April Gratitude Challenge: Voices from Quarantine
5 days of deep, radical gratitude in a time of crisis. Here are your voices:
Laura, Madrid, Spain
Day one: Today I am trying to be both grateful and positive. My father is in the hospital on a ventilator diagnosed with COVID-19.
This is not an illness only for the frail and elderly or those with pre-conditions. My father doesn’t smoke or drink. He exercises every day and eats very healthily. He went to the doctor on Monday thinking it was bronchitis and they said they weren’t going to test him because he had the healthiest heart and lungs they’ve seen of someone his age.
Wednesday morning he was rushed to the emergency room. The doctors believe my mom also has it and she is quarantined at home with milder symptoms.
It takes a community effort to overcome this virus. Stay home! Only go out for necessities and keep a 6 ft distance between each other. Wash your hands. Call your representatives and demand more funding and materials for local hospitals. Sew masks for your neighbours, local cashiers, and delivery people. Above all please take this seriously. Your actions will affect the lives of those around you.
Day two: Even good things come out of dark days. I am grateful for the loving support of my family and speaking regularly with my aunt and my brother.
I am calling my mom daily. Both in quarantine, we each share a positive or uplifting story. She has taught me to always be grounded in hope.
I am so incredibly grateful for my “little” brother (see: younger, but also 6ft9in). But you know what? He’s not my baby brother anymore! I am so grateful he has stepped up as head of the family while my parents are sick.
He calls the hospital 3 times a day (I am sure all the nurses know him by name now) and then calls my mom and myself to update us (and to check on her). He updates Facebook so our community stays informed.
Also because my father was the first in the county to test positive with COVID-19, my brother has done various interviews with local media on behalf of our family. He expresses himself so calmly and with such sincerity, I am so proud he is the official family spokesperson.
Not only is he an excellent father and partner himself, but he has worked hard to make sure that all members of our family are safe and feeling secure. Especially because I am experiencing this on the other side of the world, my heart bursts with pride and peace, knowing that he has got the home front under control.
Day Three: The last days have been a roller coaster, my father’s situation improving and worsening and improving again. I’m endlessly grateful for the outpour of support for my father and my family. He is surrounded by a wall of love that I am sure he feels, even in a coma.
Val Swinton is not just our father. He has been pastor, mayor, councillor, fitness instructor, volunteer with various youth programs and summer camps (I could go on and on). He is so many things to so many different people. He is one of the kindest, most generous, selfless persons I have ever met.
He and my mother have touched the lives of so many. Now in their moment of need, the community has wrapped loving arms around them and lifted them both up.
From nurses to neighbours, there has been groceries, tea, sandwiches, chocolate malts, puzzles and thermometers left at my mom’s front door. My brother’s, mother’s and my phone have been blowing up with calls and messages of support. Even though we can not be together during this difficult time, we know we are not alone.
Day 4: I am grateful for the nurses and doctors and everyone working to heal those suffering from Covid-19.
I am grateful for modern medicine. I am grateful to live in a time when even though there is a worldwide pandemic, my father is kept alive with medicine and machines. The incredible hospital staff have been doing an incredible job, trying, changing, and adjusting, to keep my dad alive while he fights this virus.
And it is a wild ride. The doctor has called us every day for the past 3 days to tell us he is deteriorating and might not make it. That we should prepare ourselves for the worst. Then 3 hours later they call again and say they have stabilised him and he has improved. It is 1 step forward, 2 steps back right now.
But it is not over until it is over. We will not give up hope. We will not stop believing that he can beat this. We will not stop believing in him, our love for him, and his love for us.
Day Five: Today the doctor said that dad is in critical condition, but stable. If he can hold out (or improve!) by the weekend, the virus will most likely have run its course and start to weaken… and dad will start getting stronger. I am grateful for each day my dad continues fighting. I believe 100% he can feel all the love and strength we are sending him from around the world. I am grateful for hope.
Claire, Madrid, Spain
Day One: I´m grateful for having the ability to maintain a bit of structure in the house thanks to my baby boy who keeps us in check and for my work schedule. I´m also very pleased to have a bit of “me time” with the help of my partner so I can practice yoga, do some Spanish study, read, prep for work or just have a shower!
To be able to have a good day without going outside is something I´ve recently realised is possible. I´m starting to see home as a comforting/safe space rather than a limiting/boring one.
Also, I have had the opportunity to see my son crawl for the first time after lots of rocking, wriggling and rolling around! And the fact that both my partner and I captured the moment together which would have been very unlikely on a normal non-lockdown kind of day as we´re not often together during the day.
Day Two: Rainy day supermarket shop very much needed, chose the supermarket a little further away as my body needs those extra few steps. Liking the challenge of making as many different meals as possible from different parts of the world and so on. Making bread and cakes a little here and there which may not be perfect but it´s good to try something new.
It´s also incredible to see how green everything has become post-rain. Walking back all the trees are in bloom and the fresh air smell in the air = awesome. One particular unnamed flower which filled the air with a dreamy smell, wonderful!
The green theme continues at home from my window, our favourite time of year when we gain back our temporary privacy from our neighbours as the trees that line our street start to bud, not long now until a sea of green appears outside the lounge window!
