Deborah Ferr, an extrovert, talks with her hands as she explains what it is like to be kinesthetic

Deborah Fehr: on being an extroverted kinesthetic person during the Covid pandemic

Deborah Fehr  lives in a cozy house in Delton. She is an extroverted woman with many friends in the community. In her work, Fehr supports people in the childcare field to implement quality care practices.

Fehr began waking up in the middle of the night, consumed with the thoughts of all the people she had seen in a day. “I was seeing up to 15 (daycare) centres. You can have four rooms in a centre. Theoretically, I could be in all four of those rooms. So if you think of three centres in a day, and if each centre has four rooms, think about how many people those are and then add that up over five days. That’s a lot of people that you’ve been in contact with. So if you were to get sick from any one of those zillion people, then you would have to phone all of those people.”

Over time, she began to minimize her contacts, and by Christmas 2020, stopped going to the daycares in person and transitioned to online work. 

Fehr said, “I’m an extrovert and I’m kinesthetic and you can’t be a kinesthetic extrovert when you spend all of your time alone in your own house and all of your time connecting with people via screens. I trust my kinesthetic abilities when I walk into a playroom. I get a sense. I feel stuff, and the feeling stuff gives me an idea of where I need to focus.”

(A kinesthetic person learns through hands-on experiences.) 

Fehr said, “I’m an extrovert and I’m kinesthetic and you can’t be a kinesthetic extrovert when you spend all of your time alone in your own house and all of your time connecting with people via screens. I trust my kinesthetic abilities when I walk into a playroom. I get a sense. I feel stuff, and the feeling stuff gives me an idea of where I need to focus.”

(A kinesthetic person learns through hands-on experiences.) 

She contrasted this with working with people via computer. “Now I just see a person’s head. I can’t tell if they’re lying or not. Their eyes are all over the place [on the computer screen].” 

The people Fehr works with spend their days with children and are not used to being online. This made it hard for Fehr to do her job. “They’re really quiet and they don’t say very much, which means that I’m talking kind of to myself and I’m saying the same thing I said yesterday.” 

She started to wonder if she was repeating her conversations to the same people over again. She thought to herself, “Did I tell you this? I don’t want to give you the same story if you already remember it.” 

While Fehr may be a childcare worker’s only computer meeting, Fehr met with dozens of people every week. 

It was mentally hard on Fehr and she started doubting herself. She added, “I just finished teaching three series. That’s 75 people that I saw everyday, once a week, for two hours. I’m not going to see them again for a long time, but when they see me they’re going to know who I am.”

Fehr mimed herself trying to recall a person’s name on a Zoom call. “I’m trying, but have I ever seen you before? Everybody looks the same to me now. You people keep coming on and your name says ‘iPad.’” 

Fehr said, “There’s four or five iPhone people on there. How am I supposed to know people’s names if they don’t have it up on the screen?”

At the same time, Fehr appreciated the technology that allowed her to stay connected with people.

Fehr’s sister lives in Denmark and she and Fehr talk regularly. “The technology’s incredible. It is amazing to me that I could watch her knit, and she could watch me do the dishes or make lunch.” Fehr laughed, “But I don’t want to watch her knit. We agree not to look at each other—it’s just easier.” Fehr has long conversations with her sister while eating lunch. 

“So the technology is incredible, but it’s crazy making. Some days I start on Zoom at nine and I’m not finished till nine. Sometimes I have to eat while I’m on a Zoom meeting simply because the Zooms overlap because of other people’s schedules. When I’m done, I’m so exhausted—more exhausted than I ever was.” 

“I’ve done a few experiments where you have your computer on, but you’re actually doing something else, so the screen is on and then it shuts off because you haven’t touched it for a while.” Fehr paused and let out a sigh of relief. “My brain says, ‘Thank you. That was a nice little breather.’”

