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Remember When + Lasting Changes

Just days before the shutdown in March 2020, I was in a crowded room for the Women-Owned Law Symposium. I remember the event organizers had hand sanitizers with their label on it and we were already elbow bumping instead of hand shaking, but we weren’t ready for what was coming.

The two-week shutdown turned into an unknown amount of time. In April of 2020, just a mere three years ago, I remember being on 17 separate Zoom calls one Tuesday with clients and colleagues. Everyone was trying to navigate this new way of life.

Fears around health, money, family, getting goods and supplies, masks, events – everything – were on the minds of the people I chatted with, as well as my own.

I was thrown into research and paperwork for the Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPP) for my clients. It was a completely unexpected type of work because no one knew Covid was coming, or the impact it was going to have on all of us and especially not on our finances and businesses.

I was learning as fast as I could, reaching out to my clients and network to make sure they were okay and their families were okay. I was holding webinars and chatting 1:1 with people, trying to give them all the information I could on this loan, which was difficult as rules kept changing. Some people didn’t want the money or were unsure of the long-term effects. What could they use it for? Would they have to pay it back? What about taxes? No one knew what was going to happen to the banks either, so concerns about cash flow were sky high.

The PPP work was very stressful. And then all of a sudden, it was gone. The banks had been giving the loans to their largest clients and money ran out. Thankfully, it got extended. But it wasn’t perfect. Many self-employed people weren’t getting a chance at any money. It was all about companies that had employees and not contractors. Something I dealt with myself at the time. While in the end, it did end up helping many business owners, many others were impacted too harshly and had to close. We all know a business that didn’t last through this terrible time and that makes me sad to this day.

Life was on a screen. Our Rotary pivoted to Zoom calls. We wanted and needed the community, so we did what we could, we learned and grew. Since my company had already been operating remotely, we even used my Zoom account at the time, because it was already set up. We all adapted in ways we never imagined.

Everyone learned to operate from a home base or an outside office. Remember early on, kids and pets were walking into people’s conference calls and people couldn’t get filters off their Zoom profiles. We laugh about it now, but what a trying time.

Some changes were lasting and beneficial. I got a standing desk and a stepper, which was a great shift for me. I knew I needed to be more active while on the screen, because I wasn’t going to be out of the house as much.

My siblings and I started a weekly Zoom chat since we live all over the country and we have continued that tradition to this day.

I am able to hold my grandson while on a video call now and no one seems to mind. We understand that people have life happening all around them and we are more understanding of distractions and family situations.

Things have evolved to be more humanized. We looked at our lives a little closer. We decided what was important and realized we could do it all and not sacrifice quality. We would work at home, just as productively as the office. We could connect with our team through the screen. We could figure this out. And we are still figuring it out years later, but with resilience and strength!

What matters is our values. Our happiness. Our joy. I encourage you to take a moment to look at all you’ve been able to accomplish over the past few years, despite it all. Look at the great moments and reflect on the hard.

As I attended both Rotary and Main Line Chamber of Commerce in-person events recently, I felt thankful to be back in a crowded room again and hopeful for what is to come.