Like all disruptors–and COVID19 certainly has been that–this one comes with gifts and opportunities. As we further emerge from the shut-down phase, here are the gifts of recognition I plan to keep from COVID19.

The knowledge of how easy it is to forget to live intentionally.

I boldly declared my intention to live by design rather than by default in January (https://familyresolutions.us/2020/01/08/life-by-design-or-default/). Yet by a few months into the year, I had rather quickly resumed life as a pin ball. I ping-pinged from one flipper to another, subject to the whims of whatever hit me last and hardest. When we all slammed into a system-wide shut down in March, my pin ball impersonation stopped. After getting my bearings under the new normal, I was able to take a good look at what was working for me and what wasn’t. For a couple months now, I’ve regularly structured my day each morning, and defined with intention, the laser-focus for my energies. Most days I’m less subject to the call of the urgent and amazingly, getting a lot more accomplished. When I don’t, it’s inevitably a result of not structuring my day with intention and attention.

I won’t wait for another pandemic to genuinely connect with people important to me.

It’s cliched by now: connecting on social media is not the same as hearing the sound and intonation of another’s voice. And yet, that’s what I did too often. I allowed a call to go to voice-mail because I was just too busy. I settled for hitting “Like” or responding to an Instagram post. When COVID gifted me with time to actually make a call to a friend or video a distant family member, I realized the depth of relationships I’d been missing. Now, when I walk in the evenings, I phone someone I genuinely care about, someone with whom I don’t want to settle for faux connections. Bonus that it makes me look forward to my after-work walk/runs! When I have dinner with my husband or others, my phone is no longer accompanying me to the table. Yes, you can Google some fact that comes up during dinner, but is that really worth more than maintaining eye contact and truly being present with others? Genuinely listening to them? For me, the new answer is, “no.”

Doing work that matters, well…matters.

Experiencing something of a slow-down for a few weeks, I realized more deeply how meaningful it is to me to make a difference in the life of a family. I never forgot that it’s real people I am assisting but I’d been so busy, I often rushed from one client to another, from one document to the next. At times I’ve failed to stop, just stop and acknowledge how honored I am to guide people through one of life’s most difficult transitions, i.e., a divorce. Yes, most of my clients are highly anxious and stressed. Understandable given what’s going on for them. And there really is a such a thing as secondary trauma which is transmitted to professionals. And it’s still a privilege and I am grateful.

Norms may only exist because it’s just how I’ve always done it.

Who says I have to drive to work every day? If it’s a day dedicated to document drafting and review, client phone calls, and newsletter writing, I’m saving myself 50 minutes of driving back and forth to the office. Was that option always available to me? Yes. But I’d always gone into the office and so…I just did. I know there are other things in the category of “that’s just how I do it” and I’m making a list and evaluating whether those things should actually continue. (One of those will be assuming my clients always want an in-person meeting. Some may, like me,  prefer to save a trip so I’ll continue to offer video conferences).

COVID19 isn’t in our rear view mirrors yet and so I’m still considering the full list of “COVID Keepers.” But like every disruptor in our lives, it’s always more than that. Yes, even this one has gifts to offer. I plan to keep them.

Wishing all of us wisdom,

Deborah Bennet Berecz

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