Lately, I’ve been experiencing what I once thought of as the February lull, when winter is unrelenting and the load of life feels heavy. But I’m not sure it’s just February this time. As I reflect on the year behind me, the pressures, changes, worries, and cares are far too numerous to list.

I allowed myself to think back to the moment when everything changed and we raced into figure-it-out-mode. We had no idea life would never be the same again, yet that was the cold, stark reality of what happened the day that COVID shut down our country, and eventually our world.

Then my mind drifted to the endless conversations about numbers, layoffs, Zoom, strategy changes, and how in the world we were going to take care of our members because they needed us. The competency we once felt turned to burdensome, difficult, and heavy journeys into the unknown.

And there was the loss, at first small, losing our treasured annual vacation and the activities our children loved. Then it was big, losing the feeling of knowing what would happen next. If I’m honest, I’d tell you I experienced a crisis of sorts, realizing that I simply didn’t want the life I was living. As will all great moments of crises, cooler thinking prevailed and there, in the midst of the storm, were beautiful gems for me to grasp and hold tight.

Now, as I think about the wear and tear this journey has had on me, I realize that in all my past reflections, one thing was missing! The stuff of life…

Like figuring out what’s for dinner only to wing it mid-way through cooking because we don’t have an ingredient I expected to be there, masking up and heading to the store for milk and coming home with everything but milk, wondering why 20 Band-aid wrappers are all over my bathroom sink with a weird pink liquid, juggling the balls around so that I can keep my promise to my child, not being able to see out the sliding glass door because the dogs noses have made a film across it and I don’t care enough to wash it today (or probably tomorrow too), realizing there is no dish soap because someone made slime and the sink is full of dishes, driving the kids to school fast as lightening so I can get back for a meeting only to realize I need gas…

I realized that in leaving out everyday life, I wasn’t fully realizing what this year has been like. So, I let myself think about it…fully for the first time. And, with a tear or two streaming down my face, I felt the weight of how hard life has been for so long. Then, I smiled. I smiled because I am surrounded by a community that understands the stuff of life matters. I am better for all this year has brought and I know that in many ways – big and small – you are too. And, if you think about it, there’s a lot to laugh about.

If you are reading this, feeling your own burdens, we – the CTLF community – remind you that you belong and you are not alone.