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Omicron Madness

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Hi All – I took last week off in anticipation of a week of holiday craziness and party prep. Then Omicron busted through our household and we had to cancel all of our plans with friends and family, it was a huge gut punch to say the least. Brooks was the only one of the 5 of us to test positive at first but subsequently our youngest Abby has been symptomatic and likely has it as well, though her second test result hasn’t come back yet. So this week I am supposed to be writing about life transitions but instead you get to read about the Omicron Grinch who stole Christmas. Sorry not sorry.

I am a planner who has a really hard time letting go of plans. Our Christmas Eve tradition is a Fondue Party at our house with our closest friends, it’s usually about 20ish people and we have 5 fondue pots going. It’s merry and boisterous with Christmas cocktails and punch, Secret Santa exchange and a Bûche de Nôel complete with merengue mushrooms for dessert. Christmas dinner brings my dad and my Aunt and Uncle over for Beef Tenderloin and Yorkshire Pudding, a much quieter affair but full of warm holiday yumminess. I’m always tired from the cooking and partying the night before but I love taking down the party set and re-scaping the table for the Family Christmas Dinner. I love the double celebration and we had been doing it for 7 years running until 2020 when COVID broke our streak. The thing about last year was that we knew way ahead of time that the holidays were going to suck. When cases started spiking again in the early fall there was time to make an alternative plan. Which I did. Facing a Christmas without our friends and family I used all of my accumulated miles and points and booked a trip to Hawaii, which was perhaps a risky move but I’d do it again in a heartbeat and it all worked out in the end. Was it a perfect Christmas? No. Was it a perfect Hawaiian vacation? Also no. It was a great distraction from the depressing monotony of home, which was what we needed and it enabled me to plan something, which was what I needed. So this year I was really excited to resume our Fondue Party tradition and Christmas dinner with our fully vaccinated friends and family. And as we had sailed through Thanksgiving with no mishaps and the first three weeks of December felt Business As Usual it felt like the rug was pulled out from under us when that test result came back positive on 12/21. It was worse than 2020 in a way. I think it’s hard for anyone to pivot at the the last minute, but it is especially hard on my psyche. It makes me feel like I’m grasping at straws that are slipping past my fingers as they swirl above me, getting farther and farther away. I have since heard from hundreds of friends across the country who had situations similar to mine, with vaccinated (and in some cases boosted) folks testing positive, holiday travel canceled and Quarantine Christmas prevailing in this latest battle of The Great War of COVID.

Since that test we’ve all been holed up in the house, mostly in our rooms coming out for gift exchange and a brief Christmas Dinner. This extrovert has had a really hard time the whole week. It’s hard to let go of a plan that I put the effort into planning. It’s hard to let go of celebrating with people I love. It’s hard to think about the older people in my life alone at home for the holiday. All of it is just so hard. I have had to call on some time-tested sanity practices that I’ve employed at other stressful times in my life. Most are likely not new to you as they are routinely touted by multiple experts but a couple of them may be because they are either personal to me or specifically not recommended by said experts. So here are the things that have kept me from drifting toward the cliff in my mind.

  1. Get outside

    When you are shut up in the house it really starts to mess with you. Getting outside (and preferably seeing something green) does wonders, especially if you are consistent. And it has the added benefit of being a relatively safe activity to engage in while quarantining. Our dog Gus has been getting multiple walks a day since multiple peeps in my family recognize the benefits of getting out and walking. I know it’s cold in a lot of places but bundle up and get out there, it’s worth the extra effort.

  2. Do something productive

    Doing something productive means at the end you will feel a sense of accomplishment, which is good. You will also feel a sense of control, really good if Omicron has wrested it from you. I tackled three projects this week, one small, one medium and one large. I cleaned out a drawer in my closet to make space for my now quite large collection of cozy sweats. I identified and listed some clothes and shoes that I no longer wear to be sold in the re-sell marketplace. And I began the process of shifting my digital photo collection to a new, improved system that more closely mirrors what I do for my Photo Organization clients. All of these things can be accomplished by myself in the house and it helps my psyche to use my time productively vs. watching endless Netflix offerings on the couch.

  3. Exercise

    Exercise has been my savior throughout this pandemic. I will save my missive on the benefits and joys of Peloton for another post but moving your body and specifically increasing your heart rate is a great outlet for the bugaboos bouncing around in your brain, whatever your choice of exercise. When I’m finished with a workout I always feel better than I did when I started and it’s important to evoke that feeling before I start because starting is the hardest part. This next rec may be specific to me but it really works: I pick out my workout ‘outfit’ the night before and it helps motivate me to get up and get going in the early AM when I like to exercise. Did I mention that I ride on a Peloton and no one sees this outfit except me? Somehow picking out and putting on something cute is a motivator. Weird, I know. But it works. For me.

  4. COmfort Food

    Here’s the one every expert says not to do. But extreme times call for extreme measures. I am allowing myself to eat all of my favorite things during this Quarantine Holiday. There will be plenty of time to cleanse it all out of my system when life returns to normal but until then food is very comforting to me. Bread, pasta and sweets are all favorites and things I should be avoiding but as of press time I’ve polished off half of the delicious sourdough my friend Kelsey dropped off, am making Macaroni & Cheese for dinner tonight and allowing myself ice cream and cookies every night after dinner. This will eventually catch up with me I know but it really does help while I’m getting through this rough patch. So maybe skip this recommendation but I had to include it for my account to remain authentic!

  5. ReWatch Ted Lasso

Not a lot of extra to add here except to say that it’s worth the re-watch and I caught a lot that I missed the first time. I really needed the positive messaging and humor this week. The only downside is that it left me longing for Season 3 which won’t be here for a long, long time. Thank Goodness for Ted, Coach Beard, Rebecca, Roy, Keely and the whole gang. I really needed them this week!

Well that’s it. I’m going to keep at it and hopefully come out the other side with my mental health intact, ready to tackle whatever 2022 has in store. If Omicron wreaked havoc with your holiday I hope you will too! Have a Healthy and Happy New Year from Method Seattle Professional Organizing! See you in 2022!