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Gratitude & Offense in the Eye of The Storm

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

"Never seen anything like this, have you?!"

"Are you staying sane?"

"You think your business can survive?

"Are the kids doing OK with home school?"

I've asked these questions and have BEEN asked these questions over the past couple of months. I've also found it pretty easy to ratchet up my anxiety when thinking about the countless people inflicted (and tragically perished) from Covid-19 along with the millions of people facing severe economic hardship. Quite frankly, it's been hard not to let the brain run away like a freight train.

There's only a couple things that keeps my mind from racing. I try and forget the freight train and start to think about all the things I need to be GRATEFUL for. It's amazing how thinking about a simple "gratitude list" can keep me centered and away from the pity party (of one!).
The other? Knowing that we control more of what happens next than we may imagine....

It got me thinking about one major change for millions of people: SCHOOL.

Walking into my wife's home office a few weeks ago I noticed my 12 year old son's computer screen. I saw the teacher. And about 10 other video shots of Dominic's classmates. I motion to my wife like "what's that?" ZOOM. Classroom moved from Bricks/mortar to the computer screen video conference.

A week later my sister sends out a "zoom invite" to my family, my parents, and my other sister. VIRTUAL BINGO. Yes, there is such a thing. Friday night virtual bingo, 4 families, all on-line dying to scream "BINGO!"

ZOOM. The video conferencing tool where people jump on chat, collaborate, share their screens (if they need too). When you can't be in the same physical room with someone, you can still be in a virtual room with them.

We've embraced virtual meetings at PAVERART, and are conducting virtual "Lunch & Learn's" with Landscape Architects across the country. Why not engage and get a little "old school" communication going with a new age tool?

It's energizing to chat with anybody "in the field." I define anyone "in the field" as close to where the action happens. In our world it's Landscape Architects, designers and Hardscaping Contractors. Each one brings something to the table and engaging with all of them is part of the "fun stuff."

When the world locks you down, you need to find alternatives.

Couple of other random thoughts came to mind.

1) SCHOOLS are a MAJOR part of our PAVERART business. We build their school logos, mascots, core values into PAVERART, and we help them fundraise with ENGRAVED pavers.

But what happens when they shut down?

I suspect, there will be a "Mix" of people that continue to plan for the future while managing the current crisis, along with those that want to put the world on "hold" until after the dust settles. No different than homeowners, municipalities, corporations.

I PERSONALLY am of the mindset as a business owner that if x% of your "normal" activity is related to forward thinking, growth oriented projects, they should NOT go on hold just because we are living through a crisis. If anything, they should INCREASE.

Here's a quick video of some of our school PAVERART work over the years....

What else besides my "gratitude" exercise has helped?

The belief that "this too shall pass." But more than that, the reality of being IN CONTROL of what happens next. Staying on offense as much as possible. ANYTHING that gets you in motion, and moving towards a better future matter how trivial. Inspiration can come from odd places to help you steer the ship. Speaking of....

* I found this old t-shirt hiding in the corner of a drawer. An ANCHOR combined with a COMPASS. We've made a bunch of both of these designs at PAVERART, but never both of them COMBINED! Wonder what people would think, especially those along the coasts?

* I have a "design" challenge in the front of my house. An odd shape rectangle section of pavers in between the towns sidewalk and the steps leading up to our front door. I walk by this everyday and ponder:

"What should go there? A sunset? Too big of an area for a welcome mat. Not crazy about.....certainly open to suggestions!

Last, it's been an unusually cold spring in NJ. But whenever it's warm enough to stand out we try and get out and light up the fire pit.

I don't know what it is about getting around the fire pit, but it's one of life's great "reset" switches. I always seem to be able to reflect on all that is right/good......kind of like that thought on gratitude.

Staying future oriented and practicing gratitude is not a magic bullet. But in a world where so much has been up-ended, it works for me. And it certainly beats the outcome of the mental freight train.

Would love to hear what's working for you as well. Happy to zoom call with ANYONE, at anytime. Or we can go old school with that killer app, the telephone!

Stay safe.

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