52: We Need Each Other

December 10, 2020

This year…what can we say? We’ve all had ups and downs this year, and this week we hear your losses of 2020.

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Audio Length: 53:37 minutes 

Joy: Hey guys. This is Joy.

Claire: And this is Claire.

Joy: And this is Joy & Claire.

Claire: Hello.

Joy: We’re in the second week of December already. 

Claire: How? How?

Joy: Time happens.

Claire: I know, it’s amazing, every time. Every year happens the same. We were talking last night about our garden. For those of you who don’t know, I live in this very standard, kind of 1970’s suburban ranch-style home. We’re on a corner lot, and the corner chunk of grass we took out a couple of years ago and put in mounded row beds for gardens. Mounded bed is just literally what it sounds like, just a pile of dirt. We don’t have boxes out there. And it’s a pretty good amount of space. It’s about 30 feet wide by about maybe 80 or 100 feet deep. Over the last couple of years, the mounded beds have sort of spread. The dirt doesn’t stay in its little line, and then we bring in some new dirt. So we have weed cloth down, but the dirt that has escaped from the mounded beds has created its own new ecosystem. We have so much bindweed. Like, Colorado bindweed is so, so, so, so, so, so pervasive.

Joy: What does that look like again? It’s hard to describe a plant but…

Claire: It looks cute.

Joy: Is it that light… is it kind of dainty looking? Because we have a shit ton of that too.

Claire: Yes, dainty looking vine, small vine, and it has little white or light purple flowers. 

Joy: Yes, we have that too, it drives me crazy.

Claire: It almost looks like morning glory, if you’re like, “Oh, this is so beautiful.” 

Joy: So pretty.

Claire: It’s like, “Get out of my way!” And it will choke out. You can’t get rid of it. It’s impossible to get rid of.

Joy: Impossible.

Claire: It’s like the roots – and I know the name for this, it’s just not coming to me – where one plant has multiple root system point, multiple anchor points. And so you could pull up a 10-foot-long piece of bindweed and never get the main root. 

Joy: It’s like the glitter of plant life.

Claire: Oh, it’s the worst.

Joy: Get rid of it.

Claire: It will just take over. Anyway, the point of the story. We were thinking about, like, oh, we really wanted to put in raised beds because that will help contain everything and help us keep in front of the weeding a little bit. And we were like, well maybe we don’t have to worry about it until January. It’s like, oh my gosh, it’s mid-December practically. January is not this far-off land. We need to come up for a plan for this. What’s the plan for this?

Joy: What is the plan for this?

Claire: I don’t know. 

Joy: How was your taco date?

Claire: Oh, it was great. Last night I hung out with a friend who she used to be one of Brandon’s coworkers. And then we serendipitously moved in literally next door to her in the apartments we lived in in Golden. It was right when Miles was born that we lived there. 

Joy: Totally remember that. By the way, when you posted that picture of Miles the other day. I think, I don’t know, he was brand new –

Claire: He was little, yeah. Like two months old.

Joy: And I just remember going over to that apartment when you had Miles, and I have that specific memory of sitting with you and your mom was there.

Claire: That apartment was not a place to have a new baby. That place, it was like living in a dog kennel. Like every time you make any noise, like every single dog in every single apartment would start barking, which made all the other dogs start barking. It was terrible. But anyway, so this friend, we’d been friends for a while and she and her husband had moved to Memphis for a couple of years for his job and they just moved back like a month and a half ago. And between COVID and moving, we hadn’t had our chance to really get together yet. And so we went out to tacos last night and sat outside. And actually, the taco restaurant we went to is in Longmont called Jefe’s, and we didn’t realize this until we got there that they actually weren’t even doing outdoor dining. They were only doing takeout. But they had the tables set up as if they were doing outdoor dining. They had the heaters and everything. They were like, “Yeah, we just couldn’t maintain the staff to do full outdoor dining. There’s only five tables out there. It wasn’t worth it, so we’re only doing takeout.” And they’re like, “But if you want to, you can just order takeout and just eat it at the table. We’re not going to ask you to leave if you want to sit out there.” So we kind of did this like, we’re eating here but we’re not really eating here. But it felt like I was going to prom. I blow dried my hair. As I was leaving, Brandon and the kids came and waved goodbye to me from the yard as if I was a ship across the ocean. That’s how infrequently I leave my house guys. And I hope that’s how infrequently you also leave the house.

Joy: Seriously, yeah. But to get ready and go somewhere feels like a big treat. Well, for me, that’s not work. 

Claire: Right. I mean, I don’t even get ready and go to work. Leaving the house for something that wasn’t an errand. The last time I left the house for something that wasn’t an errand, sometimes I go on walks with my friend Heather. Hi, Heather.

Joy: Hi, Heather.

Claire: She listens to the podcast. But like, I haven’t really gone to the gym in a really long time because –

Joy: Oh yeah, I was going to ask you about that. What’s the gym situation? Because you’re still tied to Roots.

Claire: Yeah, we still have our Roots membership. Actually Brandon ended up getting a membership in September that he has practically never used. I feel like he used it a little bit in September and October, and then in November – because Brandon and Miles visited Brandon’s family in Wisconsin. Brandon’s family just had some stuff going on where Brandon felt like he really needed to go out there and kind of assess some things. So we completely locked down our family for the ten days before they left. And then I obviously didn’t go anywhere while they were gone because I was taking care of Evie by myself, obviously with Maxine’s help while I was working. But didn’t go anywhere while he was gone. And then when they got back we locked down again for another two weeks in case they had brought anything back with them. So for the whole month of November we didn’t go anywhere at all, and I didn’t feel like I could go to the gym and that point. Just not knowing the exposure. And now, all of the sudden it’s December. So I haven’t been to the gym in a while because we were effectively locked down for all of November in preparation and then reaction to Brandon and Miles having gone to Wisconsin. So haven’t been working out, which is also the worst. How was your workout? You worked out yesterday, didn’t you? No, today, you’re going today right after this.

