The Edition: No. 226

May 25, 2021

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.  // Robert Louis Stevenson

+ Valuable survival secrets from six small business owners.

+ A friend recommended this jumpsuit for WFH. I now own three. It happens.

+ What the hell is a geriatric millenial?  (I prefer Perennial, thanks.)

+ If you’re headed back to the office, don’t miss the Rack’s work dress selection.

+ It’s not the pandemic that forced Moms out of work, it was Dads.

+ Need casual dresses?  Old Navy has this floral frock, and this amazingly comfy one.

+ 21 believable excuses for when you need to flake on plans.

+ IT Brushes from Ulta are the best makeup brushes. Period.

+ A deeper look at what the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre destroyed.

+ This one is my go-to ‘travel wedding ring.’ I also like this tennis bracelet.

+ Navigating the job search in the ‘life after layoff.

+ These packing cubes from Amazon make traveling a breeze.

+ Six ways to make your salads taste as good as Sweetgreen.

+ This Breville Smart Oven/Air Fryer is the only thing Kyle misses about Montana.

Long Read. The Anxiety of Influencers.

The pandemic appears to be ending.  Vaccines are plentiful.  Travel has restarted.  And I find myself so ready for this period of our lives to be over, and also so not ready to go back to life as it was.

And since, I find that I learn more from my readers than I do from almost anyone, I thought it might be enlightening to discuss where we are now.

In the comments, please leave a comment with the following: 1) One thing that has changed in your life over the last 14-months for the better, and 2) One thing that has changed for the worse.  I’ll start.

Better: I feel like my marriage is in a better place today than it was at the start of the pandemic.  With nowhere to go (literally), we ended up dealing with some things that had been lingering unfixed for some time.

Worse: My life was already in a transition period, and last year was the year I planned to solidify some things.  Those plans got dashed on the rocks like an old wooden boat.  So now things feel just as unsettled, if not more, and I have lost a year.

I look forward to reading your responses.  xo, Abra

Workday Reading

share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Em says:

    Better: I changed jobs at the beginning of this year 100% because of the burnout I was feeling due live at work during the pandemic. Best decision I’ve ever made. My work/life balance exists now and I have much more flexibility.

    Worse: My relationship with my in-laws. Due to the pandemic, I didn’t go to their house for Christmas, but my husband did. I was in the middle of fertility treatments and couldn’t risk exposure, but he didn’t want to tell them we were doing fertility treatments, so I just looked like an ass. But I suppose no one is really close to their in-laws, right?

    • KM says:

      Hey Em,

      Your note really struck me. I do not want to read more into your comment than you need or want. If you posted something to blow off steam and feel fine feel free to skip.

      Otherwise, I just want to say, it’s ok to not be ok with your husband leaving you for the holidays, resulting in you carrying both the physical risk of a possible COVID exposure during fertility treatments and emotional baggage of upsetting his parents. Sometimes these issues are good partners making mistakes, but the way you wrote comment, makes me think there is more and my heart goes out to you.

      I have spent the past year in couples counseling with my partner and it has been the best part of my year. We are both learning how to take accountability for our own faults in the relationship as well as define how we need to be supported and loved. I highly encourage you to think about couples counseling if you think it might help you.

      It’s ok to be not ok.

    • Belle says:

      We’re in this boat right now as well. I refused to go to MN for Christmas because I wasn’t traveling during peak COVID, Kyle did. MIL was not thrilled. But it was a pandemic and I am not going to feel bad about it.

      Also, we’re about to start some fertility related treatments, and Kyle didn’t want to tell people. And I was like, no, I’m not living with this stigma while I flake on plans and look like an asshole all summer. We’re telling people.

      • Laurel says:

        I second telling people. I’m very private but we ended up telling close family and friends and was so grateful for them cheering us on. I moderated how much detail to go into of course but I recommend it.

    • B. says:

      I feel you with the in-law tension issue – mine are much less concerned about infection/exposure than I am. I’m confident the relationship will normalize, but it has been an uncomfortable year. Add in polar opposite political views and I’m just glad we’re all still talking!! 🙂

    • K says:

      I feel your “worse” so deeply. I had a baby in October and my husband and I made the tough decision to skip the holidays with all family. My in-laws in particular thought we were overreacting and being ridiculous. While everyone in the family (besides grandkids) are vaccinated now and things are getting back to “normal,” I still feel a lot of resentment toward them trying to pressure us into taking a risk (with a newborn!) we weren’t willing to take.

  2. Mallory says:

    Better: we were able to take advantage of the slow market/low interest rates at the beginning of the pandemic to buy our first home, which has been a wonderful distraction/excuse to keep busy making it feel our own.

    Worse: the vitriol and hatred that has become so much more overt in our society has caused me to reevaluate a number of relationships and distance myself from some people in my life. While it’s for the better in the long run, it still hurts to lose people.

    • K says:

      Mallory, I feel the same way about the “worse”: a longtime friend and I had been growing apart in a lot of ways pre-pandemic, due to the same types of issues you’ve described. During the pandemic, I let the friendship die completely. I think it is the right decision but not something I’ve consciously done before. There are days when I really miss her.

      My “better” is also in relationships: both with my husband and at work, I’ve focused the extra time on these relationships. I feel more connected personally and professionally which is great.

  3. TheLOOP says:

    Better: The pandemic taught me to prioritize and protect time for my kids over work commitments that never end.
    Worse: My parents and other close family live abroad and when I see them next it will have been at least 4 years since our last meet up. At this point, even when I feel happy about something, I don’t feel happy all the way deep down and I think it’s because I am hanging on to sadness about this.

  4. Clara says:

    Better: I knew 2 of my neighbors before Covid, now I know 6.
    Worse: I think every teacher in America can agree that this has been the worst year. Ever. Parents are mad. Students are struggling. School boards throw us under the bus. I’ve never been happier for a school year to end.

    • Emma says:

      I’m a parent and am in awe of how well teachers adapted. Thank you for being a teacher and providing some normalcy in our children’s weekday routines. I have been angry about how the pandemic impacted my child’s learning and special education services. I have never been angry with the teachers. There is a ton of blame to go around (various levels of government, CDC, etc.) but these were failures in administration, not teaching.

  5. Kt says:

    Better: I read more (romance novels are my favorite escape from pandemic/politics) and I changed jobs on April Fools Day 2020 (adding a lot of professional growth in the last year!).

    Worse: I feel like I don’t spend enough quality time with my kids and they’re not getting the best of me. I’m trying to remember my mantra of “everything is a phase,,,” and apply it to myself…

  6. Catherine says:

    Better: Time away has made me more aware of what activities and relationships are revitalizing and which feel like chores.

    Worse: My work-life balance has been eroded, as my colleagues have become closer friends and sitting at home makes me more likely to check my email and Slack.

  7. ARH says:

    Better: I finally had the time to get my life back on track after years and years of it going off the rails with ZERO time to work on it or fix it (hello, full-time career and two children and a crazy, stupid, busy lifestyle) . So… I divorced my husband, I lost 50 lbs. and am now a runner and barre enthusiast, and I bought a little house in a great little beach town that I absolutely adore. I am proud to say that my ex and I are successfully co-parenting our two wonderful children, and we both agree we are better apart, so there is no animosity or bitterness. And here I sit a year later, happy for the first time in a very long time because I am living the life I created and needed at age 44.

    Worse: Given what I wrote about the better… clearly going from a two-income household to a single income made my finances tight for a bit, especially factoring the costs of buying a house, moving, and a divorce attorney; however, I am back on track with a streamlined budget and significantly less-busy lifestyle that fits the needs of my children and me. I feel very, very lucky!

    • Belle says:

      Congrats on successful co-parenting. I’m just starting a divorce practice, and I wish this was a skill we could teach people.

      • ARH says:

        My ex and I have to work on co-parenting with kindness and gratitude everyday, and although he and I didn’t work out, he is a good father. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be if my divorce was ugly. My ex and I just keep saying to one another that as long as we keep an open dialogue and prioritize the needs of kids, we will all be okay. I am lucky because I know so many divorces are very different.

    • Lina Baker says:

      WOW! There are truly some remarkably good things that changed in your life–way to take control and treat yourself with such loving priority! I feel so happy to have read your story. I hope you are able to get to a stable, comfortable place with your finances <3

  8. Susan says:

    Better: A slower pace of life, less busywork, and a lot of fun with my family. Also watching my adult sons navigate and lead in their respective professions to protect businesses/employees.

    Worse: I work in/around music education and I think that we are not really going to see the results of the year that shall not be named, for about 6 or 7 years. There are fundamentals that usually happen that are going to be missing and college band programs will start reflecting that when this generation of middle schoolers get to college.

  9. Kay says:

    Better: Moved back to the US and in with my significant other in order to start a new job. Lots of changes and I am happy where I am.

    Worse: Due to extremely strict quarantine in my former country, I stopped running, exercising and being active. Since moving back to the US this year, it’s been hard to get the energy and motivation to re-start activities I used to love.

