Social distancing during the COVID pandemic has forced us into new ways of interacting with others. In this episode we look at the challenges of staying connected and how we can shift into a positive mindset about keeping the distance.
*Full transcript is available at the bottom of this page.
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Something to think about:
What is the gift?
Can you find the upside to social distancing and self-isolating?
And if that feels like it is too big of an ask, try saying this:
“There is a gift here. I can’t see it right now, but I trust that it is there.”
Something to try:
This week notice the language you are using around social distancing.
Practice shifting from less empowering words to more empowering ones.
Shift from “stuck” at home TO “safe” at home.
Watch for other opportunities to shift from “this” TO “that”.
You can grab your FREE homework Awareness & Action guide HERE
Scroll on down to the comments section and share your thoughts….
What is social distancing like for you?
If you had to pick one word to describe your experience of staying at home, what would it be?
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is GoodMorning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Show Transcript
Intro: Welcome to The Being and The Doing. Here’s your host, author, and life coach, Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hello, lovely ones. Welcome to Episode 31 of The Being and The Doing. Here we are in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic and navigating our way through very unusual times, very challenging times, unsettling times, very difficult times for some people. What I’ve come to understand in the last few weeks is that this experience is universal, but everyone’s experience is not the same of it. So we’re all going through this, but what is happening to us personally or how we’re responding is very different. And so, today, on this episode, I want to dive into this whole idea of social distancing and social isolation and what it now means to be at home. And I’m joined by Neela who’s going to be in conversation with me today about that. Hi, how are you doing, Neela?
Neela: Oh, I’m doing fine. It’s funny when people ask me now, how are you? I feel like it’s not okay to say, Oh, I’m doing good. But I am; I’m safe and my family is well, knock on wood and I feel like I’m fine. Maybe that’s the best word to settle on. I feel fine.
Laurel: Neela, who produces our show, normally when Neela and I are in conversation, we’re actually in the same room recording the podcast. And today, we are socially distanced by quite a number of kilometers away. Neela is in her home and me and my home. And so, it’s kind of interesting that we’re having a different experience about how it is that we normally record the podcasts that we are at a more than safe distance apart from each other. So, Neela, how is this social distancing working for you? Like, is it not bad? It’s a challenge? What’s happening for you?
Neela: Well, I probably have it a little better than many people because so much of both my day job and my design business and all of those sorts of pieces of my life were online. You know, I teach online, I’ve got online businesses, those sorts of things. So it’s not so much the ‘what I do’ that’s changed and it’s not even actually the ‘where I do it’ because lots of my work can be done from home. So like many people whose job involves the computer, a lot of what they do involves the computer, that part of my life has actually been very stable. And in fact, again, this is one of those things, and we’ll get into this, I feel a touch, I don’t know if the word is guilty or whatever. But for example, some of the online businesses that I have are doing very well because there’s so much business online, there’s so much traffic.
There are so many people have shifted in their shopping online and they’re doing things online. From a personal perspective, I have two beautiful girls and teens and we’re sort of all together at home now and that’s been kind of nice actually; I’m actually really enjoying it. The piece that I’m missing, you know, the piece where I actually have been working very hard to see all of the positives and maybe we’ll get into that later but the piece that I am missing is that I’m not seeing my mom. I haven’t seen my mom in weeks and weeks and my sister and her family. And so, that piece of it is really dramatic cause I have a very close family and would see each other all the time and I would pop over to my mom’s all the time. And so, I’m really missing that piece of it; my extended family and especially my mom. But I know that this is how things have to be. So I’ve been doing all of the things people do now, virtually connect, trying to stay connected.
Laurel: Yeah. For me, it’s just me and hubby in the house because of course our girls are all grown up, married in their own homes. And so, for us, like we’re used to just having the two of us in the house so that really hasn’t changed. But what I found really interesting is the different ways in which we can connect with other people because that whole social isolation piece, now they’re trying to adjust that language of social distancing is actually physical distancing so that people understand that the connection piece is important and the isolation, we have to pay attention to that isolation piece. But I have to say in the last few weeks, probably, I guess since March 15th – which was when here in Canada, we began our sort of stay at home program – all the different ways that we’re trying to stay connected.
So as you know, Neela, hubby had a kind of a milestone birthday and we’d had a party planned and now we had to figure out how we were going to do that and did it virtually. And it was actually really a lot of fun. It was a little clunky because it was sort of the first one that we did where everyone was connected. Our family, it wasn’t like a party with lots and lots of people. But figuring out how do you eat together, how do we play games, virtually, everyone playing the same game. And that’s the cool thing about technology is like, I have the blessing of having millennial kids, right? Who go, Oh yeah, we can do that. Like, here, click on this link and it’ll all be good.
