topic_interest is exactly Normalcy
Moving away from the pandemic in ArkansasThis article details a sharp decline in the number of Arkansans on ventilators due to COVID-19. It further provides information on a new oral drug to combat the pandemic in Arkansas. While cases in Arkansas regularly fluctuate, it is encouraging to see individuals off ventilators which removes some of the strain most Arkansas hospitals have been experiencing over the last two years. A rise in vaccinations and a greater understanding of the disease allows for a return to normalcy that many states are now experiencing. Additionally, and oral drug to combat COVID-19 is helpful and will allow the disease to be easily managed.
Russian invasion of Ukraine Ruins EverythingI (and many others) am feeling like disasters just keep compounding one another since March 2020. I know a lot of folks around my were anticipating a “return to normal” this summer but it feels really difficult to just celebrate “normal life” when innocent Ukrainians are suffering and the whole world is watching.
Time to ReflectAlthough we live in a time where mental health is getting so much recognition it is still nice to be reminded that it is ok to take a minute and reflect. It's been a year since Covid hit, almost a year since our first quarantine here in Arizona and it seems like so many people are trying their best to get back to "normal" life. We are trying too hard to work, study, parent, and live as we did over a year ago. The sad truth though is that people are still dying, they are dying in high numbers and we see those numbers daily. I'm one who has felt bad for not being "productive" especially when Covid directly affected my family, but posts like these remind me that it is not only normal but healthy to feel. Posts like these remind me of the importance of the grieving process. I have lost a lot this past year, but I will not lose my humanity.
Coffee Shops and a Sense of Normalcy During COVID-19When COVID-19 started affecting Kansas City, little changed at first. We wore masks, used hand sanitizer, etc., but life went on as normal otherwise. As the virus progressed, we closed our offices and I started working from home. One of my pre-COVID rituals was a trip to Broadway Cafe close to my house for a great latte or macchiato. At least this ritual was still intact. Then, the coffee shops all closed. It sounds silly to say this affected me even more than going into the office. It was my normal routine for so many years though...that a trip to the coffee shop served as an anchor for feeling life would go on, regardless of how far the virus progressed. The audio file attached is my espresso machine at home. I now buy coffee beans for the house, grind them, and pour shots of espresso to drink straight or craft into a macchiato or latte. The sound of my machine grinding beans, pressing the grounds into a puck, and then pouring into shot glasses still did not replace the coffee shop, but it did become an anchor to help me adjust when I needed it most. Today, our coffee shops are open for pickup service. Between that and still pouring my own at home, using their beans, life is good. I look forward to a post-COVID world where the local roasters and coffee shops continue to play an important role in my personal sense of normalcy and the social health of our collective neighborhoods.
2020: A Wild Year of ChangeI feel like this photo is a great representation of what 2020 has been in my life. For me, 2020 started with a bang. At the beginning of January, I was flying across the country to California with about 10 people for my wedding. We were determined to start the year off big and what’s bigger than going somewhere you’ve never been to marry your partner of 10 years?! It ended up being even better than we had planned. Looking back, I am so glad that we decided on a random Wednesday in January to get married because if we would have waited, it never would have happened. This is one of our wedding photos, just the two of us holding hands, looking towards the future, and ready to take on anything…little did we know what was in store. We weren’t even out of the honeymoon phase when February hit and rumors started flying around about news of a deadly virus that was becoming a major deal in most of the world. We worried what would happen if it became a problem in the United States and how would that affect our family. By the end of the month, we were traveling to our best friend’s intimate wedding, while wondering if we should even be attending (my husband was the best man). On our way out of town, I got a text from a friend telling me our city was going to announce a lock down that weekend and would probably take effect on Monday. We stressed and cursed ourselves for leaving but we were only 20 minutes away from our destination. A few hours after the wedding ended, the city announced the lock would be happening. We were so thankful that we had recently gone grocery shopping since we knew a panic would begin. The next days were us waiting to know if I would still have a job. The city deemed brewery production “essential” so off to work I went. It was eerie. The brewery staff met, and we discussed our options on a short-term and long-term basis. There would be a lot of switching to the full-time employees taking over all responsibilities in order to meet salaries and keep our jobs. It seemed like an okay plan and I was just thankful to have a job. While the days, weeks, and months dragged on, each day became more draining and grimmer. Was it worth it to be living in a city we were planning to leave before the pandemic happened? Was it worth it to be working a job with increased stress and less hours/pay? My husband is self-employed, my job is deemed “essential”, but I had qualifications to take those skills anywhere. I’m working on a bachelor’s and my husband is almost finished with his master’s. I did awful in the Spring semester due to work related COVID-19 stress and was ready for a change. We were already going to leave but we became too afraid to follow our plan. After a long night of discussing stress and how our living situation was just causing us depression, we decided there was no time like the present to change our stance in life. We could follow stay at home orders no matter what our address was, and social distancing is the same everywhere. I put in my notice at my current job and we both began the job hunt. I landed a job within a few weeks and that was it. We had to set this into motion. We have been in California for almost three months and it was the right decision. We both have jobs that make us happier, we’re content staying at home in our new place when not at work, and I have all A’s in college! While it is extremely hard to see any kind of light or hope during such a tragic and extreme pandemic, life does continue. My bills and rent are still due every month. I still have to acquire a paycheck and take care of my family. And I deserve to do them in a place with lots of sunshine in my backyard perfect for hanging with the family and studying.
Pandemic at Planet FitnessWith the pandemic, the lives of many people have changed. For me, I see the changes most significantly at work. I started working at Planet Fitness in January, before the lockdown. I enjoyed my shifts and loved interacting with members at check-in. When we returned to work in July, my work shifts changed significantly. One of my new responsibilities included enforcing our mask policy. Not all members were as accommodating and understanding, as the member featured in the photo collage. Most times when asking members to wear masks, they would apologize and put on their mask. Other times, member's responses varied from rudeness to annoyance. The most shocking aspect of working at the gym during a pandemic is the lack of empathy some people have. In our first month back, many members were coming into the club or calling the club, unhappy that Planet Fitness had resumed billing since they did not feel comfortable returning to the gym. Overall, while there have been some bumps in the road when it came to the reopening of the gym, it has been nice to regain some semblance of normalcy with going back to work and interacting with my members.