Amanda – Washington, D.C./CT

January 31, 2020

Question 3: What are some aspects of your routine now (daily/weekly) that you think should be changed (for health reasons, stress, etc.) and what are some things you do that you would recommend to someone else? What are a couple things you would want to add to your routine to enhance your lifestyle?

One aspect of my routine that I would like to change now is allowing myself more time to exercise. Last year, I was very consistent in my workout routine as activities like running and yoga bring so much joy to me. I’m the type of person that always needs to be moving, so without daily exercise, I feel lost! I typically work out in the mornings, but since I’m now studying in the mornings, I’m trying to find a balance between studying and exercising. Without maintaining the same exercise schedule, I can definitely feel myself feeling less focused. Exercise was that grounding force in my life (outside of friends and family) and I didn’t realize how reliant I was on it until this year when I traded my running in the mornings for studying.

As I move into a new month, I would like to find the right balance between running and studying. Maybe half of my mornings can be spent studying, and the other half running. Only thing is that on days when I run in the morning, that means I’ll need to study after work which is difficult given that things have been pretty busy at work so I’m not able to get out of the office until 6:30/7:00. I recognize that the studying is temporary, and in a few months (after I take the exam), I’ll have my mornings back.

February 29, 2020

Question 3: Two paths diverge in a yellow wood… which do you choose? One winds into a dark canopy headed towards a beautiful valley, and the other heads straight for the top of the mountain. Choose wisely 😉

That is an excellent question!

My gut reaction is telling me to take the path that makes its way up the mountain. I’d imagine the view from there is pretty great. The reason why I did not choose the valley is because I suspect there are a lot of mosquitoes and I’m very allergic to them. Whereas the mountain trail option is in the treetops where mosquitoes are less likely to spend their time. They would rather be on the bottom of the forest floor near the water sources. I would also rather pick the mountain because while it is a lot of hard work, it kind of mirrors life in that regard. As the great Miley Cyrus said, “Life’s a climb. But the views are great.”

March 31, 2020

Question 3: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from social distancing?

I.e., Thoughts about how to feel connected during this time/How are you spending all this (presumably more than before) downtime?/How do you feel about the worldwide impact of COVID19?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from social distancing so far is the importance of keeping a routine and calling your loved ones. Without keeping to a routine that most closely resembles the routine I had before this, I would really lose it. So much of this period of time reminds me of when I was unemployed during the spring of 2018. I felt so lonely and unsure about what the future might hold. I wasn’t sure when I would get a job, what city I would be working in, or what my next role would be. Not knowing what the future might hold can be quite scary, but through my period of unemployment I learned to embrace it. To realize that it’s okay to not know what will happen. All I knew was that I had my family, friends, and health.

Much like now, we can’t be sure about everything. I’m unsure how long I’ll be in this quarantine for or when I will go back to work, but what I do know is that I have wonderful friends and family. We are all going through this collective mourning together as we mourn our loss of freedom. But who says freedom has to be done when you can’t venture outside of your house? You can still have an adventure without having to leave your home by attending a virtual workout class through Instagram stories or a live slam poetry event through a Zoom link. Yes, these exchanges would be better if they were in person, but we all know that the work we’re doing now is directly impacting the health of our nation in a positive way. By staying in, we are saving lives.

Aside from attending virtual events through Zoom webinars or IG Live Stories, I’ve been making a lot of FaceTime/Zoom calls. I’m part of a weekly podcast club called PodSquad where we meet every Monday to discuss (via Zoom) the podcast theme and episodes that were assigned that week. Tomorrow we will be discussing the topic of Philanthropy: How Effective is Giving? We will be talking about if mega donors have become too powerful (i.e. Facebook.)

How I’ve been spending this time is definitely involving making food a lot more. Last weekend, my roommate Wenbo and I had a noodle themed weekend where we made 3 different types of noodles. So fun and delicious. I’ve also been able to spend a lot more time studying for the GMAT (applying to business school this Fall.) So I’m very grateful to have more time to continue refining my study technique. Aside from that, I’ve been redesigning my bedroom and sleeping in more. I didn’t realize how much my body needs more than 6 hours of sleep a night. I’ve also been spending more time with my roommates which has been fun. We’ve been making our way through the Tiger King series on Netflix.