So, I mean that was really interesting. I actually have a group of – I say girls and that’s none of us have been girls for a long time – a group of women that we have known each other since kindergarten. So let me tell you, that’s a long time we have been friends. There are seven of us in the group and we’re kind of spread around and we don’t all live in the same place. Actually, one of the women lives in Australia, but we do endeavor to get together once a year or sometimes every other year, just sort of depends on what’s happening. And we were supposed to get together at the beginning of May, in Toronto, and of course, that couldn’t happen. So we created a Zoom meeting and it was cool.
It was sort of interesting because people were at different skillsets of technological things. I mean, we had to kind of, probably the first half of our time together was walking through, see that, click on that, you know, click on that, make this happen, whatever. But it was just really interesting, we kind of look like the Brady bunch on the screen of stuff. So there are these interesting ways that we’re connecting. Yesterday, I had a parking lot coffee with a good friend where we just pulled up in the parking lot and brought our coffee and actually sat and had a really great conversation, which is nice to sit and be able to face to face. I know you’ve been doing something. I know you had met up with your mom in a parking lot.
Neela: I feel like I’ve been seeing my mom a lot because I’ve been really focused on making sure she’s not feeling isolated and I mean she’s not, she has her apartment too at home, but just not isolated from us. So yeah, one day we went and sat like, you know, we sort of parked our cars kind of just about a car length a part and rolled the windows down, the kids and I, and so we just sat and talked. And actually, one thing we used to do was to go look at fancy houses together and I don’t know if other people have this, I just love looking at big houses and look at how beautiful they are, the things they do. Anyway, so we went and drove around the neighborhood together and looked at the houses that she likes doing.
And also we’ve been doing Netflix party. There’s this new Chrome extension you can get where you watch a movie together on Netflix and you can chat while you’re watching. We’ve been doing that and one thing that’s been really fun is we do Face Time or Google Hangout depending on if there’s more than just my mom and I and we cook together. Like, we made French bread the other day cause it was actually really easy recipe and so we have our I-phones, with FaceTime and then we actually do the cooking at the same time and we’re in the kitchen and you know, my mom will actually say to the girls, “Oh do that that with the yeast.”
Oh and she can see what the girls are doing. And she’s like, nope, just do blah blah blah.
It was so nice because I know she felt like, and we felt that we were together and it was as close as you can get to having that real life experiences, just to do normal stuff together, which felt really nice, comforting actually.
Laurel: Yeah. What I’ve noticed is, you know, sort of, we kind of mark time, like pre-Covid, you know, post-Covid, before time, people would always be saying, oh yeah, we should get together, we should get together for coffee or we should get together for dinner, or we should do this, we should do this and everyone is so busy. And it just never happened, right? Like we just didn’t make the time to actually do things and now people are consciously, intentionally reaching out and connecting with people. And I’m not sure whether that’s just because feeling like you’re connected to loved ones and friends is just kind of a stabilizing thing for people, if that’s why people are making the effort but it seems like we’re taking the step that we weren’t taking before.
And I know that lots of people are busy. I understand that this is the shared experience that is not the same for everyone, for some people they are really busy because they’re juggling kids and the homeschooling piece and work perhaps looking in a different way and so that they actually might be quite busy, quite overwhelmed and then you have other people who are, wow, I feel like I have a lot more time on my hands. But in all of that, so whether you’re busy or not, there’s just this intentionality around reaching out and connecting with people and making it happen, which is nice to see because before it was like, oh yeah, we’re going to do that but then we don’t really do that.
Neela: Right. I mean, and a lot of these things have been around for quite awhile, you know, like, the ability to teleconference has been around for a while. I think because we play such a higher value on face to face that in a way I think one of the spin off benefits, and I think we’ll talk about this too, that there are some things that are getting strengthened right now and one of those is actually people’s technology abilities, right? And how do you communicate, how can you set these things up? Like my mom, you know, setting my mom up to do a Google Hangout on her, like that took me about half an hour, but now she knows how to do it and so, you know what I mean? So we pushed through the technical bit of that and so I think everybody’s ability to connect together in these other ways is getting strengthened and I’m assuming that when we get back to whatever our new normal is, that will just, you know, people will keep a lot of these skills that they’re developing.
Laurel: Yeah, another topic for another podcast, Neela because I think that’s a kind of a big, juicy topic. And having said all of that, yes, all of that true and also being aware of that there are pockets of places where people don’t have access to either don’t have access to great WiFi, to be able to do things, right, like depending on certain rural communities or wherever that people don’t necessarily have the same access to the internet or you know, for some people don’t have access to the actual technology, maybe they don’t have an iPad or a laptop or something. So, that kind of begins to reveal some of the inequities that we have of, yeah, it’s great, you know, we who have great WiFi and you know, more than one mobile device are able to do this but for some people now they have a challenge with isolation and not necessarily access to a way to be able to connect with people.
