Just as we awake each day, rubbing sleep from our crusty eyes and stretching those tight joints and muscles, we are all facing a new phase in our lives.

Let’s wake up, reflect, and smell the roses (or cacti or lox)

Masks are coming off, fears are dying down, and many of us are thinking about how we lived our lives throughout 2020, what and who we missed, and what we want to do next. We awkwardly hug our loved ones and step gingerly into restaurants.

Credit: Shutterstock

We have lost people we care about. I traveled back to New York recently for a brief vacation. I live in Arizona, where my New York food faves are in short supply.

I could practically taste my long-awaited morning treat — a beloved warm whole wheat everything flagel (a flat bagel) with veggie tofu and salty lox. I even missed the feeling of poppy seeds stuck in my teeth. I drove to the shop, only to discover that Bob, the store owner (who I kibbitzed with on a regular basis), had died of COVID-19 in January and the store was closed. He used to tell me how he wanted to write an autobiography one day about his life in the bagel business in the Hamptons. But he was working too hard to keep the store going to think about writing.

His death hit me hard. Not just because I would never again have that wonderful breakfast, but because it made me think about all those passion projects that people never get to embark on because they are waiting for “someday.”

That someday is today and everyday.

Especially as we age, we must strike that fine balance between self-care, self-preservation, and selflessness. I’ve found myself thinking about the people who really matter in my life. Those who checked in on me during the pandemic to make sure I was OK will be forever remembered as my lifelines.

I used some of my time during the pandemic to get in better shape. I bought an air fryer and experimented with new dishes. I wrote notes to my granddaughter and created a personalized book series for her. I sat in on countless ZOOMs and “met” an eclectic group of new business and personal connections. I reconnected with a cousin. I learned new digital skills, including my new love affair with Grammarly, which evaluates my spelling, grammar, and even writing tone. I dabbled with some handcraft projects and wrote a LOT, including a guide to re-evaluating our lives.

Most importantly, I thought about the life I want to live PoPan (post-pandemic).

Where and how do I want to live next? Where should I travel? Who belongs in my “inner circle” personally and professionally? Every hour counts. If we’re not helping someone, learning something, making money, connecting with people, or experiencing joy, why are we doing it (whatever “it” is)?

Birth is painful. I know that to be true, having had two daughters. Death, loss, and change are all stressful are sometimes agonizing. Downsizing, financial loss, and even moving to new jobs, work styles, and locations are tough.

Rebirth is equally tough. I may never eat one of Bob’s flagels again, but I have confidence that I will discover new morning rituals and loved ones.

That process will take time and commitment.

I mourn, reflect, ruminate, and re-create. I’ll seek out help from friends, family, and professionals if I find myself unable to shake big and little funks.

And this new life will not be a “new normal.” It will be a different normal. And that’s OK. Or maybe even better than OK.


  • Nancy A Shenker

    The Silver Hair Playbook: How to Be a Bad Ass >50™

    Nancy A. Shenker is a marketing innovator, brand builder, writer, speaker, and self-proclaimed rule breaker. Over the course of her 40-year business and marketing career, she has been a C-level executive, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to hundreds of small businesses at all stages. Founder of theONswitch marketing, Nancy was formerly a senior executive for major consumer and business brands, including Citibank, MasterCard, and Reed Exhibitions. She has written four books, and publishes a women’s entrepreneur community (www.sheBOOM.com), as well as AI/machine learning/robotics site www.EmbracetheMachine.com and travel and lifestyle site www.BleisureLiving.com. She also wrote a column for Inc.com called Bots & Bodies (about the human side of tech) and is a contributor to a wide range of consumer and business media. She recently won the "Killer Content Award" for a major project for a fast-growing technology company.