I have been working remotely for IDEAS since the end of 2009 when we moved from Orlando to Greensboro, NC when my wife’s company promoted the bread winner of the family. We now live in Greenville, SC and these past 10 years of working from home have certainly prepared me for the current COVID-19 lockdown that many of us are experiencing.
What I was not prepared for was sharing my workspace with the rest of the family on a daily basis. However, wearing my earbuds for most of the day has helped deal with my wife being on calls for 7-8 hours each day for her job on the other side of the house and the uniqueness of her voice finding its way into every nook and cranny of our home. Thankfully, our child is 13 and able to do her schoolwork online from her room with minimal intrusion into my work routine.
What I have not been prepared for is the vastness of the unknown in these “difficult times” and how that has gradually taken a toll on my psyche. After the first few weeks of staying at home and getting into our new groove as a family, as a neighborhood, and as a major city in South Carolina, I found that the relentless void of not knowing when this would end, how things would be different, and if the things I missed most would ever come back at all (please let there be football, please let there be football, please let there be football) was leading my mind and emotional state toward dark places I am usually able to avoid.
What I was really missing was the nourishment I was used to getting from a regular dose of tangible outcomes. What I needed was anything that could show visible progress, deliver an actual sense of completion, and fill me with immediate gratification from achieving a final and fulfilling resolution.
Enter yard projects.
So far, I have rebuilt the bridge that spans the creek behind us, addressed a collapsing side of the same creek neat the fence line by building a boardwalk across it, painted the decks on both sides of the house, laid new paths leading to the backyard, repaired pretty much anything around the house that was not working, and tomorrow we are getting a truck load of mulch to cover the flower beds our daughter has so diligently weeded to earn upgrades for her favorite apps. As a family we have tackled a good summer’s worth of projects in just the last 3-4 weeks.
I have no idea what tomorrow will be like, but due to those many years we worked with the Florida Division of Emergency Management addressing so many different aspects of emergency preparedness, loss mitigation, and recovery planning (and being an Eagle Scout), our family is well positioned to handle, adjust, and proceed accordingly with the “new normal.” And now, thanks to some creative planning, productive physical labor, and well-needed mental distraction, our yard will be looking its very best when we are finally able to have friends and family come over again. Hopefully soon, as I am running out of things around the house and out in the yard to add to the list.