Michelle Martin

What we’ve learned

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

If you could go back to early March 2020 and give yourself advice for the coming year, what would you say?

What would you tell yourself and your family about a year unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes? What have you learned?

For me, I think I would start with: Routine is good.

It helps to establish daily routines, even if they are different from what they were before. Get dressed every morning. Eat meals at about the same times every day. Get exercise on some kind of a regular schedule, whether that means joining an online class, following along with YouTube videos or taking a walk outside.

That leads to the next bit advice: Go outside. Go outside as much as possible. Walk the dog. Go to the park, if only to walk in the grass and trees. Shovel the snow in the winter and sit on the porch in the summer and greet the neighbors as they pass by.

Make the effort to be social, too. Be social without being reckless. Say hello to neighbors from across the backyard, or on the sidewalk. If seeing family and friends means doing so outdoors with a mask on, do that. Our backyard fire pit got a lot of use last spring and fall, extending the season when we could comfortably sit outdoors and talk.

Yes, being social online counts, too. A weekly Zoom trivia game has provided me with an outlet to spend time with people I’m neither related to nor responsible for. It provides a respite that’s not quite the same as getting out of the house, but at least allows me to get out of my head.

Be thankful, then, for communications technology that has allowed us to stay in contact with one another in ways that would have been unimaginable in previous generations. The technology has allowed office workers and students to work and study from home, still in regular contact with coworkers, teachers and classmates.

In our house, it has meant a year that we never expected with everyone home. There’s loss there, too, of course: Caroline didn’t get a graduation ceremony, and under normal circumstances, Frank would be experiencing the freedom of his second year away in college.

It has meant that the faithful can participate in Mass from home, although it is not the same as being there in person.

The last bit of advice I would give myself, then, is to remember to pray. Pray when anxiety wakes you at 3 a.m., pray when you wake for the morning and have to remind yourself what day of the week it is, stream Mass and participate in prayer, pray with and for your family — those members whom with whom you have spent every day of the past year, those with whom visits have been online or socially distanced and those who are no longer with us.

Pray for all of us, because together is the only way through.



  • family life
  • covid-19