Finding gratitude in a pandemic

Dave and I were both commenting yesterday on how we are finding ourselves making frivolous purchases, normally something we avoid as a house lived in with nine people is already a very full house! During these trying times, we are all finding comfort where we can. I have gravitated towards supporting artists whose work I have loved for a long time from afar. Seeing beautiful pieces up close gives me a moment of awe and appreciation during my somewhat tumultuous days.

During a giant clean out and purge in May, we pulled out a lot of family photos that have been gathering dust in the basement. I’ve always hesitated to hang things, as I worry about leaving permanent holes in the walls. I’m not a visual person in that regard, and struggle to figure out where things should go. But for Mother’s Day, Dave and I worked on a photo wall all day long – in the stairwell that runs from the front hall to the basement. Completing a project like that, one we’ve been contemplating for years, felt so good!

In the months since, my gratitude for that epic gift has grown. Our sense of routine and time is under constant attack, as minutes become hours very quickly or days drag on for longer than I could ever imagine. When I find myself in the staircase, I’ve made a commitment to slowing down intentionally, emptying my mind of worry, and really looking at each of those pictures. They may not be artwork per se, but they bring me so much peace and joy. Thanks to my mom’s commitment to Photos (photos which I fought tooth and nail my entire life!), This wall includes grandparents and kids, baby photos and outtakes. Our goal wasn’t a picture perfect family, but perfect pictures that encapsulate different ages and the exuberant personalities of the people in our lives. Our Au pairs are up there, as are friends so close they become sisters. Nieces, nephews, birthday parties, weddings – the moments that make up a life, or many lives. It frankly doesn’t matter that they are perfectly hung, although they are. 🙂 For me in this moment, they are a reminder that life is bigger than this current year, that our memories will go on so far beyond this that 2020 will become a bizarre story in the future, that the joy and experiences of our large family stretch so far back and so far forward. In that one elongated minute I give myself in the stairway, I am reminded of how short this unpleasantness really is.

For many people, 2020 will be remembered as a year of loss, a year of struggle and insecurity. For some, even a year of homelessness and unemployment, where feeding your family was a challenge beyond measure. for some of us, it’s a year where we mourn the loss of time with our extended families, adventures planned, life milestones reached and not celebrated in the way we have always envisioned. No one is untouched by 2020, and as we enter the last month of the year we can either be angry about it or celebrate what’s left.

A friend asked me this week what I plan to keep from this year. I was dumbfounded, not because I couldn’t come up with an answer but because I had so many answers. It’s a complicated question. But one of my takeaways will be this decisive and intentional focus on what is at the core of my life – all of these incredible people that I miss but celebrate missing. No one can stay that centered all of the time, certainly not me! But finding that minute every day, as I head down to the basement for my work out, is a great way to build it in at least for a moment.