When I first moved back to Denver, Colorado from the East Coast, I was incredulous by the slow drivers. Like, if you are driving in the left lane on any multi-lane thoroughfare, you really ought to be going at least a few miles over the speed limit. It is very nice that you are not in a rush, but some people, who have important things to do (like me), are.
I missed the days back in New York City when I would be walking to and from the subway at a near jog, inhaling the unmistakeable stench of garbage and urine permeating throughout New York City as I walked. I miss bumping and elbowing other people, and rolling my eyes at the obnoxious tourists from all over the country and world, stopping in the middle of the sidewalks to take pictures of tall buildings.
While the drivers in Denver are not quite in this New York State of mind, fortunately, I, was.
Shortly after moving back home in the summer of 2015, I was busy. Very very busy. And that is good, since busy people are important and productive. The days flashed by like a magnificent bolt of lightening illuminating the vast, dark sky. Days turned into weeks, which turned into months, which turned into years.
And then I woke up one sunny morning in the middle of March 2020, and I realized the last five years have been a blur. It is true, I was incredibly happy, loving my jobs and feeling great about the impact we have made. But I was so busy, with so many late nights, and early mornings, it was hard to actually recall much of what happened in the previous five years since we returned home to Denver.
And on this beautiful mid-March morning, I realized that Covid-19 changed everything. While I mourned for the devastating and massive loss of life, I tried to see a silver lining. This time, being forced inside, forced into my metaphorical cave, was exactly what the doctor ordered. This was a gift from the Almighty. This is the reset that I never had time to realize I so desperately needed. I came to understand that if we were sent indoors for 2-3 months, and I emerged from the confines of my home the same way I came in, something was horribly wrong. So I went to work, and tried to use this period as a unique opportunity for intense growth in three areas of my life.
I always thought of myself as being a good loving father, and as our family as being very tight knit. However after the quarantine started, I started realizing that there was so much more potential for how we could grow as a family. We started cleaning together every night after dinner for 15 minutes to our favorite songs, bonding and laughing together as we cleaned. We began Sunday game day, where every Sunday at 1:00 PM we play board games and card games for a few hours. I win every time, and it’s awesome. I have come to learn something about each of my children. My oldest daughter Gitty and I, as it turns out, have uncannily similar taste buds. My oldest son Avrumie might just be more competitive than me, and I gloat more than I should when beating him in everything. Asher, age 7 wants nothing more than to bond through any type of game- be it War, Spit, Monopoly, or a good old game of Horse. Tzippy, my 5-year-old princess, as it turns out, doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, and she has an intense desire to cook as often as she possibly can. My two year old daughter Esti, wants nothing more than to serve others, bringing them ketchup, water bottles, and even their matzah ball soup, and she becomes ANGRY if you don’t let her give to you. Devora, age three months is just precious, and I get to bask in her constant growth and development. Frighteningly, I knew NONE of this 2 months ago, before the outbreak of Covid-19, and am consumed with gratitude that I have had the opportunity to connect with my family in these intense new ways.
While I like to think of myself as a successful person, I also was always acutely aware that there are an infinite number of areas in which I can improve. Organization, and time management, are two such areas. A number of days I would be sitting at my desk in a fog, overwhelmed by everything there was to do. Many evenings I would return home, knowing that I had worked hard, but not quite sure what I had accomplished on that particular day. I realized, with so much new time on my hands, this would be the time to grow in these areas. I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Atomic Habits by James Clear to learn how to get in healthy routines to maximize my productivity and overall well-being. I read Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zaretsky, a mind-blowing and life changing read in which they laid out a clear, coherent plan for how to be productive amid the endless distractions that we encounter every day. As a result of this, despite the potentially challenging circumstances of being “stuck at home” with my delightful 6 children, I think I have been more productive than perhaps ever before in my professional career. (My wife, who consistently demonstrates super-human powers might well have something to do with that…)
Additionally I have learned to make time for things I love doing– like mowing my gorgeous lawn, plucking dandelions out of the grass, and writing this very blogg you are reading right now.
I have also used this time to try to get a handle on my personal finances. By utilizing an awesome budget app (I recommend YNAB (You Need a Budget,) I was able to see where we saved every month as a result of our quarantine. I was able to understand expenses that we incur every single month that perhaps we don’t need to. I was able to learn more about the world of personal finance, listen to amazing podcasts, like Choosefi, and to optimize the reality of this recession we seem to be entering by buying index funds and stocks at absurdly good, low prices. As my friend Moshe told me, it is like the Black Friday of Stocks. I realized the importance of building an emergency fund representing 6 months of expenses– you know, for those times when pandemics come and drastically change the entire world. Shockingly, many of us go to school for 16 years of our lives and never once learn about the basics of finance– to save more then you spend, stay away from the lure of bad credit card debt, and investing. Now, in quarantine is as a good time as ever to educate ourselves.
Now as it appears we are poised to move forward, in a drastically new world in which we would never dare leave home without our protective masks and gloves, I intend to use the remainder of this time in the cave to craft an exit plan. To figure out how to bring these lessons and this growth from quarantine into the new reality.
I hope to share my findings soon.