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Personal Thoughts and Lessons Inspired by the Pandemic

Show Notes for this Episode:

Hard times can be a catalyst for new thinking, new behaviors, and lessons learned. The Coronavirus pandemic will leave a lasting mark on our history, up there with the likes of the great world wars, the Great Depression, as well as the prior Spanish Flu pandemic.

As we start to get on the other side of this exogenous shock to our society and economy, I’ve been pondering what I’ve observed and learned throughout this time.

In this episode, I share some of my personal thoughts and lessons learned inspired by the pandemic.

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(00:01): Welcome to episode 50 of the midlife money gal podcast. I've got some pandemic inspired personal thoughts and lessons for you today.

(00:24): I'm Stephanie Sammons an experienced certified financial planner helping women professionals navigate midlife and money.

(00:37): You know, with it being my 50th podcast episode, I really wanted to kind of come out with a bang for today's episode to celebrate, but I was feeling a little more melancholy and just decided to go with what's been on my mind and share it with you. And I don't know, maybe it will inspire you to think as well about just the different thoughts and lessons that you've learned throughout this time that we've been experiencing this whole pandemic. You know, I really believe that hard times are a catalyst for change and for new thinking and lessons learned and new behaviors that can emerge from those lessons learned and just kind of reframing or seeing your life differently, seeing your future differently. And I don't know if the past couple of months have affected you in that way, but I imagine it's been as tough on you as myself and most of us out there who've been going through this.

(02:02): It has affected so many areas of our lives and so many people, you know, w we're all kind of in this thing together really across the world. And so it's been scary, you know, and it's been a life changing time. It's definitely going to go down in the history books on par with the great world Wars that this country has been through. The great depression, the Spanish flu pandemic that happened just a little over a hundred years ago. Um, it's, it's, it's just been really interesting and challenging time as you know. And as we start to get on the other side of this pandemic, I've been thinking about what I have observed and what I've learned over this time and I just wanted to share those thoughts with you. I tell you one thing is I've realized that I am just exhausted and I don't know about you if you feel that way too.

(03:20): But I feel mentally worn out and physically worn out. And it's almost like a guilty feeling about that that I have because I feel like working from home and having all this extra time on my hands, I should have been way more productive, should have gotten a lot more done. I should have been much more creative. I should have written a bunch of songs during this time and really worked on my business and all these other projects that I've been wanting to do. And you know, I really haven't done any of that. I haven't been able to find the mental and physical energy and I just think that's really interesting. I would be interested to hear if you feel the same way about that and you can always reach out to me at Stephanie at midlife money, gal.com and share your thoughts or ask me any questions that you have.

(04:27): But I'm just being completely honest here that I've been tired. So I'm hoping to recharge my batteries and I'm going to take a little time for some RNR and just, uh, try to get the stuff off of my mind and reset my mind, you know, have a, have a new mindset and get myself prepared for what's ahead. And so I hope you will do the same. So let me go through these different thoughts that I've had, observations and lessons throughout the pandemic crisis that we've been going through. And these aren't in any particular order. I literally just wrote them down off the top of my head. And so I'm kind of winging it here and I usually have a pretty well scripted plan for my podcast, but I just kind of wrote these down and they, I was surprised how quickly they came to me.

(05:38): The first one is that we are more adaptable as people than we think. And I started thinking about all the things that have been thrown at us that we've had to be flexible about and about our everyday lives as we knew them, our everyday routines. It's been astounding the changes that we've had to make so abruptly. And in the beginning of this, when it first became apparent that we were probably going to have to not travel and uh, hunker down for a little while in our homes. I don't think any of us realized what that really involved. And so it's been a real life lesson to realize how flexible we really can be when we need to be. And I mean, I've adapted to lots of things in my life outside of my normal routine from just obviously working from home as you're probably doing the same, not being able to just go out and do what we want to do, not being able to go out to dinner, not being able to travel, um, having the kids at home while working from home and just really be limited in so many ways over things that we really took for granted every day.

(07:24): I mean, I looked forward to hopping in the car and driving to my gym where I do some kind of exercise four to five days a week, either working out with a trainer or practicing hot yoga. And, uh, those classes, my trainer started training me on FaceTime here at my house, you know, virtually I should say while I'm at my house, she said her house. And same for my yoga instructor. She started doing FaceTime, like small group FaceTime, yoga classes. So that was pretty cool and I was very grateful to be able to continue those workouts. But those are just a few changes, you know, a few ways that I've adapted personally. And I think it's good for us to realize that, you know, we can be flexible when we need to be and we can make the changes that we need to make in order to either do what's best for the greater good or do what's best for ourselves and our families.

