The one-year anniversary of the pandemic in my world

Last week, when I was on a walk with Rudy on a sunny day looking around my neighborhood, I stopped to think how much has changed in a single year. For me as a person, for my family, for you, and of course, for the world. I’m the same person as I was a year ago, but I live in a different city, I do different things, and I have an entirely different mindset.

The one-year anniversary of the pandemic in my world

The one-year anniversary of the pandemic in my world by A Lady Goes West

I wasn’t exactly sure how to commemorate something like this year-long COVID-19 pandemic, but I felt like it needed to be done today. Many lives have been lost, many jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed, and we don’t even know yet how the after-effects of having people isolate themselves will surface in the long term. This thing has been awful, to say the least. 

While I can’t really speak to the big-picture effects on humanity, I can bring it down to a micro level for me, just for the purposes of this post. And yes, at this point, select populations of people are getting the vaccine and feeling a sense of relief. But I have not had the vaccine, and things are still very much different for me. I have been a rule-follower through and through, and we have lived our lives very safely over the last year. And we have learned a lot.

Pitt family Thanksgiving by A Lady Goes West

Remembering one year and one day ago

Let’s go back to where it all began in my world …

Exactly one year and one day ago, on Sunday, March 15, 2020, Dave, Brady and I drove to the gym for an 8:30 a.m. BODYPUMP class at 24 Hour Fitness Walnut Creek Super Sport. I was on the schedule to co-teach the Les Mills BODYPUMP 114 launch event with another instructor, Will. I had prepared for several days to nail my choreography and coaching. I had set my outfit out the night before, as I always do. I had invited a friend, Amy, who didn’t normally come to my classes to join in on the fun too.

I had some nerves, and I was pumped, because I love the thrill of a launch event. But this time, it was different. I had been hearing how other instructors were placing their classes on the sub-board for later in the week because they were fearful of being in big groups due to something called the Coronavirus. Also, just a couple days before, the Warriors had decided to close their offices for the next two weeks, so Dave would officially be working from home, which he had never done before. And plenty of people were talking about canceling upcoming travel plans to avoid airplanes. Dave and I had a weekend trip planned to Las Vegas just the two of us for the following weekend, which he had given me as a birthday gift. We had never gone on a weekend trip without Brady ever, and I had been dying to go on this trip to dress up, let loose and have fun. I had ordered all new clothes for the trip and mentally picked out when I would wear each activity. We were going to go on a food tour and see a Cirque du Soleil show. I was so ready. I was counting down the days.

Ashley outdoor with wine by A Lady Goes West

But back to the class that March 15 day: I had subbed this same Sunday morning BODYPUMP class quite frequently, and I often had around 50 to 55 students. When I arrived to teach on March 15, there were only maybe 40 people. The room seemed pretty light for the day, which was weird. Nonetheless, it went off.

When I walked out of the gym that day, I had no idea it would be my last official time in the building — after five years of teaching and taking classes and working out there, and of making friends there, and of all the emotions of trying to get pregnant, of being pregnant and of being a mom there too. Even as many things in my life changed, that gym was a constant for me. It was my gym. My second home. It was Brady’s second home too.

How to become a Les Mills group fitness instructor by A Lady Goes West - February 2020

I had so much fun teaching that class that day, and after it was over, I went to get coffee with Amy. The cafe was eerily empty. And while we were there, we chatted about how strange things were and wondered if it would take one or two full weeks for things to get back to normal. Oh boy. 

Experiencing the first few weeks of the COVID shutdown

That first week of COVID shutdowns was a little bit of a blur. California was the first to declare a real shutdown. At first, my gym didn’t cancel classes, and so I was unsure of whether I should go or not. But then they did. And I remember being so let-down that I wouldn’t get to teach the new BODYATTACK release that I was learning and I wouldn’t get to teach BODYPUMP again right away, worried I would forget everything I learned. I told Dave I didn’t know how I’d make it through the week without going to the gym, using kid-care and teaching my classes. It was my favorite thing to do, and I went six days a week, without fail, almost always using up the majority of my kid-care allotment. It seemed unbelievable that this could be taken away from me. 

