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The Way We See It: Lake Country Community Perspectives

Life drastically changed for many of us in Lake Country and Waukesha County on Friday, March 13. {We should have known with a date like that!} That’s the day when the concept of social distancing really hit home. It’s the day Governor Evers declared an extended break for schools, which has now turned into a national break until April 30.

Instantly there were memes about essential v. nonessential workers and businesses, memes about moms homeschooling their children, and memes about wearing pajamas all day long. There has also been an outpouring of love and kindness to our healthcare staff, grocery workers, delivery people and other front line workers, like hospital cleaning staff.

Everyone has their own take and perspective on our current life system right now, but there are community themes. We feature different perspectives from the Lake Country and Waukesha County community below. Do you have a differing perspective? We’d love to hear and read it!

As we put out on our Facebook page on March 15,

We are Lake Country.
We are Waukesha County.
We are Wisconsin.
I love this community.

We are stronger together through our shared stories. This is how we see each other’s side of the story. How we gain deeper perspectives. How we gain empathy for our neighbors and community helpers. Thank you everyone who has shared their community perspective below! You have made this community stronger. 

Lake Country Community Perspectives

Regarding COVID-19 and Social Distancing

It’s been about a week since the Safer-At-Home order came into our lives. It’s also been about a week since I moved to this beautiful Lake Country area. Prior to moving, I had plans of exploring all the shops, taking my kids down by the lake, going to parks, and everything else this area has to offer. Plans have obviously changed quite a bit.
When I’m not recovering from my exhausting shifts in the emergency room these days I’m practicing “social distancing.” So what exactly is social distancing? To me it’s cutting out hearts to put up in my windows with my kids. It’s spending too much time online shopping. It’s allowing life to slow down and finally getting to appreciate what’s around me. Yeah I’m missing out on learning my way around this area, but it’s not forever. I feel that’s the most important part that people need to remember about social distancing.
Yeah, we miss our friends and our families. And as much as we say we are homebodies…we love going out just as much. But social distancing is most importantly what keeps us safe. It’s keeping our families safe. It’s keeping the at-risk population safe. That at-risk population needs us to stay home…because while we will probably recover they most likely will not. These people are coming into my job very sick. We’re putting them on ventilators…and prior to putting them on the ventilator we tell them there’s a very high chance they will never come off of it. Their loved ones don’t even get the chance to say goodbye once they enter the Emergency Room or be with them when they die because all of the hospitals are on lockdown.
So yes, social distancing is hard…but it’s not forever…and your community needs you to do it…your healthcare system is begging you to do it. Stay home, be well, and enjoy your slowed down life before life takes off on you again. 
~ Kaitlin 

What a time to be alive.
A time where time was what we were given.

There are some days where this pandemic is hard to wrap my head around. How is this our reality? There is a lot of uncertainty out there and I think I can speak for many when I say that some days feel incredibly heavy.

As a new mother who recently gave birth in October, I feel like I have been training for this quarantine because much of my time leading up to this pandemic was spent in the comfort of my home. But the option to go out was always there. The freedom of get togethers, running errands, enjoying a cup of coffee at your local coffeehouse, date nights, or working out at the gym are no longer available and that hits hard.

In addition, I am a first time mom struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety. The social isolation certainly does not help when you are struggling with mental health. My heart goes out to those moms who are fighting a similar battle where help may not be as accessible as it once was. Every day takes work – mentally, physically and emotionally and if you are reading this and can relate, please know you are not alone. Lastly, I am also the wife of a physician who still goes to work everyday and runs the risk of encountering this virus.

Luckily, any patient exhibiting symptoms are redirected to a COVID dedicated team. But the thought of my husband possibly being deployed, leaving his practice, and working in the hospital to support other healthcare workers and most importantly, help those infected, most certainly worries me. Every individual working in healthcare is risking their lives to save lives. It is very real and very scary but understandably, necessary.

As someone who seems to be hit by the ultimate trifecta, I push myself to find gratitude each day. You can see a lot clearer without the distractions and noise, and this stillness is something that I choose to look at as a blessing. Many days are incredibly hard to find the silver lining, but I try to focus on brighter days ahead. What we all need to truly sit with is this: there is no wrong way to spend this time. As long as you are spending it in a way that brings you peace, comfort and fulfillment, I find it to be a win. What that looks like is different for everyone.

