plans, God always provided a much better outcome than I could have ever planned on my own. I have seen God provide for me in the most unconventional ways. He has used people and avenues that I would least expect to come through for me during my times of need. So as time progresses, it becomes easier to handle each setback or curve ball with a degree of grace because my faith stands on the foundation of the last miracle and the one before that. I had to train my mind to interpret every single obstacle, detour or delay simply as a temporary setback for a permanent set up.

Now with that being said, I have also come to realize that sometimes our greatest battles are not the illusions (external factors) created to look like failure, rather they are delusions (internal wellbeing), battles of the mind, which is of far greater concern. Delusions are internal beliefs, that have been proven to be wrong but is still maintained by an individual. How you view yourself, those around you and the world at large can create a degree of fear, uncertainty and doubt. This kind of obstacle, in my opinion can be considered as a strong hold that requires both fasting and prayer to break free from this mindset.
It is also very important to create an environment that in conducive to growing your faith. You cannot meditate on the words of pessimistic, negative people and expect to maintain a healthy faith life. Remember the enemy also uses people’s opinions as a target to destroy your faith. Whether you are receiving those opinions directly from family, friends or foe or indirectly through various media streams, be mindful and vigilant of Satan’s craftiness. Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with those that will provide encouragement and solutions rather than ridicule and unfavorable outlooks. Feed your spirit with positive and uplifting material that flush out any thoughts of fear, uncertainty and doubt.
I encourage you today, that whatever obstacles, detours, setbacks or oppositions are staring you in the face, know that it is only an illusion to what is ahead. It is up to you to remain focused, obedient and prayerful. Remember that having faith without action is just as detrimental to our growth as having FUD. See those setbacks as an obstacle course if you may, allow each disappointment, delay, or set back to build the endurance that it takes to push past the fears of the unknown, building up your spiritual muscles and bringing you closer to the finish line.  Make the first step in the direction of your desired outcome, practice patience, learn to be sensitive to God’s voice, so that you know timing, when to move and when to be still. With these components, I am confident that in due course, God will reward you for your diligence.