Taking a look back at what will probably be the strangest – and calmest – April of my life. Calm may not be the first word that comes to mind for most during this time of self-isolation.
I’m fortunate enough to have a job that seamlessly moved online, and to be living with my loved ones. Although there were no drastic changes in my life, the switch to working from home and finally having a few extra hours in my day has made a WORLD of difference for my mental health.
I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Whether you’re really going through it right now or not, I’m sending you my love <3
Turning 30 in Google Hangouts
I had 3 birthday cakes and blew out all my candles in a badly organized Google Hangout (sorry Azim, but it’s the thought that counts!). Although we had technical difficulties, and I couldn’t see half of my friends who called in, it was still so nice to have my friends and family there “with me” to celebrate 😊 In a weird way it was kind of the best scenario, because it took all the pressure off planning a party to celebrate such a big milestone.
Don’t be fooled, I was wearing sweatpants:
I’ve been taking advantage of some wonderful virtual performances and classes.
The National Ballet of Canada has been hosting free ballet workout classes and Q&A sessions on IG Live – those workouts are no joke! I attended three classes and loved (and sweated through) every minute.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has also been featuring their musicians in Facebook Live sessions. I love tuning into these because they provide a glimpse into the lives and personalities of these wonderful musicians that I usually see on stage, as part of a whole. Getting the chance to see them on a “one-on-one” basis is a rare treat.
To address the world’s unprecedented and immediate need for access to reading and research materials, the Internet Archive has suspended waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in their lending library by creating a National Emergency Library. I’ve been poking around and opening up books I would usually never gravitate towards. I highly recommend taking advantage of this!
I have totally jumped on the bandwagon with a few quarantine trends. The one I am most proud of by far is my newfound skill for making dalgona coffee. Wow. I LOVE dalgona coffee! I’ll definitely be making this long after quarantine ends. When I have kids and they ask me about my dalgona coffee, I’ll sit them down and tell them about the time when the whole world shut down…
Anyway. Recipes for dalgona coffee are all over the internet (and TikTok ugh), and it’s really simple. Whisk 2 tbsps of instant coffee, 2 tbsps of sugar, and 2 tbsps of water. Pour over milk of choice. That’s it!
I also broke out my fancy coloured pencils and downloaded a couple of colouring sheets. The best one has got to be this beautiful shoe. It’s a free colouring sheet from Manolo Blahnik – part of an initiative called the SMILE project which aims to raise awareness about mental health. Read this lovely article from Vogue, which explains more.
Currently in residence in Bath, Blahnik is maintaining his longstanding practice of drawing every day. “Everything starts with a sketch!” he exclaims via email. “Sketching is the act of me drawing my imagination.”
Speaking of mental health – something that keeps mine in good condition is my dedication to going for a walk every day. Even if it’s raining or chilly, I will still bundle up and go out. This past week, Toronto has been blessed with a few blissfully sunny days 😊
I use this time to listen to podcasts or audiobooks. The past few walks I’ve taken have been to the wicked new albums from Fiona Apple and The Strokes. Instantly transporting me to high school and sweet summers.
Some nice things I’ve seen on my walks:
- Bunnies playing on a neighbour’s lawn
- Wildflowers popping up in the ravine
- A bluejay
- Magnolia trees going from dead bark to beautifully blooming
- A bagpiper in the park
- Kids learning to ride their bikes
- Fearless baby squirrels
Books and shows:
Pre-quarantine I rarely found time to watch shows or read. In April I finished several books and BINGED a couple of shows. It was GREAT!
My book recommendations:
This book had a slow start for me, but after a few chapters I couldn’t put it down. It was such an eye-opening description of what the AIDS pandemic must have felt like in the 80’s. I love this quote from the NYT review by Michael Cunningham:
[Makkai] has borne unblinking witness to history and to a horrific episode already in danger — among Americans, that is — of becoming a horror story out of the past, although more than a million people in this country are still infected with H.I.V.
I hope that won’t make Makkai’s novel sound like obligatory reading for concerned citizens. In fact, it’s an antidote to our general urge to forget what we’d rather not remember, but it’s also — which is more important — an absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis. And who among us believes that, at any point in the near future, we’ll cease living in times of crisis, whatever form they may take?
The Likeness by Tana French
I am very into Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. I listened to The Likeness on Audible – an experience I highly recommend because the narrator’s Irish accent is lovely. The storyline is unique – although at times I was reminded of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (a personal favourite) – and I was truly kept guessing to who the murderer was until the very end. Tana French’s books feel so intimate, and sometimes I have to stop and re-read (or re-listen) to a sentence because it was just perfect. Pigeon-holing her books into the “crime” genre would be a mistake.
My show recommendation was recommended to me by one of my best friends, and I’m so glad I listened to her! I binged both seasons of Sex Education in one week. It was funny, endearing, bizarre, a little sad at times, and the soundtrack was incredible.
A podcast recommendation I have is Unlocking Us by Brené Brown. What’s not to love about Brené? She is so wise and her accent makes me want to book a one-way ticket down south. Each episode of her new podcast is like a therapy session. She reflects on the “universal experiences of being human”. My favourite episode so far was about anxiety, calm, and over/under-functioning. If you know me, or just read this blog, you’ll know I am an over-functioner, and listening to this episode just gave me so many “Yessss that’s my TRUTH” moments. So good!
So those were some of the highlights of this past month! I would love if you shared some of the things you’ve been doing. And I don’t mean baking bread. Even if you’re feeling low-energy, and having trouble getting off your couch, that’s one huno p fine! Please share and reach out. Sending you lots of love xox Thank you for reading!