Although COVID continues to wreak havoc in our civilization, this Christmas was definitely better than last year!
The good news is we have a vaccination series that includes a booster. The bad news is we have 37% of Americans not completely vaccinated. People continue to choose to prolong this pandemic by being willfully obtuse. Chicago is still under an indoors mask mandate and starting tomorrow Chicagoans must show vaccination cards for entry to restaurants, bars and gyms. I’m all for the un-vaxed being restricted from public activities. I hope airlines provide restrictions too. Tests can only be so helpful in stopping the spread.
This month the contagious nature of Omicron has brought down Chicago theatre. I was scheduled to see three shows. I saw one. A second one was forced closed. And the third I canceled because of the high positivity rate. I changed my birthday plans from restaurant reservations to delivery at Bilger’s home. Many of my city friends have gone to weekly+ tests for safety. And at least one of my friends has tested positive! Currently, he is in isolation, fully vaxed, and boosted. This is his second time having COVID. WTF??
I know several stories about family and friends’ holiday plans going bust between canceled flights and positivity/illness. I’m grateful that my family had a Christmas festival. I spent time with 12 out of 13 of my nieces and nephews, sister Jenny and the parents. It was wonderful! Plenty of food, drinks, laughter, games, joy and singing The 12 Days of Christmas on multiple nights.
Throughout the month, I got my merry-on with caution. I kicked off December shopping locally in Andersonville followed by dinner with BilgerEl. I had breakfast with Michelle. I had lunch with Bill, Rick S., Natalie/Karen and Sue C-F. I had dinner with StevenW/MichaelC/Collin, Scubi/Jacqueline, Rich/BilgerEl/James, and BilgerEl/James/Scubi. Ellen hosted a lovely intimate holiday party at the beginning of the month. And at the end of the month, Bilger hosted a small wine and cheese gathering before Jen headed back to NYC.
I watched all the traditional Christmas movies and added a few new ones on Netflix: “Single All The Way”, “Christmas in the Castle” and “A Boy Named Christmas”. I’ve started my Oscar prep by seeing “Power of the Dog”, “Being the Ricardos” and “Tick Tock Boom”. Mom and Jenny convinced me to watch the “Despicable Me” series of three animated films. I swapped my Zoom subscription for an HBOMax subscription so I watched all of “Hacks” and the first five episodes of the SATC reboot “And Just Like That”. I finished “The Morning Show” -season 2 (Apple+) and “Hawkeye” (Disney+),
And in the adult-ing category, I had a rapid COVID test, dental cleaning, and a flat tire… leading to the purchase of three new tires. I also renewed my drivers license online with the same picture from 8 years ago – I’m driving like its 2013! I took a few walks with Bill, saw Mary’s new house, transported Sue J from the airport to Indiana and chauffeured the parents from Indiana to the airport.
- Learning! I completed my five-week course (every Tuesday at 8am). Dr. Linda Ginzel taught “Choosing Leadership” workshop at University of Chicago’s Booth School. I really enjoyed the lecture series focused on leading people with love, compassion and curiosity. Since it was online, there were thousands of participants. It was fun seeing greetings like ‘Good morning from Singapore’ in the Chat.
- Work! We had a huge win for my team this month. We secured an FCC million dollar grant for telehealth devices/services for seven community health centers. It was easy…. it only took 18 months, two submissions, several revisions and multiple appeals. I’m so proud of our team and the tenacity it took to succeed! I’m so excited for health centers to get upgraded devices/services in 2022.
- Working Out! At the beginning of October, I decided on a 100 day quest of 10K steps a day. I actually walked 10K for 93/100 days. My knees and my inner holiday sloth resulted in not hitting the goal on 7 days. My 2022 goal is 350 days stepping 10K… giving me 15 break days for flexibility. Josh and I kept to our regular schedule except for a Friday I woke up with a stuffy nose, sore throat and headache. It would be a minor blip in a non-pandemic era. Out of an abundance of caution, I canceled and got a COVID test (negative). I also took two in-person-yet-masked yoga classes.
- And I hit level 5790 on Candy Crush and completed 3 puzzles.
I’m continuing to adhere to my new practice adoption based on James Cleary’s Atomic Habits. My morning ritual is to first read for 30 minutes to an hour. In December, I read 4 1/4 books.
*The Matrix by Lauren Groff. This one was #1 on the NYT 2021 books. Mary gave it to me to read. It was a quirky, fascinating read. It’s set in an Abbey in the 1000s. The heroine is a woman born a bastard of the king and banished to the nunnery. Inspired by visions of the Virgin Mary and Eve, she turns the impoverished Abbey into a lucrative, productive fortress. I was intrigued by both the clash of feminism and Church doctrine and the gritty reality of the ages.
*Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Scubi let me borrow this novel based on an unfamiliar time -to me- in American history. Back in the late 1800s/early 1900s, immigrant orphan children were shipped out of New York (and other East Coast cities) via train to the Midwest. Train stations put children on display for ‘purchase’. It was run by charitable organizations with no vetting process for child placement. Although the scenarios were a bit gut-punching, I enjoyed it. Kline follows two timelines, 1930s and present day, with stories interconnecting.
*Out of Office by Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Peterson. I heard about this book on NPR. It just published in early December. The authors provide perspective on office culture needing to change to people culture. Although their focus is coming out of the pandemic work force shift to remote, they also discuss past shifts that had questionable success. A memorable one was how Google provided a campus style atmosphere for its 32,000 employees with free fitness, massages, and meals. They budgeted mega millions just for gourmet meals. The idea was to show employees how appreciated they were. Employees tended to work longer hours with less time for family and friends leading to strong dissatisfaction. Warzel and Peterson provide plenty of ideas for a people-focused culture. Some of my favorites were letting employees choose their schedule at home/office, no texting/emailing after office hours, and new ‘office hours’ focusing on team-building, like; 10am-2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The book really broadened my insights on employees struggling with managers, workload, and competition.
*Still Life by Louise Penny. After reading State of Terror co-authored with HRC, I looked more into Penny’s mystery collection. This is her first Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book. It’s set in a charming village Three Pines in Canada. Penny really establishes community and pulls you into it. Her characters are flawed and lovable. I’m already wanting to visit the bistro for cafe au lait and licorice pipes, stop by the bookstore to pick up Ruth’s new book and check in on Clara’s new art installation. Oh, and there is a murder too.
*A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. I started the second Gamache’s book. It’s set at Christmas time and already makes me want to go to Three Pines for the big Christmas Eve party and the curling competition on Boxing Day. Penny is engaging as a storyteller.
Since the wind, snow and COVID were out in full force, I spent NYE grateful and comfortable at home. I reflected on 2021. I wrote down the negative things I choose not to carry into the new year. Even if I can’t change these ‘negative things’, I can work on not letting them suck all my positive energy. So, I burned them with sage in my wok. I wrote out my goals for the year and added a ’22 for 22’ list (thanks Mary) that are less rigid and more playful. I hung out in my pajamas, puzzling and wining. Although my adorable great nephew Palmer stayed home this NYE too, he certainly did it with more style than me in his dapper robe.
So, I’m ready for all the wonder and adventure 2022 is going to bring!! I’m looking forward to moments, days and decisions that aren’t steeped in COVID concerns. And I will continue to mask up, stay home, be grateful and get boosted a second time when it’s my turn.