The COVID Lockdown

March 27, 2020
Category: Regenerative Business, Regenerative Faith

Well, we are officially shut down for 2 weeks in Montana. I know we’re a lot later than most of the country (and obviously the world) but our governor just announced a 2 week “stay at home” mandate. I hoped that this day wouldn’t come even though I knew it wasn’t far off. Steve and I have been talking about this for quite some time. What happens if we do have to stay home? What happens to our employees? What happens to our business? So many thoughts and so many unknowns.

My mom texted me when it the announcement was made and I realized that I have very strong feelings about this whole situation. When the crisis started, I didn’t take it as seriously as maybe I should have. Like many people I felt like it was being over-publicized and the excessive coverage was fear mongering. I think there is still some truth to that but there is also truth to the face that people can be carriers without knowing they even have it. So I understand how that can turn into an epidemic and create bad situations for the hospitals along with plenty of other ramifications.

The economic implications of COVID has been the main focus of Steve’s and my attention. My greatest nightmare was a shutdown where we couldn’t continue business. We have about 13 employees who’s livelihood comes from our business, a few who can’t work remotely. I understand that our business is very small and that every other small and large businesses are struggling with the same things that we are. Once I started really thinking about the global financial implications of COVID, I started taking it very seriously. I didn’t realize how seriously until someone asked me about our thoughts on the shut down. Here’s my text:

If everyone stays home for 2 weeks then there’s some hope for this thing being eradicated and for us all to be able to go back to work. Our family is willing to do whatever we need to do to get back to work – especially for our production guys who can’t work from home. I hope everyone in Bozeman/Montana takes it seriously if for nothing other than for the economy. Small businesses will be negatively affected by being closed longer than 2 weeks and have the potential for a long recovery. It will be a disaster on the economy if we don’t take it seriously. If everyone literally stays at home for 2 weeks there is some hope for a more timely recovery. Sorry for the novel but our decision to stay home directly affects our livelihood and that of our employees. I hope everyone takes it seriously.

So we heard about the shutdown late last night (Thurs) that is supposed to go into effect tomorrow night (Saturday). So today was a scramble to close all of our office locations, contact people to pick up stuff, run by the bank, work on actual “work” and think about the next steps for our employees, just to name a few. Honestly it was a really hard day for me. Even though we know that the “stay at home” ruling is temporary, there is something very surreal and very hard about closing up our business and knowing I won’t be back for awhile. Even though it is “temporary” it brings up hard questions. Will the business that Steve and I have built for the last 14 years bounce back or will it never be the same?

I would say all, or at least most, business owners have an intense drive to “succeed”. I would say that one of my biggest fears is failure and a failure of a business is the worst case scenario for me. So today, I had to confront my worst fears – even if it wasn’t actually the worst case scenario. We have a very strong business model and can handle months of uncertainty with all of the things we have put in place for times like this. Creativity and ingenuity comes out of tough circumstances and this situation isn’t any different and I’m looking forward to seeing what that looks like. But there is still the anxiety of the “unknown”.

The uncertainty of the unknown reminded me of a time that my doctor found a growth in my thyroid and wanted me to get a biopsy for cancer. Even worst case scenarios weren’t as bad as other types of cancer but that was the most memorable time in my life that I had to face my mortality. The unknown and the “what ifs” were very overwhelming until I had more information. All of it turned out to be fine but I won’t ever forget the feeling of facing my mortality and especially the unknown. Today I felt the same way. The unknown has been hard on me. I’ve been close to tears a few times today for the reasons above as well as more trivial reasons.

As you can probably figure out by my other posts that I am a “creative”.  You may not think I am big into routines. I used to think I hated routine but I have come to realize over the last couple of years that I need routine and thrive on it, maybe even more so than others. Even things like going on vacation or having a long weekend throws me off a bit. I have always loved work and had to really focus on balance in my life so that I didn’t just work all of the time. So today when I locked the doors and turned off the lights, I felt overwhelmed with what was coming economically but even something as minor as what do the next 2 weeks look like.

Thankfully I have a husband who lets me freak out and has great advice that helps guide me to a more balanced perspective. If I’m honest, I will probably still be a little overwhelmed from time to time, but Steve and I started praying for peace and wisdom more intently about a month ago because we knew all of this was going to happen. Even if the “worst” does happen with the economy, I still have faith that we will get through it, whatever that looks like. I have faith that we are all strong and have ingenuity. I believe in our employees strength and creativity.

I believe some things will never go back to how they were but maybe we can find some good that comes out of this situation. Maybe we will all see how kindness can help get us through tough situations better. Maybe we will see that generosity is a way we can be a light to others (when a lot of the world is freaking out and “taking care of me and mine”). Maybe we can see how entitled we really are and how good we actually have it.

I know that there are many people who are going through much more extreme situations that I am and I also know there are some who aren’t affected as much. I’m not sure where you are on the spectrum and if you’re anxious but I hope this helps you realize you aren’t alone (even if you are forced to be isolated haha).

Here’s to coming out of this as better people on the other side!

Update June 2020

It hasn’t quite been 3 months since I wrote the above and I wanted to share an update. Our state, and many others as well have opened for the most part. During the shut-down, our business went to working fully remotely. Our workload in a lot of departments slowed down considerably. Our employees had to go to part-time.

Steve and I were super busy during this whole time trying to figure out what to do, plan ahead, take care of our employees, figure out the smartest way to move forward, etc. We are still exhausted from the toll the extra work and stress of the unknown had on us.

Here’s a cool “sign post” story: The stress of all of this was almost all-consuming at times. I spent some time journaling (which is often how I pray). We had been learning about God’s abundance and his generosity. Those two character traits weren’t feeling so obvious to me at the time. I started praying that we would be able to see his blessing, his generosity and his abundance during this time (even though it truly did seem impossible). Looking back, God orchestrated 3 really big things for our business that has not only kept us “afloat” but that has even helped our business grow (about 40%) during this crazy time. It has been such a blessing and I feel like I am understanding that part of God’s character in ways that I have never understood or experienced it before. So I am feeling so grateful. I know the road ahead is still really long and unknown but we appreciate the blessing we have seen thus far.

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