The end of the beginning

The end of the beginning

I took off last week. From the blog, not work. I have some projects I’m finishing up which didn’t deserve to compete with the thoughts in my head. I wasn’t prepared to necessarily address that beginning on July 1, I will be unemployed again. Yes, unfortunately, my time with CARA comes to a pre-mature end next week. As the CARA Connection Newsletter states:

Going into 2020, the organization had built a reserve that would have allowed it to manage any challenges previously experienced. However, COVID-19 has been a challenge unlike any other.

”These are challenging times, and it is with great pain to share we are losing staff at no fault of their own at this time,” said Hipp. “They are tremendous people, and have been passionate about serving the running community”.

See full announcement HERE.

As always, I go to a place where I can find a better perspective, the sliver-lining, the opportunity to make lemonade. This was supposed to be the job where I was content and happy, not where I was going to become rich. So of course there’s that. 

My thoughts the last two weeks have been focused on what’s next. I’m somewhere between going full throttle on building back my coaching practice and finding that full-time position where I can be content and happy…and poised to payoff the higher education loan debt that will be coming due when my daughter graduates in two years. 

The sabbatical created by the work-from-home order back in March created a little more time for me to take on additional coaching clients (runners and non-runners) and my volunteer coaching gig with Gilda’s Club went online and I embraced the technology – something that at times I approach kicking an screaming. It’s fun and it reminded me that our growth is fueled by facing down that which makes us uncomfortable.

I continue to learn from and am inspired by my clients’ growth. I know that at the very least coaching in some form is something I find fulfilling and want to continue. Although, I also know I thrive with routine, consistency and security. I’m doing a lot better with routine and consistency working from home this time around. Achieving a satisfying level of security has always been challenging.

In the middle of March I thought I had answered these questions and knew what was next and then the rug was pulled out from all of us. Friday the 13th of March was the last day in the office before the stay-at-home order for most of us, for my daughter and I it was also the day Ann died. For the Black Lives Matter movement, it was the day Breonna Taylor died. 

It feels like 2020 is the year that the Universe has finally decided we all need to change – a complete universal reset! How can any of us walk away from this time unaltered? I think collectively we are all being asked to reflect and renew, become better versions of ourselves for the greater good. In finding a better perspective, I’m trying to discover how I can be part of lasting change. For myself, my family, my community, and the Universe.

There’s a lot to think about. A lot of work to do. Good thing I have the time.

At least I can run on the lakefront again! North Avenue Beach, Chicago, Illinois. June 2020.
There is no normal to which we can return

There is no normal to which we can return

As Week 12 came and went, so did the stay-at-home order in most states, including Illinois. Still a lot of things we can’t do, but a lot of restrictions lifted. The Chicago lakefront is still closed although when I was down in the city last weekend, the barricades blocking off Lincoln Park west of Lake Shore Drive were down and I could run unencumbered along those pathways. Today I went back to my office for the first time since March 13. The day Ann died.

It seems like a long time. And yet it feels like just the other day. As much as we look forward to life returning to “normal” we know it never will. What once was, no longer exists. Personally this makes me sad. On a national and even global level it gives me hope. Things shouldn’t ever return to what we have accepted as “normal.”

I spent the first half of the stay-at-home order feeling sad. Eating too much junk. Having a hard time getting in more than a couple short runs each week. Gaining weight. And then one morning I picked myself up and committed to the healthy life-style I knew would create a much better environment for productivity.

I started thinking about the time at home as sort of a sabbatical. I created a positive morning routine that allowed time for mediation, healthy food preparation, and workouts with an emphasis on the stretching and strength training I had long been neglecting. From rising to showering and heading into my work day, the routine takes three hours. That was more of a challenge this morning when I had to consider the commute to Pilsen (I went to bed an hour early and set set my alarm for the first time in 3 months for 6am).

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” ~unknown

It will remain difficult to rectify the loss of 111,359 lives (as of last night) to this virus, although I believe there is a lasting good that came from our time at home. For the last couple days I’ve been reflecting on how being able to pause allowed us to pay attention as we never have before.

