A year ago we all watched with horror as we came to grips with our new reality: the world was dealing with a deadly pandemic. Every single person across the globe has been impacted and suffered in some fashion; this pandemic has changed pretty much everything.
Our college freshman packed up his dorm with 24 hours notice and flew cross country to shelter at home. California locked down forcing schools to close, and forcing children, teachers and parents to figure out how to teach remotely, as we prepared to hunker down for three weeks (we were so cute back then!!) to ‘get control of this scary virus’.
We quickly arranged our home to accommodate four full-time work spaces, and our family of four began to settle into this new temporary normal. We watched in horror as hundreds of thousands of people died, businesses closed, schools closed, and families suffered the most unimaginable pain and loss. Tens of millions of people have been infected with this virus.
Yet life seemed to march on regardless.
We watched brave front line workers look after us all, and watched our children adapt to this new way of living and learning (or not in many cases), WE adapted to this new reality, and somehow we limped along with this new normal doing the best we could.
So here we are…. one year later.
Thanks to medicine and technology the world is in a much different place. We have three safe and effective vaccines here in the US, over 10% of the population is vaccinated, and the world is preparing to open again safely.
On one hand the endless groundhog days blending together seemed to crawl along at a snails pace, and on the other hand it seems to have gone by in a flash. While there is light at the end of the tunnel, it’s important to recognize what we’ve been through, be kind to yourself, honor the discomfort of the past year, and think about this new life we have on the horizon. I could write about the MANY things we all have lost (I’d seriously be here for days), ways we have suffered, and the devastation this pandemic has left in its wake.
Instead I’m choosing to reflect on the hidden joys we found this past year.
We really can. Life is not easier than it was in March 2020. Homeschooling did not get easier and I miss having my house full of friends laughing and drinking, and dare i say it… sharing a charcuterie board, more than ever. The difference is that now we know we can do this. We can do hard things.
Our whole lives we have dreamed about moving to a beautiful city to live, work and roam, yet it didn’t feel like a viable option until retirement. After receiving notice that our schools would be taught 100% online and Hot Hubby and I were working from home indefinitely, we decided to be opportunistic and relocate to London. We figured, when else would we EVER have the opportunity to work from home in any location, and our children be able to continue school from any location? We didn’t look back and enjoyed five fantastic months exploring this wonderful city.
Like many families, in March 2020 our children came home to shelter in place and continue their school online after their school campuses were closed. We’ve never spent weeks together uninterrupted by others, and probably never will again. I have two teenage boys each with one foot planted firmly in our family, and one foot desperately seeking independence. And do you know what? They are really really funny, intelligent, and fun to be around. We used this as an opportunity to make meaningful memories (full disclosure, there were a LOT of memories we’d all prefer to forget too!)
Given the unprecedented (did I really write that word??) nature of this pandemic, I often felt worried, unsettled, anxious and out of control. Each news cycle could send me spiraling further and further. We decided to focus on things we COULD control. My boys focused on school, sorted and sold their legos (and made $1500 BTW!!) took classes they wouldn’t usually have time to take, practiced driving etc. I tended to lean towards physical activity to burn off my anxiety and it was totally normal for my boys to wake up to me frantically emptying cupboards, polishing the cracks in my floors, and removing all handles from every draw and cupboard in the house to polish.
When the world closed, we were forced to find ways to fill all of this newly discovered white space. After the novelty of jigsaw puzzles, family games and zoom happy hours wore off, we needed to get creative. We discovered remote beaches to explore the tide pools, we hiked random trails, we spent a lot of time at the beach, drank a lot of tequila, and felt extremely fortunate to have access to many outdoor activities and live in a comfortable home.
Being stuck at home together, we really had to reevaluate what happiness means. Adjusting to our new normal, allowed us to find moments of joy. Whether it was a shared cocktail in the back yard of a friend, finishing a 1000 piece puzzle, buying fresh flowers for the house or baking a cake… there were many moments of pure joy this past year.
Going from a full (some may say over-scheduled) life, to everything coming to a grinding halt, allowed us to take stock. Where did we spend our time? With whom did we spend our time? How did we spend our time? We realized our life is filled with things, people, activities that don’t necessarily bring us joy, and we had plenty of time to evaluate this. Alternatively we realized just how precious those times were spent driving teens to a soccer game two hours away, rushing home to get ready for an event, or preparing food and drinks to have friends over. That cliche, ‘you don’t know what you had until it’s gone’ never feels more true.
It’s not clear when everything will return to ‘normal’, but there finally seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, I’m going to go and make some banana bread, do a jigsaw puzzle, dash to buy some toilet paper and reorganize my pantry for old times sake😄
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.