Today marks 70 days of self-isolation. 70 days since I was last at work. 70 days since I was last able to have any sort of real social gathering. 70 days since I have been able to visit my mom. It has been 70 days of ups and downs, good days, bad days, productive days and lazy days. I’ve had days where I’ve really struggled, days where it was hard to get out of bed, but lately, I have found myself in a really good place. I have used this time of isolation to work on projects and catch up on some entertainment. I’ve also used this time to look inward, self-reflect and re-evaluate the things that matter to me.
To celebrate these 70 days here are 7 things I have learned since quarantine started, in no particular order.
- I really like warm cookies and ice cream. I’ve always been a pastry person and I’ve always loved desserts. Cake and cupcakes are my everything, but I’ve never been a fan of cookies, let alone anything a la mode. Main reason I’ve never really been a cookie person, I’m a baker and cookies are a pain in the ass to make. I hate taking the time to spoon out each individual cookie and waiting for multiple trays to bake. To me, the effort isn’t worth the end result. However, since being in quarantine I have learned to love a hot fresh baked cookie topped with cold ice cream. I have no idea how this started or where the craving came from, but buying crappy little break-and-bake cookies, making a few in my toaster oven and topping it with fresh ice cream has become my guilty pleasure “I deserve this” dessert.
- Gardening and being outdoors really matter to me. I’ve always loved hiking and the outdoors, but gardening not so much. However, quarantine took hiking away from me, which I didn’t realize I would miss so much and I somehow took to gardening to fill my time. It started as just a way to stay busy, but my yard is now filled with plants, I’ve got indoor plants too, and one of the highlights of my day is taking the time to water these guys. Gardening has been a way for me to be outdoors and feel connected to nature, but it has also made super clear how much I actually enjoy being outside and how much nature impacts my happiness. (There is a reason the river is my happy place. )
- Living in Hawaii really impacted the way I view the world, especially the human impact on it. Growing up in California, raised by a hippie, I grew up understanding the importance of taking care of our planet. I understood climate change, deforestation, overhunting and fishing, and all that stuff. I was raised to walk when I could, utilize public transportation, reduce, reuse and recycle, and never litter. I did my part, well enough, I felt. I could see the pollution and overpopulation firsthand in Los Angeles, but besides that, the destruction to the earth wasn’t apparent to me. I knew it was still happening, but it wasn’t until I saw firsthand, in Hawaii, that it truly hit me. (I don’t want to write too much about this, because I feel like it may deserve it’s own post eventually, but here is the short version.) Living in Hawaii I had the world’s most beautiful beaches in my backyard. The clearest waters and softest sands. It was a dream. I would walk the beaches every day and every day I would notice all the tiny microplastics that would wash up on shore. So tiny, that if you didn’t know the sand well you probably wouldn’t even notice it. It was so sad. I also saw communities come together and hold sunrise beach clean-ups where they really showed how much they cared about this planet and the beaches. They would comb beaches from one end to the other collecting all the trash they came across. It was amazing. And then there were the sea turtles. They really changed things for me. I came across them all the time and had the pleasure of swimming with them on more than a handful of occasions. It was beautiful and the idea of doing anything to hurt them kills me. Since entering quarantine I have given up straws, limited my use of single-use plastics, increased my recycling game, and will soon be composting. I’ve always had a little bit of hippie in me, but Hawaii helped really bring it out in me.
- The Sopranos is a genius show, ahead of its time and I’m so happy I finally got to watch it. Not really much I can say about this, except if you haven’t watched it, watch it, and “Don’t stop believing!” I loved the ending.
- I like working out. I’ve always liked being active, walking, hiking, soccer, hula hoop, swimming, but I’ve never been a fan of “working out.” I always found it boring and time consuming. I’ve always struggled to stick to a real workout plan. That is until COVID-19. Since being stuck at home, I’ve created for myself a workout routine that not only do I like, but I’m able to stick to. I’m starting to see results, I feel happier (I think that’s workout related) and I actually find myself looking forward to my workouts. I’m not sure if this is just because I had nothing better to do and was able to do it long enough that it finally became a habit, or I finally found a routine for me that works or what it was, but I’m liking this and I plan on sticking to it.
- Reading is hard when you are out of practice. I used to read all the time. It wasn’t unusual for me to read a book a week. After graduating college, however, I kind of stopped. I just didn’t make time for it and it fell out of habit. While I was in Hawaii, I realized how much I missed reading and started carrying books with me again. It took a few weeks, but because I commuted by bus mostly, it gave me the perfect time to read. Then I started having to drive again and once again stopped reading. Since coming back to California, I’ve made promises to myself that I would start reading again. Just one book a month. That shouldn’t be too hard. I have failed each and every month. I thought it might be because I was trying to force myself to read the same book I’d been trying to read for over a year, so I started a new book this month. I like it. It makes me laugh, but even with that, I’m still struggling to get it done. I’m about halfway through and I have a little less than a week left in the month. I’m determined to finish this book, but it just proves, it’s going to be a lot harder than I thought to pick this habit back up.
- I need to do things that matter and this is really hard for me to explain, but I felt it was important to list because I feel like it’s been one of the biggest things I’ve learned in the past 70 days. I realized over the past 70 days, a lot of why I was feeling so down was because I wasn’t really doing anything of any real substance. Nothing that I felt mattered. I was just going through the motions of life, doing what I needed to do to get by. That’s not enough for me. I’m now realizing whether it comes in the form of where I work, doing some sort of volunteer work, or just making time to help my friends and family, it is important to me that I do things that matter.