Living during a pandemic: One year later, and it’s crazy how life can change so much and so fast. March 13, 2020 is a day that’s hard to forget. It was the day our first stay-at-home order was announced. And as the anniversary of that day is here, I felt it would be worthwhile to reflect upon the past year. An open journal entry so to speak to share my thoughts as a way to look back on what I’ve learned, what I’m thankful for, and what I’m hopeful for. Although Danny and I had already shifted our lifestyle starting back in January as we read more and more news about the virus spreading, that day really seemed to solidify that life was changing.

The beginning

Back in January 2020, sparse news articles and images on Twitter began to surface about a novel virus. I don’t think I’ll forget seeing images of huge tanks spraying chemical mists into vacant streets. It was unnerving. It was in January when we decided to make all of our meals at home – which we’ve continued for over a year now and really enjoy (more on that later)! It was also during this time that I literally started to wear running shoes for our grocery store and Costco shopping trips because we flew through the store as fast as we could to avoid any coughs, etc. – we would make good candidates for Supermarket Sweeps 😉 I also started taking my fur baby for walks at certain times of the day to try to avoid walking by other people and animals, but it was getting increasingly harder to do so – not to mention the added work of bathing him after every walk, so now we exercise inside. 

Our last day trip to Yountville, CA - January 12, 2020

After March 13

When the stay-at-home order was announced, I remember feeling scared and yet also having hope that it wasn’t too late to get the virus under control. At that time, I naively thought things would be shut down for a few weeks. Those weeks quickly turned into months. Danny and I spent so many late nights searching for produce and food delivery services (especially at the beginning when Instacart slots weren’t available for weeks upon weeks), paper products, cleaning wipes, and a small spare fridge (yes, those totally sold out, too). Albeit ever since we’ve been married, Danny and I have always liked stocking up on products that we know we’ll use (such as water, paper products, etc.) just to have on hand. Little did we know that that habit would be so beneficial. I’ll never forget the day that we went to Costco in February to stock up for one of the last times, and ALL the water and paper products were wiped out – we panicked.  

Danville, CA Costco on February 28, 2020 – all water and paper products out of stock

A Year Later

Fast forward to today, and it’s crazy to think that it’s been over a year since I’ve shopped in a store. Now before all of this, Danny and I shopped constantly – it was what we really enjoyed doing together, and we jokingly called it “shoppercising” because we shopped so much and racked up a lot of exercise doing so. If you had told me in 2019 that I wouldn’t be in a store for over a year, I would have never believed you. Late-night date nights at Target and West Elm were what we looked forward to after long work weeks.

However that all changed as 2020 rolled in. The picture of the plants at the top of this post is from March 6, 2020. It is the last picture I took from the last store I was inside. I remember it clearly – it was Lowe’s. While Danny was at the register, I waited in the garden area since there was no one in that area (and I love plants).

In a sense the picture seems to be a metaphor for this blip in our history. The plants can’t control their sheltered surroundings, but yet they’re still beautiful and still growing. 

What I’ve Learned

Our own mini golf date at home.

Maybe we can extrapolate from the plant metaphor. If I’ve learned anything through this time is that we can’t change the unpredictability of life, but we can try our best to grow, to adapt, and to choose the outlook we have no matter the situation. I’ve learned that people are very adaptable and ingenious.

I’ve also learned how intricate and yet delicate the world is. We truly depend on each other on a daily basis to make the world go round. Times like these show how important people, food, services, products, and technology are. 

I’ve learned that there is still so much unknown. That’s what makes living during a pandemic even scarier. A year later, and there are so many uncertainties. I’ve also done a ton of research (from medical journals, FDA reports, to personal stories on reddit) and have gained more scientific and anecdotal knowledge.

I’ve learned that the entire world has been affected and changed by the pandemic. The loss and grief experienced is immeasurable and unbearable. 

I’ve learned that even in challenging times, there’s a way to still enjoy life. I’ve realized that it’s not the inanimate objects or the places that bring happiness, it’s the connections you make. Danny and I used to love to go out to eat, shop, and go on fun traveling adventures. But during this time, we have had so much fun making new memories together at home. Instead of Costco shopping together on nights after work, we now wash off our Costco Instacart order and produce together while listening to music and chatting. I’ve realized that it’s not the things that we did that were the source of the fun, but just connecting with each other. We’ve had fun learning how to cook different healthy dishes, game nights, TV show binge-watching (shoutout to Hallmark’s The Good Witch), virtual events, online shopping, completing home projects, and the list goes on. We’ve reminisced on our past adventures, current ones at home, and dreamed of future ones. I’ve learned that these connections are strong even from afar thanks to the blessing of technology. 

I’ve also learned that even during a pandemic, there is so much to be thankful for.

What I’m Thankful For

Our family virtual New Year's Eve party - so fun!

I’m most thankful for God’s presence. Knowing God is in control no matter what the circumstances are, and that everything happens according to His plan and His purpose gives me strength. The darker parts of life really help to make even the smallest of blessings shine. Here are just a few things that I’ve gained an even bigger appreciation for during this past year:

  • You! If you’re reading this, I’m thankful for you 🙂 
  • My family 
  • Teddy – the best morkie in the world. For only being 7 lbs, he brings so much joy.
  • Frontline and essential workers
  • Scientists
  • Technology
  • Deliveries – especially food delivery (Farm Fresh to You and Instacart specifically)
  • Virtual gatherings
  • Virtual church
  • Home – I’ve always loved the saying ‘my home is my castle.’ It couldn’t be truer as our homes help to shelter us from all types of storms. And for that I’m thankful.
  • Graceful Glam – I have so much fun with my blog!
  • Working from home 
  • Business owners
  • Slowing down from the hustle and bustle of normal life.
  • Healthy eating – As I mentioned earlier, we have loved making all of our meals at home. It’s so much healthier, tastier, and really fun to experiment with new ingredients and meals. 
  • Connecting more with family – thanks to video calls and phone calls, we talk more and are closer than ever.
  • Becoming more self-reliant – we taught ourselves how to install our own wood flooring and even fixed our dishwasher. 
  • Peloton – I’ve loved Peloton for almost 4.5 years now! Although Danny and I miss going outside on runs together, thanks to Peloton we can still workout together.

What I’m Hopeful For

At times it feels as if life is at a standstill, and at other times, it feels like it’s flown by. I often think of what life will be like in the near and far future. What social distancing modifications will stay and what will someday dissipate? What will I tell later generations when they ask about 2020?

I have hope that when people work together for the common good, big things can happen. I pray for a safe return to some sort of normal as we once knew it. But I also hope that what we’ve learned along the way won’t be soon forgotten. Perhaps some aspects of our old normal need to be revised. I hope measures for preventing the spread of germs will continue. I hope that the emphasis of time with family will continue. I hope the benefit of online schooling and working from home will be acknowledged. Most importantly, I hope that we won’t ever forget the sacrifices made and the lives lost. Stay safe and don’t lose the faith! 🙂 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:29