How to survive a pandemic!
Firstly, there’s no guaranteed outcomes from anything!
How to survive a pandemic (when all you want to do is hide)?
Like you I have been on a rollercoaster of a journey so far. I’ve struggled, I’ve been up and motivated and down in the depths! Each day is different! However, I can tell you what I TRY to do each day and hopefully it will help you too!
Firstly, my business. I’m a jewellery designer and maker and I teach a lot of jewellery making workshops. I’m passionate about my business, in particular the benefits of doing something creative. It’s the thing that has got me through some of the toughest challenges in my life. Not necessarily my jewellery making, just doing something creative! For me this can be sewing, art, drawing, glass work or gardening. Anything that has a creative output. I like to DO something, the quality might not be brilliant, but I have spent time more absorbed in creating something than thinking about STUFF!
That for me is the key! Switching off my brain! I’m a born worrier! I like to plan, have contingency plans and then I feel able to go with the flow.
I used to be pretty good with change! I used to plan it in; every two years there would be change… So this way I was prepared, braced for it even. If it didn’t change, I’d worry things weren’t going to plan!! That sounds contrary I know, but that is how my mind works. It also doesn’t sound like I was ever really good with change!
Some of the biggest changes I have made in my life have been sudden … to everyone else. To me they were the result of much internal debate and conflict … and of course worry. When I left my former career, I was struggling with so many parts of my life that I was very ill, and it took me a very long time to recover. Slowly though I did. One step at a time.
When I started my jewellery business it was the result of spending time trying things that made me happy, and following those. I chose to see where things lead, seeing what paths and opportunities opened up and be receptive to them.
So this is where it has brought me! I have my own jewellery range which I sell on line, at events and in some galleries. I teach silver jewellery making classes at my studio near York. I’ve been in business since 2013 and I’m happy doing what I’m doing.
I feel like my job teaching allows me to give back some of my learning and self discovery. I find quite a few of my students are stressed, dealing with family illness, grief, lonely or anxious. Not everyone, but some. I have no idea before they arrive. They are all new and wonderful people ready to explore a new skill or share a creative day with a friend or family. However, I realised that I do provide this safe space for people to be creative, be themselves, have a giggle, and take something away with them that they can be proud of. Realising this has made me incredibly proud to provide that, and recognise how precious it is.
When I had to postpone my workshop programme due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, I felt a deep sense of disappointment; that I was letting people down when they might need that outlet even more.
It also sent me back to my worries. How would my business survive, what would I do? I spent much of the first two weeks with migraines and asleep. I kept going doing mundane things around the house and baking, but I was sad and drained. Finally, I realised that I needed to get making again. Get creative, make something, get back into some sort of routine. So that’s what I have done, I’ve set up my home studio again, I’m back making orders and feeling so much better. I started to think about what helped me in the past. Could those strategies help me again?
I started having daily and weekly video calls with my friends and family. There is something very re-assuring about seeing peoples’ faces, seeing them laugh and finding out how they are coping. You realise you aren’t alone, in fact you’re doing ok! Plus, with all our tech wizardry, we don’t need to be totally isolated. I don’t have to meet them for lunch or shopping, just a video call and it’s the best therapy ever!
The other thing I have done is get outside. Luckily the weather has been quite pleasant. I have worked outside, had lunch outside and I’m writing this outside. I’m very lucky to be able to, but it made me realise how much I do rely on it. I’ve been taking my daily exercise, walking with my husband who is working at home as well. He’s been going stir crazy, so it gives us an opportunity to chat and wind down for the day. There seems to be plenty of people doing the same thing, almost like rush hour sometimes! The odd nod to a passer-by and chat with a neighbour can be the highlight of the day!
I’ve been reading my books. I usually save these for holidays, but wait, I should be on holiday now anyway!! I daren’t loose myself in a good book too often; hours go by if I’m not careful and I can be very unsociable!
We’ve had some great family time sharing board games! The Star Wars version of Monopoly – wow that takes some time!!! I’m fancying a cinema night tonight; I’ve got the popcorn in and plenty of film choice, the hardest part will be agreeing what to watch!
I think the main thing that has helped me get to this stage, is seeing people. People in the street and via video, getting back into my creative/making routine, and being outside. It has made me realise how important my workshops are to me and how much I love passing on that joy.
I’m still thinking about my customers; what can I do for them, how can I say ‘thank you’ for understanding? I’ve created some starter kits and free video tutorial, and I’m about to create another couple of tutorials for those who already have tools.
I have lots of ideas and plans, and I’m slowly taking back control of what I’d like my business to look like moving forward. What the ‘new normal’ might look like! I’ve realised this is an opportunity to step back and think about what makes me happy, keep doing that, and maybe stop doing the things that don’t make me happy, in life and in business.
I’ve seen some people change and adapt quickly, and felt the pressure to do the same. What if I miss an opportunity? It’s taken me a few weeks to get to where I am now, but I’ve done it at my pace. I’m actually quite excited and ready to see where the next chapter of my adventure takes me.
I didn’t manage to keep going all the time. Some days are still really hard and I don’t want to get out of bed. Other days are fabulous. I am learning to take one day at a time. I have no doubt there’ll be a few more bumps along the road, but I am calmer, less stressed and enjoying the opportunity this weird and wonderful world has given me.
I’ll see you on the other side!