There is a reason why I haven’t been actively blogging here for some time.
Since the Covid-19 started, a whole series of events just made me go into a funk. I had a serious writer’s block when I stared at my blog and the best I could do was reposting press releases or simple interviews.
When did my funk start?
I think it started during Chinese New Year when Covid-19 started spreading in Singapore. Would it be another SARS?
SARS brought back memories when I was holed up at my parents’ place for a couple of months. It wasn’t that bad as I had a few months before university started and I used the time to exercise, read books, watch TV and repaint the house. My friends visited me too.
Things are different when your life is in a phase of responsibility.
The more things escalated during Covid-19, the more pressure I felt. I am also influenced by what others feel, even though I may not be directly affected.
What happened during Covid-19?
Some family and friends lost jobs or had pay cuts. When I heard these news I felt helpless. I didn’t know how to support other than listening and sharing whatever avenues of help I heard of, which sometimes were of no use.
There were a few rounds of panic buying. I remember bringing one of my boys to check out neighbourhood supermarkets and noting that stocks were actually in store, just that there wasn’t enough manpower to replenish the shelves. I wanted to volunteer to replenish stock as part of the NTUC family, but I was the main caregiver on weekends and could not support.
Singapore gradually started Business Continuity Planning, and we had Team A and B. It was somewhat stressful squeezing in with the crowds on a longer journey to our alternative site carrying a laptop and other things needed to get my work done. I was able to cope with this transition by looking forward to a work ‘camping trip’ where we got to hotdesk at different places.
The Covid-19 measures increasingly got tighter. Malaysia also had a Movement Control Order (MCO) which greatly affected my relatives there.
A greatgrandaunt, Aunty Manis, whom I remember since I was young, suddenly fell into a coma and passed within a few days. It was a shock to us.
My granduncle, Sa Chek Kong, whom we just had a big family reunion with over the New Year a few months ago, was also hospitalised for a few weeks in Johor Bahru at the same time. Sadly he passed away too. By then the MCO was so strict no one from Singapore could go to Malaysia (the Causeway has been closed since 18 March 2020 till today) and even the Malaysian relatives could not have a wake. Within 2 hours of my grandaunt collecting his body, he was cremated. My extended family was extremely upset. Although we lived in different countries, some quickly booked a flight to visit him in hospital before the MCO. But none of us could send him off in person except a few relatives in Malaysia. We are still grieving in our own way wherever we are, and not having the traditional process of a wake and funeral can be hard for some of us to move along the grieving process.
On 8 April 2020, schools had full home-based learning (HBL) until 4 May. This was an unprecedented move in Singapore’s history. Companies were told to put staff on telecommuting and work from home, or close, except essential services.
I tried to take it in stride and come up with some sort of schedule which didn’t really work. Now I try to help my children clear some HBL work on weekends and in the mornings, before I let them play so I can do my work. And I work late at nights and weekends just to find a way to clear the backlog.
Now the Covid-19 Circuit Breaker will be extended to 1 June 2020. June holidays will start earlier in May, and there won’t be HBL. Some businesses are not allowed to operate like some standalone F&B joints, hairdressers and pet shops.
We live one day at a time as we won’t know what each day will bring.
How am I living my life now?
Now I have 4 roles to fulfil on weekdays.
1. Full time employee on work-from-home basis
KPIs still need to be met right?
But I feel so guilty about not being able to 100% focus on my work as an employee during work hours, and not being able to fully guide my children during HBL as a mother.
2. HBL supervisor
My kids need constant supervision while doing HBL. One has ASD while the other just cannot focus.
Even during virtual lessons I need to be on standby for the younger one to mute his microphone, or his chatter would disrupt the lesson.
HBL for the older one is a confusing mix of online platforms that I have to coordinate, such as Classdojo, SLS, FlipGrid, Zoom, Seesaw, whatsapp chats, Mathbuddies, Typing Club and referencing weekly pdf files for online work, and physical textbook, workbook and worksheet assignments. Plus daily Zoom lessons are not at a constant time. It can be 830am on one day and 1030am the next, which prevents us from having a fixed schedule. So we just wing it every day.
Delivery can be expensive and I can’t be going out twice a day to takeaway. Hence I stock up several times a week on groceries to prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, fruits and sometimes dessert.
This week it came to the point I was so busy and sick of cooking, I didn’t bother having proper lunches. Just microwave a bazhang rice dumpling or throw together cereal and milk will do. Or just skip because it is just too overwhelming.
Staying at home the whole day means the floor gets dirtier, there are lots of dishes to wash, having to boil water more often, clean the surfaces and sometimes doing more laundry.
Although my children are learning how to wash dishes, wipe tables and fold their pants and shorts, I still need to supervise them as they tend to enjoy leaving the water running, not cleaning all the crumbs or forgetting to keep their laundry.
What about all those virtual resources and help?
Yes there are lots of virtual resources. But I don’t want my children to access screens for leisure if I can help it, and if they go online I still need to supervise the site they’re visiting or assist them if they don’t know what they’re supposed to do.
There are helplines and videos and pdfs and volunteers.
But if I happen to have time, I need to catch up on work, or just spend a peaceful moment not using my phone and feeling pressured to be productive.
Leaving my phone alone for an hour makes my chat groups explode. On whatsapp and telegram. I wish there were a ‘Read all’ option but this doesn’t exist on these platforms.
So I retreat into my world
This is the only way I know how to cope. By exiting the stimulus of the virtual chat world, and focusing on the present.
I’ve done several watercolour paintings by watching YouTube channels like makoccino.
Painting is helping me getting over my low art self-esteem which was traumatised by a sarcastic Secondary Two art teacher who publicly ridiculed my art in front of the whole class.
I’m also reading and journaling my self-help learnings from Deepak Chopra, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey and more.
I’ve also completed Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation (resources were shared by Whatsapp).
At the beginning of every month, I plan the following to keep me on track (read this article to understand more on Antifragility):
Chaos Monkey Tricks
Some interesting videos I’ve watched are:
I’ve also completed an online Doterra Essential Oil Specialist Certification and am currently taking this Udemy course called Aromatherapy — Using Essential Oils for Natural Living.
Since I don’t feel comfortable going out for a run, I watch YouTube fitness videos from channels like PopSugar or yoga videos from various teachers.
I love essential oils. On normal days, I drop Young Living Lavender oil on my pillow and occasionally rub a massage blend on my shoulders to self-massage my stress away.
On days when I have PMS, period or a really horrible day, I rely on Doterra’s ClaryCalm a lot. This blend reminds me of a hug from my mum or a close female friend. That no matter how shitty I feel about my body or myself, I am accepted and things will be OK.
I also like making oil blends to bless others, so if you’re looking for a recipe please pm me.
Today, I learnt from a Facebook Community video that keeping a list of how I have helped others could build resilience. That I did something to make one other person’s life better, even by a bit.
I started writing my list today and already feel better about myself (what I did within my circle of control) , because previously I was too disheartened by how I couldn’t help other people (out of my circle of control).
Calling family and close friends
Being able to call my family and friends helps me connect and feel close even though we are far apart. Even a direct message makes me feel that the connection still exists. That someone out there remembers me.
In the last few weeks, I’ve kind of survived negativity by escaping to the world of K-dramas. Starting with Crash Landing on You (super romantic, funny and sad), then Memories of Alhambra (creepy), K2 (action-packed political thriller) and My Private Life (art and romance).
Reading up on my personality
I used to be an ENTJ. But it seems my personality has morphed to an INFJ. I have a big issue sharing my feelings and thoughts to others, because I am uncertain if people really care about what I think.
In the past couple of years, I think I have spent more time listening to others than expressing my opinion proactively.
Maybe because authentic opinion can be a target for attack, and I dislike conflicts.
Supporting inclusive businesses
This is something I wish more people would do: cause-source. Which means you spend your money based on the cause you want to support.
I hope Singapore will be more inclusive, hence I try to support inclusive businesses like Crunchy Teeth, Foreword Coffee, Bizlink, Professor Brawn etc.
Am I completely out of my funk?
I don’t think so.
Today I think I have turned my perspective towards a positive direction.
The next thing is to condition myself consistently to look at Covid-19 (and similar crises) positively as opportunities for growth.
If you are reading this and are stuck in a funk too, I would like to assure you this feeling is normal. We are human and it is normal to feel down when things are not going the way we hope.
So look after yourself first. Give yourself time and space to grieve over your losses. Take time to do nothing, or nothing seemingly productive. Take that pressure off your shoulders.
Then do what makes you happy.