Some days, my time is spent simply mothering and nurturing. Other days I am motivated to tackle 10 things off my to do list by 10am. I’ve realized the bare minimum is what brings me joy right now. My skin and hair have never been healthier thanks to no make-up and heat styling, I switch out of my night sweats to day sweats because with a baby I’m bound to get spit up on anyways (why soil my nice garments?), a walk in the fresh air is the best dose of medicine, a dance party with my little sidekick gives me some laughs, sometimes I have a salad and sometimes I have some cookie dough for lunch (it’s called balance, right?) and when the end of the day rolls around, seeing my husband walk through the door
gives me the biggest smile.

I am more mindful of my decisions, of my actions, and of my reactions. Amid the uncertainty, in the seconds and in the hours, during the points of frustration and in the heights of joy, I challenge you to find thanks in all things. It’s not easy, but we have the time to practice, no?

Ultimately, we may not be able to gather together, but we can come together. We have seen this through people staying at home, using social platforms to promote positivity and squash fear, entertainers and artists sharing their music and art for joy and escapism, educators sharing their knowledge and offering virtual classes to continue to enrich minds, employers making huge efforts to ensure their employees are taken care of, communities supporting their local businesses and their neighbors, individuals working in healthcare, trucking, food supply, and other essential businesses showing up to ensure the masses needs are met, families helping other families, people loving people.

What a time to be alive.
A time where time was what we were given. Where people came together yet remained apart.
At the very least, 6 feet.

~ Maria Meier of WisConcierge 
Connect with Maria here.

Lake Country Community Perspectives social distancing

Image taken by Gina of GE Creative

The Convictions of COVID-19

Dear COVID-19,

You really worked a number on us! You came out of left field and pulled us out of schools, offices, and away from our friends. You made my classrooms a computer screen, and the rest of my high school senior year a ceaseless stream of digital projects. 

I remember my friends’ rushed goodbyes on a Friday three weeks ago. Some said, with a sad smile, “Have a good weekend.” Others decided to bid a more humorous farewell. “Have a nice summer!” We all expected to be back in school after spring break. After all, it was our senior year!

Days ago, we were planning our senior prank, suggesting ideas for our class trip, and discussing which colleges we would join in the fall. Every sneeze or cough in class was followed by the teasing remark, “Corona!” Little did we know, the internet memes about stocking up on toilet paper and distributing hand sanitizer would be far more relevant than we imagined. As the numbers grew, so did the anxiety. However, we disinfected every desk and phone pocket; we took our precautions and insisted on staying in school.

You, COVID-19, were supposed to be a distant issue, dissociated from us. You were supposed to be a story we would poke fun at our children with: “What do you mean you don’t want to go to school? Back in my day we went to school no matter what, even during a global pandemic!” You, unwelcome miscreant, are responsible for taking away months from our last days of high school. Our days of attending assemblies, sports games, and club meetings seem long gone.

I don’t know what the future holds for us. Some of my class wasn’t planning on going to college. They wanted to work right away. Will we be the next Class of 2009, facing job prospects diminished by recession? Will the Class of 2020 ever wear the caps and gowns tailored for our graduation ceremony? Will I go to college next fall? I’m not sure. I can only hope. I hope our hospital workers and community members stay safe and healthy. I hope we all practice respect and kindness in a time of panic. I hope we all take care of our mental health despite being trapped indoors. COVID-19, we are ready for you to leave. You wreaked havoc everywhere, but we want freedom. We want to sing our senior song at the spring choir concert, wear our spirit wear on decision day, and walk across the stage with our diplomas. No one will miss you for what you did. Nevertheless, I don’t think I can ever forget you. 

In times of adversity, community is vital. You taught me so much. The gratitude I have for my teachers is immense. They switched to an entirely new system to ensure we were still learning. My calculus teacher even dropped off cookies to all of her students over spring break! We owe our healthcare professionals immeasurable respect as they are at the front lines every day. My friends’ parents, both doctors, come home after double shifts and still prepare dinner for their families as they all self-isolate. Our local food pantries still stay open as much as possible to distribute to those in need. Italian communities sing together from their balconies, smog clears around the world, and dozens of whales are spotted in Antarctica for the first time in decades.

Although I don’t like you, you helped us grow. Together we grew stronger and more aware. I know that each day following quarantine, we will all smile a little wider, love a little deeper, and cherish one another more than we thought we could. Thus, I conclude with a quote from pop culture icon Ariana Grande: “thank u, next”.

So long!

Shweta Panda, Class of 2020

Lake Country Community Perspectives

I’m Erin, a local mom of two little boys.  After my first son was born in September of 2018, I quickly realized that life with a newborn wasn’t easy; what I dreamed of for my maternity leave – lazy days spent cuddling my sweet little baby while binging shows on Netflix – was quickly overshadowed by the newness and vulnerability of learning to become a mother for the first time, and what seemed like many long, sleepless nights.  It became quite isolating very quickly. 

My second son joined us in early March 2020, just a few weeks ago. While I am thankful that we were in and out of the hospital right before the crisis of COVID-19 came to be a much bigger issue here in the United States, my heart goes out to all the other new mamas and mamas-to-be to be in the coming weeks and months. Becoming a mom, whether it be for the first time or the fifth, can be a very secluding experience in and of itself.  Now add in all the chaos of the current events happening in the world around us, and one might feel to be in a whirlwind of stress and anxiety. As I write this, I haven’t left my house in 23 days. While I expected to be home for a few weeks with my newborn, I didn’t expect it to go on…and on…and on. And for who knows how long?

So, in case you haven’t done the math, I am home with my 18-month-old toddler and 5-week-old newborn baby.  As you can imagine, there are some days where I just want to take an hour for myself – I dream about a walk through the aisles of Target, sneaking to the salon for a quick pedicure, or going through the drive through of the local coffee shop for some yummy treats.  But I can’t. Because it could be dangerous for me, for my family, for people I don’t even know. We are all trying to do our part to protect one another during this scary time, while simultaneously trying to keep our sanity. Easier said than done when you’re also up every few hours at night to feed a baby!

Due to my current circumstances, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can help others at this time, while also remaining in quarantine.  So I’m writing this for others with young children, going through some of the same things I am. I am the owner of Lake Country Sleep, and I work as an infant and child sleep consultant, helping parents teach their little ones to sleep well.  I want to offer some information and tips on how to help your child get quality sleep during this time (and maybe even save a little bit of your sanity).  

Sleep, along with nutrition, is one of our very basic needs as human beings.  Did you know that newborns should be getting 14-18 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period?  Infants need anywhere between 12 and 16 hours, and toddlers 11-14? Young school-age children should be getting at least 10-12 hours at night.  The benefits of quality sleep are countless. A good night’s sleep helps strengthen our immune system (timely, right?), reduces stress hormones, organizes our memories from the day (separating long-term from short-term), and helps our little ones grow and develop.  Has your little one ever woken up and you swear they are an inch taller?! They very well could have had a growth spurt while they slept.

When my children sleep well, I sleep well.  I’m hoping I can help you AND your child get the sleep you need with these few tips that you can start implementing today:

  1. Watch “wake windows” to prevent overtiredness.  Wake windows are the amount of time between sleeps (for example, the time your child wakes for the day to the time of their first nap).  If you miss this window, you might have a cranky child on your hands! Laying your child down to sleep before they get overtired helps them fall asleep more easily and helps them sleep better at night.  Check out my blog post here to find the best wake window for your child.
  2. Make sure the room is DARK, and promote a sleep-inducing environment.  Did you know that even a little bit of light from a nightlight or digital clock can disrupt a sleep cycle and cause a waking?  If you can see your hand in front of your face, it’s not dark enough! Check out this blog post to help create the perfect sleep environment for your little one (and you!).
  3. Provide routines for your little one that promote healthy sleep habits.  Both the routines you have during the day and at bedtime can help your little one with their sleep.  Following an Eat-Awake-Sleep pattern throughout the day will help break any association between feeding and sleeping, and having a bedtime routine will help cue your little one’s body that a long stretch of nighttime sleep is coming.  For some free sample bedtime routines, check out the blog post here.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  For more information and tricks to get your child sleeping well, follow along with Lake Country Sleep on Facebook and Instagram.

Stay well and sleep well!

Lake Country Community Perspectives Social Distancing Newborn

Living Safe At Home – Working Parent Style

Hello fellow lockdown parents!

How are you coping?

Are you struggling? That’s ok. So am I. And I bet so many other friends are, too. 

But we can get through this together…from a distance. 

I’ve heard a number of friends say this whole situation is simply overwhelming, and they are right. This is epic. History in the making. Something none of us have ever experienced before, with highs and lows and everything in between.

And many parents have been tossed into the unknown (you sang that, right? Cause I did. I’ll sing that in my sleep with how many times I’ve seen Frozen 2). We now are parents, teachers, therapists, employees/employers and partners with no physical support system outside of the house. We have to manage tiny people full of big feelings while we’re having big feelings of our own. 

And it’s okay to not be okay. 

I work from home as a program director for a local non-profit, with two energetic boys, and a husband with an essential job outside of the house. My son has a very complex heart defect, and I have asthma, so COVID-19 is no joke for us. I don’t mind social distancing at all, as it is something I’m already familiar with being a parent of a high-risk kiddo. So, we are doing our best to stay safe at home, but safe doesn’t mean sane. 

Granted, we have a lot of work-in-pajama days (which does wonders for my laundry mountain), but every morning I only have a few quiet minutes with my husband before he runs out the door. Then the juggling begins. Who has the more important task list between me and the kids? Who needs the laptop for meetings first? What to feed everyone to minimize the constant fridge-scavenging? And how in the world can I keep the hurricane that is my youngest son from feeding the dog his beloved ball of playdoh? Then there are the boredom-driven MMA fights between the boys in my living room. I fear for their heads and our furniture. 

It’s a lot to tackle. Some days have lots of tears, some days have tantrums, some are filled with giggles. Most days are all of them smashed into one. 

I give serious kudos to all of the parents out there who can create the perfect homeschool experience. I scroll through facebook and am in awe. I also want to high-five those treading water just to stay afloat. Personally, I’m somewhere in between. We complete our daily school schedule, but if I’m honest, I bend a few rules. Science lessons are now mixed with cooking and joy-ride nature spotting (Seriously! It’s as easy as taking a drive on a warm day and talking about what you see outside. Birds, flooded rivers, types of clouds, farm animals). Math is now the youngest counting and sorting utensils as we do dishes. And if they need to listen to a Read-to-Me book on the library app, cause they just need to hear someone else’s voice reading – so be it! 

I recognize I’ve been very lucky my profession has allowed the flexibility to make this adjustment. I’m sorry to those of you who can’t have this kind of freedom. I know there are a great number of you who have to still punch a clock and risk your health to keep society moving along. My heart aches for you and I am SO thankful for you. And then there are all of the people who simply are out of work. I want to give you a big air-hug. 

The biggest things I have strived to be consistent with is practicing forgiveness and flexibility. While routines and academics are critical, and my children really need those to keep them grounded, I try not to stress about perfection. Being kind to myself during this stressful time, and forgiving my own imperfections, will help my sons forgive themselves, too. I mean, if a music lesson involves a No Doubt dance party, they will not be left in the academic dust compared to their peers. So if you need it, crank up the music, dig out some silly dress up clothes, and sing your heart out. Your whole family might need the same thing.  

And don’t forget, we can get through this together…from a distance. 

~ Amy Wagnitz

Find others posts by Amer HERE

Lake Country Community Perspectives Amy

Play dates and sleepovers should not take place at this time. Social contact with seniors should be restricted.

The good news is that most people under 20 who contract COVID-19 will have no obvious symptoms or they will have milder symptoms such as coughing.”

Click or tap the image for all the information:ProHealth Care family medicine physician answers parents’ questions about coronavirus COVID-19


Jill Fuller from Bridges Library System has been keeping us updated on all the DIGITAL OFFERINGS available at Waukesha and Jefferson County libraries. Read all about these online options to access while the libraries are closed for social distancing.

Click or tap the image for all the information:Your Guide to Digital Offerings at Your Library

Hi, I am Dan. 

The past 4 years I have been a stay at home dad of 2 and a small business owner. I have a business where my kids could be at the forefront and have always worked hard to ensure our kids have had an epic life full of fun and adventure. Now we’re having an epic stay home life.

Before this all began, our days were full of adventures after school. I loved when we would get in the car after school and I had the flexibility to ask the kids “Where should we go now? What do you want to do?” 

The stay at home order started a few weeks ago now. I honestly lost track of the days as they seem to blend together. Luckily our kids school was pretty well prepared to migrate the kids to an online platform so their learning hasn’t been totally disrupted but let’s be honest it’s definitely not the same.  I have owned a DJ and Event business since 2005 and have always enjoyed making sure kids have a good time. Laughter and fun are pretty much who I am. After our youngest started school full time, a friend suggested I try substitute teaching and it seemed that would be a great way to use my gifts and do something meaningful in the process.  So fast forward to the stay at home order and I thought virtual learning should be no trouble after having subbed now in lots of different classrooms. Well this at home school thing is not at all like managing a classroom. Trying to get your own kids to switch gears from fun party dad to school teacher dad has been tough! I think no matter what lens or experience someone has and is bringing to this time in life, we can all agree it’s had its fair share of challenges.   We go from feeling like we are crushing it with our mini-science experiments to literally sending everyone to a time out (including myself).  

If you’re new to staying home with your kiddos, take a few tips from me:

  1. When you’re feeling the stress starting to bubble up, dance it out.  Music has always been my healer. Create a playlist with your kids of songs that bring you joy, that get you moving.  
  2. Get outside when you can.  Let’s hope that warmer days continue to bless us in Lake Country and the cold and dreary ones are behind us.  Think back to your own childhood, what did you love to do? Lake Country Family Fun has so many great resources – scavenger hunts, sidewalk chalk, creating obstacle courses, etc. I know for me, I loved just being outside as a kid and adventuring and I can’t imagine I’m alone as a parent when I’ve been craving for a long time for my own kids to have that sense of adventure.
  3. Think of care packages or things you can create to send to loved ones. Perhaps creating some homemade cards and art projects they can send to their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. 
  4. Call up your folks and ask them if they’d be willing to read a story to your kids over Facetime or web conferencing services. 
  5. Play some fun card games. Our son is a big baseball fanatic and we’ve created a baseball game with playing cards. You can do this at home with some coins as the players (9) on each team and draw out a field on a piece of paper print out this one which should print on a 8.5 X 11. A = Single, 2 = Double, 3 = Triple, 4 = Homerun, Jack = Fly out, Queen = Stolen base, King = Strike Out. Sort your deck so you have just those cards in your deck to keep the game moving. Otherwise you can use the other cards for however you want to label them, bunts, fouls, swing and miss, throw outs, etc.

Baseball Field

The truth is I have been working to get back into my passion for displays and event production and 30 days ago I was seeing those dreams come to fruition only to have them stripped in a matter of days.  So if you’re feeling like life has taken you down a turn you weren’t expecting and you’re feeling bummed about that – I get that too. But now I am looking at this as yet another blessing from GOD. What a blessing to have this special time to really get to know our kids even better and see first hand what they are learning each day and help them through their learning. Seeing their frustrations and successes first hand has been a real treat. 

I hope this is helpful! Cheers and I hope we can meet in person at a Lake Country Family Fun Event in the future! 

Dan Paulsrud

Bookworm Gardens Book Arch Lake Country Perspectives




Monday March 9th, I was on a “conference call” with my parents and siblings with whom we had planned a joint spring break trip to Maine to visit my brother and his family.  I listened to their concerns about the COVID-19 and agreed (but was annoyed) as we ended the call with the decision to cancel our trip. Turns out we were slightly ahead of our world flipping on its side; things were about to wildly change for all of us.    

I could never have imagined where we would be today that night.  As the days went by it seemed like daily things were escalating and my normally cool, collected self started to feel anxious with all that was transpiring.  As time continues to pass and we all settle into a bit of a new normal, I’ve had the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what the actual heck is happening.  

For two weeks I was crippled with anxiety and fear.  Reading every news article, listening to every press conference.  Trying to learn. Trying to understand. Trying to control, to control, to control.  It left me tired from restless nights and irritable for facing the days and all that was being required of me (work, my own business, virtual learning, cooking more than I have in years, laundry upon laundry and more).   

I had a call with a friend; she asked me what my biggest fears were around COVID19 and all that has changed as a result of it.  I started talking and so much of what I said, I realized were just fears and nothing more. We prayed together. I released a lot of those thoughts that day.  I stopped my quest to fully understand and surrendered to a place of trust. Every day I’m reminded of that conversation and the choice I have in the perspective I give this time in our lives and how I choose to live.  And trust me when I say it’s a daily, hourly and sometimes minute by minute choice and I do not always do it successfully so I’m also grateful for grace.

