I was on the phone the other night with two of my girlfriends. I had set the phone on the kitchen island as I poured myself a margarita and we caught up on life and our weekly happenings. I could hear Drew in the other room, talking to their husbands.
We called it our weekly “book club,” only the boys were talking about a TV show and us girls were talking about anything but books. We were about to hang up, it was past our bedtimes, we were each two margaritas deep on a Thursday night, and I said, “Today I was in the shower just thinking, and I got kind of sad thinking about when this will all end… not sad that it’s over but sad that I’m not totally sure what I’ll remember about it.”
My girlfriends looked at me, slightly shocked, and I kept talking, “You know, online I feel like all of these people are tackling home projects, learning new things, finding adventures with their kids, and a huge part of this season has just felt like mere survival over here.” I know that sounds a little dramatic but this whole thing has been a rollercoaster, especially as a business owner. While I am wildly excited to get back out into the world, to hug my family, and to be able to sit in a restaurant and drink a glass of wine over a delicious meal, I felt this weird guilt that I somehow hadn’t done enough with this time.
There’s a lot of noise about how we should be navigating this…
I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or felt it, too. This crazy mix of messaging from all angles of the internet (a place we’re all hanging out more lately to escape living groundhogs day over and over again!). Some posts tell you to take over the world and start new habits and emerge from the depths skinny and rich and able to macrame your own hammock in an hour flat… And the other side of the spectrum is filled with posts telling you to breathe, take care of yourself, rest, and just get through it. Confusing, right?
My friend said, “Jen, just to hear YOU say that makes me feel a lot better. You’re running a business, pivoting left and right, and leading a team. I’m just trying to keep my job and keep my kids alive. I have nothing more to show for this time than that… and it hasn’t been pretty.” When we hung up, that big question lingered a while longer. As I brushed my teeth, I asked myself: When I think back to quarantine, what do I hope I remember?
Never in my life did I imagine owning a house on the north shore, and when that became a reality, a dream come true, I never dreamt we’d be given the chance to spend 2 months, uninterrupted, soaking in all of its goodness. It feels as though we’ve christened this space with our presence. And to be honest, I’ve fallen in love with being here. The land, the lake, the coziness, the simplicity. The fact that we’ve fallen in love with life up the north shore when we very well could have felt a bit “cabin fever” by now is a testimony to how sacred this space feels for us.
When I look back on quarantine…
I hope that I remember our nightly walks, every single night without fail. Whether they required snow pants and gloves or allowed us to peel off layers and feel the sun on our back. Every single night when I closed my laptop and wandered to the house, we’d have a bottle warmed up, a little girl so excited to see me, and a plan to play some music, catch up on life, and walk down by the water. We point out every bird, stop and admire the flowing waterfalls, watch fishermen in the riverbeds, and every night we stop to look at the waves and currents of Lake Superior. Those walks hold most of my favorite memories and have become a highlight of quarantine days.
I’ll remember how my girl grew before our eyes into an independent, spunky child, with the energy of a thousand suns. How she went from walking to running in the blink of an eye, the way she awkwardly dances every time Lizzo comes on, and how she took a liking to green beans and peas and butternut squash. I’ll smile every time I head the soundtrack to Moana, our pretend island escape that we now know every word of. And how Coco now lays down if you ask her if she wants a back massage and waits for you to sit and rub her back while she giggles into her favorite cozy blanket that travels through the house with her.
I hope that I see the beauty of forced connection when the world has been disconnected in physical presence. From the FaceTime calls with Nana every single morning to check in on her to the “book club” meetups with friends I seldom get the chance to connect with. From the family FaceTimes that are confusing and chaotic but that spark joy to the texts that just say, “How are you doing?” without implying that you should be feeling one way or another. In a world of devices and wifi, it’s due time that we figure out ways to connect and check-in, and I’m thankful for the forced awakening to challenge our user habits and make efforts to communicate in a more personalized way.
I want to look back and see a driven entrepreneur pivoting, dodging, dreaming, and losing sleep at night because she cares so deeply about her students, her followers, her team. This season has lit a fire under my butt as a creator and marketer to get back into the trenches, to create new offers, to protect this (business) house that we’ve built, and to fight fiercely to be able to sign checks every two weeks for the team of ten that rely on me to pay their mortgages.
We’ve had some of our worst months as a business, we’ve had a few cry fests and a lot of late nights, but we’ve also created some of the best things we’ve ever made as a company. We’ve served at the highest level and pivoted faster than we knew possible. The future is bright because of the work we did in the dark; I truly believe that.
I pray that I remember the nights snuggled up in our bed with a mass of pillows, a dog between us, and a child finally sleeping through the night as Drew and I whisper and read until our books hit our faces because we fall asleep from all the work and fresh air. As the days wind down, we have nothing left to say because we’ve been doing life as a team in motion, day in and day out, without wavering.
Whatever camp you’re in…
Whether you’ve tackled the projects you’ve been waiting to tackle, or you’ve mastered a new skill, or you’re coming out of this lighter (physically or emotionally) and recharged… Or maybe you’re depleted, exhausted, anxious, and just proud that you live to see another day, whatever camp you’re in, I want you to know that this season has been one heck of a learning curve.
It’s been a rollercoaster, it’s been filled with high highs and lower lows, and whether we like it or not, we will always remember navigating this unknown in isolation. So I challenge you today, while we still have a little time, to ask yourself: what do I hope to remember about all of this? In life, we’ve gotta take the good with the bad, and sometimes calling out the joys AND the tough spots helps you to find and cling to that silver lining hidden beneath the surface.