Living & Working In The New Reality

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Below is a recent post that went viral on Instagram and Facebook. With its Zen-like wisdom, it touched a nerve with many people, including Deepak Chopra. There is no one template on how to deal with these unprecedented times.

“And the people stayed home. And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live, and they healed the earth fully, as they had been healed.” – attributed to Kitty O’Meara

Some of our readers shared their thoughts about living & working in the new reality:

Wendy Goodman: “One thing I am grateful for, which I never thought I would be, is social media because we can at least see each other on Instagram, and we can communicate. We are lucky we have that connection now because it’s the only thing we’ve got. I am taking walks with my sister (Vogue’s Tonne Goodman) who lives around the corner and luckily, I have a lot of work for the magazine. Every day I have been at my computer doing Zoom meetings, editing interviews and photographs and writing articles. We will be putting New York Magazine together remotely. It will be different from a different template for the print magazine.

I am doing a post this week on my own apartment describing how all of this is making us reevaluate and reorganize what we have. It’s a meditation on what is home. It’s all about your home. Your home is where you honor yourself. It’s important to have a little oasis in this crazy world and I am tortured by people who don’t have homes and don’t have schools. There are so many people who don’t know where their next paychecks are coming from. It’s a nightmare!

One thing I do every day is to get up, make my bed and I get dressed. It’s important to behave as if I am working. I wear pants, a comfy shirt, and I put all my pearl pins on. I wear a safety pin with all my pearls every day of my life. And then I put my rings on and I get ready as if I am going somewhere.”

Jaqui Lividini: “The current world situation has given me lots of time to consider the serious impact it will have on our lives, our families and our businesses and that makes for a full and active mind. However, during this time, I also push myself to be hopeful, present and enjoy my surroundings, particularly soaking in all that nature has to offer, which is so organically soothing. I feel incredibly blessed for the opportunity to pause, reflect pray and most importantly breathe.

I’m also blessed to have the partnership of our clients. It’s important to constantly connect with them during these uncertain times. It’s a full day of information download, strategic thinking and thought leadership, for both clients and non-clients, while helping them navigate this unfamiliar terrain. Clients’ interaction takes up the bulk of my day.

I’m trying to find a routine, I’ve worked in an office my entire career, so finding the balance has been challenging — three days in and I’m finally finding my footing. One interesting development, my daughter has challenged me to actually cook dinner every night. That’s a new muscle for me, but the real lesson and gift is spending time with Calliope which has given me much needed perspective.
I’ve been so concerned about family, friends and our L&Co. team that I haven’t considered the personal weight of this situation.”

Fern Mallis: “I’m self-quarantined in my house in Southampton on a beautiful lake…so it’s hard to complain. I did, however, come out for what I thought would be a weekend and as this pandemic escalated so quickly it’s clear that I’m here indefinitely. Under normal circumstances, I’d be thrilled to get a few weeks away at my house but this feels so very different. I’m trying my best to stay optimistic and hopeful.

I’ve got food and won’t starve. I’ve got a house full of books I never get to read… and honestly probably still won’t. I’m addicted to the TV and the news which is so depressing yet I’m sick of re-runs and haven’t found a great new series to binge-watch. If I knew I’d be out here indefinitely I’d have brought my iPad and other projects to work on- like the census forms that are on my desk in the city.

I spend time talking to and checking in with family and friends, and I just steamed two artichokes the way Martha Stewart says to. Let’s hope these severe measures everyone’s taking make a difference- quickly- as we will all need to adjust to what a new normal will be…. and I’m afraid shopping for pretty new clothes won’t be a part of it.”

Martha Nelson: “Work on many fronts goes on. I’m chair of the jury for the Peabody Awards, so tons of podcasts, radio and television entries are filling my time right now. The group met last week in California at a near-empty resort where we practiced the “Wuhan toe touch” instead of hugs and handshakes. Our next round of deliberations will be online. I fear it will be a challenge to keep the whole jury engaged for days of discussion on Zoom!

As for health, I did my first Pilates session on a Google hangout and took a long walk in Riverside Park. I keep anxiety at bay. No panic buying, hoarding or similar insanity. Just reasonable precautions and reliable news sources.

Being “socially distant” doesn’t mean losing touch. Last night, we poured a glass of wine, sat down to watch the sunset on the Hudson and told Alexa to “Call Eric”. Every night we’re going to check in with a different friend or family member. With this virtual cocktail hour, we may end up being more connected than we’d normally be!

Finally, I’m hoping to catch some of the streaming performances from the Metropolitan Opera — a different opera every night — which is quite a gift from the Met to the world.”

Ralph Rucci: “There is a reawakening within all of us and I am so happy that it goes to the introspective parts of ourselves and our future into each other. And boy, did we need this now, especially under this title wave of evil that HE and his people have spread into the country and world the world. It’s unbelievable!

