I changed my Facebook profile picture the other day with one of my favorite photos from three years ago. It’s not one of those picture-perfect photos but I chose it because of the feelings I had at the time it was taken. My cousin and I had just completed a hike at Point Reyes located in Marin County, Northern California. The hiking trail heads downwards to the coast, a glorious sight that I forever kept in my memory. The hike, accompanied with blue skies and beautiful weather, gave me that instant feeling of euphoria.

But those feelings don’t last long. Since then, my life has gone on a journey of unpredictable highs and lows.

My latest Facebook profile picture

If there are words that truly capture my life, it would be in these words from Nayyirah Waheed:

I don’t pay attention to the world ending. It has ended for me many times before. And began again in the morning.

It seems that my life’s theme is based on starting anew—always the new kid on the block— may it be in school or cities I’ve lived—or with friendships and relationships, or moving to unfamiliar territories. With my son’s illness, life would reset after each healing process. In his last bout with cancer, after finding out his health has bounced back, I decided it was time to go on a solo travel. I had planned to leave in the beginning of May of this year to Copenhagen, Bergen (Norway), and to Stockholm. It would’ve been a much needed break especially after the emotional state I was in the past year. I thought 2020 had a reset button to begin a new life filled with adventures but with the pandemic, unfortunately, I am once again thrown in a pit of uncertainty.

Again and again….story of my life!

This wasn’t the first trip I’ve had to cancel. I had planned my trip of a lifetime to Nepal a few years ago but my son’s cancer came back the second time around. The situation derailed not only my hiking expedition to the Everest region but also a trip to Southeast Asia for my older son’s high school graduation gift. On both times, I had everything set, all itineraries made. But somehow, I always end up with a different path, often far from my own expectations.

Before the whole world shut its borders and shelter-in-place were ordered in every state and city, we already have anticipated the danger of this virus. We pulled our son from school, we stopped going out as much and began our social distancing two weeks prior to everyone else. If I have to count the days, I’ve been on lockdown for 63760 days. Just kidding. But honestly, it feels like it’s been sixty three thousand and seven hundred sixty days! Although Texas is slowly reopening, we are still staying home until there’s a clear treatment plan for Covid-19 virus.

Each day in this three months, it sure felt life was passing me by. For a lack of better words, I was bored as fuck. But thank God I don’t easily give up. I always try do the best I can—in any given situation—whatever forces of nature I’m up against. I learned how to fight and pick myself up after each fall. I was (still am) losing my sanity by being home everyday with nowhere else to go. But, hey, I’m a survivor and you might wonder—how did this quarantine girl stay away from being buried six feet under? 😁

I cooked.

Pork chop over stewed apples
Caprese
Tunisian spiced chicken spaghetti with roasted tomatoes

Yes, I was cooking my feelings even though I’m not an emotional eater. Boredom must’ve brought out the chef in me. Each day, I prepared dishes that were restaurant worthy. I was channeling my inner Julia Childs during this pandemic! My family looked forward to my cooking everyday and the boredom has slowly dissipated. My creative juices were overflowing and I was enjoying making various dishes in many different and exciting ways. Oh but I didn’t stop there.

I moved over to baking!

Oh boy, did I bake my heart out! And if you know me well, I’m someone who cannot bake to save my life. Everyone seemed to be baking banana bread during the lockdown and I curiously joined the crowd. But without failure…I burned the first one I made! It reminded me of the time I baked brownies out of a box and they turned out as hard as bricks—no one could take a bite without the fear of breaking their teeth! But I’m a perfectionist (sorta) so I tried again and the second one was a success! That success gave me the confidence to think I might actually be an okay baker. And I became more ambitious.

I had been dreaming of Sprinkles Cupcakes’ salted cornflake oatmeal cookies but the store was closed. I started googling copycats and stumbled on one recipe. It was amazing and the cookies were the bomb, my boys were requesting more of them. With all the cooking and baking, I was afraid I’d soon be 200 lbs heavier.

So I walked.

And walked….

Every.Single.Day.

Unless it’s storming outside, you bet, I am walking. On record, the longest walk I did was five miles and that’s just in my uneventful suburban neighborhood. I really love walking (hence my love for hiking). It gives me time to gather my thoughts and new perspectives. It gives me the chance to take all the negative thoughts, scream them out loud, in the big open air—where no one is listening—until they slowly banish from my head.

Today’s walk was 3.16 miles

I also love the company.

Friends I don’t need to social distance from
I see people “quarantining”
My favorite companion

Although my dog slows me down while giving in to his need to sniff everything and everywhere, I appreciate that he’s a real trooper when I take him on long walks.

Boredom made me do crazy things. I know I wont be traveling in the near future and this is frustrating for a traveler like me. With so many countries closing their borders, it makes me sad to think I won’t be able to get on a plane anytime soon. Recently, I found ways to “travel” without leaving the comforts of my home. I found a filter on Instagram where I can include media in my background. So I did this silly thing:

That’s traveling to three countries in one day! I changed into different clothes to enact each climate. It was fun while it lasted. But just to let you know, this is going to be me busting out of my quarantine when this is all over! 😁

This pandemic has taught me a lot about myself. I learned that I am resilient, because in spite of how many times I’ve been disappointed, I always had the fighting spirit to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Although my writings may hint a dejected mental state, believe it or not, I am mostly pleased inside. I am always full of hope and regardless of how awful life can get, I believe there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. And in this current situation, light at the end of this ugly covid tunnel.