I spent Memorial Day weekend at home with my family, alternating between a little relaxing and a lot of spring cleaning. We didn’t get that burst of summer weather that we sometimes do in New England, so weekend travel was less tempting.  Also, our governor has adopted a “safer at home” stance due to coronavirus, so it was better to stay put.  I was sorry to break with our tradition of marking the beginning of summer by going somewhere.  It made me sad, especially after the months of being cooped up. But I didn’t want to waste this precious time lamenting what could have been. Summer, my favorite season, is too hard won here in New England. So I decided to try to make the best of it.

Here’s what I found.

As I cleared books and papers out of my home office, I read through some old journal entries and looked at the things I’ve held onto from meaningful moments in the past.  In so doing, I found myself experiencing a different kind of travel.  It was almost like time travel, going back 15 or 20 years to my younger self.  I read about the challenges I was facing then, and the big questions I had.  Challenges like trying to figure out how I was going to meet the demands of my executive level job while trying to spend some time with my twins who were toddlers at the time, and how much I agonized over requesting a flexible schedule so that I could do that. Questions like whether I was going to make enough of a difference professionally by the time I turned forty.  (I wrote that entry when I was 38, and had no idea that I’d be asked the next year to take the job at the Health Connector where I’d be working on what would become the national model for health reform!)

What was fascinating about this trip down memory lane is that I was able to gain some of the benefits I usually get from actual travel without even leaving my home.  My spring cleaning gave me the time and space to gain some needed perspective. I live in a coronavirus hotspot region where there will be no large gatherings this summer, and there will be lots of masking and social distancing, along with the threat of losing any freedoms we gain if our infection numbers get worse.  It’s a lot to digest. I’m trying to adjust to this “new normal,” and it’s not easy.

What I read and thought about during my spring cleaning is inspiring me to stay strong and keep going. I was able to reflect on where I’ve been, relive some good times and recognize the healing that’s happened from the hard times. It reminds me that we don’t always know what lies ahead, and that there can be unexpected delights, even when times are hard. As I look to a long, “safer at home” summer, I plan to keep this perspective.  Whether it’s reading, journaling, or finally making some photo albums, I plan to find more ways to “travel” by staying put. It’s all part of the inner journey.  And I’ve certainly got lots more spring cleaning to do!  If that gives me the time and space to remember more details and reflect on my journey so far, that’s all good.  It is how I will build up the strength to be ready for whatever comes next.

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