Joy: Yeah, I’m going right after we record here. So it was funny because last week when we talked about it, I was like, “I think I’m getting back into barbells.” I was just kind of tossing it around. Well, I just kind of hit this windstorm of motivation last Wednesday. I think it was right after my appointment with my naturopath, which was just amazing by the way. It was really cool. I’ll tell you about that in a second. But I contacted the gym owner. I was like, “Hey, here’s what’s going on with me.” I think I said it last week. I, for my personal you, just had to tell him what was going on with me, that I’m not going to be going in crushing WODs. I really am kind of a little baby bird starting over. And so I went to the gym. I stopped by. He was like, “Why don’t you just come over and let’s talk?” Because he’s like, “It’s easier to talk in person.” So I went over to the gym on Thursday morning, and I just kind of told him what was going on with me. He’s like, “Yeah, let’s just set you up with some open gym time and maybe do some barbell club.” They have a barbell club on Tuesdays and Thursday’s nights. Which is really cool because TJ teaches that. 

Claire: Oh, throwback.

Joy: Yeah, throwback. I was like, I haven’t seen TJ in forever.

Claire: Not to be confused with your dog JT.

Joy: Exactly. But TJ also used to live right around the corner from me, and they have since moved, so it’s just been this total disconnect where I look back at this whole year and I’m just like, wow, I just kind of plucked myself from my routine. I mean, everyone can relate to that obviously. But especially CrossFit being such a routine for me, and all of the sudden I was just like, “Done.” Gone. And then everything that happened with CrossFit this year just kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. That kind of reinforced my decision to not go back.

Claire: Your saltiness about it.

Joy: Right. And I think someone mentioned this a long time ago where it was like, “Why are you taking it out on your gym? You should be supporting local businesses.” That’s not it at all. First of all, my schedule was crazy. Blah, blah, blah. It kind of was just thing where I didn’t think twice about it, and then after all this year and then my health issues, I felt so good walking into that gym. The second I walked in, Coach Mike was there. Which if you guys don’t remember us talking about Coach Mike –

Claire: We had him on the podcast.

Joy: Yeah, like really early Girls Gone WOD days, and he’s just one of our favorite people. He’s such a good person. And I walked in, and Coach Mike was right there. I don’t think he recognized me because he probably didn’t expect me to be walking into the gym and then everyone has a mask on. And he’s probably like, “Oh, who’s that girl with no muscles? It can’t be Joy.” 

Claire: Oh, give me a break.

Joy: I’m just kidding. But he definitely was like, “Who is that?” And then after he realized it was me, he was like, “Oh my gosh.” So it was really good to see Coach Mike. It felt so good to sit in that gym and kind of see –

Claire: Yeah, like go back to it.

Joy: Yeah, and just kind of see, all the time you spent in that gym. So anyway, I’m going to start doing some open gym and light barbell work, and I’m going in this morning. I’m really excited about it because…

Claire: Yeah, that’s exciting.

Joy: I just miss picking up a barbell. 

Claire: Coach Mike, for those of you who are like, “I feel like I remember Coach Mike,” Coach Mike is the one who told me, “Claire, you’re going to get a muscle up today” when I didn’t even have pull ups or ring dips because he just believed in me so much.

Joy: Remember I think one of his answers was, “Just pull harder.”

Claire: Yeah, “Mike, how can I get better at weight lifting?” “Just pull harder.” That was like deadlifting. I couldn’t get my deadlift, and he was like, “Just puller harder.” Oh okay, thank you, thank you for that. You’re not wrong. 

Joy: The best. And he loves CrossFit. 

Claire: Loves it so much.

Joy: So excited about it. So that’s really a good step. It felt so good. I just, I don’t know, I just had this wave of positivity on Thursday and Friday that I was just like something feels good. I feel like taking these two weeks off has been really good for my health, my mental health. And getting back in not only just the gym and picking up a barbell, but just being around people. Obviously in a safe way. The gym’s following all the protocol, and you’re taking somewhat of a risk even just stepping into a gym, stepping into any type of public facility. But we always have to weigh the pros and cons of your health, your mental health, and the risks of spreading COVID to someone else. That’s always in the back of my mind of course, so we do everything that we can. I’m not going to be stupid. I’m not going to be standing right next to someone. I’m not going to be not wiping down my equipment.

Claire: We dropped our car off to get some work done at a mechanic that’s literally next door, like the true next door over, from a different gym in Longmont, across a gym in Longmont. And there was a class going on when we dropped it off, and not a mask. Which is illegal, technically, for them to be doing that. But I was shocked. Come on guys. Not a mask. Still happening.

Joy: In a gym.

Claire: In a gym, indoors, completely closed, with probably 10 people in there working out hard. I hope that nothing bad happens. 

Joy: Because here’s the thing, we’ve seen that graphic where it’s like the bubble you think you have is a small circle. But the bubble you actually have is a really big circle because you don’t think about how – I know, this is stating the obvious. But going from that gym with no mask going to your family who they have interreacted with so many people, you’ve interacted with so many people.

Claire: Well, and everybody I think thinks, “Well, I’m only seeing two or three people.” Well if everyone is only seeing two or three people, your two or three people have to be the same two or three people. We’re preaching to the choir here, we know we’ve talked about this a million times. 

Joy: You know what I just thought of? It’s like – I was hesitant to say this, but I have to say it. If you have sex with someone, you’re having sex with every single person that they’ve had sex with.

Claire: Yeah, that’s such a 90’s or 80’s health teacher.

Joy: It totally is. Alright. So, that was good. 

Claire: Need anything… snacks, condoms?

Joy: That’s my story. Getting back into the gym, getting some muscle back hopefully. 

Claire: Love it.

Joy: That’s the other thing I’m kind of scared of is what if my muscles don’t come back? What I lift weights and my muscles aren’t going to get bigger again?

