I doubt there aren’t many people out there who would disagree that this year has truly tested our spirit and humanity. That is why I say: “2020 (insert raspberry sound here)”. Everyone has their own experience and I wanted to share my personal experience as a way of inspiring others to find some growth through these circumstances. We, as human beings, have been put through some very unusual and challenging times. When I look back over the year, I can’t help but feel like we have been tested. By whom or what, you decide. This year has been a calling for us all to open our eyes and truly see the world around us. It’s a time for us all to pause and reflect on how to navigate what could be the new norm.
The future was so bright, I had to wear shades“…
Looking back over the past year, January started off with such promise. I had resigned myself to start use medication to manage my depression and anxiety. My life perspective was at it’s peek. A dear friend and fellow blogger Aberdeen, Aberdeen’s Kitchen, was mentoring me and coaching me on how to create my own blog (AKA retirement plan). It felt incredible to have so much love and support as I put myself out there in new way. Work was becoming enjoyable again. Life wasn’t so overwhelming and I truly felt happy.
Soon, the website was ready for it’s first post, A Pinch of This and a Dash of That. Our middle daughter, Elizabeth, was starting to plan her graduation party and spring events. My 11 year old, Lauren, was starting to really enjoy snow shoeing and being out in the winter weather. Our 20 year Gwen, was in a place in her life where she was feeling strong and confident in her independence. Howard and I were finding time for us again. We were all in a great place and life was looking good. The future was so bright, I had to wear shades!
Inside our little bubble, the world was a happy place. Outside, we all knew it wasn’t the same. In reality, we all knew the day would come in which it would all come to a head. How that was going to play out, no one could have known.
March popped our happy little bubble!
Throughout the month of February and the beginning of March, I watched diligent as the news of the Covid and the case numbers started to grew. I was the Assistant Director of an Early Learning Center in Downtown Seattle, at that time. Covid and safety were on the forefront of everyone’s minds on a daily basis. In just a short 2 week period;
- Seattle Public Schools closed for a “2 week” period, thinking this would be sufficient time.
- Howard to was sent home to work from our home office.
- In a little over a week later, our company closed their centers and placed everyone on furlough.
- POP! There goes our families happy little bubble.
As so many people can identify, there was a profound sense of getting the rug pulled out from underneath your feet. Where you once thought you were sure footed, you realize that you aren’t. You are suddenly flooded with concerns not only over income, but health and safety, resources and so much more. Now please don’t miss read this…I am not a survivalist. But having a well stocked pantry, eased our concerns over food resources. With an exception of that damned toilet paper. I know how to stock and maintain a functional pantry, but I haven’t the faintest idea of how to make toilet paper. I couldn’t help but find great humor in the fact that the one resource, at least in our area, that became scarce, was toilet paper. Is that because the proverbial “S” was literally hitting the fan?
Social distancing is NOT how I roll
Then the Social Distancing mandates started to increase due to the lack of people taking their own personal responsibility to ensure they were staying home. We now had a situation with thousands of people on furlough and unemployment with nothing better to do than take a beautiful spring time vacation in Seattle and tour all the places. My house has a dad who is working from home, 2 outdoors kids stuck inside, and me – a social butterfly. Suddenly, contracting the virus was the least of my concerns. Visions of absolute anarchy breaking out in my home, began floud my mind. How were we going to stay sain and sival for an indefinate period of time?
I know! I’ll find a few things to keep the kids busy for a couple weeks. Just a couple of weeks. Just till school opens back up and I’m back to work. RIGHT!? So I ordered a bunch of Lego Harry Potter Lego sets (because the Millennium Falcon we built several years ago took 5 hours), puzzles, books, gnomes for the girls to paint for the garden, taught the girls to cross stitch, Danni wanted to sew a quilt, and much much more…
The end of week 2……..
By the end of the second week, reality began to set in. At this point, the kids aren’t going back to school, I’m not going back to work, Howard isn’t going back to the office, the legos are all built, the puzzles are done, books are read, Danni has decided that she doesn’t want to make a quilt and isn’t keen on cross stitch. Time to rethink my strategy. So what do you do? Initially you run away to your cousin’s cabin to hide.
Making lemonade – because plain ‘ol lemons just aren’t good enough.
As my mother would say, “Uffdah”. I have now used up all of my vacation time and needed to apply for unemployment. It’s become clear that the kids and Howard would not be returning to school and the office until, at least, the fall. Thank goodness for community and distractions.
