Staff Corner


Do you try to control the uncontrollable? Or do you find ways to adapt to the uncontrollable to feel in control?
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Staff Corner: From the remote desk of Cara Simon
Current location: New York, USA

I woke up a little grumpy today. It’s Sunday as I write this and I should be thankful it’s the weekend… but as a business owner, the work never stops, regardless of whether it’s the weekend or weekday. Today, I just don’t feel like work and feel a little guilty about it.

My partner and I are working on re-developing Learn, which means lots of ideas, lots of advice and lots of extra calls on Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.  I’m not sure about you all, but all the virtual stuff is getting to me a little. I haven’t had to talk to people for this many hours in quite a long time! I also feel that I should always be strategizing, should be coming up with new ideas for work because not only do I have myself and my partner to look after, but my team too. If I don’t work, we won’t progress and if we don’t progress we have no work.

Anyone else ever feel that way? That you should be keeping busy and when you aren’t busy you feel guilty?

My husband left me a voice note to embrace the time that we’ve been afforded with COVID days (I know, this concept of “time” does not apply to everyone) and not worry about work for today. He stated that caring for ourselves and others are equally important as working, if not more. Funny, it’s what I usually say to him or my friends who are busy or working too much, but it’s always harder to take your own advice right?! It was the perfect message at the perfect time. A reminder that life isn’t all about “doing” and isn’t always about being “productive” – it’s about cherishing each moment we have on this beautiful earth.

Even though there is an enormous amount of uncertainty in our professional, personal lives and the global economy… we do have “time”. We always have “time”. Whether it’s actual time or perceived time, it’s just about making conscious decisions to use “time” in different ways.

I was added to this app where you can talk face to face with people and play games. In the span of three hours today I was able to speak face to face with friends in western New York, family in NYC and then friends in London. After these chats, I immediately felt better and not quite as guilty for not working. I haven’t “been able” to, or perhaps made the time to chat face to face for one reason or another to everyone in a while. Now I find I have the time… maybe I had the time before but I thought I had other priorities.

What about you? Have you found ways to use your time in a different way? Or is time still a precious commodity?

We are always telling our employees, our interns and our students to be flexible, roll with the punches and adapt. Right now, we are living those words, so we are actually practicing what we preach as a society.

Do you try to control the uncontrollable? Or do you find ways to adapt to the uncontrollable to feel in control?

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I am in New York visiting my family. I had a visit planned here right before the COVID-19 days and as it turns out I will be here quite a bit longer than anticipated with flights being cancelled. I guess I could find this frustrating that I’m not home or not with my partner but I also feel grateful that I have this uninterrupted time with my parents, who are getting older. In normal circumstances, I would not have this type of time to spend with them; for this I am grateful…

I could also find it frustrating that I am 5 hours behind my team in Ireland. No matter how early I wake up, I’m always behind. Some days I struggle more with this than others but have accepted it, because it’s out of my control. I’m online when the team are not online, so I can pick up where they left off – a silver lining.

This is just my experience though; we read Anna’s blog last week and I have friends in similar situations being at home with their children; all of a sudden they are stay-at-home parents, teachers and employees, plus all the normal roles they are used to doing. This is a challenging time for all of us, but for some it might be especially hard – perhaps there are ways to use your time to help or support others who are having a difficult time?

So what is my calm to this COVID-19 chaos or how am I making sense of the chaos…

I took these photos when I was out “running”. There are numerous driveways, doorways and windows with similar messages around the neighborhood. Really lovely to see all the solidarity.

April distance brings May existence
Hope amidst the COVID

On a personal level, prior to the current events, I was feeling all the symptoms of burnout. So while the current situation is not ideal, and the IE (International Education) field is at a standstill – I also have this time to reflect and reinvent.

Since I’ve been remotely working and also visiting my family – I’ve consistently been able to exercise every day; walk the dog with my mom; I’ve been reading more; talking to friends and family; writing letters; I’ve been cooking for my family (and I very much dislike cooking if you know me) and even knitting (knitting poorly, but hey gotta start somewhere). I have been using my COVID days to reboot and remember what’s important in life.

On a macro level I think about many of us working remotely – except essential workers (without these amazing people – we would be in pretty bad shape) – and the impact on the environment. Currently, the world isn’t traveling or commuting as much, which means less fuel toxins; a lot of offices are temporarily shut down so electrical and water usage is decreased; and overall our carbon footprint is decreased. Perhaps the time of COVID will do some good for the environment, and us as a community, as a society, as a people.

What I hope is that ALL of us take this time to reflect, to make meaning of these times and find a balance in life moving forward.

What is your calm in the chaos?

Learn director cara simon poses for a professional headshot wearing a brown jacket.

How To Get In Touch

If you want to talk to me,  please email me today to set up a call.

Cara Simon, COO

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