Flowers in the Sidewalk: Moving Forward During a Global Standstill
 When I left my little hometown seven years ago with my Stephen F. Austin State University diploma in hand, like many, I never envisioned returning. Especially not with two children in tow, just in time for a global pandemic – yet, here we are. After sitting in traffic for two hours a day for the last 5 years and paying more in childcare than rent, we decided it was time to take a step back and go for a slower pace in a familiar small East Texas town. My husband was wanting to join the family real estate business and I wanted to have more than an hour of face time at dinner/bath/bedtime with my boys during the week. Life is short, babies don’t keep – you’ve heard the sayings. After all, my husband and I grew up there and we still had sturdy roots deep in the Piney Woods.
 Flower in the Sidewalk
After moving in with my in-laws while we built up our savings and figured out where we wanted to live and enroll our soon-to-be kindergartner, I honed in on job hunting completely oblivious there would soon be a hiring freeze for the already small pool of marketing jobs. Upon interviewing and landing a job with Brookshire Brothers Corporate, we delayed my start date a few weeks because the Houston Rodeo had just been canceled, stores in bigger cities were out of toilet paper and mass panic was ensuing. My start date approached, but my husband and I decided with all the unknowns, it was too risky to start yet. As grateful as I was to have a job in an essential industry during an economic crisis, we felt like we needed to watch the storm from inside our quarantine abode. 
As soon as we realized where the pandemic was headed and the lasting impact it would have on the economy and schools, we decided it was now or never for me to start working. As an essential business, grocery stores and their corporate offices will still have to continue on, quarantine rules not applicable. My husband was already working in an “essential” industry, so we teetered the line of risk and expose ourselves further or stay home to limit our chances. Who would watch our children and risk their exposure further? Is that a risk we should be taking with children? Life choices are all complicated when you add kids to the mix, but throw in closed schools and figuring out childcare and a looming healthcare crisis and you have a heavy decision.
Ultimately, my fears have been lightened by the community I’ve found at Brookshire Brothers and I’m thankful I started working when I did. The unease I felt of the unknown at home was met with reassurance and hope in the workplace. I’ve seen people helping each other out, being courteous of one another and acknowledging hardships and circumstances with an empathetic heart, now more than ever. I’ve seen friends make major career moves during this pandemic because their employer didn’t actually have their health and best interest as their priority and I’m grateful that’s not the work environment I’ve experienced.
If I’ve learned anything over the last few months, it’s that we aren’t actually in control of anything other than our attitude and adaptation of our reality. While I’ve mostly felt like I was in a hidden camera reality show I never agreed to, the overall upheaval of what I thought this year was going to look like has ultimately altered my priorities for the better. Moving forward, everything will be different. The way we choose jobs, the way we choose childcare, the way we purchase anything will be shifted, but maybe that’s been the purpose all along.