Over the first few weeks of the COVID pandemic, I was pretty down. I was mourning the loss of the gym and Brady’s twice-a-week mornings at preschool when I would go to Peet’s in Pleasant Hill, order a fancy latte and work away on the counter in the corner, happily. Even though I was always running around managing a million things, I felt like I had a handle on life. I loved my classes, my Beautycounter business was growing, the blog was doing well, and I finally had some free moments with Brady being in his preschool for a few months. But I never stopped moving — like at all. And, the other big issue was that Dave was gone a ton for work. It was our way of life, and we were dealing with it.

But then everything changed. We stopped doing things, and we stayed at home — with no in-person contact with others at all. That’s when I began to fixate on things. I missed the ability to get a babysitter and go out to dinner. I missed social outings. I missed trips and travel. I missed a lot of things that seemed incredibly significant in the moment. However, now in hindsight … they don’t seem nearly as significant. And I’m pretty sure we all feel that way.

Ashley and Dave at Calmere Winery by A Lady Goes West

Wishing and waiting for a “go-back” day

In the beginning of the pandemic, I kept thinking our county and state would give us a “go-back-to-normal” date and everything would be over.

Dave, Brady and Rudy and I started going on long afternoon walks every day when Dave was done with work. And the entire walk, we would talk about how weird things were and we would guess when the “go-back” day would be coming. We knew there had to be a “go-back” day, because nothing like this had ever happened before.

Well … after a few months, we realized that that day wouldn’t come. When I finally started to realize that there needed to be a cure or vaccine for this COVID-19 issue, I started to get really upset with the prospect of this situation continuing on for months and months. How could this be happening, I wondered.

Ashley and Brady on the step - by A Lady Goes West - March 2020

I was in charge of entertaining Brady all day, other than his naps, while Dave worked in the office. This felt a little rough for me, because not only do I value my me time, but I also value my workout time. My workouts were pushed to the way-side, not having gym kid-care or a lot of dedicated time for them, and that also meant my workout frequency, duration and intensity went down too. This has pretty much remained the case for the last year.

To stay busy during the day, I took Brady on walks during the mid-mornings. We had lunch at home at the table, he napped in the early afternoon, and then we went on a family walk in the late afternoon, and finally, I did my short workouts at night in the living room after moving some furniture. Every day was pretty much the same, although a tiny bit different. We didn’t go anywhere at all for the first few months. We would often joke that it was like the movie “Groundhog Day.” And it was.

I knew in my heart we were grateful to have each other and to have a comfortable home and stable incomes, but I also knew that I wanted to travel to see my parents in Florida, I wanted to get back to group fitness, I wanted to go do fun things, and I wanted to feel more normalcy again. I had to remind myself of all the amazing things I had, but a lot of times, I would think about the things that I didn’t have. And I know this must seem so silly to those who had to work in the frontlines during the early parts of the pandemic or handle difficult issues, and I can see why. But like I said, this is a reflection from my viewpoint.

Finding a new normal

As the months continued, I started to do a little bit more out of the house, but I did it safely. I would go on walks and park dates with a couple other friends outdoors. And as a family, we started being more proactive about planning outdoor activities and exploring. We went to see the redwoods in Muir Woods twice. We went to beautiful parks in San Francisco. We took a trip to Tahoe. We hiked all over the East Bay. And we started to appreciate our gorgeous backyard, that we had not really ever spent much time enjoying. We made doing nature activities a real thing and kept up with it every single week, discovering so many new-to-us places that had been so close to our house all along. And the Bay Area is one beautiful place. 

Family picnic at Golden Gate Park in SF by A Lady Goes West

I will say that we got into a good routine. I embraced my home workouts and began teaching live virtual classes, which was an entirely new challenge that helped me to grow as an instructor. We got a Peloton bike, which quickly increased Dave’s workout routine and gave him a good way to have healthy competition with friends. We embraced our “Zoom” dates with friends and family. We embraced entertaining ourselves at home and having more free unstructured time — which was a huge change for us all. And we watched a lot of good TV too. Do you guys remember “Tiger King”? That docu-series will forever remind me of those early strange days of COVID.

New Takara Shine Carbon 38 leggings by A Lady Goes West - July 2020

And there were larger benefits to this time at home as well. Before the pandemic happened, Dave calculated how much time he was spending in the car, commuting to Mission Bay of San Francisco to work every day, and sometimes on weekends too. It was a lot. That commute was totally weighing on him. And he was happy to be rid of it for a while. Over the last year, Dave has been able to have breakfast and lunch and dinner with us nearly every day, and he has even helped with Brady’s naps many days too. This was and is a total blessing, and this is perhaps the greatest silver lining of all of COVID.

Dave and Brady on Brady's 3rd birthday by A Lady Goes West

Dave and Brady at Dinosaur Hill by A Lady Goes West

Using our time at home together to assess what we wanted

And during all of this time at home, we were able to think and to assess where we were. It was then that Dave and I started discussing the idea of moving. We had never moved to California thinking it would be a forever thing, and it ended up being a much longer adventure than either of us had imagined. As my dad got progressively more sick, and it wasn’t safe or smart for me to travel, the distance between family really started to get to me and to us. We knew we needed a change.

When I think about it now, I wonder if we would have wanted to move or have put everything in motion so quickly, had it not been for all the realizations we made during our personal COVID lockdown. I know in my heart that our move was meant to be, and I think it was accelerated due to the way things worked out. I’m totally fine with that, even if it sure would have been nice to have a goodbye party, after eight years of life in the Bay Area.

The Pitt family at Dinosaur Hill November 2020 by A Lady Goes West-1

I don’t want to make this post about my loss, but as you all know, we did lose my dad right after Thanksgiving last year. I had not seen him in a full year, since the last Thanksgiving we all had together. And sadly, my mom was not able to be at his side in the hospital when he passed because of COVID precautions. And it’s something that still brings me (and us) a lot of pain. I know we are not the only ones who have a story like this, and my heart goes out to you if you had to experience anything similar. I think about my dad every day, and think about how happy he would have been to have known we had moved back to the East Coast for good. I say this because while I know I had it relatively easy during this last year, I also had some hardship that can’t go unmentioned.

Feeling the weight of the pandemic 

But back to COVID …

Like many of you, I think the idea of having to stay at home more, the idea of having to keep yourself safe from others who don’t live under your roof, and the idea of living in fear of catching a virus was very stressful. In the beginning, it was new, and we were confused. As it started to become our new normal, I think we all began to forget that there was a dark cloud hanging over us in many ways. I’ve felt more stressed in the last year than ever before, and it started out as just COVID stress, then family stress, then the potential move, and so on. And if you’ve felt “off” or if you’ve felt a heavy weight on you over the last year, you’re not alone. It’s not your forever feeling. It’s your pandemic feeling.

I think if any of us knew at the beginning of this whole thing that we’d be sitting here on the one-year anniversary of pandemic with things the way they are, we would have been shocked, in disbelief and discouraged. But the fact is, we have made it this far. We may have some scratches and bruises from turbulence, but we are absolutely coming out the other side. And time does heal almost all wounds.

Brady at Baker Beach by A Lady Goes West

Coming out stronger on the other side

I do hope to travel, to see friends, to teach live in-person group fitness again this year, and I know it will all happen. But I will not forget that all these extras can be taken away at any time, and what really matters is the people in your life, your health and your ability to be present in the moment, even if it’s a period of tough moments that require your attention.

I have to thank you for being here to read this post, as well. Because this blog has been another constant in my life. I’ve stayed in touch with you guys twice a week, every week, throughout all of COVID, only missing a couple posts for our move and the holidays. There were more eyes online this past year than ever before, and I’m grateful it was something that helped my little business to thrive. But to be totally honest with you, I probably had bigger ambitions and goals for myself before COVID. All of this has really just made me want to work hard, enjoy my work, feel like I’m making an impact and most importantly, have a good quality of life with the people in my life that matter the most. I think Dave feels the same. 

I have a feeling we will look back on this super-strange year of COVID and not think so much about the lost social outings or the missed trips or concerts — but about the year where we were challenged from so many directions and we became stronger, we made big tough decisions to move forward and we focused on what really meant something to us.

Concluding thoughts on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic

It seems like every day now I open up Facebook or get a text to find out more and more people are getting vaccinated. I am waiting in line for my turn, and I do plan to take the vaccine. Because of this, I absolutely feel hopeful, and I feel like brighter and more normal times are ahead.

And when more normalcy returns, I will be here in a new city, in a new house, on the East Coast, starting a new chapter. I will be armed with all of the things I’ve learned this last year that have absolutely helped me to grow. It’s actually a really good time for a new beginning.

Ashley and Brady by A Lady Goes West February 2021

We can all agree that the last year was a year full of losses. But it was not a lost year.

Finally, let us put an end to this diary entry on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. It was therapeutic for me, and I appreciate you joining me. Thank you for being here, and congratulations to you for putting one foot in front of the other over the last year and making it this far.

