Coffee Breaks & Other Food Thoughts

coffee breaks and confections

Days and events over the past month have me thinking. About food. About family. About friendship. About time. About what is normal life. About coffee breaks and cafes.

Is this now normal life? COVID numbers remain high and the pandemic continues. But government policies and the actions of most people indicate that society has moved on. I still have not worked in an office building in more than two years. Working from home is easier in many ways and cheaper. Impromptu coffee breaks with colleagues are what I miss the most. I also miss randomly stopping by coffee shops alone.

A few weeks ago, I had a chai date with a friend from law school that I hadn’t seen in about twenty years. She returned to India within a few years after we graduated, so there weren’t that many opportunities to connect in person. One of the last times that I saw her, she made me chai from scratch at her house. Of course it was delicious. One of my favorite memories of her is how we would share snacks in class too. Bonding over food and the law.

This time, we were only able to meet for a short period of time, so we had chai at a Starbucks near me. She looked the same, but had cut her hair and I remembered how she has the best laugh. It was also my first time taking my mask off in a Starbucks since before the pandemic.

A few weeks before, I attended a rehearsal dinner and then a wedding the next day. It was the first time in more than two years that I had eaten in a restaurant and attended a truly large gathering — mostly unmasked. The dinner was delicious. The wedding was amazing. I saw family that I hadn’t seen in years. We talked and danced and laughed. My cousin was the groom and he and his wife are perfect together. I’m so happy they found each other. Our family adored her from the first time we met.

I’m fully vaccinated and double boosted. I timed my second booster with the week of the wedding, so I’d have the highest immunity for this very large gathering. It seems to have worked. Now I’m inching toward whatever this new life is. Will we ever be post-pandemic? Maybe not. So this is it. I’m still uneasy about it all. But I guess I’m starting to move on too.

Since cafe visits are no longer tied with where I’m working, I’m attaching my errands with coffee breaks. I had wanted to visit French Press Bakery & Cafe in Needham since 2019. I’m not usually in that area, but suddenly I needed to be and had a little time to relax. So I enjoyed a cold brew and an almond croissant sitting outside in the sun. I love this place! The area is adorable and full of other restaurants and shops. It’s not too far from Quincy, so I’ll definitely return.

A few days later, I needed to be in Hopkinton, so I paired the errand with a visit to Muffin House Cafe. They also had outdoor seating where I enjoyed my iced coffee and blueberry muffin. This place was jumping! At a certain point, there was a line of people waiting to get in. It’s definitely a favorite local spot!

What’s next on my food journey? Well, it’s not a cafe, but I learned recently that H Mart will soon be arriving in Quincy. I’m so excited! It’s a Korean grocery store and I’m looking forward to trying some different foods. During the pandemic, I started watching a ton of Korean dramas and following several Korean YouTubers. I’ve learned about many Korean dishes and ways of cooking, so there have been foods and ingredients that I’ve been looking for. Now I should have an easier time finding them.

Have you noticed shifts in your daily life to bring back what you’ve missed from before the pandemic or new things you’re bringing in?

Is Student Loan Cancellation In The Stars?

View of space and stars

 

“Either a) they’re going to resume repayments right before the election, which would be suicidal, or b) they’re going [sic] forgive loans right before the election, which would be brilliant.” ~ Michael Love

What’s it gonna be? I saw the tweet above and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Going back several decades gives some clarity on how we got here with student loans. From many articles that I’ve read, it goes back to President Reagan. A “Common Dreams” piece is especially illuminating.

“Before Reagan became president, states paid 65 percent of the costs of colleges and federal aid covered another 15 or so percent, leaving students to cover the remaining 20 percent. Today the numbers are pretty much reversed.

As soon as he became president, Reagan went after federal aid to students with fervor. Devin Fergus documented for The Washington Post how, as a result, student debt first became a widespread thing across the United States during the early 80s:

‘No federal program suffered deeper cuts than student aid. Spending on higher education was slashed by some 25 percent between 1980 and 1985. … Students eligible for grant assistance freshmen year had to take out student loans to cover their second year.’

It became a mantra for conservatives, particularly in Reagan’s cabinet. Let the kids pay for their own damn ‘liberal’ educations.”

An article on President Reagan’s budget that was published by the American Association of University Professors discusses the reduction in student assistance back in the early 1980s. I was a freshman in college in 1982. I had a mixture of grants, work study and loans. However, I remember in my junior year losing a lot of grant money and having to take on more loans than anticipated. I didn’t understand what was happening and remember being shocked.

