Tag Archives: walking

How I am Weathering the Pandemic, part ii

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?

  1. I order food to be delivered. Usually from Flour Bakery. I’m a big fan of their croissants and salads.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

How I’m Weathering the Pandemic, Sunday, January 31, 2021

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Starting Over: Friday, August 23, 2019

One of the main reasons why I moved to Spain, in addition to the fact that I will be studying at one of the best paleo programs in the world right now, is to start over. From scratch. No strings attached from a previous life. No unresolved conflicts following me from my past. Here, in a place where no one knows me, I can be myself or I can reinvent myself, and no one would know the difference nor be the wiser.

Starting over holds a deep fascination for all of us. But if you really want to start over, you need to take a good, honest look at yourself and see who you have been and where you’ve been. A good, honest look. No rose-colored glasses. A good, very good look. Don’t only see but recognize your mistakes. And instead of seeing them as mistakes, see them as learning opportunities. What can I do better in case a similar situation arises again? Seeing failures as learning opportunities, and not as failures–which is such a negative word–is the first step to starting over. This is something I had to learn in order to not have my mind ruminating about “failures.”

The next step is to imagine what your best self can look like. Imagine it fully. Can you be more organized? Can you be more punctual? Can you deliver on what you promise? Can you say “no” more often, thereby avoiding too much and spreading yourself too thin? Can you love yourself more and criticize yourself less? Can you finish a project that’s been lingering on forever? Can you be more fully present to your loved ones? Can you listen more and talk less? Can you listen attentively and not be thinking about the next thing you’re going to say right after someone stops talking? These are a few questions that you can ask yourself as you envision the kind of person that you want to become.

But you must believe that you have the potential of transformation, no matter what other people have told you and no matter what you have told yourself. Some people like to put you down before you even start to blossom. These are the people that in your new life you must avoid as you start over. And they can put you down in multifarious ways: in being emotional vampires and sucking all of your energy; in being so chatty you can’t get a word in edgewise; in narcissistically talking only about themselves but when you talk about you they invalidate you and your experience; in blissfully ignoring your talents and telling that to your face in backhanded ways. People can be subtle and not so subtle in their attempts at aborting your potential to blossom. Don’t let them. These people are troubled, and they are not your responsibility, no matter what they claim.

So that’s the third step, avoid people who constantly invalidate you and surround yourself with people who love you and are actually there for you when you need them. Start discarding negative people, start accumulating positive, gentle souls.

The fourth, and final step, is to live as if you’re already the person you envision. Start right now. If that entails dressing differently, do so now. If that entails setting boundaries with people who constantly overstep them, do so now. If that entails worrying less and practicing mindfulness, do so now. If that entails stopping procrastination at some project, do so now. If that entails going on a diet that works, I suggest going on the keto diet, and doing so now. If that entails exercising more, start right now in your own home. You don’t need a gym. You can start right now in your own home. Just simple, gentle stretches. Start slow and be gentle with yourself.

And reward yourself in your road to starting over and don’t punish yourself if you’re not getting there as fast as you’d like. There’s no better proven system than the action-and-reward system. Think of the popularity of clicker-training with dogs. Think about why this technique of positive reinforcement is so good and fast at training them. There’s no punishment, just positive reinforcement when a desired behavior is obtained. Negative behavior is ignored, and not rewarded. In that way, that negative behavior is extinguished. Clicker-training is so popular it’s even done with horses and dolphins!

This morning I went for a walk with a new friend I made at Bonaparte. She showed me the neighborhood of the town that is next to the university, and now that I know it, I can start walking in the mornings. Back when I was living in Boston, I was walking between 10,000 to 15,000 steps a day, which was great because it kept my anxiety at bay while keeping me in shape. Walking here has been a bit more difficult because of the heatwave, but now that I know that the temperature is under 25 C very early in the morning, I can walk all I want and regain my walking routine.

And that’s the only thing I’m bringing from my “past” with me: my walking routine. Walking for me has always served as a meditation. The constant cascade of thoughts becomes more of a gentle stream, I get answers to questions I have on what to add or delete from a creative writing piece, my intuitive understanding of a subject I’m studying becomes deeper and fuller. Even writers have talked about what they think about while they walk or run. For instance, Haruki Murakami’s excellent What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Everything else I leave behind. Everything else I choose to leave behind because it no longer serves me.

Because I’m starting over.

Make sure to check out the song lyrics of A Quiet Life by Teho Teardo on the Web site’s right-sided content bar. It’s a beautiful song about starting over.