the quarantine diaries: day 22 // a palm sunday

“therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

MARK 10:9


Palm Sunday.

It’s wild to think about perhaps the “Lent-iest Lent” we’ve ever had…

Government mandates that we stay home, stay inside.For many (myself included), it’s been a refreshing opportunity to slow down…to reflect, to turn inward… which has been…difficult, revealing, frustrating, revolutionary, rejuvenating, and eye-opening…

And as I think about all the pockets of joy that exist in the liturgy before holy week, a rollercoaster of grief, change, transformation & ultimately resurrection, I think about this verse, and where we are. Where we physically are.

We’re separated from family and friends.Easter is not cancelled, but the “normal” day, which we’ve come to expect and anticipate through the years, the day of joy and brass band, triumphant hymns, glowing pastels, flowers, flowing dresses and kids running around after eggs on a lawn will (fortunately, for the health and sake of others) not be as it was in past years.

But this is a lovely reminder, a bold statement of solidarity— that the Church, (with a capital C), the nation of fierce love and faith and joy embodied by a people that can’t be fit (6ft apart or otherwise) simply into walls or defined by the physical presence of altars, pews, & kneelers, c a n n o t be broken by physical distance.Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate, worldwide pandemic or otherwise.

Watching a sermon from my home church’s online service today, this bit stood out to me: “Life isn’t happening to us. It’s happening FOR us.”
The lens through which we view everything is so important. Using this time as opportunities to be and share love with others, to grow & connect with others is something I feel like we don’t have enough of.

What time like the present?

There’s a palm on my door today, an open spot in my DMs, and a virtual hug here for you.

Stay safe friends ♥️🌿♥️


the quarantine diaries: day 7 re-framing "social distancing"

Ever since COVID-19 hijacked the news cycle, our lives, and our daily conversations (is it novelty? Is it a giant, shared relief that we all have this collective, deeply felt human struggle now…?), the words “social distancing” , “self-isolation”, and “self-quarantine” (chiefly “social distance” and “quarantine”) have been thrown about, splattered among headlines, and prescribed by the experts. It was a very real concern, the way to flatten the curve, the surest way to a quick return to normalcy.

And so we throw the words around in our Instagram posts, our daily fitness live-streams, our virtual family reunions, perhaps unaware of the weight they carry. I saw some others point this out, though, and wanted to look at it myself.

“Social-ness”, is intrinsic to being human.
Merriam Webster has the word tied to our institutions, our society, and our ability to be in relationship with others:

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There is scant, if at all, mention of space. Of distance.
Rather, it’s about welfare, relationship, organization… mutual benefit, even. In times like these, as we watch the workforce crumble, our institutions come to a screeching halt, our lives uprooted, and our capacity for solitude stretched and tested– it’s these things that remain paramount: welfare, relationship, organization, & mutual benefit.

I came across 3 alternatives, 3 suggested replacements for the term “social distancing” (which has, seemingly invaded our cultural lexicon and shot to the top of Google searches overnight), and hope that we can use them to more accurately label our situation and what we hope to achieve; that is, to cling to that relationship and caring and interaction and mutual benefit that is so distinctly human, if only from a distance:

Physical distancing: Straightforward and literal. Physical knocks out the societal ramification and narrows it down to your kinetic sphere– your body, where it’s placed, in comparison to others. The CDC recommends six feet of distance between you and someone else.

Holy space: Encroaching into theological soothing territory. My campus minister held a virtual service today, where she talked about how it’s wild that this pandemic and all of its massive changes are happening during the season of Lent…how it’s a time of “holy pause”, and that “…if you haven’t chosen a lenten discipline, that’s okay because maybe it’s been thrust upon you” [lol]. How it’s a time of “fasting from being strong… at time of vulnerability and tenderness” and a time of “softness for the soul” as we “fast from anxiety…with radical trust in Jesus Christ, with abundance of the heart rather than the scarcity of the things.”

And then, there’s my personal favorite as of now:

Distant socializing: Again, emphasis on physical distance. We. Are. So. Fortunate to have all of this technology that enables us to get face time with our friends and relatives. I was on a FaceTime not so long ago with one of my friends and…I could just feel my mood improve, and my anxiety kind of dull to a low hum. ^___^

Staying connected is everything right now, and I hope these alternatives are something we can sub out for what the media has fed us ✌️



hello, march– [in like a lion indeed]

I am consistently amazed by the pace of life
How quickly things change, in what seems like inch increments.
I feel like I start these posts the same way buuuut that’s just how it be sometimes, I think.

