Skip to content

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!


Stonehenge—A Storm Coming On, David Cox, ca. 1825, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Used with permission.
In the MDK Shop
Made for planning—however you do it. Thanks for your purchases. They support everything we do here at MDK.
By Leuchtturm1917

About The Author

Max Daniels is a research-based life coach whose weekly emails make us laugh with recognition and rethink everything we thought we knew. Her new book is Meals at Mealtimes. What a concept!


  • I am ok relatively at the moment!! I’ve had my fair share of adversity in my life, times when I’d rather check out, but what I learned is that I have no choice! All the things I’d anticipated would kill me, didn’t. I was still there with all the horrors the next morning. Once I accepted that my control was much more limited than I’d ever recognised, I learned to lean into it and accept things as they are rather than how I want.
    You sound like you have a lot of good strategies already! A key one for me is podcasts and radio – I feel like I am part of their conversation and less alone, and it also provides a distraction from rumination! This too will pass x

    • Walking every day. Baking sourdough and sharing it. Knitting: 2 sweaters, 4 hats, 2 pairs of socks, a rabbit, and Frog & Toad. Made 4 quilts. Learned mosaic crochet and made two afghans.A frenzy of craftiness in an attempt to quell the sadness of missing the grands! We are fully vaxxed now and taking tentative steps toward reentry.
      PS: LOVE Nekesia Davis’ granola!!

    • I am one of the fortunate ones who received the vaccine, and two weeks have passed, so I should feel freer to move around. I still wear the mask every where for the comfort of others. But, I have started going out more, even if it’s to the grocery store for one thing I forgot. And, taking walks in my neighborhood and wooded trails saying hello to anyone I meet. And for now, that keeps me going.

  • Thank you for this. As a “non-vaxer yet” (don’t qualify) the slog is real. I’ve 100% immersed myself in pottery and find myself spending hours (ok all day) in my shed hand-building mugs, bowls, vessels. I don’t love everything I create and I’m making peace with that too. I’m also making buttons. Something about buttoning up and getting closure….

    And Bread. Lots of bread. For us, my parents, neighbors. And I’ve taken to cleaning out closets. The purge is cleansing. Still have plenty residual muckety-muck internally, but that’s what walks are for.

    And walks. My dog thinks I’m the most wonderful person in the world now.


  • I love that granola recipe and make it all the time! It’s on my todo list for the weekend. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area that has lots of outdoor options whether it’s beach or woods and walk my dog everyday. Family members have been my bubble but I haven’t seen some particular groups of friends for laughter and camaraderie for over a year. Zoom is not the same. Soon though. We’re almost all fully vaccinated.

  • Max, I’m sorry I have no helpful hints like yours. But I do want to assure you that when you are able to get your first shot, you will leave the vaccine site grinning under your mask, and the world will suddenly look better. And after that second one (or if you are lucky and only need one) you may be laughing out loud, it’s such a great weight off. I’m 70 and have been fully vaccinated for a few weeks; now I wait for friends to catch up. I truly thought it would never end, but it has at least eased. I still wear a mask almost everywhere and avoid groups of people even if I know them, but the sun is peeking out. You are such an inspiration, thank you. ❤️

    • When I got my first shot, I smiled and was so happy. Then as I drove home, the gravity of the past year hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to pull over and have a good sob. I was crying for the 500,000+ people who didn’t survive the pandemic, their families and friends, the loss of our relative innocence about illness, the cumulative anxiety we have all felt the past year. I hope that as time passes, we will regain some of how we felt before all this.

  • This year has been ROUGH! Just retired prior to pandemic, was ready to travel! I thought I could cope without difficulty with staying home since I had spent years working and wanting to be home. I’ve knitted, a lot—I’m now the Sock Queen—and read and walked. The cat LOVES me even more now. But I find myself tearful almost daily. We are now both fully vaccinated and went on a 2 day out of town trip to Gibbs Gardens where everyone is outside. That was great! We actually ate inside a restaurant for the first time in over a year! Only a couple more diners in there with us but I was nervous and almost sick the whole time. We continue to wear masks when around people but I’m finding myself getting angry at people who are not. I do feel overwhelming relief to know that if we do get Covid we have virtually no chance of being hospitalized. However, it’s going to take time to actually be comfortable being around people again. I don’t think I will ever feel totally comfortable living as we did before. As a health professional I think our society is going to be surprised at the repercussions this will have for years to come.

