The global pandemic disrupted my life in many ways. I imagine it did the same to yours.  Fortunately, I was spared the heartbreak of losing a close friend or loved one to the virus. Although, I know many people who became quite ill and others who spent the past year in isolation not willing to take the risk of exposure to the virus.  For those of us who could, remote work became the “new” normal.  Unfortunately, essential workers in the travel and hospitality industry whose service work required their presence were furloughed or laid off.

From my business perspective, I benefited from a need to innovate our marketing services and consider new ways of doing things. I had the opportunity to present at the virtual IEDC Annual meeting by learning a new set of skills. Launching a podcast has allowed me to interview thought leaders and learn their views of the future of economic development.  My colleagues and I have developed new subscription services to support our clients as they adapted and adjusted to their new situations.

Virtual connections became important to me to stay in touch with my friends.  A bi-weekly Books & Brew took the place of our coffee shop gathering to talk about books we had read.  Now, we meet on Zoom.  One of the benefits is that we are joined by one of our friends from his sailboat in St Martin.

Another legacy is in how I work.  While I worked semi-remotely before COVID, I became even more so during the past year.  Working from anywhere for me became a valid possibility. Zoom meeting became the new normal and my frequent travel went to zero.  As a consequence, I had more time at home that allowed me to improve my relationships through mindfulness, spent time learning to play the guitar, and improve my cooking skills as we began eating at home almost exclusively.  I gave up grocery shopping and had my annual physical done via telemedicine using Facetime on my cell phone.

A year later, I now realized how quickly the “new” has become “old.”  We all have adapted and adopted new ways of doing things. Many activities have been permanently altered, some will revert back to what they had been, and others will have become a hybrid such as working remotely part of the time and in the office at other times.

Here in Holland, Michigan, through a collaborative effort among the Holland Community Hospital, the Ottawa County Health Department, and Evergreen, our senior center, those of us over 65 years of age were offered the Pfizer vaccine. When I thanked David Knibbe, President/CEO of Evergreen, I said that what he and his staff are doing will save lives. 83% of the people who die from COVID are over 65 years of age. Being inoculated greatly reduces this risk. I am grateful to community leaders, at various levels, who enhance our lives with forward-thinking, planning, and action.