Well, hello September. I hope this Workout Wednesday post finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe and stealing some moments of sunshine as another summer winds down. I thought I’d kick off another almost-fall season here at LauraLovesFitness with an update on how my world has changed in a way I never could have imagined.
I find it nearly impossible to believe it’s been roughly six months since New York City basically went into shut down mode. Only a few weeks before, I had decided to make a major career change and leave the world of corporate video production and hosting to become a personal trainer. When the gyms closed, I had no idea what I’d do next. I never could have imagined just a few months later I’d be using the journalism skills I learned during my years at Northwestern as part of the New York City Health + Hospitals Test and Trace Corps.
My official title is contact monitor. From Sunday through Thursday, I reach out to those who have tested positive for COVID-19 (cases) along with contacts they’ve identified. Sometimes I’m the first person to alert a neighbor he or she has been in close contact with a case. The purpose of each and every call is to conduct wellness checks, encourage the case or contact to follow the appropriate isolation or quarantine guidelines and also provide resources. That includes everything from providing the phone number for the city’s mental health hotline to setting up food or medication deliveries and informing my neighbors about the free hotel rooms available for those who need a place to isolate or quarantine safely.
It has been a challenging and rewarding experience so far. I’m able to do my work remotely, though there are other members of Test & Trace who go out into the community when multiple attempts to reach people by phone fail. Thanks to help from translators, I’ve communicated with my neighbors in many languages, including Spanish, Bengali, Russian and Mandarin. I talk to nervous parents of pediatric contacts as young as three years old and happily tell a 75-year-old case they can get back to the “new” normal on their last day of isolation or quarantine. While I do this work from my laptop, I “meet” with my supervisor and the rest of the contact monitors in my team for a virtual chat each morning. We also reach out to each other to vent after a particularly emotional call or on a day when we just need some extra support. We all look forward to the day when the 20 of us can meet in person.
As we muddle our way through a September like no other, my heart goes out to students, parents, teachers and administrators across the country who have either started or are gearing up for a first-of-its kind academic year. I also think of the gym owners and fitness professionals and those still struggling with whether they feel “safe” enough to return to their favorite workout spot. Then there are the struggling restaurant and small business owners; out-of-work Broadway actors and crew members; healthcare and essential workers; and pretty much everyone still doing their best to keep it together day after challenging day. Last but certainly not least, I think of all the victims of 9/11 and the families and friends who continue to mourn them as we approach the 19th anniversary of that horrific day.
No doubt we’re all in for a strange fall season. Here’s to hoping things improve a little each day and we simply do the best we can to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
The calendar makes it impossible for me to write my usual Transformation Tuesday post. It’s hard to analyze the daily struggles and little victories of the past week as I continue to prepare for the Brooklyn Grand Prix. Instead, I find myself overwhelmed yet again with the eternally vivid memories of the day that changed the world forever. It seems impossible that tomorrow will mark 18 years since the heartbreaking events of September 11, 2001. Despite the passage of time, each year this date creeps up on so many of us like it all just happened yesterday.
As my longtime readers know, back then I was working as a reporter at News 12 Connecticut. My colleagues and I watched the newsroom’s multiple TV screens in horror as the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. That moment when we realized it wasn’t an accident was the first and only time I can remember a newsroom being completely silent. There were no lessons from my journalism classes at Northwestern or past experiences as a reporter that could have prepared me for that unfathomable day. Before leaving the newsroom, I left a message on my parents’ answering machine telling them how much I loved them.
In that age before Facebook and Instagram, many of my friends tried to reach me on my cell phone – when the circuits weren’t jammed – to see if I could help find any information about a loved one who worked in the city. Receiving those messages in between countless live reports broke my heart. I learned later that several of those people being searched for were indeed gone. In the days that followed, I also learned a friend and former News 12 Long Island colleague, Glen Pettit, was killed. A videographer and NYPD officer, he was last seen with his camera on his shoulder running toward the towers to capture footage. Glen was 30 years old.
Along with the sadness, shock and anger felt around the country after the attacks, I also remember another unprecedented turn of events. Stores couldn’t keep Americans flags on the shelves and random acts of kindness were reported everywhere. Eighteen years later, I realize my three Goddaughters – all born after that fateful day – have probably never witnessed that kind of unity in the country they call home. Today, they see social media feeds where bullying takes on a whole new level as people lash out at others who don’t share their views on everything from politics to fashion. Honestly, when I think about the state of our world today, it makes me want to cry all over again.
Never one to be political in this blog or on my social media channels, I can’t help write about what’s in my heart. As we mark another 9/11 anniversary, we’re bombarded with headlines surrounding the latest discord in Washington and the destruction in the Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian. Meanwhile, despite more acts of senseless violence, we’re no closer on this anniversary than the last to resolving volatile issues in our country including gun control. With the 2020 campaign looming closer, I fear our divisiveness will only get worse. What a mess.
As we commemorate another September 11th this week, let us all stop and pray for all those lost on this day 18 years ago. Let us also honor their memory by remembering the power of love and compassion.
God Bless America.