The article goes on to say, “With rare exception, every college campus would be affected by the proposed cuts beginning in academic year 1981-82. The degree of impact would vary depending on the current numbers of students utilizing federal student assistance programs and the income status of students and their families. We do not know at this time the impact on the size of the freshman classes of academic years 1981-82 and 1982-83.”

Well, I don’t know the impact on the size of the classes, but it was the beginning of a decades long student loan debt problem. President Reagan also contributed generally to consumer loan debt problems for those with middle and lower incomes. With the Tax Reform Act of 1986, credit card interest and other forms of personal interest were no longer tax deductible. We now know what the theory was really trickling down.

Credit Scores & Debt

Money itself means nothing. It’s a tool created by humans so that we can exchange goods and services in a way that is easier than bartering.

We reduce people to a credit score based on whether they are deemed “worthy” of credit.  Buying a home is supposed to be the American dream, but most people have to go into debt to get it. Credit scores are looked at by employers and can impact one’s ability to get employment. Unless you have other income, you can’t pay back debt without a job. It’s a truly vicious cycle.

Credit shouldn’t be needed to get the basics in life like housing, transportation, education, health care and literal freedom. Many if not most Americans go into debt to obtain at least a few of these. Most obtain mortgages to buy a house. People use loans to finance cars. Student loans are used for education. After receiving health care, many are often saddled with medical debt. For those unlucky enough to be arrested without sufficient monetary resources, if they cannot pay bail, they may remain incarcerated.

Library Fee Debt

There seems to be a collective recognition that the idea of debt is wrong and things can be different. Everything that we have in life materially, like cars, phones, houses, money, unless it already existed in nature like plants and water, all the systems in place in society (like debt and taxes) were created, built, and manufactured by people. It didn’t have to be like this from the beginning and we don’t have to continue down this path now. Things can change.

My local public library stopped collecting late fees for overdue books and many other libraries are doing the same. There never had to be late fees to begin with. It became a debt for borrowing a public book. How many people were not able to borrow books because they owed money? 130,000 just in San Diego according to a November 2021 article by the Public Library Association. So people were prevented from using a resource to gain knowledge because of debt. Does that seem right? The pandemic zeitgeist allowed the idea of pausing library fines and a collective shift to thinking that these fees are wrong.

A March 2022 New York Times article followed-up on the elimination of late fees across New York’s public library system. A flood of overdue items were returned to the branches and visitors increased as well. Debt cancellation has a positive effect. It gives power back to the people burdened by it.

The Rich & Debt

There’s a reason why Elon Musk and Jamie Dimon are feeling “super bad” about the economy. Maybe because broad debt cancellation would impact companies and other institutions whose sole purpose is to make money off of student loan debt. There would be a massive reshuffling of the economy. Mitt Romney, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, has proposed legislation to prevent President Biden from cancelling student loan debt. The mega rich are not happy about the prospect.

The pandemic turned life upside down in just about every way possible. As things begin shifting toward a new normal, we can observe how things will land and hopefully imagine a different and better way.

Debt is a fundamental system in our market based economy intentionally put in place in the United States to favor the rich and control those who are not. The tax system favors debt held by the wealthy, but not debt held by others.

According to the Education Data Initiative, 43.4 million people have federal student loan debt. The average balance owed is $37,014.00. If you include private student loan debt, the amount is closer to $41,000.00. In total, the federal government is owed over $1.606 trillion dollars in student loans. Research from Insight Into Diversity states that two-thirds of the people holding this student loan debt are women and most of these women are Black.

The government spends money by incurring debt all the time and forgives it too. But this country seems to fundamentally disagree with who deserves money and who doesn’t. Business need is favored over personal need. It also disagrees with whose debt should be cancelled. According to Pandemic Oversight, many PPL loans were forgiven.

“More than 11.8 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were issued as of June 30, 2021, with 708 borrowers receiving the maximum loan amount of $10 million. Of the total number of loans, 4.1 million have been forgiven. The average dollar amount forgiven was $95,700. Of the borrowers receiving the maximum amount, 323 loans have been partially or fully forgiven.”

