In the Sonoran Desert, cactus blossom each spring. From this harsh looking plant comes the most vibrant colors. The desert reminds us to remain in the moment, because these beautiful flowers only last a day. Toward the cool of the evening, you begin to see them opening. By morning, you awake to the cactus in full bloom. By mid-afternoon, they begin to droop and close from the intense heat. And then they are gone.
Happy Easter and the beginning of springtime. Be present in this moment.
This is how I've felt, for way too long: Bricked in, blocked in, locked away by more obligations than I can handle, so much so that I can't move, can't free myself, can't even see spring. This was already my work situation -- and since work is so much a part of my life, my life situation -- pre-COVID, but now in the past year it's become just overwhelming. Untenable. Need somehow to tear away the dead vines, unbrick the door of creativity, let spring in.
I get seasonal allergies every spring: juniper and elm. Sneezing, coughing, itchiness -- it's awful.
Last spring I got the usual symptoms, but mixed in was this fear that perhaps it was not just a cold, not just hay fever, but ... [scary music] ... the Coronavirus! Aaaaah!
Of all the symptoms that indicated you'd caught Covid-19, the one I fixated on was the loss of smell and taste.
I put a container of strongly scented vanilla hand lotion next to my bed. If I woke up and felt particularly anxious that perhaps I had been exposed to Covid-19, I would open the container and take a cautious sniff.
I have a small collection of perfume, too, but since I was working from home, I didn't always put any on. The levels in the bottles stayed the same for months.
What's changed for me and my relationship to the world during the pandemic? I'm trying to train myself to look at things closely in a way I wouldn't if there weren't a pandemic.
April 1, 2020: Photo 1 Sketch Caption:
What we used to take for granted... Covid 19 Days: This head of broccoli with its curly-permed tips is always a staple but even more of a delicacy, now that it's hard to shop for food. Food items are more unique, highlighted because they're hard to get.
April 3, 2020 Photo 2 Sketch Caption:
Aloe plant has had a good windowsill winter...and ready to go outside soon.
I would describe myself as someone who is flourishing at this point in my life. There are many factors: a stable and supportive family, kids who are doing well, a stable job with reliable income, a good social network. I also realize that I am very fortunate and that some or many of these factors are lacking for large parts of the population and that there is lot of suffering.
This picture is a family portrait with button faces my six-year-old son made it. If I think of flourishing, this is what I think of.
Clearly we bought too many clorox wipes in March 2020. There are still three containers left in my garage. There was so much unknown in those days, we wiped down everything that came in our house because we were afraid of surface transmission.
I’m still anxious but now it’s about a whole different set of unknowns. It seems like many people we know are getting Covid, and I keep hearing similar stories. Someone comes down with symptoms and tests negative on a rapid test for a couple of days before a test shows up positive. I’ve also heard several people say, “It’s just a cold. I took a test yesterday” with no awareness that the test is just a moment in time, with no idea they could be walking around with active and contagious Covid. With a couple of friends I’ve suggested a second test, even dropped off an extra test for one friend. In another case, a friend’s child is planning to fly home tomorrow even though he has Covid and he hasn’t waited 10 days as recommended by the CDC. Society’s Covid choose-your-own-adventure seems almost as silly as wiping down all the groceries. So many people just don’t care, and it makes the world a scarier place for those of us who do.
This is a photo of me starting my balloon garland for L’s birthday. As many kids her age, she hasn’t had a real birthday party since she was 2. This year, she is attending preK and we determined that we were comfortable having a few kids from her class to our home for a real party. WHT a joy to hear their laughter and shrieks of joy throughout the house for a few hours! It really warmed our hearts. This also brought the return of what A describes as my “way-too-intense” party planning, which obviously includes a balloon arch as pictures above. What can I say? I love entertaining and it allows me to be creative and make people happy in a fun atmosphere. After two tough years of pandemic (which of course is ongoing and we have to live with), it felt great to be able to allow L and her friends to experience some joy. The late-night prep work was all worth it!
I think that the pandemic has expanded my understanding of what I consider to be human rights issues. Prior to the pandemic, I considered the right to work as a human rights issue. Now, I also consider the right to not work, especially during states of emergency, as a human rights issue. So many essential workers had to keep working not just because of the nature of their work, but because they receive such little pay that they couldn't afford any cuts to their paycheck.
I also consider the right to work remotely a human right as well. People with disabilities have requested such accommodations for a while, but were told that it wasn't possible or appropriate. This pandemic has shown that we do a lot of unnecessary travel for work and that the work space isn't necessary. Of course, that doesn't dismiss those who may not have the space to work from home, the increasingly blurred line between home and work, and the fact that some people work better outside of the home. People should have the right to choose how they work if they have a job that doesn't rely on place.
I saw this sign yesterday. To me, this faded sign represents the perfect image for how most people feel about the pandemic: fading from everyone’s collective minds, part of the past and something that’s been forgotten to take down. However, the sad truth is that’s it’s still very much with us and will be for a long time. We’ve just collectively decided that we don’t care. Just yesterday I learned that my sister’s law firm partner has long COVID and she is barely able to work. People dismiss COVID as mild but the reality is that we will see a lot of unnecessary suffering, be it long COVID or deaths, because of our collective choices and our refusal to implement long term measures (like ventilation, etc). Some days I’m just so discouraged at the state of the world. It feels like we can’t do anything right. The feeling is obviously exacerbated by all the other events happening around the world (Ukraine, school shootings, climate change, etc.). It’s depressing to see that we are incapable to do anything long term if it’s too inconvenient. Even medium term is unbearable to us as a society. We are so privileged and allergic to change, we’d rather be in a bad status quo than do anything about it.
I don't think we'll see any long-term changes. For one, we're too focused on getting back to "normal". We're already acting like the pandemic is over. The pandemic exacerbated so many existing crises, like housing, student loan debt, public health, food insecurity, employment, living wages, UBI, etc. What has changed? Nothing. There may be changes on the micro level, but any systemic change specifically because of the pandemic seems unlikely.
My son and husband both tested positive for COVID last week. We were so shocked, and scared, and angry, especially because we've been incredibly diligent for so long. But COVID found us anyway. We are very, very grateful that their symptoms are mild to moderate. It could be so much worse.
Months ago I'd assembled a "Kovid Kit" in a giant baggie, with a thermometer, pulse oximeter, Tylenol, Kleenex, masks, and phone charger. I was glad to be able to just throw the bag across the room. But it never occurred to me that I'd need more than one kit.
I had two years to imagine what this would be like. But I never did. I think I'd assumed that with masks, vaccines, and lockdowns we'd be safe. But here we are, and I'm surprised at how unprepared I am, despite my "kit."
Like, I didn't know that my insurance will pay for 8 home tests, per month, per person. Now I know, but I can't find them anywhere. I was also completely in the dark about anti-virals. We don't have a primary care doctor, and none of the test-and-treat pharmacies here offer tele-health. And it seemed hard to believe that they'd want people infected with COVID to show up in person. It took me two days and $50 to find a "Doctor on Demand" tele-health that would prescribe.
Family visits and social activities have been cancelled, and now we're in a holding pattern. This is a photo of one our "feed bags" - bottled water, apple slices, and cereal bars. We just hang the bag on the bedroom doorknob to send food in and out.
- I started this journal in fall of 2020. I thought the pandemic was coming to an end.
... it's been really good for me to do this
... for the future it's going to be really interesting to listen back and get a glimpse of what this experience was like for people
... There may be people out there that listen to this some day and say wow, I didn't realize how hard it was for people to live through that -- not just the pandemic, but everything else that's happening politically, socially, environmentally at the same time
... This is a very critical moment in time, and where we pivot from here will be interesting to see.
my disabled brother sent me this about a month ago, in a good mood then.
Tomorrow I go see him for this first time since a very difficult visit 9 months ago. Hoping against hope his mood is improved. He has 3 co-occurring mental illnesses, and the past year and a half have been an absolute struggle.
The pandemic is almost nonexistent where I live. I have gone to craft classes, attended a rodeo, drank beer at a local craft brewery, ate in restaurants, went to an employee appreciation luncheon, attended a night of readings at a writers’ retreat, and gone places with others in a personal vehicle in the last couple of months. It feels wonderful to get back acting normal.
The photo is of an acrylic poured painting I did at my friend’s house. Everything we went through with the pandemic still seems surreal and mixed up, like the painting.
I picked these flowers from our yard to make bouquets for myself, two friends and my Mom for Mother’s Day. I keep a shelf next to our fireplace as a memorial to her, my Dad and my partner’s dad, all of whom have passed. This was my first Mother’s Day without Mom because of COVID19 so I missed her. But it was fun to make the bouquets look pretty & professional.
I think my whole state now is not much different from this picture, a little exhausted feeling.Why？
First of all, because the school life is boring, I think a person is easy to lose morale when there is no new passion in life, I am such a state. Secondly, although I take classes, I take online courses. Although I interact with teachers in class, I always feel a little less feeling and taste, and I do not have the feeling of being in class.
