This was supposed to be my first day back to work after a three-week trip abroad. Just a few days before I was supposed to leave in mid-March, everything was still on: the four events that I was going to speak at, the meetings were all still set, my bags were packed, the hotels were still booked. However, in a whirlwind 48-hours of activity: the borders to Europe closed, virtually every event (social or professional) over the next several months rescheduled for fall, and on the advice of my friends and husband, I decided to cancel my trip.

Because it was impossible to get through to Delta to cancel my flights, I was constantly dogged by the notifications of my upcoming flights to different cities that I wouldn’t set foot in and this oddly mirrored back to me the alternative universe where life was proceeding without COVID-19.

If you’re anything like me.. then this has been very difficult to get back to business as usual. I’ve struggled with an atypical lack of focus. I felt frozen for one of the first times in my professional life. It’s not that I don’t know how to work from home (I telecommute regularly for work) or that I’ve lost my job (in fact, our company is currently able to assist in this new crisis). But this new reality and (let’s be honest) all this fear was making it very hard to work on what has always mattered to me.

Three weeks later, however – my Australia-trip-that-never-was behind me – I’ve committed to some important work methodologies that have started to re-build my former efficacy so that I might continue stewarding long-term projects forward. Here’s my advice to all of us as we keep working from our homes:

Get the News Just Once a Day (or Less)

This saga is constantly unfolding. And there are multitude of dimensions: familial, academic, economic, medical. I’d find myself in a downward-click-spiral that gave me more information but left me feeling completely disempowered.

Now, I only get a quick dose of the news in the morning and never for longer than ten minutes. I rest assured that if they discover some wonder vaccine or something miraculous has happened, that I’ll still find out about it in time. It has left me far less enmeshed in the drama and far more able to work on problems.

Keep to a Schedule

You’d think that without a commute I’d have all this extra time on my hands, but that wasn’t the case. I suddenly found myself staring into the cavern of calls and going to bed at odd hours, checking my email constantly. Now – I’ve instituted a commute each day – with a walk each morning and each evening after I’ve finished my work. I have clear times to check my email and clear times when I’m away from my computer, times when my husband can ask me a question and times that I’m unavailable or on a call.

I’d recommend that every schedule include times for work, social connection, physical activity, nourishment, and reflection. It’s not easy to fit all that into a week, but it’s easier if you stick to a schedule. And by the way – if you’re not working right now – I’d recommend learning. Curious about coding? Wondering about digital marketing? Thinking about volunteering at the zoo? There are courses online for what you’re most interested in and there’s never been a better time to learn, because most providers have discounted their offerings. Build that pursuit into your day and you’re preparing for a future post-coronavirus.


Remember what was important to you before this? Your family? The climate crisis? That’s going to be important to you after this. But how do you put those interests at center stage when there is so much clamoring for attention?

I went back to an old habit I used to use in school: I write down the five things that I want to get done that day. At least one item is for myself and at least one item is for my community. The rest can be for work. Whenever I’d get off track, I would look back at those five things and remember that I didn’t have time to check my email again or jump on a group Facetime call, if I was going to get to all those things that were most important for me.

This is how I got back to blogging for Napa Climate NOW! This is how I made time to start working out. The list is rationality in an emotional time.

Return to the Planet

In the past three weeks, I’ve walked two new trails in Napa that I’ve never hiked before. I’ve seen our valley from vantages I’d never even noticed before. I’ve found new routes through my neighborhood and noticed birds feathering a nest in a tree in my yard. I’ve pulled weeds and we’re planning our new victory garden.

When we are being asked to slow down and come back to our core, it is an invitation to remember that there is something that we all have in common: the air, the streets, the animals, the hills. Even if you’re afraid to go outside (I’ve talked to many who are), maybe take the time to watch the Planet Earth series or look up at the clouds in the sky from your window. It is an invitation to pause and wonder. It is the opposite of the news. Remember – nature is medicine in a time when we are all worried about our health.


Writing – even just one paragraph a day – will be therapeutic and a gift you give yourself in the future. The only way we will learn anything from this experience is if we keep a collective memory of it. We’ll have the memes and news stories, yes, but only you can keep your own experience. And if you’re ever unsure of what to write – write down something you learned today, something you remember, or something you’re grateful for.

And so….

What the coronavirus has brought experientially home to us is something that we’ve known all along as part of the climate crisis: we are all inextricably linked. Our global communities are connected and we will share our successes, grieve our sacrifices, and live and die together. There is a strategic map here for how to mobilize the public and spread a message as we have with the COVID-19 crisis. We should be taking note of that, as well.

Even though things won’t be the same for awhile (maybe ever again), this reboot will help us re-focus and remember what we owe each other and give us some time to mobilize and work on it. In the meantime, I’m so grateful to be in Napa where I feel so held by the community even if I can’t see you all face-to-face right now.