    • Just received first shot. It does feel comforting(?). I agree, it does lower the risk, but I, too, am going to take my time readjusting to being with people. This year has re-awoken my loner tendencies (and my husband’s as well) so going out in public is going to be much harder. There will have to be a serious reason and then I will feel uncomfortable the whole time. I have 2 pods, all fiber friends, one of which has zoomed each week since October, the other we have continued to meet most weeks to walk/talk or maybe knit. It’s funny. We live out in the middle of no where. Have to drive 10-20 minutes to reach each other, but we still wear our masks and stay 6′ apart while walking. We’ve decided to continue the zoom group indefinitely because we enjoy it so much. It’s amazing how much we have all changed through this. I love my pod mates! And hey, if wearing a mask keeps me from getting the flu? I’m all for that!

  • Being fully vaccinated is like a release from prison. I’m finally able to hug my 93 year old mother! We’re still wearing masks but human touch is indescribable. We will be venturing out to see the grandkids in 2 weeks but still plan to self isolate after that visit. Cautious and slow is our mantra as we navigate a freer world. Light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.

  • Before I retired, I walked with friends before work. Now it’s a conference call. We each walk in our own neighborhood while the three of us talk on the phone and three miles fly by. Sometimes on our walks, I get out of the neighborhood and walk to the library to return books or to the mailbox – I send a lot of cards these days.
    My Keno group learned to play on Zoom, but now that the weather is nice, we meet outside. My husband and most of our friends are vaccinated now but we are still careful and masking. Still having groceries delivered. Planning to travel in summer but nervous about it.

  • Being vaccinated is definitely a game changer! Not really in my behavior, I’m still super cautious, but mentally. I’m still annoyed with those in the grocery store wandering around with their masks down on their chins, but it doesn’t give me that pang of fear. I realized the other day that since I got my first jab, I haven’t had a single virus anxiety dream – you know, those ones where you’re in a big gathering of some sort and no one is masked, or everyone is masked and you’ve forgotten yours. I was having them once or twice a week since this began, but now they are gone!
    And I do hope the change in weather here in the northern hemisphere will help people. Even if you are not vaccinated yet, being able to get outside is such a relief. But vigilance is key – as a friend says “Stay positive, but test negative!”

  • Goodness, it has certainly been quite a year.
    My spouse+I live in a rural area with unreliable internet connections, we are unable to zoom, we have felt isolated, and I do know there has been some loneliness in our elderly situation. There is only so much FT one can do with family, as we all have to our jobs to do under the cloud of Covid. All-in-all as we have been retired for more than ten years, we are comfortable in our little niche and fortunate in that rural way sensitive to nature, with long quiet walks in the woods and gardening.
    We were giddy after getting the ‘vax’ . The relief is almost unbelievable but then when getting together with other vaccinated friends, we all felt odd unmasked, like being naked in front of them. But we got over it quickly and got on to living again. Yes, still masked as usual with the public, but we are now quite used to it, it’s the littlest + easiest job to do at this moment.
    I can’t wait, I have a year’s worth of hugs to give to the family!

  • Love the concepts of co-regulating with nature and bigger the better. Watching spring emerge slowly in a tall tree preserve and listening to the birds. I encourage everyone to make a definite effort to be quiet and still and listen to nature!! Refreshing! Resilience!

  • I’m a month past my second dose and almost nothing has changed except that on Easter weekend I will get to see my son and 15 year old grand twins for the first time in fifteen months. I am over the moon about that. On another note, the pandemic has taught me that I am perfectly happy being at home. I don’t really miss going out. I find that a bit concerning. I think I have become lazy and a bit of a hermit. Don’t get me wrong, I have been going to work every day since the pandemic started but coming straight home and settling in has made me pretty happy. It is nice not to worry so much about becoming ill so that is pleasantly different and I’m really looking forward to summer and warm weather.

  • As a creative I can’t imagine what I would feel like without making things. My husband and I are the default babysitters for our grandsons so I am not lonely! The stress is real though as far as other activities. Until last week I was pretty much house bound. Fortunately I like my house and do a lot of creative stuff there. One thing I have released is the self imposed guilt about not finishing everything I start. It is not my job and I am still struggling with that. I have an addictive personality so I have to watch the shopping and bread making !! Also I do pilates and walking. I am staying in shape for traveling when it becomes available.