  10. Cait says:

    Better: I got married during the pandemic so I feel obligated to say “my marriage!” But I think what actually got better was my husband and I’s ability to relate to each other’s daily lives and struggles. We don’t have to wait until the other person walks in the door under a dark cloud to know that they’ve had a rough day or been on Zoom for 6 hours straight. It’s easier for us to be on the same page.
    Worse: When we got engaged we mapped out a loose, flexible, timeline for getting married, buying a house, having kids, and how all of that would work with our career goals. Now everything has been pushed back or upended and we don’t know where to go from here. Both of our mental health has taken such a severe hit that we’re no longer sure if we want kids at all. The idea of being able to buy a house in our area is laughable. My career went from promising to hanging on by a thread. I so identify with your statement Abra. Just when everything was supposed to solidify, it came crashing down.

  11. Megan says:

    Better: Same for me… my relationship with my husband. I feel like we are on the same team again.

    Worse: My reliance on food and alcohol to lift my spirits/de-stress. I was able to reset recently, but with little else to do, it is hard to remind myself to use things like meditation and yoga to soothe my soul.

    • Belle says:

      I agree with the eating feelings portion of this. I wasn’t much a drinker before the pandemic, and during the session, I drank every day. Trying to change that habit to something healthier is not easy.

  12. Sarah says:

    Better: My husband and I have spent so much more time together than we ever have before because we both used to travel most weeks for work. Our marriage is better because of it.

    Worse: My step-daughter has struggled with remote schooling so much, and I’m afraid she has lost a lot academically and socially.

  13. N. says:

    Better: Honestly, there have been many positives for me (and my husband) that have arisen from this pandemic. The first that comes to mind is that it forced us to balance our social calendar. We went from seeing loved ones 5+ days a week to maybe twice a month. As we emerge from our COVID quarantine, we’re going to be more selective about with whom we spend time and more mindful about what we do with our free time.

    Worse: This could possibly be a “better” but this pandemic and the 2020 election made me question some of my relationships. I’ve already cut off one friend and may end another friendship or two.

  14. Sarah says:

    Better: My mental health has improved – I took the time and opportunity to focus on getting into therapy and what helps and hinders me, and all around I’m happier and more productive… particularly in 2021.

    Worse: My finances. I took a massive (maaaaaaassive) pay cut, and drained my savings and maxed out my cards. I am going to be spending at least a year recovering.

  15. Audrey m says:

    Better: I like the integration of my life without a commute. I think my coworkers are more aware of each other’s personal lives, not in a snoopy way, but just in an aware way. I like having my life kind of all in one place rather than having these aggressive borders between home and work.
    Worse: I gained weight during COVID. I know I’m not alone, but it’s really hurt my confidence. I’m thankful to be alive and healthy but it’s a new struggle for me.

    • Belle says:

      Ditto on the weight gain. I want to be gracious with myself about it, but I do not feel good about it.

      • Lina Baker says:

        Hang in there (both of you)! It certainly is not something I think most of us are good at coping with, but being gentle and accepting (or perhaps aim for neutral) about your body will help you get to where you want to be more than focusing on the dissatisfaction you feel. Several years ago I gained quite a lot of weight due to a sudden onset of chronic illness, and I struggled for a long time in what I had hoped was a temporary phase. I started to see progress when I worked to feel more neutral about it (less discouraging self-talk paved the way for me to feel more optimistic about making changes).

        FULLY want to appreciate that this tool was helpful for me, but might not be for others. I hope you are able to find something that helps YOU!

  16. B. says:

    Better: I got to spend so much more time with my young children than I would have had the pandemic not happened. It hasn’t always been easy to juggle this extra time with simultaneously “working” from home (I use that term loosely as getting any work done with a 2- and 5-year old is challenging!), but it has been priceless.

    Worse: The internal battle between secretly wanting to focus on kids (i.e., be a SAHM) vs. my sense of obligation to my firm (where I’m a partner) is raging harder than ever before. I’m dreading going back to work FT.

  17. Laura t says:

    Better: My job transitioned to 100% remote at the beginning of the pandemic and having that physical separation really helped me set some desperately need work boundaries. As a result my work-life balance is MUCH better resulting in way less stress and much more time for activities I love.
    Worse: The progress I’d made on building a friend group in my adopted state. I am an introvert who moved to a different state several years back for a relationship. Since the move, I’ve had a really hard time establishing a friend group. I’d finally started to make some real strides in that area in the year before the pandemic, but this past year has basically wiped them all out.

    • Lina Baker says:

      I absolutely love that you were able to achieve much-needed Work/Life balance–I sincerely hope that if you are going back to the office that you are able to prioritize maintaining those boundaries. What lovely news!

