Disorienting. Crazytown. Unexpected. Volatile. Dystopian. Draconian. Zombie apocalypse.
So many things around us acknowledge the unique time we’re in at the moment, from school and business closings to Zoom calls and face masks. The abundant media coverage about the medical crisis and the economic hardships for so many fellow Americans paints a picture that this is the hardest event our country has had to endure since WWII. The vivid stories of frontline workers, medical staff, families of victims, and displaced workers connect us to the hardships that our fellow Americans are bearing.
Joy. Gratitude. Friends. Family. Resilience. Happiness. Community.
These will also be the themes of the coronavirus once the history books are written.
Just like we saw after 9/11, the spirit of America has come out in full force. We’ve seen stories of volunteer medical personnel being flown by Southwest Airlines to NYC, the New England Patriots flying a plane to China to retrieve 1M+ masks, the CEO for Texas Roadhouse restaurant giving up his salary for one year to keep employees employed, or even a surprise serenade by the original cast of Hamilton on John Krasinski’s Some Good News home-based news show. This is what makes our country strong in dire times – the circling of wagons, the locking of arms, the ever-present question from so many: “How can I do my part to help?”
Philanthropy – communities taking care of their own voluntarily – has been an essential part of our democracy for hundreds of years. The rapid change in lifestyle caused by the coronavirus has created the opportunity for humans to connect with each other in new ways that are likely to linger well beyond the virus. Sure, Zoom is a new reality for many of us, but so are front yard gatherings, long walks with family members, and searching for ways to support a local business.
Someone once told me that most prayers are answered in the form of a person. The audacity of the statement seemed like a challenge to my faith in the moment, but I’ve come to understand the truth of it. We are all here to help each other, and the good news that can come out of this unique experience is that we understand and appreciate the people in our lives, from our own family and long-time friends to the grocery store clerk who is in our lives for just a few minutes, but has become a hero.
On that note, and as a personal/professional aside, this week we are celebrating the twenty year anniversary of one of our team members, Kim Adams. Kim has been a part of our firm, and therefore a part of my family, for most of my career. After my apprenticeship with my dad ended, Kim took over as his Client Service Supervisor. She stayed in that role for 17 years, serving his clients and helping my dad with his business endeavors. Kim joined my team three years ago, and the team and clients benefit from her wisdom and experience. More importantly, we learn from and gain strength from her unflappable confidence in good times and bad. This is the third major market disruption that Kim and I have been through together, and I am reminded again how important it is to have people like Kim at your side when the world goes a different direction than you expected.
As we walk through the next 12-18 months, we have the opportunity to write our own history book about this time. Will we remember the ‘dystopian’ lifestyle, or will we tell stories about the unexpected and welcome sources of joy we experienced? Will we talk about how hard it was to stay at home, or will we be grateful for the people at our sides who made this experience better? A healthy part of managing a crisis is understanding and accepting the dark clouds, but also creating silver linings where we can. Here are some ideas for you to consider:
Pinpoint what you like about your days, and figure out how to keep that in your life once we go back to “normal.”
Is it more time with family? Less driving? More time to exercise and think? Less travel? Or do you really miss traveling and social activities and want more of it? We will all be changed after this, and we can choose to bring the best discoveries of this time with us into our future world.
Find a way to help the medical community.
During WWII, women worked in factories in mass numbers to produce equipment and munitions to be used in battle. Today, the battle is happening in hospitals. Whether you want to send a note to a medical team at Children’s, give money to support efforts at a local hospital, or make masks for a hospital, you can model yourself after the WWII women and help the people who need it the most.
Figure out the very best thing to come out of this. Focus on it, and don’t give up.
I hear story after story about people finding time to do all sorts of things that they wouldn’t normally do if they weren’t at home so much, like walking, meditating, and enjoying time outdoors. What is the very best thing that you can do with this time so that life on the other side of this is as good as it can possibly be? We should all be cleaning out our closets – our real ones and our metaphorical ones – by doing away with things that don’t bring value or happiness, organizing what remains, and assessing what we need. I myself have a list of projects I am ticking off one by one which I know will leave me lighter, clear-headed, and ready for the possibilities that the next phase will bring.
Donate to a local nonprofit
One of my favorite things about living in Dallas and being a part of the North Texas community is the elevated and persistent level of philanthropy. We take care of our own here. I am on the board of the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), which brings you North Texas Giving Day each year – the largest one day giving campaign in the world. CFT has joined forces with United Way, the Dallas Cowboys, and Giving Tuesday to host a one day giving campaign on May 5 to support our community during this time of extreme need. If you think being a part of a massive one day rally for our community might make you feel good (we agree), please check it out:
For other ideas on how to help, contact your local church, or consider the nonprofits listed here:
We always love stories about the good things happening in the world, but those stories are a little sweeter now. If you want to share your stories with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, take care of yourself. You are an important member of the community.
Debra Brennan Tagg is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and the creator of the DBT360 Financial Plan, a proprietary program that helps her clients prioritize their goals, leverage their resources, and address their risks. She is the president of BFS Advisory Group and teaches the public and the financial services industry about the importance of values-based financial planning and investor education.