I was telling a friend earlier today that I have been broke for the majority of February and definitely the start of march. And yet, I feel as if I’m not missing much at all. my sustenance consists of friends, work, inspiring words, food I purchased at the start of January that has managed to last until now, projects, good news, hard conversations, and, in some cases, a renewed sense of vigor and willingness to not take the easy way out…

//

I have risen from the dead.
I find myself returning to this drafted post, with a restless & mildly cynical resolve to finish a post of this sort [created on the 2nd day of March before the world fell apart—] because I haven’t written in this space in what feels like ages, and I’d like to get the ball rolling again while I’ve got “all this time” on my hands to seize.  I went on a mission trip earlier this month and halfway through it, got news that our university has cancelled all classes til further notice in April…

I think I’ll just dedicate a separate post to the Corona virus drama…

In the meantime, here’s March so far, happy St. Patrick’s day! [[[[[:

read/reading/re-reading // Big Magic: Creative Living Without Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and I just started reading Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow.

writing // This post. Potentially a Media Law paper. My manifesto. A massive to-do list Who knows.

learning // to hold and sit with a variety of inevitable truths in my head at one time. I am cognizant of the fact that there are only 9~some odd ish weeks in this academic journey of mine… all of those 9 weeks are uncertain.

doing / working on //
deferring my student loans
– meal prep
– mission trip happenings
– painting
– making things out of paper

eating // cumin-herb rice, beans, broccoli, oatmeal, whatever is left on my shelves

drinking // coffee, water, tea, wine, & tears

listening // to a lot of new things. Check it out:
www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDDGjxXjOrU6VIfRV_pBqLkMawhMomJwK

being inspired //  by the artists and creators and helpers around me in this time… people who are refusing to let this weird time get to them and instead make the most of every moment!

laughing // at the fact that I keep getting ads that insist that I download TikTok and how I relentlessly refuse to do so

thinking // about the gravity of this situation. About those affected by all of this. About how I may not be having a graduation. About being quarantined for the next few weeks. About my wellbeing and the adaptations I’ll be making.

trying // to engage in activities that “fill my cup”, that keep me engaged, and keep me going.

hoping // that this too shall pass, that we innovate with love and consideration.

loving // the gentle upswing in the weather!

praying // for healing, for hope, and for all those affected, and all that is happening… honestly rather speechless at this whole thing.

xx

steph

n o v e m b e r .

I think the last time I did one of these, I was just getting back from another country, all bright eyed and bushy-tailed for another academic semester to start.

It’s hard to unpack in a single post just how insane the past couple months have been, on all fronts; plus, this is a “november” themed post. Hmm. We’ll see what happens.

read/reading // I recently finished How To Be Here by Rob Bell and am *almost* finished with Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want by Peter Bregman. And yes, I do heavily recommend both!

writing // essays, resumes, cover letters, exams…

learning // to skip the worries about perfection. To skip the worrying over getting started. To create for me. To create for fun. To explore what fascinates me. To reflect more.

doing / working on //

  • mindfulness! I’m trying this thing where, at the top of my daily to-do list, before I have *ANY* bullet points, I answer the following prompts:
    • “Today, I am thankful for…”
    • “Today, I will focus on…”
    • “Today I will let go of…”
      kind of a nice way to get your mind wrapped around the day, I think.
  • exam finishings
  • wrapping up this semester
  • creative endeavors/new projects
  • apppppplicaaaations
  • FINAL EXAMS ugh

eating // turkey. cranberries. potatoes. all the good stuff ^___^

drinking // teaaaaaaaaa! and occasionally coffee [at strategic times]

listening // to so much wonderful music. The past months have blessed me with *ALL* kinds of lovely introductions to new things, new bops, new talent… you name it. It’s a lovely landscape out there:

being inspired // by the creatives around me!!! HOLY CRAP I know so many talented people, [a few of whom have a spot in the playlist above, so check em out!]

laughing // at the latest Twitter memes! I’m not often on Twitter…but when I am! I do forget how much I appreciate the witty interplay of text with image but also primarily text as it stands alone– being able to convey a feeling or an experience in 140 characters is kind of impressive.

thinking // about how I’m going to need to balance my time in the next couple of days– between extreme productivity, self care, physical activity, rest, and bursts of fun and novelty. I’m also thinking about how I’d like to do another YearCompass before the year is out! Apparently, the version for 2019 to segue into 2020 is out, and I’d recommend it to anyone.  A really great way to look back on the year, reflect, vent on paper, and then gradually say “goodbye” to the year.

