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Tapping into Creative Juices during COVID-19

Just in March I was planning on going to Spain with my cousin on a “finding myself” journey after heart break. Turning 30 years old was approaching and with my job barely making ends meet, life seemed a bit mundane. I craved more inspiration. All of our plans collectively came crashing down when COVID-19 came. At first, when I heard what was going on in Italy, I was very much in denial, as perhaps most of us were.

As a social worker, my homeless clients with HIV were already struggling in NYC, that when COVID-19 hit, everything that was already difficult became even harder. We all have a story.

Suddenly my “existential crisis” seemed minimal in comparison. Sometimes, we do take for granted the little things. Right now, I am living with family to save money and am very self-conscious of that. However, the pandemic helped reflect people in worse situations than me. We don’t realize how having a roof over our head is such a blessing. As well as our health…

I believe that COVID-19 can teach us a lot. Politics aside, I think all of us can agree that the little things are now suddenly the big things. I’m not saying this is a good thing and I am glad it is happening, absolutely not. But I am hoping that it brings to light to not take anyone nor anything for granted.

Everyone is on high alert and everyone is being triggered. The unknown can be very scary. Even if you haven’t always struggled with anxiety, you may find yourself suddenly in a panic and overthinking. Those who already struggle with mental health are going to have symptoms that are exasperated. We are all truly being tested.

To help me get through, personally, I put more value more-so than ever on taking care of my mental health. Prioritizing is essential. But sometimes, we tend to forget about our mental health as other needs take precedence.

As a teen, I would tap into creativity whenever I was struggling emotionally. It was a survival toolkit. Music was everything to me as well as writing. I wrote poems, journaled, and songs. I sang my heart out and played guitar. My songs and writing helped take whatever was building up inside of me outside of myself. It was extremely healing. But over the years, I seemed to have lost it. Other things seemed to be more “important” and creativity was left at the door.

Well, during this unfortunate time, I seemed to pick it up again. Little by little. And I forgot how healing this was for me. I believe we all have something inside of us that is a gift. Perhaps multiple gifts. And we tend to neglect them. We might say, “I’m too old for that” or, “I don’t have time.” I know I did. And I almost forgot how much joy it brought me. I almost forgot the beauty of life even when everything is falling apart. Doesn’t hard times make the greatest songs, anyway?

The point of this article is to encourage you to tap into your creative energy. To do something you love that maybe you haven’t done in a while. Or perhaps to try something new. You might discover something about yourself. Maybe you never even dared to try. Maybe the world can benefit from something you have to offer. And now more than ever, we so need this.

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You Don’t Owe Anyone an Explanation…

If you are a people pleaser like me, chances are you have over explained yourself when you make a decision that is for YOU instead of everyone else. Any decisions in life have repercussions, let’s face it. You will NEVER make everyone happy even if you checked off all the boxes and did your very best to consider people’s feelings.

There have been many times in my life where I needed to walk away from people, places and things that were no longer serving my highest good nor helping me to become the person I wanted to be.

When working in an inpatient rehab, the same applied for addicts. The hardest part for an addict wasn’t necessarily the changes they made in rehab but maintaining those changes when returning to their old environment. Relapses are prevalent because there will always be triggers around you, especially when you are surrounded by contributing factors to your addiction/s.

This goes for any changes that you want to make in life, not just drugs. And it’s not to say that you cannot set boundaries and see people/places in doses. That is very possible depending on the circumstances since every situation is different. That is truly where reflection comes in, knowing yourself and being HONEST with yourself. It may take some time and practice.

However, once you learn what is best for you and you know for certain, no one is entitled to an explanation. You don’t have to justify it. It’s unnecessary. Because the truth is, life is too short and when you look back on life you want to make sure that you are living for YOU and not in the lens of others.

This applies to jobs, living environments, friendships, intimate relationships, hobbies/habits etc. You will have different stages in life where you might not be impressed anymore with certain aspects. And that is perfectly fine because that just means that you are growing. It means that you are not complacent.

Being okay with doing what’s best for you despite pushback from others is called self-respect. You can feel the difference when you let go of something/someone that was holding you back. And it never is truly personal, (sometimes it is). But more often than not you just outgrew the past. This means your story continues and that you are finished with a certain chapter in order to start a new one.

