There’s never been a better time to check in on our friends, Pretty Birds. Life in the time of COVID-19 is full of uncertainty and stress, but no matter how we’re coping, we can all agree it’s a time to be grateful for the people in our lives who show up for us. Checking in With Friends is dedicated to touching base with our fabulous friends all over the world.
Checking in With Friends: Anja Tyson
Anja Tyson is a dear friend to Team ATPB, where she contributed as a writer and special content/projects editor, and has shared so much with us over these years such as her hair journey, thoughts on runway diversity, and the importance of voting. She has been working in the fashion industry since 2004 at Miu Miu, Marni, Brother Vellies, and more. In her current position as Fashion Sales Director at TIPA Compostable Packaging, she’s focused on sustainability in fashion, an all-important element to the future of the industry and our planet.
All The Pretty Birds: How are you? How are your loved ones?
Anja Tyson: I have definitely been better-rested and more relaxed in my life before, but in the grand scheme of things I am healthy and safe, as is my family, and that’s where I am setting the bar presently.
ATPB: Where are you currently staying?
AT: We are sheltering in place at our apartment in Brooklyn, NY.
ATPB: Are you in lockdown/isolation? Describe your new circumstances.
AT: We have been isolating for four weeks now. We go outside every day to walk the dog, but we practice safe social distancing measures. We live in a high-rise building and we have a dog to walk, which means we have a lot of unavoidable casual interaction with other people – our neighbors, people riding the elevator, the doorman, etc. We take every possible measure to make sure that we stay safe in this environment.
ATPB: How is it affecting your work and personal life?
AT: I am quite lucky in that I normally work from home anyway, so this shift has not been so extreme for me and hasn’t affected my productivity. My daughter is in first grade, and her school is attempting to keep everyone on a normal school day with remote learning, which has been very challenging. In my personal life, I am doing my best to keep up with my friends, but honestly I have less free time than I ever have before in these last few weeks, so it has been challenging to remember to schedule calls with the people I love and miss. In this moment I am really extraordinarily grateful for text messaging and Instagram, which have allowed me to keep in touch with everyone and feel connected.
ATPB: What have you learned about yourself during this time?
AT: Nothing. I do not subscribe to the idea that events like this are supposed to be immediately revelatory – I think people who are expecting deeper meaning out of this within moments of its beginning are coming at this from an extremely privileged point of view. It is not necessary to learn something about yourself or connect more deeply with yourself when you’re knee deep in a crisis – this is from the point of view of someone who has been through real crises in the past. Oftentimes the learning comes later. I really recommend everyone release themselves from the expectation of coming out of this a better person. It’s ok to just focus on surviving right now, and helping the people around you.
ATPB: Can you tell us about a daily ritual that has been keeping you sane?
AT: My rituals have all basically flown out the window – and I am ok with that right now, while I try to embrace the oddity of this situation. I am a single parent with a demanding career, and it’s uncommon for me to spend so much time with my daughter day-to-day. I dropped her off at daycare when she was a little more than 6 weeks old, and this is the longest amount of time I have spent with her since then. I am really grateful for that silver lining in this scary time.
That said, we are not sitting at home making organic crafts and learning to play instruments. I am working full-time, and Matilda is schooling full-time, and those things often conflict, and there are often bad attitudes, disappointing meals and midday tears. I think there is an understandable instinct to protect your children from this event, and make this time at home magical and special. I truly believe that we should remove that pressure from ourselves and let our kids see us deal with this crisis in a real way. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our jobs are actually to model for them how to live, and managing the unexpected is a real part of life. You are showing them skills they will undoubtedly need later in life in the way you deal with this event. That in and of itself has purpose and importance.
ATPB: What’s something you hope to take from this experience?
AT: That is to be told by time. We are still very much in the thick of this – in New York our daily death rate is climbing every day, we have now lost three times as many people in NYC than we did on 9/11. We will have at least another month at least of living exactly this way, and then we will have to make major changes to the way we are used to living for the foreseeable future in order to keep people safe. I do hope that overall this experience is used as a frame of reference for people to better understand the ways we are really failing the most vulnerable of our fellow humans, who are easy to ignore when our own lives are going more smoothly.
ATPB: What are some things you’re grateful for?
AT: Above all I am grateful for my and my family’s health and safety. However, beyond that, dealing with this altered reality has helped me reflect the ways in which my life has prepared me to deal with unexpected crises, which have all been moments of real adversity that I obviously would have preferred to avoid at the time but ultimately build into resilience, strength and reserve. I’m very grateful to spend so much time with my daughter each and every day, and hear all of the crazy things that come out of her mouth. I am grateful for perspective, patience, deep breathing and our mayor’s determination that wine shops are Essential Services. More than anything I am extremely grateful to all of the people working every day to keep the city running, make sure we all have food and supplies, and keep the hospitals open. I think we owe them a great debt, which should be repaid in working to ensure their protection and quality of life at all times, not just during crises.
ATPB: Is there an album or playlist that you’ve been feeling lately?
AT: Normally I listen to NPR in the background of my day-to-day, but I am currently regulating my news intake in order to manage my stress levels. I have a playlist of 70s funk from Turkey, Ethiopia, and China that I have been playing most nights, and of course early 90s hip hop and R&B. I am really lucky in that my 6-year-old has really phenomenal taste in music and enjoys listening to old albums or music from different eras and languages. She is obsessed with Celia Cruz right now, and also Dee-Lite. Dance parties abound.
ATPB: Do you have a poem, quote, article, and/or image that you’d like to share to inspire others?
AT: I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at old photos over the last few weeks. Sometimes it’s just old vacation photos from around the world, because I miss traveling and I miss my friends. But I’ve also been looking at photos from my family from 70 and 100 years ago, my ancestors and the way they lived, what they had, what they prioritized. Their lives were far more straightforward, but also extraordinarily more challenging, and I’ve been meditating on what the earlier generations of my family went through, because that is where so much of my strength comes from, and that is true for all of us.
Join us to chat with Anja Tyson with Tamu McPherson on Instagram LIVE Tuesday 21 April at 5pm CEST / 11am EST!
Read more on All The Pretty Birds by Anja Tyson: