The Bright Sides of COVID-19

This past week has been the most difficult for me yet. My fifth straight week working from home in my apartment. Fifth straight week absent of collaboration in the workplace - something I clearly require as a source of energy and motivation. Fifth straight week without being on an airplane, and without experiencing the vibrancy of a New York bar or restaurant. Fifth straight week without hugging another human being.

I know that last sentence is a little weird, and it doesn't seem like a big deal, but we are definitely social creatures and are not wired to be isolated like I have been. Couple the isolation with a bit of a rocky run at work - still very busy but bouncing in between projects rather on one large client engagement - and it started to take its toll.

But, as always, things are rarely as dark as you perceive them to be, so I took a step back and wrote down a few of the incredible things that this pandemic, staying at home, and isolation have brought into my life.

Cooking. While I've always enjoyed cooking, I have rarely cooked 5 days in a row since moving to the city. Over the last five weeks I've done some meal prep, tried some new recipes, rekindled my love for simple dishes (rice, beans, veggies) and shared a few recipes over on Instagram which people have seemed to really enjoy.

My personal favourite so far was learning to make seitan - a wheat-based dish that when prepared correctly can mimic the texture and tenderness of chicken. I based the recipe off of a local Toronto blog that I've been following for a while.

Vegan seitan tenders.... so good

New Setup. Once I realized "normal" wasn't going to happen for a while, it forced me to stop procrastinating and finally buy a desk and chair to craft a solid work-from-home setup. I'm really happy with the space now. It's brighter, more comfortable, spacious, but still has the sleek and minimalist look that I enjoy. It's already paid dividends in work productivity, my glow on Zoom calls (because I'm now near a window) :) and provides a bit of separation between my work space and my kitchen table. Also shout-out Tracy Turner for sending me this sweet desk lamp and portable phone charger to really complete the look!

New setup for work!

Fitness. I know it's annoying seeing everybody post workouts on social media and showing the world that they logged in to take a virtual spin class, but I also think it's kind of awesome. Running has continued to be my daily escape to get some fresh air, move my body, and see some other humans, albeit from a distance. Since March 13th (the day I came home from my last work trip), I've run 115 miles with the Nike Running app, plus some more on my GPS watch. I've also entered a push-up contest with a few buddies from work where we did 100 push-ups throughout the work day on the first day of quarantine, and have added one each day. Tomorrow (Monday, April 20th) I will complete 135 push-ups. Again, not crazy, but a fun game to keep the mind and body fresh during a long work day.

Also, because of an unfortunately timed closure of my laundromat, a good portion of my running clothes are trapped inside and inaccessible, so similar to the desk and chair, it forced me to order some sweet new gear which has been an even greater motivation to get my butt out the door and run the empty streets!

Some tasty new Nike gear

Nothing to look forward to. Like most people, I usually thrive off of the anticipation for the next big thing. Whether it be the big presentation at work, trying a new restaurant, planning the next vacation, or even traveling somewhere new for work. Quarantine has ruined plans as we know them. However, it has provided the opportunity to truly develop a routine, and enjoy more of the process.

Routines are always shoved down our throats as something we should all implement, but I find that in normal life, there are so many outside variables that can easily disrupt a routine. Your kids might be sick in the morning, causing you to miss your journal entry or your herbal tea. Your commute to work could have additional traffic, or a delayed train, which makes you late. Janet from Accounting might stop by your desk with a question when you're trying to get lay out your daily priorities or read the news. But in quarantine, every day is literally the same, and almost everything is in your control. What you're going to eat, what you're going to wear, who you're going to talk to, etc. I've found a pretty good rhythm now and I'm hoping that it helps propel my productivity, even though I'm desperately missing working closely and collaborating with co-workers.

Finally, I still really look forward to all of the Zoom calls I have with friends and family. They're a great way to stay in touch, play a trivia game, and wind-down the evenings, so thank-you to everyone who has called!

At the end of the day, I still have a job and a paycheck, I don't have any loved ones directly affected by the virus (knocking on wood), I have food on the table, and I'm not a front-line worker risking my health to provide groceries for everyone else. Life is grand, and I'm going to continue looking for the silver linings as this crisis continues.

Stay safe and healthy. Thanks for reading.

Mike