Claire: I mean, you know, biologically that’s unlikely. Just based on science.

Joy: This is true.

Claire: So, you know, similar to the way that your homeopathic doctor was like, “Joy, you’re not going to be the only person that this doesn’t work for,” I think I should probably speak to that here. It’s unlikely, based on what we know about you, your body type, your past experiences, and the science of weight lifting that your muscles will not come back. It’s unlikely. I’m not going to say it’s impossible.

Joy: I know, I just think the fear is, what if this diagnosis prevents me from putting on muscle, and that’s kind of silly. I actually don’t know the answer to that. But in my head, I’m like, you know what, it’s…

Claire: Yeah. But I don’t think that there’s anything that’s a part of this that, yeah, it’s probably not going to be the same as it ever was for a variety of reasons. But I don’t think you’re just going to waste away with no muscles. Okay, so last week we asked you guys for some voice memos, and we’re going to start with them because we feel like they are a little bit heavy and we want to give ourselves time to actually listen to them and not feel like we’re rushing through them. And also, so give us some time to then talk about some other things at the end of the podcast so that we don’t end on such a heavy note. But mostly because we want to be able to have some space for these voice memos the way that we said that we would. So the question for last week was, what is something that you lost this year? And share with us what it was and what it meant to you. Let us just kind of hold a moment for that thing for you. And whether you’re doing this out of a catharsis, get it out there so you can move on, or whether you’re doing this as a moment to honor something that was really important to you that you no longer have that you can share with this community and now we can all carry that with us and help you carry that. So we received some really beautiful voice memos.

Joy: And emails.

Claire: And emails. Thank you to everyone. I know this was a really vulnerable question to ask. So let’s get started. 

Joy: Alright. I’m going to start with an email from Kelly. She says, “Hi Joy and Claire. I am a registered dietician from Knoxville, Tennessee, and I work in a small community hospital. The biggest thing I’ve lost this year is my peace of mind when working with my nursing home residents. They haven’t been able to see their family members for the majority of the year and on and off have not even been able to leave their rooms to see any other residents when we have to quarantine for positive cases internally. To watch their mental health decline to rapidly and their dementia accelerate for the lack of social connection, human connection, and inability to anchor themselves in time has been heartbreaking and something we have to consider with everything that we do now regarding their care. I really miss just caring for them and walking them through their dementia journeys at a normal pace. I would love for you to hold space for these people, their families, but also us healthcare workers who are the ones that have to hold witness to these individual’s lives for the past year because their families and friends are not able to. Love the show and the freedom to express this hardship I’ve been through. I couldn’t put it in a voice memo because I’d become too emotional. Kelly.” Kelly, thank you. I think about that all the time, about the people who are working in the hospitals or in these healthcare centers witnessing patients struggling with this. Or even healthcare workers who are holding their hand when they pass away because their family can’t be there. Those are the things that I think about all the time. It just breaks my heart.

Claire: Oh yeah. Those are the moments that have kept me up at night this whole year. To think that that’s, like that was what kept me up at night in March and April when Brandon was on the COVID floor before we really knew anything about it. All we knew was that if somebody passed away from this they die alone basically. Now that’s not necessarily no longer the case. I mean, I can’t speak to every single hospital policy, but I know that some will let their family in towards the end if they know it’s the end. I think in this situation that she’s describing, it’s not just for COVID but for people who have dementia and now those healthcare workers and those caretakers at the facility have that huge burden of being there for them throughout that whole thing and feeling responsible for that entire process and seeing them through that entire process that sounds really heavy. So thank you so much for sharing that with us. We are thinking about you, and we are thinking about all of those people who are going through that. They’re really lucky to have you, but I know that that doesn’t make the load any less heavy for me to say that.

Joy: Yeah, for sure. Thank you, Kelly. This is from Katie.

Katie [recording]: I just want to thank you, first and foremost, for holding space for all of us to share these tough parts of the year. I actually have two if that’s okay to share. The first one kind of comes with a trigger warning. But I lose my 21-year-old cousin to suicide in April. And as everyone who has lost loved ones during this year knows, it really sucks to not be able to be with your family and to mourn together and to lean on each other. And figuring out how to do that when you’re alone, I was just so grateful to have my dog around. He really got me through. And the other one is unknowingly I was living in a house that had toxic mold, and it had been slowly making me sicker and sicker. I was losing all of my energy, and the brain fog was crazy, and just this huge list of symptoms. I finally figured it out thankfully, but I’m on this long road of recovery and healing. I had to get rid of everything that I own, and it’s also a really expensive journey. This is not really the year where there’s all those extra funds hanging around. So it’s just been a lot. I appreciate you guys holding space, so thank you.

Joy: Oh, that’s so hard. I think it goes without saying that everything this year that happens that feels very negative or that’s covered in grief is a million times harder because of everything else that we’re dealing with.

Claire: Yeah. And I know I talked a little bit about that with my grandma passing that the hardest part about it was just not being able to go through the normal rituals of what you do when you gather with your family and can have that closure. Whether if you’ve lost someone it’s been due to COVID or to anything this year. And I think in a way those kind of… I don’t want to say “normal” because I think losing someone never feels normal. But those things that happen that are part of the course of life. And of course, losing someone to suicide doesn’t really fall into that category either. But you haven’t been able to have those normal rituals of closure and rituals of passing, and that’s made it so much harder. Those sorts of losses are already so hard to process. But then when you don’t have any of the things that your brain searches for to go through.

