On March 17, 2020, the YMCA of Central Florida shut down due to COVID-19, anticipating operations to resume by the end of the month. Instead, we experienced a 64-day closure from regular operations, followed by the slow and methodical re-opening process that spanned from the end of May to October. Unfortunately, five family centers remained closed through 2020, three of which never re-opened. It's hard to believe that it's been two years this month since all this transpired, and that what we thought would be a wave of COVID-19 cases for a few weeks has turned into multiple waves of COVID-19 surges across two years. So, as an avid surfer who just returned from catching some huge waves in the Pacific Ocean and was charged with teaching a friend to learn how to surf, I wanted to share the same advice with you on how to ride the COVID-19 waves we are still feeling two years later.
First, Find Your Balance Point! Finding your sense of balance is perhaps the most important part of surfing. Without finding that, you will nosedive every time. The same is true for living thru COVID-19. After two years in this pandemic, you can't just look for it to go away or pray for smooth "waters." If we have learned anything, I think we would all agree that every time we think it's "over," there have been surges or variants like Delta and Omicron that knock us off our feet, and it feels like a nosedive. So, how do you find your balance in surfing and in life? You take the time to start small, lay on the board, and find what feels right. You change your position. You get help from others. You find what works for you that allows you to keep yourself above the waves (or, in this case, the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic). No matter what, you recognize, for all the times you got knocked down and off your board, you got back up and kept trying. You survived it and became stronger.
Second, Look Where You Want To Go! When they learn to surf, most people spend more time looking at their feet or the waves when they stand up. The more you look down, the more freaked out you get, and hence most will wipe out as they fall down the steep part of the wave. The key to riding a wave is to always look in the direction you want to go on the wave – even when you are lying down and paddling, and especially before you take off. The same can be true for how we approach COVID-19 in year two. We can't keep looking back – we need to look forward to where we want to go. It's been two years since the day we shut our doors, learned to work remotely, and operate in a whole new way. For many, it's been two years of feeling isolated and disconnected. We live in fear and are wary of getting knocked down so many times. So, what are you looking at? Where do you want to go? For the Y, our CEO and leadership team have a vision for where our Y needs to go. They aren't looking back or down; they are moving us forward and looking where we need to go to serve our community. But, we all need to be willing to stop looking down or back and instead look where we want to go.
And finally, Be On The Right Equipment In The Right Conditions! Learning to surf and getting decent at it is not easy. It takes having the right board and choosing the right waves. The same is true for COVID-19. Over these two years, we have seen so much change with what we know about the virus and what we can do to stay safe. For us, we have choices, including vaccinations that help to prevent serious illness and death. Make sure you take the time to educate yourself so you can make the best choices on how to approach the waves of COVID-19 today and for you in the future. (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html)
Thank you for all you have done these last two years to help our Y not only survive, but thrive, amid the waves. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to where we are going and ready to catch that wave TOGETHER.