How are you feeling today?

Really good. I think like everybody else though, I’ve had really really calm days and then complete and utter panic sets in. And then all of the what if and when, and you’re asking all these questions that you have no answers to. And then it goes away and then it’s all calm. It really just depends on the actual day, but I think overall I’m feeling very calm to be honest, I’d say 95% of my time is quite calm and relaxed. Because I’m an artist, I’m quite used to isolation and I’m used to being in my own little world so it’s not a big shock for me. I know a lot of people are struggling. I miss work, I really miss the interactions with students and colleagues but not to the point where I’m feeling isolated. I’m not watching the news, unless here’s something really important, because you head just fills up with that sense of panic. I think too much as it is so I don’t need anything extra in my head, so I just have to keep balanced.

What is something that you’ve lost as a result of this situation?

Time to myself. I can’t get out of the space that I’m in. I’m a bit of a shopaholic, that was always my switch-off, not necessarily spending money but actually going out and going into shops, that whole visual thing, just switching off. So it sounds like a first world problem but that was my switch off and I’m really missing it. I should be saying I’m missing people, but I’m not! I’m still in contact with all of the people I want to be in contact with so I don’t feel as though I’m actually missing them. My circle is quite small, so I suppose I’m just missing that switch off. I get that from art, but the physical action of getting in the car, going out somewhere, I really miss that. I like looking at things, absorbing things, the buzz of being in a busy place, that interaction from the edge, so to speak. That choice of being able to go out, I really miss that.

What have you gained?

Contact with my best friends, one is in Sligo and one is in Seville. We’re talking quite a lot, which we never used to do before so it’s really nice, they moved away and we’d have certain times of the year where we’d catch up – because we’re all based in education it would be around school breaks. Whereas now, we’re talking every week and we never did that before. They have young kids too so I think it’s really important that they have this time slotted in every week for themselves, so that they can just switch off. So that’s really good, I really like that. And I’ve gained time to do a lot of photography and read some books – I always seem to have excuses that I don’t have time to sit down and read a book. I’m buying quite a lot of books and taking a lot of pictures.

Who are you most worried about right now?

Family – again, this is where the wave of panic comes in. My dad is at the early onset of dementia and he’s just not getting the urgency of what’s happening or the restrictions. And then my sister is in London and I don’t know when I’m going to see her and then I get waves of panic about if that’s ever going to happen, if we’re ever going to be able to travel again. It comes and goes, I’m completely logical about it one minute and then the next minute, like everybody else, it’s just that idea of what if we can never go anywhere again? But I suppose my Dad is the one I’m really worried about, some days are harder than others with him and because I’m now spending more time with him, I’m seeing how the dementia is getting stronger each day. So there’s two things going on – obviously the pandemic, and then that as well. Everybody has their own struggle, and it’s all valid, and all reasonable. I think going for walks and switching off the news is the key to keeping the balance, so it doesn’t add to the immediate worry of not having any answers. My focus has changed to if I’m healthy, if my family is healthy, if my son is healthy then it’s a good day, I’m not worried about what’s three month’s down the line. Not that I didn’t value health before, but now it’s top of my list, physical and mental health.

What are you most hopeful for?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot and there are so many answers. The main thing is that everybody just remains healthy, and from that can be happy and content, I suppose content is a better word than happy because we don’t have to go around being really happy all of the time, I think if we can just have a contentment. If I’m healthy and those around me are healthy too, then I’ll be very happy. And a cure for this. And that we slow down, there’s a lot of positives in this as well, the earth is starting to be allowed to breathe now. I know there’s so many negatives, but there’s so many positives as well – for the actual environment and for the earth. We’d been told and we just didn’t listen, and now we have to listen, and the earth is starting to breathe and rejuvenate itself. We can see it in animals and we can hear it with the birds singing, less air pollution. I know that’s had a knock on effect economy wise but there’s a lot of things changing with the economy and how people are working as well and I think that’s a really good thing – people and companies are starting to realise that people can work from home and it’s not impossible and we’re still getting the same kinds of results. Creativity and art have completely come to the surface, we’re realising how important it is to be able to think outside the box, engage in critical thinking. So I see the positives, but I think the positives have to be completely underlined by personal health, we have to build up our immune systems, learn about food, appreciate that what we’re putting into our bodies and where it came from is so important.

