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Hindsight: What You Told Us About Your Lessons, Changes and Silver Linings in 2020


2020 has been a more eventful year than any of us could have imagined. And it can be hard to even remember all of the events that took place in the news in light of all of the changes we made in our lives: vacations cancelled, schools closed, jobs lost, holidays spent without family.

As part of NHPR’s year-end series, Hindsight, we asked our audience to tell us how their lives have changed due to COVID-19, what they learned, and what their silver linings have been during what has been a tough year for so many of us. 

We Want To Hear From You: Over 9 Months Into The Coronavirus Pandemic, How Has Your Life Changed?

We heard from people from all over the Granite State who wanted to look back and share their reflections on the year. You revisited old hobbies, embraced time outside and found creative ways to brighten the lives of your family members and neighbors. 

Here’s what you told us:

My husband had open heart surgery at Mass General Hospital in Boston, just before the pandemic hit. We have been quarantining at home in rural New Hampshire ever since and I have been photographing our daily lives. When I think of what other people have experienced, I know our life is precious and full. — Laurie McGowan

I’ve been fortunate to continue working through the pandemic, although now I am mostly working from home. There have definitely been interpersonal challenges as both my wife and I are at home all day together, but we’ve been able to work through them and come out stronger for it.  The biggest challenge for us during the pandemic has been witnessing police brutality as reported in the media. We are a biracial household in a predominantly white community. Although our community is not overtly racist, and many sport Black Lives Matter signs on their lawns, the fact of white supremacy alongside the increased focus on police brutality has made for some uncomfortable moments. — James Graham in Lyme

David and Cosy Ecklein deliver care packages to their Rumney neighbors with home cooked meals in lieu of takeout. Their matching outfits, sewn by Cosy, are part of an old-time Filipino tradition called “terno.”

I've had to work less in order to homeschool my three children, who have not been in school since March. The same old story of ‘woman puts career on hold to take care of household duties.’ I actually had homeschooled my kids all the way up until the fall of 2019, when they all enrolled in school for the first time. I took a steady job where I worked at home and started to feel like I was moving forward in my life. And then...the pandemic happened, and I lost all of the forward steps I had taken. — Meaghan Roache in Stratham 

I've been writing (fiction) more and revisited some old hobbies like model car building. During the spring and summer I put four raised bed gardens in my yard, which led to interacting with my neighbors more than before. I've gone on rail trail walks and have learned to bake. I'm also looking into starting a podcast related to mental health. — Kevin Barrett in Concord

David Karam kept busy by making masks for patients at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

I have health issues that have required me to stay out of the public, so the last time I went to the grocery store and a restaurant was 16 March. All this is truly stressful and exhausting, but I never forget that other people have far more difficult problems than mine. I'm fortunate and thankful to be safe and financially stable. — Laurel Chehayl, PhD in Tamworth

The library has been shuttered this year, so I’ve made a virtual one, and I deliver books to kids. I’m like a waitress, books on demand! The year has been stressful. Are we going remote ... tomorrow? Next week? You never know but you always have to be prepared. Biggest surprise? That I can do it. — Amy McKeever, teacher and librarian in Keene

I think being able to finally express the issue of racism and gain appreciation for all facets of outdoor recreation since moving back to New Hampshire has definitely soothed and healed my soul. I know that no matter what, solitude and serenity are waiting at places like Welch and Dickey or Mount Lafayette, and that many people in those communities make me and so many others who live or travel to the area at least feel welcome on a trail or on the water. — Trysten McClain in Plymouth

I got my kids back after I was almost an empty nester . Surprises: Five of us figured out how to each find space to study and work in a 1000 square foot home. Trying to keep teens from going shopping and from hanging out with friends indoors was a bigger challenge than I thought. — Sonia Prince, parent in Nashua

Beth Alpaugh-Cote made pop-up birthday cards for family members who she couldn’t see in person.

I’ve learned to live with isolation. I’m single, alone, so that makes it a little bit more difficult, but I have learned to solo backpack this year. I learned to hike by myself, I learned to enjoy the lake by myself, but I do want it to end. I want to come and go as I please. I want to see people that I want to see and touch people that I want to touch, and this has made it really difficult for that part of my life. — Ann Weaver in NH

What the coronavirus has changed for me is my ability to have my band and get out and play at different places. As a musician — I’m a guitarist — a lot of gigs have been cancelled, along with social events, which are usually what musicians strive for. With all of the restrictions we too have to be careful. — Steven Foster, musician in NH

In the first week of Covid masking, with the assistance of a talented young man I know, I put together a new computer that would successfully run a flight simulation program called X-plane 11. Apparently I am not alone. When I have a free hour or so I use my maps and charts to create a flight plan, preflight my plane, and accomplish the flight. Not only can I fly, I can go to places I'm prevented from going even if I could afford to. I often look up more information online so I'm getting educated, too. — Jim Morris in Effingham

One of Jim Morris’ photos from a simulated flight over the Caribbean.

I moved here to write so solitude was part of the plan, but it's been isolating. While the silence is a welcome gift on some days, it is also often a place where we come face-to-face with inescapable sadness and negativity. The biggest surprise is I have re-met parts of myself in unexpected conversations with old friends and found a steady slowness in daily life that I needed for healing way back when I lost my Mom and Dad, that up until now seemed impossible to make time for. — Naniette Coleman, PhD candidate in Greenland

My husband and I had our first baby in January, and quarantine started one week before I was supposed to return to work from maternity leave in March. I really do think I would have quit my job to be a stay at home mom if it wasn’t for the pandemic — I had PPD and anxiety, and having some extra time and baby snuggles to sort through those feelings was pretty awesome in the long run.  — Lauren de Wet in Barrington

Diane Stradling painted her shoes to brighten up her daily walks.

To read more reflections on 2020, check out this story from The Exchange.

Zoey Knox is NHPR's newsroom engagement producer. She has spent most of her radio years at college radio stations in Madison, WI (WSUM) and Seattle, WA (KXSU).
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