Dear Friend,

It’s been two weeks since I started working from home, and one week of having a shelter-in-place order.

In some ways, it doesn’t feel that much has changed since the order was put in place. I was already working from home. I was already avoiding leaving my house as much as possible. I was already wiping down surfaces and washing my hands at a much higher frequency than usual. The biggest change has been that the shelter-in-place order marks the beginning of CJ and I quarantining separately. This change is one that I imagine will be increasingly difficult, but so far we’re taking it day by day and it has been weird, but not awful.

Despite this new separation, this week has generally been one of connection. I’ve spent time checking in and catching up with friends and family. Today I had a Zoom call with some of my close friends since high school, a group that has been nicknamed by one of our siblings as “The Brown Haired Girls” and is very rarely gathered together in one place. In fact, our zoom call took place with the four of us in 4 different timezones. And I have another Zoom call scheduled for tomorrow with several other close friends who live back in Harrisonburg.

I’ve also been able to check-in with friends and family who I haven’t talked to in a while. Being separated from everyone who isn’t one of my housemates and equally forced to connect with everyone via phone or computer makes reaching out to people feel less daunting somehow. And, I also know that we’re all in the same boat which makes me feel like I have a conversation topic to fall back on if needed.

One of the highlights of my time being stuck at home, and honestly my life in general, is the adorable updates on social media from my friends of their kiddos. It doesn’t matter what your day is like, videos of a toddler going on a walk or exploring the universe makes everyone smile. The curiosity, joy, and innocence of children is a beautiful thing. Also, I am fully committed to doting on the children of my close friends. This is partly because I don’t have nieces and nephews, but it’s mostly because I want to support my friends well and know that this includes their spouses, children, etc. AND all of this gives me an excuse to celebrate these younglings growth, new skills, and milestones. Seeing their wobbly steps, quiet giggles, and sense of wonder as they experience the world brings me a lot of hope and joy, and I’m super proud to be their “Appa/Aunt Mandi.”

This week I’ve stopped having the stress-induced, rumbling, grumbling stomach issues in the evenings, but I’ve started struggling to sleep. I’ve been staying up too late (aka 1-2am) and then trying to get up at a semi-normal time so that I can get some work done. I usually, however, have ended up sleeping in later than I hoped to because I’m exhausted and then don’t feel tired until late at night again. It’s a nasty cycle. Also, I had a day where I forgot to take my meds until later in the morning than usual and then wasn’t tired yet at 2:30am… so that definitely didn’t help.

Mind-wise… I’m pretty much in the same place as I was last week. I’ve made some improvements to my workspace that have helped, but staying focused and on task is just really hard to do these days. 

This week has been alright. I had some hard moments at the beginning of the shelter-in-place order and recognizing that CJ and I had to decide to “quarantine” apart from each other. I know that this was the best option considering all the different factors, but I still wasn’t happy about it. But as I’ve talked about already, this has generally been a week of feeling like I’ve been able to stay connected or reconnect to a number of friends and family. My work also started using new tools that allow us to stay connected to each other and my office “cube buddy” and I got to check in with each other for the first time in what felt like forever. So grateful for technology.


Lots of Love, Mandi Jo