PPL loans were issued to businesses on the premise that the money would be used to save jobs. That these companies could not pay their workers otherwise. When I heard that Tom Brady’s health and wellness company received close to a million dollars from this program, I had thoughts. Between his wealth and Gisele’s, they couldn’t otherwise afford to pay their employees? Hmmm.

Many companies didn’t have to pay back the money. The PPL program has also been called “the biggest fraud in a generation” based on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on luxury items and not employee paychecks.

The difference in outrage between what is shown toward PPL loan forgiveness and the idea of student loan forgiveness is stark and monumental.

Who Has Student Loan Debt?

Yet, most likely voters favor student debt cancellation. Just days ago, hundreds of organizations jointly called on President Biden to keep his campaign promise and cancel student loan debt, stating that it will “strengthen the economy, tackle racial disparities, and provide much-needed relief to help all Americans weather the pandemic and record inflation.” Recent headlines state that President Biden may forgive $10,000.00 per student borrower. However, that’s just a drop in the bucket and would do nothing for anyone with debt larger than that. Myself included. Why? Interest capitalization.

From what I see personally with my own student loans, every July, the interest capitalizes. So whatever progress was made during the year in paying towards the loan, the unpaid interest is added again and the loan keeps growing. This happens every year. So the principal keeps getting exponentially bigger. It is a never ending pit. A trap. Unless you have a lot of money and can make very large payments, the loan will never be paid off. When I took out my student loans, I understood that there was interest, but not how much the interest would be repeatedly added to the principal. This issue is very personal to me and I cannot even pretend to be neutral.

So many people are caught in the student loan debt trap. It’s very difficult to make large payments unless you accumulate a certain amount of wealth or someone helps you. President Obama and Kerry Washington were both unable to pay off their student loans until they started making the kind of money that comes from fame.

Things do seem to be changing. Over the past few months on Twitter, I’ve noticed people exclaiming that their student loans were forgiven. Mostly through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). Over the years, graduates sought to have the loans forgiven, but virtually nobody was ever eligible. The Biden Administration has been taking another look at the programs to see the flaws in the system. Actually those flaws seem intentional. Keeping people in debt seems to be a thing with this country. Debt is as American as mass shootings.

However, the momentum shift by the federal government seems to be only for piecemeal cancellation. Forgiveness for students who attended certain for-profit schools is part of that trend.

Broken Student Loan System

Most recently I’ve read that President Biden is forgiving loans for 28,000 student borrowers who attended for-profit Marinello Schools of Beauty and 560,000 student borrowers of for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

If in the past you tried to get your loans forgiven through PSLF, try again. It’s now working for some people. Hundreds of thousands of people could be eligible to have those loans forgiven. The Twitter celebrations of newfound freedom from student loan debt are beautiful. Maybe the tide is changing.

President Biden extended the pause on federal student loan payments for the 7th time since the pauses began in March 2020. This time the pause is through August 31, 2022. The student loan system is broken and exactly how broken is becoming more clear.

A recent NPR investigation reveals that the federal student loan system has been badly mismanaged. Those tasked with managing the loans have not always kept track of payments made on those loans. Often student loans are eligible for cancellation after a certain number of years or payments. But those servicing the loans don’t always have systems in place to let borrowers know when they have reached eligibility. The system is a mess and the burden of endless years of debt falls on those who can least afford it. Revelations in the article are stunning, including the portion below.

Before the days of multiple loan servicers, there was simply one. From 1992 to 2009, ACS Education Services managed the entire federal student loan portfolio.

But when the federal government ended its contract with ACS and the company began transferring borrowers’ profiles to other servicers, it became clear that ACS had made a dizzying number of errors — more than 5 million according to a 2020 report.

ACS has also faced allegations of mismanaging IDR, misleading borrowers and of taking months, even years in some cases, to correct and update borrowers’ records.

Nearly every borrower who could be eligible for cancellation under IDR in the next few years was serviced by ACS at some point. That means their current records, including the count of their progress toward cancellation, could be built on the sand of erroneous data.

This matters now more than ever, after several servicers have ended their federal contracts and more than a quarter of all borrowers have been — or soon will be — transferred to new servicers.

Broad Student Loan Cancellation?

But will President Biden’s willingness to cancel student loans ever extend to a broader group of people? Millions are bogged down with student loan debt. Not just young people, middle aged and elderly as well. And yes, still me. Some people even lose their social security benefits because of it. An AARP article detailed the problem.

