While being patient and with gentle discipline, I will be updating my blog as much as I possibly can with my mental and emotional journey during this scary and uncertain time in the world. Because this is my first blog post in a while and the first in the quarantine installments of my blog, I believe it is important for me to drop some necessary context of what my situation was leading up to my first week of quarantining.
Some people will be in a similar situation as me. Some people will not (whether that means better or worse circumstances). To broach the topic of my privilege, there are many, many worse situations out there right now compared to mine. Also, there were many, many worse situations for many people before this as well: oppression, wrongful imprisonment, homelessness, unfair systems of hierarchy, senseless violence, fear of being one’s self, etc. These are all still true beyond the pandemic and state of emergency. My mind also keeps going back to Viktor Frankl (author of the book, A Man’s Search for Meaning) during this quarantine. Frankl navigated a meaningful direction of choice through his tragic experience in the Nazi concentration camps. Quite fortunately, he ended up surviving and was a living example of his Existential branch of psychology: logotherapy was about creating meaning even in suffering…people who confront pain, guilt, despair, and death can triumph…meaning is created from an individual’s engagement with what is valued.
The topic of privilege is an incredibly important one and my specific position of privilege will be very apparent while I discuss my context in the paragraphs below. I hope that (no matter where each of our circumstances lie) my journey through my own mind will help others with their own mental and emotional journey. No matter where we are, the feelings and thoughts that are capable of wrapping around our minds right now is important to acknowledge and manage.
This landscape will change day to day, week to week, and month to month. Each time-frame will carry its own set of thoughts, feelings, and facts to explore. If we can do our best to adapt and follow the flow of the present reality, I think we will come out of this stronger than ever.
Events Leading Up to the Quarantine:
I have worked in the hotel business for the last 14 years. At one point, I became a General Manager and stuck to this title for 4 years. I was managing my parent’s hotel and their business in San Diego for the first 3 years with that title. Then, I came out to Denver to manage a hotel for a real estate investment firm.
Since I graduated from college, my mind has consistently poked at me every so often, “hey, I think it is time…get out there and really help people.” After 8 years in my “official” hotel career, I finally listened to myself. In October of 2019, I started my transition to an easier job in the hotel industry, so that I could work around the schedule of this new graduate program and attain my masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.
The people that I worked with everyday in my new job were incredibly fun; I was chasing my dream to be able to think about and help the minds and emotions of human beings; I was falling in love with a new hobby that kept me healthy, focused, and happy: rock climbing; and, my new home here in Denver with my wife and two dogs was a dream come true. The couple years of developing this passionate life with the ones that I love made me happier and more solid than I have ever been in my 29 years of life.
As positive, and yet as busy, as my life was becoming, COVID19 was starting to become a hot topic in the news. China’s situation was looking very grim and scary to the world. It started moving to other countries and, finally, it threatened the US. The hotel business started to decline. The state of each hotel in Downtown Denver was changing on a daily basis. One hotel would close…another would lower its rates for drug dealers and ignorant young opportunists to afford. The hotels had to shut down all of their amenities and they just became a place where there was a bed and a shower.
In order to keep my job, I was working 14-hour days with no days off in the operation. I was working the front desk, housekeeping, laundry, and also doing my typical daily tasks of managing the revenues and expenses for the hotel. All I could focus on was not losing my job and that scared me. I needed this job. The financial situation was deteriorating my stable mind and, on top of that, I was worrying that my passionate pursuit of school was being pushed to the side. My schoolwork started getting heavily backed up during a significant time of due dates for papers, projects, presentation, and midterms.
On March 24, 2020, I lost my job, school had gone from in-person to remote (unfortunately, I am a tactful learner who thrives on being physically present), and the rock climbing gym had closed. The only positive that I could see at this time was that I was able to finally quarantine myself like the rest of the world to keep each other safe.
I anticipated that my daily routine and my overarching purposes (that typically motivated me every day) needed to be re-evaluated. I anticipated that my physical and mental health needed to be at the top of my priority list. And, I anticipated that I needed to develop a skill that I had been wanting and needing to develop for some time now: being flexible and adapting to the ever-changing environment in a productive and consistent way.
Anticipation of Shifting Routines and Priorities:
After developing this schedule, and also before my first week of quarantining and in anticipation of being bored in this new environment that my mind was going to be swimming in:
- I rearranged my way of thinking about the world (facing existential anxiety)
- I found an optimistic outlook (global warming help and the need to reorganize our priorities as a society)
- I created an outline for a new skill in adaptable thinking
- I re-evaluated my purposes (schoolwork, health, and maintaining my strength for others to pull from)
After the Storm:
As I am writing this first blog post, I am about to wrap up my second week in quarantine. My next post will be about my first week in quarantine and how the “lead up preparation” above has helped and how it didn’t help. I will also share some of my 30 minute mediation playlists that I created for myself.
Anticipation can be helpful when planning for the future…however, that plan better have built-in flexibility, because anticipation is never the same as the actual experience that presents itself.
I’ll leave you today with my own hope for the future. After this storm, a “normal” will come back. Our lives may be different, but we will see each other and be able to adventure together again.
Thank you to all the musicians who have been keeping us entertained with Instagram live music and other sources of good tunes. Here is my favorite Mumford & Sons track: