Ah, 2020. What a year it's been. Though we didn’t know it at the time, we published our 2019 gratitude post exactly 10 days after the first case of COVID-19 was recorded. As I write these words now, I can’t help but wonder what events might already be unfolding that will shape our world in the year to come.
Whatever those may be, we at Propllr have much to be grateful for. Here’s a rundown.
I’m grateful to my boyfriend Richard, whom I’ve been quarantining with this year. He set up a desk in our closet and works there four days a week (we switch on Fridays) so that we can each have a quiet spot to work in our studio apartment. As a team, we’ve been able to make the most of working from home, and I’m sure our dog is also very happy about that.
Closet desk setup, feat. Cooper
I’m grateful for my wonderful partner, Courtney, whom I got to marry this year on 10.10.2020! While planning a COVID wedding was certainly not what I (ever) expected to have to do in my life, I am so thankful for our teamwork as we navigated this stressful time and process. Our wedding day was still so special and perfect despite all of the unexpected changes.
Erica & Courtney celebrate on their wedding day
I'm thankful for my two-year-old daughter, Winnie. Here's why:
She thinks the word "pause" is the funniest word ever.
She eats raw lime slices.
She wants me to read "P Is For Potty" five times a day.
She doesn't care who sees her naked.
She calls the ceiling the "house sky."
She brings Titanic-sized joy to my life.
Hunter reading to (a fully clothed) Winnie
I am very thankful for my cat. He was my parents' cat but I adopted him during the COVID lockdowns and he has been a wonderful cuddly buddy to have on days I just need something to hug. Plus he wakes up at 6:00 a.m. every day demanding food, so I no longer need an alarm!
Jillian and Beethoven
I’m grateful for my espresso machine. It’s been a long and winding road through the pandemic and the presidential election, and that little guy has been there through it all. Let’s face it, working remotely is very convenient, but it has its downfalls. Hunkering down in one space that’s meant to function as both a living quarters and workspace, day after day, does get exhausting. On the days that I need a kick in the pants, it never fails me. It’s the jolt I crave!
I am also grateful for my boyfriend and my pet Chihuahua. Since homes are now our offices I have taken the liberty of promoting my dog to HR manager of the office. When other professionals in our office (aka my boyfriend) get a little out of hand, it’s nice to have someone to turn to for support. On a serious note, they make me laugh every day, they make me get outside every day, and it’s just nice to get some hugs and belly rubs in off the clock… but do me a solid and don’t tell HR about that.
HR manager Mr. Roo
As we wind down a crazy 2020, I am most thankful for how it reminded me to make a more conscious effort to connect with the people I care about and love. My family finally started doing group FaceTimes, I virtually got together with high school friends from around the country to watch the NFL draft over Zoom, and I've been better about staying in touch (calls and texts) with my grandparents from afar. It's harder to connect with loved ones in 2020, certainly. And it's easier to let friends and family drift further away. But this year has also reminded me how important it is to make the extra effort and organize that group Zoom (despite the eye rolls!), pick up the phone, or send a quick text.
And, as we return to the depths of the winter months, I'm thankful for my heavy jacket!
Jack in his jacket
Some stuff I'm grateful for this year, in no particular order: cookbooks, weighted blankets, skincare reddit, more time to read things I wish I'd read in college, new music, new old music, road trips, impromptu Chicago walking tours (turns out Goose Island is just a bunch of car dealerships), the 2020 rollerblade revival, living by the lake, living with friends, the longevity of years-old group chats with friends I rarely see, working with people I admire, the Drunken Noodles at Serai, a warm and sunny fall, and my parents.
I’m grateful this year for my family. Specifically, I’m grateful that my son Malcolm (born in July!) is healthy. I’m also wildly grateful for my in-laws, who watch him during the week so my husband and I can work; to my parents, who made the 11-hour drive to Chicago (twice!) to see us; and to my sisters and friends (chosen family!), who have been a bottomless source of wisdom about how babies work. I’m also grateful to Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit, the Zen Sack, and the entire baby sleep industry, which offers at least the hope that there may be a full night’s sleep in my future.
Brenna & family at a pumpkin patch
This year I am thankful for making my health a priority. In past years, I've struggled to do that. But this year, I really made an effort to make sure mind and body were well taken care of.
Last month, my neighbors approached me with a strange proposition: would I like to take in "a very large ficus"?
In fact, I would love to! (I'm one of those millennials. What can I say?)
Adopting what turned out to be a seven-foot-tall potted tree has been a boon. I love seeing light filter through its leaves. I appreciate the jolt of surprise I still feel whenever I turn into the living room and see a tree thriving in the corner. It's brought a lot of joy indoors this fall.
More than that, I appreciate my neighbors here in Avondale and their generosity. I'm so glad to be confined to a space where I feel at home, which isn't a given.
I also feel grateful for my family's health and for the ways we've found to support each other, even though we all live hundreds of miles apart.
I'm going to skip the heartfelt and sentimental and say that I'm grateful for the cloud. Where would we be without it? The complication and disconnect of a no-cloud pandemic would have been enormous, and the economy would have struggled even more than it has. I know this is like being thankful for something elemental, like air or water, but it's just about as profound in its importance!
Let me also give a shout out to the Daevabad Trilogy by S A Chakraborty. Imagine a Muslim Harry Potter, but with a female protagonist, djinns and a magical kingdom filled with palace intrigue. First book is City of Brass. Amazingly great.
I’m grateful for Propllr. When I was laid off in February, I was scared and didn’t know what was going to happen with my life. Then I found this opportunity with Propllr, and even though I’ve been working under the most unusual of circumstances, everyone has been so gracious and patient with me. I’m incredibly thankful to be working with people that care about me and are always looking to push me to be better.
The Propllr office, summer 2019