Assist and Karmen Masson Professional Coach
are pleased to present
GLOOM v. HOPE: Who's Winning?
An honest discussion about the struggles members of the
legal profession are facing, how to manage the ongoing tug-of-war
between the negative and the positive, and how we can move forward together.
Please join us on
Thursday, May 14, 2020
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
To register, e-mail:
LAWYER WELL-BEING WEEK
Monday, May 4 - Friday, May, 8, 2020
Monday, May the 4th be with you! - Connect
Join our Red Mug Coffee Circle with or without anything Star Wars
Tuesday, May 5 - Positivity and Creativity
We'd love to see a photo of you doing something creative or tag us with your
social media posts of random acts of kindness or gratitude!
Wednesday, May 6 - Physical Activity
Join our Virtual Yoga Class or go for a family bike ride.
Thursday, May 7 - Serenity
Take some time out of your day to do what makes
you calm, peaceful and untroubled
Friday, May 8 - Anti-Anxiety
Joinus at 3:30 pm for an Anti-Anxie-Tea!
Bring your best lawyer joke, funny story or your funniest pandemic story
In case you all hated learning the "Knee to Ear" pose last week,
here is the Secret Nap pose. You're welcome!
JOIN YOUR COLLEAGUES FROM
ACROSS THE PROVINCE
FOR VIRTUAL NOON YOGA
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM
Once we get your e-mail, we will send you a Zoom invitation to join the class
THE RED MUG COFFEE CIRCLE
IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE
aka Coffee, I need. Have it, I must.
Because it is May the Fourth (Be With You), join our Assist staff and some of our peer support team on Zoom. Bring your favourite Star Wars paraphernalia or action figures and get your nerd on with us! Talking Star Wars is a great ice breaker (unless you say that episodes 1 to 3 are better than the original trilogy…). Or just come hang out with Eileen who is not a nerd (about this anyway).
We would also love to create connections between all levels at the bar and bench who are making their way in the legal community to provide a little more mentorship and fellowship.
Please join us for online coffee, a little Star Wars fun and lunch (if you'd like) from 12:00 - 1:00 pm on Monday, May 4 —judges, lawyers, articling students and law students are all welcome. We could have a few special guests here and there - come meet them.
We will be meeting via Zoom. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get the link.
STAGES OF COVID-19 ANXIETY
You never know what to expect when you open up a neighbourhood community newsletter, but this week I found a gem—an article about the stages of grieving the loss of our regular lives as we physically isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/202003/covid-19-and-the-grief-process. This article reviews the five stages of grief identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross—denial, anger, bargaining, despair and acceptance--and applies them to the complex emotions we are experiencing as we lose many important components in our lives due to physical isolation. I have pretty much alternated between acceptance and despair, so far (we don’t all go through them sequentially.)
But what about anxiety? I managed to keep anxiety at bay by engaging physical distancing. I started wearing a mask and gloves to go grocery shopping—my main out-of-the-house activity—not because I was being obsessive about protecting myself but because I wanted to make other people feel safe in the knowledge that I was doing my part to protect them.
I didn’t waste a lot of energy worrying about actually contracting the virus or that someone close to me would become ill. My parents—in their 80s and not in Calgary—were keeping safe, and my adult children accepted social distancing within their bubbles.
But on Monday morning, my housemate-son developed a sore throat, and a sore throat is now on the expanded list of symptoms associated with COVID-19. We watched on Monday and Tuesday and I have to admit that I started feeling tickles in my throat and imagined that my throat was sore, too. On Wednesday, he did the self-test on the AHS website and was informed that he should self-isolate within the house and await an appointment for COVID-19 testing.
There may not be five stages of anxiety that lead to a sense of closure, but there certainly are some common elements.
Denial was easy—he didn’t have any symptoms except a sore throat and there are lots of explanations for a sore throat besides COVID-19. And he is healthy and strong—has been running the stairs at Battalion Park for his cardio exercise. He has had very limited exposure to people who could have the virus, except for a walk on Saturday where he encountered people walking with hockey sticks to ensure that no one entered their 2-metre safety zone. How could he have picked it up?
I don’t really do anger. People close to me tell me that I need to learn to express anger, but I usually turn it inward which can become depression if not managed effectively. I wasn’t angry, but my son was irritated and edgy. Self-isolating at home means that you can’t be in the same room as anyone you live with. Specifically, you can’t eat with anyone for obvious reasons. His world shrunk even more—his room, the dining room table where he works and the kitchen (provided he wears gloves.) I at least have the run of everywhere else.
He may even be angry he did the online self-assessment which put all of this into motion.
I am certainly bargaining—he is young and healthy, so we have nothing to worry about. If this is COVID-19, he could be lucky and get immunity from a mild case. He had one of the mildest cases of the chicken pox when he was three—the doctor said his spots looked like chicken pox but he had never seen so few spots. Maybe he just gets mild versions of things and gets full immunity….
But in spite of all the denial I can do, I am very anxious. What was once a theoretical issue that I could keep out of my house with good hygiene and physical distancing has become real and it is hard to stop the train of anxious thoughts.
I tell myself that he is young and healthy, but so was the young man from Okotoks who ended up in the ICU. I watch my son like a hawk—a primeval mothering instinct that doesn’t go away even when your child is an adult—worrying that he won’t tell me if he feels worse because he doesn’t want me to worry. I want to be allowed to drive him to the testing appointment, so he doesn’t have to go alone, but that isn’t allowed.
And then his testing appointment was scheduled, not in a drive-through location but at a doctor’s office. I am sure that he is low on the testing priority list with just one symptom and it makes sense that the drive through facility is for people with a higher likelihood of having the virus so perhaps this is a good sign, but this means being exposed potentially to other low-risk people who could be infected.
All we can do is try to keep busy and to think rationally. I revert to the serenity prayer and try to find tranquility as I seek the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Heading into Lawyer Well-Being Week, I am looking forward to putting anti-anxiety strategies to work because I really need them right now.
On Monday, I will find community at the Red Mug Coffee Circle as we extend “May the fourth be with you” greetings.” There are lawyers who come to these online events that I have never met in person, but I am so glad that we will gather and share our common humanity.
I hope that by Tuesday, I will be expressing gratitude that we have good news, either that my son has tested positive and continues to have mild symptoms or that his symptoms are gone accompanied by a negative test result (although I know that the test is a snapshot of a moment in time long past by the time you get the results.)
On Wednesday, I am going to join the live-streamed yoga class! This is the first Wednesday in several weeks where I haven’t had a webinar or a presentation that conflicts with the class. I always feel centered after the class (emotionally, not physically as I wobble and occasionally tip over in some of the positions!)
I haven’t decided how I will observe Serenity Thursday yet. I have some wonderful mindfulness CDs with Jon Kabat-Zin, and there is a great bedtime story available on Calm’s free access site about the lavender fields in Provence (https://app.www.calm.com/player/nNpBWr7A9). Even if I don’t fall asleep listening to it, I feel, well, calm as I plan a dream trip to France.
I have chosen my joke for Friday’s Anti-Anxie-Tea party at 3:30 pm and hoping to laugh with my online friends at ones that will be told better than mine.
In spite of the anxiety and uncertainty that my family is facing, I am looking forward to Lawyer Well-Being Week. Usually I am happy being the organizer and working behind the scenes to ensure that other lawyers and students get what they need, but this week, I will be participating because of my own need.
And if anyone is ill or is confined to the house due to a family member’s illness, remember that you can reach out to us and we will connect you with a volunteer.
I hope that you will join us for Lawyer Well-Being Week as much or as little as your schedule permits.