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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂
Other COVID-related posts you may like …
Here are some posts I wrote that were inspired by the pandemic:
- Things you should be doing right now during the COVID-19 quarantine
- 10 tips for working from home successfully
- Five positive changes I’ve made during quarantine
- Tips for taking and teaching virtual fitness classes
- Highlights from our trip to Lake Tahoe
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?