I just read an article about stupid little things that people miss during COVID that may never make a comeback. It talked about buffets, ball pits, going out dancing (none of which matter much to me) and about blowing out candles on a birthday cake (which absolutely matters to me!). It made me think about the things I’ve most missed over these past six months, hoping they all make a comeback.

The leading one for me is just generally that I miss people. I miss seeing clients in person in my office. I miss book club, girls nights out, lunch with my besties or professional colleagues. I’m sick of stupid zoom, while simultaneously very thankful for it. Most of all, I miss my sister, who I’d planned to see many times this year and now won’t see at all. And my mom and dad and nieces and nephews and others, some of whom live nearby and some spread out across the country.

This leads right into missing travel, which is huge for me, an important part of my life gone missing.

I miss the process of making plans that actually work out. It’s so frustrating to try and plan now because things change every two minutes, whether due to the pandemic or fires or heat waves, and on and on… Y’all can’t really understand how much I LOVE a good plan!

I miss the freedom to do what I want and the choices that have always been available to me. This comes with a recognition that many others have never had my freedom and my choices, and my empathy for them is profound.

And then there’s diminished hope, one of my most important values and a defining characteristic of who I am, or at least who I want to be (check out my values blog for more on that). I very much miss being hopeful that tomorrow will be better than today. I miss having faith in a bright future, which is hard to see through the smokey haze outside my window, through the shootings and climate crisis and lack of jobs for my kids and racial inequity and political horrors. Which isn’t to say my hope is gone. It just requires more effort, and there are days when I am worn down and can’t summon it.

But before I get too morose, let me be clear that I am deeply grateful for so much in my life right now. I am aware of my privilege in having a job I can do on-line, that my husband has a secure job, that our income hasn’t been significantly affected by COVID. We have a home that is big enough for our kids to share with us for this time…speaking of…there are inherent challenges to having three adults who have been living independently for some time move back in with their parents. Yet I appreciate this time we have together, since I didn’t think the five of us would ever live in the same house again. So although there are days we get sick of each other, there are more days that I love it so much!

We have food and lots of willing cooks in the house, least of which is me (in both talent and interest). I have people to walk with or drink wine with…outside, at a distance. I virtually play games with my brother and sister. I have my on-line Pilates class (which I think would work better for keeping me in shape if I actually showed up more often!). And most of all, no one I know is sick, and I am incredibly thankful for that.

So good and bad, as life can be. As I write this, I’m having a realization about how to stay sane and happy and hopeful during these difficult times. It’s staying present, keeping myself grounded in the here-and-now. I went to the beach on Saturday, during a break in the fires and smoke and poor air quality. It was a gorgeous day—sunny, warm, not crowded—and it was exactly what I needed. I can’t not be present and grounded at the beach because I am 100% there, in awe of the expanse and power and beauty of the ocean. Whatever can keep me in the present moment is what’s going to help get me through this time. Meditation, yoga, music, stories (books and movies and shows)…I’m going to try and work these into my daily routines.

How about you? What do you miss most? What are you grateful for? What is helping you get through the hard days?