trying // new things! New music, new workouts, new mindsets, creative techniques, and trying to be bolder and more sure with my words. ❤

hoping // for some more downtime in the coming weeks. The semester is almost over, and with that, I anticipate more time for reflection, discernment, and slowing down. I want a successful re-boot before spring starts up.

loving // the people around me, their blessed presence, and the time I get to spend with them!! Never underestimate the value, joy, and blessing of a good TRIBE and FLOCK ❤❤❤

praying // for my friends. For my family. For those who are in transition right now. For those who are going through a tough time. For those who are having trouble seeing past the darkness. For those who feel unworthy, under-appreciated, and unloved. For those who are working towards their goals. For good health, patience, and safety as I embark on these last weeks ahead, for patience. For those watching, for motivation, for a renewed sense of purpose in all I undertake. For tact! For resilience! For peace and a heart full of gratitude for all that’s been given to me.

xx

steph

so much time.

Across from me
Across new wood, new toppings, new glass

Across from a chic, boho backsplash that has since replaced
the outrageously tacky neon, cotton candy wall
plagued with stickers
of small Anime character children bent over various items of sports equipment and farm animals

Is a reflection of myself
Serving up my very berry and caramel latte
talking with me about back to school through a bit of nervousness
And as I do my absolute best to remember
the name that goes with the face that first saw me
the day after I got home from wandering outside of everything I’ve ever known

I think

I think about how my very shoes stood
where yours are now
Nothing is figured out

They tell you you have to choose
A college, your future

You’re so much cooler than me
than I was at 15

Your hair is short and edgy
and you have one of those earrings that looks like leaves,
making it look like part of your ear is metal

You have been lifted from the curse of braces

and you glow
you GLOW!

offering a “welcome!” to everyone who walks through that too-heavy door.

And I want to reach right through that sneeze guard
and give you a hug because I know

You’ll get it.
Oh, you’ll get it.
You have so much time.
I hope you never lose your shine.

And as I feel like getting up and maybe reassuring you
A group of high school boys come through the door
awkwardly making themselves known
with lame finger-guns and hat flips

and all I can do is roll my eyes and smile

You’ll get it.
Oh, you’ll get it.

You have

so

             much

                                time.

xx

imposter.

It feels fake.

It’s funny— I just watched the respective parts of the Tati/James Charles stuff and it left me mentally and emotionally exhausted on their behalf.

And I just got to thinking about loyalty, respect, reputations, expectations, kindness, etc.

More importantly I got to thinking about what I want for myself in all of that.

I was lucky to have left my phone at home all of yesterday while I enjoyed Mother’s Day with my favourite people. There was a lot of clarity, heightened sensation, and just an overall sense of calm I hadn’t felt in a while.

Stark contrast with this morning, which featured me basking over my feed of my personal grids, featuring highlights and moments I’ve captured since the fall and beyond.

I look at past photos centralized around scapes, food, people and animals

And compare what was, with what seems to be, and what is

And it makes me disappointed.

To know that I felt like I was compensating

For not “being enough”

For not “offering enough”

For not “having enough value to pursue”

For not being the sweet end of some transactional deal and feeling a pressure to be “okay” with transgressions towards me that I know will probably just repeat themselves down the line, toward someone else.

And so my posts, I feel, have gravitated towards myself, my appearance, etc.

Vain, self-centered, overfiltered, disgusting. You can’t win.

Part of it, I tell myself, is that I went so long neglecting myself for others, and only now am I emerging from behind the camera.

Part of it, I partially want to admit, is part of an unabashed, grand, flex-scheme, like something out of Legally Blonde.

Part of it, I inwardly fear, is that I have taken on a new obsession with a desire to “prove myself” [something I very clearly do not have to do but feel like defaulting to anyways].

But all of it—I know—is all wrapped up in a burning desire to move forward, full force, full speed ahead.

I feel it tug on my conscience every day.

Why, oh why, am I so wrapped up in a mess of square by squares that do nothing but enable FOMO, provoke comparison, and steal joy, all wrapped in hits of serotonin and a need to feel seen?

Great question.

It’s social media not antisocial media.

And yet, sometimes I feel like it’s nothing but the latter.

…But.

When I re-examine, once I’ve dropped my temporary, overt pessimism, I see a host of memories, a collage of moments so near as dear to me that having them all in one place to peruse through from time to time fills me with so much love for the things and people and memories I’ve been able to accumulate in my time here, none of which are forced into an aesthetic “theme”— rather, raging with vibrancy and color, to mirror how I perceive them.

And I want to hold on to that.

But the other thoughts loom, still.

I guess it’s just a matter of finding a balance of the two.

groundhog day

I met my husband onstage

through a series of nostalgic bops

that, with each bass note,

vibrated my entire being.

closure included a mad dash to the metro

abundant with fangirling and complaining that my feet hurt.

Mass confusion ensued–

which trains were leaving when?

an even bigger confusion–why was the train *still* sitting still after 15 minutes?

Sometimes the universe surprises.

I laughed aloud

Unable to reach the top bar on the train, vertically challenged.

laughter continued with each lurch

suddenly–making me lose my balance

falling backwards onto my friends.

You and your friend sat quietly

observing the spectacle

eyes crinkled and brilliant smile

pointed in my direction

like your long, outstretched legs.

One glance at the floor revealed the most intricate cowboy boots I think I’ve ever seen.

light-hearted banter

best bars in the area

reciprocated all too well.

It couldn’t have been

more than 10 minutes

but in that time

I saw the approach of our final stop.

I wondered:

“Will I regret this?

walking off another face,

a mere blip in another’s existence?

Funny thing-

I felt it come from within:

“of course you will. What is there to lose?”

The lunar eclipse is in full swing

And the wind is bitterly cold

as I fight to keep my keyboard alive

with wit and spontaneity far too long on sabbatical.

I wake up

at an ungodly hour

for coffee that turns into breakfast

frozen hands

a stroll along the wine aisle

as Shakespeare dominates the conversation.

Before departing I stood on steps that made us even.

Something out of a scene of an 80’s movie in New York.

Just even enough.

// forcing habit

It’s been a week!

I guess I can write this now!

So. In my earlier post about saying no to things so you can say yes later and whatnot I referenced a few things I was doing to kind of get myself back on track and pave a smooth way for the semester.

And I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot during that process.

So! A recap!

This week, I:

Said “no” to coffee, and “yes” to water and tea.*
I woke up with a cup/glass/or water bottle every morning this week, because I want to embrace the positive effects a hefty dose of water can have on your metabolism in the mornings.

Some observations, though:

  • It kinda threw off my body’s schedule LOL
  • I’ve noticed a small difference in my ability to focus and in the quality of my skin. [I had headshots taken yesterday so this has been a mild blessing!]
  • It has made me aware how little I drink water now. Because I start my day with it, and because it seems to be a memorable part of my mornings now, I think about it more. And I also seem to have a subconscious thought of “oh, welp! That’s your water for the day!” So I’m hoping to override that.
  • I did break my non-coffee regimen 2 times this week though [1.5 if you wanna get technical about chai tea lattes]. I will say though! These “breaks” were backed with purpose–
    • one “coffee” event was spent getting through a difficult, yet rewarding as hell conversation
    • the other was a purposeful consumption of an espresso iced coffee to power through a video editing session. I totally got in my “flow” state and absolutely reached hyperfocus as a result.
    • [EDIT: annnnnnd whoops technically I guess I also had a break today I totally forgot about–I ordered a Matcha latte at work today because I’d never had one before and I wanted to see if I’d like it. Does that count? LOL]
  • I guess the biggest thing for me with regards to the coffee is that I wanted to consume it more mindfully, and more purposefully, rather than just having it be my “given” for the day. And on that front, I think I succeeded. [:

I said “no” to notifications, and “yes” to waking up more mindfully.
I don’t think I really realized how much my mind raced in the morning until the end of last semester. Over winter break there wasn’t quite as many commitments, so I was able to wake up with notifications and skip the mind racing, *but* I was then able to fall into the trap of endlessmindlessscrolling (I didn’t have a class to race off to, so of course I was able to just sit and absorb. At least, I told myself I could). So. By keeping airplane on all night, I knew for a fact that nothing would be able to get through.

Some notes though:

  • I did violate my rule once this week because we were expected to get a ton of snow, and, let’s be real, I didn’t want to miss the university closure texts.
  • This habit MAJORLY helped in that it gave me a clear mind for the morning to breeze through my other tasks, such as drinking water, making myself a smol breakfast, and getting ready for the day [I should time myself on all those things, actually, just to see how long they *actually* take and now how exacerbated they are when interrupted with screen time! :D]
  • It also just gave me a nice…buffer? I guess? A little extra time between being asleep and immediately “on” and awake.
  • I’m able to more accurately process my mornings!! I am here, writing this post because I *remember* my mornings– not just as a rushed blur of mundane, but as a little more *mindful*! That’s exciting!

