Covid confessions

Last Friday Daughter woke up with a fever. The new guidelines for younger children is to get them tested when showing covid signs. I called to make an appointment and early Friday afternoon the Man took her to the test centre. A smooth and speedy process. The test location (the very interesting venue called De Rijtuigenloods) now serves as vaccination centre as well and therefore they made some changes in procedure since I went there. You no longer drive-through, but park your car and walk inside. As I got tested before, I prepared Daughter what to expect. People wearing a lot of protective gear. The swabbing that can feel very awkward. The location it would take place. The Man told me she showed some nerves beforehand, but the test was done swiftly and skilfully. She got rewarded with a box of new pencils and on top of that saw a train inside the building. “I didn’t even have to cry,” she said to me. Brave little girl.

I expected the test results would come in quickly as well. They’ve been in business for a year now, so basically everything should run smoothly. I was wrong to expect that. Daughter has no digital ID to log into governmental services yet so we had to wait for a call centre employee to call us with the results. Sunday afternoon they still hadn’t called, despite the promise to have test results within 48 hours. I called and after a few attempts (because I called half an hour too early the first time, which technically was still within 48 hours and therefore there might be a (slight) chance that I would receive a call during that half hour) I had someone on the line who was allowed to read the test results. Negative. That was a relief. Daughter went off to the park immediately and was allowed to attend school today.

Talking about school. The whole going back to school in February was and wasn’t a blessing. Due to a snow storm she missed the very first day in school in 2021. The school decided Sunday night that they wouldn’t find it safe for teachers to travel to school. In our region snowmageddon didn’t really happen, so school’s decision was an overreaction to the situation. The rest of that week, Daughter sled to and from school, as there was no snow free route to bike to school. That took extra time out of our regained working hours, since it is a twenty-five minutes walk to school while pulling a four year old on a sleigh.

Then we had the most wonderful weekend skating on ice.

And then rain came to cover the streets in ice and therefore we had another school free Monday. This time the right decision. Even if school would be open, we couldn’t have made it in the morning as all the side walks and streets between our home and school were bone breaking slippery. Only four regular school days remained before the holidays. Yet another week where working hours cut in half.

Today is Daughter’s ninth day in school in 2021. I really hope we can have some uninterrupted normal school weeks this March. I really need some sort of steady rhythm to keep up with my course work, serve my current client and create a new episode for my podcast. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to receive a message that a kid in Daughter’s class is diagnosed with covid-19, which leads to quarantine measures for the whole class. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.

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Zoom fatigue explained

Here’s an interesting article trying to make an informed guess as to why videoconferencing all day long is so exhausting. The author suggests some reasons:

  • being stared at for hours at a time at close range: the faces on your computer screen are within the 60 cm ‘intimate’ space, normally reserved for loved ones and family members, and you’re literally being stared at like giving a speech on a stage.
  • overload on sending and receiving non-verbal cues: communicating non-verbally takes more effort, like nodding longer.
  • constantly looking in the mirror: standard setting in many video call software is that you see your own video stream, amongst those of the other participants. Your looking in the mirror and previous research has shown that can cause self-evaluation and negative affect.
  • video call convention requires sitting still: in order to be visible to the others, centred in your video stream, you are moving less than in other settings. Think about all the things you normally do when calling someone using audio only.

Even though more thorough research needs to be conducted all of the above sounds very plausible to me. So next time someone sends you a zoom (or teams) link, suggest doing a traditional audio call and take a walk outside instead. And when meeting with a group, agree on a new convention that it’s alright to step out of view in you office, not face your screen, or switch off your camera entirely.

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Read: Atomic Habits

The Man bought (and read) the book Atomic Habits by James Clear a while ago. When I was searching for a new book to read, I found this title in our digital library and asked him whether it was worth my time. He said yes, so I read it this weekend.

The main message in the book is to create small habits that make you better 1% a day. Accumulative, over the course of a year for instance, you’ve become a lot better. Clear describes in his book how you can create such atomic habits.

One of the most helpful elements of Clear’s method for me is to shift your focus from setting big goals (I want to write a book) to daily routines that can lead to such big goals (I write one page every day). I’m now figuring out what tiny habits I want to create that serve me identity best.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to turn (small) bad habits into good habits, whether this is a personal goal (loos weight) or a business goal (get more clients).

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I’m a (tiny) prize winning author

Do you remember I sent in a story for a writing contest? For the first time ever? Well, it won! My story was chosen as the winner by the jury.

The contest took place in November and originally the award ceremony was scheduled for December, but due to lockdown, they wanted to postpone the event, hoping for a moment when they would be allowed to organise the ceremony in person. As restrictions got extended even further they caved in and opted for an online event instead. That event took place last night.

All nominees were invited to read their story and a wonderful singer sung a few songs in between. Nobody knew who the winners would be, except for the jury of course. The organiser first invited the first six stories, those who didn’t win a prize, in random order. So there was a bit of tension building up during the night. I constantly expected to be the next one to be asked to read, but to my biggest surprise I was not part of the first six. That meant my story ended up in the top 3. Clearly my story became third, so I thought. But I wasn’t called for third position. Then it was between me and one other candidate. The jury started reading an intro about who became second. What? That’s not the theme of my story. Wait. What?! I won? I won!

That came as a surprise. I feel flattered that others liked my story. It’s a great compliment. Winning wasn’t my goal writing this story. I thoroughly enjoyed doing some research about the town I now call my home and then imagining what could have happened centuries ago. Nevertheless, it’s great to know that is was a good story after all. A big encouragement to keep writing. And show them to others.

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