My old supervisor used to say, “No one cares about you more than you.” We need to be our own advocates and listen to our intuition. Your “gut” always knows deep down inside what path to take. What clouds that noise is outside opinions.

You can start small by setting boundaries and giving people a chance to adjust to your new self. You can start saying no to little things without over explaining yourself nor apologizing. Be firm. You don’t have to be disrespectful but you can be assertive.

If after attempting to communicate your needs (especially if you’ve tried multiple times) and your boundaries are STILL not respected, then you have the right to walk away and do not need to explain yourself at all. There is a reason why closure often backfires because it gives a chance for people to gaslight and manipulate you. Oftentimes, no matter how much you explain your position, people may never understand you and that is okay 👌. It is not your job to convince them.

It may seem harsh but if it means it will help you to move forward in life, it is NEVER selfish to do what’s best for you. By choosing yourself, you are better able to be there for others. You are better able to show up as your highest self and serve the common good. So, if people can’t respect that then don’t waste your breath 🗣.

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Collective Trauma (Pandemic Check in)

As we all know, things have not clearly been the same. It has been over 5 months and globally, we are all affected in some way, somehow. Perhaps, for the first time, we all can relate. As a social worker by day, I would see people going through trauma on a regular basis.

Sometimes, the people in my personal life wouldn’t understand why I’d feel so heavy at times when things were fine. Because there is something called secondary trauma. And especially for empaths, we can take on other people’s energies. And right now, I believe all of that is amplified for all of us.

There are theories that depression relates to the past and anxiety is regarding the future. Right now, there are a lot of unknowns. During a crisis, our fight or flight response kicks in and we are in survival mode. Fear is an understatement. We can all feel it right now. Everyone is on edge and our defenses are up. We can even feel it in our bodies: shortness of breath, fatigue, sweaty palms, etc.

My clients who already are prone to suicide and mental health struggles are extremely vulnerable. Even for the average person, relatively healthy physically and emotionally, are struggling. Even people of power in leadership roles are at a loss for words and not really sure what to do nor what is going on. It is a very sensitive matter. To say the least. 

From my experience and just my personal humble opinion, I’ve seen in crises how matters can either get worse or better. The inevitable is here (unfortunately but it is) and the most we can do is ride the wave in the best way possible. Trusting that this will be over at one point even if we don’t know exactly when.

But taking it one day at a time & knowing that learning how to cope in stressful situations can help you learn so much about yourself and the world. You may not see the gains nor reap the benefits just yet but it will mean something later. & wouldn’t you want to look back when this is all said & done & be proud of how you handled it?

It’s not to neglect your feelings nor invalidate them. Your feelings are real. They DO matter. It is a process. You will have your breakdowns. You will feel like giving up & questions like, “What is the point?” “When will this end?” “What does this all mean???”

I don’t have the answers either. I have had my breakdowns too despite trying to help my clients, loved ones and just people in general. We will make mistakes. We will be human. Everyone is simply trying to do the best that they can with the resources that they have (something my virtual mentor Kathrin Zenkina taught me). That helped me to look at people differently. Not to excuse behavior but to explain it. 

So, if you are having a hard time right now, and if you weren’t that wouldn’t be normal, take a deep breath. Sounds cheesy but it is okay to not be okay right now. Accepting that first will make it so much easier moving forward . If you know you are trying your best and feel scared, you are not alone. If you feel out of whack because there is a lack of control, you have every right to feel that way.

Things are out of control. Externally at least. And how we take back control during the chaos? Bringing it back inward. It may sound silly and useless but it is a life line. I want you to put your pride aside for one moment and listen. Because we do not have time for convincing.

What we can do collectively is work on ways to bring some inner peace to cope in the best way possible to get through this. Together. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in the meantime because even the helpers need help too. No one is exempt from that nor above it. We can all learn from one another. Hang in there…

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Blessings in Disguise

I woke up feeling more inspired today. I am still purging my past and I know that it is a process and will take some time. But I feel myself climbing over the worst of it and I am at the tipping point. When you lean into life and grow you start to notice that it makes more sense why things you thought you wanted didn’t work out.

