Taking a Breather: What I've Been Doing During the Pandemic

COVID-19 slowly crept into the U.S., and at the end of February, the nation recorded its first death and began travel restrictions to other countries. Before the restrictions began and the nation began to take the virus seriously, Isaac and I went to Wyoming to visit close friends.

While we were there, coronavirus wasn't even really a topic of conversation. We shared in light conversation about the possibility of closings, but we had never imagined the extent that would be reached later on. At that time, it hadn't even reached West River or Wyoming at all. I was definitely one of those people that brushed it off. "There's been more deaths from the flu than there has been from this coronavirus," I would say. How bad could it really be?

Across the flats of Buffalo Gap, just south of the Black Hills and into the plains of Eastern Wyoming, there are many dilapidated old buildings. Isaac and I traveled almost eight hours to Green River Wyoming and visited Flaming Gorge in Utah during our visit with friends.

The day we got back from the trip, South Dakota's governor Kristi Noem announced the first four cases and first death in the state. It was still all East River, so I looked forward to returning from spring break to finish the semester. When the coronavirus struck, I was happily in my senior year of college at Black Hills State University. I was bouncing back and forth between Spearfish and Rapid City-spending half my week at college for classes and my job on campus while the other half was spent working for Evergreen Media or spending time at home with Isaac and Opal. I was struggling to balance two jobs, starting up my business, maintaining quality for schoolwork, planning our wedding, and having some sort of social life.

Closures and Community Support

Unfortunately, I was in for a surprise. At this point, other schools around the nation were transferring to online classes or closing for extended breaks. Colleges, high schools, and elementary schools still held hope though. BHSU, along with the rest of the Board of Regents universities, had extended spring break to prepare for the possibility of transitioning to online classes.

After that extra week, they had then sent out an email that online classes would only be for two weeks. Of course, at this point the infection rate was climbing, so many of us knew that we would most likely not be returning to campus for the semester.

Little by little, events were being cancelled or postponed. Even the tax deadline was extended to July!

With that said, I had never imagined that we would go to the lengths we have today in the nation with schools closing, bars and restaurants switching to delivery and curbside only, or churches shutting their doors to public services. Never had I imagined losing my job or watching family members struggle to pay bills because they've been laid off.

But in this time of disorder and panic, this time of uncertainty, so many individuals and businesses have been going out of their way to support their communities. In Spearfish, the makeSPACE organization has been working to make masks for healthcare workers.

In Rapid City, even a simple share of businesses has helped spread the word and show support. Impact Magazine, published by Evergreen Media started the #curbsideproject. Businesses, at no cost were able to sign up for images that would show they're still open and offering curbside pickup/delivery options. From bakeries to florists and grocery stores to embroidery shops, the Curbside Project, highlights the faces behind the businesses.

"Our mission is to highlight the faces behind businesses that are open and continue to provide their services to our community."

These images were taken as part of my internship with Evergreen Media. I am proud to be part of a team who thinks about their community and has provided this free project for businesses to participate in.

In addition to businesses supporting businesses, around the globe, communities began participating in the #aworldofhearts movement. Businesses, homes, and apartments have begun to fill their windows with arrangements of colorful hearts.This was started as a way to show that we are all in this together, and an activity kids can participate in during this trying time. When driving around, how many do you see?

A Positive Outlook on a Crazy Situation

Everyone was watching the world to see how they should react. Should we panic? Should we stay shut in? Should we go about as if nothing changed? A friend of mine, former co-worker, and recent BHSU graduate, Sydnee Dormann, along with more than 3 million Americans were laid off.

Sydnee became my inspiration for looking on the positive side of things during the pandemic. The biggest take away from her LinkedIn post was "We now have the time." She listed a few things that she was going to be doing the pandemic, and it struck a chord within me.

With that being said, I decided I would use this time for self-improvement and look on the brighter side. If Sydnee could, and she was out of work, why couldn't I?

Because I was so busy before, I was taking so many things and people for granted. I was slacking on my duties as a fiance, pet and home owner, friend, and sister. Isaac and I would let our house sit, clothes piling for weeks (okay, if I am being honest, it had probably been a month or so!), dishes sitting in the sink, litter box full, cereal was the main course for weeks, and we maybe spent a couple hours together on the weekends.

During the "time off" because of the pandemic, I've been able to refocus and rest. Only working on Mondays and Fridays, that leaves me five days to plan, cook, clean, read, etc. When I'm not on Zoom with my classmates or doing homework, odds are I am doing laundry or dishes.

I am starting to feel how my mom does, that's for sure. I feel like laundry and dishes have been on an endless loop. The mountains keep piling, but with my time at home, I am able to keep them to hills.

Separating laundry during my first week at home during the pandemic, I had made five mountains of clothes. It took two days to completely wash, and then I already had another load it felt like.

Instead of skipping breakfast or getting up early to drive to Spearfish for classes, Isaac and I have been making pancakes or egg scrambles with bacon or sausage almost every day.

Of course, a big benefit has been taking a breather. In between meal planning, cleaning, yard work, and home improvement projects, I have been catching up on a lot of my favorite (and some new) TV shows.

As the weather has been warming up, Isaac and I have been able to start doing our larger yard projects we've been waiting to do. We just bought the house about a year ago, but never had time between all of his training for the new position on base and my big internship to do any of the things we had wanted to do.

Behind our garage, an old pine tree stands unkempt, gnarly and in the way. In just a short few hours, Isaac had trimmed it up and we had our first fire in the backyard since we moved in. Poem written and read by Laura Kelly Fanucci.

Of course, we didn't just work and watch TV all the time either. Isaac and I broke out our games - all three of them - and have been playing them on repeat.

With a positive outlook and attitude, the pandemic has turned into something great for my little family here in Rapid City. Isaac and I are adapting to life together with Opal, and we are learning new things everyday. For one, Isaac and I both hate doing dishes. We love sleeping in - his schedule was switched so now he only works three, 12-hour days. We love leaving shoes in the middle of the floor. We kind of suck at meal planning, but we are definitely working on it and getting better.

This time home has given us a glimpse of what it will be like to share our lives together, to spend everyday together. Before the pandemic, we "lived" together, but I stayed in Spearfish so much, and we both worked so much, we still had very different schedules and ideas of what that really meant. I for one, have been loving this time. We are growing together and shaping our house into a home. Day by day, I learn to love this place and our lives a little bit more. While crazy, the last month and a half or so of this pandemic, has been healing, restful, and rewarding, but I cannot wait for society to start opening up again.

Since we moved here, I have wanted to paint the rooms in the house to give them a Grassel touch or a modern look. We finally started on one room, and we "de-popcorned" the ceiling as well!


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