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It Takes a Village

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Our fridge died last night, and I almost lost it.

We had just finished making dinner. I’d been in and out of the fridge for about 30 minutes, and everything seemed normal. But then my daughter opened it up and said, “Mom, the light isn’t working.” I thought, “Oh great, the bulb blew out.”

Oh girl, it was way worse than a burnt-out bulb.

The fridge had no power at all.

We troubleshooted. We flipped breakers, tested the outlet, and checked everything the user manual and the Internet recommended. Nothing worked. And we had a fridge and freezer full of our COVID-19 stockpile.

I texted a few friends and turned to Facebook to get a recommendation on a repair place. We got several good recommendations, but that small plea for help was answered tenfold. Within no time really, a neighbor had dropped off a mini-fridge they aren’t using. Another friend said they have an extra fridge/freezer on their back porch they emptied out for us. Our village really saved us (and our food).

Like many of you, it seems like the world is crumbling down around us. We’ve been humbled. We found out our 3-week business closure has now become 3 months due to an executive order from our governor. We’ve obviously paused our debt pay-off, and we’re very much in storm mode. We’ve applied for forbearance on student and business loans, forbearance on our mortgage, and all sorts of temporary assistance.

But even as the punches keep coming, I’ve been touched by all the kindness and generosity I’ve seen in our community.

Inspirational Message on Sidewalk

Here’s just some of the good our family has experienced the past few weeks:

  • A friend I haven’t talked to in years heard about our temporary business closure and sent us an Amazon gift card to use on our kids.
  • A dear friend from college mailed cookies to my daughter—who she has never met—because my daughter’s birthday is this weekend and my little one is disappointed we can’t leave home or have cousins over.
  • A non-profit kid’s after-school program our business has supported unexpectedly offered to drop off some birthday surprises for our daughter.
  • We were supposed to travel and see our nephew get married in April. They were able to get married yesterday instead in a really small, intimate ceremony with just their parents. We’ll celebrate with them later, but the local news did a little feature on them, so we still got to see video of some of the wedding.
  • We live on a small street, and we know a few of the neighbors really well, and the others hardly at all. But we’ve started a text group with all of the neighbors to check on each other, and it’s helped us grow closer as a little community.
  • One of my daughter’s teachers has been videoing herself reading books to help and connect with her students. All of my kids’ teachers have been emailing and checking in on all their students.
  • People have been writing positive affirmations and funny sayings on the sidewalks in our area. Others are putting teddy bears in their windows so kids can “go on a bear hunt” when they’re on walks.

A repairman is coming in a few hours to run diagnostics on our poor fridge. We’re praying for a good outcome. But if not, I’m calming myself with hope that our village is looking out for each other now more than ever.

What good have you seen in your community during this stressful time?

Meet Belle

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We’ve been on a quest to find another dog since ours passed shortly before Christmas. If you’ve ever tried to find a dog in a shelter, you know difficult it can be, particularly for those hoping to find a specific combo of young to middle aged, female, and small. We’d see one on the website, run to the shelter, and find someone had adopted her.

It’s a long story but a friend gave us Belle. She’d been through two homes before she landed in ours. Naturally we were reluctant to take a dog no one wanted but were willing to give it a shot.

Belle is a ray of sunshine. She is love, joy, and snuggles all wrapped together. The kids adore her. Our only complaint is that no one vaccinated her. In her movement from house to house, exposed to other dogs, she picked up giardia and worms (and another I can’t remember). But her week spent boarded at the vet was well worth the $200 cost while she worked through the physical side of that. We had to spend another $200 on vaccinations and medications for a double ear infection (ugh. Poor thing!). We brought her home last Friday.

It was a reminder that ‘free’ can sometimes bring its own unexpected costs. I can’t begin to tell you how fortunate I am. My boss gave me a small bonus right before we got her. It’s going to eat most of the bonus but it’s money we didn’t expect so it hadn’t been ‘named’ in the budget yet.

I hoped to avoid the whole topic of COVID-19 (Lord knows you hear enough about it all day every day) but I wanted to update you since my post last week. I think my body and my brain just needed a minute to figure things out. A minute to reset. Sending Belle to the vet, taking in less social media and news, and walking or running a couple miles a day helped alleviate some of the stress. My ears are nearly back to normal.

I was unsure about my job at that moment. I am fortunate that my work moved the entire department to telecommute. In my twice weekly touch bases with my team, I encourage them to walk outside with me virtually if they feel comfortable or able. We send memes to a group text before the meeting starts and some of them are absolutely hysterical. They give me a hard time when I sound out of breath shouting, “We thought you were in shape!!” Those moments make my day. My work has given me latitude to cut days short and pay folks for eight hours daily when I know the best they could do with kids at home was four. I tell the team, “My favorite part of this mess is that I get to see your kids. I get to hear them. I get to see the side of you that means the most.” And I mean it. I love it. I’ve decided it’s OK to love the beautiful parts that come from this.

Sometimes life is unfair and what I mean by that is… life is sometimes unfairly slanted in my favor. I am insanely grateful.

It was unexpected. There is beauty in this. Find it.

I wish the best for you in these times. I hope life is unfair in the same way.