How to get past the pandemic blues



Professional photos aren’t in my budget, so I volunteered myself as a “tribute” for this photo to illustrate my pandemic blues. Note I am NOT a “Happy Camper.” Photo credit goes to my son, Canon, who is still making fun of me and refused to take any more (see outtakes below).

My usual bubbly perspective has lost its fizz lately. It isn’t easy for me to admit, but I think I may have been suffering from a case of the pandemic blues.

What, you say, are the pandemic blues?

Go put your sweatpants back on, watch about 30 minutes of any 24-hours news channel, and BAM… you’ll be right there with me. The thing is, I’ve tried to fight the blues by wearing real clothes and make-up, making plans, venturing out, exercising, avoiding the news, and relying on optimism, prayer and cinnamon gummy bears to get me through this waiting game.

But as I’ve been dodging and pretending, I’ve realized that I can’t will this new reality away. It’s not really summer, it wasn’t spring, it apparently won’t be fall, or even the winter we have always known.

For now, it’s simply pandemic season.

It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. You see, everything that makes those other seasons distinct and memorable is linked to the places we GO, and the things we DO, and the people we SEE. As the pandemic season is gobbling up our seasons (including the possibility of football season, I can’t even go there yet), there isn’t much going, or doing, or seeing. Pandemic season has its own dimensions, rhythms and rules.

With a valiant effort, I pushed this unwelcome season away for a few weeks. We all did in our attempt to convince ourselves that “hey kids, it’s summertime!” But it’s still pandemic season. Make no mistake. It is very much here and it demands our attention, no matter what we believe about its threat.

When I really let this settle in my heart, it hurts. I miss family. I miss friends. I miss the comfort of community that I clearly took for granted. Yes, we still see each other in short bits and spurts – on screens, behind masks, elbow to elbow, through windows, six feet away – but these are far from the deeper connections we crave.

Never before have I truly appreciated the value of presence, of humanity in the flesh, of hugs without hesitation.

It’s why we’ll never have a cyborg family that can serve as a substitute for the real thing. My apologies to those working in Artificial Intelligence, but you have much more work to do.

Last night, I was absorbed in a pity party for one. I didn’t have any grand 4th of July plans. Most events were cancelled or scaled down significantly. At our house, we were a bit weary, so we stayed in. I soon wandered outside, drawn to the sounds of fireworks that began exploding right after dark. Honestly, it sounded like Baghdad. I was curious, and maybe a little unsettled considering the state of the world.

It’s our first summer living in this house, which appears to be the epicenter of all fireworks in the state of Tennessee. From every direction, we had a spectacular show. I was running around outside like a kid, trying to find the best place to watch. My husband teased me, “Um, haven’t you seen fireworks before?” Together we sat under a brilliant sky and laughed at the competition among the neighbors. I heard a baby cry, and cheering, and dogs barking, and crickets. In the dark, it felt for a moment that summer was back in its rightful place. Briefly, it was if the coronavirus and the unrest in our country had been a terrible dream.


View from our front porch of the free fireworks show we enjoyed on this memorable, but very different 4th of July. Thanks neighbors, whoever you are!

But even with reality looming in the back of my mind, I was thankful for those loud, colorful bursts in a way that I’ve never been before. I was thankful for the lightning bugs with their tiny golden sparks that accompanied the show. And then, God lit up the sky with flashes of pink and blue lightning for the finale!  

The sights and sounds were a symphony of peace that my soul needed.

And then I cried, of course, but I believe that tears are a built-in release valve. Release is what we need! Yes, we’ve lost much, but we haven’t lost it all.

There is a great Protector who is holding you and your place in your story as you wait patiently for the page to turn. Don’t give into the temptation to skip over this chapter, to withdraw and become numb. Or worse, to become angry. It’s not easy, but it’s important that we feel our way through this discomfort and come through stronger and wiser on the other side.

Because feeling is living!

Be an encourager for others and allow them to be an encourager for you. Feel with people and be with people in whatever way you can. It’s always the right season for loving one another.


If nothing else will cure you from the pandemic blues, this ridiculous photo shoot might do the job. There was a lot of laughing (at myself) under that mask and probably some from my neighbors. My sons were horrified and were not sure if they should have called for help.