(08:31): So you are more adaptable than you think and hopefully you believe that as well. In fact, I even encourage you to write down some of the things that you have adapted to during this time that maybe you never thought you would have to do. All right, the next one, avoiding negativity and distraction must be intentional. And I've talked about this before on my podcast, how you really have to be careful about what you expose your brain to. And we've got this situation where, I mean everybody has an opinion. Everybody on social media, um, you know, is out there spouting what they think and what they believe. The media is absolutely just the worst about it. And the, the amount of negativity that you can be exposed to is just dangerous in my opinion and can be damaging you. You can just get into that mindset by default, just based on your exposure or even the people around you who are exposing their brains to that toxic stuff that's out there, that toxic information and the toxic talk that's going on or that has been going on.

(10:09): And I'm not seeing it as much now as I was before, but it literally got to a point for me where I could not even have the news on in my house. I don't care what news media you tune into. I don't care what network it is, if it's local, national, um, I just, I have completely blocked it out. I even, I was listening to the business news on a daily basis and for the past week I have turned that off and man, it really has brought a lot more peace to my life. So the point is, what I've learned about this is I have to be intentional about whether or not I'm going to turn that TV on. I'm going to read that article, I'm going to jump into that social media platform or not. And if I do, I'm going to limit the time that I spend in those areas because I want to limit the negative activity and information from coming into my brain.

(11:18): I just want to be very careful about that. So initially I think we all were just clued to the television and the news because we, there was so much uncertainty and we wanted to know what is going on, what's going to happen. Very scary. And before we knew it, at least over here at my house, it was, it was becoming a habit, you know, just constantly seeking information from the news. And so I realized that you, I can get what I need to get in a few minutes a day from a few very trusted sources and I can limit all the rest of this junk and not let it enter my brain and it's made me a happier person. And more importantly, it's filled me with more peace, not exposing myself to that whole circus. So that's just me. Next thing, taking a longer term view and how important that is and even a longer term view with a positive slant, I would say, because it's one thing to think about the longer term in a negative light that you know everything's going to hell in a hand basket.

(12:44): So, and everything's changed forever in a bad way and we'll never be back to normal and all that stuff. So don't think that way. Take a longer term positive view of our society and our world and your place in the world. Um, I think that's vital to getting through short term chaos. And Warren buffet once said, and I came across this quote recently that someone is sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree there a long time ago. And I love that because it really does frame a positive thinking and longterm thinking. And the truth is all of these things that happen that are, uh, that have such an impact, like a pandemic, they're all very, very different. The things that we've been through in this country that have been scary and shocking and tragic, they've all been different, but they're all the same in a lot of ways in terms of the process we go through mentally as we get through these tough times and how we come out on the other side.

(14:04): And we always make it to the other side and we are better because of that. So there's no reason to really think doom and gloom and just super negative about the longterm because we know it's going to be okay. You know, we have that to look forward to. We don't know when, and we don't know how long it takes, but we know it's going to be okay. And we know we're going to be okay and it's just good to, uh, not get too caught up in the short term chaos because it really is temporary and short term it's a setback. It's a tough time. It's a mountain, you know, that we have to climb and get to the other side of. And I think that we are now coming down off the top of the mountain and we are starting to get to the other side. So that's, that's good. It's a really good thing.

(15:00): Patience really is a virtue, you know, we have become so accustomed to being this instant gratification society. We want it now. We want the reward now, even if the reward is significantly better. If we wait, most people will take it now even if it's not as valuable. But we have been forced to wait. We have been forced to live in this time of uncertainty. And I think really the lesson in that is we have to be patient. We don't have any other choice. I mean, if we're not patient, we're going to just harm the people around us with our stress. And so the lesson really is letting go of the things that we can't control. It's learning to let go of that stuff and being patient, just sitting in that uncertainty. And that is really tough to do. It has really tested us, I think as human beings, but it's good because it teaches us the value of being more patient and not trying to worry about all the things that we have no control over.

(16:38): Okay.

