Category Archives: Pandemic


The traditional Odom Family Thanksgiving Big Cookie

This Thanksgiving will be different.  No doubt about it.  We won’t have our usual Zuniga-Odom family gathering with too much food and the coveted big cookie.  People won’t be scattered from the kitchen to the dining room and our deck.  It will be different and I’m while I’ll miss the tradition of it all, with all our people gathered in one place, I know we are doing the right thing.  We want everyone to stay safe and covid free.  So, for me and Eddie, it will just be us, my mom and two of our grown children. 

With just the five of us, the temptation would be to just make it simple and not even make a turkey.  But I wasn’t about to let that happen!  I do love a good turkey with stuffing.  I know enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal and having enough for leftovers will make us all happy.  My dining room table has been set since early November and the Thankful Tree that I made with my girls several years ago is sitting prominently on the bench in the hallway.  I will miss seeing what everyone writes on their cut out leaves this year but I will encourage the five of us to fill them out.

In a year like this, it could be said that its hard to find things to be thankful for but I don’t feel that way.  Sure, this pandemic has dealt its share of blows to our family but thankfully nothing drastic and for that I am extremely grateful.

Our family’s Thankful Tree that we use every year. Family members will write what they are thankful for on a cut out leaf and pin it to the tree. I have collected these leaves for several years…

So, what am I thankful for in 2020?

  • Baby Girl Dunne – Our first grandbaby was born on Thursday, July 2, 2020.  Amelia Faith Dunne arrived at 4:44 p.m. on that day as her Pappy and Tisa (and Uncle Cody and Auntie Lem) were on the road traveling to Colorado to meet her.  How can a year be bad when the sweetest soul entered our lives?!  She has brought so much joy to our family in these past five months and just looking at a photo of my sweet baby Mela melts away any troubles I have.
  • Working with United Way of Central Alabama – This was my third year to serve as a Loaned Executive Manager and it was just what I needed.  I was feeling so helpless earlier this year and needed something where I felt I could at least help in some way.  I got to manage two teams this year too and we participated in a fundraising campaign like no other where 90% of the meetings were held virtually and our community said yes to making hope happen.
  • Retirement – Not mine, I retired in 2017 although some of my friends would question that…my husband’s retirement!  Although Eddie decided to stay on a little longer than he had planned with this job, it was only an extra two months.  Now he is tackling that long list of things around the house that he’s been anxious to get to.  Aside from the random chainsaw mishap, he has really gotten quite a lot done over the past 3 months.
  • Health – In this case, I mean that we have been covid free and I’m so, so thankful!  Eddie and I have our routine of hand sanitizing and Clorox wiping whenever we go out.  And we steer clear of crowded places, opting for dining al fresco vs. indoor whenever possible.  We just aren’t taking any changes…and we aren’t hoarding toilet paper either!
  • Family Health – I’m also grateful that my family has remained healthy this year.  Everyone has remained covid free and they’ve been able to continue in their respective jobs especially since all three of my children are in service professions.  My 82 year-old mother has been cautious and we have been extremely cautious with her too.  I’ve heard so many stories of family members being hospitalized with no visitors allowed, so I’ve stressed this to my mother so she will stay safe.  Eddie had to have overnight surgery last week and while the hospital permitted one person to be there, Eddie didn’t want me there and potentially exposed to covid.  So I stayed at home and waited for word and that was not easy.  My heart goes out to people who have been unable to be with their loved ones for extensive stays.  I cannot imagine…
  • Innovation – This may sound like a random word to throw out there but I’ve been so impressed with the innovation of businesses and nonprofits this year.  For my favorite event, Fiesta, we turned a one-day event into a 30-day online celebration and we were able to award $10K in scholarships to Hispanic students!  And my Women’s Network group (TWN), created a virtual event to fundraise for our annual Party with a Purpose.  We paid for a party pack (proceeds went to the YWCA) and picked them up a few days before the event and then joined by zoom for fun and trivia with a local radio host. 
  • Time to Reflect – This year has given me time to take long walks with my dog or just myself, sit on my deck drinking coffee or wine and somedays doing absolutely nothing.  For someone who generally has a packed calendar this has been a wonderful thing.  It has taught me to slow down.  It has let me reflect about all the things I was doing and decide what things were important and what I could let go of. 
  • Time to Plan – Now that Eddie is retired, I love that we are talking more about what comes next for us.  Where we will travel, what we will do to our house, even what television shows to binge watch together.  This is chapter three for us and we are embracing it with everything we have and I look so forward to enjoying the rest of our lives together.

I saw a quote this week on social media and I screenshot it because it resonated… “I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted.  Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have.”  There is always something to be thankful for, no matter what the circumstances…

We Aren’t All in the Same Boat – Thoughts on the Pandemic

The first time I went out for groceries wearing a mask – my husband keeps some handy to use when he mows our backyard which is mainly a natural area. The first two times I wore one, I felt like I would hyperventilate.

We’re all in this together but…we aren’t all in the same boat. That thought runs through my mind every morning when I head outside to walk my dog, Lucy. I see older couples walking, some young people out for their daily exercise, and a few families walking together with little ones on scooters or bikes and a dog on a leash. We seem to all be on the same schedule every week day. I wonder what they are experiencing during this time and how they are coping.  I know it’s different for everyone.  My husband, Eddie, is able to work from home but I know many don’t have that option.  Today, a lady stopped me while I was walking to tell me about her new sports shoes and kept apologizing for taking my time saying “I think it’s because of the corona virus…”  I knew what she meant…clearly she needed to talk to someone so we chatted for a bit and then I thanked her for telling me about her shoes and said I might have to give them a try.  My husband asked me early on, “how do you think we would have handled this if we had all three kids at home and in school and both of us working from home?” I wonder. The organized and somewhat over-achieving side of me thinks I would have it all under control. Truth is, I have no way of knowing.

I usually don’t watch the late news but I started in late March to keep up with the state’s numbers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone and I’ve read and seen countless articles and posts about what this means and how people are handling it (both funny and serious). I’ve cried watching commercials about the new normal – like the Dove commercial showing the health care workers and their faces scarred from wearing masks. I started wearing a mask to go out for groceries in April for just a few hours and I have huge respect for those that wear these things all day long. I have friends who have the virus which scares me for them and friends who have recovered from it which gives me great relief. I’ve been alarmed at the number of artists, musicians and other essential people who have lost their lives from this virus. I’m always saddened by the memorium part of awards shows and these days it seems we have a memorium run every week. It makes me stop and catch my breath…

So, what worries me personally through all this? I worry about a number of things but my main concern is my husband who is in the high-risk category. He has been working from home since March 17, 2020, setting up an office in his man cave in the basement. Ironically, I see less of him now that he’s working from home than I did when he was going downtown every day! The reality for Eddie is that he was looking forward to his last day in office on April 9. He then planned to take his accumulated vacation and retire on May 31. That hasn’t happened. He decided to stay on to help his staff maneuver through this crazy time and figure out how to work in this new virtual environment.

Reopening the economy too soon also worries me… Reopening the economy is happening this month (May) in our state. And while I understand the importance of this, I also worry about a resurgence of the virus if we don’t continue to shelter in place and remain cautious. I worry that people will get complacent and stop using hand sanitizer, stop social distancing and just go back to “normal” but I don’t think we “should” get back to normal just yet. Eddie and I talked about this a week ago and we both decided we are just going to stay at home except for the weekly trip to the grocery store, drug store and possible curb side pick-up for food. We’ll also be wearing our masks, carrying hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes.

