Life Lessons from Leona the Cat: A Tip on How to Deal with Your New Reality

By Stacey Buttel – Career Facilitator, Goodwill Columbus Workforce Development Department

When Goodwill Columbus first declared that we are going full online in March, I was kind of excited.  Not just kind of excited, I was elated and fully ready to take on this new challenge. 

  • I can work from home? 
  • I can wear sweatpants and hoodies every day? 
  • I don’t have to do my hair or my make up? 
  • I don’t have to battle traffic to and from work every day in my 45-minute commute? 
  • Yeah, count me in!  

And then…reality hit.  The isolation from my colleagues, my friends, and my family.  Staring at the same walls day in and day out with no end in sight. Intense boredom settling in as I desperately looked for something to occupy my time (I seriously vacuumed my window seals).  Wanting to do all the normal things that I have always done like play with my weekly volleyball team, go out to a restaurant with friends at a moment’s notice, attend all of the concerts I purchased tickets for.  Everything.  Gone.  Instead in its place were the constant video conferencing calls (which yes, I had to dump the sweatpants and hoodies for more professional wear), virtual happy hours with friends (clink the camera!), and trying to teach my mother how video conferencing works (well, that is still a work in progress).  Nothing was how I thought it was going to be.

Within a few short weeks of embarking on this state at home journey, I was smacked with the frustration, the depression, the stress of dealing of with a whole new reality.

  • Learning so many new skills that I did not know that I needed. 
  • My job changing and evolving and having to change and evolve with it. 
  • Living alone and constantly being alone when I am an extremely outgoing and social person. 

And then, there was Leona.  Leona is my cat that has been in my life for 15 years.  She has lived through and outlasted a marriage, as well as witnessed the death of her brother Leo (of which I am fairly certain that she stole some of his 9 lives).  Leona at first was happy to have me home, so happy in fact that she made frequent appearances on my numerous video calls.  Eventually, Leona was displaying signs of frustration of me being constantly in her space.  I specifically recall this one incident when I accidentally locked her out on the porch.  When I finally realized I did this, I immediately opened the door and let her in.  Needless to say she was displeased, so much in fact that she hollered at me so loud I was lucky the neighbors did not call the local humane society on me.  While she continued to make her opinion known, she made her way to her favorite spot, laid down, and took a nap.  Several hours later, she woke up and was her happy self again.

Upon witnessing this behavior, I realized something.  She is brilliant.  She just did what I should have been doing all along.  Letting it go.  It’s OK to feel frustrated, sad, and generally not OK during this time, but it needs to be dealt with.  What I was not doing was dealing with it.  I was not finding an outlet to just let it go.  That day I challenged myself to find a time in my schedule to just that.  Whether it be stepping away from the computer screen and taking a walk, a bike ride, or simply listening to one of my vinyl albums, I needed to incorporate a space in my day to get back to finding something that I enjoy and that I can still do during this pandemic.  I challenge you to do the same thing.  Make time for yourself.  Find things that you can still do that you enjoy.  We will make it through this.  Together.      

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