  • Don’t underestimate the value of getting away in some fashion! About a month ago I felt like I was about to crack up and lose it, being alone (with my dog, whom I’ve never been more grateful for) and looking at the same walls and doing the same thing day after day, so I made myself reserve a condo at the beach. It’s still just me and the dog, but this week (going home tomorrow) has been necessary for my sanity. I think I can make it a bit longer now until I’m eligible for the vaccine. And now that the weather is improving, I’ll be able to spend more time in nature.

  • Getting two 3-month-old kittens!

  • Friends are flowers in the garden of life!!! Never truer than now. Love your self care news and thank you for doing it.

  • Here in Canada, the vaccine roll-out is a bit behind our neighbors to the south so I have had to summon extra patience before I can make airline reservations to see my 96-year-old mom and other loved ones. The best thing I have done to ease the waiting and put my focus forward to better days is to systematically knit a pair of socks for each person I am finally going to see when I am vaccinated. Three days ago, I laid out all of my sock yarn stash (what a lovely rainbow for which I have NO guilt!), and started choosing the best color for each person I’m going to see before the end of this year. The first pairs are for those I hope to see sooner than others and I’m off! It is so life-affirming to be knitting these sculptures of love in a “future of better times” as if I am already there!

    • This is such a beautiful idea!

  • I loved your description of planning for excursions like a bank heist. So true! But I have gotten kinder to myself when I forget – and I realize that figuring out ingredient substitutions is a good learning experience.

  • Ah, a walk among tall trees is what I want to do for Easter Sunday. I can feel it already. Thanks for that suggestion.

    Here’s a recent addition to my how to carry on tricks: I pay attention to my favorite neighbor’s comings and goings on her kindergarten school bus. I sew for my Etsy shop and make myself get my orders out to the mailbox in time to wave to her waiting inside her front door. I dress with her color sense in mind–orange Crocs and a very pink coat–and amuse myself by doing it. When I hear her bus in the afternoon and know she is home, I feel like my day has an extra layer of sweetness from the outside world on it.

  • My husband and I have been working on a project since lock-down.
    I painted a wall in my studio , 8′ x 6′, with chalkboard paint.
    At the beginning of the pandemic we were making our way to our balcony every day at 5PM,
    7 PM New York time, to make a racket and honor the front line workers.
    We played loud music and danced and drank.

    After a while we still took the time, but drifted inside to the chalkboard.
    We started collaborating on drawings, creating rules and parameters as we went.
    We are about to finish drawing #9.
    They each seem to take three or four weeks to complete.
    Now, the way it goes is that for one drawing, I draw the base structure,
    and for the next drawing, Bruce draws the base structure.
    And no written words are allowed, unless they are purely design elements.
    This has been our sane place. When we’re blue or overwhelmed,
    we go upstairs and draw together.

    I friend was having pandemic related emotional issues,
    and my husband’s thoughts were, “if only he had a chalkboard, he’d feel better.”

    • I hope you take pictures of your drawings as a memory of this year. What a wonderful idea. I think this is one of the best quarantine ideas I have heard.

  • I do not want to rain on your parade, but we were advised that although we have had our shots, we should still maintain the use of masks and Social Distancing ,because we can still pass along the virus. In other words, one shot does not make you immune, so your associates who are celebrating as before, are being hasty.

    • I agree, particularly with numbers rising–again!–and the new variants on the loose. I will be masking and distancing, but I do look forward to hugging my kids.

  • “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! ”

    Once, pre-pandemic, I said almost exactly this to a doctor who was hassling me about exercising – I live at the top of a hill, so it’s either walk uphill or down – or both, to get home – but it felt so wrong to DRIVE so I could WALK!
    She basically called me a liar – and, no surprise – she isn’t my doctor anymore. But what on earth is so weird about that mindset? (Back when we had Options)

    But I’m ready to do it now, and I think you for the laugh and the nudge to get going – no matter how.

    • um, I THANK you for the laugh.
      (Also a compulsive editor….)

      • It read like “thank you. I think!”