Hope everything will be fine soon~
Last night some friends and I went to a film presentation at the planetarium
I was planning to wear while in the theater space, more out of courtesy to the others in the audience, who were mostly seniors
As we got out of the car and headed toward the building, I started to rummage around in my bag but I couldn't find any, not even any spares
For the past two years I've kept at least one or two extras in my day pack, and usually had a few regular face masks in rotation, depending on where I'd be going and what level of protection I needed to display
I guess I'd taken them all out for washing or had discarded them after use. I mentally shrugged my shoulders and went inside
Face masks weren't required in the theater; about 10% of the audience was wearing them
The theater was sold out and it did feel odd to be in an enclosed room, without a face mask, breathing the air with 150 strangers
It's going to take some time to feel like I'm not taking a huge risk while around crowds, indoors, without a face mask
After so many months of this pandemic, could we really be seeing a glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel? New case rates are dropping rapidly in my country and in my state, and all but one of the counties in my area have announced that next week they will be dropping their indoor mask mandates for most situations. Leaving them in place for health care workers and schools, but it does suggest that maybe, just maybe, we are approaching a return to some version of normal. I’m hopeful, but skeptical, hesitant. It will be a long time, I suspect, before I’m comfortable being unmasked in any kind of indoor public setting.
In my home, we are horrified by what’s happening in Ukraine. Saying prayers for peace and looking for ways to help.
My mom and I take care of the bills of the house. And the rent has risen a lot. I know that has taken a toll on my financial problems. My insurance is really expensive. I did have a savings but I’m trying to rebuild that right now. Other then that though I’m pushing forward.
I don't exactly know how to put my finger on it, but I feel like there is now more of a disconnection between people, an erosion of community, and more individuals who only seem to be looking out only for themselves. That general idea seems to be applicable in almost any area of troubles: worsening climate change; increased numbers of people who are struggling with mental health issues; increased violence, particularly with the number of homicides and increased number of mass shootings across the U.S. I fee like that main theme runs through the problems we're struggling with in our country and around the globe.
Covid shrunk my world. Without my dogs, I would’ve been desolate. I spend more time at home on my own than I did before the pandemic. The dogs keep me company, following me from room to room to beg for treats while I cook or sleep at my feet while I read. They get me out of the house and on the sidewalks where I regularly chat with neighbors also walking their dogs.
Gardening has helped to keep me sane. I survived quarantine by seeing change in a sweet potato vine that sprouted, despite 3 months of sameness. I remember Hugh Downs on a tv show” Over Easy” asking elderly why they were growing bonsais when bonsai take decades & even century to grow. “ It gives us hope”, was the answer.
Gardening is an act of faith and hope. It can sustain you physically and spiritually-and keeps you out of stores if it is successful.
This is my current project. I purchased this Garden Tower as a Christmas gift for myself and have waited months for the weather to allow me to start plants by seed. I was looking at consolidating my garden and not thinking about composting in it when I purchased it. Now I’m excited to trim my vegetables and add to the compost so my worms have food to make compost tea, which gives my plants nutrients. This has been great so far . I’m eating more vegetables, growing future vegetables as well as herbs and flowers & enjoying watching things leaf out. I bought a 2nd tower and spent time setting it up and transplanting basil and poppies into it today. I planted some seeds, too.
Growing things is exciting. You get to see and be a part of change. In addition to hope it gives agency and is fun.
I can’t wait to make Caprese salad with my own basil and tomatoes. I hope to stay curious and try to make my own ricotta and mozzarella. There is always something new to try.
Today my mind was more worried about Texas than COVID.
Earlier this week I was more worried about Monkey Pox than COVID.
Last week I was more worried about the potential abortion ban in the US than COVID.
A month and a bit ago I was more worried about Ukraine and Russia than COVID.
I guess COVID is something that we just live with now.
I went to shul this past shabbat and didn't wear a mask for the first time. I also went to the shopping centre and didn't wear one either. I felt like I should, but I didn't want to - so I didn't.
I hope that it is not careless or reckless.
My parents were able to make it to London to meet their new granddaughter. So far they are ok. They seem to have aged quite a bit since I last saw them in October. I hope and pray that COVID doesn't get them -- especially as they both have other health issues. I know that my mom is still on the 'front lines' as she teaches in a school and no one wears a mask anymore.
So maybe this is how it is in the 'after'? Or perhaps we are just 'done' with COVID, trying to go 'back' (not that i really think we can), and just hoping another wave comes. Or perhaps we are used to COVID and now there are all these other 'worse' things happening, so that is our new focus.
Brain fog and increased depression and anxiety are really affecting my ability to work as an accountant. Trouble breathing has affected me when I walk a lot, use stairs, and sing. It is so frustrating because I had Covid back in January and it was mild. I didn’t realize at first that it was long Covid but I think it is. I’m doing everything possible for my mental health and fatigue but nothing seems to have a significant impact. It’s frustrating to know I should be able to do a difficult, complex project but right now I struggle to access that part of my brain. I’m just so exhausted all of the time.