I have started asking myself what if this is all happening FOR us and not “to” us?  I know it sounds cliche and it doesn’t take away the hard, the feelings, the emotions of it all but what could be all of the positives that come from this?    Families are sharing dinners together. Board games that once collected dust in the hallway closet have found their way back to the center of the table. We are aware and making an effort to understand (and implement) the hygiene steps and food choices that best support our bodies and our immune systems. We are walking outside.  We are noticing the flowers coming up, the grass being greener, the water running clearer and each day the sun shines it feels truly like a gift. We are waving at passing cars in the neighborhood. We are leaving sidewalk messages for strangers to find. We are pulling up to our friends house, blasting music and making them come awkwardly dance in their driveways while we stay in our cars dancing with them. (or maybe that’s just us?!?)  We are being creative in our parenting, in our educating, in our free time and in our cooking. Those passions that have long been put to the bottom of the list are finding a way back into your life. The piano is being played. The journal is being written in. Sketchbooks are being filled. The Bible is being opened. We will hug each other with a new sense of meaning when we greet our loved ones next. We will show appreciation for every person, job and entity involved that kept our world moving especially those that are the least glamorous.  We will have more patience at our next “well visit” to the doctors office when they are running late. We will look them in the eye and thank the person we see at Target or the grocery store stocking the shelves or sweeping the aisles. We will remember what it felt like to reconnect with friends on a deeper level when we weren’t “catching up” for a 5 minute phone call between soccer practice and gymnastics drop off. We will get the date on the calendar for a trip to a great “sit down” restaurant with friends instead of not prioritizing getting together amidst all our other “obligations.”  We will probably cry (or maybe that’s just me) the first time we are at Miller Park for a Brewers game and hear the National Anthem. Maybe..just maybe it’s happening for US.

There might be fear, anxiousness, worry and a whole lot of unknowns.  But there might also be joy, laughter and a message we are meant to carry with us in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.  There will be no going back to “normal” and in many ways I am okay with that, are you? I’d love to hear.  

~ Julie Coughlin

Julie Coughlin Lapham Peak Pre-Covid Stay Home Order Lake Country Perspective

Instagram:  @JulieACoughlin


I am a non-essential small business owner, and I am closed for business!  My name is Sara Ninmann, and I own Snips and Giggles downtown Oconomowoc. I was born to serve people, I love community and feed off the energy of others.  On March 13th, I was told I was non-essential in our current world and that I needed to close the doors to my business. This was certainly unprecedented times for sure, and I had so many emotions.  Everything happened so fast and there was confusing information and this couldn’t really be for that long, right?  

I have always said that my business could withstand anything because nobody can get a haircut online!  I had planned for several things that could happen… like what if I broke my arm or what if I had no stylist for a time period or the dreaded lice outbreak?  But I NEVER planned for the government to shut the doors of my business and ALL the clients not able to get to the salon. I have been closed for four weeks now.  We do not know when we will be able to open. The salon brings in half of the income into our home and provides 3 other full-time and 3 part-time employees, money into their homes.  The responsibility I feel to my own family and to the ladies we employ is heavy. The information about funding, grants, loans and unemployment is overwhelming at times. There is uncertainty of what lies ahead. When can we operate again and what will the “new normal” look like is part of my thoughts each and every day this drags on.  

As a mother of three teenagers and a wife, of course the health and safety of my family is most important, but looking around and helping our community seems to rise up to the top of my to do list.  Opinions and judgments and politics are all around us. I feel it, but I refuse to bask in it. We have a strong downtown of business owners and people that care about the well being of the businesses and the people that own them.  I am on the board of the Downtown Oconomowoc Business Association, and we are working at staying connected, providing information and future planning. As we look ahead, these tasks take up as much of my day as does shifting my business focus, and laundry and dishes of course.

The day after I closed, one of my favorite little clients had a birthday.  My daughter Chloe and I decided we needed to make her day special under these circumstances and because she is one of our top little shoppers, we were going to drop off a gift basket of goodies on her porch!  Now, if you have ever met my 14 year old daughter, she is just as much a leader and entrepreneur as I am! We both decided that wouldn’t it be fun to drop off her gift basket on her porch and have Elsa and Anna do it!? We just wanted her little face to light up and be happy despite her party being cancelled. And here is the “shift in business” idea that came to us. During these times of NOT business as usual so many of us businesses have had to come up with new ways of doing things.  We have all worked so hard to get OPEN, stay OPEN and make a living doing something that serves the community and something that we love while following the guidelines. 

