Staying Healthy. Staying Safe.

I hope you’re all healthy and able to stay in contact with family and friends.

This is most definitely a time of crisis, questions, and wondering what the future holds for us all. The uncertainty is weighing on everyone’s mind I’m sure.

As much as we don’t know what the future holds at this point, we do still have to keep our wits about us. I have read about so many theories, cures, end of the world stories, and panic posts it could make a person’s head spin. In fact, I did find myself being overwhelmed with it all so have decided to only tune in to what our Minister of Health has to say.

It’s disturbing to say the least. However, we need to keep a level head through it all. And that means staying informed, staying as far away from others as possible, and not taking advantage of others’ vulnerabilities. I have heard of the scams going on out there now, where people are using scare tactics to get the money of others. It’s truly the terrible side of the human being showing its face now.

There are always a few bad apples ready and willing to take advantage of a situation when others are already panicked. I truly hope none of my readers fall into that category. Human beings are supposed to be the superior species; the intelligent species; and the compassionate species. I have heard too many stories about others being taken advantage of to believe we are superior. I think I’d rather take my chances with a bear than go out into a public setting right now.

Okay, I think my rant is over so I will continue with the positive side of things.

Instead of fretting about not being able to go shopping, socializing, or to large gatherings, take the time to focus on yourself and the people you care about most. Some of you may be isolated, others may be spending the days with the family who resides with you. Either way, it’s important to stay healthy and safe.

We haven’t been affected by the virus as far as being sick goes but we are affected in terms of our jobs and regular routines. And amidst it all, we have a funeral for my uncle. His passing was NOT virus related, but we still need to take the precautions necessary because of the virus. What that means is the actual funeral service is limited to ten family members. Fortunately, the funeral home can broadcast the service via Facebook Live so extended family and friends can attend without leaving the comfort and safety of their own homes. I honestly didn’t ever think I’d see the day when funerals had to be held in this manner.

I could go on and on about the commotion this has caused on so many levels, but I prefer to keep it light. We all need some positivity in our days so turn off the news, turn on the tunes, and do something fun. You do not have control over the world, but you do have control over your actions. Make them count.

Staying Healthy

Staying healthy is more crucial now so fighting the virus is easier. Take advantage of not having to spend hours each week commuting to work. Enjoy more home-cooked meals. Bake more cookies. Read for the fun of it. Play hide-and-seek with your kids. Do feel-good things to boost your mood and outlook. This won’t last forever and creating some healthy habits will carry on once things are back to normal.

It’s important to eat properly at any time, and even more so now. Now that spring is here spend some time trying your hand at gardening (if you don’t already do so). Growing and eating your own produce is not only healthier for your body, but also your mind. Gardening is wonderful stress relief. All you need is a sunny spot, some seeds, potting soil, and containers. It’s amazing how much you can grow in a small space. (If you want to learn more about gardening, hop on over to my gardening website. It’s in its early stages but does contain a growing amount of information. Bwa ha ha!)

Get plenty of exercise. I know a large number of people are upset because fitness centres have had to close, but there are things you can do at home to stay active. Walking is still a thing, provided you are able to stay away from others. Anyone who lives in a rural area has an advantage, but that doesn’t mean urban residents can’t utilize walking paths with caution. If you have children at home, no one says you can’t use them as a set of weights. They’ll learn how to stay perfectly still for a few minutes, and you’ll be able to continue your workout routine. I do warn you though; set the child down as soon as the giggles start.

For those who now must work from home, consider it a bit of a blessing. No more traffic, stuffy office cubicles, or grumpy clients. Okay, maybe you still have the latter, but at least they’re not yelling in your face. Some good has to be found in all of this, because if all we concentrate on is the bad, we’ll drive ourselves crazy.

I am enjoying the view from my office window as I write this. The sun is shining, and the squirrel is running back and forth through the spruce trees. It’s one of the best views a person can have. I am fortunate because I have the option to work at home, even when times are normal.

Image Copyright Diane Ziomek 2020

Staying Safe

Now let’s move on to the staying safe.

By now I hope everyone is taking this pandemic seriously. It won’t cause severe complications for everyone who contracts it, but it can be lethal for those who have underlying health issues. The older a person is, the higher the risk of not only contracting it, but also of dying from it.

Our province has taken measures to educate residents how important it is to follow protocol. Self-isolate if ill, just returned from a holiday, or if you’ve been in contact with someone who has it. This is serious stuff. We all need to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe.

Self-isolation doesn’t have to be dull and boring. We live in an age where we have the power of video chat, text messages and the telephone to keep in contact with others. Keeping busy is not only good for our bodies, but also for our minds. I know people who are taking advantage of the time by cleaning closets, basements, and even pursuing hobbies they haven’t had time for.

I’m still able to go to work at the library even though we are closed to the public. We’re also taking advantage of the time by cleaning shelves, weeding books, and doing the long-overdue inventory. The hours I choose to work are pretty much my own right now, especially this week (due to the family loss). Next week will be business as usual (except with locked doors) and we will be able to get a lot accomplished when patrons aren’t coming and going. We rely on our patrons and they rely on our services as well. We’ll all be glad when we can get back to normal.