The Lauren’s Scout troop and Mountaineers groups started holding virtual meetings. I was very impressed in how she and her friends are able to figure out ways of staying connected. There were virtual slumber parties and day long playdates all virtually.
Elizabeth made the most of her graduation with a drive by ‘graduation party’ and a virtual graduation via a Zoom conference with family.
Me? I had committed myself to giving the blog a great start. Loading the blog and learning as much as I possibly could, became my new 9 to 5. So, I created my own work space and started cookin’. It was one of the best times of my life. Once upon a time, I was home with my kids. Having this opportunity to do it again, was bitter sweet. Bitter because of the circumstances and unpredictability of returning to work. Sweet, because spending time with my family is one the greatest joys I have.
Forced to pause in my world of motion
Speaking of making lemonade… Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t stop. I am always in motion. Whether it’s supporting my children and their growth through volunteer work in their programs, Howard, cooking, work, planning gatherings with friends and family, this blog, and making time for my kiddo who is out in the world – my life is full. It fills my bucket and keeps my soul in a happy. This is also exhausting. Burn out happens at the most inopportune times, but I wouldn’t have lived my life any other way.
Life is different, now. I have been forced to pause and reprioritize. I’m sure I am not alone in this process. If you have taken full advantage of the circumstance the world has set for us, you really can’t help but edit your life. Before, life was a mishmash of projects and responsibilities. It’s now refocused.
- Work – because it pays the bills. (I’m being honest, here)
- Cooking healthy.
- Finding ways for the kids to stay connected with their friends.
- This Blog, because it’s my retirement plan so Howard and I can move to the mountains as we have always dreamed.
- Family and friend Zoom time.
I have a clear focus on what needs to matter most for myself and my family. It’s been a transformational growth that I never would have expected…and all because I had to pause.
Just a little bit of freedom goes a long way
Eventually, the restrictions started to lift, we became more comfortable with our new norm, and brave enough to head out of the house. In June, we started with a camping trip to Mt. St. Helens and Seaquest National Park. Despite the rain, it was just what the girls and I needed. We took every precaution. Found a campsite well surrounded by foliage. Only hiked on trails early in the day when there was one one or two cars there. Were back at camp by the time the trails got busy.
We started taking day drives, just to get out and to confirm that world still existed. The Pacific Northwest has some wonderful day drives. Our second big adventure of the summer with the Lauren’s Mountaineers group to Nason Creek for a camping trip and some rock climbing. They put together a well thought out health and safety plan and we all did our part to use every precaution. Even the kids were doing their part. Later in the week, since the Elizabeth’s outdoor group event was cancelled, she and Howard joined us for a few days of camping and poking around Lake Wenatchee.
September and 2020 still isn’t done with us
Sooooo… September came and I have to admit, I broke a little. I stopped participating in the weekly family Zoom meetings, resigned my position as Chair for one youth program, started ordering dinner nearly every night, and working myself to exhaustion. All signs that I am not in a good place.
What happened? The seasonal fire season lit the west coast up like a Yule tree burning on Golden Garden Beach. The air quality across the coastline has plummeted to reach record pollution levels. The fraction of freedom we had, is now gone. While I’m back at work, the kids are heading back to school virtually. Howard is now celebrating working from home for an official 6 months.
Outside of our own area, the hurricane season is firing up and beating the East Coast and Golf Coast. Earthquakes and other natural disasters are raising having across the world. Fortunately, the Murder Hornets have somehow completely disappeared…or at least from the media.
Then, one amazing Friday, the rain started to pour down. By the next morning, we had a brief reprieve here in our area. While we are grateful to open the windows for a day, we are also hoping the rain hit those fires hard.
Once down but never for long
We are heading into the holiday season and many people are having to rethink their holiday traditions. Family can’t travel as freely as they once could. Social gatherings are sketchy, at best. So, what will we do? What we have done through this entire rollercoaster of an experience. We’re going to make as much lemonade as we need to, to get us through.
Recipe for the Covid holidays
Over the next few months, I plan to share some recipes and ideas my family will be using throughout the holiday season. I’d love to hear back from you on how you plan to reinvent your holidays. Let’s make the most of this, while we stay safe and help protect others. Here were go! 2020 (insert raspberry sound here)
- Halloween and Samhain
- Thanksgiving and Native American Celebration
- Our Annual Chanukah, Yule, and Christmas Party
- Family Chanukah and Christmas