Joy: It’s kind of like that ritual that Casper talks about of the things we anchor ourselves to feel whole, to feel like we have some type of circles of completion, the things that we’ve done throughout the years. And to not have that, especially for something that’s really, really difficult I think it’s just really sad. You know, it just made me think also, working in mental health, and I know a lot of people have kind of – I think with the post that you shared yesterday. You can talk more about that in a second, of just having a family member who works in healthcare is really, really hard. And a lot of people I saw just kind of mentioning working in mental health or working as a social worker. Mental health, I think there’s an extra layer to that too just because it isn’t physical health. But watching people really struggle. Like depression or any type of eating disorders, anything that thrives in isolation, this year has been so, so difficult. So I know what suicidality is high and people struggling with suicidal ideation. If someone in your life, if you feel like they’re struggling, just please reach out to them. Check in with people you know maybe have a history with that.

Claire: As always guys, you can always, always, always email us at thisisjoyandclaire@gmail.com. As a reminder, Joy is a licensed mental health therapist, and we can – obviously she can’t provide you with mental health services via email, but we are always ready to send you the resources –

Joy: Point you in the right direction.

Claire: Point you in the right direction. And Joy knows all the places to point you.

Joy: Yes, I’m happy to do that. This next one is from Sarah. She says, “My maybe slightly small COVID loss described in an exactly one-minute voice memo.” I know this was a really hard one to put in a minute, so we thank you guys. But this one’s from Sarah.

Sarah [recording]: So I’m a really huge NBA fan and a huge Houston Rockets fan. I’ve got season tickets for the Rockets and have just been wanting to go see an away game for years and years and haven’t been able to do it. So I finally decided that over spring break I was going to go to LA by myself as my first post-divorce solo trip to go see the Rockets and the Lakers play at STAPLES Center. And I was so excited. I got there a few days early, got to do a couple other things. Got to see The Price is Right, got to see James Corden, all kinds of stuff. But the game was on Thursday and they suspended the NBA season on Wednesday. So I was really thankful I got to do a lot of the other stuff, but that being the highlight of my trip and something that I looked forward to for so long. That was, you know, it seemed kind of petty but it was hard. And then of course coming back after spring break to all this virtual and remote learning that we’re still all dealing with. Alright, thanks Joy and Claire. Love y’all.

Joy: That sucks.

Claire: I’m grateful for that one too because I think the first two that we heard are really, really heavy, like very intense life pondering sorts of things. And those are of course very important. And also, I think that a lot of times people this year have done that comparative suffering of, well, you know, I’m not dealing with loss of life therefore what I’m going through isn’t valid. And you know those moments that are important to us that we missed out on this year, it’s just been so compounding that I think those are very important too to recognize. Like man I had this thing I was looking forward to so much and I didn’t get to do it and it got cancelled the night before. Brandon and I back in March had tickets to go see Iliza Shlesinger on his birthday. I had bought the tickets six months previously. I got them on a pre-sale. We had these amazing seats. And it literally got cancelled, it was like March 13th we were supposed to go. It got cancelled that day. And I still think that would have been so fun.

Joy: Like we had Mean Girls tickets. I had Lion King tickets for my mom and I to go. Scott and I were going to go to New York City this September to see a show on Broadway, and we were just really, really excited for that. And I’m so bummed. So last episode’s discussion about what we would do in 2021 and seeing somewhat of a light at the end of the tunnel really made me be like, oh my God, I can start fantasizing about places I want to go and trips I want to take.

Claire: I know. I was looking at real estate in Maui last night, and not that that’s going to be what I do, but I was like, “I got to look.”

Joy: Isn’t Zillow just a fun pass time to browse through?

Claire: Oh my gosh. It is, and it isn’t. This could be my life, but –

Joy: I know, I look at some of those houses and I’m like, who lives here?

Claire: I know. I’m like, this could be my life, but it actually definitely could not because in no version of my future will I own a 20-million-dollar beachfront home in Hawaii. It’s just not going to happen.

Joy: Oh my God, when I lived in San Diego for a hot minute, I lived on Mission Beach and there was this almost like a boardwalk but more inland that they had these beautiful, beautiful houses. And I’d run on the bay, and the houses were so beautiful, and they all had open windows because you want the views. All the windows were huge, and you could see inside. And I remember just looking in there, and I would always fantasize like, “Oh, I would love to have a house like that someday.”

Claire: Yeah, I got to win the lottery, but it can happen. Someone wins the lottery.

Joy: Someone does, and it could be me. Yeah, it’s so fun to kind of fantasize about what your life could be like if you lived in a huge house like that.

Claire: Seriously.

Joy: Okay, this is from – I’m just going to read this. It’s one of the voice memos we got, but she said it’s from Ashley. And she just mentioned that they booked a venue because she had her first daughter in June and they had the venue booked out and they had to cancel it because of COVID. Things like that are so real. You have events.

Claire: The venue for what?

Joy: Baby shower.

Claire: Oh, baby shower.

Joy: Yeah, she’s having her first baby shower. And so that got cancelled. So I feel like that kind of goes along with people whose weddings had to be, like one of my friend’s weddings had to be postponed. Or she chose to postpone it because obviously she’s not going to make people sit in the crowd while they get married.

Claire: And I think other people had Zoom weddings, which I think was cute too.

Joy: I think it’s cute.

Claire: I definitely know a good amount of people who had the Zoom wedding. And that was special in its own way too.

Joy: This next one is from Brooke. And I love you guys so much. The title says, “Voice memo from NEW ZEALAND” in all caps. “Hey lovelies, sending in my voice memo for what you missed/had taken with 2020 all the way from New Zealand. Fun fact, any time a Kiwi reaches out we always like to point out how far away we are or how small our country is, haha.” [laughing] “Love you both and hope you’re keeping safe and well. Watch out, Christmas is just around the corner.” Okay, here we go. Brooke.

Brooke [recording]: Hi Joy and Claire, this is Brooke from New Zealand. Just calling in about what happened to you in 2020. I had a four-week trip around Europe planned with my fiancé. It was supposed to be our last big hurrah before we got married, settled, had kids. And due to COVID we couldn’t go. New Zealand is pretty shut off from the rest of the world at the moment, so there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to get there. What that means from me is that I’m worried in a few years I’m going to feel like I missed something that we saved so long for and was supposed to be before that next stage in our lives. So trying to look on the bright side of life. We’re getting married next year, and all should be good. Hope you’re keeping safe and well. Lots of love.

