Personal: Reflections on Life in the Age of COVID-19 – Part 3

It was over one year ago that news broke about an uncontrollable disease in China (January 2020). Little did we know then, right? Exactly one year ago (February 17th, 2020), I received a text from my dad with news about the COVID-19 outbreak in Codogno, Italy, and soon after that, news that my relatives who live in this small town tested positive. My uncle began a 40-day stay in hospital. So much was unknown at the time, and I spent days (and days and days) glued to the news and my phone.

By the time March arrived, COVID-19 was heavily present in Canada, and on March 17th, life changed locally. The university closed a few weeks before the end of term, and chaos ensued while my team and I sorted out new procedures. I wrote my first COVID-19 reflection post in April and a part 2 update in August. Now, as we near the one-year mark of when the pandemic hit Canada, I’d like to take another moment to reflect.

WORK

As you may remember, I started my new position at a new university in July. The time has flown! I have been so happy with the work that I’ve been doing and with the collaborative projects I’ve had with my new colleagues. I continue to feel very fortunate for the work that I do and the contributions I can make at the individual level with students and colleagues and at a group level with my university community and national organizations. My work keeps my brain very active! I am lucky. I find my work so fulfilling, and I go to work (down the hall to my office) happy every day.

While, yes, I’ve been very positive about my new job, there have been some dull days, too. Even though I had a successful first term of teaching virtually when everything was new (course, unit, department, university), by December, I was more than ready for a break. Since I spend most of my days on Zoom, I, like many of you, I’m sure, was so tired of the routine of logging on to my computer every day and sitting in front of a camera. Post-Christmas break, I was more energized to start the new term, to meet new students, and to make progress on my research. Things have been moving along at a decent pace, all things considered.

Overall, I have been enjoying my working from home life. I’ve had a fairly set routine from September on, and because I previously spent years during grad school working from home, this new reality hasn’t been such an adjustment in terms of time and workload management. I do miss casual collegial connections in the hallways, chit chatting in the coffee line, and getting involved in live campus events (speakers, art shows, theatre productions, etc.). University campuses are vibrant and energetic places to be and work!

PERSONAL

I miss my friends. I miss dinner parties. I miss lazy brunches. I miss loud family celebrations. I didn’t realize that I missed these things so much until more recently (lockdown life part two + winter blues). Yes, I have connected with friends over Zoom, and I make more phone calls now than ever before, but I miss seeing friends in person and other friends who I don’t connect with as regularly. Some days, I just don’t want to call/talk after a day of being online for work. There haven’t been porch visits and outdoor gatherings as there was in the warmer months, so I miss those opportunities to get caught up. I miss hugs.

I have been spending a lot of time outside this winter. More than ever before, I think. I used to dread walking to work in the snow or constantly watching the winter weather changes and considering how the weather would affect driving conditions. Now, I feel more grateful for the time I can be outside as this time becomes a welcome break during my Zoom-heavy days. I’ve been cross-country skiing with a friend, ice skating at a nearby frozen pond as well as at the charming rink at Kitchener’s Victoria Park, and walking with confidence on snow and ice because of my recent investment in these Icers.

I see the same six people fairly regularly in person. My bubble people, if you will. My beau and I laugh about our big date nights now consist of going to our parents’ houses for meals. Ha ha. It’s always fun, and I’m thankful we have parents who we can still visit with. It is of course still awkward to visit at a distance, avoid the double-kiss greetings (the Italian way), and barely offer a hug, but it’s still good to be with family. (I think they like being with us, too.)

Beyond date nights with our parents, leisure time during evenings and weekends include outdoor activities, a lot of movies and TV shows, cooking, crocheting (I’ve started my blanket), games (Bananagrams!), and puzzles (I’m just about to start a gradient puzzle…wish me luck).

In other personal news, I started French lessons on Zoom with my nephews and niece. We’re just a few weeks into our routine, but it’s been great! I get to see their sweet smiling faces, which makes me so happy! Beyond that, I get to speak French for 30 minutes (I’m taking a full French immersion approach to my instruction), and I get to see them giggle as they’re trying to pronounce words, repeat after me, or understand what I’m saying. They really were amused when I imitated the sound of a bird (un oiseau). Ha ha. So cute! They’ve been in virtual school (and more recently homeschooling) since last February, so I hope our French lesson will be a happy memory for them when they think back to pandemic life.

MENTAL

I was cranky quite regularly in January and February. A lot of things Everything irritated me. I think this was partly because of the pandemic life, but I also think the weather had a huge part to play! I was sad that the sun barely came out. I was tired of winter. I was bored of wearing so many layers to stay warm. I did what I thought was best to get through the month of January (and this month, too): daily walks, activities outside, dinners with my beau, happy light, healthier eating, etc. When February came, I thought I felt instantly better. But I didn’t. I was so darn irritable.

I recently read the article It’s Not Just You. A Lot of Us Are Hitting a Pandemic Wall Right Now and this short piece about coping skills. I found both pieces informative, and each shared good reminders about healthy habits (e.g., eating healthy, getting sleep, having time to unwind).

Now, though, as we approach the end of February, I feel MUCH better. I feel more like myself, and I’m back to being positive about life in general. We’re one month closer to warmer weather! Hooray!

HOW TO HELP

There are so many places that could use our support. The Food Bank remains a good place to send funds now and always. The Region of Waterloo has additional suggestions for ways to help. If you’re not in the region, I encourage you to look at your government’s website to discover organizations in need.

If you’re not able to provide financial support, other acts of kindness go a long way. Kindness, patience, and conversation are always appreciated.

Be well, everyone!

2 Comments

  1. Silvia Del Rosso February 17, 2021

    Thank you for your post. Sharing what most of us are feeling during the pandemic was helpful.Hard to believe we have endured a year of lock downs, wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing etc. Looking forward to better days ahead.

    Reply
    • Jordana February 17, 2021

      Better days MUST be coming! We need things to look forward to, and we have so many celebrations to catch up on, too.

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Silvia Del Rosso Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.