“I find that I have a lot more patience when I am not so wound up from work…in the long term, this has made me reconsider both my career and life goals…”
Galina Tekunoff was born and raised just outside of San Francisco in a family of Russian immigrants. She moved to Los Angeles about five years ago after graduating from college, eager to make her new relationship with her husband work.
When she moved down to Downtown Los Angeles she had just deferred admission to law school, but was still working in the legal industry. After years with a global powerhouse law firm, she made the transition to wealth management which is where she’s now a member of the legal team. Prior to the pandemic Galina’s goals were to “climb the corporate ladder,” until she eventually found herself in an executive office suite… She is fortunate to work for a company who supports this goal and has even been encouraged by her bosses to return to school to make this a reality.
Galina’s daily life has traditionally been dictated by routines and stressful deadlines. Since she’s an extremely intense and goal-oriented individual, her personal life has always revolved around her work schedule and the due dates of various “federal filings.” Galina had seldom taken time for “self care” aside from going to the gym and filling weekends with various church and family obligations. Until the pandemic happened, Galina’s life was hectic, and moving fast, showing no signs of stopping before the possibility of facing burnout…
Since the shelter in place order was enacted in Los Angeles, Galina has been forced to take time to slow down and reconnect with what her goals truly are, and get her life priorities in a new order. She’s been hand making cards for her family,and getting creative in the kitchen, stating “I now have more patience, when I am not so wound up from work.” She stresses the importance of keeping family in close contact during these challenging times, and shares the details of what it’s like to face her anxiety while being under quarantine less than half a mile from Skid Row’s chaos, where the sirens seemingly never stop blaring no matter the time of day or night.
Read more about Galina’s revelations transitioning from the law office to lockdown, below!
Where exactly are you living right now? Is this where you permanently reside or is it a temporary living situation due to the pandemic?
“Right now we are living in our tiny 700 square foot loft in the heart of historic core, DTLA. I have been living here for two years. I am “sheltering in place” with my husband :)”
What’s the biggest challenge you think you’ve faced during this quarantine situation?
“The biggest challenge for me has been handling my mental health. I have severe anxiety and being stuck home has been really challenging. Also, geographically we are close to Skid Row, which is a COVID hotspot, so we hear ambulance sirens and police helicopters almost constantly.
With fewer people out, crime rates have risen in our area and many of the homeless that typically stay in Skid Row are now taking to the street I live in–we are now living in fear of going outside not only from the disease but also crime and violence. Seeing almost all of downtown boarded up and shut down is eerie and the lines in front of the grocery stores are unsettling.”
What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?
“The first and perhaps most important is I have been trying to do is keep a routine. I have an alarm set, and go through the same motions I would if I were going in to the office. I take time to do forms of self care and beauty routines I wouldn’t typically have enough time to do.
I am also in a group message with my mom, aunties and girl cousins which has been really amazing. We are a close bunch–more like friends than family–and are all very chatty so we have been keeping each other updated and laughing almost constantly with pictures of their kids, culinary creations, and recently, home haircuts! Group messages with friends have also been great, it is so important to be able to take a break from talking with and being around my husband all day every day. I typically only call my grandma weekly but am now calling her daily to check in and chit chat. She is such a wealth of information and has the best personality so having the time to really spend with her (remotely) has been such a blessing.
Another way I have been keeping my spirits up is by using my brain in more creative ways than I typically would. As I mentioned above, I have been making hand made cards for my family and using water color paint pens and embossing tools, which has been really satisfying. I don’t usually have time to craft or write letters, so it has been fun! I have also become much more creative in the kitchen. Some of my favorite creations so far have been braised beef short ribs, roasted chicken, and curry–enjoying a meal made with lots of love is so satisfying, and seeing my husband enjoying it makes even better!”
What has been your routine so far during the pandemic?
“I work in wealth management which is considered an “essential business,” so fortunately my hours and compensation has not been affected–however many of our clients are based out of New York City so the pace of work has slowed down tremendously.
Now that I have much more time, and since I have been getting really creative in the kitchen, dinner will take about an hour or two to make. At 5pm I pour myself a glass of wine, while Uriel [my husband] continues to work, and I let myself start to unwind. Dinner is served around 7. After dinner I clean the kitchen, take a shower, and do a face mask.
Once Uriel is all done working, we like to spend time together; he has taught me how to play 5 card draw and Texas hold ‘em and I have taught him how to play dominoes. We also like playing Scattergories, Exploding Kittens, and we each have creative projects we like to work on. To unwind we will typically watch something on PBS and head to bed between midnight and 1am. It has been a really welcome change of pace for both of us.”
What has your community been doing to fight the rate of transmission? Is this how you think the situation is best handled?
“The County of Los Angeles has been under “Safer at Home” guidelines which are strongly recommending people stay home and keep social distance. Many businesses are public spaces (including parks etc) are closed and the few that are open (grocery stores and some restaurants) are using spacing precautions; there are 6 foot spaced out lines outside grocery stores with a smaller foot traffic allowance inside. People are not allowed into restaurants, we are required to call ahead/ order online and pick up at the door.
While the government has put into place measures to prevent the spread of COVID, there are a lot of who are not listening. I keep seeing on social media and hearing in our courtyard people gathering and partying. When in the grocery store or waiting in lines people are still trying to stand close. It is really frustrating to hear people partying because my husband and I are taking this very seriously and we know the longer people are gathering the longer it will take to eradicate COVID. We leave the loft fewer than twice total a week each and are missing our friends and family too. We are desperate for normalcy and those peoples’ selfishness is putting all of us in the building at risk and delaying that return to normal life.”
Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any important plans you had laid out for the near future?
“YES! We had a trip planned to Austin the first weekend of April that had to be canceled, and our future trips are looking like they are going to be canceled as well including Denver in June, South Africa in August, and most likely our Munich trip in October. We don’t typically travel this much, but Uriel’s new job includes some traveling for on-location filming and trade shows, which I have been invited to help out with–which will all most likely canceled. I grew up traveling, while Uriel has not, and I was looking forward to showing him South Africa and Europe.”
Is there anything you feel that this experience has taught you that you’d like to share as inspiration for everyone going through this together?
“This probably sounds cheesy, but this experience has taught me that I really like being around my husband and being a housewife! I put off working from home for about a month as my office is still open out of fear we would drive each other nuts and not want to be around each other. As case numbers were rising we decided it would probably be best for me to work from home, and honestly I really like spending the whole day with him. When I have to go back to work I will miss it.
Now that I have a lot more time on my hands doing domestic chores is a lot more enjoyable. I like to spend a lot of time and effort making dinner every night, and not being upset at how many dirty dishes we create in a day.
I find that I have a lot more patience when I am not so wound up from work, and living life in Lululemon is pretty fantastic. In the long term, this has made me reconsider both my career and life goals; perhaps being a corporate boss lady isn’t my calling?”
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