Lesson #9: Life throws you curveballs

By Courtney Hoffman/Campus Editor/April 22, 2020

On March 13, the Friday before spring break started, I was joking with one of my professors about this whole thing and told her I’d see her in a little over a week. Then on Monday, March 16, I went to six different stores in the nearest town looking for toilet paper, because there were only two rolls left at my parents’ house. I hadn’t been to a store in a while. I didn’t realize the truth behind the memes. I came home empty-handed.

The farther I got in the week, the more tense I became, and the more I grew to dread the next day and the changes it would bring. On March 17, all of the people I was renting a house with near my college campus lost their jobs. On March 19, my great grandmother passed away, and rules against gatherings greater than 10 people meant that only dad was allowed to go to the funeral. Only eight people could attend aside from the priest and funeral director.

Which is to say, spring break kind of sucked! But as much as I’d love to just throw the whole week out as something that Did Not Spark Joy, not even Marie Kondo has that kind of power.

So we breathe, and we process, and we accept the unchangeable parts of life for what they are, and we move on.

I spent a lot of days getting more and more upset while my parents were gone at their essential jobs and I was quarantined at home, completely alone, unable to see my friends or my boyfriend. But there comes a time when you need to realize that ruminating on all of the things you have to be upset about isn’t going to help, and wallowing in your sadness is choosing to remain unhappy. You have to frame things positively instead of dwelling on the negative. You need to find the realistic next best thing, or you’re going to drive yourself crazy.

Yeah, I haven’t seen my boyfriend in a month and I miss him. In an ideal world, we’d be snuggled up on a couch together and finally bingeing through the second season of Altered Carbon. But staying apart is infinitely more important right now. So we video chat through Snapchat with the dumbest filters we can find. We research games that will actually cross-play between his Xbox and my PS4 because, much like the Montagues and the Capulets, I was raised in a PlayStation household, and he is wrong. We find ways to make things better in the current moment, and we talk about what we first want to do when we’re able to see each other again.

Sure, it isn’t easy. Every morning I wake up is a struggle to not buy Animal Crossing. But such are the tribulations of life in quarantine.

I see videos of people singing on their balconies, articles of distilleries stopping production to create hand sanitizer, videos of the whole world stopping for a moment to applaud the healthcare workers that go through more hardship than I’ll ever know, and Facebook posts of people in my community creating cloth masks for each other, then I’m filled with warmth.

It’s… incredibly easy to despair right now. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had a lot of rough days. But more than anything, it’s important to focus on the amazing sense of compassion that has gotten us this far.

I know everything isn’t OK. I am painfully, desperately aware of that fact. But I do know that they will be. We just have to be kind to ourselves and to each other, and one way or another, we’re going to find a way through this.

So do what you all can to look after one another right now. Stay at home if you can, be as safe as possible if you can’t- Look out for yourself too. Balance the need to stay informed with the need to stay sane, and log off for a bit if you need to. Make sure you’re still getting sun, even if it means setting a blanket out in your lawn and having a picnic for one (or use FaceTime for a romantic social distancing picnic for two)! Make it your mission to find as many things to look forward to and as many annoyingly silver linings as possible, because dwelling only on the negative just isn’t sustainable.

Sometimes, life throws you curveballs. It’s your job to put your best foot forward and give yourself the best chance you have to catch it.

Editors Note: Hoffman’s personal blog can be found at https://curiousconsultations.wordpress.com/.

Quarantine Hobbies Could Become Daily Lifestyles

By Veronica Jons/Editor-in-Chief/April 17, 2020

There is always a time in everyone’s life where you just want your space, right? So to many, this quarantine might seem like everyone’s dream, but not for this long! It’s been about five weeks since the announcements that would change students’ lives forever came: No face-to-face classes, no more sports, get off of campus, and most importantly, practice social distancing. News stations for weeks now have been filled with COVID-19 information; what ever happened to good ole’ crime spree coverage? (My guilty pleasure for watching the news). Except there was little-to-no coverage of anything besides the virus on all news stations.

Social media? Forget it. My timeline once filled with sports, friend gatherings, and adventures are now filled with selfies, coronavirus stories, and social distancing complaints. Talk about dry. To top it off, this week it has snowed three times, going from low 30s to highs of 50 within days. It’s not unusual for Iowa, but definitely not ideal. I decided this negativity needed to be put into work! What better time than now to get back onto a hobby you liked but got too busy for? Or that cool thing you always wanted to try, but never had the time or need for? THE TIME IS NOW, PEOPLE!

It was my mission to get everyone around me hooked. My friend Sara, a 2020 senior, would be the perfect place to start. I gave her a bunch of cool and easy recipes to try out, in hopes that her notorious take-out habit would soon become homemade chef skills. My younger cousin who never gets off her phone (or Netflix for that matter) found a new love for board games. I’m talking about an obsession with Uno, Dos, and Monopoly. If you didn’t know how to play poker, gin rummy, or Texas hold ‘em, she’ll teach you—but only after this pandemic is all over.

I was persistent with my grandma to pick up a new way to pass time besides watching TV or reading. After a lot of nagging and several failed attempts, I had succeeded in getting her into not only puzzles, but also making food in her new instant pot. It was definitely time consuming, because figuring out the instant pot took a lot of YouTube tutorials and recipe searching. But, in the end it was worth it. (Helloooo food)! Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I’ll challenge you.