Kristen & Bear

How are you feeling today?

Bear: I’m feeling well, I’m actually feeling very good today.

Kristen: Me too, because I was just on a group client call for a couple of hours and I got to see human faces and we got to be human together. It’s very helpful to be reminded that you’re not alone, and that you’re not crazy for feeling all the things that you’re feeling and everyone is having that. And being able to make people laugh and realise that none of us know what we’re doing right now, it’s actually a good feeling. Because no one knows what they’re doing right now, no one. And so we have this collective moment of humanity where we say, ‘no one knows, so what are we going to make together?’

What is something that you’ve lost or that you really miss as a result of the pandemic?

Kristen: I lost my access to kids and dogs, which is a source of continuous and enormous joy. I volunteer and the library for story time and that is so done. When I moved here to Portland, I got ringworm because I kissed too many dogs, just all of them that I met, I couldn’t resist! And now you’re not allowed to even look at dogs, we’re all just going about our business and nobody can look at anybody else and we’re socially distanced but we’re energetically distanced and spiritually distanced too. So that’s been hard, kids and dogs.

Bear: I would say that the collective energy is starting to ebb away, that politeness and friendliness that I have come to love in Portland is beginning to dilute, spread a little thin. So I miss the ‘really happy to be alive’ Portlander, and I miss being able to make eye contact with people and say hello. A lot of people have equivocated just completely throwing up a wall and being completely unavailable in lieu of painfully saying hi and not being able to go any further. It’s hard because they’re preserving their own well being, but it’s hard to see that. I guess I miss seeing time as something that I had to treat with care, I had to really go out of my way to make sure that I could fulfill all of my responsibilities in a twenty-four hour period, now I’m just looking at a wall and thinking, ‘I’m not sure if the white on the wall is completely even, I might have to paint the whole thing’. I miss time having meaning.

What is something that you’ve gained?

Bear: I think I’ve gained an appreciation for little things – shaking hands, getting close to someone, hugs. I’ve now gained a new understanding of how important it is to make connections with people in different ways, that I’m not used to. I’ve gained a new appreciation for how lazy I’ve been with making meaningful relationships – and knowing how many meaningful relationships I do have in my life.

Kristen: I’ve learned that I have a great deal of relationships that extend beyond paying client boundaries, I love them. And because of the pandemic, it’s ok to say ‘I love you’ now, because we all have this sort of tenuous feeling of we don’t know when we’ll get to say it next, or see each other next. So I say I love you a lot more now.

Bear: I do that too, I do say I love you a lot more now. I think that the people I’m in touch with – instead of goodbyes, they’re getting ‘I love you’. And that’s hard for some of my male friends to accept, they like to make a joke about it here and there, but they know that I’m not saying it to provoke them, I’m saying it because I mean it.

Who are you most worried about right now?

Kristen: We are protecting our physical health at the cost of our emotional, spiritual and mental health in many cases and I’m worried about what we are losing in that pursuit. It would appear that we are losing a great deal and I don’t know that we’re even aware of the extent of what we’re losing just yet, but it’s a great deal. I’m worried about when we come out of this, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually… My people are not going to be ok – and that’s both to be expected and something to really keep an eye on. Just because we’re out of lock down, doesn’t mean that we’re suddenly all ok. Physically ok is very different from well-being ok.

Bear: Honestly, I’m worried about my kids and I’m worried about their friends. And I’m worried about all the people who live in areas where they’re not treating the illness seriously. My kids live in North Carolina and they’re talking about reactivating the government on May 18th, and that’s still a couple of weeks away and we don’t know what that looks like, but it sounds and feels reckless, like they’re choosing dollars over lives. We don’t have a real solid source of information that we can rely on. I’m worried about them for what their immediate future is, but I also worry about them in the long run, later in life – are they going to have a different quality of life? You want to believe that you’re past all these world-stopping events and that you’ve done your job as a parent and you want to have all the answers for your kids and prepare them for the real world, but my whole life, I’ve prepared them for a world that doesn’t exist right now. And it may not exist again in the same way for a very long time, so their life is truly upturned. I’m 43, I’ve been around, they’re just getting started. What’s it going to take for us to stop destroying each other? I hate that that’s the question my kids have to face, I worry about that all the time.