      I am sorry that you’ve been more isolated than others due to the move and struggling to create meaningful friendships in your new city. I hope that as things open and improve you are able to redevelop some of those and find new ways to reach out. When I moved to my city, I threw myself into my hobbies and forced myself to be uncomfortable by initiating conversations and following up relentlessly with new people. I am also an introvert (though more outgoing than most I admit), so I felt awkward and anxious. It was a really valuable experience for me to learn to lean into that discomfort, and that idea has now rooted itself in my life as one of my core values. Much encouragement from the PNW as you seek ways that work for you to build those friendships.

  18. Michelle says:

    Man this question really struck me.

    Better: During the pandemic, I really took a good hard look at my nutrition and activity levels. With no where to go, I didn’t have any reason to be “too tired” to workout, and I also needed an outlet for all my pent up energy. I became an actual runner, completed a virtual hair marathon, and feel healthier than I have since I was probably a teenager.

    Worse: My job. I loathed my boss before the pandemic, and removing the ability to see other people really forced my focus onto how much I really dislike what I’m doing. I can’t seem to find a new one, no matter how many applications or informational meetings I make. I’m feeling more and more burned out, and more and more dejected every day. I need the money, and the healthcare, so I’m afraid to just quit, plus, my partner is such a relentlessly positive individual that he thinks I’m better off staying here until I find other work. I think he’s afraid I won’t be able to hold up my end of the financial burden if I quit (and he’s not wrong), but I also am just so tired of the rejection letters. I honestly am at a loss for what to do.

    • Lina Baker says:

      UGH! my heart hurts for you on the job-front. Stay the course–finding a job is just such a horribly difficult endeavor, but in the end will have been worth powering through the rejections and frustrations. Keep believing that you have skills that are valuable and a personality that will truly shine once you find something better. Until then, I’d encourage you to try to find small internal dialogues that you can re-frame into something more positive, regardless that the emotion won’t be behind what feel like empty statements. Over time, this might help ease some of the stress.

      THAT SAID: your feelings are so valid and so hard, and it is okay to feel those and to not be like your relentlessly positive partner.

  19. Lauren says:

    The good: I got a new job, and the people I work with are wonderful. The job is very challenging, and I’m learning a ton. This was after a few years at a job I was extremely unhappy in, with a manager and colleagues who were hostile at best.

    The not so good: weight gain. Isolation has been tough. I’m single and live alone, and I just turned 38. So Covid took a year out of trying to date/meet someone to build a life with, at an age where I already feel ‘behind’/will it ever happen for me?!

  20. E says:

    Not going to do the “better” or “worse” thing but THANK YOU for sharing the articles about dads forcing moms out of the work place. That has been the drum that I have been beating for YEARS. I want to scream every time I see an article saying women are driven out of the workplace and it is employers’ faults. It’s men. It is totally men. As a society, we have to hold up men to being equal, otherwise other women just end up paying the burden to prop men up for not cutting it at home.

  21. B says:

    Better: My job used to consist of a lot of travel which has been restricted (to fortunately limited business effects) so im hopeful my firm will rethink the need for travel to be successful. Quarantine coinciding with My youngest having health issues – I am so grateful for the time at home as I’ve had the flexibility to care for her while not missing a beat at work – it would have been much harder without the additional flexibility.

    Worse: my relationship with members of my family has completely deteriorated due to differences in political perspectives and now vaccines. For my own health and sanity I’m having to draw even more boundaries

  22. Marge says:

    Better: With 100% telework and no other outlets, I lost 30 pounds and developed a Peloton app obsession (no bike!)
    Worse: I’m very single at 40 and the pandemic made my dating life impossible. I feel like it was the universe conspiring to keep me alone forever.

    • Emma says:

      I relate to the struggle with dating. I feel starved for touch. Fortunately my friends and family are vaccinated so there have been lots of hugs recently.

    • Lauren says:

      Marge, I feel you on the dating situation. I’m 38 and trying to remain hopeful!

    • Anna says:

      35 here and hopeful to have a family. I had just moved in with my partner when the pandemic started, and we sadly didn’t survive. Being single once again, especially after I thought I’d found the person I would settle down with, has been really tough. It probably wouldn’t bother me as much if I didn’t want kids, but now I just see a clock ticking as I spend another night in my empty apartment (still haven’t gotten back on the dating wagon). Anyways, all to say, I feel you, and you’re not alone!

      • Belle says:

        I’m going to say this as someone who is 39 and trying to have a baby: Think seriously about freezing your eggs. The decline in egg quality is seriously an issue between 35-39.

        • Anna says:

          I’ve thought about it, but my understanding is that the actual likelihood of a successful pregnancy from frozen eggs is something like 5%. I don’t know if I’m ready for the huge financial commitment for those slim odds.

          • Steph says:

            Anna – this is not necessarily true. I’m 8 weeks pregnant thanks to a frozen embryo transfer (male factor infertility). It’s true that your chances are better if you freeze embryos than eggs (donor sperm is an option here), but you’re better off with 39 year old eggs than you are with 41 year old eggs (if that’s the time it takes to find a partner willing to provide the sperm). Take a look at your insurance – a consult with a fertility specialist who is in-network might be free or copay only. It’s worth exploring.

      • Jenny says:

        A good friend of mine was done waiting for the right partner and pursued single motherhood last year. Her beautiful baby girl is now a few months old. It won’t be easy, but she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she wanted to have a child, and I really admire her for going for it.

  23. Andrea says:

    Better: I feel so joyful about how my marriage has fared through this. We got married late 2019, so a large portion of our married life has been spent in lockdown. As for many, quarantine was hard for me. My mother went through cancer treatment and I couldn’t be there with her due to infection risk. I missed socialization, and I missed time on my own. Daily interaction with the public for work was stressful. I always prided myself on being strong and having it all together, but during this time I well and truly broke down more than once. And in those moments my partner stepped up to bear the weight of my sorrows, and I had the chance to do the same for him. In 13 years together I think this is the first time we’ve really been emotionally tested like this and it’s made us so much stronger as a team.

    Worse: This pandemic has brought out a side to humanity that shocks me daily with its selfishness and cruelty, with its willful ignorance of science and truth and its total disregard for the lives of others. I feel like my whole view of humanity has completely shifted and I don’t think it’s ever going back to that place where I can see the best in everybody. That makes me more heartbroken than I can say.

    • JBindc says:

      Andrea – your worse just hit me so hard. I have been struggling to encapsulate why I feel so disgusted with some of humanity, and your words hit it right on. I am sad and sorry to feel this way, I want to believe there is more good than bad, but the pandemic showed an ugly side. Thank you for sharing.

  24. GeeCee says:

    Better: Pre-pandemic, our once-weekly date night out for dinner and drinks had turned into more like four times weekly dinner out and drinks. In the last year or so we’ve both gotten a lot better than we ever have been at cooking and eating out of our refrigerator, I’m a noticeably better cook, and the husband is turning into a real cocktail nerd. Going from four nights in a restaurant or getting takeout a week to maybe once every four to six weeks splurging on takeout from a fancy restaurant was also great for the budget.

    Not better: While the husband and I have managed a year-plus working in the same small home office and being together nearly 24/7 without wanting to kill each other, it has exposed some fundamental differences in how we each cope with stress that I can see leading to problems further down the road if we don’t get around to talking it out first.

  25. Meg says:

    good: i had a baby! i love being a mom and my relationship with my husband is stronger than ever

    bad: we moved cross-country six months before lockdown. i didn’t have a chance to make any friends and we didn’t have a pod. i’m afraid i’ll come out of this and never be able to make friends here because everyone has become so attached to their pod people

    • Alex says:

      Meg, your comments resonated with me a lot. I moved back to where I grew up a couple of years ago, and had a baby in March 2020 right when the country shut down. It has been great getting to spend so much time with her that I wouldn’t have had if I were commuting and working in my office. My family is here too, so they were basically my pod which was wonderful. But! Pre-covid, I had been planning to meet other new moms and develop a closer circle of friends here and that just didn’t happen. I’m hopeful for you and for me that there are others out there who had big life changes before/during the pandemic and had to put friendship building on hold too.

    • Jenny says:

      You will make friends! Especially when your baby is old enough to visit the closest playground. Just start chatting people up. Moms exchange phone numbers a lot on the playground.

  26. JsM says:

    Better: My commute was the most stressful part of my job and clocked in at 3 hours, round trip each day if I was in the office as opposed to in the field. As a result of the pandemic the company is overhauling remote work policies and I’ll be WFH 4 days a week when we return, which is a huge relief. I would have probably started job searching if I had to go back to 15 hours a week commuting to the office.

    Worse: I lost one of the two closest people in my family during the pandemic (non-COVID related), and because of the pandemic I didn’t get to see them before they died or attend their funeral. And at the same time, my spouse’s father had a debilitating stroke so we have been full time care givers for the better part of a year. It’s hard not to feel guilty for being able to be a support system for him, but being geographically so far away from my side of the family and unable to help or to grieve. I’m trying to let myself off the hook after this impossible year, but it’s hard.