I love being home and I love cooking. I am taking long walks, my dog loves the terrace and we spend time on the terrace. I read and catch up and I am using this as a refueling moment. When we come out of this, there will be a recalibration of the new normal.

The big question is, how are small businesses going to survive? My clients are wealthy people and back in 2007 and 2008, their husbands became paranoid and told them to stop shopping. How will businesses going to be helped?”

Laurie Schechter: “Having worked remotely for a long time, I think scheduling is the key to sanity and trying to maintain a routine. Daily meditation, exercise, journaling, and scheduled work hours with regular intervals of getting up and moving around. All of these things are really no different than any of us might do under normal circumstances only now we are doing them from home.

Even scheduling distractions, break times. Virtual art tours or Met Opera broadcasts or theater productions that are now streaming or binge-show watching are things one can do together with friends and family via something like Zoom meeting in place of actually meeting up. Or a Skype cocktail hour with a friend.

I also think reaching out to others to see if they need help can greatly increase a feeling of helpfulness rather than helplessness and can even enhance a feeling of productivity. Having a schedule, including scheduling these reaching outs, can promote usefulness and sanity.

Finally, recognize when you’re not being productive, give yourself a break, and time to have fun and just laugh, virtually and remotely and together with your loved ones. We must take care of ourselves, and others, and most importantly, stay home unless you absolutely have to go out.”

Professor Susan Scafidi: “Maintaining body, mind, and spirit while surrounded by an invisible threat is a question of balance between, on one hand, proactivity and focus, and on the other, humor, curiosity, and indulgence — or, as we call it in the Goop era, self-care.

I’ve bought so many healthy fresh fruits and veggies that getting them into my refrigerator was like a game of farm-to-table Tetris, but I also stocked up on coffee and chocolate. For every grave medical opinion or study I’ve read, I’ve clicked on a story about Italians singing from their balconies while in lockdown or an image of the Sistine Chapel with God squirting Purell into Adam’s outstretched hand.

While taking safe socially distant walks around the city for air and exercise, I’ve stopped to peer into closed and emptied boutiques, with an empty mannequin hand left behind here or a video playing on in the darkness there. In the midst of figuring out how to deploy my own knowledge resources to help others — in the case of the Fashion Law Institute, planning a free online event and ensuring continuity of our pro bono clinic — I’ve also spent as much time chatting on the phone as when I was a teenager. And although my footwear collection may be neglected while I remain responsibly at home and pad around barefoot, hair and makeup are definitely not optional.”

Jean Shafiroff: “Since I have a family and 3 dogs with us, I have prepared our home with food, water, dog food, and any cleaning materials that I could buy.

Other time is spent writing — I have at least one book to write. I try to work out every day — however, it is not so easy working out from home. But I am watching workout tapes and they are helpful.

In addition, I speak to friends and relatives on the phone to try to comfort them. I serve on 7 charity boards and we are continuing with online meetings. Foremost on the mind of most of the charities is how we might be of help during the coronavirus pandemic. We are preparing to provide help.”

Robert di Mauro: “I have developed a fitness routine incorporating my martial arts, yoga and dance backgrounds with deep abdominal breathing as a key element which I can take outside of my gym or wherever since I do not rely on equipment.

In my case, Pier 84 on the West Side is ideal! This is in conjunction with my usual nutritional intake. Anxiety is a natural human reaction to this incredibly uncertain and very surreal time therefore maintaining physical and mental health is crucial to reduce stress. Most importantly, I am sending blessings and love to everyone! “

Patricia Mears: “I am currently in my country home in the Catskills because FIT closed the museum’s galleries and my Ballerina exhibition is on ice, for now. Likewise, all the public programs related to Ballerina have been canceled so I am working remotely.

Things are moving ahead and I am taking this time to work on my next round of projects. Curators are fortunate in that we can write and research, activities that do not require engaging with others. One of my projects is an essay about the 1990s fashion shows which is slated to open in February of next year.

I am also starting to organize an upcoming exhibition that will open at MFIT this December. In between work, I am able to walk around our farm and enjoy nature. The birds are migrating back from the south and the snowdrops are blooming. All of this keeps my mind off the troubles and challenges we are facing.”

Kay Unger: “I can’t go out but I took my regular bicycle and put it on rollers. I bike in my fabulous closet which has a tv. I have a Pilates circle and do my stretching online with my trainer. This is what people are doing now. They are meditating online, doing yoga online, doing Exhales online. There are remote concerts, like the 92nd Street Y.

As chair, Parsons School of Design Board of Governors, I am concerned about how designers will stay alive. 50 percent of the CFDA members either went to Parsons or graduated from there so there is a huge connection. Everyone, especially the younger, newer businesses, are suffering. That is why we need stimulus packages because if you can’t go out, you can’t produce.

We have to learn how to be more sustainable. Everything will change that needed to change in order to become sustainable but how we get ahead of that and think about that when we are home? Instead of eating pounds of ice cream and all the junk food in our freezers, let’s think about how we move forward into the new world!

