Controlling your Life: Pandemic March 2020

Controlling your Life: Pandemic March 2020

In 2016 I moved to Shanghai to live for two months while my husband was working there. When I arrived, it happened to be Chinese New Year and the streets were desolate. It was a very eerie feeling. A total let down really because I was anticipating the incredible vibe and energy that I had already heard about the most populated country in the world. But there was nothing. No people, no traffic, no open stores. Nothing.


Fast forward four years to today. Now, the exact thing has happened, right here in my very own backyard of Vancouver, BC and everywhere else around the globe for that matter. The streets are empty. But not because of a celebratory holiday. It's the evil COVID-19 (the Corona Virus) that has literally taken over our world, causing illness and death beyond our wildest imagination.

At first, we all seemed to take the news quite lightly, thinking the virus would stay over in Wuhan where it began. But we very quickly realized the strength, the lightening speed and the scope of the virus with its invisible and deadly tentacles.


Businesses are suffering and even closing. Employees are getting laid off, people can't pay their rent or mortgages. It is a very scary time. So now is the time to take some sort of control, to collaborate, to be creative and think outside the box.


Did you know these start-ups were founded during the last economic crash of 2008? During a total economic meltdown.  Isn't this inspiring!? It is for me!

1. Uber

2. AirBnb

3. Slack

4. Pinterest

5. Square

6. WhatsApp

7. Venmo

To me, an entrepreneur, this makes the blood pump through my veins and gives me hope to think, scheme, brainstorm and create something new, something better, something that will be NEEDED once we all come out from hiding under our rocks and are faced with our “new normal”.


It's easy to get down, feel anxious, become depressed, hopeless and look at the glass half empty during this time. Well, you can stop that mindset RIGHT NOW!.

First off, get up, get in the shower, wash your greasy hair, put on your work clothes and get at it. Having worked at home, solo, for the past twenty-five years, I know a thing or two about self-motivation and tasking.


Everyone does it, but the secret it to talk positively to yourself. If you're always putting yourself down, being negative towards yourself and generally a Debbie Downer, you ain't going to have a very productive day.  Instead, step out of that shower, take a look in the mirror and say to yourself "HELLO BEAUTIFUL! (or HANDSOME! ) You're alive and well! You have your health and so much to be grateful for."


For God sake, get dressed! Hanging about in your pj's all day is what sick people do. If you're not sick, honour those that actually are sick, and get dressed.  The other night I wore a long evening dress to dinner.  It felt great.


My husband and I love each other a lot and get along very well (most times). We thought "we can quarantine and work together at home, no problem."Umm, well no, we actually can't. We both luckily already have our own separate offices. Mine is in a converted two-car garage, and his is in the house in a separate office. But for some reason, we thought it was a good idea to both start working from the kitchen together. The first couple of days were ok, but then the tension started to build, his laptop making the most irritating dinging noise every time he received an email (the man receives a shit tonne of emails).  When I would go on a phone call he would make faces that I was making too much noise... I could see this was going south FAST so we both packed up and moved back into our offices without saying one word.  We have agreed that the kitchen is now the "lunchroom" and no work is to be brought in there.  Much better, tension has lifted (and way tidier too). 

side note The hard part for me is that the house was part of my "work at home" life and I would often work from the kitchen so I could enjoy being inside my house, instead of always having to be out in the studio (aka garage). I have now lost that option WHICH REALLY SUCKS.


I have many people ask me, "how do you work at home"?  "I'd go crazy if I had to work alone at home all day." Well, for one thing, I wasn't always alone. I have customers come to my studio on a regular basis, which I have lost for the time being. I miss them and the interaction I have with them. I have kind, beautiful, smart, wonderful customers which are a big part of my "work socializing". That part I do not have right now, but I am getting the socialization differently through emailing and phone calls as they are ordering online. My business is very personal. I have and always will interact with my clients. FUN FACT Did you know that my first website in 2003 (I have had four different ones) DID NOT offer e-commerce because I wanted to call and talk to each and every customer to get their payment information as well as find out how they were liking my products.  I did that for years. 


To stay focused and get a tonne done in a day, I find it VERY helpful to make lists. I love crossing things off a list once it's completed. It's very satisfying. Even if you don't have a lot going on in a day, make a list.  For example, 1) change sheets 2) put away laundry 3) call mum (hint, hint to any of my kids if they are reading this) 4) vacuum car.  It seems silly but I kid you not, it keeps you focused if you don't have a lot going on while you are under self-quarantine. The days will just whittle away to nothing and if you get nothing accomplished it's pretty guaranteed you will start to feel awful.

My list from last week

1) Delete 13,000 SKU's manually off accounting system (don't even ask - total nightmare)

2) Upload new handbags on website

3) Call kids

4) Create home gym/order Peloton

5) Powerwash

6) Leave money outside for mailman and newspaper delivery guy

7) Set up Zoom and teach parents how to use it

8) Trim hedge at front of the house (will literally take 20 min)

9) Consider ordering hair dye online!! (can anyone else relate?)

10) Paint suite

11) Work on my photo albums!! (only 15 years behind) Try 


In Memory of Denis Vincent

Yesterday we found out that our family dentist, Denis Vincent, died from COVID-19. He was a kind, talented, generous man who was always so kind and patient with my boys. My heart goes out to his former wife Shawna and his two sons. who also apparently have the virus. Once I found out this news I decided to truly commit to STAY HOME 99% of the time. Only to go out in public for dire needs like food or money. So please, stay at home! Go on a walk ALONE (or with someone you live with). Be smart! Be safe! 



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    Elizabeth Levinson: March 26, 2020

    Thank you SO MUCH for your inspiring message today, Annabel. It couldn’t have come at a better moment for me, and I promise you that I will now get up, have a shower and get on with checking items off my list! We are under “house arrest” here in Provence, albeit not a bad part of the world to be self-quarentining. We can only leave the house for groceries, a medical appointment or individual exercise – that would be a walk for no longer than an hour and no further than 1 km from the house. We must carry an official form with the nature of our errand, our age (the nerve!) and the time we left the house, as there are 100,000 police circulating throughout the country who fine those who disobey the rules or are not carrying a form. The fines start at 135 euros and can go as high as 1500 euros for “repeat offenders.” As you say, this situation is completely surreal, but we’re lucky to be safe and ultimately, we hope to be able to say that we lived through it and that we were made stronger and kinder by it:)

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    Kathi Smythe: March 24, 2020

    Great inspiration, new ideas. Yes it quite different having a husband at home. Have just invited our son to move in as we have a lovely terrace at our condo and he has no outdoor space. Lots of FaceTime with my boys and friends especially single ones. If there is anything good about this Virus it is that we will all appreciate our family and friends more and all the things we took for granted. Thanks you for your inspirational words, stay safe, and we all hope our kids FaceTime more often. Hugs (at least we can type it)

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