  27. Alli says:

    Better: owning my introvert self and saying no to things (social obligations) now that things are opening up… I’m happier in small 2 or 4 people engagements

    Worse: recognizing I really don’t fit in/agree with my work colleagues because of the strategic direction of our team and company… a complete letdown after almost 8 years working here, maybe this time next year this realization will turnaround to the better category-start a new job/career

  28. Christine says:

    The good: I had fallen off the exercise band wagon long before the pandemic. But with my added flexibility I decided to start running again. It’s been really good for my mental health and gives me some alone time away from the husband, kid and dog.
    The bad: the nonstop work and the constant messaging to take time off countered by the insane amount of work that needs to get done and bosses that want to shine so you get more projects dumped on you I’m burned out, exhausted, haven’t had a holiday in over one year, and realize that I wasn’t as available for my 7 year old daughter as I should have been.

  29. Lisa says:

    Better: The pandemic led us to re-evaluate what we really wanted out of life, and it wasn’t the full-time grind of working in tech in Silicon Valley. Around the same time, we had to make a decision about some inherited real estate that was lying in limbo. So we took a leap of faith, dumping a ton of money into a house 1000 miles away without any guarantee of keeping our jobs remotely after the pandemic ends, in order to move to my husband’s hometown in western Montana.

    Worse: Although I’m convinced it’s the right decision, I’m still kinda terrified about this move. I’m the social partner in my marriage (despite also being the introvert, I make friends more easily than him) and I know exactly no one in Montana other than my husband’s family. He had a few close friends from high school but all of them had moved out of state too. There are other risks inherent in our big move, but the one I’m most afraid of is living in my dream house in a beautiful town close to nature — with no friends in driving distance.

  30. ABW says:

    Better: I dove into my sewing hobby and created a sewing instagram account (@abwmakes if you’re curious), finding new joy and a sense of accomplishment with each piece.

    Worse: Several relationships have been neglected while we lived our individual pandemic lives and I don’t know if we’ll ever come together or be close again.

  31. Helene M says:

    Better: I met the love of my life on a weekend when I decided I’d just had enough and I was going to go for that walk outside with a new person, restrictions or no restriction.
    Also better, I loved WFH and spending so much time with my dog. I know my neighbors much better and feel like I’m part of the local community.
    Worst: I lost my beloved brother…
    it came on the heels of the emotional toll both the BLM movement and the whole start of the pandemic took on me. I was so emotionally spent, it was even harder to grieve and get passed it

  32. Emma says:

    I prefer the term “elder millennial.”

    Better: If you had asked me pre-pandemic what would happen if my teenage son and I spent nearly 24/7 together (sharing less than 800 square feet) for a year, I would have said “WELCOME TO THE THUNDERDOME!” The extra time at home together has been wonderful for our relationship. We have developed a better understanding and appreciation of each other. Conflict is handled peacefully and immediately. I really enjoy him but wish he had better taste in music.

    Worse: My finances and health. Six weeks before the first reports of Covid-19 I left a full-time, merited job with county government for a part-time, non-merit position in a different department. The plan was to start my own therapy practice and eventually leave the absolutely terrible government job. Those plans were put on hold to pivot (PIVOT!) to months of intensive support for my son’s education and overwhelming demand for mental health services I offer via my government job. THEN I developed IBS and 6+ months into treatment I’m worse off than I started. It has been a shitty time (pun intended). I recently accepted a position with a thriving group practice that pays very well and will allow me to learn how to run my own business, if that’s what I want someday.

  33. SC MD2 says:

    Better: my physical health. I got back into hiking with a friend, and I’ve ramped up working out ~3 times a week, not including hiking.

    Worse: my mental health. I am single and I live alone (my housemate moved out early in the pandemic to her parents and I didn’t want to risk bringing on a new person until we knew what would happen…), and I have no nearby family, so the forced isolation really messed up my mental health. I had to take a break from social media because all my peers were talking about “being so glad to have a great partner during these hard times” or showing off their new babies, meanwhile I was trying not to have a mental breakdown because I had to do every effing thing myself, ranging from the small stuff like figuring out what to eat every day to large stuff like dealing with a sewer overflow. I have some friends in the area, but they have their families nearby and I didn’t want to impose. I also kinda dropped off the face of the earth to many acquaintances because I was trying to survive depression, and the forced isolation/small bubbles really really highlighted that. I’m an introvert, but I need to at least see other humans in my vicinity even if I don’t interact with them. Seeing faces on a screen just doesn’t do it.

  34. Lindsay says:

    Better: I was on an emotional rollercoaster with a long-term relationship that ended one month into the pandemic (technically two years earlier, long death rattle). Quarantining and working from home allowed me to get into a rhythm of routines that helped me through really tough times, and I also didn’t have the added stress/anxiety of seeing my ex and his new partner out in public at places we’d both be/music shows. I also was able to use the time to get my finances in order after I split from my ex.

    Worse: I let myself get comfortable and settle for things and relationships that I would have otherwise jettisoned. I stuck around in a so-so relationship because we both didn’t want to be alone during the pandemic winter.