  • I, too, have escaped into yarn and books. This week I picked up The Kitchen Front, a gentle read that reminds us of sisters who survived the challenges of WWII rationing. My own novel about knitters and quilters and libraries, To the Stars Through Difficulties, was published in German last week because the editor thought it was a perfect, uplifting pandemic read. Needless to say, the publication lifted my spirits as well.

  • Brilliant post, and everything in it is familiar. I’m lucky enough to work from home; the work has been good but engagement difficult. I’m fully vaccinated but since too many are not, it has not altered my life much – except I went to the grocery store for the first time since September. I miss my children who are on both sides of the country, terribly. Restoring me now is the live Big Bear Bald Eagle cam, which is a live video cam directed on a pair of bald eagles tending their eggs in a nest 7000 feet up in California. I have it on all day just to hear, and know from their chortles whether there is a shift change, or a fish delivery to the nest from the male. Although one of the hatchlings died and the other is unfortunately not hatching, I am not focused on this loss but on them and their eagle domestic lives. Listening to the sound of the wind whipping through the trees and watching the snow fall on the nesting birds, I get a lesson of peace, fortitude, and a realization that my past life was too full of excessive “busyness.”

  • I have always retained my nursing license even though I have not practiced as an RN for many years, so when Covid started, I volunteered to triage calls for people needing to find out about testing. Then when the vaccine came out, I started giving it on my day off and weekends. I realized how important my skills are right now and decided to quit my job (they had reduced my hours from full time to part time) and vaccinate. I was offered a job at the clinic I have been working at, so I think this was a “meant to be.” I will continue to volunteer to vaccinate until I start the job. I know that not everyone has this skill set, but every state is looking for non clinical volunteers as well. It means so much to be doing something positive after this very difficult year. Contact the medical response corp in your state. They will be able to direct you to non clinical needs or clinical ones.
    I too baked bread, sewed, knitted, listened to lots of books on audible and kept in touch with Zoom though it still wasn’t the same as being able to give someone a hug and have an in person connection, of course! Hope you all get your vaccinations soon!

  • Half way through the pandemic I realized I had gained an additional 10 lbs. the interruption in daily activity made me more sedentary. Starting on my birthday at the end of December I started a walking and hiking program. I get out in nature daily breathing fresh air and appreciating nature in all it’s wildness, I am making a point to hydrate with water not wine. And became mindful of what I am eating. I’ve dropped the pandemic weight plus more. I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and have started a grateful practice. Every morning I take time to appreciate the day and think of all the things I am great full for. I am grateful for MDK and this community of knitters.

  • I’m so grateful to live in a more open state. I work in a school which has been open for face-to-face learning. I am only required to mask when I can’t social distance, and my desk is far enough away that I’m only masking for 15-20 minutes per day, when parents come in to my desk or I venture out into the hallways for some purpose. There are no public mask mandates, and I do not frequent businesses who require masks. For all practical purposes, my lockdown ended last August. Granted, I’m not out and about in stores everyday, and that has been very good for the budget. There are some changes, but things have been pretty normal here for months, which is a very good thing. I’m praying for all those who are still locked down to put their fears behind them, practice good hygiene (lots of handwashing, etc.!), and begin to enjoy life again.

  • Since I work in a school I’ve had both of my vaccines more than two weeks ago and so has my husband. We are cautiously grout a little more but are still wearing masks, social disrancing and washing hands.

  • I have been taking this past year quite hard. My brother passed away and I still cry and wish I could hug his kids. My mother’s dementia has worsened at 90. She lives with my husband and I. My saving grace has been walking my dog each and every day. Along with a bit of knitting. The light at the end hopefully comes next week when I receive my 2nd shot. One foot after the other!

  • The slower- placed, less urgent rhythm of the pandemic has changed my outlook completely. Your description is affirming and I hope you get to take some of the new discoveries into post vaccine life!

  • Many community food pantries serve anyone who needs food, without specific income requirements. Most try to make eligibility as simple and compassionate as possible. Also, many are run out of faith-based organizations but they are for everyone, not just people of that faith. If you or someone you know needs food, reach out to your local pantry, they are there to help. One way to find out about local food resources is to call 211 (just dial 2-1-1) and the referral people there can tell you what is available in your area and any eligibility limits. When you are able, you can give back – there is no need to feel this is charity, it can be mutual aid that you participate in supplying to others later.

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping