Words by Caroline Winslow
As we all continue to adjust to the new normal, one word that can be used to describe this time for me is balance — or at least striving for balance. This time has forced me to find greater work life balance, possibly more so than ever before, challenged me to find a balanced and slower pace of life, and even motivated me to find balance on, well, random objects in my apartment to keep myself entertained.
The New Working Norm
Prior to the pandemic, my daily routine would start around 7:00am with a cup of strong coffee and I would head out to my office at Rocky Mountain Institute, a clean energy think tank in a beyond net zero energy building (which means it produces more energy on site over the course of the year than the building consumes). Oddly enough I am used to conducting most of my work over video conferencing, meeting with team members in other offices, but my favorite time of workday was cooking lunch with my coworkers at the office. After work I would then head out for a ski, bike, run, or to a spin class, depending on the season.
Like many of us, my work week looks quite different now. While I still wake up around 6:30am or 7:00am and of course have a strong cup of coffee, my office is now a makeshift desk in the corner of my house. In order to maintain some routine and normalcy, I try to take a walk outside before and after work to simulate some physical separation between work and home and still get dressed for a normal work day — granted, in slightly more comfortable clothes. A few days during the “shelter in place” I found myself starting work right as I woke up and ending the day only when I looked at the clock and realized that dinner was long overdue. These days not only took a toll on my body, but also on my mental health and happiness. Creating a new daily routine and a new working norm has helped me to stay productive, healthy, and sane during this crazy time.
A Slower Weekend Pace
Being a proud weekend warrior, Saturdays and Sundays were my time to get outside, push myself physically, and adventure with friends. But once COVID hit, this was turned on its head; for one of the few times in my life, I was forced to stop and slow down. This was challenging at first, but I have found that the “Shelter in place” order brought a ‘softness’ into my life, where I have accepted the change of pace and become okay with a weekend of relaxing at home on the couch and playing 20 rounds of cribbage.
While most of my weekends have been spent at home, I have also been incredibly lucky during this time to still have access to the mountains and trails in my backyard. Each day I am reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to live with the mountains at my doorstep.
An Indoor Beach Vacation
While at home in the mountains, recently my mind has been wandering off to the beaches of Costa Rica, where I was originally planning to be in early May. At the end of last summer, I had begun to plan a warm getaway to Latin America to celebrate my sister’s engagement and host her bachelorette party. The Airbnb had been rented, flights had been booked, surf rentals were arranged, and excitement of a post-winter thaw on the beach was growing. However, once the pandemic hit, we realized that this trip was no longer going to be possible.
While we hope to re-plan the trip once it’s safe to travel again, my craving for a surf trip lingered. So, thanks to a piece of scrap wood and our trusty skill saw, my boyfriend and I got to making a homemade balance board. We roughly sketched the shape, fit with a fishtail, and got to cutting and sanding. After the wood was shaped, we simply threw a reusable water bottle underneath and were met with endless entertainment. We also have added a foam roller to the ‘quiver’ and implemented new obstacles (i.e. walking on the foam roller into the kitchen to get more coffee). We’ll see where the “one-upmanship” takes us next.
During this time at home, creativity has been at the forefront, finding ways to stay active, healthy, entertained, and happy by bringing the outdoors in. Once we are able to reemerge from our homes and life goes back to somewhat normalcy, I will work to maintain the balance — both figuratively and physically — that I have found over the past two months.