Joy: Oh, a big travel – that just sucks so bad, cancelling a four-week awesome trip.

Claire: Yeah. I like how she kind of put it in a context too of it’s not just about the trip. it’s about this was supposed to be this moment in our lives that got us ready for what was coming next, and now we don’t have that anymore. Am I always going to look back on this and regret? I think that’s the thing too about knowing that collectively we all are going to have this year of like, we’re all going to look back and be like we couldn’t because 2020. And then 2020 happened. It will be forever this collective event that happened to all of us that will always have this gap of what did you miss out on, what did you lose that year. Because everyone will have something. And I think that also speaks to why we wanted to ask this question this week. To know that this will be this unifying question in a lot of ways for all of us forever. What happened to you in 2020? What did you lose? What did you miss out on? Because everyone has something, if not many things. It’s sort of like, “Where were you on 9/11?” That’s the question you ask now. And everyone, the whole global community, has an answer to that. And now this is the next version of that.

Joy: We’ll always remember the night before we knew that the world was shutting down.

Claire: Right, what was the last thing you did –

Joy: Like, I always talk about Middleditch and Schwartz. I remember that was the last night out I had. I mean, I remember sitting in that venue being like this is weird, I wonder what’s going to happen. We knew something was coming. Not to that extent at all. But I just remember being like this is weird, what’s going to happen. Walking in a huge crowd outside of the venue. I’ll always remember that. I feel like this year, we can talk so much in clichés and how hard it’s been. But I was thinking the other day too about jobs and how much job loss has happened. If people want to share about that, you don’t have to in a voice memo per se, but what’s your situation with your job and job loss. How grateful I am to work in healthcare, but it’s also weird because healthcare’s a hot spot right now. But also being like, my work life hasn’t changed at all because of working in healthcare. I’ve gone to work every single day ever since the shutdown. Yeah, it’s kind of a weird thing to think about. This one is from Claire. She says, “Thank you for giving us space to acknowledge things we’ve lost this year. I know I’m over a minute and I won’t feel bad if you aren’t able to play it. I know so many of your community are struggling this year. I just really needed to get that out. We spend so much time just trying to be strong and put on a brave face and look for any positive in the moment, but really sometimes we just need a good cry. Thank you so much for the prompt”

Claire [recording]: Hi Joy and Claire. This is Claire calling from Australia. I’m just going to blast through this one really quickly because I don’t think I can do it without crying. This year I feel like I’ve lost my family. I immigrated to Australia by myself four years ago, and at the time my family was so supportive. They all used to say if anything happens, we can be there in 24 hours or less. And in 2018, I had a really bad cycling accident, and my dad was here within days of it happening. And the world just felt so small. And I feel like this year the world feels so big, and everyone just feels so far away. Australia’s borders are still shut. I had my son in May, and he hasn’t met his grandparents yet, and he’s now six months, and it breaks my heart. Because they won’t know him when he’s this little. And I know that he isn’t capable of making memories yet, but they are. And it just breaks my heart that they won’t know him. When is this year going to end? I guess I’m just sad because the borders are still shut and there’s no indication of when they’ll open again. At this point, it just feels like I’m never going to see them again because there’s not a date. And people say things like, “At least you have FaceTime” and “You’ve got Skype.” Yeah, we still do, but every time someone says that to me, it just breaks my heart. I just can’t wait for a little bit of normal travel to open up again so that I can see my family again.

Joy: Zoom does not replace in-person. I get why people are like, “At least we have Zoom.” Yeah, that’s definitely amazing. Back in the 80’s and 90’s we would not have that option. It really doesn’t replace – it’s not the same.

Claire: Especially with babies. Just that experience of physically being with a baby is so different. We had a little bit of that this year where, you know, Evie’s now been in lockdown for pretty much half her life, and Brandon’s family hasn’t seen her since January. Even though technically physically we could get there or they could get here, it just hasn’t felt like something that was safe for us to do. Yeah, it is hard because she was saying, they won’t have those memories. The kids won’t remember, but the family will, and that’s so true. 

Joy: Sending you lots of love, Claire. I keep forgetting that Australia’s borders are shut down and no one can go in or go out. 

Claire: Because we’re not people who do a lot of international travel, I don’t think about that a lot. Yeah, the borders are closed, that’s what needs to happen. And then you don’t think about the people who live very far away from their families.

Joy: We’re thinking of you Claire. This is from our lovely Mira. It’s an email. Hi, Mira. “Hi Joy and Claire. I just finished listening to the podcast. Thanks for also creating space for those of us who have experienced loss this year. I wanted to answer the question, but I can’t send a voice message because I know that I wouldn’t be able to without crying. So I’m writing instead.” Hey guys, as a mental health therapist, I just want to normalize crying. I know people don’t like to cry or others hear them cry, but we all cry, and it’s fine. I also honor people who just want to send an email. “What I’m mourning is that this is the first year that I’ll be spending Christmas away from my family. There have been years here and there where one person will be away, but this is the first time where I haven’t been with at least a parent. The whole year I’ve been super homesick and not getting to see anyone close to me has been very hard. My goddaughter was also born in January, and it has killed me not getting the chance this summer to meet and get to know her. My light at the end of the tunnel is June. I handed in my notice a month ago and will be leaving my job in Japan, mostly because being this far without the certainty of getting to travel in and out of the country is not worth it to me. I’m looking for jobs back in Europe where my friends are and where I’ll at least be in a similar time zone and closer to my parents in Uganda. So here’s hoping next year’s a better one. Love, Mira.” Congrats Mira though for taking that step to be like, hey, I want to set myself up for being able to surround myself with my friends and being closer to my family. On the other hand, I’m sorry because I’m sure you enjoyed your job there and living in Japan. And I know Mira’s also a world traveler, but I hope that this move is a good one for you Mira, and we love you.

