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Survival Tips for the Rest of Us

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Survival Tips for the Rest of Us

  • 5/28/2020
  • Brain & mind, Staying active, Connections, Community, Belonging, Family, Loneliness, Caregiving, Companionship

by Katrina Busselle

Remember that genre of survival tips?

How to stay alive in an avalanche! What to do if your plane is crashing. Your car careens off a bridge and is filling with water..

You remember.

In the midst of this global pandemic, we are in uncharted territory. No amount of binge-reading on air-pockets and crash positions will help.

This piece — a contribution to the pandemic’s “Survival Guide” zeitgeist — is based on conversations with working women ranging in age from 58 to 87. I asked them about the new ways they are spending their time and discovered survival-guide gems.

Everyday Tips to Survive a Global Pandemic: Cynthia, Susan, Ms. Jones, and Helen

What to do when your board meetings move from in-person to Zoom, and your Board Chair is 94 years old?

Survival Tip?

Don a mantle of zen-like patience and spend two hours before the board meeting talking through the technology and “off the ledge”. As the meeting progresses, be prepared to see only the top of his shiny head. He has no idea the Zoom viewer is hopelessly buried underneath cascading open windows on his computer. Because your patience is unflappable today, good-naturedly invite your Board Chair to stay on after the meeting so you can talk about how to improve his Zoom experience next time.

Submitted by: Cynthia Roberts, age 58, Westchester, NY Director of Programming for a retirement community. Lover of the outdoors, tennis maven, maker of 358 masks, and counting.

What to do when you are a semi-retired sales entrepreneur and a pandemic hits? Into your mind flashes, “Maybe I should retire.”

Survival Tip?

Do not retire. (As an aside, you have friends who’ve retired and they are bored out of their skulls.) Instead, team up with like-minded colleagues and offer your sales skills to help struggling entrepreneurs. Offer a lifeline for new ideas, opportunities, and help business owners find new customers. In the spirit of giving back, offer this service “pay as you can” and make it accessible to all. “Without a doubt, providing this offering is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Submitted by: Susan Tatum, age 66, Oxnard Shores, CA CEO The Conversion Company, Contributor to a program to help entrepreneurs pivot and get new leads, lover of beach walks, and new convert to regular Zoom get-togethers with old friends.

What to do when you are a self-identified “old woman who loves projects” and you paired with a beloved, inner-city, 9-year-old Reading Buddy? You haven’t seen her or read with her in months.

Survival Tip?

Start writing a story together. The first line, hers the second, yours. You get the idea. Although you start off strong, activity is slowing because your Reading Buddy needs to access the story through her mom’s email via her cell phone. You have been anti-Zoom until last week when someone suggested Zoom would enable you to see your Reading Buddy and work on the story, real-time, together. Now there’s an idea! You’re going to ask your son to get you set up.

Submitted by: Ms. Jones, age 87, Mid-Hudson Valley, New York, life-long community activist, and doer of projects. A devotee of Andrew Cuomo daily press briefings, lover of NYT home delivery, and neighborhood walks.

What do you do when your business producing and directing commercials for TV is dead (for now.)

Survival Tip?

In quarantine, turn the camera on yourself. Your iPhone camera rolling, do the things you love. Dance with gusto. Teach your viewers how to twirl a baton. Imperfectly bake (think Julia Child, and her “oops moments”) black and white cookies. Posting content close to daily, your social media viewership explodes since quarantine. Incredibly, past clients follow you and new projects are in the offing. They want you to do what you do so well, head out to your next interviewing adventure, iPhone in hand.

Submitted by: Helen Polise, quarantined in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, age 59, CEO, Director, Interviewer, Executive Producer, Muthership, former majorette, admittedly-addicted to, TikTok and dedicated student of Spanish.

Have you noticed technology is an “uber tool?”

You know that knife, screwdriver, nail file, can opener, scissors you want to have miraculously tucked into your pocket if stranded on a desert island? Can you imagine this pandemic without technology? The internet? Netflix? Our smartphones? Zoom?

Cynthia’s older adults are pandemic-new to a private Facebook group and swap information about virtual museum tours, concerts, and on-line courses. Susan is going to two dinner parties this weekend via Zoom. Hot off the press, Ms. Jones now meets virtually with her Reading Buddy and they are making progress, together. Using her iPhone, and new editing skills, Helen just released a video on making Rugelach.

Each of us has her own survival strategies: learning new skills, tapping previously undiscovered emotional reserves, and finding innovative ways to make a difference.

What’s yours?

by Katrina Busselle

Remember that genre of survival tips?