If you feel like you need to sit down and think about the last year in your own life, pull out a pen and paper or a blank Word document and get to writing. I highly recommend finding out what you learned that you want to take with you into the future. And I also highly recommend that you leave behind the things that are not serving you now and won’t be serving you in the months and years ahead either. Be well, my friends! 🙂 

Thanksgiving hike 2020 by A Lady Goes West

Other COVID-related posts you may like …

Here are some posts I wrote that were inspired by the pandemic:

Questions of the day

What’s your last “regular” memory from before the pandemic?

What do you miss the most?

How are you feeling one year in?

Have you been vaccinated yet?

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16 Comments

  1. I had a fantastic business trip last year in Austin, March 10-13. I suspected things were going towards “weird” so I stayed in a fancy hotel (on my own dime partially- fancier than my company would pay for) and really enjoyed myself. The hotel had a Peloton, which I was excited to try. I went home and bought a used Peloton off Craigslist on March 15th… and that was the last normal thing I did.
    Things are different where I live. It’s a conservative, rural suburb and none of us are rule-followers. We don’t wear masks. Social distancing is our norm so we haven’t done anything different really. I travelled to Las Vegas, Durango, San Diego, Florida, and Mexico for fun. Austin for another business trip in November. We tried to keep a semblance of normalcy. I do wear a mask when it’s required on a plane or whatnot. Your blog really resonates with me in acclimating to home workouts… I have been a gym-goer for years! I was a group exercise instructor for quite a while and also big on machines rather than free weights. The gyms closed in my state for a while, and I can’t believe I am actually doing some of my working out at home! Peloton is great but there is NO substitute for a gym. You cannot substitute a leg extension machine or a reverse fly machine at home. However… Gyms re-opened but I’ve continued to do some exercise at home . Your blog has given me inspiration for home workouts!

    1. Hi Ella! Thank you so much for reading, for saying hi and for leaving this thorough comment. I’m glad to hear that you’ve been able to find some normalcy over the last year, as well as embrace home workouts. It’s great to have the ability to get in a good sweat at home, whether you want to do all your workouts there or not. I miss the back extension machine at the gym — I always did that one hehe. Hope you have a great day!

  2. Hi Ashley! This was such a great post. I think you did a great job of acknowledging you had hardships, but you also have a lot for to be grateful for. If I look back, I actually realise how terrified I was right in the beginning of lockdown. I remember so clearly trying to make sense of the feelings I was feeling, and acknowledge them without judgment or comparison to what others were dealing with. I am very happy that some good things have come out of the pandemic for you and your family, and I know I have definitely learnt some valuable lessons through this crazy time too. Have a great week and I love your blog! ♡

    1. Hi Shelby! I love to hear from you, so thank you for reading and for commenting. You are so sweet for your kind words. And it’s very important for us to FEEL our feelings, so it’s good you were able to do that during the pandemic (and beyond). What a year it has been, and let’s hope we have nothing but better times ahead. Have a great week! 🙂

  3. Hi Ashley. Such a good post that touched on just about every aspect of this past year. It is strange how you reflect back on what you were doing when all of this happened. I remember going to the gym that day with it being strangely quiet and a sense of fear of what was going on and everyone talking about this “Covid” going on and talk of the gyms among everything else closing down. I, like you, had such a routine at the gym as well as supplementing at home. It then hit me that I was going to have to restructure everything I had known and had been doing to adapt to this new way of living. It was such a learning experience and made me appreciate the smallest of things around me that I had taken for granted. Walks became our new norm with our dog replacing the treadmill. Virtual workouts at home replaced my group fitness classes and a lot of isolation. It took a lot of getting used to but it was something I have come to love. No more do I miss the rigid schedule I had held myself to or the frivolous things I thought I really needed to make me happy and replaced them with more solid and meaningful ventures. It is sad it took this to really wake me up to what my autopilot had been taking me all these years but I am eternally grateful it brought me to the realization just how precious life is and I will never take that for granted again. Love your posts and insights, always so uplifting and educational!!! Thanks for all you do!!

    Wendy

    1. Hi Wendy! Ohhh the autopilot — you are so right with that, and it did take a pandemic to teach us we needed to reevaluate a lot of things. Thank you so much for this heartfelt comment, and thank you for sharing with me and with us. 🙂

  4. Hi Ashley. Great post! I loved hearing your perspective on this, although as a regular follower (and friend) I knew bits and pieces. But it was nice to get it all in one post.

