Silver Linings: Getting Quiet Among the Noise
When quarantine started, my husband, Jon and I traded our beloved South End, Boston apartment for Gilmanton, New Hampshire. Never heard of it? Not surprised. (Unless you’ve read Devil in the White City, you might know it as where H.H. Holmes grew up).
We stayed in Jon’s family home from 1840 that his 94-year old grandfather grew up in. To paint a picture, the house still had shudders on the windows to keep arrows from flying in during war time, portraits of ancestors on the wall, and massive book cases filled with novels from the 19th century, including an original copy of Letters from Oscar Wilde. Yes, we were essentially living in a haunted house. But it had heat! AND hot water! We were so fortunate to have this option. Being tucked away in the woods with no cable served as a refuge, ultimately giving us the privilege to get quiet among the noise and get back to basics:
- Rejoice the routine: With more time on our hands, we tried to celebrate the typically mundane parts of our day. The daily walk around the block quickly became a favorite form of entertainment as our dog Sydney made passes at the farm dogs up the road. She never could quite pique their interest despite her courting efforts. My favorite memory was when it was finally warm and dry enough to rake the leaves in the yard. We had a blast spending the day working hard, singing along to music, and loading up the leaves - a special way to connect that we never would have sought out before quarantine.
- Remember what matters: Amid the collective grief and struggle, gratitude was and remains paramount. Without the daily distractions from commuting, plans, and travel, I noticed the things I was taking for granted that deserved more attention. When I ask myself, “in what ways do I not want to go back to the way things were,” this is at the top of my list. It’s easy to lose sight of what matters in the hustle & bustle. Since quarantine, I’ve made it a priority to spend 30 minutes before the day gets started with my journal and some coffee to write down a few things I’m grateful for. This has helped me start the day on the right foot, show up properly for my loved ones, and remind myself of all I have to be thankful for.
- Reconnect with loved ones: My mom’s family lives in Ireland, and when quarantine started, we scheduled a Zoom to check in on my grandmother. It went off without a hitch, a small miracle for a woman who has never used a computer in her life. We now have weekly Zooms with Nana and it’s a bright light at the end of every week. Before COVID-19, we were lucky if we’d be able to get over to Ireland once a year. What a blessing it’s been to frequently see Nana, albeit virtually, to check out the new hairstyles she’s been fashioning, hear how she’s passing the time and catch up about the minutia of our lives.
- Recognize the beauty: One quote I saved from that Oscar Wilde book was, “with freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” Being able to experience the changing of seasons in New England was remarkable. Typically, my head was down in my phone while commuting to work and my eyes were closed to the beauty around me. I was in awe of the trees blooming in the spring, the growth in the summer and the change of the leaves in the fall. It was a great reminder that the only constant is change – and when change is embraced instead of stifled, growth occurs. One highlight was when one single bud from the peony bush I planted finally bloomed – a small, but remarkable accomplishment for my first ever gardening endeavor.
- Redefine & Rejoin: COVID-19 required us to hit the collective pause button. Personally, it allowed me to consider how to carve a path forward amid the unknown and learn from the lessons this challenging time is teaching. This spanned personal, social and professional – redefining what matters to me, how to serve as an ally for social justice and what I value in a career. This ultimately led me back home to Prosek Partners, which is maybe the greatest silver lining of all. I’m so grateful to be a part of the Prosek community, reconnect with old colleagues, get to know new faces and continue learning from this incredibly talented, strong, caring (& fun!) team.