2020 had an exciting beginning. Progress not Perfection: A Millennial’s Story debuted right before the new decade. The Progress not Perfection with Dr. W. podcast also got off to a strong start in January. We were planning events around the book and had interviews lined up for the podcast. It was an exciting time.
The beginning of the year was also a busy academic time with teaching, multiple conference acceptances with travel, a journal article to prepare, and a chapter in a book. There were also several plans in the works for after March 2020, after completing these academic commitments.
In early March, the concerns of coronavirus in the United States began to rise. There was a lot of discussion about if things would change in our routine. We spoke about our travel and decided to cancel. We thought we were being too concerned but little did we know within the week, the world would completely change. A few days later I was notified that the conference would be cancelled due to concerns of the coronavirus spread. I was shocked. This was a large national conference. This was my first sign that things would be changing.
It was the middle of March 2020. What I did not realize is how quickly they would be changing. Within a few days of this notification, more conferences cancelled. Colleagues in Europe informed me of the stay at home orders. The pace of changes was rapid. It was almost too quick to catch up.
Then came Thursday. This day felt very different. Officials in the state of Connecticut were updating the public quickly and often. I felt as though I could not walk away from the computer for more than a few minutes without missing the news. I had a feeling that higher education would move quickly. Meetings were called and we were notified that the semester would be online for about two weeks. I understood the two-week guideline but knew in my gut it would be longer. This was March 13th, 2020. This was the last day I was on campus.
We quickly transitioned course to online formats. Colleagues began their work from home routines. A week later Peter was also working from home remotely. The two weeks of online learning turned into the rest of the semester. As of this writing, the summer semester is beginning online and stay at home orders are in place until at least May 20th, 2020.
The changes in our lives went far past work. Social distancing measures were put in place (to stay about 6 feet apart from other individuals while in public). Store hours shifted especially for citizens over 60 to have time in the morning to shop alone. Other stores changed their hours, limited the number of individuals allowed in the store, or switched to the online space entirely. Restaurants and bars were ordered to close and only serve take away service. Gyms, hair, and nail salons were also ordered to close. All major events were cancelled for the foreseeable future.
The medical community had shortages in personal protective equipment necessary to do their jobs and take care of individuals sick with COVID19. Testing centers were set up. All citizens were encouraged to stay home.
There was a lot to deal with and adjust to. It was a new normal that happened within days. Individuals and businesses had to adjust quickly. In addition, there is a lot of uncertainty when things will change back. Even when they change back, what will life look like?
I will admit, at first, I did not know how to feel. The first week was focused on the changes, moving my classes online, and what needed to be done. The second week was an adjustment with Peter working from home. The third week came feelings of anger and sadness. I needed to process. I also had major plans for Belle’s Notebook that would all be on hold for the time being. We made the decision to hold off on major content until June 1st and to support the local community and businesses during this time.
I wanted to write this blog to review all of the changes that have occurred in the first few months of 2020. There is a lot to unpack and process as well as a lot of uncertainty for what the next few months will look like.
While we do not know what the future holds, there have been a few things Peter and I have experienced. What I can share at the moment are the things that I have learned in the last month of teaching and working remotely:
- Life has slowed down: we get the chance to experience life at a slower pace with less distractions.
- We learned we can adjust quickly: jobs that people thought needed to be done in person can now be successfully completed online. We can learn and grow even with little notice and still be successful.
- I miss my colleagues, students, and friends: I am a social person, I need to connect with others. I cannot wait to be back in a classroom and working with my colleagues.
- Whatever you are feeling, it is ok: we are experiencing something that has never been seen before. It is ok to feel however you feel. I have gone through seemingly every emotion in this time (fear, love, anger, sadness, joy, gratitude, sorrow, relief).
- Self-care is important: it is going to look different now. The way I used to engage in self-care is very different now. Before it was getting my nails done, getting a massage, taking care of my eyebrows. Now it is a car ride by myself to listen to music and think.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It is my hope that this was relatable and helpful to you. I will be checking in soon, I promise
Be safe and be well.