I firstly want to acknowledge that the writing going forward is based off my own personal experience during this time. I know that there are others who have been unwell, had sick family, lost family members, lost their jobs or their businesses, who have cancelled or postponed important occasions and events, and generally been truly shaken by the experience of Level 4 lockdown. My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by Covid-19 and it's fall out. There are so many of you.
The truth of Covid-19 hit well and truly before Level 4 was announced. We saw the affect from early March of what was happening to the economy as the fear and uncertainly levels in New Zealand were rising. We became aware of the closeness of strangers and seemingly overnight our online business appeared to dry up. Consumer confidence plummeted. The uncertainty of being able to survive going forward meant that people were no longer spending money on things that weren't essential. Events around the country were being cancelled and with it, we lost the ability to do what I love most about our company, connecting with people.
I'll be honest and say that I was relieved once Levels were announced and specifically Level 4. While its meant basically shutting down the entire country, for me it was certainty in what had been weeks of constant change and anxiety. The only way we were going to get through this was together.
And so I took this as an opportunity. After spending time doing the practical business things like paring back projections, altering budgets, working out payment plans with suppliers, I rested. There were days at the beginning of Level 4 that had my head full of fog, so just doing a couple of hours of work was all I could manage. I'm not entirely sure where those first days went, there was lots of cooking (for me that's something I can focus on), time spent on social media (maybe too much) and going out for walks with my bubble. I'm fortunate that my family bubble includes a very large cuddly dog. For me, there's nothing quite like pets to make you smile.
In all this uncertainty I chose to look for the good things. Here's a few of my favourite things...
- When you're out walking, people are waving out from their homes, asking how you are and generally being friendlier
- I've had time, a great kitchen to cook in and people to enjoy the food I've made (cooking for one can be boring after a while)
- Group chats based all around food - while this isn't unusual for me, I've finally had epic recipes to share
- Unexpected phone calls from friends, people checking in
- Being able to do nice things for others, from afar. Including shopping for our elderly neighbour, doing chalk drawings on the side walk for people to play, giving hapu women the place ahead of me in the supermarket queue, giving away fruit at the gate and paying back people who have shared their fruit with us
- Foraging. I swear our family has become level 10 foragers. We've found mushrooms, feijoa, avocado, figs, almonds, chestnuts and olives. All on public land. Grateful for the food that our earth provides us.
- Time to slow down. Permission if you will. To not rush, overfill my days and to breathe. And damn I needed this. It wasn't until it was forced upon me that I realised how much I needed it.
Being able to focus on giving at this time has made it easier for me. Having decided that we should give everyone a treat from Zeenya who ordered during Level 4 despite us not being able to ship meant that our bubble spent 3 days making headbands. I am not much of a sewer, so I got the job of hand closing them. And every stitch was one of gratitude. Well, maybe not every single one (the pile got quite big there for a while), but the support for NZ companies during this time has been emotional, heartwarming and overwhelming. It fills me up to give something little back to people who have supported us. All handmade with love.
This blog is not to say that this hasn't been hard on me at times. There have been days when I've been sad, frustrated, anxious and grumpy. I miss my friends, being able to hug the people I love, being able to make plans. I don't know why I brought wall planners for my home office and the Zeenya HQ. May was meant to be full of cool adventures for us, of which none can go ahead. I didn't buy into the "pivot your business, learn a language, bake sour dough from scratch, learn a new skill" pressure that was floating about during this time. I just did what felt right for me and tried to go with the flow.
I've accepted my experience for what it is. I know there are others who haven't had it as easy. But that doesn't mean my experience hasn't been important. We are all entitled to feel the ways we have, to give ourselves permission to acknowledge our own journey.
As I sit here on the eve of going into Level 3 and our 'next' normal, I'm feeling reflective. I trust that whatever comes next is going to be exactly what I need. There is so much growth that can happen with change. Later I'll be writing a list of all the things I want to take forward from this time as well as the things I'd like to leave behind. It's like drawing a line in the sand and telling myself what I will accept and do, and what I won't.
I encourage all of you to take some time to reflect on these past 5 weeks. Good, bad, ugly. And decide what's most important for you. Maybe you'll change some things, maybe you won't. Either way that's ok and it's enough.
I'm also going to use this platform to give some shout-outs to epic organisations and groups that have been created during this time to support small business here in New Zealand. Go check them out on Facebook or Instagram
New Zealand Made Products - a voluntary group, run by Sarah Colcord. Epic companies and individuals sharing their incredible goods!
Save Our Small Businesses NZ - for service and cafes. Buy vouchers to support them now until they can reopen again.
Manaaki- Business suppport network for business owners.
Much love to you and your families as we head towards level 2.