As I began my week this week, I was sitting in my condo, coffee in hand. I like taking a look at my schedule and what I have on my agenda each week. Just like that, my calendar reminded me that I should be planning to be in Kentucky to Derby finals. Moments later, Facebook reminded my that last year on this particular day I had worked a wedding the weekend prior. On this day last year, I was enjoying a day off aboard the Andiamo (my parent’s have been avid boaters for all of my life, and that is the name of their boat), enjoying Lake Michigan. Those little reminders of where life was bring a harsh light to the realities of where it is, and weekly accomplishments during COVID-19 feel considerably different don’t they?
I am not producing weddings, or events. Not the way that I have done for 12 years. Our restaurants are operating at 25% capacity. Navigating budgets, bills and payroll while trying to survive is exhausting much of the time. Financially, things feel uncertain, in the larger perspective of a global pandemic things feel downright scary. So how do we continue to focus on what is good, and set goals for where we want to move towards? How do we even have weekly accomplishments during COVID-19? In my opinion, if we don’t then how do we survive this pandemic with our spirits in tact?
The kinds of goals I used to set have evolved…
My goals tend to be lofty. I dream big, and have a myriad of expectations for myself and the teams around me. From the MDE team planning weddings and events for our clients, to the training team with my horses to the management team at our restaurants, I expect equal amounts of hard work, dedication and goal setting. I expect this of them because I hold myself to the same expectations. These days I am often reminded of the phrase “Man plans. God laughs” because I had all of these plans I was working on. Goals I was working towards. And in the blink of an eye, the Coronavirus changed all of it.
Where I focus my time and efforts now…
These days, my time is spent mainly in our restaurants, supporting the teams that are in each location. It is my responsibility to make sure that we are adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. I have to make certain that every employee feels safe while at work, heard, and appreciated. There are times that I have to make the tough choices. As we navigate through this unchartered territory and forge a path forward that is not always easy. From menu to budget to branding and everything in between, it is my job to make sure the decisions that we make as a family are communicated and carried out properly.
I also dedicate time to The Illinois Events Coalition, which I co-founded with my husband Collin and my dear friend Ali Phillips. Our hope was to give event professionals in Illinois have one collective voice advocating and educating people on the impact that COVID-19 has had on our industry. It is also very important that I continue to stay in touch with our MDE clients, all of whom have transitioned their weddings to 2021. So, when does leave time to spend on something for myself? This is an excellent question. My horses are most definitely time for myself. The greatest thing about having horses is my life is that they are my safe place. This is not my past time, or my hobby. It is my sanctuary. Here, I can be alone with my thoughts but never really alone because they are with me.
Why my horses are so important…
The horses, and riding is where I face insecurities and fears and either rise to the occasion or fail, but I learn every time. From this, I have learned confidence, the value of patience, how to work hard towards a goal. My horses make my a better version of myself. They help my be the best version of myself.
On days when I don’t feel up to a responsibility, I remember that I have them to hold me accountable because their lives are my responsibility and their presence in my life is a gift. So I work the 18 hour day or deal with the challenge at hand because the reward is knowing my horses are happy, safe, healthy and with me. There are all kinds of benefits that come from having horses in my life. I have discussed this on my blog before which you can read more about here. One of the biggest priorities for me right now is keeping my horses, and making sure that the team around them is happy, healthy and safe.
What are my weekly accomplishments during COVID-19?
My accomplishment this week was that I made it to the barn three times to ride. I managed to do this without shirking one responsibility. I trusted that all of the work we have done collectively within the restaurants has created a bedrock structure infused with communication, support, confidence and knowledge. Financially I am not in a place like before, where I can just go to show after show. But the larger reality is that even if I was, my responsibilites have also changed, and my life has evolved to adapt to the present. COVID-19 has impacted every nook and cranny of my life. There is no denying that.
There is more than occasional moment where that reality exhausts me spiritually, and I accept that. Not everybody can be 100% one hundred percent of the time. And this is when weekly accomplishments become more important than ever before. My life used to involve setting goals that moved at the speed of light, by leaps and bounds. Today, I prefer inch by inch. Steady is what wins this marathon. COVID-19 is no sprint, of this much I am certain.
This week, our restaurants progressed a bit. I made it to the barn to ride. My wedding clients are in a good place. The team that manages our restaurants have stepped up to the plate in a variety of ways again this week. I managed to see a dear friend from a distance at the barn, and spend time with my trainers (and family) Caitlyn and Cody. My husband and I ate dinner together more than once this week. I had two really nice days with my mom and dad this weekend, and one even included them visiting the barn. I made it to Sunday. And I did so after the last ten days left me a little low in the spiritual reserves. These are my weekly accomplishments during COVID-19.
This is how I move forward and manage all of the things. How about you, what are you doing to keep going? Sending virtual hugs your way, along with a lot of love ❤️