As life transitions back to normal I am still trying to keep a slow pace. It’s against my norm to check in with myself before overcommitting to plans and stuffing my calendar, but due to the ever present virus and the much needed downtime (that I tried to make the best of) I don’t want to go back to doing too much too quickly.
Meeting up with friends in parks and exploring local wonders is something I am clinging to, regardless of the phase. After a long weekend getaway in Alexandria Bay I came back to WNY with warmer weather and a welcomed photo shoot with Lindsey, a great friend and the genius behind Lindsey Fetterhoff Photography
I felt a little more like a curvy JCrew model in Italy and a lot less like a Lockport resident that’s been in quarantine for 3 months when we took these pictures. Lindsey and I have worked and traveled together before, but seeing her in action behind the camera was absolutely wonderful. She has a talent for making people comfortable, assisting with posing and cracking jokes behind the scenes. I love the shots where I am genuinely laughing and enjoying life, you don’t capture those moments in selfies.
My brother’s girlfriend Courtney gave me this awesome “Sunshine White Wine” hat for Christmas. I typically display it like a piece of artwork, hanging on the wall next to my bed, but it made a great photo prop as well.
With everything going on health-wise in the world Lindsey respected my distance, but didn’t compromise a great shot. She talked to me about session lengths with clients that same week ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours! Her ability to adapt and personalize the photography experience truly differentiates her services.
I wouldn’t hesitate to work with Lindsey again for an OOTD shoot, Christmas card or a LinkedIn headshot. My photo reveal was very well received on social media, it really reaffirmed my decision to work with her. Can you think of a better compliment than someone saying “These pictures captured your wonderful personality and soul!!”? My iPhone 6 Valencia filter instagram photos never had the same impact. Think about scheduling your own session with Lindsey before her dates fill up!
The soonest I will be returning to work in the office is September 9th, just after my 26th birthday. I had a corona coaster of emotions when I read the email about coming back… I’ve adjusted well to working from home. I love not wasting money on gas and Bruce (my cat) is a pretty good colleague, but even after more than 2 months of adjusting to this parallel universe I still miss consistent human interaction and a reason to wear a cute outfit in public. I remember how far away June seemed when I was sent home from work in March, my birthday as a milestone for returning did not even seem like a possibility. I keep thinking, “what will life be like when I want to celebrate over labor day weekend this year?”
It’s become semi-normal to see crowds of people a few feet apart in masks at ice cream stands and in grocery stores. I get nervous and hold my breath when passing others on the sidewalk or the walking path in town. I can’t imagine dancing in a sea of strangers at a concert or going to a nightclub the way I once did. We’ve finally entered phase 1 in Niagara and Erie County which is progress, but it’s weird to think of the last 2+ months as 0. Just survival mode.
My brother, dad and I built a pallet bed garden box that sits in my yard outside my bedroom window at my apartment. I filled the small outside boxes with dahlias and inside there’s the beginning of romaine lettuce, zucchini, cucumber and tomato plants. I never prioritized having a garden previously; my summers were always filled with farmers markets, festivals, barbecues, camping and porch sitting at someone else’s house. Now that I have surplus of downtime in my own place I have been doing things differently and finding joy where I wasn’t previously looking.
I’m going on walks almost every day or meeting up with a few people to line dance in parking lots because I feel better about myself and life in general when I exercise. I tested the limits of my wifi and set up my office on a picnic blanket outside, making me so grateful that I even have that option. I wrote letters on fancy stationary to my sister and my grandparents and sent them via snail mail, just because I wanted to. I still really miss my life PC (pre-corona), but this experience is continuously opening my eyes to nature and the beauty in my backyard. I went on a hike at Whirlpool gorge last Saturday and I have a weekend trip booked for Alexandria Bay next month. I’ve heard wonderful things about the 1000 islands and am trying to focus all of my energy on having something to look forward to.
I’ve lost 30 pounds since new year’s, a side effect of focusing on bettering myself. This intentional lifestyle change has made me happier overall. It’s a funny feeling to celebrate this success without the comments and feedback from other people, since I don’t see very many. At first I was bothered by it because I’ve worked hard to better myself and enjoy compliments/gold stars as much as the next person, but at the end of the day it’s not other peoples’ feedback that will hold me accountable, it really only matters how I feel about these changes and why I made them. So amidst the chaos and confusion, on most days I feel really good. I don’t think you can ask for much more amidst a global pandemic.
What originally felt like a life lesson in focusing on what really matters now feels like a bad dream without clear purpose. It’s been over a month in this parallel universe and in the wise words of Taylor Swift “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I never asked to be a part of”.
I’m struggling to write in my gratitude journal, which feels wrong because at least I’m not sick, but it doesn’t feel right either. When the list of normal things you miss is so much longer than the list of blessings that you are forcing yourself to churn on to paper, it just feels surreal. I am longing for the days when I took gym classes with strangers, once worried about what they might think of me, now wishing they were there to judge me. I miss going out to lunch at a restaurant, even when my meal was incorrect or the service was poor, because at least someone else made it for me. My anxiety has always made going on dates a special form of torture, but I would go as far as to say that I miss having the ability to make myself sick while getting to know someone new, outside of the comfort of my own home.
One of my most recent slightly irrational frustrations has to be with movie story-lines where girls hang out with their friends in cute bistros and kiss random boys when they are out on the town. Watching fictional realities on screen that can’t possibly be true isn’t a recent development, but now we can’t even successfully pretend to be a part of these stories because we are amidst a pandemic! And there is no way those people are 6 feet away from each other!!!
This wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I said I wanted to leave the last decade behind on New Year’s. I’m mourning the loss of trips and experiences, even those I didn’t have planned yet. Just working and passing time. I’m feeling smothered by the need to stay in one place and accept things as they are. Before this pandemic my therapist had told me to remember no person can be an island, I wish I didn’t have the life experience to reaffirm that statement as true.
But just like many other people, I’m making the new normal work. I’m learning to crochet. I’m ordering my groceries for pick-up. I’m talking to my friends on Zoom with a full face of make up and new dress on because I’ll take any excuse. I’m going for long walks. I’m accepting that my screen time is up 12%, watching virtually as we all suffer together while apart. I’m rearranging all the furniture in my apartment, hoping the change in perspective can accompany a change in reality.