There will be times when you must venture out to the grocery store, the gas station, or the pharmacy. During your outings try to avoid contact with others as much as possible. You have no idea where they’ve been or what they’ve done. Not everyone is being mindful of the effect their actions have on others. The reality is some people just don’t seem to think it’s a big deal.

When you do venture out be sure to wash your hands as often as possible, keep your distance from others, and get what you need from a store and get back home. Wash your hands and other surfaces you touched, which includes doorknobs, vehicle handles and keys. I know it may seem silly, but the little things can go a long way.

Conclusion

With all I have said in this article, let me end it with this thought: you are not able to control everything. Do your best to do what you can to do your part in preventing the spread. It doesn’t do your mental health any good to worry about what others are/aren’t doing. Do what you can to keep yourself and your family safe, and if that means staying home for a week or three, that’s okay.

Many jobs can be done from home, but for those who are on the front lines of this pandemic, we thank you. Without your commitment and dedication to keeping our health facilities available and food on the shelves of the grocery stores, we would be in much worse shape.

I know this has been a lengthy post, but I hope it has brought some focus on what’s important. What are you doing to stay healthy and safe?

Invest in Yourself

Are you a writer? A graphic designer? Or perhaps someone who is creative in other ways? 

No matter what your creative outlet, it’s important to never stop learning about what you do. That might mean taking classes (online or in a classroom), trying different methods, or even stepping out of your comfort zone. 

No matter how much you think you know, there’s always more to learn. And if you think you know it all, teach a class. Chances are your students will have questions you hadn’t considered. And it may be them teaching you something new. 

As a writer I have spent the last six months learning more about writing fiction, nonfiction, and copywriting. A whole new world has opened up for me now that I have allowed myself to learn more from the experts. I know I have a long way to go, but I will say this: Each day is one of learning. 

I must admit, there are days when it’s information overload. I feel overwhelmed and wonder why I’m even doing this at this stage of life. Then the sensible me steps in and I am reminded life is to be enjoyed. That’s why I am taking the time to learn more; so I can basically work from anywhere.  

Writing is satisfying to me just as it may be to you. I want to spend my time doing what I enjoy and still be able to pay my bills and take vacations. Writing gives me a lot of options, just as your chosen path does for you.  

If you can, spend some time learning more about the things you enjoy. Take a class. Read about it. Join an online group so you can learn from others; and they can learn from you. Don’t consider them the competition but rather an alliance. Chances are you won’t be working toward the same goals anyway.  

Something else you should do is refrain from comparing yourself to others. When we do that, we stifle our creativity and our chances of reaching our full potential. It took me a long time to stop doing just that. When I compared myself to the successes of others it was disheartening. How could I ever achieve those milestones? 

Set goals for yourself. Make them achievable. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to earn a million dollars your first year as a writer (or whatever your chosen vocation). Sure, that might be your dream and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, break that dream into smaller goals. It may take you longer to get there than a year, and that’s okay. 

By breaking your dream into smaller chunks it’s easier to keep the momentum going. Invest the time to figure out what you want from your chosen path, then write it down. Break it into smaller segments which are achievable, whether you go daily, weekly, or monthly.  

I have learned to not focus so much on the dollars earned, but rather the upward growth of my followers, readership and number of views my website gets. I found by focusing on the dollars I was becoming frustrated when they didn’t increase like I felt they should.  

Something else I learned along the way is by focusing on the dollars, my creativity was stifled. Writing fiction wasn’t fun any longer because the sales weren’t there. A person’s mindset plays a big role in how quickly goals are achieved. 

I started investing in myself in September 2019 when I took a course on writing romance. One of the things the instructor stressed was to not compare ourselves to others. Our story is “our story”. It’s a reflection of what we know, how we perceive life and how willing we are to take risks. 

For anyone who knows me, a risk-taker I am not. I don’t live on the edge. I don’t generally go out of my comfort zone and do things on my own. Although, I did take a step forward in October when I made a trip to Calgary’s Imaginairium. I was terrified but I did it anyway. I am very much an introvert so didn’t make as many connections as I could have. That I do regret. However, the experience didn’t kill me and it made me realize I am capable of things I’m afraid to do. 

Since then I have been working toward bettering myself. I’m taking courses, learning how to budget my time better and not concentrating as much on the monetary rewards. When I stopped focusing on the latter, I realized I produced better content.  

I’ll end this post with this: take classes, attend webinars and don’t be afraid to learn from others. And most of all, take time for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of achieving your goals, but if you don’t take time to relax and do something fun you’re going to burn yourself out. Get your nails done, go for a hike with your family or get that massage you’ve been putting off.  

Invest in yourself by doing what makes you happy and your creativity will bloom. I know mine has. 

My latest investment in myself: joining The Professional Writers’ Alliance. I have the support of others without feeling as though I’m in constant competition for the same things. We all have different reasons for doing what we do, and accepting that is half the battle.