May 1, 2021
Yesterday, I took my walk outside without a mask. This is something I have not done in Chicago in over 410 days. I strolled past plenty of folks still wearing their masks outside. Although I had several twinges of guilt, I am following recent CDC guidelines. And it felt pretty damn great to breathe naturally, smell flowering trees and wear sunglasses without the fogginess.
The last two months I have had true moments of wonder brought to me by Pfizer!
Yes, I’m totally Vax-ed!! After spending all February and half of March in a state of perpetual anxiety in search of a shot appointment, I secured my first and second doses. Me and thousands of my fellow Chicagoans flocked to the United Center mass vaccination site. Tents were set up in the parking lot of the Bulls/Blackhawks’ home court/rink. The process was quick and surreal. Hundreds of national guard members in military garb, along with civilian staff, worked to efficiently administer and record shots-in-arms. My first shot was a fairly easy 45 minute ordeal. Three weeks later, the operations were even more efficient and I completed it in 25 minutes, which includes a 15 minute post-shot observation. The surreal aspect of the experience was it felt like I was in a disaster movie. The plot: deadly virus had already killed over a half million Americans and was currently mutating into new variants to continue to feed off humans. Movie?! Nope, it’s reality and it’s a nightmare.
I am now among a third of the USA that has completed their vaccination. It is my hope that all my fellow Americans will get vaccinated to end this pandemic. I’m happy to report that I’m not aware of any of my family (over 16) or friends that haven’t started the vaccination process. I’m so grateful that technology and science created 3 effective vaccines and the methodology to effectively and quickly administer them.
So, winter came, kicked my ass and left me stronger! Someone recently described the pandemic as waves continuously knocking us down. Yes, I agree! And often in the last year, I couldn’t get back up quick enough and got walloped again and again by waves. Now, there are still waves and some of them are huge and scary. Yet, I’m feeling steady on my feet and able to wade into the future…
- Work! I started working at my office building on Thursdays. Our return-to-the-office policy is completely voluntary. We want to make sure folks feel comfortable. I had always thought I would return in some capacity post vaccination. Although it was my intention, it hadn’t yet been actualized. Well, there is nothing like a crisis to move me forward. I woke up to no internet in my condo building on a day that I had 6 meetings. I scrambled to complete the COVID protocol to login at the office. Two out of the three days in the office, I have been the only person on the floor. It’s a little spooky yet the comfortable chair and cutting edge technology of our brand new offices helps me be brave.
- Working Out! I’m on a 124 day streak of getting in my daily 10K steps. In typical Chicago fashion, March and April have been extreme. 85 degrees one day and 30s and snowing the next day. We are used to the roller coaster mingling Spring teases with Winter bitchslaps. Still, I’ve gone on walks solo or with Bill, James, Ellen and Jenny. In addition, Josh and I continue to do strength training twice a week. Primarily, we are doing it virtually with me hoisting a 40 lb sandbag. We also have snuck in a few rooftop workouts when the weather has cooperated.
- I’ve also continued my pandemic escape into television entertainment. In preparation for the Oscars, I continued to watch nominees: “Billie Holiday vs the U.S.” (Andra Day is phenomenal), “Borat 2” (not really my thing), “Minari” (sweet storytelling), “Sound of Metal” (my favorite 2021 Oscar movie… excellent!), “The Father” (sad reality), “Judas and the Black Messiah” (mind-blowing reality), and “White Tiger” (surprising and unique). I also saw these movies just for fun “Coming 2 America,” “Moxie,” “Thunderforce,’ and “Downhill.” And I binged these series: “The Great”, “Superstore” (favorite series of 2021… excellent writing and character development, fun and poignant), and “Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”
- *I completed 4 puzzles and officially ended ‘the pandemic puzzle season’ with 58 puzzles total. I also hit level 5189 on Candy Crush and maintained mindful yet infrequent wine drinking. And I am making all my doctor appointments that I missed last year: eyes, teeth, boobs, vag, blood levels. I’m coming out of this pandemic with a focus on being healthy.
For my March and April 2021 goals…
*Daily, I’ll drink 80+ ounces of water.
This continues to be a focus. I hit the goal probably 78% of these two months. I’m a little up from February because I’m sitting upright more and not lying on the couch.
*Daily, I’ll read something for pleasure.
Josh forwarded me The Daily Coach ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) with its daily affirmations. I was immediately hooked and subscribed (free). It’s a quick daily read with nuggets of wisdom. Yesterday, I loved the quote “You can’t live an extraordinary life by living in ordinary ways.’
I listened two books which worked especially perfect in sequence.
First, I listened to “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson followed by “This is the Fire” by Don Lemon. Pulitzer Prize-winning Wilkerson describes the origin of racism with the history of the caste system. She starts out describing the 2016 election results between a woman seasoned in national and global politics and a billionaire reality TV star. She presents the case without emotion. She describes the leading beliefs of the dominate caste. Wilkerson then works backwards to explain how we-got-here. Her comprehensive analysis even compares our historical caste system with the caste system in India and Nazi Germany. At times, the storytelling is overwhelming with descriptive accounts of lower caste men being lynched for looking at a woman of the higher caste. It’s especially gut-punching listening to the horrific descriptions of past hunt and kill. Wilkerson effectively weaves in her own tales of personal mistreatment on a plane, in a restaurant, and by the higher caste in present day. It’s a phenomenal read. I highly recommend it.
I also listened to Don Lemon describe his own experience growing up as a black, gay and former Republican. Lemon has a lovely, soothing voice that I often fall asleep too during his evening CNN show. His book, “This is the Fire”, leans into personal tales of his childhood and family. He openly talks about his biracial relationship with his fiance. And his journalistic coverage of racial duress, BLM, Trump and coronavirus. He even quotes Wilkerson’s “Caste” at a few points in his own book. I loved it as the perfect accompaniment to “Caste.” It was a practical guide to having conversations on racism to broaden minds and experiences.
*I will actively reach out to friends and family (text, calls, Zoom) every day.
I’m actively calling, texting, and Zooming. I’m hosting weekly friends and family Zooms. I sent the family St. Pat’s and Easter holiday cocktails. I’m also seeing more and more people in real life. At the beginning of March, Bill, Roger, James and I celebrated Bill’s birthday with carryout outside in chilly temps. Over Easter, I hung out with my parents and Jenny for the weekend. I had drinks with Johnny in a bar, dinner with Patrick in a restaurant, and lunch with Bill in a restaurant. Scubi had another fun garden party and I got to hang out in a group of 10… the biggest to date. Wading in!
*I will meditate 5+ times a week.
I finished my Lenten daily meditations and moved on to a post-Easter booklet to guide my practice.
*I will add vegetables to every meal.
I continue to roast peppers, broccoli and brussel sprouts. I sautee onions and mushrooms. And I toss those veggies, spinach and arugula in various meals to Amp Up the Veggies!
*I will dance to a song every day.
I started doing this. I listen to music more and more especially during the day. I try to respond to at least one song with the sway and bounce of a dancer. It definitely lightens my mood.
And I’m adding a May goal to continue to live a life of purpose and joy:
*Reach out to people to make plans to get together
April showers did bring May flowers! And life is getting better and better. I want to strive and thrive now that I’ve survived the worst (hopefully) of the pandemic. According to The Daily Coach, “Life is not always a pass or fail. It is mostly plus or minus.” We got this…GET VAX-ED, stay safe, stay healthy, get out (with caution), mask up (when necessary) and be kind (always).