Last spring, we went from running at full-force to slamming into the wall of COVID-19 face- first. We were stopped in our tracks. Forced to give up just about everything except take-out pizza as we sat home and waited for it to be over. What happened while we waited for life to open back up again will change us forever. The changes look different for each of us. Some of us lost people we love. Some of us lost our jobs. Some of us gained 15 pounds that we would have preferred to lose. Some of us gained other things too, like a new perspective on life. For some of us, COVID-19 forced us to come back to center and then carefully decide what we want to invite back into our lives.
Like so many, I had big plans for my spring and summer of 2020. I was traveling to conferences in Washington D.C., California, Kentucky, Tennessee, and back to D.C. I was sad to miss out on those opportunities to connect with educators from around the country. I missed my Quincy Elementary family so much, and connecting over Zoom just wasn’t the same. Working hard side-by-side with the Q-Crew fuels my soul. However, as the weeks of our stay-at-home order turned into months, I begin to notice some unexpected positive things happening in my life. Some might call it serendipity.
For one, my house was constantly clean and organized. More than than, I found that I had energy to enjoy the time with my family in a way I normally didn’t. We figured out creative ways to have fun and entertain ourselves. Together. We cooked different kinds of meals. Together. We played new games and binged on new Netflix series. Together. Our sons are five years apart so they had never really been friends. Until COVID hit and we were together all the time. They are brothers and friends now.
My husband supports my work as a school principal and as an author/speaker, but he always wished I was home more. His wish came true, and that saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” was more of a reality than ever. I am not sure what to think of the fact that he asked me the other night when I was going to start writing a book again?
We had hard times, we had more belly laughs than I can count, we had tragedy, and we had great joy. I found myself getting nervous about the world opening up again because I felt so safe and loved and joyful in our little cocoon. I didn’t want to go back to “normal” anymore.
I thought back to the year 2000, when we moved away from our hometown. We moved because we had fallen in love with the slower pace of life in upnorth Michigan. Jim’s dad lived in a town named Gaylord that was an outdoorsman’s paradise. We loved hanging out in the polebarn playing marbles, going two-tracking, and escaping the hustle and bustle of the city life. We ended up moving to Traverse City, a resort town in northern Michigan because that is where we found jobs.
We found an awesome house to rent in a little town called Cedar, and it even had a polebarn! The drive to our jobs in Traverse City was long and we worried about the commute in the winter, so we moved closer to town. And then we moved again. And then we bought our first house. And then we bought our second house. As we were moving from house to house over the fourteen years we lived there, I became a principal and got busier and busier. And before you knew it, that slower pace of life in northern Michigan became a life of hustle and bustle. Life transformed little by little into something we had never intended.
It happens all the time. We start down a path with a goal in mind, and twists and turns shift us in a different direction just one degree at a time. Typically, we just keep going because that is what we do. Rarely do we pause, look around, and say, “Wait, how did I get here? This isn’t where I was headed when I began.” But, slamming into the brick wall of COVID gave us the opportunity to re-evaluate where we are, how we got there, and decide which parts we want to let back in.
I know that COVID-19 is not over. There might be another brick wall around the corner. In the meantime, I am reflecting on my priorities in life and how I can hang on to the beautiful lessons I have learned during the shut-down and soft start-up to make sure that I stay on the path I choose. My path is family first, school family second, and then the icing on the cake like writing books and connecting with educators around the world.
What is your path?
How do you make sure you stay on it?
And, how has COVID been serendipitous for you?