“In fiscal year 2015 alone, almost 114,000 borrowers age 50 and older had Social Security benefits seized to repay defaulted federal student loans, according to a 2016 Government Accountability Office report. Half of those were receiving Social Security disability payments.”

People give money here and there to patch up problems for the moment or maybe a season. But not a lifetime. The Debt Collective, which is the nation’s first debtors’ union, recently “purchased purchased $1.7M of unpaid tuition bills that Black women previously owed to Bennett College — and canceled it all.” That’s a private organization trying to patch up the holes in a bigger system.

A Washington Post article examined how the student loan pause has greatly helped Black women especially, because we as a group, hold a disproportionate share of student loan debt. The pause has allowed some to purchase homes, accumulate savings and catch up on bills. For me, I’ve been able to catch my breath for a bit. But I’m still waiting for the full exhale.

Systemic change is necessary to change a person’s lifetime — not just a moment in time. Full student debt cancellation would change the system and right wrongs impacting generations. It would begin a fundamental shift in the underpinning of American society.

The Current Astrology

I’m certainly not an astrologer, but I believe there is something to astrology. For thousands of years, humans have looked to the sky for guidance. After all, many believe that three wise men followed a star to find a special newborn baby. I follow a few astrologers on social media and have noticed some trends.

Mercury just stationed direct yesterday and generally what was hidden from sight may now be revealed. So the time may be right for getting answers on the big picture with student loan cancellation. According to a podcast by Chani Nicholas, “Mercury retrogrades point out what has never worked. What has been broken for awhile or what is completely unsustainable.” Mercury helps us to realize exactly how problematic things are.

Pluto Return Of The United States

Nations have astrological birth charts just like people. At different times, planets travel to the same places they were located when someone was born. Some planets travel faster or slower than others. The moon travels through every astrological sign within a month. The sun travels through every sign over a year. Instead of wishing people “Happy Birthday!,” some say “Happy Solar Return!” Which is the day and time each year when the sun is in the same spot as it was when you were born.

There are other planetary returns too. Cycles are different for each. If we live to be 84 years old, we could experience a Uranus return. Many people talk about our first Saturn return at around 29 years of age. Depending on how long we live, we could have two or three Saturn returns.

Now Pluto is another story. A Pluto return is 248 years. No human will experience a Pluto return. But a nation can. And the buzz about the Pluto return of the United States has been ever increasing over the last few years.

Astrologer Chani Nicholas was interviewed on a podcast about this important time that we’re living through. Her interview starts around 21 minutes into the show. She says that the Pluto return started in 2008 and makes us reckon with everything. It all gets exposed and we have to heal from the past.

According to what Pluto impacts, it was no coincidence that during 2008, we were in a financial crisis and that we elected President Obama as the first Black president. The unsustainable housing market was exposed for what it was. Shaky at best. Racism that has always been a part of this country became louder and uglier.

Nicholas says that Pluto asks what we have learned about our resources and what are we going to do about it. It’s a reckoning point.

An article by Astrologer Whitney Will also states that the impacts of the Pluto return started in 2008 and that there are “three exact hits” that happen in 2022.

“At the time of the signing of the Declaration, Pluto was toward the end of Capricorn at 27 degrees, falling in the part of the chart that relates to resources, how they are acquired and how one manages finances. In this position, Pluto describes a fixation or complex that the United States will and does have with economics, and a difficulty in relating to this topic with any kind of moderation. When it comes to money, the United States as an entity is likely to relate in compulsive ways and with a great deal of psychological shadow involved. When Pluto comes back around, we will have to reconcile with the darker parts of our history.”

The Hoodwitch refers to the Pluto return of the United States as a “historic event that will rock the country and change our lives.” She continues.

“The foundation of the U.S. has many cracks in it, which is why we can expect to see it being rebuilt in a better way in which the people hold the power. The government has to be accountable and responsible for the wrong doings of its past — particularly the racist and misogynistic roots that the country was founded on. The time and reckoning has come for the country to make reparations and redefine the culture that its founders built. A restoration is necessary.”

It’s no revelation to most that Nancy Reagan had an astrologer that she often consulted. A PBS article about the death of the astrologer, Joan Quigley, says that neither President Reagan nor his wife ever admitted to using astrology to make policies or decisions. However, Quigley denied that. In the end, we’ll never know.

