Gratitude in a Pandemic

Recently I started keeping a list of things I am grateful for, to be honest, because it is Lent and I am trying to be reflective. But I realized as I got going, that my list was nearly all things I have become grateful for during the pandemic. It does strike me that this is the classic: Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.…or While you’re waiting for the pandemic to end.

Either one seems to work here. This is a wide variety of things over the past year that has kept my spirits up, that has opened my mind, or has just freakin’ made me laugh. When I SO needed to laugh. There are 12 on this list right now, (in no particular order of importance), and in marking 12 months of this pandemic life, it seems to fit.

  • I discovered my sister’s dog has an Instagram account. I LOVE Talley and all of the small, simple adventures that she goes on with my sister. It always brightens my day to see Talley trotting in her little coat outside when it’s cold, or climbing a mountain, or just sniffing the grass on a daily walk. I know she makes Chris happy, and that makes me happy.
  • Deborah Roberts’s Instagram account. Deborah Roberts is an ABC News correspondent, and she is also married to Al Roker. I have always been a fan of Al, (Today Show fan too) – but during the pandemic, I discovered Deborah as well. She is a very inspirational, smart, compassionate woman, who has children the same age as mine, and is also an Episcopalian. When I began following her on social media, I found her posts to be reflective and joyful, reminding me to do things like buy flowers to brighten up the house, light a candle, go for a walk – Take care of myself. (Plus, I love their house in Upstate New York and their dog is really cute too.) I commented on a post last spring that she made on Pentacost at her church in NYC, and she reacted with the prayer emoji. So clearly now we are BFFs.
  • Cooking shows (Food Network.) I had always enjoyed a few shows on the Food Network here and there, but I REALLY got into some of them this last year. I could literally watch hours of Guy Fieri’s GGG (Guy’s Grocery Games), DDD (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), and come on, can somebody please BEAT BOBBY FLAY? HE ALWAYS WINS! Sprinkle in a Saturday morning of some Giada and that PIoneer Woman while having my morning coffee, and I ventured forth to make some food outside my repertoire, and buy kitchen pantry staples to challenge myself to make some creative and flavorful dishes. If I have to be responsible for thinking about what to make for dinner like, 300 days a year, then Guy, Bobby, Giada, Rocco, and all those amazing chefs have saved me. They are ALL MY FRIENDS NOW.
  • Zoom Filters – or more accurately, the tragic mishaps with Zoom filters. (This is like my pandemic version of Buster Keaton movies). I don’t use Zoom all that much, but boy did I love and cackle out loud at the woman who made herself a Potato for the duration of a business meeting, and my god, the lawyer who couldn’t turn off the cat filter… I am not a cat. THAT WILL NEVER GET OLD.
  • Appreciation for Local Landmarks – I live in a beautiful historic area, (Washington Crossing) but when you walk in your neighborhood 350 plus days out of the year, you find new appreciation for exploring all of the history around us both in NJ and PA. On my bike, on my walks, in the car… humming Hamilton’s “HERE COMES THE GENERAL, (RISE UP)”….
  • Uncle Ed’s Creamery Ice Cream Pies – Early on in 2020, we were trying to support as many local businesses as possible who could only open for take-out. Uncle Ed’s is a small ice cream and chocolate shop owned by the High School Varsity soccer coach, so we were ordering there as much as we could, and then we discovered through a friend that they sell these amazing Ice Cream Pies. Well, Carvel, just move on over, because I will never again buy another one of your ice cream cakes. These things are THE BEST. We ordered for every occasion, and also just sometimes because it was Friday night and we made it through the week. (But, see walks above, so we didn’t gain 20 pounds of ice cream pie)… BUT.SO. GOOD. WE MIGHT NEVER HAVE KNOWN ABOUT THEM OTHERWISE.
  • Pandemic Poe Kitty. We got a new kitty. What would we ever do without this little cute black thing. The end.
  • Weekends free – Y’all might have heard over my social media life span that we have a child who has played travel soccer since 2010. That is, by my rudimentary math skills, 9 million Saturdays/Sundays of soccer over the past 10 years. For many many months, I had no driving to do on Saturdays or Sundays. See: Appreciation for Local Landmarks.
  • Pilates with Gioia/Yoga with Adriane – I have taken my fair share of Yoga classes over the years, I have enjoyed some, and others didn’t exactly inspire. I found Adriane on YouTube, she was really calming, her speed was just right for me at this time in my life, and her dog is often there too, which just made me smile. (And bonus, it is FREE). I know Gioia through my church, she is a fantastic Pilates teacher with her own local studio. She started doing classes online and also simultaneously fundraising for a wonderful and crucial local community organization by contributing half her class fees to Urban Promise Trenton, so I join as often as I can. She provides light, good vibes, and a great hour of taking care of yourself.
  • Lunch with neighbors – two friends of mine are teachers, and they were home. So we scheduled lunch together a couple of times this fall, where we met outside at one of our houses and brought all of our food with us. It was something that never would have happened otherwise without this weird school year, and it helped us kind of re-center ourselves during the week.
  • Senior Year Surprises – Despite the obvious kind of gloom and doom of a Senior year of high school during a pandemic, there have also been amazing surprises. Knowing that this is the last year I have at home with this kid has made for lots of emotions, and none of the “lasts” are happening the way they are supposed to. But some of it is better. Especially when I get hug, or a thank you, or he just bops into my office and spontaneously waves at my web cam in the middle of my meetings. Watching him mature literally before my eyes, it’s something to celebrate, not be sad about.

12. Science – And the people who believe in it. Go forth and get your vaccines!

Who knows what the next year has in store for us. It’s no doubt been a severe way to learn to be grateful, and have the deeper understanding that tomorrow is not promised. I am learning a ton about myself, through laughing at the zoom potatoes, taking a moment to look around me, and also being more open to life’s surprises. I have embraced my “micro world” as best I could. Love to all of you who helped me through, and I hope I can hug you all soon!

Oh – and if you are interested, you can follow Talley here: @talleywoodside (Maybe I’ll make an Instagram account for Poe’s adventures too….)

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