While the last few months have had many challenges, there have been multiple silver linings that I have discovered upon reflecting about 2020. Many of the same challenges that had a downside, also had an upside that outweighed the negative. And almost every instance of the difficulty had this aspect when approached from another viewpoint.
The COVID-19 Shutdown
First, let me start with the 6-week shut down or “Pause,” as I liked to call it, of our Columbus-area plastic surgery practice. At first, I was anxious, stressed, and likely a little depressed. The unknown nature of the first 6 weeks was difficult for me, a planner. The office staff was wondering too—what would I do for them, my employees. Even before there was talk of the PPP, I had committed to keeping everyone on the payroll. This was a leap, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Lucky for most small businesses, we had the PPP to help us meet payroll when no money was coming in and all the same expenses were still occurring—rent, utilizes, phone, internet, malpractice insurance, and loans for expensive gadgets and lasers that were now sitting idle. When the PPP was approved, it was a huge relief. I knew that when we hit “Resume,” we would make it.
Appreciating My Staff
At first I found myself thinking, “Forget this! When this is over, you should start to think about an exit strategy to get out of this for good.” But then, as the weeks went by, I missed it more and more. By the time we were allowed to open up again, I was giddy with excitement about being back in the office and doing what I love with the people who make my days so enjoyable. This was such an unanticipated upside. Now, I know, there may be some rough days, but I am nowhere near finished, and God willing, I can continue performing breast augmentations and facelifts for quite some time to come.
And back to my team … how I missed them and the time we spend together every week! The group of ladies that help me run the office is nothing less than amazing. And the way we all respect and work together every day is really special. Everyone has their own quirks and idiosyncrasies—I cherish those now. The A-team is a special group of talented, generous, and kind people who know that each day together is meant to be a gift of ourselves to each other.
I am more grateful for this team and hope to hold on to this sentiment. And I am trying to express my gratitude more openly. This takes time, but I hope they can feel the love!
Time With Family
The time as a family unit was—well, to use the most over-used word of the crisis—unprecedented. I had my two college-aged sons back with me during a time in their lives that I normally would have missed while they were at school. I treasured our nightly dinners together and all the little other extras we had. In the same breath, I must mention all the parents that had to homeschool and WFH—my hat’s off to you. I am not sure how I would have handled this, but I am happy I did not have to find out.
Next, I am not going to lie; I enjoyed the extra sleep. Most days, I get up around 4:15 am to workout (5 miles at 5 a.m.) before heading into the OR, so “sleeping in” until 5:30 to do 5 miles at 6 a.m. was a luxury. And then, when all the marathons were canceled, I had to rediscover a “why” for getting out of bed to run. Another silver lining! I feel better all day long when I have had a workout. I wish I had a race to plan for, but for now, I am getting up JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO! (You can read about one of my recent running experiences and its aftermath in a related blog post.)
There was more free time than I am accustomed to, and on a whim, I pulled out a jigsaw puzzle—and wham—I was hooked. This pastime is something I did growing up with my mother, who still does them! I had not touched one in 40 years. I guess I was too busy, but it also felt a little—frivolous—like I was wasting my time. And then the silver lining hit me—I don’t have to use every minute to do something “practical or useful.” I gave myself permission to relax and even not use time wisely—like cleaning or reading or whatever.
Then another silver lining: turns out jigsaw puzzles are GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN! Nice!
So now when I am watching TV or on yet another conference call—I can stay focused better by doing the puzzle too.
And finally, the WFH for my husband meant he was at the house every day too. At first, I was apprehensive about how this would work out; just like I used to wonder about how it would be when we retire and are both home. Much to my relief, we seemed to get along better! We fell into routines that were enjoyable and, as a glimpse of what it will be like in 15 to 20 years, I felt relieved we would “make it!”
Every person experienced the quarantine and COVID-related events differently, according to your own work and family situation. Still, as for me, the shutdown—now what I euphemistically call my “rest period”—was a time for reflecting on my life, what makes me tick, and how grateful I am for all of it. Even the nasty COVID, since without it, I might not have had all the silver linings. Now if you will excuse me, I have to get back to my jigsaw puzzle.