Meanwhile, sheltering in place has been an eye opener for me personally. I retired from corporate life on July 7, 2017 but I never really stopped working in a way. I had several nonprofit commitments and volunteered for others, and then I worked with United Way for two years (4 months each time) during their annual campaign. Home projects took a spot on the back burner and piled up. I wasn’t writing as much for my blog or reading books that piled up – you know, the ones you save for all the time you’ll have one day? I warned everyone around me that 2020 was going to be the year I slowed down and traveled and took back my time! Well, I got part of that sentence right. My time was essentially given back to me through this in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

Of course, I’m with everyone else most of the time wondering what day it is. But I’ve done something that made a few of my friends laugh at me. I started taking more photos. Yes, I know…big surprise, Teresa is taking more photos! But it’s been rather helpful to keep up with what day it is and what I did that day! Right now, I’m taking photos of the things I never thought I’d see in my life time, like signs at stores, empty toilet paper and hand sanitizer aisles and wearing a mask to go grocery shopping. The photos are also helping me keep track of where we are with the pandemic and what we’ve missed out on with cancellations and how people have persevered and gotten very creative.

I’ve gone through my photos and my calendar as I’m sure most everyone has done at some point, to see how life has changed in the past 10 weeks. These are some of the things that stick out to me that we’ve missed. But I’ve also added how we have shifted to make the most of them.
• All my annual doctors’ appointments were cancelled the week of March 16th – also because I had traveled outside the US within the last 14 days. It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to get all my appointments in one week too! Thankfully, I was able to make it to my wellness doctor’s appointment before all this happened.
• We had a small dinner on March 18 for my son’s 31st birthday, just me, Eddie and Charlie. We had a pot roast and Edgars cupcakes and while the rest of the family couldn’t join us, it was nice to just have the three of us together and celebrate. A sign of things to come.
• My daughter’s baby showers on March 21 and March 22 were postponed when gathering of more than 10 people were banned. Anna Marie was also traveling from Colorado which wasn’t recommended by her doctor. I’ve been so sad that she didn’t get to experience a baby shower for her first child but we do plan to have something later in the year for her AND the baby! Another side note is that I didn’t get to see my daughter along with her growing baby belly. I was been hoping to get out to Colorado to see her in May and go to her graduation – she got her masters, but that didn’t happen.  My biggest hope at this point is to make it to Colorado right before she has the baby so I can see her in full bloom!
• I had an emergency trip to the Callahan Eye Hospital at UAB in Birmingham on March 23. The precautions put in place in order to get to the emergency room and see a doctor were eye-opening and put me at ease having to be there. Luckily, my eye was fine too but I was grateful to be seen quickly to confirm this.
• My husband’s 65th birthday came and went without any fanfare. Pandemic dinner included pizza and Edgars cupcakes, which I ordered ahead of time for pick up. I hope to get something special planned for him later this year and double as a retirement celebration.
• Easter Sunday, April 12 – I ordered one of Ashley Macs dinner offerings and picked up curb side on Saturday to cook at home. Later that day, I packed up some of the food and took it to my 81-year-old mother and had a short social distanced get together with her.
• Found out my mother had fallen and cut her head and blackened her eye the day before! She didn’t tell me about it, probably needed stiches, but instead she bandaged herself up. It was a reminder to her that she needed to be a LOT more careful and also a reminder that if she is admitted to a hospital right now, I won’t be able to go see her or be with her. Of course, this goes for anyone that is admitted to a hospital right now. We owe it to ourselves to be as careful as possible so we don’t have to experience this.
• Weekend in Huntsville with friends April 17-19 was cancelled. Same time last year we were in Huntsville and hoped to do this every year. We’ll do this later in the year, no doubt. Always fun stuff to do in Huntsville and my friend Karen is the hostess with the mostess!
• The Ignite Volunteer Awards got innovative and had a Facebook live event on the actual date, April 23rd. I’m on the host committee for this event and we brainstormed weeks earlier about what to do and how to handle the event. I was very proud of the results and how many people tuned in to see the winner announced. I was also thrilled that my two nominees/finalists won! We will celebrate these winners in person at our event next April 2021.
• Eddie and I have been planning a retirement trip to France – a river cruise – with another our friends The Pruitts. When we saw how bad things were getting in France in early March, we knew the trip would be cancelled so we’ve rescheduled for next year. As my friend Lisa said during all this, maybe by next year Notre Dame will be opened and I told her, maybe I’ll learn a little French before going.

