The “Hello From The Other Side” blog series was launched in response to COVID-19 to share what young professionals think and feel about the changes happening in our community, and how they are finding ways to navigate those changes. We hope that these stories give you insight, hope, encouragement and community as we move forward, together. If you are interested in sharing your own story, please contact us here.
What’s your name, your involvement with AYC?
Crystal Palomino, Board of Directors (Chair, BOD Development Committee)
How are you? Give us three words to describe your current state of mind.
Calm, peaceful, and to be honest, sometimes anxious. When all of this really started to ramp up around St. Patty’s Day, my anxiety was through the roof. I would cry on and off every day. And then one day, I decided: “I can’t do this. I can’t be like this every day. I have a daughter that I need to be strong for.” So I leaned on my faith. I prayed hard to find peace and calm in my heart. I prayed to find the good and for God to show me the silver lining of this difficult situation. And it worked. It helped. Ever since then I have been able to focus on the good, which for me, means I get to be home with my 10-month old daughter while maintaining a full-time job.
Are you currently working/WFH? How does your work day look different than it used to?
Yes, I have been privileged enough to work from home since March 17, and I have had my daughter here the whole time. It has been a challenge finding a healthy balance and setting boundaries because I don’t have the physical separation of space to do that for me. I’m definitely more exhausted now because before when I would walk down the hall to get water and maybe commune with coworkers, now I am hopping into my daughter’s playpen to play with her, work on teaching her something new, nurse her, and then I am right back to work. I love it, and it is exhausting.
How has your industry or position changed as a result of COVID-19?
I have been serving on our organization’s Incident Management Team where our leadership team has worked tirelessly to figure out who can work from home, how to equip those who didn’t already work from home, and how to modify our branch services. We’re an essential business so the focus has been on how to protect our employees, take care of their hearts and minds, while still serving our Members. Every logistical decision has had a focus on how it will impact the people involved. It’s been a beautiful thing to watch.
What are you most afraid of right now?
Not seeing family, friends, or my work family in person. I am very much a people person, and so not being able to interact with people as much is hard. I’m also afraid of not being able to celebrate major milestones the way I had hoped such as my daughter’s first birthday in June.
What are you most optimistic about right now?
This situation has inspired people to connect more and on a more real level. I have more contact now with my close friends using the Marco Polo app than I did before. I also video chat with my family daily, whereas before I wasn’t as consistent. I’m also loving how Mother Earth is benefiting from people being home. Sounds hippy-dippy, but I’ve seen some memes online that say something like, “Coronavirus Plot Twist: We were the virus all along.” Obviously this is alluding to the fact that our wasteful ways are harming the health and sustainability of our planet.
What is keeping you sane right now?
My faith and honestly, just staying busy. I don’t have the time or energy to worry about tomorrow because I am focusing on what I need to do today.
Do you find that you have more or less free time right now?
Even though I am not wasting time commuting for 90 minutes a day, I find that I have less time. Each day I hop between my role as a professional and mom, and the already thin line between those roles is becoming very blurry. However, I am grateful to be in such a position because that means I have a job I love with steady income and that my daughter is safe at home with us.
What are some of your favorite blogs, books or podcasts right now?
Right now I am listening to Idiot by Laura Clery. I live for her content on YouTube, and I think it’s because I discovered her last Valentine’s Day when I was about six months pregnant and she was about eight months pregnant with her son, Alfie. Her video about what Valentine’s Day looks like pregnant was hysterical and I have been hooked ever since. She’s also a huge breastfeeding advocate, which is something I myself have become pretty passionate about over the last 10 months.
Have you come across any great online resources we should know about? If so, what are they?
Honestly, our Community Impact Team at UFCU has worked really hard on putting together this amazing and comprehensive Resource Center for our Members and community. I would be remiss not to share it. https://www.ufcu.org/covid19
What’s the strangest impulse purchase you have made online or at a store during COVID-19?
I wouldn’t say it’s strange, but I did buy myself two new adult coloring books to help me unplug, get creative, and decompress. It’s been fun!
What are some examples of community coming together that have inspired you or given you the warm fuzzies?
My coworker celebrated a pretty big milestone birthday on April 1st, and to see how our organization rallied around her to celebrate this momentous milestone birthday while spread out…it legit gave me all the feels.. Some groups put together a “happy birthday” message collage, and one of our more musically-inclined coworkers recorded himself playing the birthday song on the piano for her. It was really incredible just seeing how everyone got so creative in showing her how much she is loved even though we couldn’t be physically together to celebrate.
What is the first thing you will do once the lockdown has been lifted?
Probably schedule a dinner with all of my closest friends, and then make plans to drive to El Paso to see family.
What advice do you have for other young professionals in Central Texas who are feeling scared, isolated, and anxious about the future?
Get off the internet. Go outside. Commune with nature. Listen to the birds singing. Feel the sun on your face or the wind on your skin. Focus on what you can control and really look for that silver lining. It’s there. And then when you are on your phone – video chat with those you love the most and the ones that bring you joy.
How can members get in touch with you?