Imagine a television comedy pilot's opening scene about a business executive getting laid off while living in her parent's basement in the middle of the countryside.
Spoiler alert: the business executive is me. Office in my childhood bedroom: Stand up desk, multiple monitors, headset on, dozens of talking heads coming in from the Zoom juxtaposed with the wood paneling, small sized sailor hat with “Julia” letters embroidered, and my younger brother’s Xbox posters still hanging from when he moved in following my college exodus.
The situation of living with my parents had to do with the blessing of my children’s grandma, a retired teacher, wonderfully volunteering to help with remote learning while I was sent to work remotely. My husband quarantined at his family's farm four hours away to help with planting season, so I gladly accepted my mother's offer.
From a fitness standpoint leading up to this real-life sitcom, I was the epitome of inconsistency. I broke my foot in September 2019, headed into a Midwest winter, and was in and out of the Train Like a Mother Return to Running program by the time the quarantine disruptions occurred.
Back to the opening scene: day after day, meeting after meeting until one day the unexpected appointment came. The one with my boss and the vice president popping up on screen to read from a letter, a letter that said due to COVID-19 related reasons, I was one of 100 employees being let go that day.
My world shifted in an instant. I was shut out of the system—files, emails, software—within the hour. I didn’t look at any files; most of that hour was spent calling my friends and just trying to process what had happened. Feelings of sadness and self-doubt crept in. What could I have done differently?
With my calendar suddenly empty, I knew I needed something to fill the time and exhaust my reeling mind and anxious body. I started the walks. The 6-mile hikes.
Two hours in the countryside with gravel roads and cornfields stretching for miles. No podcasts, no music, no pace. Just myself. I cried. I prayed. I texted. I sang. I talked to people over the phone. I talked to people in my head. I listened to the birds. I listened to the wind. I moved. I just walked.
And I did it the next day. And the next. And the next. I was never big into streaks, but for a few weeks, it was mine. Seven days a week. Six miles per day.
Over time, those walks helped me look forward and find purpose. There were additional layoffs three months later, and I was able to help those “newbies” from my experience.
One of my first pieces of advice? Get outside and walk.
Read more Seven Months into the Pandemic essays.