Blogtober #9: Styled by Zoom

Bon Friday. Some Zoom lewks over the past month.

• Crochet passion twists are my newest protective style. My first time with passion twists and they’re pretty great.

• My makeup for these looks: other than the lippies you see, none at all. I only wear lipstick and I’m good to go. I’m sure the foundation and blush are lonely. But I don’t see the need.

• Those glasses have no prescription. I’m a lover of fashion lenses that make me look like your nice but still-stern English teacher.

• I’m amazed by my eyebrows. Seven months without visiting my waxologist (I know we don’t call them that 😬); by now I thought I’d look pretty wolffish. But the shape is there and they aren’t out of control. Sure, the gray hairs are coming in and things of that nature, but perhaps they’ve become quarantine-trained. Can’t say the same about my toenails, though. Yikes.

So, styling in the age of Zoom and video calls has been easy, low maintenance, and pretty great. Not that much different from before, actually, but that inborn desire to look “polished” has significantly diminished. You know what I mean?

Onwards and Friday-wards…

Quarantine Check-In.

Quarantine Life. It’s been a thing. Here’s a round-up.

apple devices books business coffee
Photo by Serpstat on Pexels.com

Professional Life. I’ve been working from home since mid-March. It was initially a huge adjustment for me; I’ve worked remotely before, many times, but in a space where it’s happening 8 hours a day, 7 days a week–there were a lot of tough moments. Structurally, I’m one of those folks that doesn’t mind being in an office. I learn a lot when it comes to nonverbal cues and in-person conversation in general, so I think I struggled with not being in an active people space when it came to the day-to-day. Doing everything from behind a screen–from working on projects to discussions with colleagues–wasn’t always easy. But with time, it’s gotten better. And boy, am I thankful to even have a job with everything that’s going on and an option to do it from home. So yes, continuing to gratefully take things one day at a time.

Goals: have a more thoughtful workspace. Right now, I’m at my dining table with my desktop and laptop. It’s not the most ergonomically sound or practical space, but it works. I’ve been perusing Pinterest, naturally, to make some changes. We shall see.

african american woman performing in darkness
Photo by Fillipe Gomes on Pexels.com

Personal Life. It’s been tough. Life pre-pandemic wasn’t easy for this singleton who longs for her Person and struggles with deep loneliness, so I’m sure you can imagine (or perhaps you can’t, and that’s okay; what words and sharing and hopefully empathy are for) that life during a pandemic and being on quarantine has been pretty hard for me. But there are always lessons. For one thing, I’ve learned–even more than before–that my peace of mind is priceless. I protect it fiercely. Which means the abundance of noise–social media, news stories, on and on–has become too loud for me, at times. So, I intentionally shut off and shut down. I need to. Another thing: videoconferencing is…interesting. Who would have thought that living in an age of so much connection would almost make all that connection so exhausting? Perhaps it’s because the power of choice isn’t there; pre-lockdown, we could choose however we wanted to connect. Now: it’s all on video and that’s it. Managing it. But I also say no a lot to invitations via video, all for the purpose of decompression. Overall, prayer has been key for me. Communicating my frustrations to a close, trusted, understanding friend or two really helps, as well. But I won’t sugarcoat it: the one day at a time sometimes has to be handling things one hour at a time.

Goals: I’ve been longing for a dog forever, y’all. Always put it on the back burner because, to me, it wouldn’t be fair to leave a dog home all day while I was at work. But now that I’ll be home for a while…seriously considering it and researching my readiness. I’ll keep you posted.

close up view of an old typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Creative Life. I’ve been writing, actually. Working on my latest project, for one thing, and also managed to squeeze in a pandemic-inspired sci-fi short story that I’m pretty proud of. When all of this began, I didn’t even bother to wonder if a creative surge would come; after years and years of living this creative writing life, I recognize that, eventually, the ideas and desire to write will come. And as the pandemic days continued, they did. Ideas came. Stories came. Desire came. We’ll see how it goes.

Goals: finishing that project mentioned above. What’s it all about? Mum’s the word for now. Just know that I’m enjoying every bit of its creation. You’ll be the first to hear when it’s complete.

So, yes, that’s life for me so far. Hope you’re making it wherever you are.

quotes

Morning Walks: Reflections.

person jogging
Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

Last week, I decided to get off my derrière and start bringing some activity in this quarantine life of mine. Each morning, before work at home begins, I rise and hit the pavement, taking an hour and a half to promenade around my sprawling neighborhood. Here are some itemized thoughts and comments about this routine:

  1. I love it. Walking has always been my favored pastime; it both clears my thoughts and engenders them, allows for prayer and reflection, and gets me outside and breathing in the beauty of nature. Did you know that your Square Peg is a nature lover? I am. Nope, not into anything that crawls and flies, but I usually stand in wonder of greenery and babbling brooks and flowers and all of it.
  2. I spoke here about fitness in a time of quarantine. Walking has allowed me to get moving. I’m happy about this. I feel great, despite all the achiness of this body in its fourth decade. Enter Aspercreme. Does wonders. Get into it.
  3. If there were no quarantine or pandemic and I was physically at work at every day, I’d still be walking. Either on the treadmill at my office or around our massive campus. So this was a nice way to bring back an aspect of my daily routine.
  4. I’ve been getting in some miles, y’all. Deserves a woo hoo.
  5. Despite #4, what I love about all this walking is that I go at my own pace. I move as I like (read: not speedy or fast) and I deliberately take in the surroundings of my aesthetically pleasing community. It’s been great to get to know the area and to greet other walkers with a nod as we pass each other by.
  6. I have my mask with me, by the way.

