I remember the surrealness of it all. Before lockdown, I was already in a zone of anxiety, change and newness having only recently gone fully self-employed 18 months earlier. I remember the panic and anxiety on the day of Leo Varadkar’s first speech announcing the closure of schools, and seeing parents at the school gates smile reassuringly to their children but making eye contact with each other and mouthing things like: “WTF?”It was such a scary time, both personally and for my business.
I had to move all of my work that was face-to-face online. I also had to finally learn how to use Revolut, the online banking platform, and the Sumup machine, for online payments, which had been sitting in a drawer for six months prior to that. I went from seeing couples and individuals face to face to now seeing them on a screen. I also went from working with groups in person — for corporate training, lecturing and group therapy — to working with them online. All of my consultancy, business and networking meetings also moved online. There were “virtual coffees”, too, with people I got to know through LinkedIn.
Ireland Together was the first to introduce me to the potential of online networking and breakout rooms, which I never knew existed before, and I started to use this function in my corporate wellness training events, helping employees to understand the emotional effects of all that we are dealing with. Then the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy asked me to run regional online networking events for counsellors and psychotherapists. This involved facilitating groups of up to 65 participants at a time, addressing the challenges that were now facing therapists who may not have been as familiar with the technology before, might have been vulnerable themselves or dealing with really challenging cases of clients who went through traumatic loss of family members during lockdown. I really enjoyed this work.
Looking back, I feel very grateful that the experience overall was positive. As a mum of four, I appreciated a chance for us all to slow down. We spent a lot more time in the garden. From a business perspective, I am also grateful for the opportunity it gave me to learn things and meet new people — albeit online.