In this time of socially-distanced everything, today Karen & Katie discuss how to show up for family & friends when we can’t just bop over for a physical hug. The pair share strategies that are working for them in their communities, & also stress the importance of how to show up for ourselves (such a vital-yet-almost-always-overlooked topic!).
How do you show up for your people & yourself right now? Shoot us an email at email@example.com or message us on Twitter/IG (@notokpod). Thanks, Friends!
Follow Of Course I’m Not Ok: The Podcast on Twitter & Instagram, and email us with questions/comments/concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. This episode is sponsored by Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. With Anchor, you can catch our episodes wherever you get your podcasts.
Katie: Hi! You’re listening to Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast, and I am a really angry Christmas tree that ended up inside Trump’s White House this year. What the actual fuck. I really thought that my life was going well, and then I was placed in this hell hole. So anyway, you are listening to this great podcast and I hope that it brings you more joy than I’m experiencing right now. Next to Melania Trump.
Karen: Hello. I am both that first glimpse we all got of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree that was peak 2020 – it’s all fucked up, flat on one side, it looks really sad – and the tiny owl that got stuck inside that tree, which is also peak 2020.
Katie: Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast covers all things, from humor to mental health to coping with quarantine, creativity, tiny owls that make pilgrimages inside Christmas trees to Rockefeller Center, and Christmas trees themselves that die sad deaths inside Trump’s White House.
Karen: Thank you for joining us on this journey.
Katie: Oh my God. Okay.
Katie: Alright. Hey Karen! It is so wonderful to see you today.
Karen: Katie, it’s always good to see you.
Katie: This is just so nice. This is an interesting episode for us because we have decided to, kind of, do a twofer this week, which is very exciting. Listeners, you probably won’t even notice because we’re that good, but we’re gonna record two episodes in the same day. So this is pretty exciting. And our first episode is obviously being recorded right now, which will go live on the 14th. The next one on the 21st. But yeah, it’s been an interesting week. I feel like this week has been semi uneventful, at least in my world.
Karen: I feel like mine has been uneventful too. And I feel like it went by really fast, which is kind of alarming to be honest because it’s December.
Katie: Yes. I mean, there’s always the days that I’m just like, ‘Wait, how is it December whatever-it-is’ or ‘how is it November whatever-it-is,’ but I will say that I’m personally extremely excited about the vaccine. I know a lot of people – everybody probably is – but it was interesting this week when I heard that Obama and Clinton and Bush were all going to get the vaccine live on camera. I don’t actually know when that will happen. I don’t know if that’s even been released because the FDA just approved the vaccine for emergency use. But, I don’t know why, but that gives me comfort. Is that weird?
Karen: No. I mean, I think it’s supposed to give you comfort, right?
Katie: It’s true. It’s true.
Karen: I feel like that’s what it’s for, but yeah. I am more cautious, I will say, than a lot of people about the vaccine. I will admit that I’m a little bit of a Debbie Downer about it, but I’m cautiously optimistic. That’s how I’d characterize myself.
Katie: Oh yeah, no. I was a hundred percent cautious. Cautious is actually a lenient term to what I felt until I found out Obama was going to do it. Before Obama was going to do it, I was like, ‘Oh hell no. I’m not going to get a fourth arm because of this stupid shot.’ Like seriously, that’s what I was thinking.
Karen: Oh, I know. Well, and I heard somebody on NPR talking about getting the vaccine and feeling fine, and one of the questions that people keep asking him is about long-term effects, which is one of my questions. And he was like, ‘I got it five months ago.’ And I was like, ‘Five months ago?! That’s the blink of an eye.’ I don’t care about how you feel five months later. I mean, have you been looking at the U.S. Pharmaceutical industry? That shit doesn’t happen immediately. So things get pulled off the market – and the sirens agree with me. I just feel like five months to me is not the law. That’s not a compelling testimonial about the long-term effects.
