April 2 2020. Day 21 in isolation. Concrete
Back in 2012 we bought a cottage on a lake. There are actually two buildings; an old converted garage we call the cottage and a boathouse built over the water. The boathouse is structurally compromised from years of neglect and some pretty poor maintenance decisions.
Get this: One former owner decided the best way to fix the deck on the top level was to pour concrete on top of the old deck. That was maybe twelve years ago and ever since, water from snow and storms leaks into the subfloor and has rotted the beams. The concrete is starting to break up and fall off. (The other owners refer to the former owner as “a bit of a deckhead”) Last summer, one piece of concrete the size of a boot narrowly missed the bride causing her to forcefully suggest I consider repairs.
So my job now is to break up the concrete and strip everything back so I can replace the subfloor beams and lay fresh deck boards. This will look way better and stop the water issues.
But honestly, I’ve never done anything like this before and I have no idea what lies ahead. Am I going to start a project that quickly spirals into a triple-A grade shit show where I need to call in expensive contractor help and have Christine give me that idiot-with-a-hammer stare? In fact, if it does go ‘pear-shaped’ I wouldn’t be able to find a contractor to rescue me as everyone around here is hunkered down.
Or will I pull it off and emerge the hero without causing the entire boathouse to fall into the lake or fall through the deck onto the ice below? (A Hospital is the last place I need to be right now)
As I sit here writing this and glancing with some trepidation out to said deck I have no idea what’s going to happen. But I do know it’s not going to fix itself!
March 30 2020. Day 18 in isolation. The Garage
The days are starting to blend into weeks and in a few days, we’ll start our third week holed up in the loft.
The feared explosion in the number of people contracting the virus has arrived as the global tally moves rapidly towards one million. The speed with which this thing can spread blows my mind.
But as far as I know, the only way to shorten its effect and return to a normal world is to self-isolate. There are rumors of breakthroughs to produce a vaccine but they are just that.
Then why are people still roaming around? In a nursing home 20 minutes from the cottage, 9 people have died and 35 staff have C-19 symptoms. How can this happen when we’ve been aware of the potential danger of this pandemic for months?
Canada is yet to apply any form of enforced lockdown but fortunately, most people are staying home. Most people, even those in the reduced risk categories are doing what they are told and staying in.
Christine has adapted to our new routine and rallies her team with an 8.30 am Zoom call each weekday morning. Coincidentally, her company, busting at the seams with growth, was about to roll out a work-from-home strategy and suddenly it’s here and her people are doing really well.
For the first time, I get to see and hear what her workdays are like.
I’ve given her the run of the loft during the day and set up shop in the garage below. After spending the last two weeks cleaning up the garage and throwing out or selling stuff we don’t need, I have a nice space that’s warm, quiet and private. Perfect for writing and thinking.
We have enough food for another 3 or 4 weeks and I’m beginning to be grateful for my late February Costco missions and planning meals and storage. There’s plenty of food and yes, toilet paper, at the local Foodland but any trip or visit anywhere puts me at risk of contraction and infecting Christine. As an asthmatic that wouldn’t be pretty so, I’m staying in and keeping super busy looking after my private client group and Jigglar.
So here I sit at my $60 Costco table sharing the space with covered snowmobiles, workbench, tools, power saws and my 18-foot SeaRay bow-rider that I’m hoping to get into the lake this summer.
My heart goes out to people forced to stay home with someone they don’t get along with. That would suck!
March 25 2020. Day 13 in isolation. The Cottage
I made a dash for the lake yesterday. I need better Internet.
We have a rather ghetto but comfy boathouse and converted garage on a lake about 70 minutes from the Loft and Chalet. It’s 2 hours from Toronto.
It happened after a funeral in 2012. At the wake, which was on a beautiful lake north of Toronto, we got talking to a woman about real estate and told her we were looking to buy.
She told us about this little place down the south end that had been on the market since February. This was early June.
To own a cottage on a lake has been my dream. We bought it and Christine and I were married October 5 the same year.