Neela: Oh yeah and it’s not just internationally, it’s here in Edmonton. I mean, my day job is working with kids and in connecting with them and their families a significant portion of my students have some kind of issue now with whether it’s because they had one device in their home, right, that could do certain things and now there’s five people in the house who all want to use it all and they’re all home all day long, you know, during prime time and in the past because of people’s schedules and being in and out of the house, that work, they could make that work and now they don’t, or people who have lost their jobs and they’re looking at what are things they could let go of? And so, the idea of, you know, here I’m talking about making French bread with my mom during a Google Hangout.
Well, for some people, just keeping an internet connection, financially speaking is a lot. And I’m really happy to see these big companies stepping up right now and saying, do you need assistance with this? You know, I’ve been making note of all of the ways that these big corporate companies are as they should, right? Stepping up and saying, do you need assistance? Call this number. Is there a way we can help get you or whatever call, apply here. I’m not saying that that’s a, you know, I’m sure, a million people are applying for these things, but at least there’s this safety net, you know, around us and again, I am very grateful to live in the country that I do, that’s for sure.
Neela: In Canada here, where we believe in things like a safety net and I know that there are pockets of, in other countries where they do too, but I’m grateful every day to live in this country.
Laurel: Yeah. And it’s interesting too because there’s sort of this flip side of all of this desire to be connected or this sort of push now where, you know, before we, well, let’s do that and then we don’t, but now there is this sort of push and follow through to do it.
One of my daughters was saying to me one day, like, I’m exhausted. Like, I’m kind of burned out from the virtual get togethers because everyone is wanting to do this and every day it’s like, just like before Covid, you wouldn’t have had coffee with like six people in the day, you doing all of these virtual get togethers, it is exhausting as well. It was just interesting listening to her talk about, when I was normally going out to work rather than working at home, I wouldn’t be out five nights a week meeting up with people. Like that just wouldn’t be my normal routine and now it’s like every time you turn there’s another get together, another this, it’s just a curious thing to watch how it is that we’re navigating and really speaks to our need for some sort of routine and structure as we navigate what this looks like, right?
Like whether it’s the social distancing outside of our homes, like when we go out there, it’s sort of the routine of well, how do I do this thing that I used to do? So hubby, he’s going for a walk with a friend and them having to maintain their distance, one of them walking on the sidewalk, one of them walking on the edge of the road, so they have their six feet of distance. We have to figure out new structures for how to do things and new routines of what does this day look like and where is my social connection. Like how do I put that into my day without sort of tipping all the way over to that burnout kind of place? I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s just the anxiety of the times where we feel like we have to really connect with people or what it is that’s pushing us to do so much of that.
Neela: Yeah. I don’t know, I think there are a lot of things that we were thinking about doing or trying to do, but just never had that space, maybe, to do, for example, sorta sounds unrelated, but I think it’s related. I’ve been really paying attention to where I shop right now and instead of doing what I would typically do, which is every other week or something, I’ve gone and done a shop and then come back or whatever, you know, figure out the groceries I need and everyone’s switching to online now. So one of the things I’ve been trying to do is not just go to Safeway or go to these big stores, I’ve been looking at who are these little businesses around me that I want to support and keep in business, right?
And I’ve always wanted to do that but I’m just more conscious of it and I feel like I have a little more space now to do that and especially because when you’re doing things online, it’s not the same as hopping in your car and driving over and it seems like a pain to have to go to five different stores and I can just go to Safeway or whatever. But, now, interestingly, you can’t just go to Safeway and waltz in anymore, they’ve really restricted that and I’m just using Safeway as example. I think they’re all the same right now. They’re feeling overwhelmed a lot of these big stores, but the idea of local, what small things can I do to help other people? You know, I think that there’s just more space for us to, in our day and our routines to start thinking about those kinds of things that maybe just seemed like too much of a hassle in our busy work day life.
Laurel: Yeah, well there is this, I mean we certainly, there is a call to action now, right? Like there is this call to action for us to step up and I’ll use the word sacrifice and it’s funny because we’re so used to using like over the top language, right? Like we use this hyperbolic language all the time, like, things are a disaster thing, you know, I had to make the sacrifice or whatever, and now we understand we’re in the times of that it’s actually true, like, what is happening is actually a disaster, not that they didn’t have soy milk at Starbucks, you know, and it was such a disaster. Like, now, you know what, we actually are having a disaster now, or we’re being asked to sacrifice, do things differently.
And we’re called to be thinking about the “we” and not just the “me” and I. I think we are very me-focused, we might not want to admit that, but we’re very me-focused, we’re very…
Neela: Oh sure.