What are you most hopeful for?

Bear: I’m hopeful that this doesn’t destroy everything that we’ve worked so hard to build, I’m hopeful that we can begin growing back. I hope that the doctors are making the right decisions, I hope that the people in power are choosing correctly. I’m hopeful that people are helping each other through this, making connections, that they’re not just plunging their head into the sand and waiting til September ends. I hope that there are more people who feel inspired to grow and change and help. I hope that once we get past this, that caring about each other doesn’t become the latest t-shirt fad, that people don’t go back to the wicked ways they had before all this. I hope that people learn, that they learn, that they don’t forget to love one another.

Kristen: I’m hopeful that people will remember simple things, like how to be here and how to be with each other. I’m hopeful that people stop abandoning their interiors and start paying attention to everything that’s going on within them. I’m hopeful, based on the number of people I talk with each week, that a lot of us are unlearning productivity, unlearning the bottom line we’ve been sold of more, more, more, push, push, push. I’m hopeful that those patterns get unlearned, because when we unlearn those patterns, lots of things change very quickly, in the best possible way. I’m hopeful that we can find new ways of being that work for everybody, not just cis het white men who sell passive income strategies! I’m hopeful that there’s a way for all of us forward, and I’m hopeful that that looks nothing like the America that now lies in shambles.


How are you feeling right now?

I’m good overall, I think I’ve settled into this situation finally. It did take a couple of weeks to get my head around it all, as I’m sure it did everybody. I’m a little tired at the minute because I’ve got a lot of work on, but I’m not complaining because I’m delighted to have the work on, it keeps me busy. Overall, feeling as good as one can feel in the middle of a global pandemic.

What is something that you really miss as a result of the pandemic?

I think it would probably come down to seeing family. Even though my family would probably laugh and say they don’t see me half the time anyway, it’s just having that option taken away from you. Particularly, I have a really special relationship with my thirteen year old niece, I miss just being able to say ‘let’s do this’ – or even thinking of things we might be able to do together. Sometimes she has diving competitions and she invites me to that. It’s just the option of that, of seeing family, the freedom.

What is something you’ve gained?

If I was to look at it as two character traits, I would say I’ve gained adaptability and resilience, because I’ve had to be adaptable when it comes to online technologies. I found that really challenging, I’m just not mad about it. In some ways it works really well but I much prefer the face to face encounter, but I’ve had to adapt to that and I’m getting used to it. I would say that I’m more resilient because I’ve had to be really, I’ve had to grind in, and even though I really don’t like this way of working, it’s taught me resilience, I just need to suck it up and get on with it.

Who are you most worried about right now?

I’d say that I’m probably most worried about my three aunties. My dad has passed away, but he has three sisters who are all still alive but they are all in their late eighties/ nineties. Whilst they’re all doing a really good job of cocooning and they’re ensuring that they stay safe, I’m just worried about them, because I know if they were to get the virus, they’d have a very hard time.

What are you most hopeful for?

I’m hopeful that this whole pandemic will teach people to be more empathetic, as a coach in emotional intelligence, one of the character traits that I talk a lot about and teach is empathy and I’m really hopeful that this whole situation is making people reflect and become more empathetic. And I’m really hopeful that when we’re through the worst of this, that people are going to be, in general, a lot more empathetic.


How are you feeling right now?

Today, I’m good because I can hear myself. I’m hearing my voice again. There’s so much noise, I needed to make sure that I could know my place in this. So I can hear myself now, and I can hear myself as Finola the woman, Finola the mother (because I have to home school remember! I was not built for that but I’ll do my best and Sean [my son] helps me a lot) and hearing the voice of Finola the marketer, Finola the businesswoman – the different parts. Because I’m growing, I’m in this space of reaching for my own next evolutionary state. I know that’s sounding very lofty but it’s my next growth piece. And I found myself reflecting a couple of days ago, I wrote this really jaggedly – you’ve got to be where you’re going Finola. And I was talking to a client in New York last night and I found myself saying it to them and they said ‘Yes, that’s it!’. So I’ve got to be where I’m going, that’s what I’m working on, so I’m good.

What’s something that you really miss right now?

