When I Find Myself In Times Of Trouble

By John Thomson

Later this afternoon, all non-essential businesses have been ordered to close in Ontario. This may not change things much since businesses have not really been businesses for over a week.  

One colleague of mine summed it up by telling me she used to be vice president of sales and now she is Chief Therapy Officer. She’s very astute and knows conversations with her clients about inventory levels, new releases, and Q2 promotions may be viewed as crass when the only thing on her customers’ minds is cash flow, staff layoffs, and keeping the lights on. So instead, she talks to her customers about everything but business, with a soft theme that ‘this will pass.’

Yesterday I got a text asking where my daughters were bunking down during our self-isolation.  I responded that they were with Cathy and I, and while I love our daughters very much, our place is feeling rather small. I have been fantasizing about the day when they have places of their own and are not fully subsidized by ‘the daddy train.’ He laughed and added “if you think the place feels small now, wait until month three.” I gulped and quietly calmed my inner voice from screaming “this can’t go on for three months!” Can it?

Savannah is 23 and Melody is 20, so really, I have two adult daughters. That means four adults living under one roof. When we bought our place, I prided myself that we would not feel over-housed when the kids left one day and it would just be the two of us living here. Had I known the kids were never leaving, I now fantasize owning a 20,000 square-foot monster house with guest quarters, multiple wings, and hiding spots. 

I truly feel sorry for those of you with young kids who demand that you become their new playmate and your government subsidized babysitter (school) may be gone until September. But think about the situation I find myself in. One: these girls find it hilarious to wind me up and those who know me will agree the list of trigger points is far reaching. So I’m living with a steady diet of “I don’t think that’s true dad” just to watch me turn red. Two: our daughters have a voracious appetite for good wine. What used to be a one bottle dinner is now two bottles minimum and I can’t even trick them with plonk. Three: being adults, these girls have tasted independence and freedom away from us. Now they are captive animals looking for an escape, so they are just as grumpy as the rest of us. 

Given all this, we – actually I – have come up with some rules to live by. A pandemic is no time for democracy. Here they are:

Keep the place spotless: Clutter causes anxiety so we have adapted a strategy that our place at all times should look like the Four Seasons Hotel upon check in. We are staying photo-shoot ready. Beds made, dishes away, coats hung up  – absolutely spotless. What a difference this makes to feeling good.

Get outside: A brisk walk for 60 minutes, fresh air, alone time, fitness is what is going to turn you in to a Zen master. Nothing will make you feel better or reset anxiety levels than some exercise. So long as we are allowed to go for a walk, do so.

Do something that advances the mind for at least an hour: This could include watching a TED Talk, listening to a Pod Cast, anything that is not mindless rot.

Dinner as a family every night: No exceptions. Have something interesting to contribute.

Alcohol-free Sunday to Wednesday (this is a work in progress): Booze is not only expensive it can also act as a depressant. So staying away from it for part of the week is a goal.

Be kind (this, too, is a work in progress!):  Short fuses are aplenty right now. I try to imagine myself back on the beach in Nosara watching the sun go down to calm myself rather than having a complete freak out because the milk hasn’t been put back in the fridge. Namaste