Chapter 50: Return to work at the Border of Crazy
As I rock gently on the hammock swings located on the front porch of my beautiful yellow 142-year-old Victorian vacation home (aka Casa di Amici), I virtually listen to a presentation of our Return to Work plan.
As the speakers elegantly share all the technological upgrades, plan for renovated spaces, and new flexible work arrangement, panic sets in.
I’m on vacation, but it doesn’t feel like one as I begin to worry about what this new hybrid world will be like. As I’ve shared before, during the pandemic, I went through a mourning phase: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and eventually an epiphany. Click to Read Blog Here
It took me a whole year to adjust to this new way of life where work and home were completely merged. There were extreme highs and lows during the past year and a half.
However, as it became more “normal,” I adjusted to this new way of life after 25 years of traveling to Manhattan five days a week, more so, traveling to other cities across the country every other week. And then, I became purposeful and intentional within this new life format.
I renovated my attic to create a new office set up as a more private workspace, which led to a guest bedroom and bathroom renovation. We submitted plans for a new outdoor space where we build a front porch and outdoor oasis in my backyard (we are breaking ground in a week!). Not to mention a pandemic engagement to my love, Mr. Pizza. Which prompted us to begin planning (DJ, venue, Welcome reception are booked, and the wedding dress is being designed). Best of all, my daughter, MSP, came home to Westfield to attend middle school, and I got to be home with her during this crazy life transition.
Last but not least, my uncle and I also bought Casa di Amici, and with help from Mr. Pizza, renovated the entire home. We then built a vacation rental brand and business that has been an enormous success so far, with 16 bookings and 2022 beginning to book up. If you haven’t seen it, please check it out at www.casadiamici143.com
Much of this may not have been possible without the work from home orders. I worked 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, and put those wasted 3 hours of commuting time back into my life. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you gain 15 hours per week.
Then as I sat on the porch of the house we lovingly reimagined, my heart began to beat fast at the mere thought of losing everything I gained.
Another mourning process began.
As I rejoined the Mazzola MOB in the outdoor oasis of la casa, I shared the news. “So, they said we are going back three days a week in a new hybrid schedule.” The responses back were varied. I was still processing, so it was difficult to talk about something with my family when I really didn’t know how I felt about the whole thing.
Some people thought it sucked, and others thought it was great. Mr. Pizza and MSP were the two people I was most concerned with…they both looked pensive.
As I began to talk out all the pros and cons, I started to feel that familiar sadness creep in. Selfishly, I didn’t want to miss out on time with my daughter and Mr. Pizza.
Having dinner together every night became our new habit. Escorting MSP to and from school plus all her after-school activities was possible because of this flex schedule. I wondered if I could do it all again while adding the 9 hours of commuting back into my life.
Truth be told, if my company had offered me a three-day flex schedule in February of 2020, I would have been ecstatic. An interesting truth strikes me at how much changed in quarantine.
Then I realized I needed to also lead my team through this transition. This gave me pause because I was promoted to head up one of the newest departments in our marketing organization while in quarantine. My team went from 15 people to 60. While I was still adjusting to leading a group this large, this was another hurricane of change. I needed to reconcile how to be the calm in the storm for them while I had a personal storm raging inside my head.
Instead of continuing this angst-ridden inner monologue, I said fuck it and got back to my family vacation. I vowed that before the week was over, I would reconcile my own feelings to begin to navigate my team and loved ones through this transition. Like before, when the world went dormant, there would undoubtedly be benefits and detriments. Loss and gain. Reminding myself that I thrive in change and would find a way to make it all work.
Worry was not going to help. Worry is a venomous poison to solving the problem or facing a challenge. At the end of the day, I still have a career I love, at a company that is doing everything to make sure this transition is as painless as possible with 2-days I can work from home. It’s inevitably going to be a roller coaster ride with so much still out of our control, but I know without a shadow of a doubt if we could succeed in a pandemic, returning to the office is a much easier mountain of change to climb.
I hugged Mr. Pizza and MSP and told them it would all be ok, then I poured myself a cocktail and rejoined my family poolside.
As I refocused on being present, I looked around the backyard at the family who reunited together for the first time in a year and a half, ages three to 75. It was humbling to be there with them, witnessing the growth we’ve all experienced since March 2020. It was heartwarming to see that while so many things change, the love remains.
It was a gift to receive this news on vacation, to be amongst my lifelong witnesses. They know me better than anyone, and it was reassuring to have their kind words remind me of my capability to manage through life’s hardships. To trust that I will find the calm and purpose. I will figure out how to be productive and efficient, most of all healthy and safe.
But before I do all that, I have a summer to enjoy, a trip to St. John to relish, and a wedding to plan. And then, a badass, brilliant but moody pre-teen to champion through 7th grade.
I (we) will get through this like every other challenge I’ve faced cause I’m part of the Mazzola MOB, and that’s what we do.
I hope you all have the freakiest summer ever! See you in September…see you when the summer’s through.