Staring at a blank page

Like many other parents, the pandemic has felt absolutely crushing. Even today, while many are moving into a post-pandemic mindset, saying statements like “now that the pandemic is past us”, those of us with children under 5 feel left behind. We can’t transition in to that mindset yet, we can’t let ourselves think about when the pandemic will feel more over for us because this group feels largely forgotten, meaning that we don’t know when things will improve, or when a vaccination is coming for the littlest one.

One unexpected consequence for me over the last couple of years was the absolute frustration I felt staring at a blank page. When the pandemic hit, i was blogging regularly, I was speaking at conferences regularly, and, like others, had multiple conference talks cancelled or changed to virtual as organizers pivoted and figured out what to do next and how to do it. What followed was 2 years of fog, just trying to get myself and family through day-to-day. My littlest’s preschool didn’t open, my older one did virtual kindergarten (which, amazingly, went pretty well. I credit our household “normal” of someone working from home for his entire childhood in addition to his incredible teachers for that success). THankfully, we had an extra pair of hands in the house during this time. This year, everyone went back to school in person, with masks, frequent testing, constantly changing rules and accommodations, and regular decision-making around literally every little thing. In addition to this, throughout the pandmeic i’ve been in a leadership role, supporting others also living and working in a pandemic. Making sure that I was a listening ear, strong support system, and creating accommodating conditions for others was my top priority.

And then I would open up my computer and stare at a blank page.

I’d sit there, thinking about the conference proposals I should be submitting, the people I missed talking to at conferences, the blog posts I should be writing, and then podcast I should be continuing. But I was empty. No matter how frequently I tried, I was just stuck. And that stuckness led to frustration. Other people were writing, other people were speaking, other people were getting things done.

But here’s the truth of it… I was getting things done, but what I needed to get done was different. What I did (and still) get done revolves around numbers, exposure, vaccination rates, and risk/benefit calculations. Making sure that I and my family need to be happy and healthy.

And also, I miss it. I miss putting out posts that are hopefully helpful to others. I miss speaking at conferences (or even just attending conferences and catching up with people I used to see regularly!!!). So I’m trying again. I might not succeed. I might not be able to stick with it. But i’ve reserved 1 hour every saturday morning to sit outside at a coffee truck and write.

Or stare at a blank page for an hour but remind myself that it is ok because i’m building the habit again, and i’m making the time and space for good stuff to happen. Which is the most important part.

The space and time you make for yourself.