(16:40): Connections matter. I've really realized this, that that man, I miss my friends. I miss my friends that I would go to dinner with every couple of months. There's a small group of us, three women, we call ourselves the Dallas dining divas and we would just catch up on life and whatever work, family, whatever was going on in our lives. And it was such a great thing. And we've stayed in touch through text messages and you know, we've made an effort, but it's just not the same as getting together in person. So I really can't wait for the time that we can go out to dinner again and just reconnect. Um, I've had a couple of good friends go through some, some tough health issues throughout this pandemic. Uh, one related to the pandemic, one not, and that has really weighed on my heart that they have been suffering.

(17:53): So I've tried to stay in touch with them, but our friends need us during this time and they're going to need us when we come out of this time. People have been fighting health issues, they've lost their jobs. There are some people who are probably going to end up getting divorced as a result of this pandemic. So all kinds of things that people are going through hardships and they need us, our friends need us, our families need us. So connections matter. And I would just encourage you to start the dialog, start reaching out and reengaging with friends that you haven't been in touch with through this time and your family. You know, just try to strengthen those relationships. It's so important to have good close friend relationships throughout your lifetime. In fact, it helps having community like that. It helps us thrive. Uh, especially in our later years.

(19:01): It helps us have a better quality of life as we age. The next one I wrote down was of course gratitude. Um, but the gratitude I'm thinking about is what are the blessings that you have seen during this time that have been a total surprise that you really didn't even think about or could not have imagined beforehand? And I'll give you one that is related to my family. My niece had a baby in mid December, a baby girl in mid December. She had a, I believe she had six weeks off of work when she, from the time she had to go out, which I think was a couple of weeks before she had the baby, so not a whole lot of time to bond with your newborn. And then this pandemic started to come into play and she had been back to work for, I don't know, I guess a couple of months, but really struggling because, or suffering I should say because she just was having to, to leave her daughter at daycare such a young, young age and not be with her all day.

(20:29): And it was very tough for her to separate from her baby girl, especially the first couple of months. So blessing in disguise really is that she has been able to spend to work from home now and spend such incredible bonding time with her baby daughter. And I just love that. I think that is so cool and I'm so grateful that she's had that time that they both had that time together and I think it will be really important to the development of my little itty bitty great niece who is so precious. I can't even stand it. I just kiss her cheeks off every time I see her. So that's been a cool blessing that I have gratitude for and I'm sure my niece does as well. But also just all the little things that you may have taken for granted that were just a given before this time.

(21:32): So what things can you think of that you are really grateful about that maybe you hadn't thought of before? And I would recommend just jotting down for the next few days, maybe the next week, three just small things, small little things that you are grateful for that maybe you didn't think about before and I think you'll be surprised at what you might come up with. So having this time to slow down and spend more time at home and not be running around like a crazy person like I usually am, um, has unveiled some different blessings in my life that I'm grateful for that I hadn't thought about previously. All right. The next two thoughts really have to do with this idea that, you know, self-discipline for me has been harder during this time. It's been harder for me to focus on things like eating healthy, moving my body, getting good sleep, putting good things into my brain.

(22:52): I feel like it's just, as I said earlier, like having more time and having time at home. Like I could have really been focusing on these things and I didn't. I've been preoccupied as we all have with everything going on around us. So your body needs to move and you've probably been sitting more and walking less. I know that I have, I mean we're not going anywhere, so you're not even probably walking out to your car very much or maybe you are going places and getting out and about now, but still not at the pace where we were before. But your body needs to move. You need to get that blood pumping and it's time at least for to get that going again, just to keep moving and not be lazy. And uh, you know, yes I do work out with my trainer and all that stuff, but it's not the same I've had, we have a Peloton bicycle here and I could get on that thing every day and ride for 45 minutes, but I don't.

(24:08): And when I do get on it, I feel like I'm peddling through molasses. I don't know what the deal is, but I have just been, as I said earlier, more lethargic and just haven't had the same enthusiasm and motivation and energy. So, but I've realized this body needs to move. It's good, it's healthy, it's good to sweat. And you're less stiff, you're less stressed. It's a great way to deal with stress. And so I'm going to keep moving. I'm going to keep this up and I'm going to take it to the next level. Me personally, same thing goes for food. I have developed like the worst dark chocolate habit during this pandemic and I never cared about dark chocolate before this. I rarely, Kay has it around all the time. We always have it on hand. I'm not saying she eats it all the time, but I, you know, she'd say, Hey, do you want a piece of dark chocolate after dinner?

