When news of the COVID-19 outbreak hit, I was a non-believer. I went straight to that place of “this won’t happen to me, it’s not really that big a deal”. Then when my daughter’s school advised all students to stay at home I thought, “holy shit – this could actually be a thing, but you know what? I’m sure they’re just being over-protective”. Then when travel restrictions hit I went: “Damn! My revenue streams are in trouble and I’m mighty pissed off!”
All the feels.
All the emotions.
Running a business where a big line of revenue depends on live events and retreats meant that the social distancing and travel bans hit hard. I admit, I freaked out for a good few days. I dreamt about losing our house and me having to go find a job (*gasp!*) . I woke up in the wee hours in panic, wondering what I was going to do that day to make it better. I second-guessed myself. I thought my knowledge wasn’t enough, I didn’t have enough of the right tools/experience/money to do the next step I seriously considered just not saying anything and hoping it would all go away.
Classic signs of grief.
Then it struck me. Like a blunt object to the head actually…that I had everything I needed and that I had been working towards this day for many decades.
I knew way back in my mid-20s that I wanted to be able to be location-independent for my work. But I also felt I had to ‘earn’ that somehow. Remember, this is pre-social media days and pre ‘I’m an influencer and can travel the world and someone will pay me to look pretty and show off their sunglasses and lipgloss’ era. So I did my time in corporate, earned my stripes around the water cooler and in the boardroom and at ALL THE MEETINGS….and I knew for sure after 15 years of that that I wanted to run my own show, from anywhere. Which I finally did when laid off during my second round of maternity leave. But it’s also why I got into digital marketing originally – because I knew “internet thing had legs”! I knew that this technology would allow for connectivity and communication in a way previously never seen. So I set about learning that so I could then harness it to satisfy my own desire to work from a beach or cafe or mountain top.
So, after my initial freak out, I got busy. Yes I had to cancel my Bali retreat which sucked, and yes I had to cancel the venues for my upcoming workshops which meant loss of deposits etc, but quickly I realised I could take those teaching experiences online without too much change to the program or efficacy of the learning experience. And so I did.
And they worked out just great. In fact I ran a number of workshops in those first few months of lockdown, largely to keep myself and my clients busy and engaged and away from the fridge, the couch or the panic button!
I also ran online writing challenges, and co-facilitated programs for far-flung organisations, and even ran an ‘online retreat’ of sorts. Was it the same as usual? No. But then I’ve never much been interested in doing the ‘same as usual’ for too long anyway.
So the opportunity to do things differently, to embrace my new rhythm due to lockdowns was not really at a large cost to me, and in fact just highlighted what I’d been doing in small pieces all along – working with people and businesses all around the world online to help them with their content, their writing, their messaging and marketing. It was an unexpected bright spot in an otherwise miserable point in time. A true validation of why I do what I do and that the choices I made, without a great deal of info or insight (just a gut feel and longing) were great choices for me.
Do I wish that ALL of my work is online and that I never get to be in a room or in a resort on retreat with real live humans again? Hells no! I LOVE real human interaction and hugs and moments that only occur when you sit next to somebody. But I am grateful to have the option to still continue the work I do best, to embrace thew new rhythm in a purely online environment, when and if the world goes mad again.