NORWOOD: Adjusting to a new normal

Eleven months ago, I pulled into Parking Lot 5 and walked into the Pioneer Group offices on Michigan Avenue to begin my career as the associate editor. (I also slipped on the icy sidewalk in front, but that's another story for another time ...)

There have been many "firsts" since then, some expected. But like everyone else, the past year has been turned upside-down because of the coronavirus pandemic. The numbers paint a Jackson Pollock of those changes: In 11 months, I've had two different editors, seen two reporters move on to other things and have spent the past eight months — and counting — working from my basement.

But all the changes at work have paled in comparison to the ones at home. In January, my 80-year-old dad fell and broke his arm. For the next six months, I watched him decline until his death in June. (No, he did not die of COVID-19; he died of complications from another fall.)

There have been many firsts since then, the latest being the first Christmas spent without him. But my mom and I are adapting. (My siblings all live in other states.)

Some traditions we kept, such as putting up a Christmas tree and lights and baking cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas Day. Other traditions we resurrected, like spending an evening driving around looking at Christmas lights, which we haven't done in years. And we did a few new things this year, like putting flowers on my dad's grave.

Looking back, it's been a blessing to be able to work from home. It allowed for flexibility to be there for my parents — to help care for my dad before his death and help ease my mom into widowhood. And as it turns out, I actually like working from home. Bonus.

I don't know what 2021 will bring, but I have hopes: I hope the vaccine works and we all can go back to "normal" life; I hope people will stop bickering about everything from masks to ballots; and I hope to still be working for Hearst, because you don't how fortunate you are to land such a great job until you go through some tough times.

Julie Norwood is the associate editor for the Herald Review. She can be reached at