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.
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We’re Billy Moyer and Ashley Alaniz-Moyer. Billy was one of the early members of the Austin Young Chamber (AYC) in 2009, served on the board from 2014-2019, chaired the board in 2018, and now serves as the chair of the Foundation committee. Basically, he’s done everything in AYC short of being a staff member. Ashley has served on the FAVE committee and chaired the committee that put on the first two LEAD Summits. If you can’t tell… we are kind of obsessed with AYC!
We have experienced two big shifts in our lives in the last year.
The first one happened in September of 2019. Throughout the eight years of our marriage, we swore we were never going to have kids. Our plan was to remain a family of two, travel as often as we could, and have as little responsibility as possible… besides work and community. But that all changed when we had our son in September of 2019.
That change in our life was a little hard to accept. But don’t worry – we love our son and parenthood now.
We consumed so much content around pregnancy and parenthood – books, blogs, podcasts, all of it! But one thing we never really believed or fully understood was how much it changes you.
Those first few weeks can feel isolating. You are making noises you’ve never heard before while constantly swaying in hopes of getting your baby to sleep. You have no clue what day it is and if you have showered in the last week. And you aren’t able to go to as many AYC events as before!
Almost overnight, you find yourself connecting with other parent friends you thought were unrelatable a year ago. And you find a whole new set of memes hilarious.
It is because you have a shared experience with these people now.
The second big change is living through a global pandemic. While caring for a newborn baby is scary, it isn’t global pandemic scary. And we are finding ourselves making another round of big shifts to our lives.
We are both working from home full-time. Zoom has become our new office. We have each set up workstations in different parts of our house. We are wiping down groceries as they come into the house. We are building a makeshift studio as Ashley hosts a 2-hour live stream as a fundraiser for work. And just this week, we found ourselves hunting our house for a Tito’s bandana we got at a past AYC event to create a mask just so Billy can go to the grocery store.
But some of the changes have been a delight. We get to enjoy lunch with each day with each other and with our son, and see him randomly throughout the day. Without a morning commute, we are staying up later playing endless games of NBA 2K20, Heads Up!, and even making up our own game of Name That Tune circa The Bobby Bones Show when it was local! We are finding more ways to laugh with each other, most of those coming from our attempts at creating TikToks or when our son makes a fart noise on a Zoom call.
But the best thing about all these changes is that we are making them at the same time as everyone else and we are making them together.
We may have a shelter-in-place order that physically isolates us from our community, but we are all sheltering in place at the same time. We are all able to connect with one another through this shared experience.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t feel as isolating as our first big life change of having a baby.
Suddenly we all share a common interest in global health, the lives of essential employees, work-from-home strategies, and if there is any toilet paper at the local HEB. And a bonus is nearly every meme on social media makes sense to everyone!
We are connecting with people we don’t usually connect with on a normal basis. Ashley did an Alumni Happy Hour with her local college chapter. Billy set up virtual drinks with two childhood friends. Virtual happy hours are the best for new parents! Actually– drinking, in general, is the best for new parents.
We are all in this together even though we are practicing social distancing. This connection we now share will never go away. We are growing closer together as a couple through all of this. We hope to grow closer to our community as well.
We know the normal we all used to know is now gone and will never return. But even in the scariness of this global pandemic, in the uncertainty that we all face, we are sure that the new normal we will create will be better than it ever was before.
Cheers to our future and to building a more connection focused community (but six feet apart!).