Katie: I 100% agree and we need a Marty McFly to get into a time machine DeLorean to go and take the vaccine right now, go back to 1985, then come back to 2020, and then report back. Then I would trust it. This is a Back to the Future reference for those of you who have never seen the 1985 movie Back to the Future.
Karen: Thank you for that. I mean, we probably do have some younger people in our audience who might not be familiar with that film. Funny story about Back to the Future: The paper I work at has a 50 year archive, and when someone was digitizing movie reviews, they got lazy and just put in the same date for all of them. And it turns out that it was the date from Back to the Future.
Katie: You’re kidding!
Karen: For hundreds – no no no no no. The publication date for hundreds of movie reviews. And I can’t remember the date now, but it took the film editor a really long time to figure out like, ‘What? Why is everything that date?’ No, it’s from Back to the Future.
Katie: Oh my gosh. I wonder if they put it into the computer at the time. Like, they were doing a movie review about Back to the Future and then I just-, wow.
Karen: Yeah, I don’t, I bet he just didn’t want to have to figure out when all those movie reviews were from.
Katie: *laughs* That is insane. And also yes, we do need a time machine for the vaccine. I really do feel for people who are in those positions, like the frontline workers and stuff like that, that are now going to be mandated to take it. They don’t have a choice. In one respect, if I was that person, or if I was one of those people, I probably would be thrilled. But then on the other part, I would be like, ‘Oh God.’ I don’t know. There just isn’t a choice right now. You can just kind of, this is it.
Karen: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s the heart of so much of this for us, the lack of choice and the struggling to take control of things we can take control of. And that’s why we have a podcast.
Katie: Yes, it is. This is our tiny slice of control in the world. *laughs*.
Karen: Today’s episode of Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast is brought to you by the official phrase of 2020:
Katie: You’re muted.
Karen: Thank you for sponsoring this podcast.
Katie: I do want to get to what we’re going to talk about today, which is how to show up for people, how to be a really good friend or family member or community member, when we can’t show up in person. I mean, there’s so much around that. And yeah. Ugh.
Karen: And I feel like it’s something that you and I talk a lot about, and we have this – just to peel back the curtain – we have this giant spreadsheet of possible topics. There are tons of ones about friendship on it, and I feel like you and I dance around them because female friendships are a hard thing to talk about. So I feel like this is a more positive- this is probably one of our most positive friendship topics, like how to actually show up for people. ‘Cause I feel like we’ve talked a lot about how to curate your list of friends so that you’re only surrounding yourself with people who bring you a certain energy, but once you do that, what does that look like? What does that relationship look like now?
Katie: Totally. And I agree with you that we have kind of danced around the whole friendship concepts, because I think they’re just, it’s charged. When you’re talking about female friendships in particular, it’s very charged in ways. But yes, I agree that this topic, once you finally do curate or you have a good group that you feel really positive around, how do you show up for them? And I think just some of the strategies that I found during the pandemic in the beginning – I’ll just be honest – I wasn’t really talking to that many people. I just wasn’t, and I just was kind of in shock. Well, first off I thought it was going to be a two week thing. And so I was like, ‘Okay, no big deal. I won’t touch base with my people for a couple of weeks and that’s fine.’ But then it obviously didn’t turn into that.
Karen: Yeah. I think I have the exact same experience. And yeah, there’s an adjustment period. We had to change our whole lives, so obviously there’s going to be that adjustment period. I just think back to thinking it was going to be a week. Then two weeks. Then a month. Like, ‘Oh my God, this could go into May.’.
Katie: *laughs* Oh, the good old days.
Karen: Right. And so I feel like, how do you prioritize? Now that we know this shit’s not over, not going to be over, how do we prioritize relationships, especially during the winter when it’s so tough and isolating?
