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Control issues? What I've learned since March...

November 02, 2020

March 11, 2020 was a day that will live in infamy.

My husband Kelly was undergoing surgery to take out a serious melanoma found on his foot a few weeks earlier, and more importantly (and unnervingly), the surgeon was taking out a few lymph nodes in his groin to make sure the melanoma hadn’t spread.

I’ll never forget sitting in the hospital waiting room with my stepson and mother-in-law when something curious started happening. My inbox began filling up with emails from client after client needing to shut down operations due to COVID-19. They needed statements and strategy documents and information released to media. The Irvin PR team jumped into action as I helped from the hospital.

By the end of the week, we saw several client casualties, including one-third of the staff of one of our bigger clients, get let go; but even worse, we received a diagnosis of Stage 3 melanoma cancer for Kelly.

I laid awake several nights worrying about my husband, coronavirus and Irvin PR. I was paralyzed by fear. Finally, after much prayer, journaling and discussion with friends and business colleagues, I started focusing on things I could control. Here’s a quick list of the things I did (in no particular order):

  • Managed news intake: This A+ sleeper was finding herself wide awake at night. Late-night watching of national news shows solely focused on COVID-19 was fueling my lack of sleep. Turning off the TV and turning on the Abide meditation app did the trick.
  • Leaned into generosity: During a time when my greatest instincts were to hoard everything, we decided to continue to pay for local business services that we weren’t able to enjoy due to the COVID-19 quarantine (cleaning, salon, gym, etc.). It was a small token, but I know it was appreciated and it brought me joy.
  • Exercised: Shortly after COVID-19 hit, my stepson challenged me to “5K Friday”. Now, 16 weeks later, he’s second-guessing the wisdom in that. I also run Monday and Wednesday, am weight training and joined a “stepbet” with some friends that ensures I walk a few miles each day (last week I walked 30 miles – the dog has started running from me when I reach for her leash!).
  • Cranked up the new business machine: As a company, one of our specialties is PR for the arts and major community events. While we are typically running at warp speed during the spring and summer festival seasons, we instead found ourselves announcing the cancellation of those events. Loss of business can be paralyzing for a business owner and the last thing I wanted to look at during this time of great uncertainty was our 2020 projections. Once again, the Irvin PR team jumped into action and we had a strategy session to identify business that we wanted to go after, potential collaborators and prospects. We also were blessed with an influx of proposal requests. Though it was hard and scary to force myself to truly look at where we were – like most things, our reality wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was. Information is always power.
  • Accepted help: I’ve always been the one to drop off food, send a check, volunteer to tutor or otherwise help however I could. But I was rarely on the receiving end of that help until this past year. After dealing with cancer during a pandemic, my mother’s dementia, a sewer pipe fiasco and the resulting destruction of our backyard, I was cooked. Our family, neighbors, friends and colleagues began to surround us in love like never before – from making our backyard a magical oasis, to engineering meal deliveries, to dropping off cocktails on our front porch – we’ve never felt more loved.

Are you paralyzed by fear in any area of your life right now? Take a lesson from me and don’t procrastinate. Carve out time now to identify any issues that are limiting you and make a list of things that you can do to take control today.