When the skills you have are hard to quantify on a resume.

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Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash

I recently decided to re-enter the job market. After 15 years at a loan management software company, ending as the product manager and overseeing the customer service department, I wanted something different. My job had reached a point of cruise control.

After thinking for several months, I determined that I wanted to go in an entirely different direction with my career. Rather than relying on a skill set in banking and product that I had spent so long developing, I was going to turn to my original passion: writing.

When I graduated from college, the landscape was much different for writers. The only career paths that seemed to earn a living were journalism and publishing a book, and I wasn’t interested in either of those. I was “good at” banking, so I went that route, even though my degree was in English. …

I’ve discovered the joy of morning silence.

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Photo by Ramiz Dedaković on Unsplash

My FitBit likes to give me little “tips” in the app. For example, a banner will show up that says “Did you know that drinking x amount of water per day…” etc.

Recently, the message was: “A person who goes to bed late and wakes up late is a night owl. A person who goes to bed early and wakes up early is a lark. Based on your sleep history, you are a lark.”

I would concur with that assessment. My wake-up time today was 4:05 am. And I’ve grown to love it.

I have always been a morning person, but over the past few weeks I have become an “extreme morning” person. …

I had such high hopes that things could not be worse than 2020.

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Photo by Guido Jansen on Unsplash

I had such high hopes for 2021 thinking it could not POSSIBLY be worse than 2020. Oh wait. It could, with an attempted coup at the Capitol AMIDST a global pandemic.

I have been watching this building for more than four years. I knew Trump’s rhetoric was dangerous from the beginning. I watched the assaults on immigrants, BLM protestors, women… the list goes on and on.

Ironic that only when lawmakers felt that their lives were personally threatened was it “too far.” Don’t like hiding in a barricaded office hoping that you won’t be shot? …

Did anything actually get done this year?

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Photo by Danil Aksenov on Unsplash

Though it has been a while, I remember the days of having a newborn. Every minute of every day is spent doing something. Yet, at the end of the day, it felt like nothing got done. At the same time, if the baby was fed and slept, it was an accomplishment.

2020 has felt the same way. A lot of moving through the daily grind and feeling like nothing got done… a feeling I would have rather left behind when my babies got older.

I always do some kind of reflection on the year, so I’m trying very hard to think of what actually got done in 2020. …

Unable to enjoy many of our normal holiday traditions, we had to come up with something different this year.

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Photo by Ignacio R on Unsplash

I love the Christmas season, and I say that with a lot of fervor. I love the decorations, smells, ugly sweaters, and activities with my family.

I grew up in a family that embraced Christmas traditions. We enjoyed the enormous holiday lights display in the town. We always decorated lots of cookies. And on Christmas Eve, we would gather at my aunt’s house for a meal of oyster stew and topped off the evening with a recitation of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by one of my cousins.

Moving to a suburb of Chicago opened up a whole new world of holiday traditions with my own children. Every year, we would go to the Christmas Around the World tree display at the Museum of Science & Industry, and the lights display at the Arboretum. We would have an elaborate breakfast with the Grinch through the park district. We would gather with friends for cookie exchanges or other holiday parties. …

Trying to keep my kids engaged during remote learning.

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Right before Thanksgiving, I had parent-teacher conferences via Zoom. Grades came out the Friday prior and I was beyond thrilled with A’s and B’s. Sure, we’d had some mishaps with missed assignments and internet connectivity, but we were making it happen, right?


I’ve never cried during parent-teacher conferences, and my oldest child is 11. Parent-teacher conferences with me are usually “glowing with pride” moments. Not this year.

Throughout three conferences with three teachers, the feedback was the same: your kids are not engaged. Cameras are sometimes turned off. Not participating.

The teachers were very kind and came from a place of caring. I would have been remiss if I said that I hadn’t noticed slouching in their desks or caught them doing things other than classwork during their remote learning days. But I’d brushed it off in the “doing the best we can” mentality. …

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Photo by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash

We cut the cord with cable more than 10 years ago. At the time, we were new parents looking to save money (babies are expensive!). Cable seemed like an obvious choice because we were not big tv watchers anyway. Netflix became our streaming service of choice.

Over the years, streaming services have expanded — a lot. Our Amazon Prime membership began to include content. We would go in and out of subscriptions to Hulu and YouTube TV (so my husband could watch live sports).

Then last November, Verizon offered us a free subscription to Disney+ for a year. When the pandemic hit in March, Disney+ became one of our most-watched services, especially for the three-year-old. …

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The Coulee Region

I have been attending a Tuesday “bring your own lunch” group via Zoom. With so many limitations on my social outlets, I decided to get over my discomfort with eating in front of people. The group varies in size, but it is usually around 10–15. Topics also vary, with the conversation flowing easily.

While the group is local to Chicago’s western suburbs, many people have roots in other places around the country. One Tuesday, we talked about regional foods. I mentioned “lefse,” — which is a staple of my hometown in Wisconsin. Only one person on the Zoom had even heard of lefse. I tried to describe it as “kind of like a tortilla… sort of….” …

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Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

My kids have not been in a classroom since March of 2020. It was that fateful Friday the 13th when the schools closed in Illinois due to COVID-19. We had seen the writing on the wall and kept our kids home that day.

Spring was admittedly a disaster all around. My 2nd grade and 4th grader met with their teachers twice a week for 30 minutes via Zoom, and that was it. Otherwise, they were on their own. My husband and I were juggling work and a toddler as we were thrust into these new circumstances. …

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Photo by Paul Solomon on Unsplash

On November 7th, our neighbors put up outside Christmas decorations. So far, there is a giant lit-up Snoopy from The Peanuts and some lights on their tree and bushes.

The weather in Chicagoland this past weekend was actually gorgeous — 70 degrees and sunny. It was definitely an opportune time for such a task.

But my husband commented to me a few days later, “What the actual heck? Why do they have their Christmas decorations up so early?” And I responded, “It’s 2020. People need to do whatever makes them happy at this point.”

Our Halloween looked very different this year. I have many indoor decorations that rotate through the seasons, including some specifically for Halloween. But as a household, we have never ventured much into outside decorating. Mostly because it seems like a lot of work. …


Anna Burgess Yang

Mother • Spouse • Bereaved • Friend • Documentarian • Collector • Writer https://musingsoutloud.com/

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