Laurel: We want what we want when we want it, and we don’t necessarily put the greater good first. We might aspirationally, right? You know, it’s like, that’s a nice idea, but now we’re being called to actually put it into practice and there is a survival aspect to what is going on, right? Like the virus kills people and when there’s a survival piece, it’s natural to sort of turn inward and want to protect our own, right? Like I want to make sure that the mama bear wants her cubs to be all good but now our survival actually depends on everyone else doing their piece. Our survival depends on all of us being inconvenienced at one end or sacrificing at the other end that we really are all in this together.
Like it becomes much more of a, this is an ethical moral choice that we make about social distancing or isolating in our homes rather than it’s just a personal choice, I’m going to do that. No, now we’re called to do that for the greater good and we haven’t been called to do anything like that, not in my lifetime, I haven’t been called to do that and I know lots of people are sort of hearkening back to the, you know, not since the second World War have people been actually asked to sacrifice and now here, you kind of run full face into it. What is it that I am willing to do either to inconvenience myself or sacrifice not just for me and mine, but for everyone.
Neela: And I think there’s another layer here too, which is, I’m going to keep doing the things that I believe regardless of when I see people not doing those things. Like I’m not going to go, oh well I see people doing all these other things, I guess it’s okay.
No. Like I know, I believe in science. I am following the recommended by, you know, our wonderful people in the healthcare and people who are doing the spokespeople who are leaders in this. I’m following those things for me and mine and when I see other people not doing that, or when I hear about other things, first of all, I’m just trying to stay positive and I’m trying to not get sucked into that, constantly criticizing other people and having my attention be outside of my world in terms of like judging and I’m trying to stay very focused on what can I do and am I doing what I need to do. I’m staying very focused on that because really that is what’s in my locus of control. How can I do this? So that in the end I can look back on my behavior and my choices and go, okay, I did what I could for the people I could.
Neela: And my family.
Laurel: That really is the, you know, there’s sort of one of those keys of resilience is being able to like really lean into what is in your control and recognizing what’s not in your control. And again, pre-Covid, we weren’t necessarily good at practicing those skills anyways and now is the time where you have to be thinking about, okay, what is in my control, can I actually do this? And it does sort of pull us to that bigger conversation that, maybe, now there’s time to be able to have it with ourselves about what is my relationship to… it’s not just about me and mine. This is about the “we” and how is it that I’m looking at this which kind of brings me to to our something to think about question.
And I know for some people that are listening, it’s like, you know what, I got too much to think about, I don’t want to think about anything. And that’s great, good and if you have space and are wanting to, like our something to think about question really is what is the gift in all of this? Because there are all kinds of gifts that are here. I know it’s challenging sometimes when things are really difficult to make that pivot and start looking for, okay, where’s the opportunity or where is the gift in what it is it’s happening, where is the gift in the creative ways that we’re connecting or how it is that we’re called to action or particular skills that we can practice around resilience or whatever? But that’s a nice question to just play with.
And you can hold that as lightly as you want to and then something to try is, try shifting where you are that practicing that shift of, oh, I’m holding this mindset around it, I’m stuck at home. Okay, practice the shift of, you know, even first with the language, I’m not stuck at home, I’m safe at home and then begin practicing the shift of and where are the opportunities in being safe at home or fill in the blank.
The shift of from this to that, something that is a more empowering place to be because it is so demoralizing to feel like things are out of control and that you’re at kind of at the mercy of this mindset that you might have, I get it, you know, it’s easy to go down that road of, it’s scary and fearful and the uncertainty piece. All of that is great, we want to acknowledge that we’re having those feelings and then can I begin to make that pivot.
So that’s something to try. I mean, I like to give people that something to think about, something to ponder on and then something to try so that we can take this conversation and make it actionable. Like it’s great. I love all our listeners and that they’re there tuning in and listening to you and I in conversation, but now can you listen or take that forward?
Neela: Yeah, those are excellent.
Laurel: Great. Well I’m glad that you are safe. I’m glad that all of you out there lovely ones are safe and well and doing what is in your control and is holding the collective “we” in your heart and in your mind as we make choices that are yeah sometimes inconveniences and sometimes sacrifices so that we come to the other side of this. There will be another side you know, and we will come to it and so I hope all of you out there are accessing what it is that you need in order to be able to navigate through this. It’s always the thing of if you’re struggling, please ask for help from friends or family members or mental health professionals or just reach out and ask for help because help is there.
So until next time, well, thanks, Neela for conversation always and to you lovely ones, be well and be safe.
Outro:You’ve been listening to The Being and The Doing with your host, Laurel Vespi. If you like this podcast, stop whatever you’re doing, unless you’re driving and hit subscribe, leave a review, then share this episode with a friend. Thanks for your support.