Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center
For the better part of nine months, I’ve been hunkered down at home. I’ve been in turns depressed, enthusiastic, distracted, focused, weary, hopeful, and anxious. Mostly anxious.
I’m anxious because like so many people, I’ve had to learn to work in a completely different way, trying to get my footing in this suddenly virtual world. It’s been daunting and fascinating to take on the challenge of working remotely from the confines of the 3ft x 1.5 ft vintage Art Deco desk in my room. To wrap my head around having conversations with people halfway across the world on Zoom while no longer being able to walk down the hall and pop my head into a co-workers office to ask a question.
In the physical world, changes are no less dramatic and no less anxiety-causing. I’ve had to start analyzing the risk factors of everything I do, trying to keep safe for my own health and – more importantly – for my 92-year old Dad’s health as well. Instead of visiting, dancing, going to concerts, and traveling, my main personal creative outlet is now almost completely centered around dinner: cooking the evening meal, crafting fun cocktails, setting a beautiful table, and dressing for the evening photo.
I’ve learned a lot about navigating the virtual world; heck, I can find/buy anything online now and I’ve learned enough about Zoom to actually help other people understand it! I’ve figured out ways to remain active and engaged without my usual outlets. I’ve made new, and I think lasting, friends over Zoom. It’s been uplifting and exhilarating. But it’s still nearly impossible to shed the anxiety.
I’ve been paying more attention to managing anxiety lately. I’m logging into mindfulness lectures and trying to bring that practice into my daily life. It isn’t easy. Learning to be in the moment, and not constantly worrying about the future, is a tough assignment. Especially when my job calls for me to actively be planning events two, three, or even six months away. The trick is working to cultivate a good outcome, as opposed to worrying about things I have little or no control over. That’s a tall order for someone like me who has made a career of worrying about pretty much everything (that’s what event planning is).
So, when this latest statewide directive of “don’t go anywhere, don’t do anything!” was announced, I was surprised to find it relieved some of my anxiety, despite the horrible reality of the COVID surge. Sure, I initially greeted the new stay-at-home order with dismay; I’d scheduled to do several things in the coming weeks, including going to the LA Zoo, and visiting (socially distanced) with friends. But as I started cancelling things, I experienced a sort of relief, a break in my constant anxiety. Whatever happens later, right now and at least for a few weeks, I have clarity. I can be in the moment, because there is nowhere else to be!