What is your current state of mind?
Focused. I support executive communications for Mayo Clinic, and as one can imagine, things are very involved right now. The work is intense, but purposeful, and it feels good to have a place to direct my energies in a way that is (hopefully) productive, helpful and hopeful. I have never been prouder of my colleagues and the work they do to help patients.
How are you planning ahead?
When things are really hard, we have to shrink the timeline. A big part of my focus is on today and tomorrow. But I am, by nature, a “fixer,” so there is a part of my brain that is thinking down the road. I have a college student who won’t be returning to campus and her summer study abroad plans are up in smoke. There are many activities I’m involved in during the spring and summer that are uncertain. Work changes every day. Things are difficult and there aren’t great answers – pulling back from too far into the future and managing our expectations may be the best way to deal with that. I’m making lists of things I want to do, places I want to go and people I need to see so that when that time comes, I’m ready.
How has your perspective changed over the last few weeks?
I read once that the Greek root of the word “crisis” means “to sift” – it’s not unlike panning for gold – you run water through your pan and the sand and dirt and other gunk washes away to reveal what’s important. It’s amazing to me how this crisis has sifted away all sorts of things that I thought were important even 10 days ago. I’m leaning into my increased awareness and empathy for people. I’m very conscious of how scared and worried many people are. I’m trying to sit with those who are feeling very real grief over their job or their business or their education or their planned activities. I’m grateful for those who are continuing to work and serve others. I’m finding room to have compassion for people who want to chalk this all up to a conspiracy theory. In the end, it’s just another way to respond to and cope with things that are difficult to understand. Who I don’t have time for are those who are not taking the physical distancing asks seriously. In the end, our compliance is going to make or break this thing. Stay home.
What is your most pressing concern?
I’m concerned about people getting sick, but I’m less concerned about the virus right now than the pandemic’s economic downstream effects in our community. I worry about local businesses and I’m concerned about Luther. Through my husband’s role as guidance counselor at DHS and my role as president of our church, I’m very aware of the many challenges groups in our community like the working poor and those who struggle with mental illness are facing. Without school and other infrastructure, they are really struggling. I’m constantly thinking about what my role is to help meet those needs and if what we do is going to be enough. All we can do is commit to trying.
What are you hopeful about?
Lots of things. I believe this shared experience will help us understand each other better. I believe people are good, and I believe they’re resourceful. I believe in the power of prayer and the strength of community. I believe we’re all part of something bigger and greater. I believe that being kind can change everything. And I believe things will be ok.