    I guess the biggest thing for me has been the lack of progress in my life. This pandemic made my current single and childless even more apparent. I really wished I could have been at home with a husband and kids and muddling my way through this crazy time. Even though this weighs heavily on me, I made sure to focus on all the things I am grateful for. My parents’ and family’s health was not lost on me throughout this time. I am so grateful we have all stayed protected so far. Even post-pandemic, I will take that daily routine of writing in my gratitude and manifestation journal.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. And yay for East Coast living!

    1. Hi Courtney! You do have SO much to be grateful for, but I’m sure it does seem like it would have been nice to go through this whole thing with a partner. Maybe it would have, maybe it wouldn’t have! But what I do know is that better things are in store for you, and I hope this is the year where you meet your MATCH! 🙂 You deserve it! Thanks, friend! xoxox

      1. Thank you friend. I’m sure you’re sick of me whining about this. I really am not always complaining!

        Loving the Instagram updates on your house! It’s looking fab.

  5. I loved this post and the prompt idea. I am going to carve out some time to open a word document and write my own story like you suggested. Thanks for sharing your story so honestly!

    1. Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for reading this post. And I’m so glad you plan to write out your thoughts and get centered on what you learned from this last year — SUCH a valuable practice. Be well! 🙂 xoxox

  6. Ashley, this post was so moving and poignant. I simply cannot believe everything that has unfolded in our world, nation, cities, and homes over the past year. With my husband in healthcare, the first three months were terrifying, and they got very bad early, and rapidly. We are in the Detroit suburbs, where we were hit hard by this novel corona virus. The operating rooms that my husband scrubs into several times a week were converted to ICU’s. He saw as many patients via telehealth as possible, which in his specialty, had just never been done before. We had several close friends on the frontlines become gravely ill. Thankfully, they were all able to pull through, but it was a nightmare for their families while they waited to see how their loved ones progressed. Weddings were postponed. No one got to snuggle newborn babies. I homeschooled my four year old. We Lysoled, wiped down, or bleached everything that came into our house at first. We didn’t see our parents for three months, and we are still social distancing until we are both vaccinated. I don’t think we will travel until all three of us are vaccinated, which could be awhile, because we have a five year old. And, I miss nothing more than the familiar faces and physical exercise that I experienced at my favorite fitness studio. But you’re right. We were forced to slow down, simplify our routines, get creative with how we entertained ourselves and our little ones, and after awhile, it wasn’t so bad. I’m looking back at this past year in such awe of how humans showed up and got through this, and I’m looking into the future with hope and gratitude.

    Cheers to you and all of the new adventures on your horizon. And, yay for EST!😄🙌🏼🌤

    1. Hi Lindsay! I love this comment, and thank you for sharing some of your experience — wow, must have been such a different experience to see it through your husband’s eyes up close. I can’t even imagine! It has been a crazy year, and I do hope we are all taking away some things that will help us be better humans and live better lives in the future! 🙂 xoxo

  7. What a wonderful post Ashley, I think I’ve felt many of the same feelings as you in the past year!

    We first realised things were serious mid March 20, when overseas guests and older guests started to get in touch to say that flights had been cancelled or they didn’t feel safe travelling to our wedding which was supposed to happen on March 28th… at that point the wedding was the most important thing in our lives and we were so upset…. then over the period of a few days everything escalated and we had to postpone… after that we hunkered down and watched in horror with the rest of the world as we were sent home from work, put into “lockdown” by the UK government, and realised how serious things were!

    Since then the past year has been ups and downs… when things improved slightly July-Nov we managed to get married (tiny wedding – by this point we realised the party really wasn’t important!!) and move house… and then the 2nd wave hit the UK and we’ve been in lockdown again since Christmas!

    I’ve mainly been so grateful to live close enough to family to meet for outdoor walks and to still have a job…I know I have a lot to be thankful for and I’ve tried to remember that when I’ve felt really down about the situation.

    So glad you got to see your Mum recently and hope you’re settling in to the new home!

    Thanks as always for sharing x

    1. Hi Iona! I remember you mentioning your wedding around that time, and boy my heart goes out to you — it’s such a shame to have not been able to have the wedding you planned. But you are very blessed to have so many things, and I’m glad you’ve been enjoying some simple pleasures along the way. Thank you for being here and for reading, my friend!

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