My new mantra that I learned from both my virtual mentors: Tony Robbins and Kathrin Zenkina, is that. “Life is happening for you and not to you.” Huge difference in how to look at life. We may not see what it all means while it’s happening but it will mean something later.


Easier said than done of course, which is why I give myself permission to go through it. I am just trying to go through it in a better way. Not make it harder than it must be. Not blaming myself, taking accountability of course for things I can work on, but not unnecessarily taking on everything.

I am guilty of being way too hard on myself and not everything is so personal. I think that is a common misconception among people. And if we MUST make it personal then why can we not make it a good thing?

Maybe a loss is a blessing in disguise. Maybe the Universe was looking out for you. Not to minimize feelings as there will ALWAYS be grief with loss. But there is always a gain as well.


I truly believe that life is a journey and that when we clear our past and what no longer serves us, that we can make room for better to come. But can’t have the cake and eat it too. You can’t have both. You can’t skip this process, (believe me, I’ve tried!).

There are no short cuts and if there were, you wouldn’t appreciate it as much anyway. I believe we came here to this Earth to learn. Our hardships are what shapes us. None of us are exempt from pain, as I’ve written in my previous blog posts. We do not walk away unscarred from life. Our pains maybe different.

But pain is universal and it is a reminder that we are all one. But just because we are all one doesn’t mean it’s okay to stay with people nor keep them in your life. Sometimes people are merely a lesson and only a chapter in our lives. We can thank them for the lesson and say, “Thank you. I love you. I forgive you,” and wish them well.

That may take time. I am still working on that but getting better at it. As natural empaths, it is easy to attach to our feelings and to people. Healers need to constantly work towards setting boundaries and detaching.

It is a practice and gets easier and lighter the more you practice it. I do believe that when we get better at this, we live more peacefully and intentionally. We look at life differently and become more accepting of circumstances and things that are outside of our control.

For an anxious person myself, grounding myself is a lifeline and can be difficult. Especially, in the moment when triggered. Everyone is different and what grounds you might look different than what grounds me. However, taking deep breaths, practicing gratitude, moving your body and taking a walk, all can help. Reminding yourself that you’ve survived the inevitable before and can do it again.

That you are doing your best with the resources that you have and it’s ALL you can do. Plus, worrying doesn’t allow you the space to problem solve anyway. It puts more roadblocks in front of you. It’s only in the quiet when we receive the answers of our next move. It’s when our intuition kicks in when the rabbit hole ceases a bit.

So, if there is any lesson from today from my rambling. It’s to encourage you to let go of being perfect. We are ALL working progresses and hot messes. Don’t be fooled by the ones who seem to, “have it all together.”

We all go through struggles. We all are collectively going through hardships right now. Allow yourself to take a deep breath and acknowledge the amazing person that you are and the amazing effort that you are putting forth despite everything going on. Until next time…

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“Deadpandemic: Finding a Reason to Laugh” by Joe Monico

“Let us all call a spade a spade, the world we live in today is absolute bonkers. People are dying every day from a virus we know very little about, the world is put on pause indefinitely, and we are all separated from our loved ones, missing out on that human touch that we so desperately crave.

And none of that is a reason to laugh. 

When I walked into a pole the other day trying to keep six feet apart from someone? That is a reason to laugh. When a bird had chronic diarrhea all over my shiny clean black car? That is a reason to laugh. And now more than ever we need to find these reasons. Hence why I have called this piece “Deadpandemic”, a pun on the world Deadpan (a form of delivering comedy).

As a stand-up comedian, and a person who genuinely loves to laugh, I am always searching for ways to make people smile. Making a person’s miserable day become slightly less miserable for even a second, that is my purpose in this world, that is what I consider to be my gift to society (what is yours?). Especially during a time where we are all just doing our best to avoid a complete breakdown, but coming dangerously close each day, it is important to find reasons to laugh, and share those reasons with the ones you love. Laughter is the truly the best medicine and a great form of therapy.