Katie: Totally. And I think it’s definitely an art more than a science in terms of, at least for me. I find that sometimes I go really hard and catching up with everybody in the same day, week, whatever. And then I’m so burned out and then I’m like, ‘Oh my God, so many boundaries are crossed.’ Not that my people are crossing my boundaries, but it’s more like, ‘I’m just not allowing any space for myself.’ And so, ‘Okay, what’s actually working?’ I think for me, I just have multiple forms of communication with people. I’ll text people, I’ll send people a Marco Polo, which for those of you who don’t know, Marco Polo is basically this app that you can send video messages on. It’s actually awesome. At first I was like, this is stupid. And then I realized for the people that are in different time zones and I just truly can never get on the phone with them for a variety of reasons, it’s actually kind of awesome. Have you ever used Marco Polo?
Karen: I just started using it and I love it so much! I love it.
Katie: It’s the best! It’s free. It’s free. Everybody just look up Marco Polo on your app or on your app store. It’s fantastic. And so, I love that. I think showing up for people, especially when you know that they’re not okay also, has been kind of an interesting thing. I find that just a simple text message of ‘Hey, thinking of you,’ and even saying sometimes when you know that person is really on the struggle bus, like you don’t have to respond. I’m just putting love into the world.
Karen: I was just going to say that exact thing. Because I feel like, unfortunately, especially as women, we are socialized to make care into this burden. Like, ‘I called to check on you and you didn’t call me back.’ Like, no, no. The point is to not create work for that person who’s already overwhelmed and struggling. It’s just to let them know you’re thinking of them. Yeah. I always appreciate when people say, you don’t have to call me back. I just want you to know I’m thinking of you.
Katie: Yes. Yes. That’s the nicest thing that you can say, honestly. Because then at least when people say that to me, I’m like, ‘Oh, I want to call them back whenever fits into my schedule’ or whatever. It doesn’t feel like, ‘Oh God.’ Sometimes I have running lists on sticky notes around my house. I need to call this person and this person, and it’s like, ‘Shit I’m not being a good’- ha!, You just picked up a sticky note! People can’t see it. But it’s just hard sometimes. So yeah. It’s just nice when people reach out with no obligation attached.
Karen: Well, and I feel like people don’t realize that if I’m having a hard time or I’m just busy or I have a lot going on, making me feel guilty doesn’t make me want to interact with you.
Karen: So I’m going to get on the phone with you and you’re going to spend how much of that conversation, ‘Oh my god, you never call me back? You never-‘ No, totally. I definitely want to sign up for that conversation.
Katie: No, it’s true. It’s true. Actually, that’s such a good point. I feel like I’m getting into the female friendship conversation again, but it’s okay. This is good. This is real. And so it’s like, I think that I’ve had some conversations with people where, the first 10 minutes is like, ‘I’m so sorry that we haven’t connected,’ and back and forth. Me saying I’m sorry, them saying they’re sorry. ‘Oh, it’s just been so bad.’ Okay. Fuck that. Can we just cut that out? Can we just seriously put a moratorium on apologizing for pretty much anything right now? Come on, let’s be honest. All of us are doing the best we can. If we don’t talk to somebody for a month or two and life gets in the way, it’s okay. We’re all doing our best. There’s no personal attacks here.
Karen: Yeah. Amen to that. I also want to just put a pin in something: Marco Polo, if you’d like to sponsor this podcast, you can reach out to us.
Karen: Today’s episode of Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast is brought to you by Rebellious Magazine. No, no, I know you’ve never heard of it. It’s okay. It’s fine. Listen, it’s at RebelliousMagazine.com. It’s a feminist magazine. It was founded by a mouthy Black lesbian. And if you give a shit about mouthy Black lesbians, you should read it and you should send us money. Rebelliousmagazine.com.
Katie: Don’t miss it. Check it today.
Katie: The other stuff that happens for me, so the other day Tyler and I have some relatives that are much, much older. They’re basically older than my parents. And they used to live near us in Sausalito and they’re really dear to our hearts. It was one of those things where they were so excited for us to move even though they were sad. We were sad to leave them. They texted us and they sent me a video message, like an actual video message like a text message. And it was three minutes long about how they’re doing well. It was so kind, they really practiced. It was just very touching.