Embrace the sun this summer

Hilton Head Island, SC, Summer 2020

Is it plagiarism and lazy if you steal your own blog article that was a guest post on someone else’s blog from two summers ago? I hope not. I’m on summer vacation and this post seems especially nostalgic and appropriate for right now. Although I’ve given it a 2020 update, the sentiments are the same.
Thanks to my precious, longtime friend, Betsy Pendergrass, who invited me to write on her blog and reminded me that I need to make words more often. Betsy has an amazing website, a podcast, inspiring products and a wonderful community to join – check her out at Gathering Around


The word is packed with so much potential! The idea of summer always holds the possibility for unforgettable moments. When I think about the summer memories I cherish, they range from the mundane to the spectacular.

Just this morning, I’m sitting here on a summer vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina with my husband and two sons. We’re vacationing in the time of the coronavirus. The limitations of that make me especially grateful that last summer, we took an epic two-week trip out West when it was possible to travel with no restrictions.

Living in the moment  – especially now – is more important than ever. 


The Grand Canyon, North Rim (Summer 2019) and The Grand Canyon, South Rim (Summer 1985)

Over the years we’ve spent together as a family unit of four, I realize I’ve been borderline obsessed with making every summer special. I inherited this charge from my parents, who took me and my brother on a variety of memorable trips without ever getting on a plane.

I recall a cross-country trip in the 1980’s when my family left Alabama in a large yellow Buick bearing a ROLL TIDE bumper sticker and a handmade California or Bust sign in the window.  Clearly we weren’t trying to blend in on our journey West. On this trip, I somehow became the only witness to a shooting in South Central L.A. We were lost. There was no GPS. There were no cell phones. These were simpler times. Thankfully God had plans to keep me around to create equally terrifying and terrific memories for another generation. 

Even with the way technology has changed the way we travel today, my family has enjoyed and endured many similar adventures. We’ve packed a lot into the 20 years since my oldest was born. We’ve done the tourist traps at the beach and the mountains, we’ve been to a Yankees game, we’ve eaten Chicago deep-dish pizza, we’ve done the theme parks, and we’ve sailed on a Caribbean cruise. We’ve overspent and perhaps overcompensated for who knows what, but I still wouldn’t change a thing. 

Embrace the Sun
New York City, Summer 2011

As awesome and photo-worthy as those memories are, I’ve found that some of the sweetest memories have been much simpler, closer to home, and cheaper. When I was blessed to be a work-at-home mom and the boys were little, our summer days were magic. After they slept late, we would eat Cream of Wheat for breakfast, fill up the baby pool, and read stories at night before bedtime. We rode bikes, went to story time at the library, and slathered hydrocortisone on mosquito bites.

It wasn’t fancy, but it was good.

Years later, summers started filling up with sports and activities, but I still purposed to capture something meaningful. We would go swimming with friends, enjoy longer visits with their grandparents, and stay up late every night to watch movies and make popcorn.

As the years raced by and the boys naturally started gravitating toward more time with friends and their teenage interests (PS4 and working out — need I say more?), I’ve found myself sometimes feeling lost. Where do I really fit in anymore? In a true “Hail Mary” attempt to keep our evolving relationships intact, we bought a small, used camper several years ago. It was my desperate effort to make the most of what was left of our dwindling summer family time.

As possibly the least outdoorsy family to go camping EVER, we went for it and never looked back. Fast forward and I’m proud to say we’ve enjoyed several camping trips together. They were not without challenges such as getting locked outside the camper, toilet problems, rainy campsites, no heat, an incessant smoke alarm, and grumpy hiking treks. I also should mention that my family did not even fit comfortably in this camper that barely slept four (see update in photo below). To call us happy campers all the time would have been a stretch.

But regardless of how imperfect our summer memories may be, they are OURS and ours alone. For me, summer is perhaps the most defining part of childhood. It’s a condensed version of the highs and lows that define every family dynamic and it’s deeply personal. The point of summer isn’t to make it Instagram worthy or spend the most money, it’s just to make it uniquely YOURS and embrace every second.

Make precious family memories while you can in this brief ray of sun. It only shines for a season, but its warmth will stay with you forever.

The camper that was. In my normal spontaneous manner, I bought this camper before doing even five minutes of research. It is a “low profile” camper, which means the ceilings are lower for garage storage. With the exception of me and my youngest before he grew a foot and a half, we are not low profile people. We have since sold the camper since my 6 foot+ husband and boys have zero head space inside. I am looking forward to another camper with more vertical space in our future!