Won’t you join me in a shift of perspective?

I have read and listened to so many people say they do not wish to remember or celebrate 2020 – everyone simply is trying to erase and move on as quickly as possible to a ‘normal’ 2021. Since we have just turned the calendar year to 2021, I wanted to reflect on the meaningful takeaways and connections I experienced in 2020 precisely because the Pandemic mandated that we shift our behaviors and assumptions. My hope is that you too can reflect on 2020 and pick out lessons learned and insightful “aha’s” that came amidst the chaos of the year so that you can move forward wiser and more centered.

Early in the pandemic, my husband and I came to realize that we had little control of the unfolding events that compromised our ability to work, canceled our once in a lifetime cooking school trip to France, canceled most of the activities we looked forward to every year and took the simple pleasure of eating out, off the table. Though we did not have to juggle children’s education, we had to juggle budgets, expectations, and our lives to adapt to a new normal of being homebound and having planned events constantly canceled based on the spread of Covid both within our state and internationally.

It could have gone 1 of 2 ways: We could be angry and defiant or embark on a new path of deepening our relationship and rolling with the waves. We chose the latter. We scaled back our spending, searched for paper products and meat like everyone else, checked in on family and friends and started grocery shopping for at-risk families. We created a schedule that kept us engaged and focused on results. We found activities that we could do and routinely scheduled outdoor time. I signed up for a lot of online training in my field while we were following ‘shelter in place’ orders and Don worked his artistic side and created some really beautiful furniture. We planted and grew a wonderful vegetable garden and shared the abundance with those in our circle.

At night, we set an intentional table. Nice music, well presented meals and candles. We gave thanks for what we had and talked. We took the time to create intentional joy and deepen our partnership. It was, and continues to be wonderful.

What we discovered through all of this was that we could choose to control our attitude and be creative to make our time meaningful and memorable for years to come. We had losses and missed spending time with our family and friends in person. That was a challenge, but we helped others in our community, and I did a lot of cooking that we shared with others. It was a year of quiet relationship building and recalibration for us. Covid19 slowed our world down to the point that I got to spend real quality time with my husband and recalibrate my goals and values without the noise of our typical life and hectic client schedule. I believe my husband and I are better for having experienced a year of suspended expectations and a refocus on what is really important to us. As we come out of this Pandemic, we will be changed for the better and more reflective. We remain grateful and look forward to a positive 2021 with family and our community.

Can you identify 1 or 2 lessons learned or things that you are grateful for in 2020? Focus on these things and bring them forward on your journey. Never throw your time or experiences away. It is all valuable and it gives us the opportunity to choose our responses and create a more meaningful and joyful life moving forward. Happy 2021.

Won’t you join me Thanksgiving 2020? 

Like most everyone else’s T-Day plans, ours have been revised twice in the last 3 months based on the spread of Covid19. Typically, we would be traveling to a big family gathering in Chicago with enough food to feed a small army, mouthwatering treats and robust conversations. Two months ago, we simplified that plan to staying with my 91-year-old Aunt to celebrate a much-toned down day and give her healthcare workers the day off. Last week, we called her to share that we were not comfortable putting her (and us) at risk based on the recommendations of infectious disease doctors and the rapid rise of infections and hospitalizations in both states.  We had not missed a year since the late 70’s. Now what? For my immediate family, the Chicago gathering has always been more anticipated than Christmas because of the comradery of all the cousins, conversations and activities. This year, it is just the 2 of us. Doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving. It feels like a loss of connection with family and others. The question became: Could we create that feeling of real thanks and community that we have gotten EVERY Thanksgiving despite Covid19?  The answer is a resounding YES.  

The glue to our Thanksgiving has always been in the act of sharing, caring and getting caught up. It’s just going to look different this year with only the 2 of us.  

We have decided to share our gratitude and put it in action. I have reached out to my single and fragile clients and a couple of elderly people we know from church asking if they have family support and a prepared meal on Thanksgiving Day. My husband and I will be making a large meal that we can package up and deliver fresh and with smiles and a check in.  

This simple act is very empowering and takes the sting out of not having our traditional day. We will still have plenty of time to Skype, Facetime & call our extended family across the miles; and we will feel fulfilled in our efforts by bringing joy and hope to those outside our typical circleI also hope to put a few bags together for any homeless we might encounter on our delivery route. 

So, if your Thanksgiving isn’t going to look anything like your original plans and you are feeling depressed or out of sorts, won’t you join me in looking for those outside of your typical circle and see how you can support them with a meal, special treat or a checkin call?  Imight make all the difference to them and it could allow you to connect to your community in a new deeper way. I wish you a fulfilling Thanksgiving experience. 

Won’t you join me tonight?

I decided to share a post I wrote on the local neighborhood Nextdoor app on November 3, 2020. It has generated more positive reaction than any other post the Neighborhood Lead had ever seen. So far, 269 people have positively reacted to and it has generated 43 comments and private messages. Though the post focused on 1 night and a particular event, the universal message is that you always have the choice to do your best and then give yourself the permission and grace to let it go and move forward with a plan. This is about empowerment over the long haul. I hope it gives you a chance to pause, refresh and refocus.

Won’t you join me tonight?

I have done all I can do. For the first time ever, I put signs in my yard, I wrote to 31 senators across the USA, gave to critical campaigns across the USA, participated in town halls, did a lot of reading, volunteered to work the polls and I voted. I have no control of what happens tonight other than in my own household. It is time to reset and center.

I bought steak and fresh veggies to create a wonderful comfort meal. My husband and I will make dinner together, share a special glass of wine and listen to music that uplifts us. After that we will share our intentions for the next 4 years regardless of who is in office. We will share what we are grateful for this year and give thanks for the blessings we have been given. After 8pm, we will go out and remove all the political signs that have graced our yard these past many weeks. We will be ready to move forward, come what may because we will be stronger in each other and we will have some basic plans in place. We choose peace and forward action vs. chaos and anger.

You can do the same. Reset and center. It may be a bumpy road ahead and you will be better able to cope having taken the evening for yourself and your loved ones. This might be even more important if you are alone. Reset and center. It is a gift you can give yourself but you have to choose it.

I thought I would also share 2 responses that really resonated with me – one was a public comment and the other one was a private message: “What a beautiful reminder that we are all in control of how we approach our lives”.

“I never post publicly on this app. I’m more of a silent observer and prefer to stay anonymous. But after months of being witness to the back and forth of all sides, I was immensely stressed out, worried and fretting about the political, social, and cultural landscape of our country. So like you, I did my part.

After returning home from voting today I came across your post and it actually moved me to tears. I just had to reach out to you to say thank you for sharing something truly neutral and peaceful.

I don’t know who you are or which signs you had in your yard, but I’ve been thinking about you both and what you said all evening. So tonight I think I’ll have a glass of wine too. And I think I’ll toast to you and your husband for sharing an insight that touched me deeply.

You reminded me of something I read recently that said not to panic about things largely out of our control, our real power lies in the decisions each of us make every day. Thank you for deciding to share a way forward. In Gratitude,”

So, I hope that my sharing this post brings you hope and a deeper sense of peace and grounding. It’s one day at a time for all of us. In service, Mary