I’ve moved to New England for school. First, I am so happy for the temperature change. We had a heat wave here that rivaled the hot, tropical temperatures of Puerto Rico. Now that heat wave seems to have dissipated and given way to a few days of weather in the 70s. I am building a new life now, from scratch, in the middle of a pandemic. So what has changed?
- I order food to be delivered. Usually from Flour Bakery. I’m a big fan of their croissants and salads.
- I go for evening walks. Due to the temperature change, I am now back to doing what I love the most: going for walks at the blue hour. I really enjoy the beautiful teal colors of dusk and having time to think. These walks are very meditative and introspective. I also need the exercise, which I haven’t been able to do since March 2020.
- To Uber or Lyft or public transportation? This hasn’t changed. There is no way I’m getting into an Uber or Lyft or the subway or a bus during this time. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m terrified of the Delta variant and I’m not in the mood to be ensconced in a place with re-circulated air. That being said, I have a dinner to attend to next Tuesday evening, and it’s too far of a walk. So I’ll have to take a Lyft. I’m not looking forward to this. I hope the Lyft driver will allow for lowered windows.
- To mask outside or to not mask outside? The governor of my state has declared that you can walk outside without a mask if you’ve been vaccinated, and to then wear masks inside buildings. I disagree. How do I know that people who are going unmasked outside have been vaccinated? What if there are some anti-vaxxers lurking? And then, the other day, someone sneezed a horrendous sneeze in public without a mask. I actually saw the droplets leave his mouth. No thanks. I will wear a mask outside, thank you. The curious thing is: I get judgmental looks from people outside who are not wearing masks, which I think is ridiculous. No matter, I don’t care.
- I’m taking a class on Buddhism and spiritual caregiving. I’ve discovered a beautiful class at the nearby divinity school on Buddhism and spiritual caregiving. I’ve decided I’m going to take this class to: 1) deepen my knowledge of Buddhism, and 2) to have a respite during the week from my other classes, which are requirements.
- Keep reading as much as I can. Books, books, and more books. One of the few good things about this pandemic is that I’ve read an extraordinary amount of books, and that’s thanks to my book club.
It has been a challenging time, with emotional ups and downs during this pandemic. However, lockdown and quarantine finally took a toll during the new year: I began experiencing cabin fever, bouts of never ending restlessness, moments of complete anhedonia, and many nights of insomnia. While examining what was happening to me, I decided I didn’t want these situations to keep “happening to me.” I wanted to take back control of my days, so I actively searched for things to do to bring me some much needed relief and consolation. I wanted to share these tips with you, in case you find yourself in the same boat as I am.
- Walking long distances: I do my best thinking while I walk and walk and walk. I’m very lucky that I live near the beach, where I can take long walks while listening to the soft crash of the waves. I have also found that walking organizes my thoughts and even better, gets rid of the bouts of restlessness I’ve been experiencing in the new year.
- Reading many books at the same time: Now is the time to read, because let’s face it, there’s only so much Netflix and Amazon Prime Video you can consume. Plus watching too much TV dulls the mind. I have begun reading many books at the same time. Right now I’m reading Alice Hoffman’s Magic Lessons, a prequel to Practical Magic, which was made into a movie with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies. I am also reading Sue Grafton’s W is for Wasted because I love the adventures of my favorite gumshoe Kinsey Millhone. Finally, I’m reading a bit of history, which I seldom do. This final book is titled The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis. It is fascinating. I didn’t know this but it turns out that Hitler stole the world’s finest purebreds during WW2 to breed an “equine master race.” I have also found that reading many books at the same time helps your creativity and helps you make connections between topics that at first look seemingly unconnected.
- Taking an online class. Now is not only the time to read, it is also the time to learn. I’m taking an online class on world religions, focusing on angels from the Jewish, Christian, Islam, Sufi, and Zoroastrian traditions, and it is exhilarating. Did you know that Gabriel is the only angel mentioned in the Hebrew Bible? I had no idea! The class meets once a week for two hours in the late evenings and is serving as both a respite and an oasis from the grim landscape of the pandemic.
- Re-learning a foreign language. I’m bilingual in Spanish and English and took French in high school. However, while I can still read French, I want to up my game in the language by re-learning how to write it and speak it. So I bought two books on Amazon. One is geared towards kids and is marvelous. It’s a vocabulary builder and it comes with pictures of seasons, weather, animals, furniture, utensils, and other fun stuff. The other book is for adults and is geared toward conversational French. Every night, I do a little bit of French before going to bed.
- Learning how to knit. I have attempted to learn a new hobby and succeeded: knitting! I love it. It’s occupational therapy. I watched a few videos on YouTube, ordered yarn on Amazon and I’m well on my way to my first scarf. Knitting is like walking: I’ve found that it organizes my thoughts and gives my restlessness a repository in which to live.
- Staying actively connected to friends. While I know that there are people out there who are going to restaurants and cafés to meet their friends, I’m taking lockdown pretty seriously. As a result, I am actively Zooming with friends from all around the world to stay in touch. I am actively keeping these friendships healthy and strong because we all need each other during this difficult time.
- Meditation. I finally gave in and got a Calm.com subscription. I practice meditation every night. I suck at it, but I’m hoping I will get better with practice.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you during this pandemic. I had to do a lot of soul searching and look for things that were a balm to my soul while I worked remotely for a company based out of California. And of course, I now take things day by day. I try not to think too much about the future because I become overwhelmed with crippling anxiety. Each day is a blessing and if I get through it ok with my coping tools, I am doing ok. Blessings.