At my day job, I work in human resources, which means on a regular basis I work with employees through some difficult conversations. Especially during this time, I have many conversations with employees regarding deaths in their families, how they are coping with having the virus, and genuinely doing my best to talk them down from a ledge of completely losing their minds. And through all this, I have to be a source of calm for people among the chaos that is this world, despite feeling anything but on the inside (which is a very difficult task).

It would be incredibly easy to be on edge right now, to get snippy and jump down people’s throats, but that doesn’t solve anything, it only adds to the list of problems and negative feelings that people are having right now. Instead, I try and find reasons to smile and laugh with the employees, whether it be laughing about the fact that I don’t understand taxes or joking about using Lysol as a cologne. There is always something to smile and laugh about, and it is more important than ever that you find it and hold on to it.

I am also making a point to host bi-weekly comedy shows on Facebook Live, to allow people to tune in, forget about the world around them for a second, and laugh while having a good time. It might seem silly, but this is more important than we realize. It is so easy to get swept up in all the negative feelings and emotions around us, and it is even harder to try and see the light through the darkness, but we absolutely have to try. I have also started to create a comic series called “The Adventures of Marsha the Marshmallow” which is a goofy little comic about an administrative assistant that is also a marshmallow. Silly, yes, but that is exactly what we need right now, we need a little bit of silly. 

The purpose of this piece isn’t to brag about what I am doing, but rather it is to encourage you all to recognize what your gift to society is and use that. We all contribute in some way, whether it be using our sewing skills to make masks, the professions we choose (doctors, nurses, police officers, caretakers, etc.), using our musical skills to create beautiful songs, whatever the case is, we all have a gift and now more than ever we need to be using them to help the world cope and heal. And remember, there is always a reason to laugh!”

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“Time: A COVID-19 Story” by Asha Mckenzie

“Let’s go back to March 10th, 2020. I’m sitting at my desk watching my students file in and out of my office. All day you’ll hear them say “Hi, Ms. McKenzie” or “Bye, Ms. McKenzie” and my favorite line to them, “Can you please go to class?” The rumblings of COVID-19 were all around but I didn’t put any stock in it. It was pretty much out of sight, out of mind for me. As the end of day neared, I was so exhausted. I love my job and I love my students but I needed a break. Spring Break was coming up in a few weeks and flights were well priced for San Juan, Cancun, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. I made attempts to rally my coworkers on a quick vacation with round trip prices ranging from $84-$150. One coworker was just as ready to go as I was and we agreed to purchase our tickets on that upcoming payday Friday. The next few days we looked at different places to stay to put the final touches on our trip………

Fast forward to April and I’ve been stuck in this house for over a month. Video call after video call with only the walls at night.No going outside unless for essential errands then right back home

What’s the point of this? Why do I bring up a trip that I didn’t get to go on while people are dying and we’re all stuck at home? I brought it up because I spent day after day hoping for a break instead of embracing the time that I had. I spent so much time working my 9-5, thinking about my 9-5 that I didn’t work on what I needed. I gave myself permission to put me to the side. I gave myself permission to wait weeks to give myself 4-5 days of ME time. Don’t get me wrong, I love travel and I’m not talking about walking out on my job but instead of waiting for time, I needed to make time happen for me. We all are given the same 24 hours in a day. Some of use it well while others squander it away. COVID-19 has taught me to use my time wisely.

SO NO MORE WASTING TIME!

• Organize your mess

• Fight self-doubt

• Fight feelings of inadequacy

Use your quarantine wisely and self-reflect. Determine what winning looks like for you and put yourself in the position to win.”

TIME IS PLENTIFUL BUT IT IS NOT UNLIMITED

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“Covid Coaster” by Danielle Pietromonico

“A sure fire way to see my face and heart light up is to ask me what I do for a living.

I hope you have tissues and time to hear me express my love for what I do.

Weeks ago, I was in my happy place. I am the Center Manager for a special needs adult day program. We currently take care of 40 special, unique, creative, funny, smart and loving individuals with various disabilities. 40 different personalities and quite frankly 40 of the best people I’ve ever come across. My heart was so full.

