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Memories written from 2010: While preparing to start the day, I get out of my car with my many bags in hand and catch a deep breath of fresh, cool, crisp, fall air. There’s a mom carrying a car seat while talking to a dad who’s getting pulled forward with lots of determination by the small hand he is holding. I climb up the steps to enter the Y, and a businessman dressed for work greets me “good morning” in passing. I reach the top and pull open the door. There’s an immediate warm wave of laughter that gently brushes my face, chattering comes from the tables on my left. In front of me, behind the counter, is a smiling personality offering an enthusiastic greeting. There are a group of people sweeping their little white card in front of that funny black contraption letting the Y know they’re here, men walking and joking about the latest sporting event with a coffee in one hand, and racquets in the other, and lastly some women talking to a Y staff about their latest recipe for apple pie while some spicy Latin music floats through the air.

This is the pleasant environment I am privileged to enter every day I walk through the parking lot, and up the steps to the Y for work. Whether it’s 5 in the morning, 1:30 in the afternoon, or 8:45 at night, the experience is similar, but altered slightly by the amount of people sitting at tables to my left, the number of people standing at the counter, or the number of kids asking to buy a sucker at the counter after swim team practice.

Fast forward — How our daily lives have changed as of March 2020.

My tag line for everything is “Laugh lots, play hard, trust the plan. Fail forward,” this phrase is a solid point of reference for me these past few days.

Many serious things are happening in this world, this time we may need to relearn how to enjoy the situation and life God has given us this present moment. In spite of the troubling things happening around us, “This is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it.” If we rose out of bed, remember we still have the day, we still have a purpose, most importantly still have the opportunity to laugh and not be so heavy in the moment.

Psalm 32:11 (NKJV) says — “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

Does the Y staff miss our third place at the Y? Do we miss your laughs and smiles? Do we miss your stories and greetings? Yes, we miss these experiences. But let’s rejoice in the moment. Let’s cherish these moments as an opportunity to slow down, inhale deep breaths, take in the smells, laughter of family at the dinner table, share stories, try a new recipe, go for a walk, play outside, do all the things we wish we could do when we weren’t so busy.

My experiences at the Y in 2010 and 2020 are very similar — we definitely are not selling suckers at the welcome desk at the Y any longer, we look forward to seeing our YMCA community soon and miss everyone.

Michell Hampton is the financial development director at the Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA.