It’s been one whole year, as you might have heard, since the pandemic lockdown began. Here at Daniels Ranch it’s same, same, but different, as I’m waiting for my injection and moving cautiously, while all around me people are turning over a new leaf and taking their masks off. Presumably they’ve been vaxxed and are feeling sporty, like getting on your bike for the first time after the snow melts. I imagine their incredulous joy and freedom.
Me, I’m still on Zoom half the day. Still making hot dishes for friends and family. Still spending a lot of time with fictional characters. And very much still feeling like I can’t go on, I must go on, I guess I’ll come up with some novel ways in which to go on.
Now, if you are one of those people that turned over the odometer of this near-unprecedented year and had some kind of life makeover, or crossed into a new freedom, I would LOVE to hear about your experience. Please tell us in the comments! Give us hope!
And for everyone else, everyone who might need a little zhush of that promise, a little hope to microdose with, here are some tiny things that are helping me rally and carry on:
- New vistas. Pre-pandemic, it seriously irked me to get in the car for the purpose of exercise. Driving my body to move my body? Demented! That’s a fail state! Now I am gladly driving a few miles to walk through strange woods. The herbalist Juniper Rose calls this “co-regulating with nature.”
Word on the trail—and in the research—is the bigger the better, if you’re hoping for mood enhancement. That means tall trees, thus for a lot of us, getting in the car.
- Low-key spring clean + mutual aid. (Or winter-readiness if you’re in the Southern hemisphere.) My town “dumptique”—a popular corner of the dump where everything still useful is free for the taking—is closed, but some thrifts, like Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Stores, are open again for donations. (Check the specifics in your location; they vary.) My local food pantry is taking donations again, too. We can’t actually eat anymore garbanzo beans in this family, but I’m happy to think that someone else could be making hummus with them right now.
Even more exciting (to me) than a food pantry is the community fridge being set up right now in a neighboring town. Community fridges are different from food pantries in that patrons don’t need to meet residency or income qualifications to use the fridge, and there are no limits on what patrons can take. (Standard Covid safety requirements apply, of course.) This makes it more of a mutual aid option, less of a charity. Maybe there’s already one near you?
- Sharing sweetness. No-knead bread is a miracle, and neighbors love it. Know what’s even better? Nekisia Davis’s olive-oil granola. People are so happy to see me coming with a jar of that stuff in my hand.
- Inefficiency + doing less. There were quite a few months when I planned every excursion like a bank heist. I just can’t anymore. I don’t mean I’m going to the post office twice in a week; I’m just not getting mad at myself if I forget something and it has to wait more weeks.
And have I mentioned my experiment of not working past the lunch hour? Not gonna lie, lunch is getting later. But it still leaves a few chore-free, guilt-free hours in the afternoon. Wish I had listened to my mother, and learned this lesson earlier. Without a quarantine.
- Being a little kinder to myself. I hope I can say I’ve given up self-improvement … except for this one area. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to speaking to myself with a little kindness. This year that means no beatings for not winning at pandemmy. It’s enough to survive—and do what I can to help others survive.
I hope something here keeps you going, as well. As ever, it’s good to know what little things—or big things—are helping you carry on. Anything new you’ve discovered, or anything you keep coming back to: Please share in the comments. And may you stay well!