It’s a strange thing that’s crept in over the last 40 days of this contained existence. As life has been stripped down to its essentials, I’m finding myself seeing and noticing more of what this daily life has to offer.
I sit here on a weekday with my 5-year old daughter, perched at the top of our hilly, weedy yard (that we used to be too busy to visit) looking out at a slice of Silicon Valley. It’s peaceful and breathtaking. No place to rush to in traffic. The sky is crystal clear with no smog and it’s so quiet now you can actually hear the birds singing. My daughter hugs me tight. She’s still at that precious age where she wants ALL the snuggles and I’m here to receive them.
With all the pain in the world and the weight of what we have to carry it feels wrong to talk about anything GOOD that’s going on, as if we’ve made joy taboo. Have you felt this? I know I have. A joke here or there is OK but talking about happy things or things going well, seems really off. Going on this way is a mistake though. As individuals, as parents, as leaders we have to allow ourselves to the good things happening now, to honor it and to learn from it.
“Mommy, I missed you” is how she greets me sweetly when I emerge from my office (well, it’s just the kids repurposed playroom but whatever). Later at family dinner I ask my son if he is getting tired of having us (the parents) around 24x7. After all, this is our 41st sit down family dinner in a row! He adamantly declares “NEVER!!!” I believe him. Joy upon joy upon joy.
Zoom out from there and life is a HOT MESS. A wild mix of chaos and monotony every day — what day is it again?
I curse this new routine as I wrestle professional life and homeschooling the kids (badly), powering through a jumble of work meetings, classroom zooms and chores. In an act of defiance, I refuse to pre-plan “what’s for dinner”, that feels like the final surrender of my brain to this WFH mode. Better to freestyle and focus on more important things, I say to myself. After all, there are so many worthy causes and not enough hours in the day to help everyone.
I really really miss childcare and workouts and seeing people IRL. The Zoom fatigue is real and it’s not the same. It’s suffocating to live like this, especially for an active extrovert. And then I just get mad, like who are these people baking bread all the time? Who has time for that?… I digress.
No one said this was easy.
“Gratitude is a celebration we are all invited to.”
— Cleo Wade
Perspective shift. Forty days in, I welcome it with open arms. I’m giving myself full permission to notice and celebrate the seedlings of joy all around. For my own sake, yes, but also because as parents and as leaders we have to find ways to replenish our energy, boost our resilience and have the emotional bandwidth to capably serve others in a challenging time.
Here’s what I’m noticing. What about you?
- Time with kids. Last year I traveled a ton. Now I’m getting a chance to makeup for all those missed dinners and bedtimes. What a precious gift!
- Family dinners every day of the week. That has never happened before.
- Deeper and more frequent conversations with friends. It used to be impossible to schedule a dinner date, now we can just Zoom any night.
- At work, seeing more of our whole selves. In our homes and with our kids, we are seeing more of the whole person and that is a beautiful thing.
- Addiction to our digital lives rebalanced with appreciation of IRL interaction, connection and physical affection (hugs and high fives). We didn’t know how good we had it but we know now.
- Seeing people appreciate and miss their teammates. We all have a new respect for the value of our office / work life and the people in it.
- Countless examples of kindness and generosity. Meals for health workers, groceries for the elderly, PPE supply delivery, etc. Communities forming to care, contribute, innovate in this time of need.
- Immense gratitude and appreciation for our teachers, schools and classroom learning. I hope we never take you for granted again.
- Watching grandparents go digital and get “on the zoomline”
- Seeing kids become more independent and have time to just be kids. I’m hopeful this generation will have the grit to solve big problems.
- Clearer skies and simpler lifestyles. Did we really need all that? Could we be kinder and gentler to our planet now?
- Superhero parents who are carrying companies + communities + families on their shoulders, squeezed between kids and grandparents.
- Melting away of pretense. More vulnerability and authenticity from men and women. Less focus on visual appearance and wearing “the uniform”.
- Midday family lunches and neighborhood walks. It won’t last.
- Safe and happy home. The ultimate luxury. I am grateful for that.
I would keep going with the list but this post has to end at some point.
This crisis isn’t just to be passed through, it’s here to teach us something. What are you noticing? What have you learned? What’s filling up your cup?
Give gratitude to all that you have.
Make space in your mind so you can help others.
“Clean out your thoughts. They have the power to cover your entire life in dirt.” — Cleo Wade
I yelled at the kids to get off their iPad as I sat down with my laptop to write for a while. What a double standard! The kids acquiesced and I felt triumphant, only to emerge from my office later to find utter chaos all over the house. “But mom, we didn’t use the iPad!”
(Smile, ok, they got me there)