“Now, we are doing this.”

Two weeks ago, Jamie and I tried to celebrate a 20th anniversary. 20 years since our first date! We walked down Wealthy street, all the local restaurants were closed, the chairs up on the tables. The sun was out, people were walking, socially distanced, healthy. These restaurants wanted badly to be open and adding value, but it was newly illegal.

They could NOT add value in the usual way. And we could not create the anniversary experience we had planned. As we stood waiting for our takeout food to be ready, I thought about what value creation means during a quarantine.

I can’t create value in the way I am used to either. My normal contribution requires that I be in person with a group of clients or architects who are trying to do something different with their work environment. I’m a consultant. Now that we are all home, I have been trying to add value with project work. But as I oversee schoolwork for 3 boys (in kindergarten, third and fifth grade), my value to my employer is even less. 

Mo Willems – artist in residence for the Kennedy Center – has created priceless value to me and my boys in the last two weeks with his “Lunch Doodles with Mo”.  In the first episode, he said this to the kids,

“I wasn’t planning on being here, and you probably weren’t planning on being here either. But now that we’re here, let’s create some things…. Let’s find a way to be isolated and together at the same time.”

– Mo Willems

Mo Willems is using his gift to create massive value for families. It is 30 minutes of art education with a master author and illustrator; it is hilarious entertainment; it is interactive, guided creation of new work for my boys. It is a delight for me.

We used to do different things. Now we are doing this.

Now I am doing….what? How can I create new value in a vastly different world? How can I connect deeply with my sons and my parents, my friends, in a new way?

  • I asked my mom to teach the kids a class via Zoom. She chose to teach them how to make an apple pie.
  • I created a Zoom happy hour with my neighbors, for fun and to chat about how to handle homeschooling, jobs, and kids during all of this.
  • I have TIME to teach the kids how to vacuum, type, bake, fold T-shirts, make mac & cheese.
  • We created a neighborhood “recess” twice and day, and we watch as the kids create a community of diverse ages and abilities, and work out how to play together (6 feet apart).
  • I watched the neighborhood dads spend daytime hours playing Lightning on the basketball court, taking batting practice, drawing with chalk on sidewalks.
  • We have time for devotions and journaling together in the morning before schoolwork starts. (www.keysforkids.org). This has always been my lifeline, and until now I haven’t “had time” to pass this on to my boys.
  • My six-year-old has been writing letters to the neighbors and putting them in mailboxes. And they are writing back.

That 20th anniversary was fun. We took the food to a park and shivered on a bench eating it, hiding a bottle of wine in a bag.  It was poignant, we laughed and connected. I will always remember it. What new value are you creating now? Let’s share ideas.

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