I sit here with a lot that I have lost.  I know and have talked to many of local business friends and we are in the fight of our lives or so it seems.  We are and will operate at a much lower capacity of business for who knows how long. We are hopeful that there are better days ahead and are grateful for the people fighting on our behalf.  I, of course, want the health and safety of the community to be at the top of the list but I also want to get my business back open. At the end of all of this, I and the others around me, will keep pressing forward and adapting and will forever be grateful for the people of this town that have continued to support us.  I choose to focus on what we will gain in all of this from a personal and business standpoint and what I can do to help this community.

~ Sara

This is an unprecedented time for our community and country. It is hard to imagine that this is where we would be in 2020.  Many are mourning the special events they have had to reschedule or cancel due to Covid-19. I am a mom that won’t get to see my son Caleb go to his last prom,  perform in his last high school play, and possibly won’t get see him graduate in a ceremony with the kids I have watched grow up around him for the last 12 years.  I am sure everyone can share one or more important memories that won’t be made as a result of this pandemic. 

I am also the owner and director of Gals Institute, LLC. With that there are new stresses, constant changes, and challenges daily.  We offer essential psychotherapy services to our clients.  Anxiety is an ongoing issue that has increased over time; daily activities like going to school, work, and socializing can be hard at times. Some may find relief with the social distancing. However, this is only offering temporary relief of symptoms and we want our families to know and understand that staying active with the coping tools and remaining in contact with their therapist is key. Unfortunately, we will see a surge of these issues along with others after the   ‘Safer At Home’ quarantine is lifted.  My passion and motto is prevention is key and I encourage families to seek support now to prepare for the new lifestyle we will all need to adjust to. To accommodate the increase in help we have added another therapist to our team who specializes in helping kids and families and will be able to work with issues such as anxiety, substance abuse, and relationship struggles.

Our team of therapists have made some additions to accommodate our existing clients including those that we served at 7 of our local schools. These changes are also available for any new clients who are seeking services. We are offering Telehealth services, a medical based platform that is confidential and has been highly effective with keeping our clients on track. We also share resources and skills for families to use through our social media outlets of Facebook and Instagram @galsinstitute. We have increased our presence along with providing free online support groups around anxiety.  Lastly, we are offering therapy support for healthcare and professionals as needed to accommodate their schedules but most importantly to be able to provide support to our front-line folks.  I tend to be an optimist and feel that we can create the memories we have had to put on hold and to use this time for self-reflection and for our families. It is a hard balance to use the down time to be mindful of slowing down rather than checking off the list of to dos. This can cause more unnecessary stress, so make sure to keep a schedule and don’t get down on yourself if you feel you are not getting enough done. I encourage everyone to disengage from social media if you feel like you are not keeping up with that Facebook friend who has repainted their whole house, did every craft under the sun, and has taken up running. 

Set your own goals and use this time to take care of yourself and your family.  Stay healthy and remember prevention is key! We are here for you. Please use Gals Institute as a resources for your family.

~ Deanna Marincic MSW LCSW

Owner Gals Institute
*No waitlist for becoming a new client.

Deanna Marincic MSW LCSW Owner Gals Institute

Gals Institute

I’ve always been an overly cautious person, acutely aware that at any moment, my sense of normalcy could be snatched from beneath me. I figured a car accident, injury on the lake, or illness of myself or a family member could rock my sense of stability. Trust me, my anxious mind had considered it all—except a pandemic. I hadn’t thought of that. Why hadn’t I thought of that?! Could I have done something to prepare?

Well, there I was, unprepared, and the pressure I put on myself to make the best out of this odd situation was heavy. I spent weeks shaming myself for not accomplishing all those tasks I was sure this “time off” would allow for. But balancing a potty-training 2-year-old and a curious 4-year-old, playing referee to their frequent spats, and cleaning their messes all day proved to be tougher and more time-consuming than I had anticipated. On top of that, I needed to answer patient calls/voicemails/emails, correspond with my work team, read everything I possibly could about the virus and the reciprocal changes to dentistry, learn all that I could about business loan opportunities to keep us afloat, call banks, write new office protocols, and scavenge for personal protective equipment (PPE) that is now scarcely available with insanely inflated costs. I was busy! Busier and more stressed than I had ever been, but without the instant gratification that comes after achieving an important goal. Meanwhile, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t doing enough.

