The Big Cheese

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Lime & Soda and Vokali’s Debra Duffy

This week, the general manager of Lime & Soda and Vokali gives us the lowdown on what’s keeping her sane. We’ll give you a couple of hints: it’s not her snoring dog or her teenage son’s choice in music.

What are you reading?

Ummmm … I am what you would call an ‘active relaxer’ and I can’t handle sitting still for long, so relaxing with a good book doesn’t really appeal to my overactive personality!

What are you watching? 

Totally contradictory to the above answer; however, at the end of a busy day, I love to get stuck into a good online series.

I’ve recently finished watching Tiger King (don’t judge me!), as well as British dramas Thirteen and Liar (sooo good!!). I am currently in between binge watches and am planning on starting either Killing Eve or Ozark – so many options, so little time!

What are you listening to?

At the moment in my lockdown home office, I’m literally listening to my pug, Ellie (pictured right), snoring loudly under her blanket. Clearly, having us at home all day every day is purely exhausting for a little dog!

Music-wise, I have a teenage son, so any chance at listening to music of my choice is always overruled by some sort of gangster rap or Eminem.

Mind you, I did notice a bit of Fleetwood Mac on his playlist recently, which I was allowed to hum to without totally embarrassing him.

What are you cooking? 

I am a terrible cook. I hate being in the kitchen when I can be outside or going for a run! However, being in lockdown has given me more time than I’m used to, so I have dabbled a bit in the kitchen.

Recent creations have been homemade bagels, beer bread, scones, muffins, dumplings, pad thai, and apple pie. Funnily enough, all this baking and extra cooking has resulted in my clothes shrinking in the wash!

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

Despite COVID-19 creating such devastating upheaval around the world, I have actually felt more relaxed than I have in many years.

The enforced lockdown means I have more time to spend with my children and more time to myself to reflect and recharge. As a family, we bake, create, walk, play, and laugh every single day (we also fight too, but let’s not focus on the negatives).

Physically, I’ve always been really active, so along with our daily family walks, I run and do online workouts. I kind of need to with all that baking.

What’s the one thing keeping you sane?

Work! I am lucky enough to still be working every day and even luckier to be working with a bunch of very motivated and talented people.

Work gives me purpose and structure to my days. It enables me to use my brain and gives me an opening to the world outside of our family bubble. Connecting and engaging with like-minded events professional via Zoom and phone conversations has also been really fabulous.

Despite the uncertainty of our industry right now, it’s comforting to know we are not alone and there is a real sense of togetherness that I am really proud to be part of.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

New Zealanders are a really super-friendly bunch of people.

We are all experiencing this crisis differently in our daily lives, and our communities and neighbours are rallying together to create positive experiences despite this.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I don’t need takeaway food in my life! I haven’t missed it at all and I’m not planning on waiting in the McDonald’s queue to get myself a burger anytime soon!

What’s your advice for others in the travel industry on coping with the crisis?

Don’t sit back and wait for this to end, because it will be a long wait. Look at ways to pivot your products/offerings to reflect the current situation and/or be ready for when we can start moving and meeting again.

Also, take the time to reset and recharge. I’d like to think that as soon as the government hits the green light we will be straight back in and busy as ever. So, enjoy the downtime from a wellbeing perspective and hang in there.

Remember, you are not alone.

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