“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” ― Zora Neale Hurston
I’ve come back to this piece several times and the one thing that remains constant is my progressive determination to be well. This entire pandemic has created continual universal uncertainties of illness and wellbeing. My colleague recently reminded me that, “This year is a doozy but together, we will get through it.”
Therefore, this writing is dedicated to the betterment of self and the emphasis on collaboration. When the pandemic began in March 2020, I wrote a note to myself, “Be graceful with yourself and others.” Moreover, I wrote a reminder to take note of lessons I’d learn throughout the pandemic. I could foresee this would be history in the making and I wanted to document learning moments and life lessons.
Lessons I’ve curated throughout this COVID pandemic:
- You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone else except yourself.
- There’s no greater investment than investing in self.
- Relaxation became a friend without strict timelines or alarms. Being forced to slow down provided the opportunity to teach us how to listen more attentively to our body. For some, our bodies were afforded the ability to rest more than what would’ve been our so called “normal rest”.
- Proactively thinking about how to take care of our personal health became an at home 101 course. People shared health tips on natural herbs, vitamins, and healthier recipes. As a participant and spectator, I observed people soak up nature, engage in fitness outdoors, within virtual spaces, outdoor bootcamps and create mini at-home gyms.
- People boldly learned to say “No” and to set boundaries to protect their own personal peace. The freeing of guilt for not answering every call, text or email began to feel both liberating and strengthening.
- Out of necessity, innovation became both a form of survival and success. Creativity was uprooted from our dreams and bellies to enhance our personal and professional lives.
- Self-ingenuity has taken up productive time that once was consumed by the work grind. Betting on oneself leveraged an entrance into entrepreneurship as individuals sought to create streams of income.
- Artistic creation has spread in abundance with expressive forms of art activism. Muhammad Ali quoted, “The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
- The usage of technology propelled individuals creative voice to draw attention to humanistic matters. The garnering of a virtual audience afforded platforms of listening ears otherwise closed.
Summarizing this list has deemed a confirmational approach of restoration and determination to not return to the overworked journey. Literally composing my reflection took me on a healing process of closing the chapter to a “define by the grind” past. I’m convinced that our capitalistic society has caused us to churn our own wheels until they fall off. With all of the churn in the name of defining who we are – we must ask, “Is the grind our identity?”
Naw, I’ve two stepped a journey of homing in on my power, my present, my potential, and my peace. Everyone’s journey has been different and in fact many of us suffered grief during this pandemic, yet the forced stop and slowing down of our daily pace has lessons.
On one hand, we are forever grateful to our healthcare workers who never stopped their call to duty. And it’s because of healthcare workers, educators, parents, service workers and many other unsung frontline workers that we must begin to call for a nationwide advocacy of wellness. Conceptually speaking, wellness is at the heart of the revolution. Wellness is anti-racism, anti-gender biasness, it’s opposing anti-immigration laws and it’s anti-exhaustion!
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”― Audre Lorde
Admit it, overworking wasn’t cutting it before the pandemic, we had conditioned ourselves for the daily hustle. Our movement was in survival mode, often drained, often exhausted with little spare time for selfcare. The pandemic did a force stop on our hustle and bustle routine. We recognized that our existence based on another lens wasn’t as fruitful as our own purposeful and intentional healthy lifestyle choices. We have power to make decisions about what we want to do- slowing down welcomes reflection and evolving.
Look at what we’ve accomplished thus far: we’ve increased our conscious effort to protect our health, we’ve frantically masked up and gripped with molar teeth all attempts to stay Covid free! We’ve become sick and tired of being sick and tired of police killings, hate crimes, social injustices, and inequitable human rights and immigration laws. In resistance mode, we’ve taken to the streets, the courts, and diverse media outlets.
While our resistance and revolution have been televised, the call towards joy has captured our attention on social media. Wellness journeys in isolation, in partnership and with collective groups – are increasingly shared in our digital world. I urge us to continue to create outlets and platforms to promote a strengthening of our resilience. We can forge a new reality to replace the overworked living with a healthier lifestyle. There is power within our own creations! It lies at the head of joy and the feet of liberation. Use this time to harness your deepest imagination, pull it up from your soul and make your limitless healthy mark on the world!
In Peace and Wellness,
Tomiko D. Ball