(25:08): And I'm like, nah, I don't want any. But now I'm like obsessed with, I want my piece of dark chocolate. After dinner and after lunch I started getting a piece of dark chocolate. So I'm like, what's up with that? We've also been ordering food in more. We, in the beginning we were cooking a lot, which was great. And then we got lazy and even if we had time to cook, we still got lazy and started ordering food in. And when you eat a lot of food that you order in from restaurants, you are just by default getting a lot more sodium in your body and sodium makes you, it's not good for you. It makes you retain water and you're also getting other things probably in your food that aren't that great for you versus if you know what's going in, what the ingredients are and you're cooking at home. So bottom line is, for me it's been hard to have more self discipline over these areas and say for my sleep, I haven't slept as well. I've been sleeping more lightly, waking up more. That could have a whole lot to do with my hormones changing. But nonetheless, these are areas that I've learned that I've got to be intentional about and start focusing on again to feel better, to get my energy back, my physical energy, my mental energy.

(26:40): All right, here's a big one. Realize that everyone around you is doing their best every day, even if it doesn't seem like it to you. Even if you are questioning someone's motives for what they're doing or what they're saying, how they're behaving, give them some grace, cut people some Slack and realize that we're all doing the best we can with where we are in life and with the information and experience that we have. And just think about meeting people where they are. And without going into great detail, you know, this has come up for me with my spouse, with family members during this time, we, you know, we have expectations of people and we get disappointed when our expectations aren't met. But 99.9% of the time, it's not personal. The person who has let us down is not doing that intentionally. They're doing the best they can.

(28:04): And I just think that's a good thing to remember. Especially now when people are tired and stressed and their lives have been turned upside down, we need to give people a little bit of a break to be able to go through this and manage this at their own pace and in their own time and respect their process. So I'm at the last one. And here's what I will challenge you with. How will you change? How will you be changed as a result of this pandemic? What will you do differently going forward? If anything, how will you spend your time? Who will you spend your time with? What will you do about your work, your career, your contribution? Has that changed at all? Have you been questioning where you are in that area and will you consider or are you considering making a change there with your career?

(29:29): Um, I've talked to many people who are in that place. Having all this time at home and working from home has kind of changed their, their view on what they do for a living. It's helped them realize some things that they had buried deep down with regard to how they feel about their job and work. So I ask you the same question. What will you, what will you change or do differently with regard to your work and your career? And then what about your, your health and wellness? You know, will you change what you're doing when it comes to taking care of yourself? Self care. So I just, I challenge you with that to think about how has this event impacted you? And if you're not thinking about where you want to be a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, what your vision is for your future, then there's never been a better time.

(30:39): I really look at this as an opportunity for a reset. Not only a, a personal reset in your life, but also a financial reset or a financial planning reset, which I've talked about in a previous episode. You know, where are you financially now? What has changed? What do you need to do differently to align your financial assets and actions with your vision for the future, if anything do you need to make changes? And then also with your health and wellness, what will your plan be to get back on track and to, um, you know, to get to the place where, and the person that you really want to be and don't compare yourself to others. Don't worry about where anyone else is. There are lots of people out there online who, um, you know, who say they've, they haven't missed a beat. You know, they've got this all figured out and they've not only, um, been more successful in their job during this time, but they've, you know, they've conquered all their demons and they've accomplished all their goals and they've, they're fit as a fiddle.

(32:03): And, and yes, there are people who have just powered through and there are people who have really been impacted and both emotionally, mentally, physically in all the different ways. And there are people who have lost loved ones and there are people who have lost their lives. So it really runs the spectrum in terms of who has been affected and how, so you have to figure out how this has really impacted you and spend some time about it and then do a reset figure out in those three main areas. You know, your, your, your wealth, your work, your wellness and your personal life and your personal outlook, what you want to change about your life and in those areas going forward. So I'd love to thank you for hanging in there with me for 50 podcast episodes. We've been going for a year and I can't believe at the time has really flown by. I've got a lot of exciting things coming with my next round of shows and I'll look forward to sharing that with you. Thank you so much for listening.

(33:36): [inaudible] [inaudible] you've been listening to the midlife to learn more, visit [inaudible] dot com this show is for informational and educational purposes. Please do not consider any of the content as personalized financial investment tax, legal [inaudible].

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