The Journey Home – My 30-Day Yoga Graduation
April 21, 2020
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My COVID19 Lockdown Diaries

We are entering our 7th week of community quarantine, and it’s exactly day 46. It was March 12 when the press announced the President’s decision to keep people home, as the threat of COVID19 was growing far too rapidly to keep up with. We were set to rehearse with Ballet Philippines for the 1st time that evening, for a run of Ryan Cayabyab‘s Rama Hari in late March. Obviously, that didn’t push through, and that was the last time I was out in what can be considered as a “mass gathering.”

Counting My Blessings

Before anything else, I want to acknowledge how hard it’s been for the front liners, the private sector that has been trying to find solutions and raise funds, and *fine* the government, that I’m sure can do much better if all self interests are set aside. I’m certainly among the luckier ones who can survive whilst staying home, despite being in a no work-no pay situation myself.

That said, I don’t subscribe to this bandwagon, mob mentality to “check your privilege,” as if those who are more comfortable are somehow at fault for going through their days the way they do. Yes, don’t flaunt or make insensitive comments, but I don’t believe that people need to apologize for where they are. We all lead different lives and have different needs.

Keeping Healthy

We went through a scare within the 1st week, when my dad received news that his colleagues had tested positive for the virus. They were all attending consultants at the same hospital just a week prior. Following contact tracing protocols, my dad was then classified as a high risk PUI due to his exposure, age, and co-morbidities. This was still at the time when test kits were scarce, and testing was a sensitive topic, thanks to the irresponsible actions of some public officials.

In the end, his test results were released at around the same time his self-imposed 21-day quarantine was up, and we were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. Needless to say, we practiced all precautions at home, like hand-washing, wearing masks, sanitizing surfaces, and my parents even slept in separate rooms. Being the only non-senior automatically meant I was assigned to do all the errands that needed venturing out for, whether food or medical supplies.

Keeping Sane

Wellness goes for both body and mind. Being more of an introvert, with a splash of extroversion, I personally didn’t mind staying at home and keeping to myself. Even my careers as a freelance professional had gotten me accustomed to a homebody’s lifestyle for at least half of the workweek, so the adjustment was minimal. But even then, it became apparent very early on that this was the most free time I’d had in my entire life. After just a week of taking it easy and acting like I was on holiday, I started to look for ways to keep myself occupied and productive.

24/7 Salty: Love Tank Full

This is the 1st time I’m home all day, daily. If there’s someone who’s happy about that, it’s my dog. Finally, we can spend endless hours together, from the moment I wake up, to the time I go upstairs to sleep.

Since it’s summertime, and she has husky lineage, I was able to obsessively monitor the shedding of her top coat. Had it not been for my constant brushing and meticulous collection of her hair, we would all be floating on a cloud of her fur by now. I’m only half exaggerating.

Unfortunately, the lock down also proved to be a challenge when she needed emergency medical attention a week ago. I don’t want to get into detail, but I’m just glad she’s back to her hyper self now. Salty continues to be my #1 companion, and joy-giver, through all this.

When our president asked to explore our homes, that we did. Where’s Salty?

Shaving the Heat

I’d always wanted to try going bald, and though it was what we attempted, our poor excuse for clippers just couldn’t cut it (pun intended). It may have been because my strands were too fine, or the razor was merely designed for trimming facial hairs, but it just couldn’t be done.

I was determined to chop most of it off anyway, so my dad did it by hand. Considering he’d never done it before, I’d say he did a good job! 👌🏾 This customer is happy.

Planting Seeds

I’ve had a dream of owning a produce farm that doubles as a dog haven for years now. I love watching things grow, but my 2-year old puppy has proven that not all dogs can co-exist with flora. 😬 She dug up my aloe veras, Malaysian chilis, tomatoes, and eggplant in the past. Now that she’s a little older, I’m slowly getting back into it.

I’ve restarted my compost bins, tried germinating several seeds (including this date palm one, which I did not expect to germinate, but it did), and attempted to replant cuttings from our veggie stalks. Life percentage is at 50%, haha 🥺. I really need to work on our dismal, barren soil here!

Date palm seedling! (ignore my peeling green nails)

Language Drills

More time for Duolingo! I’d already touched on this topic on this entry, but the short of it is I’m learning Nihongo, and advancing with my Spanish, Italian, and German. With the amount of Korean shows I’ve been watching, perhaps I should add that next. 🤔 Just really proud of my progress, and I can now translate certain sentences to and from Japanese (granted I’m provided the hiragana or kanji, and not by hand).

Re-/Discovering Art

Playing Instruments

One of the 1st things I resorted to in those earlier, empty moments, was practicing the instruments I’d neglected. I took piano lessons as a child, and learned the guitar from my dad; but I was, and can still be, lazy. So I know enough to play some tunes, but am far from reaching artistry.

I can read the treble clef fairly well, but the F Clef always seemed like such a chore. With just a week’s worth of daily practice, I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier recognizing the notes had become. So this is what practice is for! 😅 Unfortunately, I discontinued this in favor of other things, but I really should aim for at least 30 minutes, when able.

Learning Ballet

There was a day when Lisa Macuja offered a free basic class on Ballet Manila‘s Facebook page, so I took it. I regret not having taken ballet seriously when I was enrolled as a child, because I enjoy dancing more than I do singing. 😭 I don’t remember anything, but I have pictures in tights and leotards as proof.

