As I sit here writing this blog post, I am in an environment I have yet to write to you from. I’m back home in the suburban utopia called Loveland, Ohio. I’m sitting in my backyard with a view of green grass leading into what looks like to be hundreds of trees that lead down to a creek. I hear my mom singing in the kitchen and a dog barking somewhere in the distance. These sounds blend perfectly with the wind whistling through leaves as the sun is still drying the morning dew off of the grass. The wind is swirling around my hair and piercing through my shirt, but I am not cold. This wind is a perfect metaphor for life recently.
Over the past three weeks, everyone’s lives have changed in ways we wouldn’t have ever expected. Like the wind picking up seeds off of the ground and spewing it out in a completely different place, this pandemic has done that to nearly all of us. My brother, who lives and works in New York City, was swept off of his feet and was forced to be placed back here, in Loveland. People’s finances were stirred and thrown in directions they weren’t expecting. College students across the country were picked up by this dancing wind and were told to pack up their belongings and leave campus for the rest of the year. Not to mention the countless grade school and high school students, whose only consistent source of food is from their school, who have been informed that they will no longer have access to that because their school is shut down. Human life and almost all of its normality has been picked up by the wind, tossed around, and scattered in a brand-new place. So, how do we as individuals and as a group make life feel OK? How do we maintain the regularity of ourselves?
The first week or two through all of this, I was a complete wreck riddled with anxiety. I have five siblings that all live in big cities across the U.S and fear began to take over my every thought. My parents are big into politics and by watching the news, dreadful information was being fed to me multiple times a day. My freshman year at Ohio University coming to a sudden halt also had some influence on the feeling of irregularity and nervousness. I often begin to feel this way about life when I think too far ahead. I am a planner. I like to have an idea of when and where I am going to do things whether that’s five years from now or tomorrow afternoon. However, the biggest lesson I have gained from being in college is that you can make a plan and you can follow that plan but somewhere along the way, that plan is going change. I’m not saying it will fall through, but it will morph into something else or take an unexpected direction. So, with this lesson on my back pocket and an overwhelming needing of life feeling OK again pushed me to enjoy this temporary way of life as much as I can.
To begin, I stopped watching the news but because I am a curious person and enjoy being informed, I limited myself to only reading the news once a day, normally when I am having breakfast. I don’t watch press conferences and I don’t stay in the room if one is on. I also discovered how liberating it feels to put on an actual outfit instead of doing all of my work in pajamas. It’s surprising how much your favorite pair of jeans and a soft blouse can lift up your mood! The sun has also been working in my favor recently. Whenever it is sunny outside, I make sure to soak in the warmth coming from the sky. The blossoms have also begun to grow and the grass outside is beginning to turn green and each of us has the amazing ability to see that beauty. I also have found the pure beauty in celebrating oneself. I have made art my entire life but never really did anything with it. So, I have started to hang up each new piece of art I make on a wall in my room. Being able to say you’re proud of yourself during this time is essential. When you haven’t left the house for days it begins to feel difficult to feel accomplished. Practicing recognizing beauty in everyday life has also been extremely important and eye-opening. Morning routines have so much beauty when you pay attention to it. We wake up, we eat amazing food (even if it is just cereal), we can listen to music, we can play with our dogs, and we can get dressed. These are all small factors of a morning routine that hold so much beauty. These are the ways human life will continue to feel OK and to feel regular.
Lastly, I just want to share this as a reminder: you may not have everything in common with your neighbor but remember that each of you has been swept off your feet and tossed in the air by the wind and were planted somewhere new. Take the time to understand people right now and take the time to understand yourself. What is going to improve your quality of life right now?