Speaking of masks, here are some other things I have with me each morning:

  • An awesomely motivating playlist that I created on Spotify
  • A bottle of water
  • Sunglasses, since despite my early walking time, the sun here in the Lone Star State is typically operating at 1 billion degrees at all hours of the day

It’s been refreshing, and I’m glad I can say that in light of all the general craziness around us. What have you been doing to remain refreshed and rejuvenated amidst this new normal? Share, if you can.

Onwards…

Affirmations.

I saw this on the ‘Gram last night and felt the messaging in my bones. Look: quarantining ain’t easy. And wherever you are, I know you know that. These affirmations/reminders as we deal with this pandemic spoke to me.

Photo credit: @femislay, Instagram

Keep taking care of yourself. Protect your peace of mind. Wash your hands. Wear your masks. Stay home. I’m right there with you.

Dear Jerry from Walgreens.

TSP Mask
Not from today but you get the idea.

When I approached the counter this morning, you gasped and declared me to be the most beautiful woman you had ever seen. A bit taken aback, I smiled underneath my mask (and yes, I wondered how you appreciated my beauty with a full mask covering my face with only my eyes visible) and thanked you. But you weren’t done, Jerry. You complimented my dress (I can only wear leggings and dresses now because: quaranthick) and then you told me that I could apply for every beauty pageant in the world. Again, I thanked you. After paying for my things, all the while chuckling as you proceeded to compliment my braids, I declared to you, Jerry, that you had made my entire day.

Thank you for your kindness and your generous appreciation of yours truly.

Signed,
This *Masked Square Peg

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We all need to smile and we all need a mental break from the abundance of so many things. Such is the purpose of this post. Wherever you are, stay healthy, take care of yourself, unplug if you need to, and keep pushing.

*And wear your masks! We’re still in a pandemic!

A Stoop Wedding.

So, this pandemic and the resulting quarantine has proved, over and over again, that necessity truly is the mother of invention. I’ve seen people find creative ways to continue living and doing: roll-by parties (especially for 2020 graduates), young folks creating sanitized ways to hug their family and loved ones, so on. And one favorite thing I’ve come to love during these unique times are virtual weddings. Y’all. Virtual weddings, though. The intimacy (almost reverential), with just the couple and maybe an officiant, are so striking and beautiful to me. But when I read about Elaine Welteroth’s (whom I just adore) absolutely amazing wedding on her Brooklyn stoop, the squealing and inspiration was endless.

Image courtesy of Vogue magazine

Here are five reasons Elaine’s stoop wedding slayed me:

1. Like I said, I’ve been hooked by the intimacy of weddings in the time of COVID. Elaine said bump that. She had guests, bridesmaids, even her neighbors there for this wedding, all while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

2. My queen Lupita was there.

Image courtesy of Vogue magazine

3. I felt a palpable sense of joy while reading about Elaine and Jonathan’s commitment to still having this beautiful day happen despite possible obstacles. It was really lovely.

4. There was an elegant simplicity about this wedding. Elaine’s wedding dress came from her closet; her veil belonged to her mother. Everyone wore white. Just dreamy.

5. The mechanics: a “Soul Train” line of bridal party members socially distant standing on the sidewalk while Elaine walked down the “aisle”; each person having a FaceTime “buddy” so friends and family could see the ceremony. The love was truly in the details.

Image courtesy of Vogue magazine

This wedding was beautiful, dear reader. Like most weddings, yes, but I really appreciated the creative lengths Elaine and Jonathan went to ensure that despite the current climate, it would be beautiful and memorable. Read the article and enjoy.

Have you attended any virtual weddings? If so or if not, what are your thoughts about them? Let me know in the comments.

Singleton Photoshoots: The Quarantine Edition.

Singleton Photoshoots: The Quarantine Edition.

If you live alone like me and still have dress-up time during this quarantine (I happily put on makeup and shed the sweats for my weekly worship Zoom meetings and virtual ministry), selfies become a bit tiresome. Because all you largely do is selfie, quarantine or no.

Alas: I have a solution, dear Singleton. You probably know this stuff already, but sharing is caring. 

  1. Get you a tripod. There are awesome options on Amazon. I got this one and love it immensely. It’s basically a selfie stick and a tripod in one. Best thing is you can either landscape or portrait the photos/videos. (Yes, I just turned those nouns into verbs.) The one I purchased also came with a Bluetooth remote, so you can snap away from wherever you like in your home. Just pair it up with your camera/smartphone.
  2. Set up the tripod/phone accordingly.
  3. Photo. shoot.

I did this last Thursday before my Zoom worship meeting and let me tell you. I loved it. And can I just say, as you will see below: patterns mean nothing when you’re at home and no one can see your bottom half. *wink* Check out my slideshow below.

