For a blog that includes “my life” in the title, it’s been a long time since I actually wrote a post about my life.
The truth is, with everything going on in the world right now, it’s been hard to write anything at all. I know a lot of other writers and bloggers feel the same way.
My head has been spinning with ideas but the cursor just sits there blinking at me on a blank page. Trying to force myself to follow any sort of content schedule feels ridiculous with how much the world has changed in the last few months.
When I saw others Tweeting and blogging about the best thing that happened to them due to the pandemic, I thought, hey, why not write about the ways my world has changed for the better? I think we all could use a little positivity right now.
My Money Situation is Better
Surprisingly, so far my husband and I have been extremely lucky. We are on track to come out of this further ahead, financially.
Our Income Has Increased
I often feel like our luck is the opposite of the rest of the world’s, and this is the perfect example why. While literally millions of people lost their jobs and had/have to rely on government supports to survive, our household income has increased.
My income stayed the same. Although a large part of my job is to help other people in a drop-in employment centre, I’ve been working from home since mid-March.
Of course, there have been times when I was worried about getting laid off. My job is hard to do from home as I typically work face-to-face with people helping them update their resume and apply for work. Our funding is all based on meeting numbers – which we are not – as there aren’t a lot of places hiring at the moment. And I am working for the same company that laid me off before, after all (although I’m in another department). Thankfully the managers above me all recognize this is a very unique circumstance, and have been supportive. But the risk of being laid off again is always in the back of my mind.
My husband’s income, however, has increased. He is an essential worker, and has continued to go into work this whole time. When everything was first closing down, they were talking about having him live on-site to help minimize the spread – but thankfully that didn’t happen. (He would have made a ridiculous amount of money though if they had!)
The provincial government of Ontario (where we live) introduced a Temporary Pandemic Pay for frontline and support workers. For a 16 week period between mid-April and mid-August, he is receiving an additional $4 an hour pay, as well as a total of $1,000 in lump sum payments.
To put that into perspective, for us it’s like he’s bringing home an extra paycheck each month right now.
Our Spending Has Decreased
Like many other people are finally realizing, we spend a lot more money then we think we do.
I’ve been tracking our spending since December, and it’s clear that my working from home is saving us money.
Each month we’re spending about $250 less on food, are using $60-$75 less gas in the car, and I don’t need to spend $68 on a parking pass. That’s a difference of almost $400 a month!
I Am Learning to Better Myself
I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and have been extra sensitive given these circumstances. Because my husband still comes into contact with 100s of people each day at work, I know he is more at risk than most, and he takes that risk home with him. So we’ve both been monitoring our symptoms and potential symptoms more than usual.
And then get anxious over anything that feels off.
But that hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing. I’m paying more attention to my overall health, and discovering that I am more in control of my well-being than I thought.
Although I’m still testing this theory, I’m starting to think that a lot of my ongoing health issues are actually related. And I think I know the cause.
I didn’t consider myself to be an anxious person, but my goodness, how wrong was I?
When I was working in the criminal justice system between 2016 – 2018, I understood why I suddenly had major anxiety issues. I was in a high-risk environment, working face-to-face with high-risk adult men who were accused (or found guilty) of crimes ranging from committing fraud to committing murder. I had almost zero training and had to trust that the policies my employer had in place were enough to keep me safe. Unfortunately, I discovered the hard way that they were not when I had a serious “false alarm” that could have been fatal, otherwise. So yeah, I fully understood where this anxiety was coming from.
But I wasn’t expecting for it to reappear at full-force when I’m safely at home 99% of the time.
It really hit me hard back in March when everything first started to close. We were already having unrelated safety issues in the building I was working from, so my direct manager decided to close our location to the public before the shut-down rolled out to other places. Rather than sit in an office with the door closed and having to turn people away all day, I decided to take a couple days off of work. And that’s when my anxiety really kicked in again.
Instead of being distracted by my work (or enjoying my time off), I sat at home constantly refreshing my newsfeeds and emails. Has COVID-19 reached our community yet? What if one of us is exposed and has to self-isolate? How can we manage that when we only have one vehicle and my husband can’t work from home? Will he have to live at work for a couple weeks, or months? How can I do my job from home? Will I be laid off again if we shut down? Will I be unemployed again for the 4th time in 6 years?
I realized that the constant distraction of whatever the latest news had to say was more detrimental to my well being than it was helping. I’d find myself scrolling through Twitter, getting upset instead of getting things done, and then getting mad at myself for not accomplishing much.
I’ve always been a planner. My friends in university used to make fun of me for it, as I always had my day planner with me, color-coded and all. I don’t do well with spontaneity or not knowing what’s next. You would think that after all the back and forths I’ve had with my employment and unemployment that I would have been better prepared to handle the unknown, but I’m not.
I have anxiety. Denying it isn’t going to work for me anymore. Simply acknowledging it has already helped me better understand what causes it and what I can do to handle it.
I Really Am Fortunate
While the pandemic has drastically changed the lives of many people, it hasn’t really been so bad for us.
An immediate family member was one of the first positive cases in Ontario, but she’s recovered and is now doing well.
My community wasn’t hit that hard by the Coronavirus. We were down to only 1 known positive case about couple of weeks ago, and currently have 6 in the region.
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do my job from home, but I have. Every staff meeting I braced myself for news of lay-offs, but my managers reassured us instead.
Working from home took some adjustments, but I’m not trying to juggle childcare at the same time or have to work from the kitchen table like some of my colleagues do.
Our rent and bills are paid. There is money in our bank account. And we still have paychecks coming in each week.
And although there is a lot of racism, violence, crime and I’m sure there’s police corruption too in my community, I generally feel safe. I’ve never been afraid to call the police when I needed to and I’ve never felt discriminated against because of my lifestyle, my sexual identity, or the color of my skin.
As Matt, the Dentist said in his Tweet, “I understand this does not apply to everyone”.
There are a lot of very serious issues going on in the world right now, and a lot of people are struggling. I truly sympathize with anyone facing these hardships.
But we can’t forget that there is still some good in the world, too. It’s okay to recognize and maybe even celebrate whatever is going well in your life. Even if it’s just a small win.
YOUR TURN: How has your life changed due to the pandemic? Has there been anything positive that has happened to you personally? Leave a comment and let us know!
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