Growing Together

WHAT DAY IS IT TODAY? Like any other ordinary week, I went grocery shopping at TJ’s after work on a Friday evening. What seemed like an ordinary evening wasn’t so ordinary after all. As I entered the store, my mouth dropped. The shelves were all cleared off as nothing remained- no fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, frozen food, nothing left… People grabbed anything they could find and placed it in their shopping carts to check out. I recalled feeling shocked as questions flooded my mind, “What is going on, is an apocalypse coming? Will this be permanent?”

It’s hard to fathom, but it has already been a month since I was notified that we had to work from home and limit ourselves from going out unless it’s essential. To this day, I still find myself pondering if this is a long nightmare that I have yet to wake up from. No, it’s reality because we are reminded daily that this global pandemic is REAL, and has impacted so many people in ways that are beyond one’s imagination- its fatality, the economy/stocks going down rapidly, unemployment rates increasing, mental health declining, etc. 

In this unprecedented time, it’s difficult envisioning what the future looks like. As a result, we may turn towards the media for comfort and information. For the better, it may help us be more aware of the situation, but for the worse it can cause us to be more rooted in fear rather than faith and love. It can be easy to dwell on the uncertainty, but beyond the ambiguity, there is hope. Life as we once knew won’t ever be the same as before, but a time like this, we all long for Grace + Love + Support. We may ask how we could go about receiving and giving, but here are some suggestions that personally helped me to understand the situation and how I could offer that support + love to myself and others.

UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT SITUATION The days do seem to blend in lately as my level of motivation and creativity come in waves. There are days where I feel very upbeat and there are days where I feel completely idle. However, I recently attended a professional workshop that really helped put a lot of things into perspective. One of the hosts is a psychologist and she mentioned that we are all experiencing something very “traumatic.” She noted that when we are scared, the response will first start in our amygdala and then react in our defense: Fight or flight (Smithsonian, 2017). Because we all experience and cope/react with fear differently, it’s so crucial to acknowledge, embrace, and empathize how we feel as we do so for others as well. To fight this fear, I chose to learn more about it, and try to turn towards credible/valid information. Here are some resources I found to be extremely helpful:

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I acknowledge that productivity will look very different this season and it’s OK. It’s important to accept and embrace the change to keep powering through- keeping in mind that we should be rooted in Facts + Love NOT Fear. Here are some of the podcasts/readings that inspired me to keep going:

BEING KIND There are many ways to be kind, but the first person you need to be kind to is YOURSELF. I admit, there are days where I am very hard on myself for being idle or not doing enough, but in the end, it’s so crucial that we are healthy emotionally, mentally, and physically before we can intentionally help others. I usually start out my day with a prayer, do some yoga, and set one goal/intention to attain by the end of the day. In the end, I realize that it’s more essential to focus on the quality of work rather than the quantity. As my work day ends, I would explore activities that I would not normally have time for:

  • Baking, cooking International Dishes
  • Make some music: Playing guitar, the ukulele, sing
  • Relearn or Pick up a language again: Install Memrise or Dualingo
  • Draw & Paint
  • Explore Mother Nature: If your state allows you to, resort to nature walks, hiking or fishing while maintaining appropriate social distance.
  • Pray | Meditate | Do Yoga. One of my favorite sessions is done by Jessica Richburg, her sessions are for all levels. 
  • Keep in touch and check-in with your family and loved ones via phone call, chat or Zoom
  • Read inspirational books. Here are some of my favorite women authors: Luong Ung, Cleo Wade, Mother Teresa, Malala Yousafazai, Michelle Obama
  • Watch Cultural Movies/Series, here are some of my favorites: Unorthodox, First They Killed my Father, I Lost my Body, Terrace House, Itaewon Class 
  • Record Progress. Whether it be through journaling, blogging or Instagram, I often try to take note of what I do so that it reminds me of my daily accomplishments and resiliency. 

GIVING BACK After I learned more about our current situation, I was able to utilize that knowledge to stay safe and take care of my well-being more effectively. Now that they are checked off, my goal is to give back to my community as much as I can. There are countless ways to support your community but here are some that you can check out/support:

  •  FRONTLINE FOODS: “Save your local restaurants who have been impacted by shelter-in-place orders, while supporting those doing battle on the frontlines. Frontline Foods is a grassroots organization that raises money from the community to pay local restaurants to prepare meals for the heroes responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Some of my friends and family have started sewing face masks and suits for their local hospitals. If you can’t sew like myself, here are some ways you can get involved: HOW TO HELP. There are many local hospitals in need of supplies, and my cousin has been working hard to supply those needs for NWA local hospitals. If you’d like to donate, please refer here: HOSPITAL FRONTLINE WORKERS (NWA).
  • REFUGEES: Refugees are also in need during this time, and if this is something you’re interested in helping with, contact your local refugee sites to donate food. There are many options to do it including food/groceries, no contact drop off 

 

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Morgan Harper Nichols 

 

Perhaps life won’t be the same as before, but nonetheless, positive things can derive from this experience. Rather than choosing to live in fear, we choose to rise and become even stronger as a community filled with support + love. By choosing to do so, we turn towards credible sources to learn facts so that we are aware of the situation. We use that information to make wise/smart decisions to take good care of our physical, mental and emotional well-being. From there, we give ourselves the grace we deserve and give back to our community.

Change is inevitable and has visit this season. My favorite author & poet, Morgan Harper Nichols noted that our presence matters so much even in this chapter of change. There are times where we feel as if we’re not productive enough or that we don’t have it all together, but that’s OK. Embracing the changes and accepting them with grace is the essential key to growth. So even in this period of uncertainty, we can still grow TOGETHER and be filled with LOVE + SUPPORT knowing that WE ARE NOT ALONE. 

With Love,

 Ai 

 

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