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  • Writer's pictureBrooke Budke

COVID-19 is like modern-day leprosy. You are highly contagious, no one wants to be around you, no one can touch you, and you are shut out and shunned from society.

Admittedly I am nervous to share this blog. COVID is an unspoken and recognized fear of millions of people across the world. The caution I took to not get exposed, the anxiety felt when dealing with it, and the trickiness of re-integration back into the world has been one of the most unique experiences of my life.

The purpose of this blog is simply to share one person's experience and symptoms of overcoming COVID-19. When I was in my contagion period I searched and searched for resources, yet found very little. The media sensationalizes it, the reporting is skewed and you feel very alone. So if you are caring for a loved one with COVID, experiencing symptoms yourself, or if you are curious about the day-to-day advancement of the virus, this blog is for you.


Let me start by sharing that our family follows rules. We believe in being part of the solution for the greater good. In fact, in the early months of COVID, when very few people wore masks, my husband Tray said, "we are leaders in our community, we need to set an example and wear our masks." At first, if you remember back to March at the beginning of this all, it was "weird" to wear a mask. People without them looked at people with a mask like, "come on man". But still, we wore our masks, sanitized, washed, cleaned and stayed six feet apart. The girls (16 and 14) didn't love us for this decision. Then schools and businesses shut down and we homeschooled and worked-from-home March through May. Everyone at that point quarantined to flatten the curve. Then, as businesses began opening everyone made decisions on their re-integration into society based on their comfort level, and their level of risk. Summer was hard on the girls with their yearning to see their friends and be normal teenagers. It was especially hard on adults too working from home and managing school, kids, work, pets and more. We face-timed with friends and set up zoom happy hours. I completely understood the girl's heartache over missing their friend groups because we did too. Human beings are meant to be together and many people's anxiety and depression rose during the quarantine. Thankfully, we decided as a family that our summer focus would be "making memories" and we began to make a list of all the fun things we could do that would still keep us safe. For seven months we kept our distance, limited social interaction to only our immediate family, still wearing masks around family, and sitting outside on driveways. We did everything we could to avoid getting it and increase our health. And yet, COVID made its way into our house and infected us all.

COVID exposure

No one is ever really sure where you originally get exposed to COVID, yet once you do, it likely will make its way through each person in the family. My husband Tray got it first. His symptoms started showing up on August 21. He has chronic allergies and he was sure this was fall allergies coming in early. For eight days he took meds and had classic sinus infection symptoms. We might not have ever got him tested until we learned a family member tested positive. So both he and I went to get tested on August 28. The test was not as bad as I imagined. The anxiety of the long cotton swab is real though. We were sitting together in the urgent care room when the nurse said "who wants to go first?" Well, that question didn't give me a whole lot of reassurance. Tray volunteered but then I immediately thought there's no way I want to see him in pain and then wait to get mine second. So I said me first, me first! He kindly let me go first. I put my head against the back wall for support and in the long cotton swab went. I thought it went up the nasal cavity but it goes straight back, like basically to the back of your skull. You instinctively cough and squirm and they have to hold it for a sloooooow count of three seconds. They are a long three seconds. Then, just like that, it's over. We were told to quarantine since we had been directly exposed and the next day we got our results. Tray's was positive and mine was negative. I was relieved and also faced a new challenge—taking care of my husband without getting the virus myself. That, as we know, was not the outcome I ended up with.

COVID Symptoms

I tested positive for COVID exactly two weeks after Tray's first day of symptoms. I share this date to reiterate the importance of following the 14-day quarantine recommendations. Even if you are feeling fine, you might be carrying the virus. Monday, August 31 I started to get a runny nose and sneezing. By the middle of the week, I was experiencing high fatigue, irritability, and I started to lose my voice. I had been extremely hot every night that week in my sleep and on the morning of September 3rd, I woke up and felt terrible. I knew I needed to get re-tested. I kept track of my symptoms as they continued to progress and outlined them in the chart below. Save this to your phone or share it with someone who's going through it as a guide of what's to come. It's very important to note that my husband, two girls, and myself all had variations of symptoms. Tray's were allergy-focused, the girls had a handful of symptoms for a week to 10 days. Yet I seemed to experience almost all of the common symptoms, at a high degree, for a long period of time.

Non-COVID Side Effects

Even after two weeks of intense symptoms, the most alarming element of the virus is isolation. When you are contagious you must remain away from everyone and isolation is a very difficult experience. I am a vision board, affirmations, manifestion, gratitude journal kind of gal. My mindset and discipline are two of my best attributes. And still, it is very, very difficult to be sick, alone, and unable to get a hug, hold a hand or even sleep in the same bed as your spouse. My body aches were easily the most intense symptom I had. The two things I craved most—a back scratch and a hug—were off-limits.

