Alright everyone: It’s time to make the lemonade.
I am, of course, speaking metaphorically. But feel free to make the real stuff as well! This is the exact time when you must conjure up all your creativity, resilience, grit, courage and a positive mindset to help yourself, and others, to stay focused on what you can control. It is time to “make lemonade out of lemons” as best as you can.
Worry just robs everyone of time, energy and health. So, stay busy. Make a list of family projects, home projects and professional development ideas, and schedule time to spend on a current or new hobby. As we all know, too much unstructured and idle time can lead to other problems so we must be intentional in making sure we control what we can control. Stick to a routine as best you can. Get up, get dressed, put together a schedule for the day and get busy.
Keep calm and embrace change. Time to make the lemonade.
It’s a Great Time to Count Your Blessings
We are so happy that all three of our children are at home with us for what appears to be an extended period of time. What a gift! During the day, four of us work remotely from our home while our youngest, Ryan, is taking Penn State classes online. In the evenings and on weekends we’ve played cards, Trivial Pursuit, Rummikub, Yahtzee,and Buzzword. We played an online game of “Quiplash” and “Fakin’ It” on Jackbox.tv that was absolutely hilarious. Yes, we are watching some movies as a family.
We even binge watched Shark Tank (which at least teaches some useful lessons). We played Kan Jam in the backyard and even though the local golf courses are closed, it was no problem. My son Ryan and I went to the local park and made our own two-hole, par-3 course. We also played a Wii video golf match against good friends Zach Martin and his dad, Bob, using technology. Round one went to the Martins because I am so “video game challenged.” Bottom line: Be creative!
Our family just watched the recently released drama “Resistance” about the French Resistance in World War II. It’s the true story of Marcel Marceau, better known as one of the greatest mimes of all-time, who helps rescue hundreds of orphaned Jewish children from the Nazis. My children are 27, 25 and 19 and they were all engrossed in the film. It led to a great discussion about WWII that immediately inspired us to watch “The Greatest Events of WWII in Colour” on Netflix. These discussions would likely have never happened in “normal” times. Priceless time spent making lemonade.
Use This Time Productively
Have you made a list of projects to get done during these times? Are you spending quality time with your children and helping to keep them be active? You can work on a family budget or do more simple projects. We organized and purged our old shoes and clothes and will be donating a lot of them to St. Vincent DePaul and Goodwill. I am going through my old books to donate to the AAUW, and I have connected on-line with friends I should have kept in better touch with over the years.
Start making your list of things to prepare for when it’s time to “re-engage” post-virus. We have been given this golden opportunity to spend time doing things we perhaps should have been concentrating on all along. Make the most of this time in positive ways by learning new skills, reconnecting with old friends and family and doing projects at home. I am enrolled in a class to help me expand my speaking and training business and I am listening to podcasts and watching webinars on how to develop online courses.
It’s OK to relax and watch some TV and spend some time on social media. But be careful not to obsess with the instantaneous news that you have little control over. Watch or read what you feel you must for work or to prepare yourself for the future, but you are probably not doing yourself any favors watching the news 24/7 right now as it may simply add more lemons than you need.
Our family has used this time to remind our children about the importance of having an emergency fund to pay for six to nine months of living expenses. We talked about why you have to learn about the stock market, why your investments must be diversified and why having a “delayed gratification” mindset matters. While taking the dog on long walks and hikes, my wife and I talked about how our retirement dreams and plans will be impacted. I spent one of the walks with my son Jon, who lives and works in California, to talk about long-term career goals and possible ideas for future side businesses.
My wife and I even started doing Cize dance workouts using an online video from Beachbody.com. Yes, I am serious, even though the picture of me doing anything associated with the words “beach body” will immediately cause most of my friends to have a serious belly laugh. It was actually a great workout and a hoot. We tried our best to imitate the instructor’s moves. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. But we accomplished our goal of spending time together exercising and we got to laugh at ourselves as well.
The Technology Paradox
If you have read my book or heard me speak, you know I am a big proponent of doing periodic “digital detoxes” and spending time away from technology. Today, I am actually quite thankful that we have the technology that allows us to do FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, and to explore websites and consume knowledge. But heed this warning: Control your technology and don’t let it control you. Set limits on how much time you spend on social media. Don’t waste hours on useless videos when you could be watching something online that will add real value and skills to your life.
For those of you who are away from family and friends, do your best to embrace the technology available and get together virtually, if possible. Write letters and send cards to those friends and family who aren’t tech savvy or don’t have access to the internet.
In full disclosure, I have been sending and receiving funny memes periodically from friends and family to lighten the mood. We do need humor in our lives as well. My wife and I participated in a “virtual happy hour” with friends on Friday night that was a laugh a minute, including people humorously changing their background screens. The fun continued the next day with a virtual coffee hour with my Saturday Morning “Coffee Bs” group. We have held virtual family gatherings with my wife’s family (Philadelphia, Danville, Bethlehem, State College and Miami) and we even got my 82-year old mother to learn how to Skype.
We attended Sunday church service virtually and listened to an impactful sermon from our Pastor Greg Milinovich at St. Paul’s United Methodist. I also listened to a sermon from Pastor Dan Nold of Calvary Church. Dan was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and thankfully, appears to be on the road to recovery. He gave an inspiring message and hopes that when we get past this virus (and we will), that we won’t go back to the same old habits that led many of us to take things for granted, become complacent, lose perspective and have a sense of entitlement. Use technology intentionally.
The point is you can make of this what you want. Victim or victor? Lemons or lemonade?
Like some of you, I find myself going down the “Negative Ned” rabbit hole on occasion. When I do, I make the conscious and intentional decision to listen to upbeat music to get my mind back on track. I reach out to mentors and my executive coach for motivation and perspective. I call family and friends to fill my social bucket. When all else fails I get up, take our dog Barkley for a walk, and listen to a podcast or some motivational or spiritual music.
The Battista family uses technology to stay connected with family they can't visit in person.
No One Said Making Lemonade Was Easy
For those of you who have lost work and wages (I have lost 14 speaking engagements in March and April, so I feel your pain), keep your chin up and start doing what you can to make ends meet. Get all the information on how you can take full advantage of the government’s stimulus package. Follow the instructions, ask questions, talk to an accountant, a financial advisor, and if necessary, a lawyer, and fill out all the proper forms in a timely manner.
We are tightening our belts in our house and foregoing “wants” to be sure we can cover all of our “needs.” Many families have gone through tough times in the past and have survived. I vividly remember as a 10-year old that my father’s job was eliminated. My mother was forced to go back to work after 11 years as a stay-at-home mom. I remember their concern, the stress, the uncertainty, the tears. I remember having to do without things we took for granted. But guess what? We made it through. My father found a new job, my mom went back to work, and while it was difficult on her emotionally, she handled it like a champ. Her first job after her 11-year hiatus was not a good fit for her and after a few months, she found a corporate job that was the best thing to happen to her and our family. Perseverance matters.
Don’t know where you spend all your money? Don’t have a budget? Now is the perfect time to create one. Don’t have that three-to-six-month liquid emergency fund? Now you know why it will be a high priority “After Quarantine.” Have you ever made a list of needs vs. wants? Now you may not have a choice. Consider it a golden opportunity to do so!
For those of you who have mentors in your life, now is the perfect time to lean on them for guidance and encouragement. You can focus on the lemons or you can spend time making the lemonade. The choice is yours!