When we started to hear about COVID-19, we knew it was important but we didn’t know how much it would impact us, and change everything. We began to take precautions daily such as charts of hand-washing multiple times a day, sanitizing and fully disinfecting common areas, taking temperatures and putting policies into place about when illnesses are presented in our individuals. We tried our hardest to keep our guys safe, healthy and clean and above all still well taken care of (loved & happy).


When it came time to shut down the center, a letter went home with each and every individual. Whether they lived with their families, in group homes or with sponsors they all heard the news that we would be closed until further notice. Making the heartbreaking phone calls was extremely difficult. Parents/caregivers were asking many important and well thought out questions. The biggest question of course was “when will they be able to return?” Not having the answers was hard but having to say goodbye for a while to my guys was the hardest part.

My staff and I were placed at some of the group homes for the agency we work at. Most of us were separated from our support system, left with unanswered questions, confused and above all scared for the change. I never thought I could open my heart to anyone else but “my guys”. I didn’t think at the time my heart had anymore room in it. As the weeks went by, we showed up to work with our badges, essential employee papers, our masks, gloves and most of all open hearts. That was our most important “gear” we needed to wear was our open hearts and our positive faces.

The individuals were scared, they were confused, they were taken away from their loved ones, their routines, their “normalcy” in such an already scary world for them. Our own fears as staff needed to go unnoticed and tamed during our work days. Sometimes hiding our own fears and emotions for the individuals was even harder than the physical labor of our Jobs; lifting and transferring people, changing people and showering people. We are forced to stay strong physically and most of all emotionally through our own hardships and sometimes mental illnesses.


As our guys began to test positive it became more real, scarier and above all heart breaking. We lost a wonderful, loving, amazing woman to the virus, our agency family will never be the same, her housemates and staff that loved her would never be the same. It is scarier beyond words to think of our already compromised individuals trying to fight off this virus. If needed to be hospitalized, they would be forced to fight this battle on their own, which was heartbreaking for staff and for them. We put ourselves at risk each and every day for our individuals. And never once is our work for “the paycheck”.


Through this pandemic we have been strong, we have been brave, we have been the family to our special needs individuals when they need it the most. We have surprised everyone and even ourselves with our strength on a daily basis. We have become “normalcy” and created a not so scary world for our guys.

I have been more than lucky to be placed at a group home with 12 amazing individuals. I never thought my heart could open up any more, but these individuals certainly made it so easy to do so.


I call this piece COVID Coaster because that is what this journey has felt like for my staff and I. We have been on a roller coaster of emotions and a roller coaster of changes but the one thing that will always remain the consistent is our love and dedication to our special needs guys. Whether we are at the center (which hopefully we will return to very soon) or at a group home we are providing such quality care for our guys. To take their known worlds and totally turn them upside down and inside out is so easy and was bound to happen… but for us to create a “new” world for them filled with love, compassion and support is pure strength.


I want to thank all of my coworkers and staff for being amazing now and always. I love you all and have never been more proud of my team.

This is definitely not what we thought of when we were signing our job descriptions but neither was falling absolutely in love with the individuals we take care of.”

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“Covid-19 Experience Piece” by Stephanie Deal


“I opened my business the day the world as we knew it ended.

In November of 2019 I decided to stop saying some day and make it today. I moved into my boyfriend’s parents house, took my entire emergency savings fund and went all in. Leaving me with a brand new business, zero savings and a potential job loss when our governor made the announcement that all food service establishments had to go to carry out and delivery only. A stay at home order followed shortly after.

The first two weeks were stressful, I wasn’t sure how if I would make enough money to pay my bills. My friends and family kept telling me they were worried, that they felt sorry for me, they were afraid for me. I was entirely in panic mode and yet I knew it would all work out. 

My original plan had been to keep my part time serving job and save everything from my business until I worked out what our cash flow would look like and how to pay myself as a self employed business owner. Never in my life time did I think I wouldn’t be able to work as a server, I thought I had job security. We couldn’t be outsourced, replaced by technology and there were always restaurants hiring. We were wrong. Many of my serving and hospitality friends aren’t working. They are scared, they aren’t doing well. We miss our regulars. We miss you. 

But

I am lucky to have the people in my life who I do.

I am grateful for them.