But the thing is that, they didn’t mean it this way but I took that like, ‘Oh shit, the timer’s on. I need to make sure that I schedule a zoom date with them.’ And so I did. I scheduled a zoom date with them, and then it was the day of the zoom date. And I had to cancel because I was an emotional disaster. I was just a fucking hot mess, just in general. This is early when we moved and so I texted them and I was like, ‘I’m so sorry.’ And they were really understanding. But I think that this conversation is also about how you show up for yourself. What ended up happening was, we had a really good week this week and I texted them on Wednesday like, ‘Hey, if you’re around – no obligation – but we’re around for a zoom date if you’re interested.’ We ended up having an hour long zoom date with them and it was really nice. I don’t know what the lesson is there except for, give yourself a break. We’re all trying.
Karen: Yeah. I think that is a good lesson. And I think it’s a good lesson about, we can still have spontaneity now. I feel like so much of our lives is planned, because we’re sitting in front of this, I call it the murder machine, for work all day. And then-
Karen: Even for recreation, I feel like we forget, yeah, you can just text somebody and be like, Hey, do you want to hop on a zoom right now?
Katie: Yes, exactly. And if they can’t, it’s okay. If they can, great! The other thing that I’ve been doing is doing double dates with our next door neighbors, which I don’t know if I’ve talked to about this on a previous podcast, but it’s actually working so well. So we moved to this new neighborhood. We don’t know anybody obviously. There’s these neighbors, this couple that live across the street and they have a dog. So we see them outside when I’m walking Lucy or when Tyler’s walking Lucy. We kind of struck up a conversation, but all four of us were being extremely conservative. So there’s no way that we’re going to see each other indoors. And so we started doing these things where they would make food and then drop it off on our front door, and then we sit down and eat it together in front of zoom, which sounds really awkward. Honestly, it’s not. It’s actually kind of nice. And so, yeah, that’s how we’re trying to show up for them too.
Karen: Yeah. You’re having dinner together.
Katie: Exactly. No big deal.
Karen: I love that. My partner and I are long distance, and we cooked Thanksgiving dinner together over Zoom.
Katie: Oh, that’s so nice!
Katie: Was it awkward? I would imagine it was probably nice.
Karen: It was nice, you know what, and I felt like I was on a cooking show.
Katie: There you go.
Katie: That’s amazing. I also will put in a plug for scheduling time to talk with friends. I’ve long been a scheduler of, ‘Let’s have a phone date!’ with a few of my friends, but this has become incredibly important during COVID for me. It might sound weird to some people to be like, ‘Ugh, I just need to be spontaneous. I should be able to pick up the phone or answer the phone when my friend calls,’ but the truth is that, at least for me, I need boundaries on my time because otherwise things bleed into other things. And then I’m doing something and maybe I’m not energetically available for someone at a certain time and I need to focus on myself or whatever it is. I highly recommend setting up dates, even if they’re a few days in advance. Cause it’s just nice to then be prepared and feel like you’re giving your full attention to that person.
Karen: Yeah. I think there’s also something so powerful in what you’re saying about not being available to someone. I feel like I have friends who recognize I’m just not fun to be around right now. You know what I’m saying? Like, I don’t even want to be around myself right now. I just, I’m so sorry. Let’s just hang out later. And I feel like that’s legit.
Katie: Yes. Yeah. Just embrace it. If you just want to take a bath and be like, Hey, I’m not-, I actually have a friend, who might be listening to this podcast right now and I’m pretty sure you’ll know who you are and I love you very much, and she went into a hibernation mode. Self-imposed hibernation and no apologies. And she was like, ‘Yeah, I’m just hibernating.’ Then she came out of it and acknowledged that she had been hibernating. At least, I didn’t care. I was happy for her hibernation mode. Good for her.
Karen: No, totally. Sometimes you got to put yourself in time out.