Astrology doesn’t give definite answers or predict the future. But it can help with the timing of things that we are trying to accomplish and guide us in other ways. Wouldn’t it be quite cinematic, if the astrology for this country could help undo the decades of damage done by America’s first actor president?

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Image Credit: ESA/NASA

The Wordle Craze Of 2022

Wordle

At the beginning of the year, my Twitter feed filled up with Wordle squares. I had no idea what was going on. There were more and more everyday. Then I started reading articles about how these Wordle squares were a word game created by Josh Wardle as a gift for his partner. So romantic!

Word games have never been my thing. Sure, I’ve done crossword puzzles and similar games, but overall I tend to not enjoy them. I get a few words quickly, then some I don’t get, so I stop. I’m but a mere mortal. How much of my very limited time on this earth should I spend playing games that start annoying me? Ahem. Not much.

The older I get, the easier I abandon things that don’t bring me pleasure. I used to always finish books and movies no matter how much I disliked them. I would grind it out to the end, because I’m not a quitter. Then after, I would feel frustrated thinking about how I couldn’t get that time back. These were things done for fun. Not for school or work. I started wondering why I was doing this to myself. I’m the boss of me and get to decide.

Let me clarify that these games annoying me are done alone. I love board games and playing word games with other people. I’m an introvert, so I don’t quite get why for games I’m all about the social aspect of it. Something to explore about myself I guess.

Anyway, I love Wordle! It’s a game that you can play alone, but it has definite limits. You can only play one time a day. All the words are five letters. You only get six guesses. Then you’re done! No agonizing endless hours of guessing and then not even getting all the words. It’s usually around 10 or 15 minutes, then it’s over. On with the rest of your day!

For the past 13 days I’ve played. It brings such a simple yet complete sense of comfort and satisfaction every time. There’s this moment when I’ve guessed a couple of times and gotten a few letters and I’m going over so many words in my head, then I feel like giving up.

There’s absolutely no way I will ever find this word. Then I get another letter. That was no help! How will I ever get this word? How has anyone gotten this word today?! But I see them. They got it. It’s possible!

Then I’m feeling kind of sad for myself. Again, I look at the letters that I know the word contains. Nothing. Then they start sort of melting together in different ways and suddenly I think of a new word. Aha! Could it be? Yes, it be! I did it again! Yay, I’m so smart! Then I go about my day.

Up until now, Wordle has been free. Last week, The New York Times bought it. Hopefully it will remain the same wonderful Wordle that I enjoy each day.

This game that so many of us play each day is a bright spot in the pandemic. It feels like a very specific moment in history. One of fairly few things that I will savor from this time. So I want to make sure to capture this feeling. This simple little game brings a wonderful escape in the midst of so much that is not wonderful and for that I am grateful.

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*Updated 2/10/2022* Just learned that there’s a Wordle Archive where you can play previous games. Not sure how long it will stay free, but for now you can find it here.

*Updated 4/27/2022* Unfortunately, the Wordle Archive is no longer available. ☹️

Into 2022 & Plant Medicine

Hoya Lisa my plant medicine

Three months ago was the last time that I wrote on this blog!

Between regular life, work, continuing to settle in my new place, the holidays and then getting COVID, I didn’t prioritize my writing. Which is wrong, because I always start feeling off when I don’t write. I’ve had this nagging feeling for a while that I should write something here. Anything, no matter how short.

Recently, a friend and my mom both separately mentioned to me that I should start writing again. So I’m here. Getting back to my practice. Like I do when I return to yoga or meditation when I’ve been away for awhile. Which had been the case for a few weeks when I stopped those as well.

I like to think that I’m good at taking care of myself. But we all slip up every once in a while. Things get overwhelming and we lose track of time and don’t center our wellness. When we don’t center our wellness, we get sick.

In 2020, I didn’t gather with anyone during the holidays. It was awful. So it was wonderful to spend time with loved ones this past Thanksgiving. It was a small gathering. We were all vaccinated and things felt mostly safe.

A COVID CHRISTMAS

In December, when I heard that Omicron was quickly spreading everywhere, I knew that gathering for Christmas was going to be a risk. My mom, brother and I spent three days together over Christmas.

My brother had sniffles by the time he went home. Pre-COVID, we would have thought nothing of it. Luckily he gets tested regularly and soon tested positive. Most of his housemate were sick as well.

