Well, the year 2020 has been quite the “decade starter.” We have all been experiencing some anxiety, frustration and a mix of other emotions due to recent events. There are so many things from which we can learn and things we should change for a better future, but I won’t get politicial in this post.
Before the craziness: Summing up the past 12 months
I know it has been a year since I last posted, so I am going to bring you up to speed.
From July to August 2019, I worked as an English-as-a-Second-Language tutor at Dynamic Language Services. I was teaching two Taiwanese students, five days a week for an hour-and-a-half each. It was a challenge because both students hardly spoke any English, but the work was rewarding. By the last day of their lesson, my students felt more comfortable and confident in their English language abilities and had expanded their vocabulary.
[The company, Dynamic, is a language-learning-based business in Haddonfield, NJ. It offers one-on-one or grouped lessons for individuals (from kids age 3 to adults of any age) who are looking to learn or brush up on their foreign language skills. Languages offered at Dynamic range from the most popular (Korean, Japanese) to the most common (Spanish, French, Italian). For more information about lessons and languages offered, click on the underlined link above.]
In September 2019, I started my first semester at Rowan University in the Master’s in Writing program. Taking the first required course, Core I: Theories and Techniques of Writing, I learned about different genres and “warmed up”/developed my writing skills in preparation for my master’s project. In January, I took the second required course, Core II: Research Methods for Writers, and observed, as well as practiced, various research techniques. In this course, I began to layout my ideas and plans for my master’s project. (I will further discuss my project in another post.) Besides school and work, I continued my lessons in martial arts, went to the gym often and spent some quality time with close friends.
Quarantine VS Routine: Making major changes
When the pandemic called for a nationwide/worldwide lockdown, day-to-day routines changed drastically. I had to attend my master’s class online (which wasn’t too much of a hassle, but it was a pain when the wi-fi was acting up.) At the time, I was unemployed, so it made job hunting much more difficult. I was not going to martial arts classes, working out at the gym or going out on coffee dates with my friends anymore. It was a shock to my lifestyle. So, I created a new routine, a different way of living my life while following the stay-at-home rules.
I started doing more work around the house: cleaning, doing laundry, organizing and reorganizing shelves, closets, etc. (I live at home with my parents, so taking on more chores is helpful in keeping the house in shape.) After the semester ended in May, I thought I would have some problems with figuring out what to do while spend my time at home, but I quickly found myself adjusting to a healthy routine that keeps me active, mentally and physically, on the daily.
I have found a love for running in the morning, preferably before sunrise. My new routine has me running at least three days a week, going a distance of about one-and-a-half to three miles, and alternating weight lifting exercises between arms/upper body days and legs/lower body days. My primary objective is to get in shape, so I looked through my Pinterest to find weight loss and strength training exercises that can help me reach my goal. (I have found Pinterest to be helpful with a lot of things!)
I have gotten into the habit of meditating more often. It is not an every-day practice, but when I cannot sleep or I just need a moment to be mindful, I meditate. It is a healthy habit to have, especially while we are in these stressful, anxiety-inducing times.
I started a new hobby: baking! I was into baking before the pandemic but have found an endless list of delicious recipes on Pinterest. I am surprised I have not gained a lot of weight due to this new hobby. Hahaha. I do not bake every week, but whenever I get the itch to bake (or my family asks me to bake something), I just have to do it! It is also another way I practice meditation — great for my mental health!
Reading and writing is something I have been working on in order to build my skills as a writer, as well as do research for my master’s project. I am currently reading a book called Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, by Hector García and Francesc Miralles. This self-help book uncovers the path to longevity and helps the reader find their purpose in life. As “preachy” as that may sound, it is a pretty good read. I highly recommend it, especially to those who are searching for their life path: what they want to do, who they want to be, where they want to go.
I like to read poetry every now and then. I am currently enjoying The Poetry of Emily Dickinson. I also write poems here and there but not as often as I used to write. It seems that the words are more difficult to conjure up these days when I’m writing anything. That is why I believe reading more books and poems and writing a little bit every day will help get my creative juices flowing.
I have been making future plans for travel. Using Pinterest, I have gathered a lot of information that can help me plan future trips to Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia and so on. I think planning ahead (without too many specifics, like dates) is a way to get yourself pumped for when all of this lockdown craziness ends. The planning is definitely getting me excited: figuring out where I want to go, how much I have to save, when are the best times of the year to visit. I have always dreamed of traveling the world and preparing for it makes it feel more like an “it will happen” idea rather than “I want it to happen” idea. Does that make sense?
When keeping in touch with my friends, I like to text and video chat. I know it is hard to not have in-person social interaction for a while, but I would rather keep myself, my friends and my family safe and healthy by keeping a distance than potentially spreading the virus to everyone else. With some of the restrictions being lifted, I hope to be able to visit my friends in-person soon, while keeping a safe distance between us, of course. That sounds paranoid, and maybe it is, but I am not going to risk the health and safety (and life) of my family members for a moment of “freedom.” I am going to wait until there is a vaccine; that will make me feel better and safer about going out in public again.
Overall, I am doing what I can to keep myself physically in shape, mentally active, look forward to the future and pass the time. It is all about focusing on what I have and what I want for myself and my family, now and in the future.
Times have changed, but we must accept the change and adapt to change. Stay positive, and if you can help it, do not be so hard on yourself. I hope everyone stays healthy and safe. We can get through this together!
_ Georgia Iris