On December 31, 2019, I rang in the New Year with an amazing group of people, watching a 180 degree view of fireworks in Orlando, FL. We clinked our glasses and toasted the upcoming year with hopes for a wonderful 2020.
Well it is now seven months later and we find ourselves in the middle of the COVID-19 medical crisis, with really no end in sight. We wear masks to protect others, we stay 6 feet apart to avoid transmitting the disease, there are protests against social injustice, and schools are trying to figure out a way to open safely. In my wildest imagination, I could not have predicted this state of affairs. As I was ringing in the New Year, I was really excited about turning 60 years old in March. Little did I know that a pandemic was waiting in the wings.
A lot has happened to me since the United States went into various stages of lockdown. I learned how to perform my job duties using online tools, while sitting at a makeshift desk in our guestroom. I have become a consistent bicycle rider, peddling slowly through the neighborhoods, enjoying every minute of the experience. I gained a greater appreciation for those people who keep our country running smoothly including, but not limited to, all of the front line workers in medical, safety, food, and merchandise delivery.
During the last seven months, I also discovered areas of my life that I took for granted. I miss being able to touch other people, not in a creepy, get arrested kind of way, but to greet with a hug, shake hands, or stand right next to someone to have a conversation. I miss seeing people smile. I understand that we wear face coverings to keep others safe, but I like to read faces and a mask makes that difficult. I miss the joy of celebrating with others over a good meal. Yes we found a way to enjoy each other’s company through “parking lot picnics,” but sitting 6 feet apart in the Toys-R-Us parking lot lacked the coziness of gathering around a table, passing the salt, and sharing dessert.
I have spoken with many people who are struggling with their emotional and mental health during this time in our world. They have to fight to get out of bed in the morning and the simplest chores seem monumental. My heart goes out to those folks as they try to put one foot in front of the other, praying every day to see a bit of sunshine. The year 2020 has really been a kick in the stomach. It has brought about a level of sadness that I have not seen in my lifetime, though it does remind me of the stories my Mom shared about her experiences during the Great Depression.
In just a couple of weeks the new academic year begins. I know that interacting with students on a college campus will put me at risk for acquiring COVID-19, yet I still feel called to do the work that has given me joy for over 30 years. The difference this year is that I will be greeting students with a distant wave, while wearing a face covering (that matches my outfit).
As I look forward to the fall semester, I do so with a new sense of self. I used this time during lockdown for self-reflection. In some ways I feel like I have been washed by a spring rain, left feeling refreshed and ready for whatever comes next. Though I do want to tell the year 2021 that it had better get its shit together now!
When my friends and I clink our glasses on December 31st, I will seriously be happy to have the year 2020 in my rearview mirror. However I do need to be patient. There are still five months left in this year. That’s 153 days where I can be Tinkering with Success and working hard at becoming a better and healthier version of myself.
So as you look ahead, what do you want to focus on? How do you want to feel when everyone starts the countdown to 2021?
10, 9, 8, 7……..Let’s end this year strong.