Some things I’m looking forward to:
• First and foremost, the birth of my first grandchild on July 7th! We WILL be traveling to Colorado for this and I certainly pray that things are a little more normal by then. I can’t wait to get my hands on Amelia Faith. (insert tons of heart emojis here)
• Eddie’s new retirement date…which will be sometime in August while his last day to officially work will be mid-June. One thing I can say about having him work from home is that we’ve started adjusting to both being home together! (insert goofy emoji face here.)
• Seeing events resurface and thrive! Fiesta, which is in its 18th year is an event very close to my heart, as you may have noticed if you’ve read my previous posts. It is scheduled for the last Saturday in September, and while we are making plans for a full-on event, we are also making contingency plans in case things need to change. I know a lot of spring events have postponed until the fall which means the landscape will be quite crowded. I’m hopeful that all events will be supported fully – by sponsors and attendees both – because people will be making up for lost time. (insert praying hands emoji here)
• Hugging friends and family – this goes without saying, right? For an extrovert?! (insert smiley face emoji)
• Planning my own get-togethers with friends and family! Of course, I’m looking forward to planning my 20th annual Christmas cookie swap party in December! And I look forward to holidays in general with the addition of Amelia Faith in July. Folks know I like a theme party too and I have a couple of those up my sleeve as well. (insert dancing lady emoji)

Some of the things that I’ve accomplished
• Daily walks with Lucy – unless it’s raining. We have both benefited greatly from this time together, checking out the neighborhood and getting a little exercise in the process.
• Bird watching – I’ve been catching some great photos of birds at our feeder from my kitchen table. I’ve also noticed birds all over the neighborhood. I told Eddie I feel like Snow White and Cinderella all rolled into one at times and keep waiting for a bird to land on me! I’ve even seen squirrels and birds fight – now that’s interesting!
• Home Projects – I’m slowly making my way through home projects. My “she shed” has been used as a dumping ground for over a year, for lack of a better place to put things. I’ve been able to finally get it in working condition and ready for my photography projects that are high up on the list. The biggest project is going to be the basement storage area and I know my husband is VERY anxious for me to get started on that. I told him he just needed to be patient with me. (LOL)
• Communicating with friends and family. In addition to facetiming, I’ve started sending cards and notes to people. I’ve had a pile of things to send to people for some time now, but since I have my desk cleaned off and in working order it’s been a lot easier to do this. I want to continue doing this too. Getting something other than bills and junk mail in your mailbox is nice. It has also been wonderful making the time to facetime and just have a phone conversation with people. I find that I generally text people a lot but these days I have really enjoyed what technology provides.
• Self-care – This has been more mental for me than anything. I had just started going to Pilates in February to physically get myself in shape especially after the physical therapy on my shoulder and neck this past fall. I’m still stretching and walking but that’s all for now. But being able to finally disconnect from the constant list that whirls around in my head has provided me with some clarity. I think I was starting to run on empty as this year started out and I don’t know that I would have been any good to anyone as the year progressed.

I wanted to write this post as a way to remember and look back on some of the feelings and experiences that I’ve had throughout this pandemic while sheltering in place. While I’ve mourned the loss of several experiences and events that would be celebrations for my family, I know that I am still very fortunate and I don’t take that for granted.

I started writing this in mid-April and now almost the end of May. Businesses are starting to open back up with extra precautions and shelter at home orders are being lifted. In Alabama, Covid-19 cases are still on the rise so the thought of people gathering in large groups concerns me. Meanwhile, I’m following the advice of the experts in my area like Dr. Mark Wilson of the Jefferson County Department of Health, and my friend Bertha Hidalgo, PhD, MPH, who is an epidemiologist at University of Alabama at Birmingham…and of course, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Praying you all are staying safe at home and being cautious about venturing out. I know it’s a personal choice, so please pay attention to the science behind this.

Peace to all…