This crazy pandemic has created a completely unique set of challenges across the globe. We are all facing unprecedented times that are confusing and scary, though we’re also seeing so much beauty in our strength and courage.
Community, whether online or in-person, is so important during this time and a huge part of community is sharing experiences. In that vein, we thought that it might be fun to share the many ups and downs of our own unique quarantine journeys!
We view Semi-Sweet Tooth as a community and we hope that you will find peace, strength, and joy through reading our stories. We included the questions that we answered at the end of the post so that you can continue the story by reflecting on your own experiences. Together, we are strong.
What We’ve Learned During Social Distancing
What has been your most difficult challenge during quarantine?
Jessica: I’m naturally a bit of a homebody, typically work from home, have no kids, hang out with my dog all the time, and my boyfriend and I live/work in our own, respective homes, so the first few weeks actually felt somewhat close to normal.
Rather, what has been most difficult for me has been trying to find a place where I can help. Working with small businesses everyday, I’ve been working across a wide variety of leadership teams that are determining their best path forward. Whether or not we want it to, this pandemic will absolutely be changing the landscape of small business for the foreseeable future. Some in devastating ways, some with whole new branches of their business formed, and others growing much more than they ever expected (<We see you ZOOM.) I’m just trying to do all I can to help our clients succeed in whatever way works best in their unique situation.
Natalie: During these past few months, I have learned the importance of a schedule. Prior to all of the disruptions, I relied on a calendar that had me running around from morning to evening. However, now I am living at home and seem to have all the time in the world. That adjustment was very difficult for me. I felt that I had lost the self-management tools I had fought so hard to create. Without a strict schedule with people and places to see, I felt uneasy and anxious. And often, that made me feel like I was unmotivated or behind, even if that wasn’t true.
After a lot of self-reflection, I have been trying to live more in the moment. While schedules are still important to me, I am now more open to life’s unplanned moments. It is definitely still a struggle, but I am tremendously happy with my progress!
Where have you found reminders of joy and happiness?
Natalie: My biggest source of joy and happiness will always be my family. I am so lucky to be staying at home with my mother and two sisters. We haven’t lived under the same roof in a long time…which only makes it even more fun! We like to go on drives, watch movies, play games, and have late-night conversations. Being together reminds me that despite all of the difficulties in the world, my family will always be there for me. Of course, we have our ups and downs, but those are happy distractions.
I have also been reading more during quarantine. My current pick is “Julie & Julia” by Julie Powell, which has sat on my bookshelf for way too long. Reading has always been a source of joy for me and it definitely provides a little distraction during difficult times like these.
Jessica: I’ve decided to stay in Chicago throughout most of this pandemic to do my part in “flattening the curve.” Though, by this point in the year, I would typically be back in Colorado. Feeling drawn towards nature, I’ve been exploring new trails and forest preserves all over the county, which has continued to provide a literal breadth of fresh air.
I’ve also continued to go on social distancing walks (i.e. walking with friends, but all 6′ apart) and have been willing to see both of my parents from a safe 6′ distance away, as well. That little sense of community always feels a bit re-energizing, as well.
How have you found peace or self-reflection?
Jessica: I tend to live in a relatively “non-fiction” type world. I read non-fiction, I watch documentaries, I read scientific research for fun… basically, I’m a huge nerd.
Though my preferences have -oddly to me- completely shifted now that we’re in pandemic-land. I randomly reached for the “Harry Potter” series (full disclosure, I’ve never finished them and don’t know how it ends), am hooked on animal-related shows and fiction-book adaptations on streaming services (currently “Sweet Magnolias”), and am finding myself trying as hard as I can to ignore channels like MSNBC that I used to have muted in the background through much of the day. But hey, life on the light-hearted side is necessary, too.
Natalie: Reading the news or checking social media can be a bit scary right now. To find peace and self-reflection, I have been taking time to check out from the online world. In moments where I would be looking at my phone or computer, I have been journaling, reading, or meditating. I have also set daily reminders to myself that everything gets better. I think it is very easy to feel a sense of negativity during this time, but we are all so strong and powerful.
