Thanks to Marie Kondo, the “Tidying Up Department” that looks after our home, yard, garden, tool shed, garage, basement, and the attic has grown. And I thought the Stay At Home directive would give me more than enough time at the end of my workday to put a big dent in my growing to-do list. Whom was I kidding? I shared my experiences with fellow Women’s Professional Forum members at yesterday’s board meeting. Twelve women agreed; never in our lives have we been busier. Neither have you.
“I hope you have made the most of staying inside.”Jackson North (Anne and Jonathan’s Grandson) – Age 12
2020 was the year to move Smith Partners’ succession plan to the next phase. I’m not going anywhere, nor is Jonathan, but we had hoped to reduce our workweek from five days to four. That hope’s still there, but the wind shifted. It’s all-hands-on-deck.
For our safety, that of our team, and the families we serve, Jonathan and I moved our offices home. My new workstation was once a dining room. An oversized computer monitor stretches across the dining room table my parents bought in 1939. Sitting here clarifies the sacred privilege of caring for individuals of every age and stage in life.
The wooden desk Jonathan took over once anchored our study. His father (b 1923), and his father’s father (b 1875) before him sat there. It’s a rock-high vantage point place from which to recall 120 years of world crises – manias, panics, disasters, assassinations, and wars, that came, and also went.
On one computer monitor, a sticky note quotes Sir John Templeton: “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.” The other monitor’s sticky note says: “I don’t know how much more of this I can take, I’m too old to go back and earn that money again.” Those words, spoken on the bottom day of the 2008/2009 Financial Crisis by our then 76-year-old friend, have become Smith Partner Wealth Management’s guidestar.
Stephen and Justin cover the office at 128 E. Fisher Avenue, the outpost from which two floors provide safe distancing. By phone, Zoom virtual conferencing, email, and hand-addressed envelopes, Justin, Stephen, Jonathan, and I maintain contact with our clients, business associates, and friends. The one thing is missing from our social-distancing, stay-in-place lives are the face to face contact with the folks who mean so much.
A Change of Pace
Before the stay-at-home order, we were always on the move, working all day and out many nights. Since March 15th, we’ve not left the house in a car except for three four-mile round trips to the office on Sunday afternoons to water the plants, gather files, and get more copy paper.
In the early innings of the lockdown, I polled Facebook friends for movie recommendations to see on Netflix and Amazon Prime; I got 97 suggestions in the first hour! Cooking, reading, music, movies, and Zooming with family and friends, now occupy our lives.
What Brings You Joy?
We happily enjoy and support the arts in our community. We love attending Triad Stage, Greensboro Symphony, and the Greensboro Opera. Our friends at the Symphony shared this snippet of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Our friends at the opera shared From the Met, and our daughter said that Phantom is available for 48 hours beginning at 7:00 PM on April 4/17/20.
We eagerly look forward to the opening of the Tanger Center for the Performing Arts. We have seats for its upcoming Broadway Season. We have missed museum visits, and as I hoped to see the now canceled Arts in Bloom, but I’ve already moved it on my calendar for 2021. There are plenty of things you can enjoy online at the NC Museum of Art. Also, the 12 most famous museums in the world are offering virtual tours. Finally, the Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings and The Louvre round out my list of hope-to-see places from the sofa for now.
Now, more than ever, we have enjoyed streaming music in our home. Of the stations with curated programming minus chatter and syndicated shows, our favorites are WDAV from Davidson, NC, WQXR from New York, KUSC, WGBH. If you like news and talk shows mixed in with music – I don’t – WFDD and WUNC are terrific options. I’d love to hear of your favorites.
Missing Baseball and the 7th Inning Stretch?
Worry not. Josh Kantor, a college librarian by day, is also the official Boston Red Socks organist. With baseball sidelined, Josh and his wife, affectionately known as “Reverend Producer Mary,” can connect you with thirty minutes of respite found nowhere else. In addition to binding hundreds of strangers virtually together with their daily show, via Facebook until the Fenway Park is open again, they raise money for Feeding America.
I’ve set a 3:00 PM daily alarm, please join me and see for yourself. You can catch (no pun intended) the video archive. Still, there’s nothing like watching the accompanying live chat happy-banter stream. On Jonathan’s first time seeing 7th Inning Stretch, he asked Josh to play Dancing in the Moonlight, and Josh played it! Beginner’s luck, if I ever saw it.
Are You Getting Off The Couch?
I swim and am a big fan of aquatic aerobics. Sadly, the Greensboro Aquatic Center was one of the first places to shutter. Now, I walk in the neighborhood, thankful for a beautiful Spring, and for sidewalks, which I took for granted. My trainer, Lori Gordon 360, fashioned together exercises for me using the online tool, Coach Now. A neighbor who owns a Yoga Studio has made all levels of video classes available for anyone, free of charge. I haven’t tried that yet, but who knows. Check with your YMCA or gym to see what they might be offering online. Quick, why are you still standing still?
Is There Something I Can Do to Help?
I see kindness popping up everywhere. Neighbors are connecting with neighbors heading to the sidewalk across the street as they approach on walks in the neighborhood. When the younger neighbors head to the store, they check in with the older neighbors. All the groceries are delivered to the carport, and stand 20 feet away and ask the Shipt shopper Pansy how she is doing and if she feels safe. That time to connect is important for both of us. I have some younger friends who have stepped up to make critical food deliveries to those who simply cannot get out or have taken a shift to distribute food for Backpack Beginnings which is furnishing thousands of meals to kids who usually eat one or two of their meals at school. The incredible folks at Guilford Educational Alliance are raising $700,000 to provide 10,000 computers and hot spots to kids who don’t have computers to continue their school work from home. The Tanger Center is hosting a virtual food drive to benefit Greensboro Urban Ministry who is assisting with everything from food to utilities, rent, and mortgages. The list just goes on and on.
The truth is that many individuals out of work and small and not so small businesses will not make it without our support. The hospitality industry is especially hard hit. Order takeout and buy gift cards from local restaurants. Send checks and handwritten notes. You’ll never regret the lifelines you threw to the persons who cooked your food and waited on your table. One of Downtown Greensboro’s goals is providing 100 meals a day from local restaurants, to nourish our front-line hospital workers.
More than usual, the food banks are alarmingly short on food and money to buy food for hungry families. If you can help, no amount is too small to make a difference. Second Harvest, a local food bank serving 18 counties from Boone to Burlington, has a Virtual Food Drive.
I hope you are staying connected with friends and family. We have used facetime and zoom to connect with folks. It has been so important for us. We have enjoyed going to church with our dogs on the back porch, having Easter meet up with all the family from age 4 to 70. I’ve been part of Zooomed Weight Watchers Meetings, a weekly Bible study, several WPF Board meetings, happy hours, and an impromptu tea with girlfriends. It’s not the same, but really nothing is the same.
The most profound statement I’ve seen in our 33 locked-down days came from our 12-year-old Montana, grandson: “I hope you have made the most of staying inside.” I’ve put this up in a prominent place where I see it every day.
Stay home, stay safe, and I hope to see you face to face, closer than six feet away very soon.