Katie: Oh yes. But how to show up for others when you can’t show up? This is very real. If you know that people are struggling especially, and even if they’re not struggling, you just want to show up or you just want to touch base, even the smallest things matter. That’s what I’ve found. Just drop a little note in the mail. It doesn’t have to be a long thing. One of my friends talked to me about how she’s the kind of person that doesn’t want phone dates, and so she really prefers it when we just hop on the phone, and I sometimes struggle with that because I’m like, ‘Oh, we need to have a life altering conversation. It needs to be an hour long.’ And like, she’s like, ‘No, Katie. We can talk for nine minutes. It’s fine.’ And so it’s remembering that, trusting yourself in that way.
Karen: Yeah. It’s very true. It is funny. You’re right. I feel like when you’re catching up with people, you have this idea that it has to be this marathon thing. Speaking of, it’s really funny – Caroline, hope you’re listening – so Caroline and I have periodically had these catch-up conversations. It’s just been great because we are old school and use the phone.
Karen: We talked a couple of weeks ago and we were both like, ‘Oh my God, it’s probably been like an hour and a half.’ We were on the phone for three and a half hours at least!
Karen: At the three and a half hour mark, we then spent another 15 minutes being like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s been three and a half hours.’ It was just great, and it reminded me of being a kid when that was all you had, and you would just sit on the phone with your friends forever.
Katie: Yes. Yes. And it was the cool thing to do. It was just fun.
Karen: Well, and then the internet came, and you got mad when there’s a busy signal and that all ended.
Katie: Yeah. Remember Star69? Or when caller ID became a thing and it was like the biggest deal ever? Yeah. The good old days.
Karen: Or the flashing? I just remember how excited I would get the flashing of the answering machine when there was a message.
Katie: Yes! I would come home from school. I would come home from swim practice or whatever I was doing. And if there was a flash, it was like, Oh! Yeah, what’s even more exciting if it was a flash from a guy. I had very few guys calling me in high school, but if one did, it was pretty exciting. So. They usually didn’t leave a message. What am I, what am I saying? I don’t know. But yeah, I think there might’ve been two in my high school.
Karen: Oh my God. You’re reminding me. I wrote a letter to my 17 year old self a couple of years ago.
Karen: And in it, I said that all of those boys that I had a crush on in high school turned out to be gay. That that’s the bad news, but the good news is, so are you Karen. So.
Katie: *laughs* Amazing.
Karen: It works itself out. You’re going to run into them at the pride parade. You’re going to have a blast.
Katie: There you go. I love the idea of writing a letter to your 17 year old self. Oh man.
Karen: It was really cathartic. I was a very anxious 17 year old.
Katie: So showing up for others when you can’t show up in person, it’s still possible. Yeah.
Karen: It’s doable. It’s still important. I was gonna throw in one more. I have discovered, I think all of the movie streaming services have a version of this. So there’s Hulu watch party, Netflix watch party, Amazon has a watch party and you all go on and you watch a movie at the same time and you can be snarky in the comments or you could just watch it on your own and watch Zoom. But it’s surprisingly fun.
Katie: That’s so fun. I’ve actually never tried that. So wait, how does it actually work? Do you have to watch the streaming service on your computer to do it? Or can you put it on your television? How do you do it? You just invite people? Do you have to download an app? I sound like I’m 107. What do you do with the computer?
Karen: I don’t want to sound high tech by any means. So I’m not judging you by answering this question. Please trust. So I have two screens. We’ve been doing zoom calls. I guess you could just do it where you just watch the movie and you don’t have the zoom element, but I have zoom open on one screen and then the movie on the other and whoever starts it, you all have to have accounts. That’s the thing I don’t like.
Katie: Oh, okay.
Karen: You all have to have accounts on whatever the thing is-
Karen: But for the person who starts it, starts the movie, you’re all watching it together. I’ve done it twice now. I really liked it.
Katie: Well, listeners, if you have any ideas to share about how you show up for your people, please do tweet at us or DM us on Instagram or whatever the channels are. You know what they are. We would love to them with our listeners because we’re all doing the same thing at the moment.
Karen: Sharing is caring.
Katie: Sharing is caring. See you next week.