  35. LINA Baker says:

    What a lovely prompt! And also how wonderful that you and Kyle are in such a better place/dealt with things that you’d been avoiding. What a joy!

    My answers:
    1) The good – SO many things (not a day passes that I don’t appreciate/express gratitude for this), the biggest of which is that my clinical depression has been in FULL remission for an entire year now–the first time in nearly a decade I’ve experienced such a string of good and great days.

    2) The bad – My wages were cut, and the promotion I received didn’t come with any raise so my finances have been struggling (unaided by some negligence on my part as well).

  36. E says:

    Better: I have become less of a people pleaser, and am getting better at setting boundaries. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t. I faced my building waves of anxiety and started on medication, as well as meeting with my old therapist again (thank goodness for remote therapy because I moved cities).

    Worse: At times I am concerned about my drinking. I did not used to regularly drink on week nights.

  37. Christine S. says:

    Better: I’m financially stable and am investing more, and it feels so good! I’ll pay off my law school debt this fall as well. And my relationship with my husband is better than ever.

    Worse: My physical and mental health. COVID wrecked me last spring and I’m dealing with residual health issues that have gotten worse the past few months. Just feels like my body is failing and it’s hard not to lose hope.

  38. Anon says:

    Worse: I lost my job in a way that was deeply traumatic.

    Better: I put this second because I think most of my betters are a result of the worse: the trauma got me to finally find a therapist that I feel like I’m doing good work with, I got to focus on the part-time grad degree I was already enrolled in, which has been rewarding on a number of levels, I learned that I have so many things that give my life meaning that aren’t work, and I am really learning to practice being grateful for those. And, we got a dog, and she is truly the best thing.

  39. Valerie says:

    Better:I started a regular habit of exercise a month before the pandemic hit and kept at it every day until early this year. Also my relationship with my husband and my son. So grateful to have had them ride out this tumultuous year with me.

    Worse: in the early days of this year I suffered a concussion and subsequent post concussion syndrome. I spiralled into experiencing severe anxiety and subsequent health issues such as high blood pressure. It has been a long few months and the climb back to good health has not been linear but I am getting there.

    Also complicating my year was a move to a new city far from any family or friends just before Covid hit. We moved for my husband’s work and I did not have the opportunity to meet new people prior to the lockdown. The part of the world I live in is still is a strict lockdown until at least the middle of June. The last people I saw in real life outside of a masked grocery store clerk (and my husband and son who live with me) were my in-laws who left from a visit on January 6th, 2020. Even writing the date I still can’t believe it. I am vaccinated but still not able to travel due to restrictions in my area. I am sure the extended physical/social isolation has prolonged my recovery. To those of you living in areas that some sense of normalcy is starting – enjoy it and get out there in the world.

  40. Claire says:

    I love these, but the “excuses for cancelling plans” article feels a little off here. Why do we need to make excuses? Let’s make plans when we intend to stick to them, and then if we cannot, be real and honest – if I hear from a friend that “they’re not feeling well” I worry. If I hear “Honestly, I’ve had a long week and am not feeling up to it, but can we reschedule for a walk tomorrow”, we normalize the fact that we don’t all need to be perfect all the time. But, let’s start by also normalizing saying no!

  41. Kait says:

    Better: I started a mindfulness practice and restarted therapy, which have helped me find a refuge in myself and begin to undo many years of negative self regard. I have also started to build my vision and confidence for my next career move.

    Worse: my relationship with my partner. We went from a long distance relationship to living together and moving to a new city during pandemic. I’m no longer sure if he’s my person and he feels the same way about me, largely because of how widely our needs have diverged in this ultra stressful time (and how we’ve dealt with that…not well). We’re going to therapy but I’m so sad and angry, and feel isolated in processing it.

    The article about Dads pushing women out of the workforce is on point!!

  42. JEn says:

    Best: Being able to work from home and I am very certain that it will continue and become the new norm. Wfh seemed so unlikely and far-fetched before. I used to dream about being able to work from home.
    Worst: I gained so much weight and it’s really bumming me out. I know it’s only temporary, but it’s hard not to mope around about it.

  43. B says:

    Worse: I moved to a new state in January 2020 to be with the man I thought I’d marry, my best friend of 11 years. Two weeks before the first pandemic lockdown, I found out he was cheating on me. I have never felt more alone than coping with that loss while in quarantine 1000 miles from any friends or family. And after a year spent watching nearly every one of my close friends get engaged/married/buy a house/have a kid, I feel forgotten, left behind, and afraid I’ll never find my way back to those dreams.