When I decided for follow the Wisconsin Dental Association’s recommendation to temporarily close our office, I spent the first week and a half personally calling every single patient that was on my schedule. It was hard. Many times, my husband’s booming voice and my children’s screams could be heard over the phone. But most people were unbelievably supportive and understanding, which just made things harder, in a sense. See, my favorite part of what I do is the connections I make, so I felt badly for the inconvenience I was delivering. But as I spoke with each person, I became increasingly proud of the tribe we are growing. Many said they were praying for me. And one sweet soul mailed me a newborn baby hat she had knitted herself! I thank God for these beacons of light, and I am so blessed to interact with people that I respect and deeply appreciate as human beings.

So here’s what I’ve learned: I can let go. It’s ok! Even as I type this, the voice inside my head scolds me for being so bold. But it’s true—I’m doing enough. The work and the grind for myself and for my children will all be waiting there when we resume our “normal” society. One year ago, our dental office opened its doors; dealing with the business consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is not how I planned to commemorate this achievement. But, in another year, this experience will all be a memory. In addition to the challenges, I want to remember the beautiful moments: Waking up to my kids’ stomping into my bedroom. The exclamation from my younger son after he has pooped in the potty. The thrill in my older son’s voice as he rides his bike without training wheels. The womb kicks from my growing baby girl whose skin I cannot wait to feel against mine next month. The scruff on my husband’s face as he hugs and kisses us all goodnight. This is what matters, and this is what I’m going to remember.

~ Dr. Udoka Holinbeck
@Bionica Dental Wellness

Dr. Udoka Holinbeck dentist Bionica Dental Wellness

The month of May is here and unfortunately COVID-19 still is too. Livelihoods have been affected, and being surrounded by closed signs doesn’t help morale, either.  There is one place though that has not completely shut down throughout all of this – our horse farm, Equitate, LLC. 

While we are temporarily closed to the public, we are actively caring for  the horses whose owners entrust us with their care and training.

From afar, it’s almost like the farm hasn’t been touched by the virus.  The barn doors are open, letting in the spring breeze, and staff are leading horses throughout the property for grazing and exercise. But there are no riders arriving for lessons; no Girl Scout troops coming to earn their horse badge. The horse trailers are parked instead of being packed for a horse show.

As an instructor, and the manager of our riding program, our temporary closure was a huge adjustment. The time allotted for lessons, events, and horse shows is now spent providing extra care to the horses and our facility.  From additional grooming sessions to deep cleaning and painting, we find productive ways to distract ourselves. However the extra chores still don’t distract us enough from what’s missing – our clients.

The hardest part of our day under the Safer at Home Order is around 4:00 pm.  This is when riders would start arriving for lessons, their energy and excitement filling the barn instantly.  Instead the doors are closed, the barn stays quiet, and our desire to share our knowledge and passion of riding with others remains unfulfilled.

Being away from the barn is a huge adjustment for our riders.  Many of them come to the farm 2 or more times a week. It’s a social network, a sport, a reprieve, a safe place. This led to weekly Zoom calls and the launch of our Homebound & Horse Crazy Program which provides our riders of all ages with fun, weekly activities to complete at home. From games, crafts, trivia, videos, exercises, community service projects, these activities have helped many of our riders reconnect to the barn and our barn family. Both the introverted and extroverted rider can find activities to participate in, and that is what’s so great about our sport.

It’s uncertain what life, school, and business will look like in the near future.  We are all trying our best, in our own ways, to navigate this time of uncertainty.  Just know this – when we can be together again, the horses will be here, ready to ride.

~ Bridget Ward

Equitate Summer Offerings:

  • Riding Lessons – Equitate returns to riding lessons on May 31st, 2020 with a modified schedule to practice social distancing. Image attached.
  • Summer Camp – We will have 1 Summer Riding Camp this year, Monday, July 13th, 2020 – Friday, July 17th, 2020 with daily hours of 9am – 3pm. Space is limited to allow social distancing and to provide more attention and instruction to each camper.  Image attached.
  • No birthday parties, scout visits, or group outings at this time.  We will continue to evaluate when we can safely offer these.

Lake Country Family Fun celebrated a birthday at Equitate a couple years ago, and Bridget was amazing with both the children and the horses.

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