In the past couple of years, I am sure we all have learned many lessons that we hold dear… the value of being kind, the value of life, the value of health, the value of freedom, and the value of time with our loved ones are some of the most common things I am sure we all share.
I find it so interesting to hear the different ways people navigated through the pandemic and what they did with their time to stay strong and healthy – mentally, emotionally and physically.
For me, the biggest personal lesson I gained amidst the chaos is to try and do things every day, week and\or month that bring me out of my comfort zone.
For some, this can be something as small as going to the store, out to dinner or even sparking up a conversation with someone new, or it can be something as big as trying a new activity, sport or beginning therapy. It can really mean anything you want it to as long as it brings you out of your personal comfort zone and brings you a positive, thrilling result.
Some of the most universal feelings that the Covid-19 pandemic brought upon us was record-breaking anxiety and the inevitable comfort of not leaving home, not interacting with others, not going to school\work, etc. The idea that we technically could do everything from home does not mean we should and the results that have come from two years later prove that.
It is not normal to live in fear, it is not normal to spend more time looking at screens than at nature, it is not normal to have no human interaction, it is not normal to never leave the house, it is not normal for children to not be in school and not play sports and have their activities, it is not normal to live the lifestyle that was made normal within a matter of weeks and changed our lives possibly and probably forever.
I try to live each day with my only competition being my former self and I genuinely hope I become a better person each and every day – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. And I will do everything I can to better myself and the people and world around me.
However, I quickly realized the pandemic made me too comfortable with being the natural homebody I am and I recognized within myself that I felt bored and helpless way too often.
I stopped growing, stopped doing, stopped living and to me, that goes against everything I believe in and I knew I had to do something to change the way I was feeling.
I personally thrive off of being immersed in nature, spending time with those I love, doing anything active and outdoors, and eating good food and drinking good wine or a fresh skinny margarita.
I wanted to find ways around the current state of the world and found what kept me moving and growing was trying new things.
I have created a list of fifteen various things and activities that have brought me out of my comfort zone and back into my element of a healthy mind and lifestyle in the past year. Everyone is different and I don’t expect all of these to be things you are interested in, but I hope it inspires you to get creative, stay hopeful, and fall in love with life again.
1. Farmers markets – In the summer and fall of 2020, a few months prior to moving to South Florida, I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina with my parents and had access to some amazing rural life. Every Sunday, my parents and I would go to a farmer’s market and it quickly became the highlight of my week. As someone who loves to cook, I got inspired to make my own jams, tomato sauce, and even ice cream! I felt incredibly in tune with nature and myself. It even allowed me to perfect my secret sauce recipe which has become a favorite to my family and boyfriend!
View from my bedroom in my South Florida apartment.
2. Moving to a new state or taking on a new job – Before graduating college in 2020, I started to apply to jobs in Miami because I’ve always wanted to live by the beach, however, once the pandemic hit, I changed my mind about living in a big city. I researched and visited different parts of South Florida and fell in love with the Palm Beach Gardens\Jupiter area. Within six months of graduating college virtually, I moved to Palm Beach Gardens alone in November of 2020 and began work at the same time in Delray Beach. Of course, it was stressful and nerve racking just like any big move or new job… but with my family, my boyfriend and his family, and my wonderful boss’ help, it’s been the most rewarding and happiest year of my life. My biggest advice with a big move or a new job – follow where your heart and gut are leading you, but have a plan (and Plan B just in case!), and just do it!
3. One month of hot yoga – I am a big lover of the Bikram method and started practicing bikram yoga at just fifteen years old. During the lockdown, I practiced yoga and meditation almost every day at home, but I was itching to get back into a studio with people once it was allowed. Bikram is also especially important to be in the studio since it needs to be a specific temperature to practice (105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40% humidity to be exact). After exercising at home for months on end, there was definitely some anxiety and uncomfort in going back to a studio setting with strangers, but this is just another example of the beauty of getting out of your comfort zone. Although bikram may not be for everyone, I highly recommend pushing yourself physically and trying yoga or any new sport. What is not talked about enough by our leaders at this time is how important it is to look after your body and be healthy, and this is a perfect way to do so.
Juno Beach, Jupiter, FL.