    Better: As a result of the above and a job that let me work remotely, I spent much of the last year living with my parents. While it certainly contributed to feeling “behind” in life, it’s been a silver lining getting to spend so much time with them just hiking, playing board games, and eating dinner together.

    • Belle says:

      I had almost the same thing happen to me. You make plans, they get shattered, and you think it’s impossible to get right again. But whether you bounce back is entirely up to you. And seriously, his loss.

    • anna says:

      I can definitely commiserate to the feeling of being left behind. It feels like this past year is a lost year for me – year of lost fertility, year of not getting any closer to finding my partner, and a year of setbacks in my career plans. It’s so hard seeing friends and acquaintances with the things I want out of life but have very little control over.

    • Jenny says:

      Wow, I just wanted to say that that is a terrible thing you went through. Congratulations on surviving.

  44. J says:

    Better: I got to spend more time than I imagined I’d ever get with my small children, I was forced off of the work/social obligation rat wheel, and I reprioritized alone time and my general relationship with fitness/wellness.

    Worse: My marriage. We were set to start marriage counseling the week after the pandemic started. Virtual therapy was not an option with kids afoot and no one to watch them. I thought the time spent together would help — it didn’t. I’m afraid that the nearly year-long delay in us being able to start therapy was just too long.

    • AMM says:

      I feel you on the worse. Not many said it here but my marriage definitely got worse too. It is hard to admit that and even harder to share it. If therapy was an option before, hopefully it will be an option again for you.

  45. Michelle says:

    Better: Got married! We got tired of trying to wait out the pandemic and planned a wedding for late April. We hoped we’d be able to have our family there but if it just had to be our parents, we would’ve still had it then. Luckily we could host 30 people, and everyone was vaccinated! It was so wonderful to see both of our families together and to have a nice event to celebrate with.

    Worse: Seeing family at the wedding was wonderful, but we also have a lot of friends that we haven’t seen for almost 2 years and I definitely feel a loss from not seeing good friends who live in different states for that long. Also we had seen some of the family members before our wedding, but that’s because we were at 3 family funerals in 2020. None of the deaths were cause by COVID, but it meant things like visiting them in the hospital or nursing home weren’t really allowed which was really tough. One hospital allowed us in when it was clear they were weren’t going to get better and the time was coming very soon.

  46. Jenny says:

    Better: Marriage. We always had a nice marriage, but the past year put us through some fires, and I feel like we came through them. I am proud of how we dealt with things.

    Worse: Work. I was in a sort of stepping stone job before the pandemic that required a lot of self-motivation to generate interesting work for myself. I’ve lost a lot of motivation and fire working from home all year. Hard to see where to go from here.

  47. Amy says:

    Better: My anxiety improved because my life slowed down. I usually travel a fair amount for work and it was wearing me down and stressing me out. My boyfriend moved in after five years of long-distance dating, something we’ve been working on for a while.

    Worse: Gained covid weight which feels impossible to change. I know I’m not alone but I miss my old body and resent how much faster I get tired or winded. Different kinds of stress, including losing a fair amount of faith in humanity.

Join The List

Stay up to date on the latest from Capitol Hill Style!


Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No Twenty-Three

This week, we have a wedding dress search coming up empty, cell phone slings that don’t suck, sunscreen tips for kids, and more. Let’s take a peek in the reader mail bag.



Recent Posts

Two Ways: The Olive Striped Shirt

I’d write a quippy intro, but it’s 5:00AM and I’m sitting in an airport lounge, so let’s just get on with it, shall we?



The Find: An Olive Striped Shirt

As you may have noticed, I do not have the most creative personal style. I am here for basics. But what I’m always looking for is basic-but, a piece of clothing that is basic but just a little different.




Ask the Edit, Style, Top Posts | June 20, 2024

Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No Twenty-Three

This week, we have a wedding dress search coming up empty, cell phone slings that don’t suck, sunscreen tips for kids, and more. Let’s take a peek in the reader mail bag.



How To Wear It, Posts, Style | June 18, 2024

Two Ways: The Olive Striped Shirt

I’d write a quippy intro, but it’s 5:00AM and I’m sitting in an airport lounge, so let’s just get on with it, shall we?



Features, Posts, The Range | June 18, 2024

The Find: An Olive Striped Shirt

As you may have noticed, I do not have the most creative personal style. I am here for basics. But what I’m always looking for is basic-but, a piece of clothing that is basic but just a little different.



Features, Monday Mornings, Posts | June 17, 2024

The Mondays: June 17, 2024

From the rooftop deck of my D.C. hotel I can see it all. The Capitol building, where I worked on and off for a decade. My first apartment where my three-doors-down neighbor was a young Senator Obama. My second apartment building where I bounced from unit-to-unit as my salary rose and I was finally able […]