The cottage doesn’t stay open in the winter. The lake freezes and snow falls. It’s colder than a mother-in-law’s stare.
But Summer’s coming soon and in all honesty, I’m looking for projects plus I’m as hyper and anxious as Harvey Weinstein’s cellmate so yesterday I drove over, cranked up the heat in the boathouse and lit the fire in the main cottage.
Today I chainsawed a hole in the ice to bucket water back to the kitchen and bathroom.
I feel like a frontier fur trader from the 1890s.
Christine is back at the loft managing a team of 100+ who have just started working from home. She’s totally awesome.
March 23 2020. Day 11 in isolation. The real cost of worry.
Wow. There sure is a lot of anxiety out there!
…and if I get one more message from some company I gave my email address to a few years back telling me they are here for me, I’m going to scream!
It’s snowing outside. It started before dawn and hasn’t stopped. It’s lovely but I know plenty of people are starting to freak out.
So I’m dedicating today’s message to anyone feeling a bit of panic and overwhelm.
The producers at CNN and Fox and every news channel on the planet must be fizzing with the eyeballs they’re winning during this crisis. They love painting doomsday scenarios that play on the minds of the vulnerable. It’s like they’re all competing to come up with the most frightening headlines.
I’m convinced now, more than ever, that this is definitely a time for a mindset reset and practicing some good old fashioned thought control. Here’s why:
There is a substantial longterm cost that comes with constant worry.
Yes! Things are grim and the unknown is well… just that, the unknown. Our world has been plunged into uncertainty and it’s messing with our heads.
But we’ve faced bigger challenges. Our grandparents were called to fight in wars. We’re being called to wash our hands and sit on the couch.
Investing ‘think energy’ into worrying about things we can’t control won’t help us. It can only hurt. We need to accept that spending brain power on worrying not only gives us a zero return, it leaves us in a worse position.
Sure, staying informed and planning is important but crippling your head with spiraling worry gets you nowhere.
If you were asked to write down all the things you are worried about, it would be a lengthy list and your fears would manifest.
But that’s exactly what so many people are doing over and over in their minds every day.
When you’re cooped up at home and your brain is left to its own devices, it can wander into enemy territory.
If you’re anxious and stressing each day, try some of these ‘tricks’ to turn things around.
- Keep clear of Social Media. It’s mostly bad news.
- Mediate. (I’ve started doing this more since we’ve been locked up and I’m amazed how much it’s helping me think, decide, plan and generally keep an elevated and enlightened mental attitude amidst the chaos)
- Get your news from the right (trustworthy) sources like CDC, WHO and your local public health authorities
- Exercise each day as early as you can. It will set you up for a better day
- Reach out to friends and family. If you need help ask for it. If you can offer help, strength and support, deliver it.
- Indulge your passions. Write down your dreams. Make a list of mini-projects you’d like to complete this week. Take an online course to grow your business, or start on online business or learn photography or cooking or Latvian belt making or whatever floats your boat. There’s a world of great advice and advanced guidance out there waiting. Use your Pandemic wisely! (see list below of free online things)
My buddy and mindset coach Jet Xavier has some great strategies for this. One idea is if you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed with events, just make the decision to ‘mindswitch’ to something better.
Have a ‘go-to’ distraction that keeps you focussed and feeling positive.
Understand this thing has a beginning, a middle and an end. Our leaders are asking us to serve by staying home and reach out to help others.
I’m going to finish cleaning out the garage then maybe paint something.
Stay safe and stay inside.
March 21 2020. Day 9 in isolation. We’re way past that.
It’s Saturday. Outside it’s -9 degrees and the second day of Spring. The sky is Facebook blue.
627 deaths in Italy in the last 24 hours. That’s not great news. Meanwhile, Sydney’s Bondi Beach was packed with people on Friday seemingly oblivious to the danger of contraction and spreading the virus to those less able to handle the consequences.
I know folks are worried about fuelling an economic downturn but I genuinely believe we are way past worrying about that. This dog is already off the chain.
