Media personality +
Co-founder of podcast “Just So We’re Clear”
“Today’s note to self is: Hour by hour, day by day, everything will be ok. Self-care right now is self compassion. The world is going through something extreme so whatever you feel is okay!”
It’s strange how normal it feels.
For the first two seconds before you fully open your eyes, waking up and coming back to your body, everything feels so… normal. The sheets on your skin feel ordinarily familiar and needy, begging you to stay. The sun rises. You peep, with one eye still closed, at the soft new light peeping back at you through the drapes. Nothing has changed for the early birds, too, still chirping and cooing as they did yesterday. As they did last week. And in January.
For two seconds, it feels blissfully normal. By the time you unclose the other eye, though, you remember.
Everything has changed.
Nothing is normal. In the tense present, normal is spoken of in past tense. Normal belonged in Life B.C. (before coronavirus). Normal is only normal when it’s prefaced by “new”.
“This was not a strange place, it was a new place.” — Paulo Coelho
I’ve always liked and felt drawn to these words. There’s an atmosphere of optimism and power that comes from a shift in perspective: If we change the way we look at the world, then the world we look at will begin to change. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond, behave and make our choices.
In this new place — as we continue to stay home, work from home, as we learn to be with ourselves (whether you live alone or with family who is now demanding your attention all day everyday), as we unlearn the old norms and adapt to new rules and ways of consuming,
and creating, and schooling, and running our businesses, and exercising, and connecting with one another, and as some of you deal with new anxieties, uncertainties and insecurities around things that were as normal as the next pay cheque — it feels like the road ahead only exists only if we take a step, and another, and another, forward. But in this new place, we have never been more together as humans. You have been hearing this ad nauseam, but we are in this together. Even if we’re alone, we’re alone together.
“the irony of loneliness
is we all feel it
at the same time
– together” — Rupi Kaur
Listening to the stories of others, for me, has always been a source of light and enlightenment in personal dark times. The stories of others help us to understand our own story, help us to heal. That’s the power of storytelling. Word by word, we can build a strong community. Word by word, we can rebuild our selves and our world.
In that spirit, I present you the first series of The Cœur, entitled, “New Normal”, for which I’ve invited a few beautiful souls to open the doors, figuratively of course, to their homes and lives, and share the stories of their new reality — how does it look and feel right now? And you don’t want to miss all their tips and recommendations in their #stayhome self-care guide.
[Editor’s note: Sentiments and thoughts expressed here are accurate as at April 2, 2020, when Hanli wrote back.]
“I now have more time to really sit with my thoughts and work through them. I journal every other day for my mental health. I’ve started meditating more than ever, and it helps me arrange my thoughts.”
Karman: Hi Hanli. How are you feeling today?
Hanli: Hi. It’s only noon and today already feels long. I’m currently feeling fine, but there is an undercurrent of both anxiousness and motivation that spikes and falls throughout the day. It’s an interesting combination. One minute I’m rolling in creativity, and the other I’m rolling up in bed.
K: Life has taken quite a turn, and we’ve had no choice but to adapt to a new way of living and find a new rhythm, a “new normal”. In what ways big and small has your life changed/is changing? What is your “new normal” in the different spaces of your life?
H: A big physical change for my new normal is stillness! I’m not travelling or even making plans for adventure. This is new for me since one of my biggest values is freedom and the freedom to get up and fly off at any time. Not travelling has also affected my heart because my partner is overseas, so I’m not sure when I’ll see him again. My father is also out of the country, we are very close and I miss and worry about him. Work wise, I feel fortunate that the content creation industry hasn’t been completely disrupted, and I am still able to create from home. However, production projects, events and media gathers are on pause.
K: Where are you finding it to be the most challenging adjustment? In which areas have you discovered or maintained joy, calm and positivity daily?
H: I value fitness and health and having my gym close down due to the virus has seeming my endorphin rush in other ways. I’ve taken to outdoor running, which brings me a lot of joy and calm. Just getting out of the house and running to the Botanic Gardens for some time in nature makes a big difference to my mood. Because of the new slower pace of life, I now have more time to really sit with my thoughts and work through them. I journal every other day for my mental health. I’ve started meditating more than ever, and it helps me arrange my thoughts.
“I work well with lists, whether it’s hourly or just for the day. Even if it’s something small like ‘take vitamins’, I find satisfaction in crossing it off the list. Taking note of small accomplishments eventually add up to big satisfaction. Don’t over look the small stuff.”
K: A new normal calls for new rules, behaviours and routines. What does self-care look like for you now?
H: I have a white board that I use almost every morning. I write down a positive affirmation at the top. Today’s note to self is: Hour by hour, day by day, everything will be okay. Self-care right now is self compassion. The world is going through something extreme so whatever you feel is okay! Self-care is maintaining my health by eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, going for long walks or runs, and taking my time to stretch down after my workouts.
K: Has this time, this crisis, given you a new clarity on life and what really matters?
H: What really matters are our relationships. A lot of people, myself included, have a harder time asking for help. Independence and pride get in the way of our need for connection and it can get lonely — especially during a pandemic where self isolation seems to be the remedy. What really matters is community, family and support from and for one other.
K: In what ways do you see (or hope to see) the world, your world and your self looking and being different when we’ve emerged from this on the other side?
H: I feel like once I come out of this, I will have a stronger sense of self. I think the whole world will have been very humbled by this and will be more mindful about the importance of mental health. I hope we will all emerge kinder to one another, and with a stronger sense of unity and compassion for others.
HANLI’S #STAYHOME SELF-CARE GUIDE
Time at home is spent…
Reading more than ever! I’m tuning into new podcasts, cooking new recipes and having long video calls with my friends.
Bhuddhism Plain and Simple, Steven Hagen,
Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker
Light Is The New Black, Rebecca Campbell.
Currently listening to:
My own podcast! It’s called Just So We’re Clear, available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. I’m also listening to the “Butter” playlist on Spotify.
Go-to self-care apps:
I use the Headspace for meditation every other day.
I dedicate my mornings to movement and being outdoors. I wake up, have a coffee with my plants and a stick of incense, walk my dogs, go for a run then spend some time on the yoga mat cooling down. Once I’ve tended to “me”, I open my laptop.
WFH tips for staying productive and disciplined, and for setting boundaries between work and personal time/space:
I work well with lists, whether it’s hourly or just for the day. Even if it’s something small like “take vitamins”, I find satisfaction in crossing it off the list. Taking note of small accomplishments eventually add up to big satisfaction. Don’t over look the small stuff.
Photos: HANLI HOEFER