How did we find ourselves here? For most of us our current environment is so far from any imagined reality that we keep wondering when the credits will roll up and the movie stop. This is unchartered territory for everybody at the moment and the only comfort is that we are experiencing this new world collectively.

I thought I might share my experiences over the next while as we navigate (much like everybody else) parenting four children in lockdown, schooling – with various levels of enthusiasm, working from home, trying to navigate business survival in very uncertain economic times, tackling a home to-do list (because why not?), making and achieving fitness goals (is running 5km achievable in four weeks?) and taking the opportunity to make memories and solidify our family through this gift of uninterrupted time together.

There is much to take in and much to do right now regarding our business. Feather and Oak Interiors, much like many other small businesses, relies heavily on the loyalty of our lovely customers and obtaining future work. We do not have money in the bank for times like this because running a small business IS REALLY HARD. Cashflow is a constant juggle and we work so hard every month to keep up with other national businesses that have larger marketing budgets and bigger reach to customers. Can we survive this period? I desperately hope so. I love this business and believe we can grow and do great things but right now is NOT HELPFUL. There is so much uncertainty around so much.

I was incredibly worried at the beginning of the week and felt sick to my stomach at the speed with which we had to turn around and alter our reality – schools closed, set up home for the long haul, close the business and navigate how to continue to operate after this indeterminate period of closure. Heartfelt and desperate prayers, big gulps of air, slowing my breathing all helped but ultimately I decided to follow a principle I gave myself when I was 18. I left school after 7th Form and went on a student exchange to the other side of the world. It was my first time away from family, my first major international trip, I was alone and trying to fit into an entirely new family and school. I didn’t want to follow the same early route home as some of the other girls on the exchange so when I suffered bouts of homesickness I promised myself that I would always wait one week before making a major and potentially life altering decision in a time of extreme emotion. This has been one of those weeks. As much as I am concerned about our family and friends, the survival of our businesses and our way of life, I have parked this concern until the clouds clear around our future and when we are not quite so emotionally drained and bewildered at the speed with which our lives have changed.

Small business in NZ is the lifeblood of many towns and cities. These businesses sponsor school events, buy jerseys for junior sports team, pay wages to staff who shop locally and create a raft of services and shops that big box retailers cannot offer. I hope our government can offer financial support to ensure that we do have a an economic death rate that mirrors that of the virus. We all need to work together and support each other. Stay connected, love on each other, stay strong – we will be changed through this process but let’s not lose our heart or our compassion for our people and our community.

I am also grateful for many things right now. There are always positives in any challenge and sometimes we have to focus on silver linings and potential opportunities. My staff at Feather and Oak went above and beyond to complete work, contact clients, encourage each other and help me close in our tight timeframes. I am thankful for their loyalty and commitment and all the positive energy that customers can literally feel when they walk through our doors – your team is your greatest asset and we have the best team.

I love our family and am looking forward to spending this forced time together without the many distractions that complicate other holidays. On Wednesday when I locked the business for the last time, upset and fearing our unknown future, I walked in the door at home to find that William had cooked all the children lunch, the others had set the table and happily they greeted me with smiles on their faces enjoying satisfying their tummies and laughing together. My soul warmed and I know that however the next months play out, connection, relationship, love and kindness will always trump any kind of disaster.

So what have I experienced over the last three days? Fear, love, thankfulness, sadness, worry, laughter, tiredness, despair, excitement, pity, kindness, joy, pride, connection. SO MANY EMOTIONS. I can’t even list them all. It is really tough right now and really tiring. Be kind to yourself. Do what you need to do to cope. Wrangle a squirming child and cuddle them, make yourself endless cups of tea, tidy the cylinder cupboard, watch endless Netflix. Do whatever you need to do – give yourself a massive break. Our minds are coping with so much change, we are coaching others through an experience that we don’t fully understand and we are daily in a changing environment not of our own making. Keep connected, check in with your friends and family, love each other.

I’m here if you want to comment or chat. Let’s stick together because together is always better.

Much love and kindness

Katy XOX