Germany has just announced a curfew for its 83 million citizens. All countries should be doing that.
The countries that have been slow to respond like Italy, Spain, Iran and even the US are starting to pay the price of delay and inaction.
I guess governments can only do so much to help out. I think we’ve reached the point where we need to be accountable and take responsibility for our own health and safety and for those that we love and care for.
If you’re not already staying home, can I suggest you grab some supplies and self-isolate today?
Experts are saying the better we can contain the spread, the fewer people will become infected and the faster we can look at getting back to normal. That’s the quick and dirty plan that seems to be working in countries where the virus is beginning to be contained and the number of new cases is falling.
I’m doing my best to embrace this change. Loving the peace and quiet and the chance to finish a few jobs and start some new projects.
Stay positive, stay safe and stay home 🙂
March 20 2020. Day 8 in isolation. I smell a big fat Wuhan Province rat
Well, that was an interesting first week.
When we left the city last Thursday night, it was going to be just for the weekend.
Eight days later the Kung Flu has gone postal. The world as we know it has changed so fast and I only packed one pair of fresh undies!
And I’d lay money that wannabe Netflix movie producers are searching for COVID-19 scripts like crazy.
It’s funny where your mind goes at 3am on day 8 in self-isolation.
I have to wonder if one of those movie scripts lands on a popular conspiracy theory.
Does anyone else smell a rat? …or should I say a bat?
Is it just me or is it amazing China recovered so fast from this thing?
And let’s build a 1600 bed 80,000 Sq Metre hospital in 8 days! …Sure.
Then we’re going to lock down millions of people in an entire province to reduce the spread …Piece a cake.
I’m not big on conspiracy theories. I believe the lunar landing was real and Roswell isn’t.
But come on! Is it a stretch to theorize China, reeling under US trade sanctions, an ongoing trade war and more pent up hate for the West than ever before, bred this thing?
Okay… just a theory and probably bogus. But hey, your mind goes into dark places when you’re cooped up in a 70o square foot space with crappy WIFI and no fresh undies!
And did I miss the Chinese leader’s apology?
The one where he says “Sorry for fucking up the world” and “Sorry for ruining a gazillion weddings” and “Sorry for triggering an economic Armageddon” and “Sorry for allowing our health and safety regulations to deteriorate so badly that something this evil can be born”
Nope. Didn’t hear that. Must have missed it on CNN when I was polishing my Karate trophies.
This is a highly secretive regime with a black belt in lying so who really knows the numbers or what’s actually going on?
The information coming out of China is sketchy but if what they say can be believed and the number of new daily cases is close to zero then that only happened with some very strict and harshly enforced stay-at-home policies.
Some hospital images I saw looked to have bars on the windows and the army or police or both were armed and present at the entrances to many buildings.
There’s no way anywhere else in the world is being that militant.
In other news, the floor I’m laying in the loft entrance is coming along and I still have all my fingers!
Stay safe and stay home everyone.
March 18 2020. Day 6 in isolation. Finally starting to get into a routine.
Up at 5am. Complete 10km run. Meditate for 30 minutes then Breakfast (kale, celery and apple juice) then wake up from that bad dream sweaty and anxious from the thought of drinking kale juice!
There are no blinds in the loft so we get up with the sun which is around 7am and that’s only going to get earlier as we get into summer.
Here’s what’s happening today:
Most, if not all Canadian provinces have now declared a State Of Emergency. The US-Canada border is now closed to all but non-essential traffic so no more beer and outlet mall runs to Buffalo New York which is about 2 hours south of us.
Ford and GM announced today they are shutting down all US plants. (That’s huge!)
There are now confirmed reports of COVID cases in all 50 US states plus most Provinces and territories up here.
The first Canadian COVID related death happened yesterday just 20 minutes South of us.
