Life during a pandemic feels like the twilight zone. The comfort of routine, the bustle of activities to keep us busy every day, the predictability of tomorrow, essentially washed away overnight. Our lives turned upside down and now here we are five months later. What do we make of all of this?

For me, this has all been very humbling. Take me back to March 1st, I was really settling into my job with Modera, being that I had been here for a year and a half. I was one month from getting married and a month and a half from closing on my new home. Life was good. Then the weekend of March 13th came and this mysterious, far away virus was at our doorstep. Moving and marriage no longer felt guaranteed.

Lisa and I were quarantined to a one-bedroom apartment just outside of New York City. To make matters worse, both of us contracted the virus. We battled the (thankfully) more mild symptoms for most of March and all of April. We are both financial planners, so this is all while the markets were tanking, the economy was shutting down, and we were talking our clients through this difficult, uncertain time.

Here are a few things I’ve learned through navigating the pandemic:

  • Being Flexible: Life can throw you curve balls, so being flexible is key. Lisa and I postponed our wedding reception twice, finally settling on a private ceremony this October and a vow renewal/reception the following October. We have had some difficult, emotional conversations, but we’ve learned that being open minded about the possibility of changing our plans was better for our mental health. Even with our new plan, the reality is that we don’t know for sure where we will be next fall. There is a possibility we will have to postpone the celebration again, but we’ll continue to focus on being flexible and communicating openly.

  • Focus on Silver Linings: I always like focusing on the silver linings of any situation and ours certainly has a few. In the several months since the pandemic started to unfold, we find ourselves more settled on the home front. We now have a new house that we are turning into a home. We rescued a two-month-old puppy whom we can care for and train, while we are both working from home. Though we’ve been together for almost 8 years now, our lives have always been hectic. These last five months have allowed us to connect on a deeper level, working together through challenges we never thought we’d experience.

  • Impact on Others: The pandemic has been an affirmation and reminder that collective actions impact others. Having the time to see what is happening in the world around us and the time to self-reflect on our involvement in what is going on, has reinforced the need to empathize with the experience of others. Whether this relates to wearing masks and social distancing, or the growing divide on social justice in our nation, it’s clear now more than ever that our actions and words have a meaningful impact in the greater scheme of life.

We have all been forced to stop and live in the moment – to appreciate what we have, to slow down and take a look around. Though this pandemic may feel like the twilight zone and we may desperately want to skip to 2021, maybe 2020 was the year we all needed. When I reflect on the last five months, I can’t help but think that we wouldn’t have this increased sense of empathy if we were still absorbed in the hustle of our own lives. There will always be challenges to overcome, but perhaps after this virus is behind us, our new normal will include a focus on making each day better than the last for all of us.

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