Finding Joy in the Trying and Doing

SNHA Looks Forward

Wanting to spend some time looking to the future, we recently asked staff two questions: In 2021, what are you looking forward to professionally and what are you hopeful for personally? What started as a simple exercise meant to break up the work day quickly evolved into a larger conversation and positive-thinking. We’re glad to now share that inspiration.

Despite the seemingly constant state of anxiety that 2020 brought, I found solace in masked faces, helping hands, and kind eyes,” says marketing coordinator Lynn Rossi. “The past year has made me appreciate living in a city like Chicago even more, and I’m hopeful that our communities will continue to move forward in empathy and with a refreshed sense of appreciation for interaction — small talk with neighbors, a night spent with familiar strangers at Schubas or The Empty Bottle”

Designer Devon Seery added, I’m looking forward to seeing people smile again; unfiltered and organic, no masks in the way of seeing the purest form of happiness. Whether it’s a stranger on the street or a friend we’ve longed to see all year,  just seeing people’s faces and feeling human again. There’s no way to replace the sight of seeing someone happy no matter who it is or why it is.”

On a positive note of reflection, the past year, though challenging, introduced us to an impressive list of new staff members, some who were only settled into their desks for a few weeks before transitioning to working from home, and many who held their first day remote and we’ve only had the pleasure of getting to know over virtual coffee chats.

I’m looking forward to re-meeting people and actually getting to know my colleagues who I didn’t really get to know in my few weeks in the office before work from home began. I’m also really looking forward to meeting the new people who started remotely,” shared architect Emily Bernstein who joined SNHA last February.

Before makeshift kitchen table desk set-ups and daily “you’re on mute” reminders became the routine, the SNHA office was a place of conversation and shared lunches (lots of them), but more importantly, of celebration and uplifting the achievements of our staff. Whether it’s a champagne toast for achieving licensure or a Friday happy hour dedicated to presenting the process and outcome of a recently-completed project, we never miss an opportunity for celebration — even if it means jumping on a Teams meeting for now and we’re looking forward to continuing that tradition in the months to come.

Some of our staff pursuing licensure this year include designer David Pragosa. “I am excited to pass my last 2 ARE exams and finally get licensed (fingers crossed) as well as becoming a LEED Green Associate.”

Similarly, designers Lili Xu, Brandon Lewis, and Hannah Prevedel-Cannon also share David’s excitement to wrap up the last of their exams. While I don’t feel like this distinction impacts my day to day work or lessens my abilities, I am looking forward to completing this long-standing goal,” said Hannah.

Enrique Nieto shared a professional goal of his own. I’m looking forward to returning to my volunteer work at Aquinas Literacy Center. I have been tutoring adult students for four years who are learning English as a second language and also preparing others to take their U.S. citizenship exam.”

Although we loved hearing from our staff about their professional goals, it were the personal goals of our staff that really inspired us to look forward to the days ahead with optimism, hope, and eagerness.

Scott Anstandig: A road-trip to get family together safely when everyone has been vaccinated. I’d like to show my boys what family get-togethers are supposed to be like. Sitting on a rocking chair on Grandma’s front porch with a beverage in-hand and the sun going down sounds absolutely amazing. I’d also like to paint more this year!”

Michael McDow: Now that I’ve bought my first actual home as well, I’m looking forward to doing a lot of projects this summer. Everything from yard work, updating my beat-up garage into a proper workshop and doing some painting to the exterior. Since I’m in a more rural area as well now, I am looking forward to visiting some of the local farms and nature conservatories as well to get some quality time in the forests with my family.”

Ute Tegtmeyer:I would like to get back to my pre-covid fitness/activity level and I am excited about the prospect of giving my family and others big hugs when I see them again.”

MariaLuisa Keane: Personally, I will be losing all my kids in one swoop in the fall. My son was finally accepted into the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, one daughter will be going to UW of Milwaukee and the other will either be at University of Indiana or UW of Madison. The crying jags have already started and we’re still months away, but I am grateful that we’ve been under one roof this past year. The next phase of my life which will be a dramatic change for me… whose that lump sitting next to me, oh that’s my husband. Wake up buddy, we’re alone now, time to get up and let’s travel!”

Lynn Rossi:For myself, 2021 is my Kurt Vonnegut year, aka living by a quote that he once lived by himself: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them.” I look forward to finding joy in the trying and doing. A few things on my list: rock climbing, stained glass classes, writing more, and finally using the amp my parents gave me to learn guitar.”

So as 2021 moves forward, and a sense of normalcy returns, we wish everyone a year of more doing, more trying, and more celebrating hopefully in-person again, together at last.