A Year Later...

Exactly a year ago on Friday, March 13th, 2020 I took the day off, fully expecting to return on Monday. Instead I got the notice over the weekend that the Raymond James office was being closed and we all had to work from home. Bruce, Scott and I were already experienced at working virtually. However, not so for most of our staff. Over the next week, the company purchased and issued laptops for everyone. I was amazed at the speed of how Raymond James transformed into a virtual firm without missing a beat. I give much credit to the leadership of our I.T. team. Bruce and I, and most of our staff, are still working virtually today.

Recently, Roger and I tried to recall those early days and were surprised at how blurred our memories are (of course, we are the “oldies”). Slowly, we remembered how hectic and emotional everything was….our focus was having enough sanitizers, toilet paper, paper towels, and food. We felt so blessed that Roger found the N95 masks given to us many years ago by our clients and friends, Terry and Barbara Glancy. The Glancy’s experienced a flu epidemic in China years ago and bought many masks to share with their friends. Of course, we never expected to need them. Little did we know that their gift would be so valuable. As loyal Costco customers, we also had a reasonable stash of toilet paper and paper towels. Still, we rushed to get more, but stores were already mostly empty. We ordered oximeters - enough for family and friends…you can get them much cheaper today!

Like all of you, our social life became almost non-existent for many days/weeks/ months. Instead, we were glued to the news, hoping the pandemic would be over by Memorial Day. Our “trips” were driving to pick-up our take-out meals and groceries. Our conversations with friends and neighbors focused on which restaurants were open for “to-go” and where to find the paper goods. I did not easily accept the fact that we would attend no family get-togethers in 2020. No traditional July 4th, no family Thanksgiving, no family Christmas, no graduation for my grandson.

There’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Roger and I received our COVID vaccine in January! I expect/pray that the entire Starner Group will be vaccinated by May. I am definitely planning a July 4th, 2021 party with the family.

As I reflect on the past 12 months, I realize some impacts to my non-work, daily life…

  • I’m drinking less wine now. Often after a long day at the office or a late meeting, I would treat myself to a glass of wine to relax. Now, after working at home for a year, I’m pretty much relaxed and don’t automatically reach for the wine as much.
  • Like many, because of anxieties and copious amounts of free-time, I began to binge TV shows without guilt. And that was truly lots of fun.
  • I had dinner with Roger every single night for a year. Due to work schedules and our social life, I rarely had dinner just with Roger more than twice a week. I made sure our dinners had a routine, were leisurely, and that Roger always did the dishes. One of the biggest gifts of COVID was having all this time with just Roger. We debated, argued, laughed and repeated our points of view. I learned more stories about his childhood and younger days. And I was reminded of why I married him. Not much had changed!
  • Zoom became the glue that kept us all together with family and friends. I had many Zoom cocktail hours with girlfriends where we gossiped, laughed and traded ideas.
  • We scheduled a family Zoom meeting every Sunday evening, which included all…daughters, son-in-laws, granddaughters and grandsons… 10 of us. Our grandkids are teenagers or young adults – interesting to hear their stories/experiences/ opinions as they are maturing.
  • Like most, I haven’t done much shopping or traveling, so my cash balance continues to grow. I’m in danger of losing my airline status as well. Losing flight status would be a great regret.
  • I listened to all sorts of podcast and webinars, which enhanced my knowledge about a wide-range of subjects.
  • Despite being quarantined, I did not have a “to do” list, like cleaning closets or workout more. So I don’t feel guilty that I didn’t do either!
  • My biggest regret is that I didn’t keep a daily diary to remember my thoughts and anxieties as they evolved during this past year.

I hope this note finds all of you well, and at least some of you vaccinated. I know I speak for the entire Starner Group when I say that we can’t wait to see you all in person in 2021!

Sincerely,

Margaret C. Starner
Senior VP - Financial Planning
2333 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Suite 500
Coral Gables, FL 33134