How to stay alive in an avalanche! What to do if your plane is crashing. Your car careens off a bridge and is filling with water..

You remember.

In the midst of this global pandemic, we are in uncharted territory. No amount of binge-reading on air-pockets and crash positions will help.

This piece — a contribution to the pandemic’s “Survival Guide” zeitgeist — is based on conversations with working women ranging in age from 58 to 87. I asked them about the new ways they are spending their time and discovered survival-guide gems.

Everyday Tips to Survive a Global Pandemic: Cynthia, Susan, Ms. Jones, and Helen

What to do when your board meetings move from in-person to Zoom, and your Board Chair is 94 years old?

Survival Tip?

Don a mantle of zen-like patience and spend two hours before the board meeting talking through the technology and “off the ledge”. As the meeting progresses, be prepared to see only the top of his shiny head. He has no idea the Zoom viewer is hopelessly buried underneath cascading open windows on his computer. Because your patience is unflappable today, good-naturedly invite your Board Chair to stay on after the meeting so you can talk about how to improve his Zoom experience next time.

Submitted by: Cynthia Roberts, age 58, Westchester, NY Director of Programming for a retirement community. Lover of the outdoors, tennis maven, maker of 358 masks, and counting.

What to do when you are a semi-retired sales entrepreneur and a pandemic hits? Into your mind flashes, “Maybe I should retire.”

Survival Tip?

Do not retire. (As an aside, you have friends who’ve retired and they are bored out of their skulls.) Instead, team up with like-minded colleagues and offer your sales skills to help struggling entrepreneurs. Offer a lifeline for new ideas, opportunities, and help business owners find new customers. In the spirit of giving back, offer this service “pay as you can” and make it accessible to all. “Without a doubt, providing this offering is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Submitted by: Susan Tatum, age 66, Oxnard Shores, CA CEO The Conversion Company, Contributor to a program to help entrepreneurs pivot and get new leads, lover of beach walks, and new convert to regular Zoom get-togethers with old friends.

What to do when you are a self-identified “old woman who loves projects” and you paired with a beloved, inner-city, 9-year-old Reading Buddy? You haven’t seen her or read with her in months.

Survival Tip?

Start writing a story together. The first line, hers the second, yours. You get the idea. Although you start off strong, activity is slowing because your Reading Buddy needs to access the story through her mom’s email via her cell phone. You have been anti-Zoom until last week when someone suggested Zoom would enable you to see your Reading Buddy and work on the story, real-time, together. Now there’s an idea! You’re going to ask your son to get you set up.

Submitted by: Ms. Jones, age 87, Mid-Hudson Valley, New York, life-long community activist, and doer of projects. A devotee of Andrew Cuomo daily press briefings, lover of NYT home delivery, and neighborhood walks.

What do you do when your business producing and directing commercials for TV is dead (for now.)

Survival Tip?

In quarantine, turn the camera on yourself. Your iPhone camera rolling, do the things you love. Dance with gusto. Teach your viewers how to twirl a baton. Imperfectly bake (think Julia Child, and her “oops moments”) black and white cookies. Posting content close to daily, your social media viewership explodes since quarantine. Incredibly, past clients follow you and new projects are in the offing. They want you to do what you do so well, head out to your next interviewing adventure, iPhone in hand.

Submitted by: Helen Polise, quarantined in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, age 59, CEO, Director, Interviewer, Executive Producer, Muthership, former majorette, admittedly-addicted to, TikTok and dedicated student of Spanish.

Have you noticed technology is an “uber tool?”

You know that knife, screwdriver, nail file, can opener, scissors you want to have miraculously tucked into your pocket if stranded on a desert island? Can you imagine this pandemic without technology? The internet? Netflix? Our smartphones? Zoom?

Cynthia’s older adults are pandemic-new to a private Facebook group and swap information about virtual museum tours, concerts, and on-line courses. Susan is going to two dinner parties this weekend via Zoom. Hot off the press, Ms. Jones now meets virtually with her Reading Buddy and they are making progress, together. Using her iPhone, and new editing skills, Helen just released a video on making Rugelach.

Each of us has her own survival strategies: learning new skills, tapping previously undiscovered emotional reserves, and finding innovative ways to make a difference.

What’s yours?

This post was originally published on May 28, 2020 on Medium.

Katrina Busselle is a consultant specializing in helping entrepreneurs hire their #2. She lives & works in Cold Spring, NY, and is a proud mom of twin 14-year olds. Her “if not now when” adventure was trying improv (via Zoom) for the first time. If you’re curious, she loved it.

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