I didn’t look too happy 🧐

What I’ve been attending regularly is Galaw.Co‘s live dance workshops. At the start of the community quarantine, they went live from Mondays to Fridays, but they’ve recently reduced the frequency to MWF. I love the ballet class because 1. it teaches me the proper form and familiarizes me with the jargon, 2. it’s a great workout, and 3. I get to fulfill my ballerina dreams! They also have jazz and contemporary dance, if anyone’s interested.

I’m so grateful for the teacher‘s positivity and generous sharing of time and effort. (They’re also raising funds for dancers who’ve lost their income in light of the circumstances.)

Listening/Watching

Speaking of artists with generous spirits, so many in the industry here and abroad have taken to holding concerts online, as fundraising efforts for the various needs in the fight against COVID19. One particular local organization has raised over 60 million pesos as of today’s posting. Not only are they getting tangible results, they’re bringing music – and hope – into our anxious homes.

I’ve watched sets by musicians that I hadn’t seen live before, and it’s such a rare and wonderful opportunity. Andrew Lloyd Webber allowed weekend-only viewings of some of his full-length musicals on The Shows Must Go On on Youtube, so I caught Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter weekend, and The Phantom of the Opera last week.

Thankful for Stephen Sondheim celebrating his 90th birthday this month, because this morning, we were treated to the most amazing roster of stage performers paying him tribute.

I haven’t listened to much music in recent years, as I prefer silence in my alone time; but I’ve been opening my Spotify more often to listen to old favorites (India.Arie, Brooke Fraser).

Of course, Netflix must be thanked for supplying a nearly limitless amount of shows and movies to watch throughout all this. I’ve so far seen 1.5 K Dramas, caught up on the newest episodes of Terrace House (until they stopped filming), started and finished Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, and saw the pilot of The Last Dance.

It is all the more apparent now how valuable the arts are to our lives, whether as an escape, or an outlet for our thoughts and emotions. When we look back on these times, I hope people remember how the arts have helped us get through them, and consequently prioritize its value in education and society.

Kitchen Therapy: Happy Belly

Another art form I’ve been re-acquainting myself with is cooking. I used to do more of it, especially when I was back in school and was “Cookcrastinating,” but life got in the way.

Within the 1st week of the lockdown announcement, chefs and home cooks came out of the woodwork to share their favorite recipes or hacks, or held live cooking sessions, featuring ingredients that are more accessible at this time. (Check out Chef Ed‘s Wok From Home series on Facebook).

I joined the Dalgona Coffee craze, made my own lasagna sheets and winged a lasagna recipe for 2 using leftover taco meat, cooked authentic carbonara the way I remember my Italian hosts used to make it (but Jamie Oliver’s video was a nice refresher), made Macy‘s favorite white bread (which could’ve failed terribly because my yeast was old and I didn’t know how to knead sticky dough, but it was good despite being a little dense), attempted an easy Japanese omelette rice after seeing it on Midnight Diner (3rd time’s the charm), have fixed myself a lot of easy snacks (including a grilled cheese french toast, copied from Mela, the accidental emerging home cook of 2020), experimented with the right ratios for my ideal Chai latte, and made Christina Tosi‘s soft pretzels this afternoon, in a co-bake with Macy (yes, Macy again. She’s one of the best bakers I know).

From this quarantine alone, I —

  1. learned that making pasta is SO EASY (and relaxing), it’s absolutely unnecessary to buy from the store ever again
  2. found out the hard way that checking if my yeast is alive is a step I should never skip
  3. gained the life skill of kneading through a slap and fold technique, perfect for sticky dough (which may be a likely occurrence in our humid climate)
  4. discovered that anise and strong ginger (among other spices) are what gives the Chai its distinct flavor
  5. can eat 4 pretzels in one sitting 🤦🏽‍♀️

Fitness

First, it was just getting into the habit of morning yoga (which I wrote about in my last entry), and then someone recommended the 11:00 am dance class I mentioned above, but then by afternoon I was still itching to do something more. 😏 With every day that passed, I wanted to keep moving. I logged on for 2 whole days when there was a yoga festival hosted by Global Mala Manila a few weeks back, and attended 2 private sessions with Shaka Power Yoga (including an Earth Day celebration). I now do at least 2 active things daily, and I already feel stronger. 💪🏽

The original three (and Salty)

I started looking for people to join me on my workouts. From a small group of 3, who just wanted to burn our lunch for a few minutes each afternoon, we now have an 11-member crew that sweats together over anything from slow resistance training, Barre3, to PopSugar dance workouts, and HIIT from Nike Training Club or our personal coach, Tring. Super good times with old friends, every single day.

COVIDoodles: Calendar Keeping

Last but not the least, so as not to lose track of the days, I started to journal diligently again. It started with writing down a few memorable things from my days, then it turned into a couple of drawings for the things I wanted to emphasize. Now, it’s become more of a way to process my day, from the very mundane record of things I ate, or what I watched, or whom I chatted with… until it became more obvious that these were the things I was grateful for.

On a side note, drawing has never been a strong point, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I also love how sanative the process can be, especially since my planner (from my sister) is so tiny! (I love my .02 Platinum Preppy fountain pens).

COVIDoodles
Palm-sized diary

I know I’m not changing the world with what I’ve been doing, but I’m changing my world a little more each day. And I’m always a good place to start.

Keep safe, be healthy, cover your mouths, wash your hands, and be patient with yourself and others. 💛

2 Comments

  1. Ann says:

    Also, don’t ingest disinfect. Please.

  2. Ging says:

    Finally finished it! I was looking for inspiration. 🙂

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