There’s the obvious stuff of missing the active projects I’m on, but I’m actually not really missing them. I know that it’ll be done later, it’s just on hold. I’m not missing it, I think it’s a gift.

What’s something that you’ve gained?

An awful lot, I’ve actually broadened my influences – the conversations I’m having are moving. I’m starting a new course today called Metaskills with Marty Neumeier, he’s bringing people from all over the world in brand context. I’m working on a project that we have to submit to this whole fabulous team of big heavy hitters in brand and we’re from Argentina and Ireland and the UK and Germany and India – all coming together to work together. I’m loving that! The bits that I’m loving is the new information that helps me grow. And I’m loving hearing my own voice, and I’m loving seeing tangible results on teh stuff I’m doing on a day to day basis with clients to help them move – because they’re having to change everything and I love re-strategising and rethinking. I love that, that’s my spot. It’s a powerful time.

What are you most worried about right now?

I’m worried about the homework stuff with Sean, that I’m not doing enough of it. That’s also a noisy space, I find I’m being inundated with stuff ‘Here’s what you can do with your eleven year old!’. I want to make sure he’s not left behind when he does go back to schoo, that would be my worry, and simultaneously, I’m doing different things with him – so he’s learning how to type, with great resistance, but anyway! He’s very verbal, so we’re having conversations, we need to do more of them, I’m not doing enough, we need to get the balance right. But we’re walking a lot, I’m living in Dunmore East – I’m very lucky where I’m in quarantine, we walk to the beach everyday. So I worry if I’m giving Sean enough time, that would be it, to get the balance right.

What are you most hopeful for?

I’m hopeful for humanity, I’ll tinge it with naivete because I think that’s useful. I’m hopeful for the self-reflection that’s occurring because you cannot escape it, because you have to think differently. The predictions of how are work lives are changing, things that were  predicted for five years down the line have just come front and centre now, so I’m hopeful that we now make conscious choices for how we live, I’m definitely hopeful for that. I”m hopeful that we’re not too late for the world, the dolphins, the birds singing. And yes, I know it’s all very naive, but i hand the naivete to it because we need it, we have to. And for my own personal stuff, I’m excited about what I’m going to do next, very excited about that!


How are you feeling today?

The sun is shining, so that helps. I’m able to open the back door so I can hear the birds as well as see the birds, that always makes me quite happy. Energywise, bodywise, I’m quite tired because I had a shower this morning and that wrecks my energy a bit. I was very clear to myself I need to rest for this talk and I just went outside for a little bit in my garden and I saw there were little flies under the leaves of my acer plant and, of course, I stood there and wiped them off and then I came in and I thought, ah damn, I should not have done that! So I’m more tired than I would have liked to be but it was so lovely being out – being in touch with nature for me is hugely important, that I can see the birds and hear the birds and go for my short little stroll makes all the difference. Being housebound, which I am for a very long time, is not so bad because my house is extended into my garden. I’m very, very grateful that I have that.

What have you lost as a result of the pandemic?

Ironically, I fought for two years with the HSE to have enough homecare but really my biggest question was that I would have PA, personal assistance, versus homecare – because homecare is what it says on the tin, it’s homecare, you can only get support in your home. For two years, I was not allowed to leave my home with my carers. I had enough care hours but I was never allowed to leave, even to go for a walk into town with my wheelchair. I was kept prisoner, in a way, by the HSE because I can’t go out on my own. Especially going into town, I find it uncomfortable to go out with a friend because when I come back I’m so exhausted that they literally need to strip the clothes off me and put me on the chair or in bed or whatever and that is something that I prefer to do with my carers, not with my friends. My friends need to be my friends. So after two years of fighting, I am finally victorious in that I now have all my care hours labelled as PA hours so I can go outside the door. That came a week before the covid lockdown started. So, I’m finally allowed to go outside the door and then I’m told to stay indoors again, because I’m one of the at-risk people. So that drives me bonkers. I haven’t even written the update that I am now victorious because everybody’s only thinking about covid, so there’s no point saying ‘Hi guys, I now won this case finally after two years’ because nobody gives a hoot. But all the people who have followed me and supported me, a lot of people are aware of my struggle but there’s no point in even highlighting what my victory is because people only want to read about covid.

What have you gained?

