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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

What I wish I had thought about when the coronavirus first hit

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It's been almost six weeks since my family has been social distancing and living in what I like to call "Bunker 1." Six weeks. That's a lot of time. When I was a child, I would go to sleep away camp for a month each summer, and this felt like a really long time. So, when I thought about the fact that I've been in my house with my husband and our two daughters, ages 20 and 17, for almost six weeks, I had to stop and take pause.

I was hit with a thought: If I had know, six weeks ago, that I would be hunkered down in my house with my family, would I have done anything differently? Could I have approached this situation in a way that would have given us a more positive experience? If I had been more intentional about how we spent this time, would this have made a difference?

Truthfully, I knew the answer to each question was as hard "yes."

When the coronavirus first hit, and I sat, almost glued to the TV watching story after story about what was going on around the world, I could feel fear seep into every part of my body.

People were getting sick.

People were dying.

This situation was terrifying.

My daughter came home from college, my husband started working from home, my high school student began attending classes online. We did our best to adjust to our "new normal," each grieving the lives we put on hold. Plans were cancelled, events postponed, and we tried to figure out how to navigate all the changes going on around us. Six weeks later, I wouldn't have imagined we would still be isolating in Bunker 1.

While we've had beautiful moments together, not all of our interactions have been positive. Trying to adjust to our new reality didn't always bring out the best in us. We quarreled over insignificant things, didn't always come together as a family, and sometimes went our own individual ways inside Bunker 1. Voices were raised, comments were made, doors slammed. At times, Bunker 1 felt lonely and isolating.

Six weeks later, hindsight can provide powerful lessons, and I find myself looking back at this time. Not for the purpose of having regrets, but rather to figure out how to live more intentionally during the time we have left together in Bunker 1.

There is much to be grateful for. Fortunately, we are each healthy, something we don't take for granted. It has been a blessing to have my whole family together again, even if my college student isn't thrilled to be at home and my high school student would rather be out with her friends. Spending time as a family, eating lunches and dinners together each day is special, even though a large portion of my day is spent making meals and doing the dishes. It's a gift to spend time at night binge watching Netflix shows or having discussions about world events, even though my kids would rather be talking with their friends. Like most things in life, our attitudes dictate a lot about our overall experience.

We can decide to be thankful and count our blessings, or we can be frustrated with a situation we can't control.

I don't know how long we'll continue living this way, but I'm committed to being more intentional about how we spend the time we have together. Let there be movie nights and star gazing, dance parties and cook offs. Maybe, we'll have a formal night and themed parties for the four of us, and anything else my daughters can come up with. Because, even though there's a pandemic going on and this is stressful for all of us, we might as well try to have as much fun together as possible.

There's a lot we can't control right now. But, how we view this time together and what we do with it, well, that's absolutely on us.

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