Slow down. The panic is coursing through all our veins

Slow down. The panic is coursing through all our veins

By Abby Crawford

Slow down. The fear has us running in directions that we may never have thought we would be following.

Slow down. The stress is making nights longer and days harder.

Slow down. We are all in this together. Certainly, there is an incredibly diverse set of experiences we will all go through at different times, at different stages. And they range from apathy, to denial and anger, to decisions and actions, to resignation and grief – and many more. But we need to slow down.

When we stop the panic and fear rising from the extraordinary brutality of the speed in which our world and lives are changing, then we give ourselves a chance to think properly through our actions. When we slow down and work to find some inner peace, however briefly, we give ourselves a chance to calm and breathe, and reduce stress. And when we do this, we can have some clarity to trust that we are going to be ok and make plans to protect ourselves, our families, our community, our country.

My entire business has been annihilated from the very first announcement. With one-third of my business focused on weddings and events, one-third focused on consulting contracts in tourism, and one-third focused on commercial design for hotels and venues – well my strategy of diversification was blown apart. That Monday morning the phone started early, as discussions with venues, clients, brides, hotels, designers and wineries all ended in the same place by the end of the week – we were ALL closed for business.

It’s hard to think clearly – or rather, more specifically, it’s hard to sort through the million ideas, strategies, thoughts, and emotions that rise through that next week or so. Suddenly no income, private school fees, mortgage and business premises rental is a lot to face on your own. Throw in home schooling for a ravenous year 11 student who seems intent to insist they needn’t study for chemistry and you have a perfect storm heading straight for the chilled bottle of vino at 5pm on the dot. A perfectly understandable strategy, but not particularly helpful!

So, I spent the time that was needed responding to cancellations and contracts and refunds and reassurances and making sure that all my wedding and event clients were secure knowing we would honour all our business for a date in the future. And then I spoke to my contract clients and worked with each of them to continue our marketing strategies, at no payment. One of my clients cried, saying she just couldn’t pay anyone – I simply asked her if she was paying herself? No, of course not. “We are in this together”. These businesses closing is not a reflection of their business. It’s not a reflection of their planning. It’s not a reflection of anything other than a pandemic – that has come on the back of a long drought, and a devastating bushfire season. We are in this together.

Once I started reassuring people that we would find a way, I actually started to believe it myself. And that’s what I’m wanting to share with people who have just started to go through it or have it still ahead – slow down, as it’s only when you do that you can see a path in this. So now, I have looked for opportunities I would never have looked at before and do you know what? I’m actually kind of excited. If it wasn’t for the no money bit, it would actually be very exciting. The reality is, it’s going to be tough. But so you are, and we have to stay positive and find the things that do help us to stay okay when it can feel like it’s all falling apart.

And, while no one, not one single person would ever wish a pandemic as insidious as this horrendous bloody COVID-19 on the world, I am starting to find some good things again – the environment is being given a tiny reprieve, our home based lifestyles can have us reconnecting, our support of each other can remind us of what’s really important – and that’s love. Plain and simple. Love for self, love for each other, love for family and love for humanity.

Keep fighting Melbourne, love each other, slow down and maybe, just maybe, there will be a rose to smell •


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