That being said, it is still healthy and valid to feel that negativity and fear. We are living in unprecedented times and those feelings are only natural, but it is all about balance. Typically, whenever I start to feel uneasy, I put those feelings aside for a moment when I can properly accept them. Then, when I am journaling or meditating, I use those feelings to fuel my self-reflection in a healthy way.
I have also found peace in knowing that this global pandemic has brought us together. My community has been so supportive of our heroes, small businesses, and people on the front line. It is amazing to see the small beauties that come from disaster.
What self-care tools have been helpful during this time?
Natalie: My most valuable self-care tool has always been journaling. I let the words pour out onto paper, even if they don’t make sense! I try to write before bed every night, occasionally during the day as well. Recently, I have also been carrying a small notepad with me to remind myself of small ideas or journal entries I come across. Likewise, if I am feeling a particular emotion, I write it down in the small notepad to digest later.
Another great tool is meditation. Since quarantine, I have been following a lot of guided meditations on YouTube. I like guided meditations because there are a lot of options for timing and situation. Even if I only have 1 minute to spare, I try to fill it with some positivity through meditation.
This last self-care tool might sound a little crazy…but I promise you it has been very helpful! I like to express myself through clothes and accessories. However, since quarantine, I have been strictly wearing pajamas, lounge wear, and athletic clothes. Picking out my outfits has always been one of my favorite activities during my day. To keep up with that routine, I enjoy putting on outfits even if I have nowhere to go! I know it sounds silly, but it is great to have those few moments to be creative and carefree.
Jessica: Throughout the past few years, I’ve done quite a bit of work to find what mind / body practices work for me. During high energy and periods of time where my nervous system might be a bit out of whack (example, during a global pandemic), I’m extra conscious about making time for each of them to fit into my day or week.
I have some similarities to Natalie here. My preferences tend towards making sure that I get in a good workout at least once per day, journaling at least once per day, meditating frequently, spending time reading my “Bible,” and really focusing on connecting with good friends and family whenever possible.. Simply bringing light and brightness into my day where ever I can.
Also, whenever possible, I do shut down all blue screens by 8pm. This really seems to help me get a good night’s sleep, which really tends to brighten my overall mood.
What do you want your future self to remember?
Jessica: I actually love this question because I’ve oddly been noticing myself grieving leaving COVID-world in some odd way. Of course I wish this pandemic wasn’t happening, but the good that’s come out of it is difficult to miss, too.
Mother Earth is getting a re-fresh, families are spending more time together than ever, and many people are taking a moment to slow down, handle their demons, and re-focusing their lives. Again, while I absolutely wish this never had to happen, I hope that I take from this time how beneficial it can be to take a step out of our daily lives to re-new.
I was talking to a friend that lives in the south of France the other day and she was saying that, while people are listening to the “rules” where she lives, no one is freaking out because it’s pretty commonplace for places to close for a month or two throughout the year. While we’re not structured to do that (someone’s gotta’ pay those bills), I’m learning that maybe there’s something to taking a little extra time away. I hope that learning continues for years to come.
Natalie: I really want my future self to remember how strong and capable I was during this time. Despite all of the changes, everything has worked out. I have had to process a lot of different emotions and I am proud of myself for remaining strong and proud. Despite the fear, there is also beauty in resilience.
More than anything, I also want to remember to live in the moment. The sudden changes that came along with Covid-19 have taught me a lot about being adaptable. After everything settles, I want to remember to cherish the little things and live through life’s daily moments. So many beautiful changes have happened because of the pandemic and I want to remember those forever.
Together, we are strong!
These times are difficult, but together, we have found strength and peace. This online community is a space to grow, change, and become the person you want to be. Covid-19 has presented us with many challenges, but those challenges only make us stronger! We hope that these answers have inspired you to reflect on your own experiences and strength.
If you are interested in continuing the interview, here are the questions that we answered. These would make a great journal entry or guided conversation. Consider answering the questions in a journal or talking through these with a friend or family member!
- What has been the most difficult challenge during quarantine?
- Where have you found reminders of joy and happiness?
- How have you found peace or self-reflection?
- What self-care tools have been helpful during this time?
- What do you want your future self to remember?
Create a great life!