Masks Off

Just over a year ago, we were thinking things would never be the same again. So much can change in a year. So many lives lost, so many lives brought into this world. Are we really back to normal? Can we live everyday like 3.5 million people haven’t lost their lives to this virus?

Today is the day we can go back to “normal” in Massachusetts. No more masks are necessary if you have been fully vaccinated (but who is out there checking vaccination cards?) I just hope we all still remember everything we have learned. Here is a list of things we should continue to do:

1. Wash our damn hands, because that’s a common thing we should do, right?

2. Stay home if we feel sick, even if we think it’s just a cold.

3. Be aware of other people’s boundaries. Before 6 feet social distancing was a thing, I swear someone behind me in line at the grocery store could count all the freckles on the back of my neck. Respect a stranger’s space.

4. Hugging is my favorite thing to do. Hug more friends and family, And hug often.

5. Get vaccinated. Or not. But you should.

6. Smile. It’s been hidden for so long, someone will appreciate your smile.

A Month of Thankful Moments

November is a month of reflection and gratefulness. Every day we should embrace this but the holidays bring out these emotions. Giving back to one another and the community is one of the most humanly things we can do. Over the years I have collected and acknowledged some pretty great moments of thoughtfulness. I would like to share ten of the best ways (in my opinion) that you can spread grateful juju:

1. Pay for someone’s coffee when you go through a drive-thru. That way, the barista already knows what the person behind you has ordered. Sometimes I wait to see their reaction in my rear view mirror, it will make your day!

2. Donate to a new charity that you’ve never heard of before. Bring some hope and endearment to a new meaningful cause.

3. Leave a post-it on someone’s car door next time you’re grocery shopping. Or even on a grocery cart! A quote or just a simple “You are loved.” You never know how much someone may need to hear that.

4. Write a letter to an essential worker. Whether it be a nurse, doctor, bus driver, or your favorite teller at the bank. Let them know how thankful you are for putting everyone first before themselves during these Covid times.

5. This past summer when I was in Maine with my family, I pulled my Dad aside and told him how much I appreciated him. He said that he doesn’t think anyone has ever told him that and how much it meant for me to say it to him. Tell someone today how much you appreciate them in your life, it will mean so much to them.

6. We have all had piggy banks at some point in our lives. This is what I call the grateful jar. Every day for a month, write something you’re grateful for that day and put it in the jar. At the end of the month, look and see all the things you wrote down.

7. Bring some cookies to your neighbor(s)! Even if you’re not a good baker, you can buy the ones already made at the grocery store and just pop them in the oven! A warm plate of cookies is always something to smile about.

8. When you’re out for a walk in your neighborhood and see some trash, pick it up! I usually bring some disposable gloves and a bag to put the trash in and throw it away when I get home. This is an easy way to help the community and the earth.

9. Read a child or children a book online! There are virtual readings that you can sign up for. Check your local children’s centers too and let them know you would like to do this as a free event!

10. Lastly, ask a loved one if they are okay. Your cousin that you haven’t seen since they got married last year or your Aunt that lives alone. Just asking that simple question can help.

There’s no time like now to be grateful and giving towards one another. Let November be our guiding light that leads us to a new year full of hope.

Self-Improvement During a Pandemic

Isolated. Withdrawn. Lonely. Afraid. Hopeless. Almost everyone has felt one of these or all of these feelings in the past six months. What’s funny is that I felt some of these same feelings when I became a mom. The new mom (& dad) anxiety is real and living through it during a pandemic can be tragically devastating. Yet, we can take this time to self-improve ourselves.

Meditation. I can’t say it enough how important it is for your mind, body, and soul (sorry for the cliche) . I swear meditation even got me pregnant! Yet, it can be easily overwhelming to try and make time for it, especially with children. I first recommend reading Stress Less Accomplish More by Emily Fletcher. This will give you the foundation and understanding of mindfulness, meditation, and manifestation. When I started meditating, I become more aware of my surroundings and being in the present moment. These days, it is all about living in the present because the future is seemingly unknown and the unknown is scary. Not only is it worrisome to think about the future for yourself and loved ones, but also the tiny little human(s) that call you mom and dad! Stress can be deadly and we all need a lot less of it.

Exercise. Whether it is going out for walks everyday or taking a workout class in your home, staying active is crucial. Even though it might not be something we look forward to doing everyday, our bodies look forward to it. We are meant to move. Turning on the tunes while you cook breakfast can be a workout! Find time throughout the day to do your dance, whatever it may be.

Gratitude. Keep a small notebook by your bed and write down three things you were grateful for that day before you go to bed. You can go as simple as the roof over your head. Or, go into more detail with being grateful of your daughter for making that weird noise that made you both laugh. I know life can throw some curve balls at us but there is always at least three things to be thankful for.

Now, some of you may feel the reasoning for bettering yourself is pointless. Who even wants to make themself better when 2020 has seemed to completely go down the toilet? Who cares to be “our better selves”? What’s the point of doing all of this when it may get even worse? Our children. We do it for our babies. Maybe we don’t want to take care of ourselves, as most parents seem to differ from, but we need to do it. We need to choose waking up each day better than the day before even if we don’t feel it. Some of our dreams may be on hold because of the pandemic and that is okay. We can become who we are meant to be anytime. We will conquer our dreams one day and be grateful for the path we took to lead us there. There will be clarity, hope, wisdom, and love throughout our journey.