Against the Grain: Special Edition (April 27, 2020)

Dealing with the Doldrums

Dear Friends,

For those who are still working each day in a mill, truck, warehouse or office (outside of your home) to keep an essential business running, you may not be feeling full impact of shelter-in-place orders. Instead, your constant strain is more than likely tied to the risk of interacting with others while performing that crucial work.

Those starting a second month of working remotely and caring for your family in isolation are probably facing a different kind of stress; the one that comes with being confined to your house with new challenges and responsibilities, yet fewer resources for addressing them. Growing up in snow country, we called this confinement "cabin fever."

For all of us, the fatigue from carrying these burdens may be starting to settle in, and is worsened by the uncertainty of how much longer we'll be dealing with the current circumstances. We know we're fortunate to have greater security than many other industries, but not immune from worry, frustration or just plain boredom.

For those of you stuck in the doldrums right now, here are few tips that may help:

  • Just because news is available 24/7, that doesn't mean you should always consume it. Remember to seek out other information that helps reduce, not amplify, your stress. While I may listen to news in the car, I have stopped turning on the TV unless it’s to watch "Mayberry RFD" reruns, "Beating Bobby Flay" on the Food Network or "Chasing Classic Cars" on Motortrend TV! There has never been more online content -- concerts, plays, museum tours or a favorite movie. Take advantage of this access.

  • Stay connected to friends and family. This is a great time to catch up with people you've not spoken to in a while. Pick one or two people each week to Zoom, Team, Facetime or call. You can make sure they're doing okay and strengthen a bond, while bringing a little normalcy to your own day as well as theirs. As NAWLA members, we all have access to the Member Directory on the website. You can always find a friend there. Just this week, I received a call out of the blue from Ray Barbee of the Western Wood Products Association (WWPA). Ray and I hadn’t talked since the Leadership Summit in Palm Desert and our world has dramatically changed since then. He called just to check in and see how I was holding up. What a nice thing to do! His call made me feel good. Why? Because he cared enough to call! I suspect many of us could use a call like this.

  • Make sure you get some exercise each day. Even taking a 15-minute walk outside will help re-set your mood and provides a health benefit as long as you can get some distance from your neighbors (and maybe from your spouse and children too). The fresh air and change of scenery are important as we spend so much time in the same place right now. Besides, my dog Molly is always happy to take me for a walk with her.

  • Tackle a small -- but simple -- project. It's a great distraction and an easy win for you, without adding a lot of stress. Something as simple as organizing part of your house or garage, purging clothes you've been meaning to get rid of, or washing the car can bring you a little satisfaction. A warning, however, that in my case cleaning the garage has had a domino effect. Once I cleaned it, I noticed the stained drywall. That led to redoing the drywall tape and joint compound, and painting the entire garage. Having dripped joint compound and paint on the floor, I’m now installing epoxy floor covering over the entire garage floor!

  • Find time for fun. You may have to get creative here. I’ve seen stories of families hosting their take on the Olympics, with many sports involving toilet paper. Dust off a board game, host a virtual happy hour, plan a vacation, try karaoke with your house mates, see how many meals you can get out of the food at the bottom of your freezer, or watch your favorite movie. By the way, mine is "Gone with the Wind." What a great piece of cinematography. It’s hard to believe it was filmed in 1939!

I’d love to hear what works for raising your spirits –- or those of others –- during these times. Feel free to share them with me or NAWLA Headquarters. We can post them on the blog or social media channels to inspire each other.

Just one more thing, I’m extremely proud of the roles that everyone in our industry is playing as an essential supplier. We have responded to the needs of our employees, our local communities and our nation with little regard for our personal safety. We are making history each and every day. Some day we will look back at 2020 and tell our grandchildren I remember when…

Thank you all for your continued efforts and stay well!

Tom Le Vere
President | Shareholder, Weekes Forest Products
2020 NAWLA Chair

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