I think the world is really suffering from this virus. It has forced all of us to completely pause everything. The only constant I can turn to right now is the evolving beauty of the spring season.

This virus is shedding light on the broken social systems in America, forcing people from lower-income households to struggle to make ends meet. My heart goes out to all of those who’ve been deeply affected financially and emotionally. My hope is that the work I’m doing right now (I’m helping to make PSAs on behalf of the White House and the CDC) is giving people the information and resources they need to take those next steps in support of their health as well as their family’s health.

October 31, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of October and what caused you to feel that way?)

Today, I ran my 9th marathon! It was the virtual NYC marathon so it was essentially a one-man race. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say that I was the first and last runner in the race – haha!

The day started off on my terms which was great! So typically, you have to wake up very early on marathon day, especially for the bigger races given how many waves of people they have to get through the marathon. Instead of waking up at 4am to catch the bus to drive into NYC to then take the ferry to Staten Island (I’m going tired just thinking about it) I was able to wake up at a decent hour – 8:30 – and start getting ready for my 10am start.

Despite running the race solo, I had tremendous support throughout the race at various mile markers from friends & family. I even had some friends & family join me! My good friend and roommate Wenbo biked alongside me for a few miles, my sister ran alongside me for a mile, and my boyfriend ran with me for a bit along the national mile. In bigger races, it’s not allowed so it was nice to have flexibility here.

This race was a big deal for me as I had to really turn into my internal motivation to not only run the full distance on race day, but to also train 4 months alone through one of D.C’s hottest & most humid summers. I really missed running with people, but if anything, running was what I needed to help get me through this pandemic. It gave me something to look forward to, something to work hard towards outside of just work. I love running, and will always have it in my life, but this year I was especially grateful for it. So, in summary, on October 31st I was feeling relieved & accomplished!

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

Most epic day of the year. It was the day where I saw all of my hard work pay off.

Question 3: Describe a person that you vividly remember seeing on the street or in passing, but never met.  What do you remember the most about them and write a little story about their life – what do they do, what are they like and what makes them uniquely them?

About a year ago, I remember standing in line for this club/bar, and there was this girl in front of me that had two different colored eyes and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. If I could write a story about her, I would think that she is part human, part mythical creature. And that her eyes are bionic and can see things that most humans cannot see. I’m really bad at making up stories – LOL. So sorry if this is sounding awkward. 

November 30, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of November and what caused you to feel that way?)

November in some ways felt like the end of the year for me. During the middle of November, I went back home to my parents house in Connecticut to spend the rest of the year with them to prevent travel, and general exposure of COVID-19.

I had to make several goodbyes to good friends in D.C., as well as do my last slice of pizza at wise guys, last coffee from Compass, etc. It felt really odd to leave my apartment, and city, so early in the year. About 6 weeks earlier than usual. While leaving and saying goodbye prematurely was difficult, it also was the closure I needed to finish up the rest of the year.

I was looking forward to spending an extended amount of time with my parents. Such a rare opportunity these days. I haven’t been keeping up with this journaling assignment as frequently as I should, but, I’ve noticed that I in some sense have been journaling through using my Passion Planner. There, I’m able to see how I budget time during my day/week/month. It helps me prioritize the things that matter most. In looking at how I spent my time in November, it felt very overwhelming as I had a few very important decisions to make.

Up until the middle of the month, I was spending a large majority of my time getting my business school applications in place. But being home – in Connecticut – made me realize that I could afford another year to gather more intel, and more time, to help me figure out how I’m going to leverage my business degree. I also decided to take another year to pull up my standardized test score, so I made the difficult decision of pivoting from the GMAT to the GRE.

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

I was a hot mess and did the best I could have done. Sure, it wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the month, I was proud of the decisions I made for myself.

Question 3: If you had all the resources possible (time, money, motivation, etc), what are some things you would do or learn to do? Make a list.

