What has your journey been like during the pandemic? Have you started some new habits or honed some new skills that you want to keep up with when things return to some semblance of normal? What I found during this challenging time is that we are all far more resilient than we ever realized. My family and I came up with clever solutions to unexpected problems, and through it all I realized that being grateful for the small things was one of my keys to surviving this stressful time.

My husband, our adult kids and I were all able to work remotely, so we escaped to our family lake house early on. Thankfully, we have a great internet connection here! We thought this was a temporary situation for a few weeks, but it turned into 3 months. While there was a lot of uncertainty and fear about COVID, I loved having everyone together and fairly safe, but it was also challenging, especially with so many people trying to work in such close quarters. We transformed the ping pong table in the basement into a desk for one of us while another person used my parents’ room, working from a mini adjustable computer table and an end table. My husband created a desk by sawing off part of a large piece of particle board that once held a big train set and attaching it to a table on wheels. The wood was rough with splinters, but I found an old plastic tablecloth of my grandmother’s to put over the top. Later, when my adult kids left to return to work, I took over the sawed-off desk with my grandma’s tablecloth, and that’s where I’m typing this.

Focusing on things I was grateful for really helped me keep my mind off all the uncertainty. I started a gratitude journal, writing down 3 things I was thankful for several times a week. This retrained my brain to focus on positive things – even if they were small – and not focus on what I couldn’t control. Over time, I began to realize and appreciate all the little moments in life that give me a lot of joy. I will always cherish having had the quality time with my adult kids. Planning and cooking meals with my husband is something we mostly couldn’t do before because he had a long commute to work. Now, he’s really a better cook than I am and wants me out of the kitchen – progress!

I also noticed that going for walks outside, regardless of the weather, left me feeling refreshed and alive. Every night after dinner, no matter what the weather, we all would go for a walk with the dog. At first it was dark and cold, but as it got lighter out, I found myself noticing little things about nature that I had never noticed before. Way before there were any signs of spring, little purple flowers suddenly appeared among the dead grass. Somehow, their little petals weren’t bothered by the gale force winds that seem never-ending out here. It occurred to me that not everything stays the same with Mother Nature any more than it does in our lives. One night, as I pulled my hood up over my head, I noticed the buds on the trees and the sudden symphony of birds singing. Didn’t they know it was still cold and windy? More signs of hope.

As time went on, it got warmer and my kids had to return to work, but thankfully my husband and I can continue to work remotely and have been able to stay here at the family lake house throughout.

What did you do differently to get through the pandemic? Are there small things in life that you appreciate more now or other things you’ve learned about yourself?

Chris Johnson Lachance