One year ago, I was surprising my kids at school. Their mom usually picks them up, but there I was. My kids didn't know it, but we were headed to DISNEYLAND! We didn't know it at that moment, but we would be among the final guests at the park in the final day they were open before the pandemic shut down the park.
They were so pumped! It was about a 5 hour drive and they could hardly wait.
During our two days at the park, everything changed. News spread quickly of Tom Hanks and his wife contracted the coronavirus. Within hours, sports leagues cancelled the season and then the unthinkable... Disneyland was closing the park and Friday the 13th was going to be their last day open for some time.
Now, at that time the park had only closed 3 times in it's history, with the longest closer being a couple weeks after 9/11. It was a rainy day and the crowd was surprisingly light. I remember telling my kids to pay attention and soak this in, as they were witnessing something historic.
On the way home, we got the news that the kids school was also shutting down and the kids would be doing school at home for the unforeseeable future. Honestly, I think all of us thought that would last a few weeks. Boy, were we wrong.
Weeks turned into months. Shortly after that Disneyland trip, I lost my job. I found myself in a position I'd never been in before, unemployed. Fortunately, I had severance to live on and was able to spend a few months just being dad.
There was certainly a lot of negativity in the world to focus on, but I like to reflect on the positive aspects of the past year. I was blessed to have been able to spend so much time bonding with my kids, helping them with school work, playing games and just soaking in life together. And you know what, I wouldn't trade that time for the world.
By the end of summer, I was hired by 95-5 The Bull and moved to Las Vegas. And thanks to the kids continuing distance learning, they were able to spend extra time in my new home. They live in California with their mom, so this was time I wouldn't have otherwise.
Yes, it was stressful, but I don't want to reflect on that. I want to reflect on the lessons.
This pandemic has forced us all to think differently, to focus on what we need and how to take care of our mental health. We were able to slow down and reevaluate what's most important in life: family, health and happiness.
So as things begin to open back up, let's not take our regained freedoms for granted. Let's continue to wash our hands, stay out of peoples faces, be kinder to each other, not sweat the small stuff and focus on staying centered for our own mental health.
Things will be a little different in the next normal, but I'm ready to dive in with a new appreciation for life.