Fehr keenly felt the stress of being online all the time. “I’ve done classes on stress management for people for years,” and acknowledged trying to engage in the things that reduce stress seem to take more energy than they’re worth. “I know what I should do, but I can’t do any of it.” She emphasized, “I can’t.”

Bad habits

Before Covid, Fehr had a set routine. “Monday through Friday, I would get up in the morning, I would go through my routine to get organized for the day, make my lunch that I can eat in the car. Everyday would be the same, and oftentimes I would work at night.”

“Friday,” she continued, “I almost never booked anything after four o’clock. I came home on Friday, and made myself a nice sit-down meal that I enjoyed by myself. It was very intentional to have a glass of wine and let Netflix entertain me. Saturday was catch-up day and party day to see people drink wine.”

When Covid hit, everyday felt the same, said Fehr. “You never leave the house. And you talk on the computer and you learn about technology and you hate technology and you love technology. And your hair turns white.” She gestured to her hair, “It wasn’t white. It is a lot whiter. It hasn’t been cut in a year.”

Everyday began to feel like Friday to Fehr. She found, “That makes it really easy to think that you should have a glass of wine everyday.”

Fehr was not alone in this. Alcohol sales in Canada increased over the first 16 months of the pandemic by $1.86 billion, according to an examination of national retail sales of alcohol and cannabis reported in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in November of 2021.

“This is not a habit I want to deal with. So I have to make rules. The rule is, you can’t drink any wine before Friday at four o’clock. You can drink wine again on Saturday. You can even have a glass of something during the day on a Saturday if you have company, but not if you’re by yourself. And then that’s it for the week. You have to wait until Friday.”

“So I spent all of my time waiting for Friday. I love Fridays.” She laughed, “I count down the days. It’s Wednesday. It’s garbage day. Oh, that means there’s only two more days until Friday!” 

Fehr explained the strict limits she put on how much she was drinking. “You just have to. It would be too easy for it to be a habit. There’s lots of reasons you don’t want that. It’s expensive, and your sleep is not as good. That’s an important thing from a stress reduction point—you really need to have some decent sleep. I have to say that I have not had lots of wonderful sleep.”

More Covid bad habits

“I have watched more TV in the past year than I have—and this is not an exaggeration—than I have in my entire life,” stated Fehr. 

“I don’t have TV or cable or Spotify, because there’s enough on Netflix. Sometimes I watch things over again, because I actually don’t remember what happened the first time and then I go, ‘I think I’ve seen this before,’ but it doesn’t matter because its purpose is only to entertain me and change up my day.”

Fehr clearly illustrated how, in the absence of human interaction during Covid, visual media filled the void in our lives. She laughed as she told her story of watching Netflix. “I save the Netflix movies so that Fridays and Saturdays you can watch a movie as opposed to during the week when you watch a show.” She continued, “Like, I watched Suits. All of it. Did you know there’s nine seasons of Suits? Oh my God, when it was over I was like—I could have been suicidal. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but I thought, ‘What am I going to do now?’ I fell in love with the one lawyer who was married on the show to Megan Markle. Now that that’s gone, oh my gosh, it’s like there’s an emptiness in the world.”

Like many others, Fehr gained weight during the pandemic. “I think I put on 20 pounds since this all started.”

She explained the mental struggle. “I sit there and I think, ‘OK, you know you shouldn’t eat after seven o’clock, but I don’t know. I don’t think you’ve had enough ice cream recently. I think you need some ice cream. And it’s so much better when you put that chocolate sauce on it. And slivered almonds. When you’re finished with the ice cream, there’s still some peanut butter cookies in the cupboard.”

“Since Covid started, I have to bake peanut butter cookies almost every two weeks because I run out of them,” Fehr said.  

Good habits, like reading, became difficult in the low level stress of the pandemic. Fehr had been attempting to re-read a series of books she read with her grandson years ago. She said, “When Covid broke out, I picked it up and,” Fehr’s voice dropped to a whisper, “but I’ve been reading it for over a year.” 

