So this is a pretty weird time to be a human in society. I’ve been struggling with it, as I’m sure you are as well. First of all, apologies for the radio silence. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me too. I typically do in person interviews, but as you can imagine, that’s not possible right now, not to mention everyone in our industry is a little preoccupied. I’m working on a system for remote interviews, and hopefully we’ll have some conversations in the coming weeks about how people are handling this crisis. In the meantime I wanted to just share some of my thoughts about what’s going on, how it relates to our industry and some internal work we can all do.
As you might expect, both of the bars I work for are closed, which is a bit of a reality check. I usually feel like, “Well, if things go sideways I can always pick up shifts.” And now here we are. I know this is a scary time, and one of the scariest things is the uncertainty of it all. It’s such a bad feeling to be powerless and have no control over the situation. Will we have to shelter even longer? Will we have a job to go back to if and when this ends, will we get sick? Will someone we’re close to get sick? What is the world going to be like on the other side of this?
It’s scary to think about and we want to do something about it, but there really isn’t anything we can do, on the outside anyway. Hoarding toilet paper and pasta isn’t going to change anything, except maybe the amount of available space in our closets.
What we can do is work on what’s going on inside of us. I’ve done a few episodes about different mental tools that help us get through our shift behind the bar, and those are absolutely applicable to our current situation, even though we are not at work. Listen to this episode in the player below and Episode 31, Episode 24, Episode 22 and Episode 19.
One thing that has really been helping me is focusing on all of the positive things I see, and you aren’t going to see those things in the news. That’s just not what the news reports. So if you must read the news, it’s important to keep in mind that all of the news is going to be bad. It doesn’t mean that everything happening in the world is bad though. In fact, I believe there is a lot more good happening that we think.
I’ve seen a lot of positive things and I’m kind of excited for the potential for positive change because of this. I mean, there’s nothing like a common enemy to bring us all together. I’ve seen so much generosity, humor and creativity especially. I’ve seen things like Dani and Jackie’s virtual happy hour, where bartenders are showing folks at home how to make cocktails, and the bartenders can get tipped out for it. Maybe you want to try something like that for regulars at your bar?
I’m really grateful for those things, and that’s another thing I’ve been doing too, focusing on what I’m grateful for. I mean, I have a home that I really love to shelter in. Some of us aren’t so lucky.
Another thing we’re going to have to do right now is to practice patience. We’re all concerned about money. I mean it’s really scary to suddenly lose our jobs or worry about losing our businesses. It’s just adding to the uncertainty. But we have to try to be patient, compartmentalize our emotions and worries. Our unemployment checks are going to come when they come and there’s nothing that we can do about it. In California alone, the Employment Development Department has received more than one million unemployment claims in the past two weeks. It’s like those times at the bar where a bus load of 40 people all walk in at the same time and then the dishwasher breaks. There’s only so much they can do.
A lot of our guests on the show have mentioned meditation practice as something that helps them, and myself as well. Just 5-10 minutes a day can make a world of difference. Here is a quick TEDx talk with a simple guided breathing meditation. I found it to be a very helpful way to get started. There are also a ton of free resources out there. Apps, ebooks, videos. Find something that works for you. This is a great opportunity to do some inner work. Start small though, and most importantly don’t beat yourself up if you’re not good at it. You’re not going to be good at it, but just trying it out is what matters. If you just try it for 5 minutes a day, you’ve already done something amazing and you can appreciate that.
If you haven’t seen the list of resources I posted recently, check it out. I’m also posting more as I can. One quick thing I wanted to mention is that BarSmarts, which is an education program for bartenders is offering their online course for free right now. Use the code “TRYBARSMARTS” when you register.
I’m pretty confident we’ll get through this. Fortunately for us, we already have a very strong community and we’re good at working together and solving problems. Stay positive, stay compassionate, stick together even if we can’t be physically close and wash your hands, but we all know that one already.
That’s all for this week, but stay tuned for more. Check out our homepage and sign up for our mailing list too. I’m going to send out another newsletter soon, it’s a great way to stay updated. Also, please feel free to reach out to me if there’s anything you want to hear more of or if you just want to say hello. Thanks so much for tuning in, I’ll see you next time.