Here for the Members: What is ‘Normal’ Now?

Glenda Mostek
CNGA Executive Director

As I write this in early April, CNGA members are ramping up for the busiest time of the year. We are hoping that this summer will be closer to ‘normal,’ with the exception that the boom in consumer interest in their yards and gardens continues, and even grows. Hey, everyone may be inviting their friends over for the first time in more than a year – I think they are going to want their yards, gardens and flowers to look terrific.

This past year, like no other, has caused us all to reflect on what in life really makes us happy and brings us fulfillment. Having so much of our usual patterns stripped away has caused us to, in some cases, reexamine and rethink our plans. 

In 10 or 20 years, 2020/2021 and the pandemic may be a distant blip on the radar (I hope!). But, for now, these past 12 months have changed us all in ways we may not even be aware of. If you were lucky enough to still have your job and your income while so many other things in life were deleted, what did you miss the most? Or, what were you relieved to be rid of? 

Did you think you were an introvert? (Introverts tend to recharge by spending time alone.) This may have been a great year for you, with more time to yourself, less interaction with other people. Or, you may have learned that you aren’t as introverted as you thought, and the year-long quarantine was more of a drain on your energy than a boost. Did you discover you missed other people more than you thought you might? 

If you know that you tend to be more of an extrovert, then this year was certainly difficult. (Extroverts gain energy from other people.) We were all limited in where we could go and who we could be with. There were no impromptu Happy Hours, no low-key backyard parties. For me, it was like a nagging headache, getting worse and worse as the year progressed. The lack of human interaction was cumulative. We all hope we can remedy that soon (extroverts do, at least!). 

Or maybe you thought you were a confirmed extrovert, and this year gave you more opportunity for reflection, with less conversation with others. Having time to self-examine and hear your own thoughts without others’ input can be revealing. You may have discovered that you enjoy more ‘alone time,’ or you may have found that isolation saps your energy more than you ever thought it would. 

Pre-COVID, sometimes it seemed my entire week was eaten up by meetings, and driving to and fro’. While it has been wonderful to be able to still meet virtually, I found that I truly miss the in-person interactions with people. We all know that much of the important business of boards and organizations doesn’t take place around the table, but in the hallways and side conversations as people truly get to know each other. That relationship building simply isn’t the same over Zoom. Better interpersonal relationships with your colleagues or team frees you to have more open discussions, better debate, and generate more ideas. 

Have Zoom meetings heightened our focus on how to prioritize topics and discussions? No one wants to be on Zoom any longer than they have to. It just isn’t the same as being across the table from someone. Hopefully we will maintain some of this focus, and our meetings can be shorter, so we can get on to our higher-level interactions.

I, personally, gain energy from getting to know people and hear their stories. I look forward to getting out to visit members as COVID restrictions are loosened and more of us are vaccinated. I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, so I am ‘one and done.’ I look forward to meeting my colleagues from around the country as we are able to get together, and I hope that I didn’t miss out on too many new friends that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet over the past year. I hope to see you soon!