Watching TV feels strangely odd (84)

I’ve noticed how quickly one can adapt to a new situation. As we’re repeatedly being told to keep 1,5 meters distance from others, I now look at TV series and movies with new eyes. Normal human behaviour already seems completely odd. People shaking hands, people hugging, people in restaurants, people gathering in droves. I know we will return to that normality in the future, but for now, I guess I prefer to read books. It’s less confronting what we’ll be missing for a while and it is possible to project the new normality on the written word.

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This is a gap year

The thing that bugs me most about our current situation is that I’m not able to visit my parents. Especially the fact that Daughter can’t cuddle with them for an unknown period of time makes me sad. However, I realise there are many situations imaginable when you would have the exact same situation.

Last year I interviewed eight Dutch students about their gap year abroad when they were a teenager. Some went to America, another one to Taiwan, one spent a year on a tiny island in Colombia. Their experiences and surroundings were all very different, but their stories on the first few months were very similar. They all needed to adjust to a life far away from their parents, siblings, friends, knowing that it would take a long time before they would see them again. They all needed to adjust to a new rhythm in life, accept the rules of their host families, adjust to different school regimes and find new friends to hang out with. For most of those I interviewed this meant feeling lonely and lost for weeks, months even. Not being able to hug your parents when you feel lonely and sad at the moment when you need it most, is what most of them referred to when talking about their first period of living abroad.

What I realised this week, is that we now experience this collectively. Despite being at home, you experience the social distance of a gap year. You can talk on the phone, you can send letters, you can see each other through video, but it is not a replacement for the hug we all long for. This is a global gap year, without knowing how many days this year will count.

Luckily I’m at home with the Man and Daughter, so we cuddle as much as we can. As for hugging my parents, I will have to be patient. At some point the gap year will be over. I’m looking forward to the longest and warmest hug ever.

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What to do? (80)

Today is my first (and only) day of work this week. To be honest, I haven’t got a clue what to do. There is some stuff that I could do, but my mind is flat lining whenever I try to come up with a plan for today. Whenever I try to focus, my mind wanders into the unknown future. The truth is that I don’t know what my work will be the coming weeks, months, year. I’m lacking perspective on new payed for jobs and in this new reality I’m not sure how to land new ones. At the same time I started a podcast and I haven’t figured out how to push it forward beyond publishing the two interviews that I’ve already done. As Daughter is home full time, the Man and I have to find a rhythm to take care of her, play with her, while the other can work uninterrupted for a few hours. But he is involved in some interesting paid for projects and I’m not. Therefore it only seems logical I spend more time with Daughter than he does.

I see a lot of entrepreneurs, small and big, adjusting quickly, seeing opportunities for new types of work. I wish I could think as creatively about my work, but for now I’m just too tired to think of anything else than curling up in bed with a book to escape reality.

There is one idea that I hope I can put into action. Writing stories is my preferred way of dealing with stuff. As we are now living in a different country than a few weeks ago I want to write a series of short stories from this new country. Over coffee, the Man suggested a great name for this new country. As I’ve always been intrigued by Scarfolk Council I want to see if I can take a similar approach.

That’s it for now. More tomorrow. Or later today.

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How to deal with corona stress

My dear friend Peter shared the best piece of advice I’ve read so far.

Ask yourself “right now, here, am I alive?”

If the answer is “yes,” then continue.

from Peter’s post

It will be my mantra the coming year.

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Finding a new normal (77)

Now that it’s clear that the virus is here to stay, my government explained (a bit) what to expect. A long period in which nothing will be normal. We can’t stop the virus from spreading, the only thing we can control is the speed of spreading to prevent hospitals from being overrun with patients. In the meantime we will keep our physical distance, wash our hands repeatedly, isolate ourselves when needed, and can only hope for the best when infected. That’s a clear message.

It is a hard message, because it will mean that normal life will be disrupted for a very long time. Deep worry resides in my body. I mostly worry about my parents’ health (my dad has a weak heart) and being the unlucky one when I or the Man gets infected (and chances are that will happen at some point in time). At the same time I want to make sure Daughter’s days are filled with fun activities.

I’m grieving for the innocent life we could live up until a few weeks ago. I don’t look forward to the days, weeks and months to come. We all have to look for a new normal in life. I’ll find it, but it will take time to get there. How long? I really don’t know.

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Zo werk ik thuis.

Ik ben al zestien jaar een thuiswerker. Weet je wat het moeilijkste is? De dag fatsoenlijk starten. Als je elke ochtend op een werklocatie wordt verwacht, dan doe je vanzelf de volgende dingen: op tijd opstaan, douchen, ontbijten (of in ieder geval een kop koffie of thee drinken), tanden poetsen en de deur uitgaan in fatsoenlijke kleding. Als je werklocatie op drie passen lopen van je bed is, dan doe je de volgende dingen niet vanzelf: op tijd opstaan, douchen, ontbijten (of koffie of thee drinken), tanden poetsen en fatsoenlijke kleren aandoen.

Het heeft mij best wel wat jaren gekost om routine vast te houden, vooral in periodes wanneer de structuur van extern klantwerk even wegviel. Dat resulteerde regelmatig in dagen dat ik de dag startte door achter m’n bureau te gaan zitten, een beetje ongericht rond te surfen en de hele dag het gevoel te houden dat de dag nog moest beginnen, ook al was het vijf uur in de middag.

Ik heb geleerd dat ik de beste werkdagen heb als ik:

  • op tijd opsta;
  • meteen ga douchen;
  • me aankleed;
  • een pot thee zet en ontbijt;
  • om negen uur achter m’n bureau kruip;
  • ’s ochtends vooral concentratiewerk doe;
  • op een vast tijdstip koffie drink;
  • op een vast tijdstip lunch;
  • na de lunch ga wandelen (minstens een half uur, liefst zelfs een uur);
  • in de middag nog maximaal anderhalf uur werk;
  • de werkdag afsluit met een plan voor wat ik de volgende dag moet doen, en waar ik mee begin.

De slechtste werkdagen heb ik als ik de dag niet goed start.

Ik raad dan ook iedereen die nu voor het eerst langere tijd thuis moet werken aan zo snel mogelijk een dagroutine te bedenken en je daar ook aan vast te houden. Zo heb ik een algemeen geldend dagschema gemaakt en naast m’n bureau gehangen. Zelfs nu nog, na zestien jaar thuiswerken, gebruik ik het als geheugensteun om voldoende pauze te nemen en mezelf te helpen herinneren hoe ik het lekkerste werk.

Zomaar wat tips van een doorgewinterde thuiswerker. Werkze!

Bonustip 1: als er kinderen aanwezig zijn in huis kan ik je van harte aanbevelen een over-ear of noise-cancelling hoofdtelefoon te gebruiken voor de uren die jij thuis mag werken in plaats van zorgen. Het helpt om gezeur en gehuil te filteren 😉

Bonustip 2: dwing jezelf tussendoor even te bewegen. Je krijgt nauwelijks natuurlijke beweging in deze gekke weken. Doe wat stretches, loop de trap extra op en neer, ren op de plaats, of zet een lekkere dansplaat op en ga even helemaal los. Nodig ook je huisgenoten uit tijdens dit moment!

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