Claire: Just got my coffee delivery.

Joy: Alright. In the famous mug that everyone always talks about.

Claire: In the famous mug. One thing that I’ve seen a lot this year too is people who, kind of on this theme of being away from your family, have moved back to be – especially within the States, if they’re living on one side of the country they’ve moved back to be closer to their family. I think a lot of that is also around, I’m working remote and my boss has said I might be working remote for a long time, so why wouldn’t I move. But also to say this has made me realize maybe that support isn’t just make a call and we’ll be there as I thought it was. This is obviously a situation that none of us could ever have foreseen or expected, to think that that type of access wouldn’t always be available to us. I personally know a lot of people who were living in Colorado who I worked with who maybe had family back east, and they all moved back to be closer to their families. Because they’re like, this has made me realize that I need that access to my family. I never imagined a world where just being a four-hour flight away would feel so prohibitive, but here we are, and I don’t like it.

Joy: Yeah, exactly. Before we do our last voice memo, let’s take a quick break to talk about this week’s sponsor. Guess who? It’s BluBlox. Have you done your Christmas shopping or holiday shopping yet? If you haven’t, consider supporting the podcast by supporting BluBlox, blublox.com. The discount code is JOY. They have amazing glasses for blue light blocking for the computer. You can get the Sleep+ which is something that will really, really calm you down at night. Have you experiencing wonderful, wonderful sleep. We all are starting at screens. We’re all experiencing all this added stress from looking at our phones and screens. A lot more this year. Maybe you want to give someone a gift this year. You can support the podcast. Again, it’s blublox.com. The discount code is JOY. Alright, one more voice memo, and then we’re going to wrap it up. This one is from Nina. She says, “I could have gone on for 20 minutes about how scary this year has been as a musician. I condensed it to a minute. I love your podcast so much and look forward to it every single week.”

Nina [recording]: Hi there, my name is Nina. I’m a classical musician. I play the double base. 2020 has been really rough for classical musicians everywhere. No one is playing live concerts. The future of classical music is uncertain, all of that. For me, this was supposed to be a really exciting year because I was moving to Baltimore to join the Baltimore Symphony after playing with the Oregon Symphony for five years. What I’m grieving is the loss of the last concert I was supposed to play with Oregon Symphony. I was supposed to have a few more months of rehearsals and concerts and going out with my friends after. And when I look across the stage in Baltimore, I’m so happy and I feel so fortunate that we are able to at least be recording some concerts, but I just miss looking across the stage and seeing my friends and I wish I had had the last few weeks of rehearsals and concerts to have some closure on that. But anyway, 2020 has been rough. I’m thinking of everyone. Hang in there. 

Joy: Hang in there. That is the motto of 2020.

Claire: I’ve been thinking of that type of thing too for high school seniors and anybody who was supposed to go through a transitional rite of passage in 2020 and now they were just sort of shoved into this next phase of life. Even if it’s a positive phase that you didn’t have closure on that previous phase. Again, that kind of goes back to what we were talking about with those rituals where you’re used to having this rite of passage to move through your life and to go from one phase to another. And if you don’t have that, there’s no closure. It just feels open, no closure.

Joy: Yeah, yeah. When everything opens back up again, listeners please, please rush to support musicians, artists, Broadway shows, plays, etcetera. Buy some tickets because I think that that’s one of the many professions that really are going to need our support when this opens back up again. So if you’re not a Broadway fan, become one. That’s your 2021 New Year’s resolution.

Claire: Maybe 2022.

Joy: Maybe 2022, you’re welcome.

Claire: So thank you guys so much for sending those in. We got a lot of voice memos and a lot of emails. We picked these ones. We feel like they kind of encompassed some major topics that we heard, and it has been a tough year. If you are not someone who sent one in, thank you for just listening. I kind of hate the phrase “holding space” because I feel like it’s so woo woo. Like, you guys know, it’s not me. But I think that that’s really what we’re trying to do here is to spread out the load a little bit. And just by knowing that your grievance and your story and your thing is out there, it can kind of help it feel a little bit lighter and know that other people are listening and know that other people are thinking of you and holding that in their hearts for you. 

Joy: And relating. Sharing your story really helps others because you know there are a lot of people who are going through something similar.

Claire: So thank you and we really, really don’t take for granted the vulnerability that you guys show us every week when you send in these voice memos and especially this week.