The other thing is that in six weeks we will know what true hair color everyone has. There are a number of products that you can still get that will make the color last including “WOW” and L’Oreal Paris Magic Root Cover Up, and dry shampoos that help your color last. We are not going to Drybar or having a glam squad anymore.

We are all washing our own hair. We are going online and video conferencing and in many ways, it’s worse than in person. You literally have to learn what your good angle is. You have to make sure the area behind you is tidy. It is a whole new etiquette and people will pay for that advice. Where are we in our beauty supplies to help keep us fresh so that when we finally leave our homes in two months, we will be ready?”

Anne Dee Goldin: “I ’m busy at home working on readying GoldinStyle Fine Fur Storage and Service for the 2020 season which essentially kicks off April 1. I’m taking long walks on Riverside Drive… in my opinion the most beautiful and serene street in NYC… and going into Riverside Park.

I’m spending lots of time with my cherished dogs, Palmer and Cleo. I am very fortunate to have a terrace with a beautiful vista (like you;) so I am able to stay in my apartment and still go outside. I’m trying to ‘“stay calm and carry on”. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m working on that.”

Miki Higasa: “I am keeping in touch with my staff at Kaleidoscope PR through Google Hangouts and phone calls in order to maintain a ’normal’ work environment as much as possible. Also, checking on friends by phone or FaceTime – especially the ones who live alone.

Luckily there is a gym in my apartment building and we have a rule that no more than 5 people occupy it at one time, although most of the time, even before this Coronavirus outbreak, it’s rare to see more than another person there. I usually practice Yoga through private sessions, but my Yoga instructor wrote out a routine for me to practice on my own, and she’s also offered to ‘meet’ via Zoom.”

Jonathan Marder: “The speed at which companies have adapted to working remotely is remarkable; our staff and clients has no problems adapting. For arts there is a bitter reality; exhibitions and performances are all canceled. So is travel for visiting artists. Equally problematic is the cancelation of all fundraising galas. For many organizations, these are their largest source of unrestricted revenues. For organizations without endowments, this will be critical. Help is keenly needed.

Many groups are planning new kinds of outreach such as virtual tours of their collections, conversations with artists, or streaming concerts and performances. As in every crisis, creativity comes forward. Generosity, sharing, and kindness, is noted. No one knows what the new normal will be or when.”

Pam Sommers: “As a company, Rizzoli is, of course, prioritizing health and safety and we have streamlined systems to enable everyone to be effective from home. There are pros and cons to this, like everything else, but it seems to be going well so far, as we connect for essential communication and are very efficient in our use of time.

Speaking for my publicity group, we have two dedicated yoga practitioners—one actually a teacher, and the other me, who also bikes around at off hours for fresh air and exercise; one with two dogs who is getting out at least three times a day to walk them while maintaining a healthy—no pun intended!—distance from other dog walkers; a Harlem resident whose sanity lies in brisk off-hours perambulations in Central Park’s North Woods two blocks from her door’; and another is maintaining her co-habiting Zen by listening to WFMU, reading, reading, reading, and drinking– perhaps a bit too much—coffee.”

Dr. Valerie Steele: “Ha-ha — Sancerre? I’m taking long walks while it is still allowed. I am trying to do my boring exercises at home and working on my next book. My friends in Paris say they can ONLY go out for groceries or to the pharmacy. I’m also reading Hilary Mantel, “The Mirror and the Light” (Wolf Hall sequel) — already halfway through.”

Lisa Lockwood: “I’m staying in close contact with employees on the WWD staff as we put out the newspaper remotely, taking a walk at the end of the day and keeping six feet away from other people In my suburban neighborhood, trying to keep a sense of humor, and probably snacking way too much. That’s how I’m dealing with this.”

Ellin Saltzman: “I came to Easthampton with my family on Saturday to celebrate my birthday. We are going for walks and doing jigsaw puzzles. This is all a nightmare. My kids are very very protective of me so no trips to NYC and no trips to town etc. I am hoping to read more but hard to concentrate.”

Steven Kolb: I am staying connected to members of the CFDA, the CFDA staff, friends and family. I end the day with a run.”

Marilyn Kirschner: As for myself? I begin each day with a run like I always do. One of the worst things about this situation is that every day is the same. It’s like “Groundhog Day” but with worsening news. Today is the first day of spring, but you would never know it.

Fashion is not a priority in any way, but I still try to take comfort in things that I love, things that give me pleasure. Even if it’s putting on a belt I love, or a pair of house shoes that make me smile. Fortunately, I have a preternaturally optimistic nature and try to focus on things I have to look forward to. My mother turns 100 on May 1st. I am very blessed!

These are very challenging times but I have no doubt we will come through this with more humanity, more understanding, and a better appreciation for the simple things in life. We will all be better and stronger for it.

Marilyn Kirschner
Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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