This pause has given us time to reflect and reconsider our values and priorities, not just personally but collectively as humans. I have wondered if we were all still so busy with our daily lives would we not have finally reacted to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd as we did? If we were still so busy with our lives would we not have seen what we needed to finally see?

There will never be justification for any preventable deaths, but in this pandemic while we stayed safe at home, we had the time to see that black lives were the ones serving as essential workers, that black lives were disproportionately falling victim to this virus, that black lives were dying as a result of systemic racism.  And we finally said, “Enough.”

We have yet to find a new normal. Although thankfully we finally understand that what we once considered normal, isn’t something to which we would ever want to return.

Week 10: A difficult week

Week 10: A difficult week

Our country approached 100,000 dead from COVID-19, fittingly, over Memorial Day weekend. I’m sure you saw The New York Times piece An Incalculable Loss that listed all the names. It was all over social media. 

I remember on September 11, 2001 when then New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was asked about the death toll. “The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear” he said. (CBS News). The number of lives lost in the September 11 attacks is but about 3% the number of lives lost in the U.S. (to date) due to this pandemic. 

And then there are the others lost to another type of pandemic; human beings whose final stories are punctuated with a hash tag: #BlackLivesMatter. I ran on May 8 in memory of Ahmaud Arbery on what should have been his 26th Birthday, then in the last week I have read countless posts about the murder of George Floyd. My head hurts. This all has to stop.

Ten weeks of staying at home hasn’t really been all that difficult. I am grateful that we have had the opportunity to keep working, even though the idea that could change weights heavy on our minds. I am grateful that we and our loved ones have remained healthy. I am grateful for the privilege I’ve had my entire life.

I understand the push to open back up. I can imagine the difficult toll this would have taken on my parents’ restaurant and gift shop so long ago and what this is doing to small business owners. But what is the price of premature decisions? Endangering the lives of the very people we are trying to help? If we are able to go out and do the things we once did, are people going to cooperate and follow recommendations for everyone’s safety like wearing a mask or keeping a distance? Based on what I’m seeing, answer is, sadly, they’re not.

One of the things my parents – and most of their generation – understood was sacrifice for the greater good. They were children of the depression and the young adults that supported the right side of history during World War II. They were the people who fought for the rights that many of those of privilege take for granted today. 

We are living in a world were we’ve taken so many steps backward. I’ve witnessed hopelessness and much cynicism among our young people and I believe the difference is that all they’ve seen is examples of failed leadership. It is hard for them to create a vision for the life they want to live. The path between what that might look like and where they are now seems so daunting (The unluckiest generation in U.S. history, The Washington Post). Especially when people aren’t willing to work together for the greater good.

I don’t know what the answer is and I realize this post is a bit of a ramble. The challenges seem monumental; the solutions require buy-in from far too many than I think are willing to cooperate. But maybe we start with ourselves. Check our privilege. Think of others. Act for the greater good. Be part of a solution, not the problem. It’s a start.

“Observe who you won’t yield to, then think about why. Observe others who won’t yield to others, then think about why.” – Lori Lakin Hutcherson, A letter to friends who really want to end racism,

Alone with my thoughts. Vernon Hills, Illinois. May 2020.
Some good news, please (pandemic week 7)

Some good news, please (pandemic week 7)

While at first, delving into daily updates was part of my routine. I have begun to avoid the news. Especially in the evening, for the same reasons I don’t consume caffeine past the afternoon. I start my weekdays with The Skimm (use this link to subscribe) so I remain knowledgeable of current affairs, and then I tune it out.

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Changing perspective (pandemic week 4)

Changing perspective (pandemic week 4)

The immediate observation was that spring had sprung in the three and a half weeks I was away. I came home to greener grass and budding trees and daffodils in full bloom. The duck also appeared to have returned, preparing her nest in the planter on the townhome’s deck where she had laid her eggs the previous two years (for the complete story see #oreganotheduck on Instagram and hit the recent tab to view in chronological order).

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