Not a whole lot has changed for me, I can’t say that I’ve gained anything. I relate it a lot to becoming ill, and it was that dramatic as well, a long time ago – on Wednesday I was playing tennis and on Saturday I couldn’t move. I was that ill very, very quickly. So I lost my whole creative life in days, really, and I had to rebuild it. So I suppose what a lot of you guys are learning about this isolation and solitude and the beauty of that, and being able to totally concentrate on the one thing – I’ve been there, done that, in a way. So I’m looking on in amazement at what is happening in the world but at the same time, I’m also thinking, gosh, a lot of people had no interest, no compassion, no understanding of what life for me is like, and for millions like me. I’m still well in comparison to a lot of people who live in darkened rooms with headphones on, with masks and being tube-fed. There’s a lot of people with ME that live like that, we’re the forgotten, the invisible and I don’t know if this period actually helps us or hinders us, I haven’t figured it out yet. In the beginning I thought people will get to understand our lives, but I actually don’t think so because it’s a set period. My life won’t change next month. When life goes back to normal again for the majority of people, my life will still be the same. Will people learn from this? I don’t know. 

All the stuff that’s available online now, I still can’t participate because it’s just too much, I can’t be near a computer for too long. There are so many people housebound, living with disabilities and there were no virtual cinemas, arts spaces, concerts – none of that was possible. I was in college for a short while doing disability studies one night a week and it totally knocked me – it was the worst thing I did for my body, but for me, for my own growth, even creatively, it was very important. After 2 months I was so ill I had to stop – I asked the college could I participate from home, could they set up a camera at the back of the class and I could still be there? Oh no, that wasn’t possible. This was disability studies!

There are kids with ME and their parents are asking can the child please participate in school from a distance? Oh god no, that wouldn’t be possible.. Now every child is taught online. I need to understand where my own emotions lie in this. I don’t know if anyone will truly understand what millions of people live like. People are doing courses and baking and it’s almost romantic, but this is a whole other level. There’s a slight romanticism to what I hear from others, what I see on Facebook. This is not to offend, my situation is no worse than anyone else, if you’re working and you lost your livelihood or you live with an abusive partner or you have kids with disabilities who are now at home… I’m just one of many, many different situations, I can only speak from my personal experience.

Who or what are you most worried about?

My carers still come in, thank God they’re ok and I’m ok, because if I get sick or they get sick I could end up in care again. Every morning I’m worried. If the phone rings before my carer comes, I think, oh God, they’re sick or the care agency is ringing me. So far, so good so I just have to go day by day. I’m really grateful I have that because I’m not totally isolated, I still hear what goes on. I ended up in care just over a year ago because I didn’t have enough support and every time I think of that my heart just goes. Especially now, because most people that are sick are in care homes. Nothing against the care place itself, but it was such a traumatic experience. Friends could maybe step in, it might not happen at all, but it’s a worry.

And I’m worried about my elderly neighbour, she’s 88. We support each other, I’m worried about her mental health. I have carers coming in, she has nobody coming in. We text a lot, we still bring food to her – when my carers make food here and I know she likes it, we’ll put it up on the wall. We’ve done that for years and we continue to do that. I worry about her and people like that. She’s healthier than I am, more active than I am. She would normally walk into town every day, she hated being stuck at home and now she’s really stuck at home. I worry about people who don’t have that interaction or freedom that they need. I think the biggest virus is in our heads, before this lock-down, it was something I always said.

What are you most hopeful for right now?

What I see is that nature is taking back control, I’m hoping that people will learn from this time and value nature again. In a way, this virus is just mother earth saying ‘come on guys, you majorly fecked up and I showed you many ways you did things wrong and you didn’t listen so here..’, obviously it’s not that simple, but I think that’s what’s happening. And I hope to God that people will learn to value life again, and value company and value the little things in life. I live on the little things of life, that’s what’s sustained me all these years. People have a habit of only looking at the big things, you need to have this new car, you need to have these new clothes, new shoes, whatever, you need to have the best of everything. You don’t. Life is actually very, very simple and I hope to God that people will actually learn from this. And have more compassion towards other people, I think that lacked because people were so driven and crazy, living fast, wanting more, going into debt. People had lost the run of themselves. I really hope that people will actually learn and not go back into the rat race again quickly. Time will tell.