Joy: Alright, I’m going to read a quick email from Ash because we love Ash. I think Ash wrote or sent a voice memo a few months ago, and we’re like, we want to be best friends with Ash. I believe she’s in Austin if I’m remembering that correctly. I don’t know, Ash, I’m sorry if I’m totally messing that up, but she wrote a great email. It says, “Joy and Claire, I’ve written to you all a few times in the past, but I’ve switched emails since then. This is Ash, the cream of mushroom soup confessor.” That’s right. She loves cream of mushroom soup, and she’s like “I’m not afraid to say it.” “Joy, I wanted to thank you personally for being open on the podcast about seeking out your doctor’s advice about your recent health concerns. I imagine that’s a tricky line to walk of what you share about your personal self. I selfishly am very glad you did. You sharing that, particularly about acknowledging that something just wasn’t right gave me that tiny amount of space that I needed to consider that some concerns I’ve sort of been downplaying for a few months now weren’t actually something I needed to grit and bear. Without being too specific, I am a person on a medication who needs to have my bloodwork checked every couple of months. Not dire, but certainly necessary to be sure I’m good to go. In March, we had a tornado here in Nashville” – oops, sorry, Nashville – “that caused a lot of damage, and COVID really took off about two weeks later. My PCP’s office has been kind of scrambling ever since. Long story short, I reached out to my PCP and learned I was way overdue for labs, and they just never alerted me. And I was reminded that you have to look out for yourself. I love my PCP’s office. I’ve never had care I wasn’t happy with. And stuff falls through the cracks, and I’m the one who has to live in this brain and this body. Long story short, I got my labs run and actually learned that my levels for other things were off. Actually weirdly similar to your journey. I’m not as far along into figuring out what it is, so I don’t know exactly the culprit, but I’m already grateful for checking just to have the validation for, oh I’m not supposed to be this anxious or this tired or losing this much weight not on purpose or have these big swings of mood. And no, stress doesn’t typically take your sense of taste away. And no, you don’t have COVID, you’ve gotten tested multiple times. You should ask someone about that.” Like passing this off on stress or anxiety, right? “It’s not just stress about 2020 as the dumpster fire that it is or the election or COVID. It’s not supposed to feel this way and I deserve to feel better. So thank you truly. I have felt like such shit, and that feels so, so good to acknowledge and I guess was just going to live that way until who knows. What a radical idea if feels like that we are allowed to want to feel better. Peace and love. Grateful for your impact and wisdom. Ash.” Thank you, Ash. Big hug from afar. So if you’re feeling like, look, this year really is a dumpster fire. You may have a lot of anxiety. You may have a lot of feels of, I’m just exhausted. But if you know your body and you’re like I maybe just want to check, it doesn’t hurt to just check. Don’t be that person like I was where I was like, “I don’t’ want to waste my doctor’s time.” There’s nothing wrong with just going in, getting the answers, and like my doctor even said when I first got my blood test, she was like, “Let’s just see to give you a peace of mind.” Let’s just do an x-ray, just to give you a peace of mind. Let’s have the data to give you peace of mind. Now granted, my results were not what we thought they would be.

Claire: Right, it was a little more than peace of mind.

Joy: Right. But then we had to move forward and we got a plan. Thank God I did that because if I would have waited, I feel like this really could impact my help if I had waited much longer. So just a little lesson for y’all.

Claire: Amazing, thank you. I even have been like, okay, well I’m going to go – I don’t have a PCP that, I mean I have a PCP but it’s not someone that I see regularly. And this was, you know Claire, set up a new PCP. Find someone in your area. You need to have – just those little things that you put off and then when you do have some health problem, they’re like, “Oh well, our next new patient appointment is 90 days from now.”

Joy: Right.

Claire: It’s like those little things. I think this year we have all been told so many times, “Don’t stress out the system” To the point where –

Joy: Like the medical system.

Claire: The medical system. Where the death rates for heart attacks and strokes are way up because people aren’t going in for warning signs before times. If you had had chest pain, you would go in just to get it checked out. People aren’t doing that this year, and so they’re waiting until they collapse from a heart attack. And when they could have gone in a week ago for chest pain and had a cath lab procedure, now it’s too late. And that’s a very extreme example, but I feel like we are all doing that to some degree this year because we feel like the medical resources aren’t there. But you know what, if your family PCP office, they are and that’s what they’re there for. I know I’ve really been telling myself that a lot. “Oh I don’t want to use up the resources.” It’s like, no the family office resources, that’s what they’re there for.

Joy: That’s what they’re there for. You’re not going into an ER for –

Claire: And even if I were, the ER, it’s tough. And you know right now, Brandon work – as you guys all know, Brandon’s a nurse, works in a hospital. And he is in a very unique situation with just based on the timing of his experience. He’s able to work in his job in the OR, but then also is able to regularly float onto the COVID floor without needing any additional training. Because he had been in the OR for not that long, like less than a year when COVID started. So he’s been bouncing back and forth all year. They’re almost at capacity, and his hospital is considered one of the overflow hospitals. There was at the same time, a lot of times he’s working on the unit, and the patients that he does have aren’t necessarily COVID patients all the time because those sick people are still there and they still need to be taken care of. And that’s a whole other podcast topic. Alright, so we did spend quite a lot of time on voice memos, but I want to talk a little bit quickly and completely shift gears to talk about your hair cut.

Joy and Claire: [laughing]

Claire: Because you got this new haircut but also you talked about how it felt very cathartic.

Joy: It felt very cathartic. Well this is another thing. So we’re recording this on Sunday. But so this last Thursday was a moment of, “I need to do something.” Like I had this wave of motivation, so went into the gym. That felt good, and then Wednesday night I was lying in bed and I just had this claustrophobic feeling of I need to cut my hair off. And this is always how it happens, right? I just hit this point of I am so sick of washing my hair. I hate washing long hair. Short hair’s easier to wash. I was like sick of just putting it in a pony tail all the time, sick of, you know whatever. So I jumped online, happened to get an appointment with my hair stylist who I’ve seen forever over the years. And I went in Friday and I was like, “Please take this hair. I cannot, I need you to cut the COVID off.” I can’t take credit for that statement. I heard this from another LA hair stylist say it. She was like, “Cut the COVID off.” But I just kept thinking, to me hair is old energy and I just needed to get some type of symbolic, this whole medical leave and getting back into weight lifting and kind of taking control. You know how Claire you’ve said getting tattoos is a way of you having control over your body. For me, that’s kind of how hair is. I use it as this, I’m in control, I’m get rid of this energy –

Claire: Yeah, I think that’s common.

Joy: You know what I mean? I just needed to do something not super drastic like really, really short, but I probably cut a good five inches off my hair. I talked to my hair dresser. I hadn’t seen her in so long. We had caught up on life, and I was telling her everything that happened to me. So I could just tell that she was really wanting to give me that experience of being like, you can kick ass. You know, like moving forward. It gives you that confidence. And I think that was another thing of just this whole month and a half has kind of taken away my confidence in a lot of things, or like not being able to do the things I used to do physically has been really hard. So I just feel like that was a moment for me to be like, alright, I’m turning a page. Things are going to be different, I’m going to make it happen.

Claire: I get that. I think I can relate to that. I think so many people can relate to that. A haircut seems like such a simple thing, but you can put meaning into it if you want to. 

