Much to my surprise, when I arrived at work on March 17th I was greeted with the news that everyone would be “sheltering at home” until further notice. This news came as a shock and partially as a relief. When the understanding sunk in about our global condition and the fact that there were many unknowns regarding the virus and no vaccine or means to stop its rapid spread, I looked around my apartment and realized that my husband and I were in good shape for the unfolding lockdown. We had food water and some recently added creature comforts that made home a very comfortable place. I was ready in every meaningful way because I apparently had been focused on living in the present moment, spending time with family and friends and feathering our nest for comfort and a pleasing style. Just a few weeks before, we returned from a fabulous vacation with friends to Cuba and enjoyed the tropical splendor in the middle of February. Our trip was without any of the cares and concerns that rapidly took hold with regard to international or even domestic travel. My work continued virtually and with a high intensity that lasted from March to September 2020 when, after a reflective look at my professional career of over thirty-five years in the field of human services as an administrator, educator and finally as a consultant and trainer, I decided to retire. My husband ‘s work with a local politician adjusted nicely to our home base and community through virtual contact. All in all, I suppose we were as ready as we could be and the months of the shutdown were handled with limited stress with the additional bargain of a slower pace of life and fewer demands on our money because there was no shopping, travel or additional entertainment costs. In fact, we took the opportunity to pay down debt and came out better off than when we entered the period of the pandemic. Also, I started using one of my cell phone apps for exercise with the benefit of a virtual coach that kept me motivated and energized to do walking in place that I added to my daily morning workout practice that included stretching and yoga. I also used the app for meditation breaks and another for language learning. My husband binge watched some popular shows and we used emails, calls, texts and snail mail to stay connected to family and friends. I made cloth masks for family and friends when there were none to be found and this was another way that I kept myself busy and engaged.
In spite of our success in managing the worst of the COVID 19 crisis, there are a few things that I would have told my pre-pandemic self that would have perhaps helped me to prosper and fare even better. My number one item is taking the ‘curse’ of the “quarantine 15” more seriously and taking precautions to be self-aware and prevent the additional 13 lbs from showing up on my scale. The pounds crept on from more meals, more take-out and less physical activity associated with going to and from work and other places. I did my best to stay active within the confines of our apartment, but the eating probably exceeded my ability to keep the weight at the pre-pandemic level.
Next, I would have bought stock in cardboard box companies; toilet tissue, disinfectant products and hand sanitizer. After things got underway, I became quickly aware that the initial scarcity of things would change because of the commercial value of having things that people need. I witnessed the rapid increase in online shopping and deliveries of products that grew with each passing day. The empty boxes could be seen all over as an indication of the rise in online purchases. Cardboard boxes were in high demand to answer this need and I presume that those who might have had stock in those kinds of companies probably did very well. Toilet tissue was at the top of the lineup of products in demand and packages flew off the shelves making manufacturers a bundle. Disinfectants and hand sanitizers almost became the coin of the realm. If you had these things you were considered lucky and even affluent. Initial prices were high and the availability limited. Profits from all of these items probably skyrocketed and if I knew how to buy in, I would have prospered in dramatic ways. As it turned out, I still managed to experience the abundance of moments of stillness and reflection that continues to infuse my days with gratefulness and reverence for the precious gift of life and a solemn appreciation for the acts of kindness that I and so many others have both given and received.
At this point, I am mindful and intentional about my eating and have started seeing it gradually return to my pre-pandemic weight. I have achieved a gratifying level of financial fitness and I continue to work on creating harmony in my home and community among neighbors, family and friends. The pandemic has definitely opened my eyes about things that can easily be taken for granted, so it is with an enhanced quality of life that I claim resilience for what may lie ahead, but still wonder what it would be like to broker dividends on the cash flow produced by the supply and demand opportunities that have emerged. I guess I will leave that to the shrewd investors and simply enjoy all the other rewards that I have gained from this global wake-up call.