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I got that dazzling blouse from Amazon (are you shopping from Amazon yet? Because: amazing) and the skirt from my beloved Ross. The lipstick I’m wearing is a matte shade from Wet and Wild that I picked up during my Walmart essential item shopping trip last week. 

In all seriousness: as a woman who loves dressing up and looking her best for herself, on a completely self-blooming level, the beginning of the lockdown wasn’t easy. Even with my weekly meetings, I felt like a total lump. Add my baby-steps fitness schedule and yeah, I was down and out. But in time, and in trying to seek the brighter side, these little things–photoshoots, dressing up for no reason, which I prescribe, as well–have made a difference. Do whatever you need to do to feel better, to smile brighter, and to not feel like a lump. 

Tell me what you’ve been doing to creatively enhance your virtual life in the comments. Bon Monday. 

On Fitness: The Quarantine Edition

Like I said in my previous post, I’ve been in no race to work out during this quarantine. *shrug* Anxiety, inertia, and just wrapping my brain around we’re actually in a lockdown/quarantine while in the midst of a global pandemic tends to remove thefitnessBrad desire to do anything but sit there and drink it all in. (While washing my hands.) Short of some light strength training because I was bored and wanted to film myself doing it (been making a lot of videos during this thing; perhaps I’ll share), I hadn’t committed to an actual routine.

Then, just the other evening, as I laid in bed and looked at old pictures of myself, especially during my fitness/health journey that I began in 2015, I reflected on all the good work I did. Five years later, I continue to maintain that weight loss and happily can say most of it remains still gone, but let’s be real, lockdown style: I’ve been eating like a man released from jail only to get back in again. And not really being active, either. So I decided, pretty informally, to re-start making better decisions and to make sure that each day has good habits involved. Because weight loss is great, but just being healthier is the true pay-off for me.

Yesterday was the start. I decided to take advantage of the beautiful, warm day and Workouttake a walk around my aesthetically pleasing neighborhood and then follow up with some cardio. Here are my thoughts/remarks about the experience:

  1. Girl, if you haven’t worked out in a while, it ain’t gonna be easy. Whew.
  2. I committed to 3 miles and I got my 3 miles. Yay.
  3. My favorite forms of exercise are walking and dance cardio. I did both yesterday, so this is a plus.
  4. I had my mask with me, just in case. My mom sewed me some Ankara masks and shipped them to me, because she’s amazing.

(Oh, and take a look at that photo and join me in saying: come all the way through, skinnnnn. I see that the regimen is working. *stretches to pat her back and realizes that she is not flexible at all*)

Anyway, we will see how it all plays out. In the meantime, tell me how you’ve been trying to stay active during this quarantine. (Emphasis on trying to; do what you can.)

Single Gal Survival: The Quarantine Edition.

Because we singletons need to take care of each other. We all need to take care of each other, yes (and please do), but I’m a single woman and that’s my significant point of view to share–especially for those of us who deal with loneliness on a regular basis anyway (whether COVID or not) and don’t share a home with another person. So, by now, you’ve been hunkering down like the rest of the world during this COVID-19 crisis, staying home, isolating, quarantining. It’s been…something. If you’re a Party of One like me and you’re struggling, here are a few things I’ve been keeping in mind: stayhome

1. Freedom. Even if you’re an introvert and this is a dream come true, the freedom that comes with choosing whether to stay in or not is gone right now. And that’s really hard. Focus on being on the other side of this. I’m imagining all kinds of trips and twilight dinners with friends, even just strolling in the park. (For the record, I consider myself an ambivert, but again, the freedom to choose whether to stay in or not is the pain point here.) 

2. Fitness. Walks to the fridge don’t count as a workout. I’m talking to myself here, too, believe me. Right now, the urge to veg/nap is strong. You may be an emotionally sleeper like me. But when you’re ready, exercise awaits. It’s hard to be motivated when you’re going through the motions. It just is. 

3. Feels. The feels will come. Oh, yes. Sometimes tears. Anxiety. A deep, deep sense of aloneness. Prayer has really helped me. Talking to a trusted friend has, as well. And remembering that there are many more making it through the day, as best as they can, has been really, really helpful. And about the days: literally try to take one 24-hour period at a time. Not weeks bundled together, running around in your mind, driving you mad. 

4. Folks (and Productivity). Plenty of folks are accomplishing a lot during this abundance of time at home. That’s great. Please don’t feel pressured if that isn’t you. If a shower and washing your face is all you can get done during the day, there’s no shame in that. And for my dear creatives: see above. Don’t force it. I’m writing here and there, but I’m not pushing it.  

5. Find Balance. Don’t drown in news items. I’m all for staying largely informed, but this entire thing is also emotionally debilitating, what’s happening to folks. Try to maintain a balance between awareness and peace of mind.

6. Finally: Stay home. (If you can. If you’re essential, like many of my friends and family, hang in there, please take care, and thank you for standing on the frontline for the rest of us.)

So call a friend, write down a few thoughts if you like, smile at cute dog videos, take that nap, and try to breathe. I’m right there with ya, lady.