My mom and I started to have similar symptoms. I tested positive soon after, but we were never able to get my mom tested. Thankfully we’re all fully vaccinated and boosted, so our symptoms never got worse than that of a bad cold. We assumed my mom had COVID as well, so we all isolated for ten days. The new five day CDC guidance seems questionable at best.

Anyway, now I don’t even know what to think. I took extreme measures not to get COVID. My activities have been extremely limited. I haven’t eaten in a restaurant in almost two years. I never stopped wearing a mask indoors when out in public. I’m barely out in public and work from home.

Even though my case was very mild, we don’t know the long-term effects of COVID. Until the past few years, I had never known that there were long-term effects from getting chickenpox until I learned about shingles. This summer I also got the two doses of the shingles vaccine. 2021 was about getting all the vaccinations! Got the flu shot too!

Although I might have a somewhat heightened immunity to COVID right now, I know that it won’t last. Especially with all the variants popping up. I don’t want to get it again. I’ve heard of people getting it two and three times! So I’m still being very careful. But I do want to find a way to be out in the world a bit more, because I’m missing out on a lot and it’s getting to me.

PLANT MEDICINE

Taking care of my plants, learning about plants and even talking about plants makes me happy. It’s bringing that peaceful feeling from being out in nature to the indoors. From being more immersed in the wellness community, I’ve learned the new (to me) way that many refer to things that help you feel better as medicine. If there’s a certain song that you play that makes you feel better, that song might be your medicine.

It makes sense when you think about the definition of medicine – a treatment for or prevention of disease. Usually we think of it as a pharmaceutical made by a company to fight disease. But what is disease? Dis-ease. When we are not feeling at ease – feeling unwell. Many things can make us feel at ease and they don’t have to be pharmaceuticals.

I’ve realized that plants are a medicine for me and plant therapy is good for my soul. The plant pictured above is called Hoya Australis Lisa. Yes, I have a namesake plant! She is the latest addition to my plant family and a Christmas gift to me from my mom. I usually get plant cuttings from friends and family, so I don’t buy many plants.

I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a plant online, but this was a plant that I really wanted. I’m not going to many stores nowadays and the stores that I do visit, I haven’t seen one. I don’t know anyone with this plant, so I couldn’t get a cutting. I ordered her from Horti and the delivery was very fast, so I was happy with the experience and finding this plant medicine. This is my first Hoya, so I’m looking forward to learning more about this plant as I move into 2022.

Pandemic Surrender

thinking about surrender

During the last year and a half, I’ve done a lot of thinking about surrender. That’s why I chose surrender as my word of the year.

I believe that surrender is not about giving up, but making peace with reality. Because I’ve learned that what you resist persists and the fighting is emotionally exhausting.

A few days ago, I did a selfie photo shoot of my new look. Normally I’m not one to share many pictures of myself. But I do change up my photos on this blog and my social media every year or so. This change is dramatic, so I thought I’d blog it too.

My hair has been thinning for years and has been a constant source of stress and anxiety. Society places so much importance on thick long luxurious hair. What do you do when you don’t have that no matter how hard you try?

You do the best you can with what you have. You try to overlook comments that people make about other people’s hair while wondering what they think of yours.

Then you just get exhausted by the whole thing. Because life is short and what’s the point of worrying. I can’t control other people’s thoughts — only mine. I need to be comfortable with myself. I’m 56, soon to be 57, and want to age gracefully. Wigs, weaves and braids have never been my style, so I started looking at the other end of the spectrum.

Several of my aunts have embraced the bald look and some well-known glamorous women like Christine Platt and Ayanna Pressley rock it as well. Ayanna Pressley is such an inspiration and powerhouse that I’ve especially taken strength from her and see her as an expander. I don’t have alopecia, but many women in my family have thinning hair, so it’s almost certainly genetics.

My mom had a stroke at the end of February and I’ve been helping her get back to her life. It’s been a long journey for both of us. Through all this, we both were vaccinated. PSA — Get vaccinated!

The day before I became fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second dose) was also the day that I picked up my mom from rehab and brought her home. It’s also the day that I got most of my hair chopped off. I only have so much physical and emotional energy and focusing on my hair is not how I want to use it.

The pandemic has given many of us time to think about what’s important and what’s not. At the beginning of the pandemic, I vowed to myself that if I survived it, I wasn’t leaving it the same way I went in. None of us will. Intentionally or not. Time will reveal other changes that I probably can’t imagine yet.

What about you? How are you leaving the pandemic differently than you went in?