4. Beach walks – If you are not comfortable going into an exercise class or studio, another thing I loved during the past year was going on weekly beach walks with a dear family friend. Before moving to South Florida, I had only met this friend a handful of times, but when I moved to the area, my mom discovered how close we lived and I started meeting her for walks. We became very close, very quickly and it became such a positive few hours of my week. We shared so many laughs and it was such a blessing to have an hour or two with someone so kind, uplifting, and beautiful! I highly recommend walking in nature alone or with a friend or two. You never know the unexpected relationships that can blossom from something so simple!
My best friends: (from Left to Right) me, Annemarie, Julia and Christine.
5. Having family\friends visit – Of course, moving to a new area alone makes you miss your friends and family. Lucky for my friends and family, they get to visit paradise to see me! My sister has visited me three times in the past year, and my friends organized a girls trip in the spring where they visited for a few weeks. My parents have also visited a few times and even spent Easter here. We loved getting to create holiday memories in a new place.
Unscripted blog art!
6. Starting a blog – As someone who has kept journals for years, it was very exciting but nerve racking to be offered a platform like this to write. Oftentimes, self doubt can hinge us from doing something meaningful and worthwhile, but I didn’t want to give up such an amazing opportunity due to fear. We should always use our voice through the gifts we are given. If you’ve been wondering about starting a platform of any kind to share your art and life – this is your sign. There is no harm or regret in trying.
Coral Cove Park in Tequesta, FL.
7. Exploring – Once a week, I have a day off that I spend alone exploring the area and going to the pool or beach. I found having a few hours a week alone has reinforced my confidence and made me find my independence as a young woman. No matter where you live, there are always new spots to explore whether it is a museum, a hiking trail, a beach, a new store, etc.
Blueberry & Clyde.
8. Rescuing animals – My boyfriend and I rescued two baby bunnies before bringing them to an Animal Rescue Center. Animals have a way of giving you unconditional love unlike any other being. Although we haven’t made the big leap and adopted a puppy (yet!!), these little bunnies, Blueberry & Clyde, opened our hearts and taught us so much in the short time they were with us.
9. Couples sports – I am so lucky to have a boyfriend who loves physical activity just as much as I do and we never shy away from trying something new! He has shown me and taught me the worlds of golf and fishing, while I like teaching him about tennis. We are both VERY athletic and competitive and it’s always fun to do something different together. And if it’s a rainy night in South Florida, we bring our competition to the dining room table and play some board games or cards!
Some of my favorite local spots in Jupiter: Square Grouper (Left) and Dune Dog (Right)
10. Be a local – As a complete foodie (if you couldn’t tell from #1), I love date night, going out with friends, and trying new local restaurants and bars. There is no shortage of amazing restaurants and bars in South Florida, and at a time where restaurants are understaffed and under appreciated, it’s always nice to show some love their way! If you are able, try a new spot once a week and see yourself fall in love with your community – wherever that may be!
11. Book Club – Over the summer, my boss and coworker and I decided we all wanted to get back into our love of reading and thought we would try a book club together! Our first book was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and now we are reading Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. Not to mention, book clubs are the perfect “pandemic activity” since you can do them virtually or in person with a small group.
Some of my personal crafts: coasters, woodwork, and poetry.
12. Painting\crafts – In my second blog, Let’s Talk About It, I discussed the importance of the arts and my beliefs that the arts – whatever form means most to you – is our saving grace. Some of my personal quarantine projects included crafts, painting, wood work and poetry. Recently, besides some painting, I have decided I want to take on a few more personal projects. I will be painting more canvas for my apartment and have some ideas with how I can use shells I collect from the beach to make some cool art!
Photos from our trip to Scottsdale, AZ.
13. Exploring the USA – As someone with dual citizenship, I have been so lucky to see many parts of the world and most of Europe. However, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, this summer, I planned my boyfriend’s birthday trip to a place we had never been – Scottsdale, Arizona! America is such a beautiful country filled with different types of cities, climates, and culture. I love experiencing more parts of our beautiful United States we get to proudly call home!
Juno Counseling and Wellness, the counseling center in Palm Beach Gardens I go to.
14. Therapy – I first started therapy when I was 13-years-old and over my high school and college career, I have been to different therapists depending on what I was going through at the time. This summer, I recognized I still had some anxieties and traumas I wanted to revisit – especially after a couple of years of an ongoing pandemic. I did some research and found a therapist only a few minutes from home that I have been seeing. I have been and always will be an advocate for therapy and counseling, and there is such importance in breaking the stigma around mental health. It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to talk about it. And it’s more than ok to seek the professional help you need.
NYT Cooking Instagram.