She stated what many people had been feeling. “When the day is done—I am done. I can’t focus well enough to read and retain.”

The emotionalism of the pandemic

Fehr illustrated how small difficulties during the pandemic created big emotions. 

“As much as I see myself as a strong woman, there’s lots of things that I’ve overcome or that I can rise up and manage—I still see myself that way—but I am going to be honest and say, when I went to go and get my shot, this is when I really knew, ‘OK girl, you’re not as good as you think you are.’” 

Fehr’s breaking point came about because of the confusion in the online vaccine booking system managed by Alberta Health and Wellness. “I was getting a little stressed about it because I was booked originally for a pharmacy that’s five minutes from my house. I had also booked at Northgate—not intentionally—I didn’t intend to do both.” 

Because the system allowed people to book appointments online, but did not allow people to view their bookings or cancel online, Fehr accidently booked four appointments. (Link to Priyank article here: For more on the system disorganization in booking vaccines, read this article)

Eventually, Fehr got an email notifying her that she had three vaccine appointments at Safeway. “These were the exact same day and the exact same time. I thought, ‘OK, this is a computer thing.’” However, when she got to her appointment, the woman at the pharmacy said, “Oh, I don’t have you on my clipboard.”

Fehr said, “I almost burst into tears in the middle of Safeway. It was just everything I could do to hold my composure.” 

“I went out of there and I thought, ‘What’s wrong with you? That is not something you do.’ Since then I’ve been paying attention to that,” she continued. 

“In the last five days, I have had five friends tell me a story about something happening to them that was over the top. They’re saying, ‘I don’t know what is the matter with me.’”

She relayed the story of her friend who completed her masters degree and was job hunting during Covid. “She went to the store to buy a Hershey’s bar and they didn’t have any.” 

Her friend emphasized, “‘They didn’t have any!’ and she said it was all she could do to not chop the head off of the person behind the counter.” 

Fehr had tried to connect with another friend who said, “I can’t leave the house. I can’t even go buy groceries anymore. I’m so afraid. And I don’t want to be like that. I stopped listening to the news.” Fehr explained that this friend has a roommate and the roommate watches the news regularly. Fehr said about her friend, “She’s an introvert, and she’s quite happy to be in her own home and not all that adventurous, but it [the pandemic] shut the door for her.” Fehr clapped her hands in emphasis. “She can’t move anymore.”

Fehr continued, “I’m seeing this happen with more and more of the people that I know. These are, for the most part, strong women, but very emotional and easy to tip over that edge.” 

Fehr joined Nextdoor (the online neighbourhood forum), hoping to connect with people like she did in pre-pandemic days. She thought it would be a good place to say, “I really need somebody to do this, or can you recommend that?”

Initially, Fehr said she was happy to see people acting with support. One poster said, ‘Somebody’s going to donate a bed for my daughter, but I don’t have a car.’” Fehr was heartened to see that three people showed up with comments like, “I’ve got a truck, I’ll pick it up on my way home from work.”

Fehr thought, “That feels good. That feels like we’re together in a sort of community.”

As the pandemic wore on, and stress levels became more pronounced, Fehr said Nextdoor has “gone angry. People use curse words on there, and there’s people wanting to get their guns and shoot homeless people who are wandering through the neighbourhood.” 

She paused. “I don’t know what the answers are. There’s so much stuff about masks and don’t mask and sheeple and anger.”

Fehr said, “I don’t want to live in a world that I see on Nextdoor, where instead of celebrating the things that we can do to support each other, we’re going to pull out our guns and accuse each other of being horrible people one way or the other. Bleeding hearts and guns on opposite sides of things and neither can listen to each other.”

She paused and sighed. “When we lose hope, that’s a hard thing.”


Since this interview, Fehr has been able to work in person with daycares, with people within the community, as well as with family and friends. With her need for in-person communications being met, she is feeling more positive. She celebrated her 67th birthday with her family in the U.S. 

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