Covid-19 and this global pandemic have changed so many things about our lives—how we work, how we live, and how we think about each other. I’ve noticed a lot of negativity rolled up in the observations about it on social media. I freely confess to having felt a lot of the negativity myself. November has become a time to voice gratitude on social media and around some kitchen tables. We’ve decided to give it a little spin this year and talk about Covid’s Silver Linings. First, allow me to set the stage.
One thing about our work as a company pre-March 2020—we were on the road a lot. Traveling to deliver workshops to clients in person was our normal. It was fun and exciting sometimes, and exhausting and not at all fun at other times. Many friends routinely commented on my travels with envy, assuming it was very different than it actually was. Or wishing they could escape their own spouses and children on a regular basis. I never really minded the travel. Some trips I absolutely looked forward to with great anticipation. But overall, it was far more mundane and far less glamorous than non-road warriors imagine.
On March 13, 2020, I was to head to Brussels to work with a long-time client company for two weeks. This is one of the trips I always cherish and most look forward to, as you might imagine. During the week leading up to the trip, my European partners and I were watching the situation unfold around the globe with growing discomfort and worry. On March 11, we realized we needed to cancel the trip. On March 12, lockdowns were announced.
I was devastated. All I could think about was the loss. Loss of time with clients I only see once every year or so in person. Loss of revenue as contracts began to be cancelled. Loss of doing my work, which I love and which gives me purpose. As the pandemic progresses, I’ve felt all kinds of other loss—loss of friends of friends, loss of decency in how divided we’ve become, loss of naivety about who really has our backs. Like many of you, I’ve been sickened by the loss of life during these past few months, and I am fearful for our country as we move forward without unity, without feeling collective responsibility for one another, and with alarming clarity about how some people really feel about the rights of others.
All this loss has led to feelings of despair at certain moments. During this time, our family has also faced tremendous challenge as we’ve witnessed my mother’s rapid decline into the claws of Lewy Body Dementia. My father’s heartbreak and helplessness, and ultimate realization that she was no longer safe living here with us. Moving her into a facility which can care for her in the way she needs was one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make as a family.
And yet… I can’t dwell here. Hopelessness and despair don’t suit me. So I’ve started noticing the silver linings. In this month of traditional gratitude, I’ve decided to share these silver linings with you.
This week’s theme is “Being home to…”. As the weeks of shutdown grew into months, I started to appreciate being home. No more travel means I get to be home all the time, which hasn’t been the case in 15 years. I’ve enjoyed watching the change of seasons from day to day out my office windows. I get to take walks every day with our dog, and often with a member of my family. I’m home to eat dinner with my family every night and catch up on how everyone’s day went. I get to help take care of our farm animals, which is a surprisingly therapeutic experience most of the time. I get to nest in our home, cleaning out spaces, reimagining their use, decluttering, and organizing things the way I never had time to do before. I get to sit on the deck and watch the sun come up with a cup of coffee. I get to sit on the deck and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine.
Most of all, I get to finally appreciate these 22 acres and the oasis they provide for my family. We control how much of the world seeps in here. We control how we’re treated here. When I was traveling, I loved coming home to this space. It felt like an up-north retreat and I knew I was lucky to live here. Now that I don’t have to leave it, I appreciate it even more.