Between us, Christine and I have 3 kids overseas trying to get home. (I forgot about my stepson Joey coming back from Thailand in yesterday’s post)
They all have plane tickets with direct flights back into Canada so hoping no further restrictions will interfere with those plans.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has just pledged a support package of $82 Billion. He’s now delivering daily AM reports which is a clear sign he’s off the weed and on the tools. Today he told us to self-isolate and help our neighbors.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimates the number of COVID cases will peak in 45 days. But that’s based on the Chinese experience and I have so many questions about that so who knows. Some experts say the summer heat will reduce the life of the virus but that’s untested.
It’s very quiet up here. And cold. Our place is in a subdivision of about 300 homes. There are normally few signs of life but with folks working from home we’re starting to see and meet more neighbors. Everyone seems pretty relaxed.
The trees are still bare but the Blue Jays and Woodpeckers are starting to appear. The big Woodpeckers with the bright red notch on their heads are so amazing but tricky to find.
I got a great deal on 10 boxes of flooring from Costco this week so I’m going to have a crack at laying it in the entrance downstairs. What’s the worse that can happen?
I’ve just completed a detailed supply audit. I think we have enough food for a few weeks and enough wine for a few days.
March 17 2020. Day 5 Self-Isolation. Is this the new normal?
Today the Ontario government declared a State Of Emergency so we’re in isolation. We’re making some changes but apart from that, it’s business as usual.
I’m starting this post to monitor things and hopefully help my real estate friends weather the storm. We are in this together and we will come through it together.
There was a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, when I thought the Coronavirus wasn’t a big deal.
I vaguely remember the SARS virus back in 2003 but it seemed to come and go relatively quickly.
I don’t recall too much anxiety, fear or even panic.
I certainly don’t remember any economic fallout.
It seems this health emergency/crisis has arrived fully loaded with all of the above.
I’ll admit to sitting back for a bit and waiting to see what happened before I reached out to you and the thousands of awesome folks that subscribe to my VIP mailing list to talk about this.
I researched some decent sources and started following some well-respected experts and the warnings were there.
Then a few things happened:
The so-called Coronavirus turned into the ever more sinister COVID-19. When you see it in caps it looks like some kind of warning you see on the back of a truck that ships dangerous chemicals.
Next thing you know the World Health Organization (WHO) identified it as a Pandemic and then…. well, things got crazy.
Right now I know a lot of people are scared and more than a little freaked out which is totally getable.
I’m trying to get two of my kids traveling in Australia back to Toronto in a crazy climate of overloaded airline helplines and prices that seem to double every time I check. But we all have worries.
We worry about our own health and elderly or infirm parents (like mine) or grandparents who are identified as being in the higher risk category.
We worry about our bills and jobs and businesses and if you’re an employer, those that rely on us for a living wage.
We worry about our investments (our shares look like they’ve gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson)
And we worry about the long-term economic fallout.
It’s easy to understand how so many things to worry about can overwhelm and cause anxiety. But that’s a slippery slope.
In the last week, I’ve had some great discussions with friends, family, and members of my private client group who have made a number of valuable and interesting observations.
My big takeaway from these chats is that while it’s natural for people to worry, we need to accept and adjust. Where we are now will be the new normal for a while. There’s nothing we can do about it except for following health recommendations and staying safe.
We also need to know that, like every crisis faced in the past, this will pass .
These are times to stay carefully informed (be wary of fake news) and stay prepared.
There will also be opportunities to do things because of this event and as I learn more about those ideas, I’ll share them here.
If you need help, ask for it. If you can provide help, offer it.
I’m here for you and I’m ready to do whatever I can. Let’s be good drivers in heavy traffic and do what we can with what we have.
By the way, I’ve worked from home since 2005 and I love it. I churn out content like crazy and walk to the beat of my own drum. Seriously, there’s nothing like it!
I know, when this is all done and dusted, that so many folks will be addicted to the work-from-home lifestyle.
Christine, Roxi (our boxer) and I are holed up in the loft above our garage. (see pic above) It’s a little bit thrown together but it’s fun. Big question will be for how long can she can handle my dad jokes! Tonight we’re watching Contagion. 🙂