In this third week, I’m happy to report I’ve finally learned all of the technology that keeps me connected to my colleagues. One thing I’m still struggling with though is how to make sure I’m camera ready, or at least where to place my face when on camera! It reminds me of a time last year when I was coming back home through Global Entry at the Calgary Airport, and I couldn’t figure out where to position my face for the camera. I’m not sure if he remembers me or not, but one of our CBP Officers said, “Ma’am, it would be a whole lot better if you looked into the camera. Seeing your forehead and one eye, is not real helpful.”
While struggling to find a sense of control over my webcam is certainly a tiny example of how the COVID-19 situation has thrown us off in the last few weeks, I realize many of you are facing even greater challenges. Child care and financial concerns, as well as stress and anxiety over if and when this virus will impact you, are just a few of the issues I know are sometimes keeping you awake at night. While it is a fact that this unseen, external challenge has upset our normal balance, fortunately, the good news is that we are our own strongest defense against COVID-19 and its impacts. Educating ourselves, listening to one another, and having a willingness to embrace positive practices are critical and are within our control.
In previous messages, I have talked about education in terms of the virus and good health habits that we can all practice. While we are continuing to provide lots of updated medical information for you, education to keep you healthy is a broader endeavor. Yes, you should monitor your personal health and take note of the first sign of illness, but health also means keeping your brain, your heart, and your sense of well-being strong with other kinds of meaningful education and staying in touch—take a break from social media and the news, and replace it with a phone call to a friend or a loved one, and share more important news, like your adventure to the grocery store where you were able to find…toilet paper!
Build a new, more dynamic routine that works for you to maintain a sense of balance and daily rhythm. Keep the appointments you can—many doctors will perform dermatology, physical therapy, allergy, and other discussions remotely. Participate in community, religious and spiritual groups, learning activities, such as TED talks on the power of daily practices of gratitude and what really makes us happy, or other social events that can be done via livestream. Many small businesses are offering painting, yoga, meditation, and even happy hours online, making it a fun way to connect with each other and learn something new along the way. Whether you’re sitting behind a computer or handling passengers and cargo, it is always a good idea to find time to go outside and breath in the fresh air—did you know even if we all took a breath at the same time, there would still be enough air to support us all! And while you’re outside, really take the time to see all the beauty that surrounds you. There is always something to be grateful for, no matter how small—for me, I had no idea of all the different ways one can combine pasta and cheese!
No matter where you are today, I know that every one of you is working hard to keep the DHS mission thriving. What you are doing is remarkable given the current environment, and the public we serve, myself included, is very grateful for your service. That said, please know it is still ok to take a break from all things COVID-19. If you are not your strongest self, it will be harder to navigate these unprecedented times. Take care of yourself and your loved ones and keep a clear view on how you are doing. If you think you have a fever or other signs of illness, contact your doctor. If you are feeling disconnected or stressed, reach out to someone. Your friends, colleagues, supervisor, and EAP services are all available to talk and help. If you need any sort of support, for your physical or mental health, get in touch.
The days ahead may still be challenging, but I have every confidence that we will get through them by working together, talking to each other honestly, and staying connected with one another. Not a single one of us is in this alone. Together, we safeguard the homeland AND each other.
Chief Human Capital Officer