Said “no” to “checking in” and working right away, yes to observing my breathing and bringing back my wandering thoughts.
I was probably worried the most about this one.  Mediation, I knew going into this, was going to be the one I was most averse to for this week. I didn’t do that well in terms of setting aside a solid 5 minutes to watch my breathing. Rather, I made some observations:

  • I traded sitting cross-legged on my floor or on my bed for walks to work without headphones.
  • I declined music in the shower, opting instead for a 5 min timer and just embraced the fact that my mind was going to wander and made an effort to enjoy it.
  • I did a few brain dumps. On paper. For me, this is highly meditative for some reason.  I started with a blank sheet of paper and by the end of 10 mins or so, I had built a complete list of thoughts and notes and “to-do”s and by the end my head just felt SO MUCH BETTER. Chris Bailey quotes a lot, “your brain is for having thoughts, not holding thoughts.” That’s what the meditative brain-dumps are for [;

There were a few other things I did pretty consistently this week that I hadn’t intentionally set out to do,  though, and they surprised me!

I made my bed every morning.
Anyone who has seen my room knows I’m pretty scattered. But I’m actually super proud of the way I’ve been able to keep it tidy over the past week. Among my morning hustle, I try to make my bed look made just so I have a good thing to come home to. But also because it’s hard to lay out clothes and spread out what I need for the day on a mangled up tangled ball of blankets :B

I made myself breakfast every morning. 
The routine as of late? Oatmeal + egg and cheese. I whip up the oatmeal [it’s instant, we’re getting there LOL], and then make an egg with shredded cheddar to get that protein in. I cannot TELL you how many times I went last semester [especially towards the end there!] without eating a single thing in the morning. [Well, I did have a single thing– and it was coffee. #yikes] If I was running late, I opted for something more portable [I think that only happened once this week] like a granola bar of piece of fruit. Otherwise, I carved out time for breakfast. And, on super late nights like last night, I did the prep work in the evening so I could be prepared and get the extra sleep in the morning. [I know it all probably works out to be even– the time I spent prepping was taking away from my sleep time, but in my head this makes sense and it *feels* like I get to sleep more, LOL].

I did all of the above with the help of a “Gmorning” checklist! 
I love lists. I don’t know where I would be without them. What started as a way for me not to lose track of all I had to do in the morning turned into a daily event. I would take a piece of paper, write out my tasks for the morning, and write something encouraging on the top of it. The cherry on top? Leaving Lin Manuel Miranda’s book, “Gmorning, Gnight!” right on top of the list so I could flip it open to a random page to be inspired. I think positive self-talk, especially early in the morning, is super underrated. I’m not quite to the point of confessing love for myself in the mirror yet LOL, but I am finding that reading just a blurb of something positive each morning has a really nice effect on the day.

The crazy thing? There were points this week where I felt myself pushing back on all of this. Where I wondered, what’s the point?  Heck, today I saw someone reference today as “Ditch All Your New Year’s Resolutions Day,” as if we’re supposed to just up and lose motivation on the 15th of the first month of the year.

But the funny thing about routines and habits– you come to expect them. You come to think about them during the rest of the day, and even look forward to them. So much so that when you feel like you’re starting to veer off the tracks, you seek solace in them again. And it’s like come on we just spent so much time getting this together. Why stop now?

…And when you see that they’re starting to work, starting to pull you up and help you rise, you’re inclined to give them another chance every time the sun rises. [:

What about you guys? What 2019 energies are you keeping up with?

xx

 

brilliance.

They say

“there’s no light without darkness”

But sometimes

it takes a while 

for the two to coexist.

Sometimes it takes a while

to get up from the table

the bed

the floor

And make your way over

to your light switch

and flip it

subsequently flipping your life upside down 

in the most pleasurable,

surprising way imaginable

they don’t tell you

about the moment

they don’t tell you

about the vast,

overwhelming brilliance

the super power that enables you to see for miles

over hills of bullshit

through valleys of ego

under waters of clarity

beyond shadows of doubt

all to find

you know you’re still you

you were you when you danced

you were you when you sat in the dark

you were you when you emerged

among fraudulent, hollow stagnation

glowing and triumphant.

xx

—-

I read something the other day [what else is new LOL].

Something along the lines of “it’s easy to be over it when it’s distant. When you don’t have to look at it. It’s a whole ‘nother story when it’s closer. When you stare right at it.”

If 2018 was the whirlwind of a year of escapism, 2019 is the year of walking right up to it. The difficult. The challenging. Taking it out for a drink, and staring it down.

I suppose it’s clichee but it’s *INCREDIBLE* to be able to look around, and think, and feel, and comb through your heart, and scrutinize your routine, and investigate habit, and delight in breadcrumbs that you, so strategically and caring, scattered for yourself and yourself alone…and finally arrive at a loaded, liberating, completely uninhibited exhale that says: “LOL look how far this has come!