The people who were afraid for me, fueled my desire to succeed. The mentors and business partners who brainstormed with me how to adapt and change our strategies. The family who allowed me to move in rent free in exchange for helping out with their child so I could save to make my dream a reality. The serving job who went above and beyond to keep us all working to help with carry out.  The boyfriend who offered me his bonus check to cover my bills, my dream. I ended up not needing it. The day I told him thank you, but I don’t need your check was one of the best feelings I have ever felt. I paid all my bills this month and I have made enough to pay most of next month’s as well. I didn’t give up, I didn’t stop pushing for my dream.

My first month in business didn’t look like what I imagined. There aren’t people coming in the door to hang out, to study, to learn. My vision was to create a place for my community to come together, encourage and uplift each other. Instead of being physically together, we’ve been connecting online through social media and zoom. We are still connected. We are all still giving to each other and we will get through this. 

The truth is storms always come, they create energy, they create power and we have a choice. We can hide, hunker down, wait it out, let it destroy us -or- we can adjust our sails, harness the power and embrace the chaos. “

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“Quarantine Confessions” by, Ava

“I tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of March and have recently completed the prescribed amount of self-isolation time: 2 weeks and 72 hours with no major symptoms. Like everyone else, I still spend most of my time at home where I’ve been making an honest effort working on myself: mind, body, and soul. All of that alone time created a space for my inner demons to come out. With no distractions, and nowhere to run, I had to either face them or lose my shit everyday in quarantine, which wasn’t a real option. I had to surrender. It didn’t happen so easily, though. Believe me, I tried to run, all the way to Spain, and then to Mexico. I had made these plans just before Trump banned travel from most of Europe to the U.S. for 30 days. And, as the virus became a pandemic, I was forced to stay put. It was a tough pill to swallow for someone so stubborn and used to doing what “she” wants to do.

After taking the L’s, I knew that this was the time I had to process and feel the underlying pain that I had buried deep for years. Like most of the world, I’ve been through several traumatic events ranging from standard life stuff to abuse and death. And for a long time, I refused to process and understand how those events altered my perception of reality and deeply affected my psyche. I was numb.

My unwillingness to do that carried out into my behavior. I put myself on a path of self-destructiveness and toxic masculinity. By toxic masculinity, I mean that I told myself that I had to forget and just be strong. I numbed myself even more. Doing that does NOT make the pain go away. It will put it out from your conscious mind but then manifest itself in your subconscious mind. It leaves you wondering why you always attract the wrong men into your life, why you just weren’t enough, or why your insecurities cloud your better judgment. Those are just surface questions, you have no idea what kind of thoughts have crossed my mind. At some point, I exhausted myself with my behavior and decided to move back home to NYC. I developed some faith in myself and knew that I deserved better in terms of quality of life. At the time, I was focused mostly on my finances and credit score.

On November 30th of last year, I moved. On the same day, I got my heart broken and had to leave friends that had become like family to me. It was a lot. But, I sucked it up like I always do and took care of my shit: logistics, finances, paperwork, etc. My job transferred me. Old and new people came into my life. I quickly fell into a routine of working and partying. Then, coronavirus hit. I tested positive. I was miserable for the first week, mostly due to overthinking. Then, I woke up one Monday and decided that I wasn’t going allow myself to continue that way. I got sick of myself and decided to recommit to changing. When you’re done, you’re done.

I had already been on a self-love journey, but quarantine accelerated it. So, I restarted an 8-week workout program that I had originally purchased in January. I normally eat a balanced and healthy diet, but I had become more conscious of vitamins and eating “high-vibe” foods to complement all of the exercising. The host of this blog and I became each other’s personal therapists, and we both recounted all of our traumas together. No one truly does anything alone. We identified patterns, called each other out on her shit, and connected the dots. Crying happened. Things started making sense, and I gradually became able to understand it all. I’m now at a point where I accept the shit that I went through because, without it, I wouldn’t be the kind of person I am today.