Day Three: Grateful today for feeling quite healthy and well-nourished. Lots of yummy meals being cooked and actually starting to enjoy the structure that we´ve pieced together, having a food plan for the week making sure we get a bit of everything we need nutrient wise as vegetarians.
Finding obscure ingredients that you would normally find easily in a Chinese or Indian supermarket is becoming more of a challenge but at the same time more rewarding when things come together in the end.
On another note, grateful for the chance to talk to so many friends and family members that just normally wouldn´t happen. Chats, quizzes and escape rooms, pilates classes, swing dancing free practice, babywearing exercise classes reassuring me (even though I already knew it) that we´re all in it together.
Day Four: On a day with more bad news from the government it´s hard to feel grateful. I´ve been hiding a bag of Cadbury´s mini eggs (from myself) in a draw for a while now and I´m glad they were here for this very moment! Sometimes you need a little treat even though in general we´ve been eating quite well.
I´m still grateful for our space, our home. It´s something we can have control over and there´s nothing the government can do about it! And I´m grateful for my partner who´s there to give me a hug when I´m down on days like today.
Day Five: Feeling happy that we´ve managed to endure a lockdown period of a fair few weeks now and that we haven´t driven ourselves crazy, not managed to put on too much weight, been semi-productive most of the time (not that we have too higher expectations in this house) and may have even learnt a thing or two about keeping in touch with people (something which normally goes by the by).
People are very able to adapt even given these extreme circumstances and although we very much hope it doesn´t go much longer, we know we can endure it and that sort of reassuring fact is what I´m grateful for today.
Emma, Leeds, UK.
Day one: Today I´m grateful for the cherry blossom on my street that takes me back to my holiday in Japan.
Day two: Today I´m feeling really grateful for the rainbows that people are putting in their windows to celebrate to the National Health Service and to be a sign of hope for the community.
Day three: I´m feeling grateful for really laughing with friends!
Day four: Feeling grateful for the smell of brownie- it came out well for a change!
Day five: The sweet sound of my label maker clicking as I am finally having time to organise my home!
And here is mine:
Olivia, Madrid. Spain.
Day one: Today I´m feeling grateful for the small patch of sun on my doorstep as I chat with close friends on the phone. I ´m grateful to have the supportive ear of old friends with whom I can speak my mother tongue and laugh just like we saw each other yesterday.
I´m also grateful for the beautiful stalk that flew up above whilst I was chatting- between the warmth of the sun on my face, the joy of speaking to close friends and this rare gift from nature, I almost felt like I was in the park! 🙂 Alas, as the picture below proves, I was not… I may not have amazing city centre views, nor vistas of the sea or the mountains, but I´m grateful for the little patch of sky I do have.
I´m also grateful for the cross of the church as it is a convienient place for the birds to sit as they let me admire them 😀
Day two: Writing this in retrospect. Yesterday I struggled to feel the inspiration to write something uplifting about gratitude. But just when I was feeling pretty blue, out of nowhere a mighty hail storm descended. Chucky hailstones fell from the heavens, covering the cars, the road and the street with a spotted white blanket.
The drama was exhilarating and gave me he energy boost I needed to teach my last online class of the day.
Day Three: This morning I´m grateful for the rain pouring down. Seems to reflect my mood- 2 months living with my in-laws, one of which we have been in a big brother style confinement- is taking its toll on my relationship. As the rain pours, I´m soothed.
I´m grateful for my ability to write and express myself. The power of the pen connecting me to others.
Day Four: Today I´m grateful for my household rubbish that allowed me the great opportunity to go out outside with the legitimate excuse of ´taking the rubbish out´.
On this exciting excursion to the end of the street, I had the pleasure of visiting this abandoned parcel of land alive with wildflowers and plants. After more than 1 month in strict quarantine without being able to go out in nature, this little patch of greenery was enough to make my day!
The smell of cat wee and of the rubbish bins mixed with the smell of rain in the air was strangely invigorating!
So in my radical gratitude, I am grateful for this quarantine period for making me so much more appreciative of these little liberties that have always been there, available to be enjoyed but usually overlooked. I will never complain about taking the rubbish out again!
Feeling grateful for my 25 self after re-reading my old travel journals. Today she inspired me to keep believing in myself and to keep believing in my dreams.
She may have looked like the was wandering but she knew what she was doing.
Not all those that wander are lost
A Big Thank You!
I am very grateful to all those that took part and were generous enough to share their journals in this month’s radical gratitude challenge! No matter how long or short the reflection, it´s inspiring to see so many feelings of gratitude for the smallest of things during this difficult month.
I believe in the power of storytelling and these short insights into the daily lives and challenges of others have helped to remind me that we are not alone and that it is much easier than we think to identify with someone that maybe we have never met, or who lives in another part of the world or belongs to a different culture.
I hope that you, the reader, have enjoyed these stories of the lives of Laura, Claire and Emma and that they have helped you connect to your own sense of gratitude, even in these strange and uncertain times! Feel free to leave any messages to them in the comments section 🙂
And if anyone is wondering how Laura´s Dad is doing- good news! Check out the video and see him and Lauras´s brother give a TV interview as he left the hospital 🙂
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