Joy: Totally.

Claire: It can be this cathartic, transformative turning point.

Joy: Yeah.

Claire: A way to outwardly show that you are here to f it up. So you’re going back to work this week. And I know we’ve been talking the last two weeks about your medical leave. How was your second week of medical leave? It seems like it was really refreshing. You seem very much more –

Joy: It was very refreshing. I could not have done what I did for my health with just one week. I feel like this last week was just kind of this solidifying of everything I’ve been trying to do to calm down and get better. Spending time for my health, like taking walks, signing back up for the gym, getting my haircut, spent some time working with my naturopath to get a treatment plan going. I should have the results from my DUTCH test and this metabolic panel pretty soon, so I’ll know more. But I just feel like I’m going into work this detachment from the stress. And I’m one that tends to kind of go in, and once you’re in the hamster wheel you don’t really get off. Even if you’re off on the weekends, you’re still slowly going on the hamster wheel, and I feel like this was just such a good practice for me to completely unplug. And not only that, just reminding me to use my PTO. This year I really used PTO as like, “Oh I need to go on vacation” PTO because I don’t want to waste my PTO. I’m just staying home. But we can’t go anywhere if we’re being responsible, so I feel like that was a really good reminder that even though we can’t go anywhere, I really need to unplug from work because being on the hamster wheel even if you’re slow on the weekend is just… you know what I’m talking about? Where you’re just not, like you’re still on.

Claire: And I think you talked about this with realizing that you needed two weeks was that it takes several days for you to just get out of that mindset. Realistically two days – and for a lot of people, really a day and a half because by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, you’re starting to think about work again. It’s not enough for you to actually detach. It’s not enough for you to actually break that thought cycle. 

Joy: No.

Claire: I totally know what that feeling that you mean, where it’s like –

Joy: You’re just still on.

Claire: Yes.

Joy: The flame is still on. I needed to completely turn it off and not even think about work. It’s so important. It made me think about a lot how you’re like – not in a bad way, but how you tell me I really identify with my hobbies or with my job. And that was really a good practice to be like, “I am not my job.” And I put a lot of effort into do a good job to where I feel like I always have to like – it’s a little bit egotistical to be like “I am so good at my job that they can’t function without me.” 

Claire: Yeah, totally.

Joy: They can, and the sun still rises.

Claire: Yeah, and I have a friend at work who is on maternity leave. She was freaking out about maternity leave before she went on it, and I sat her down. Not sat her down, but I was like, “I mean this with all the love in my heart. But we will be fine without you. I don’t mean that to be dismissive because you’re very good at your job and everybody loves working with you, but we will be fine without you.” I think that is hard for people to hear because they’re like, I don’t want you to be fine without me. I want you to need me. It’s not that you don’t make a great contribution. It’s not that you’re not great at what you do, but this is a job. The world will keep turning. Not to be a tweet, but I don’t know who needs to hear this, but if your entire work life comes crashing down if you leave for more than a day, that’s a toxic environment.

Joy: That’s a problem.

Claire: That’s a problem. It’s problematic, and you and everyone around you need to fix that because that means that you are shouldering way too much, way too much. I hope some of you just had a lightbulb moment. Alright. So for next weeks’ question because Joy has to go life weights now.

Joy: I got to go life, yeah.

Claire: We’re going to start talking a little bit about looking to 2021. And we have a lot of Thursdays I was realizing. There are five Thursdays in December. We’re only on the second one. So our last episode of the year will actually land on the 31st, which is going to be exciting. I’ll wait for our New Year’s resolution one, so don’t tell us your resolutions. Here’s what I want to know. What habits or goals in the past have worked for you that you are surprised by? Did you pick up bullet journaling on a whim thinking there’s no way this is going to stick and then it stuck and now you’re a bullet journal influencer. Like, did you think that maybe you were going to sign up for the New Year’s Day 5K and it stuck and how you’re an ultramarathoner. What thing did you pick up on a whim as a New Year’s resolution – because we always hear about the New Year’s resolution fails. I want to hear about the New Year’s resolution wins. What thing did you pick up on a whim as a New Year’s resolution that you were like there’s no way this is going to sick but I might as well at least try it. And it really stuck and how it’s your thing.

Joy: You started painting and all of the sudden you’re selling professionally.

Claire: I want you to write in even if it didn’t become a part of your identity. Tell us about a past New Year’s resolution when. For a habit or a goal or something that you really, you followed through on and maybe surprised yourself by how much you followed through on it. And whether it was a funny little hobby or something that was truly life changing, I really want to hear about it. So send us a voice memo to thisisjoyandclaire@gmail.com. You can record a voice memo on your phone. Hold it up to your head like you’re making a phone call. Please try to keep it under a minute as much as you can. It just lets us play even more of your beautiful voice memos on the podcast. Or you can just write it in an email. And then also we have our Google Voice set up at our Instagram, which is @joyandclaire_. You can click on the “Contact” button. It will send you to a Google Voice mail where you can leave a message, which is similar to, you know, just record your message as if you’re recording a voice memo. If it helps you to write it down ahead of time, just type it out as a text message or a little notes thing so you can get your thoughts in order and so you can feel like you’re a little more succinct. But you don’t have to. You can just go off the cuff if you feel like you want to. We can’t wait to hear about your things that have miraculously worked in the past. Your New Year’s resolution wins.

Joy: This time of year is always really exciting for me. There’s something really symbolic about the year ending, a new one starting. So I love hearing about this stuff. I love to hear from you about, even maybe a friend that gave you an idea that you were like, woah I want to try that and just was a huge success.

Claire: Alright guys, well thank you for listening again. Don’t forget to check out our sponsor BluBlox, blublox.com, discount code is JOY. Go get your eyes some joy with BluBlox.

Joy: [laughing] That’s a good one.

Claire: I went there. Alright guys, talk to you next week. Bye.

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