I love the woman who I’m becoming. She’s empathetic, she’s strong af, and her values are solid. Take whatever time you can during all of this to look inward at yourself. If you’re able, now is the time to put in that inner work because you’re inherently worth it. There’s only one of you. Developing your self-love is uncomfortable and challenging, but the benefits far outweigh any of the pain. I promise you that. There’s no kind of peace like the peace you can provide for yourself. If you choose to be on this journey, know that you are not responsible for anyone else loving himself or herself. You can be there and be supportive, but know this kind of development and change MUST come from within that person ONLY. Otherwise, it’s codependent, one-sided, and, essentially, a façade.

The best thing you could do is to make that change for yourself and share your experiences to inspire others around you. I also want you to know that there is no such thing as perfect. You will always be on this journey, but you’ll get better and better at loving yourself. It will come easier to you. You’ll attract so much beauty into your life that you’ll never want to quit. All you have to do is make that one decision that you desire to change. Your only limits are the ones you place on yourself.”

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“Self-Love During Quarantine (What I learned from my cousin who battled COVID-19)”

When this pandemic first started, I was guilty of underestimating it and not fully understanding the severity of reality. I had a trip booked to Spain and at the last moment with my cousin and I, we switched it to Cancun thinking that would be okay. But, the inevitable was happening and eventually we had to sit with the fact that something was up.

At work, for those of you who don’t know I am a social worker, I saw staff getting sick and clinics being shut down for clients to come. Some clinics closed completely and I might be pulled in the hospital due to need for extra help. I have family in the medical field on the front line who are witnessing death every single day and putting their lives at risk. I have known close ones who got sick with the virus, including my cousin that I was supposed to go on my trip with.

Of course, in hindsight, a trip isn’t a big deal to put off and matters are much bigger than that. But, it is a reminder that life was put on hold. Kids are home being homeschooled while some parents still must work from home or have been laid off. The homeless are not being housed and some are forced to be crowded in shelters that aren’t safe or on the street. Essential workers are forced to expose themselves every day and take a risk. And the list goes on and on about how we are all in some way affected by this negatively. People are not sure how they are going to pay their bills and there is still pressure despite the government saying that it’s okay. The fear and uncertainty is very real despite outside reassurance.

Quarantine is forcing us to face some of our fears or triggers for things that need to be healed. I watched my cousin go through it with not just quarantine but being afflicted with the virus in and of itself. She works at the airport and it was pretty much inevitable that she would get it. It was a matter of when and not if. The reason we wanted this trip was because this trip meant that we were going to put ourselves first for once and had been through a lot prior to this that many people did not know about, so this trip was very meaningful. And then to on top of it to have the virus, she was faced with quite the challenge. 

I watched my cousin get physically ill where she would stay in bed and sleep in her clothes sometimes because of the chills and fevers. I watched her lose her sense of taste and smell and have terrible headaches. I watched her lose energy and feel weak. I watched her also struggle with the isolation, as we all to a degree are definitely feeling right now. 

I watched my cousin have no choice but to not only deal with physically struggles but internal ones too. This time helped her to face herself and not only heal physically but heal some internal wounds that were the reason for this trip to begin with. Being stripped away from all of our external coping skills are a struggle for most of us because we are forced to just BE. We might feel stuck, bored, stir crazy and maybe sick of the people in the house if you are living with others. Or you might just miss connections with others and being able to have some “freedom”.

But what we also don’t realize is that we can grant ourselves this freedom despite being stripped away our privileges. Not to say I don’t personally struggle with this too and can’t wait for things to open up again. But I’ve witnessed my clients conquer this that were incarcerated, in rehab, homeless, in abusive relationships, being molested, etc. I witnessed how people can survive and persevere. I witnessed the resilience of humanity. And of course, not every story is a success story. But being able to be there for my cousin and watch her not only fight physically but conquer her own demons and realize that she didn’t need a trip to find herself, was enough proof to me that it is possible. And I have never been so proud.

She didn’t need anyone but herself. My cousin found her love for painting again, journaling, poetry, reading, eating healthy, exercising, meditating, and healing from past traumas. Letting go of her past, forgiving others and herself. It sounds silly, but this work is important and instead of letting this virus/quarantine get the best of her, and she had her moments of breakdowns, we all will, but she was able to fight through it and I want people to be inspired from her story to keep fighting too!