When you are contagious you must remain away from everyone and isolation is a very difficult experience. I am a vision board, affirmations, manifestion, gratitude journal kind of gal. My mindset and discipline are two of my best attributes. And still, it is very, very difficult to be sick, alone, and unable to get a hug


I recently read an article about “long COVID”, which stated how the side effects of the virus lasted longer than expected. I felt relief knowing it wasn’t just me for how long my symptoms progressed. For more than four weeks I had congestion, a cough, and loss of smell and taste. It gave me great fear of re-integrating into our community as I still felt the urge to cough, sneeze, and couldn’t smell or taste. The loss of smell and taste dramatically impacts your appetite. I lost five pounds in the first two weeks and I had very little energy to do any kind of exercise. Today is October 4, exactly one month after my positive COVID test and I would rank myself at being 85% back to my usual self. I get very tired, have low stamina, and morning congestion every day. Be kind to yourself as you heal. Let yourself rest, be patient with your symptoms, and pray—always give gratitude for your life, resources, and health!

Three positive outcomes of COVID

One of the techniques I learned from my Tony Robbins Results Coach is to find three gifts in every major set back. First, It forced me to slow down, reset, and show me what is most important to me: human connection. Second, my gratitude is 10x greater for laugher, joy, community, love, friendship, and even simple things like sharing a meal around the same table. Third, my health sustained me and allowed me to overcome the virus. My ability to write about it and share openly, honestly, and vulnerably the effects it had on my life might very well be a catalyst for calming people's anxiety about the unknown COVID pandemic.

Today is 30 days since the first day of symptoms. And still, I have minimal smell or taste, dizziness, lightheadedness, cough, and congestion. I am admittedly nervous about reintegration into the world. What if I cough around someone? Am I still able to pass the virus to people I love? The stats say no. How do you really know for sure?

Up next: I'll be sharing my experience of reintegration into normal life.

  • Writer's pictureBrooke Budke

Updated: Sep 19, 2020

Each year my family selects one word to live by—your vision for the year. This word serves as your compass when making decisions, celebrating wins and getting through lows. All of my yearly goals all must measure up to the word, helping to keep you focused only on what matters most. Over the past 24 years I have selected some pretty powerful words. Yet none compare to 2020.


My 90-year-old grandma has been a constant source of life for me. She reaches the corners of the earth with her prayers and she loves with all her heart. Seeing her health change in 2019 broke my heart. And yet, it brought her to Kansas City, where I can spend every Sunday with her. We went from talking twice a day, every day on the phone, to now talking, napping and exercising on Sundays together. Her love is like God’s love. It’s pure, constant, never-ending and all-knowing. To experience this love is a miracle. And to spend my life giving it away to everyone I meet is my purpose.

One of the main reasons I chose Wellspring to be my 2020 word of the year was her.

Wellspring means an original and bountiful source of something. Grandma is certainly my source of love and faith! This past year every Sunday in church and every morning during my prayers I reflected on identifying my life’s work. A quiet whisper in my heart spoke to me reminding me that my name “Brook” means a small stream. A life-bearing presence that pops up unexpectedly in the woods, in the mountains, in the barren desert and brings life to all that encounter it.

As I settle into understanding my purpose I realize that my goal is to be a wellspring of life, of joy, of light, and of love. This year, I will embody a brook, bringing a trickle of life to places unknown.

My life coach taught me there is only one passage in the Bible that starts with “above all else.” Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart. For it is the wellspring of life.” To me, this passage is so clear. Our hearts guide and direct us in all that we do. Every word that comes out of your mouth, starts in your heart. And all our actions and choices are driven by the desires of the heart. Often times, we can spend money and time trying to guard our early possessions. Yet, God tells us that it's most important to guard our hearts.

Your heart is the most important leadership tool you have. It's not your experience, knowledge or work ethic. It is your heart that matters most. It is your authentic self, where all your dreams start, your desires and your passion live. This is the year I live to protect my heart so my actions, words, life, energy, passion and authenticity flow freely and fully with power to change the world. This is the year will be focused solely on creating and being light—a true wellspring of life.

"A quiet whisper in my heart spoke to me reminding me that my name “Brook” means a small stream. A life-bearing presence..."

  • Writer's pictureBrooke Budke

Selecting a word of the year is a powerful habit that allows you to focus in on your vision for your life. New Year's resolutions come and go very quickly. In fact, you're more likely to break your resolutions before the end of January than you are to sustain them all year. Picking a word to live by for 365 days keeps your focus on one North Star, the guiding light, your center point, throughout all the highs and lows of the year.