For me it was easy. I did not want to learn a new hobby, I just wanted to find time to continue hobbies I had ditched. My two big free-time pleasures are crocheting and reading. Call me young with an old soul, but they’re my two favorite stress reducers. I have finished three books so far and I’m halfway done with one blanket. I have a few blankets I made in previous years that I had planned on donating to the Hospice Center in Hiawatha. After this pandemic I will add the new blanket I will finish to the pile of donation blankets.

If you think you are bored at home, you don’t have to be. Find something new to do—whether it be painting, coloring, board games, or even gardening once the weather has warmed up, there is something for the whole household to do to pass the time!

How I Strive to Stay Sane During COVID-19

By Derek Hamilton/News Editor/April 14, 2020

I know as well as anyone what a troubling time this can be for many. Things that seemed to only affect certain people with psychological illness such as depression and anxiety are now popping up in our own lives. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia about eight years ago, and since then I have found a medication regimen that really works for me. Still, I have been greatly upset by all this mess.

We have been online learning for weeks now, and I am still adjusting. I find that I sleep all day and do everything else by night, because there is really nothing stopping me from doing so. If I’m going to make it through this thing well, I have got to put some structure back in my already disorganized life.

I discussed good mental health tips for those who are struggling right now with my therapist. The biggest tip she had was to maintain structure. Still get up every day, and even if it is just moment to moment, plan your day. Maybe this means you say to yourself, “All right, I’m going for a walk now.” And when you finish your walk, say, “Now I’m going to play a game for an hour or two, then start on my to-do list.”

It is important to have structure because you don’t want to alienate yourself by excessively creating abnormality in your life. You want a sense of control. For a while, since I wasn’t keeping a schedule, I even quit taking my antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Which proved to be a terrible mistake that took me down a dark road. Don’t worry, I take my antipsychotic once every three months as an injection, so there is no missing that all-important one. But my anxiety and depression overwhelmed me. This is what you must be vigilant against.

One thing that can also help maintain normality and happiness is finding ways to connect with others. Keep the group chats going. Check in with your friends and family. You might not realize how much this can not only help yourself, but the people with whom you connect.

So, structure your life away from the dread of relentless existence. These are tips that may help you even after this is all over. Pursue normality to help you maintain a healthy life, and to remind yourself good things will persist. And remember, just because I talk about my therapy to benefit you, the reader, doesn’t mean you have to share what goes on in your sessions. This is a busy time for all health providers, so if you need a professional to talk to, start on it today.

COVID-19 Changes Sense of Time

By Jada Veasey/Opinion Editor

My mother, my sister, and my dog walk around our neighborhood. Besides a weekly trip to pick up groceries and the occasional trip to the pharmacy or post office, our daily walks are the only time we leave the house.

One of my favorite phrases to use in life is “time is a social construct.” It’s a magic phrase, really; it’s what allows me to wear Christmas socks year-round with confidence. But these days, the words have taken on new meaning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has warped my understanding of time altogether. I’m no longer living on campus, I am instead back home in Illinois where we live under a government-mandated shelter-in-place order. Many of the typical landmarks that help me organize and understand my schedule are gone.

Saturdays once meant dinner and a movie, but not anymore. Thursdays used to be breakfast burrito day in the cafeteria (Victor, if you’re reading this, I miss you and your delicious creations), but not anymore. These days I no longer move through time; it’s more like time moves around me. Minutes somehow shift into hours, and then into days.

And then one day I check the calendar and realize I haven’t left the house for anything other than a walk around our neighborhood in a week. Huh.

Sure, I’ve got classes to attend virtually on the weekdays. But I have organized (and awesome) professors; many of them prerecord lectures and post them to Brightspace days ahead of schedule. I can learn any time I want; I’m no longer bound to the confines of my campus class schedule. This is one of the strangest parts of my brand-new online education. I can learn at home in my pajamas at 1 in the morning if I want to.

I like online classes, even if they’re a lot different than what I’m used to. Learning is entertaining, it gives me something to do, and makes me feel that I have a purpose. My work study positions bring the same sort of satisfaction. I am lucky to be able to continue working for ACE and the marketing & communications team from home. I feel connected to campus, even though I’m no longer physically there.

So yes, things in my life are a lot different these days. It’s not all bad, though. I have an infinite amount of time to spend with my mom and my sister, who I miss so much when I’m away at school. Our dog is treated to more walks than ever before. I’m honing my bread-making skills. I finally started watching Westworld on HBO. I finished a novel for the first time in two months.

Despite the many upsides of being completely stuck at home, it’s obviously got its downsides, too.

The final product of an afternoon full of baking. We ran out of sandwich bread but I whipped some up!

A few days ago, I said, “worrying about other people has become a part-time job.” I wasn’t exaggerating. It seems that every day I devote countless minutes to wondering how the people I care about are handling all of this. I am lucky to be safe at home, and to not have any pressing reasons to leave the house. Not everyone in my life is so lucky.

My grandparents just returned from a winter stay in Texas last week; did they pick up the virus on the drive home? My boyfriend works at Hy-Vee; will he catch COVID-19 from a customer he helps? Several of my friends and classmates from school work as CNAs and hospital technicians; will they escape this pandemic unscathed?

There are more questions in my head than answers these days, but I am trying hard not to dwell on them for too long. Worrying is counterproductive. It always makes me feel worse instead of better. I’m trying to focus on the silver lining of the situation, even though it gets harder and harder with each passing day.

All I can really say is that I know that better days are coming. They have to be.

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