That is a great question! I’ll start off with the ones that immediately come to mind:

  • Launch my own non-profit (I’m in the process of doing but it would obviously be off the ground sooner if I was able to dedicate all of my time to it)
  • Travel to places I’ve never been to & want to go to (Japan, Iceland, Mongolia)
  • Travel back to places with people that I miss (Copenhagen, Halifax)
  • Own multiple properties – like maybe a summer house? Would be nice to have a place to escape to.
  • A horse of my own! This is my childhood dream that is still very much a dream of mine. 🙂
  • I’m pretty good to ice skating, so I would love to learn how to in-line skate! 
  • Dedicate more time to the nonprofits I volunteer my skills & time with (Achilles, Girls on the Run, Compass Pro Bono, Suited for Change.)
  • Learn how to become a really great baker

December 31, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of 2020 and what caused you to feel that way?)

Hello & happy December 31st! Here I am on the very last day of the year and I am overwhelmed by how fast – and slow – this year has gone by. It’s been such a different year than previous years, and this new year’s eve feels so different too.

I looked back at the videos & pictures I took exactly a year ago. I attended my friends roaring 20’s NYE party and everyone looks so happy & thrilled to embark on a new decade. Little did we know this new decade would start off very differently than we could have ever expected. That said, I’m feeling that NYE won’t be like my previous ones – where I get to dress up in gold, drink champagne, & toast to the new year. This NYE looks a little bit different and that is okay!

I haven’t spent a NYE at home with parents in years so it’s really refreshing. So here I am, on December 31st feeling a little sad but hopeful. Coming back from a cathartic 6 mile hike I did with a good friend earlier today, I’m feeling fueled up & restored for another year ahead. This is a childhood friend that I’ve known since I was 8! I hadn’t seen her in a whole year which was tough but was so glad we could spend time together. It’s our little every-other-year tradition that fills me with joy. I’m hopeful that in the next 6-9 months, things will really start turning around. 

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

I spent the last day of 2020 with the people that bring me great joy. I started the day with physical activity – a long hike with a childhood friend. This year, I tapped into my physical health more than ever before and am so glad that I had those habits in place before the pandemic began so I knew exactly what I needed to do in order to take care of myself.

For me, self-care has to involve movement. It doesn’t have to be fast, but it has to have movement. I have a hard time sitting down and thinking of that as “self-care” but this year I’m more open to the possibility of it being a benefit to me. I would like to get more into meditation this year. Then, I wrapped up the day by making dinner for my parents. It was fun taking care of them instead of them taking care of me during a holiday. I made homemade onion chip dip, followed by a butternut squash and spinach lasagna with prosciutto flowers on top. I learned to really love cooking this year and happy I was able to do it for my parents on the very last day of 2020.

Question 3: This year has been the most consequential year of our lifetimes. What have you learned? What have you learned about yourself? About society? What do you hope to bring with you to 2021?

I’ve learned to really adapt, I mean really adapt to change. I think that with having to adapt, I also had to be okay with the idea that there isn’t a firm date on when “this” will end. While being in this limbo, I’ve become more comfortable with facing uncertainty with real resilience and just trying the best I can everyday. It’s less so lowering my standards but more about asking myself, “what small wins/accomplishments can I celebrate?”

I’ve also learned the importance of taking care of my physical self as it’s so heavily tied to my mental health. Some things I did to maintain good physical health were to prioritize running. For me, running is my safe space, my sanctuary. Without it, I don’t know who I would be.

What I learned about myself is that my commitment to anti-racism does not stop here. It’s an ongoing journey and conversation I have to be having with myself to check my biases & commit to being an inclusive leader whenever possible.

What I hope to bring with me to 2021 is carving out more time for myself to reflect. For reflection is so necessary in order to grow. It gives you the opportunity to track your progress, and see how you’ve grown based on what goals/intentions you set for yourself. To help make reflection a habit, I have decided to spend more time being intentional with my passion planner (my journal/planner, event tracker) as well as completing a guided journal reflection each week from the Michelle Obama ‘Becoming’ book. I got it for Christmas and am already obsessed with it!