This year, my 2019 word of the year was Snow Globe. More on that here.

2019 was one of the most challenging years in many ways, as we lived through health crises, my grandma aging, kids changing, our marriage's first year, financial highs and lows, and many other private matters. Yet, through it all, I remained focused on the globe. My prayers were centered around sending waves of protection to my family and friends in all areas of the world. My heart was focused on drawing a clear line of what I will allow in my life—creating boundaries—and removing what does not serve me. This is likely what added to the challenge of the year. Having a standard of living for yourself is no easy task. You must walk the walk, be consistent, learn how to show up for yourself no matter the circumstances, and be ok with letting go of things you love.

My prayers were centered around sending waves of protection to my family and friends in all areas of the world. My heart was focused on drawing a clear line of what I will allow in my life—creating boundaries—and removing what does not serve me.

My top 10 takeaways of 2019's year of Snow Globe:

1. Embrace all seasons of life

There are sunny days and gloomy days, yet without the rain, snow, cold temps and unfavorable conditions we would not appreciate the good days as much. This is true for weather patterns and for the seasons of life when you're drowning or thriving.

2. Go to church as a family

When you center your family around God, everything is possible. The habits we teach our children about how to show up every Sunday will stay with them forever. And, the moments I cherish most are holding my husbands hand, seeing our kids sing christian songs, and hearing a message that lifts us up, brings us together and gives us purpose. For me, this is the meaning of life.

3. Be careful who you let into your snow globe

You are as great as your five closest friends in your life. You must surround yourself only with the people that deserve a place in your snow globe. Make new friends, and be brave enough to remove the people that bring you down. One of my favorite passages in the bible is "protect your heart for it's the wellspring of your life." To me, that means keep your heart in a snow globe and be careful who or what you allow into your life.

4. Broken people are who God uses to carry His light

During challenging days, moments or years, remember that God uses broken people to tell His message of triumph and victory. When your issues overwhelm you, shift your focus to believe that the battle you're facing is meant to help you. Picture a duck on a pond. If he gets into a fight with another duck, he simply flaps his wings, lets the water roll off his back and all is well on the pond again. When I felt broken this year, I would think like a duck, and shake a snow globe (I have one in every room of the house) and start over!

5. Life will shake you, so hold on tight, and let the dust settle

Life will shake you harder than you will ever imagine. When your constants in life become shaky, and it feels so overwhelming, remember to breathe—the dust will always settle. Your world will eventually stop spinning, and you'll be smarter, stronger and wiser on the other side.

6. Stop complaining about the weather, people or circumstances

One of the worst habits human's have is gossip, comparison, complaining and bad-mouthing. We must learn to speak joy over your life, situations and people instead of complaining. If you change your expectations for appreciation, your whole world will change.

7. The MAGIC of a snow day is unlike anything else

Just like the feeling of Christmas morning, JOY beams from every snow flake as they dance throughout the sky. As they accumulate and you begin to ask yourself "will there be school/work tomorrow?", your heart starts to come alive. Snow days ground us. They keep us home, they bring families and neighbors together, and make us feel like kids again.

8. The best brands (and people) learn how to thrive in the winter

Some of the best brands in the world were started in a recession, or in barren months, when the majority of companies fear closures. Think: IBM, General Motors, Disney, Burger King, Microsoft, CNN, Apple. The leaders of these brands possessed great bravery to launch in a recession. When the human spirit is developed, tested and tried in the winter months, this simply means you have big things coming in spring! Knowing that you have the capability to not just survive down times in your life, but thrive in them is so exciting.

9. You are an individual—just like a snow flake—and you must own your own shape in this world

Do not worry about being like any one else. EVER. It's a trap. "Keeping up with the Jone's" was around long before social media took over the world's comparison chart, and it has never been my thing. Do your own thing in life. The more "you" you are, the more you're living out God's purpose. And, when you do your own thing, it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing because you're happy with who you are. Be a snow flake—unique, authentic and cool.

10. The seeds planted in winter come to life in a beautiful way each spring

Whatever work you are doing now, you will reap the rewards come spring. Be intentional about how to you spend your time and what seeds you are planting. Be mindful of what habits don't serve you, how you can cut back financially to increase your savings in 90 days, or what books you can read to enhance your life.

Each year in the fall I begin to prepare my heart for a new season of life in the New Year. I start the selection process for my new word of the year, and spend a lot of time reflecting on my life, goals, dreams and ideas. I can't wait to share my 2020 word and learn how it will keep me focused on God, family, health and happiness in the year to come.

If you're curious about the word of the year concept, stay tuned for tips on how to pick your word for 2020, and how to dramatically improve your quality of life.

Until then, I'll just be living in my snow globe for the next few days!



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