WOSU's Letters from Home collects stories about day-to-day lives during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we heard from Ohioans answering the question: Where have you found distraction and relief during this time?
Read responses to this week's question and other reflections from Ohioans below.
Amber Wacker from Columbus
My home is adorned with artifacts from all the travels I have made, and a great deal of plants that touch the ceiling. Inside it is really quite peaceful and tidy, and safe. It’s not that I hate being in my house, but what happens within the space between my ears that I resent. I often place a screen in front of my face to numb the negative thoughts, or take to the internet to buy things I don’t need to satisfy a desire for more material items to fill the space that I don’t want to occupy.
These avoidant and self-destructive tendencies turn me into someone unrecognizable, and I feel feeble defending myself against them. I am a person who avoids confronting my emotions, worrying it makes me a lesser, and weaker individual. I know this isn’t true, but it’s just how I feel.
All of this time spent in isolation has challenged me to face the fear of seeing that person behind the mirror. We all have flaws, but the trick is to not let those flaws ruin and rule our lives. They make us insecure and question everything, from reaching out to a friend, to taking up a new skill.
I would say some of my larger flaws revolve around confidence, fear, and not being accepted. I’m someone who says "yes" to really any invitation, wanting to gratify my family members who want to see me, or a friend who wants a drink, or to more hours at work. Often this “yes” leads to whatever I’m dealing with mentally to take a backseat, a coping mechanism by simply not dealing with my emotions.
Now, that wall I have built has come down, all of those forced “no’s” to invitations that no longer exist, have left me bare and exposed to none other than myself. I have to accept her, that angry person, the person who sheds tears out of loss and sadness, the person who sometimes feels unloved, or unseen. She is there, and it’s OK to bring her out and set her on my shoulder to see the world. We are one, and it’s much better to acknowledge my whole being, rather than ignore those ugly parts I look away from.
I do genuinely love how independent I am. I've maintained my drive to succeed, ability to laugh at myself when I fall, my love for the outdoors, and my strength in listening to others... My newfound knowledge on how to cook, how to shoot a camera, and reigniting the love I used to have for reading.
Focusing on moments of joy helps me see past periods of failure and heartache, despite feeling as if things are unfair. Now, I must remain positive and see through the murky waters of the unknown. Because the same things and people that make me happy are still going to be there when the water clears for brighter days.
Eric Elmley from Columbus
Our newborn son has provided us with plenty to occupy all of our time at home. We're now getting more and more push from family to get to visit in-person, but the case numbers do not show that the risk is low enough for us to be comfortable.
With everything opening back up, I am afraid that a second wave is going to keep him from meeting his grandparents and great-grandparents even longer.
Brendan Newcomb from Powell
I’ve been meditating every day for five minutes with "Ten Percent Happier" on YouTube. Watching concerts different weeknights on YouTube by Josh Ritter, the Indigo Girls and Peter Yorn. Doing some Zoom stretching exercises every Tuesday and Thursday. Walking my dog. Reading books.
Barbara Seagle from Franklin County
For some reason, at age 65, I've discovered R.E.M. Thirty years of music to catch up on and super loving it. YouTube has so many live videos and concerts, interviews, I'm an expert on the subject. Somehow they showed up in my senior years, right before COVID-19!
Thazin Nu from Hilliard
At first it was kind of exciting to have something different happening. My parents went through WWII and as a kid I used to say, "How come nothing exciting happens now?" I remember in the early days of the looming shut down, I heard a piece of music from WOSU Classical 101 which reminded me of our summer trip to Macinaw Island, and I just went into hysteria bawling and heaving great cracking sobs, mourning the loss of freedom to travel and enjoy outdoor activities.
I found great relief in gardening, then in making masks, and I continue to do so. We have a routine to go for a little drive every evening, far and near but not more than an hour away. As Buddhists, we don't believe in distraction. I stopped watching the news since mid-April. I don't want to watch TV nor read books because it will remind me of an era gone by.
When I reach the depths of despair and depression, I know I will have to lean heavily on my religion. I am living the Buddhist life everyday, which teaches me how impermanence is a universal truth. I seek refuge in the Buddha, I seek refuge in his teachings – and I am supposed to also seek refuge in the monks' sermons, but I haven't got around to that!
Barbara Dowell from Gahanna
I am a poet and have written many poems about the confinement during the pandemic. I am also writing about my family and experiences.
Matt from Westerville
I find it ironic that the place I have found distraction and relief from this time has been playing a video game where (spoiler alert) the main character contracts a communicable disease (Tuberculosis).
I work as a mental health counselor and working from home has been especially hard because of the challenges presented with teletherapy and video conference technology. Several articles have come out about why video conferencing is so exhausting. So after a long day, or even during my lunch breaks, I have often turned to video games, specifically playing a western role playing game for the third time, where I can explore the open world of the game, complete challenges, hunt, and get lost in the captivating story of living as an outlaw in 1899.
I'll admit, I haven't been following my own advice of getting outside more or trying new hobbies. Trying to be more productive with a hobby is not what I've needed, I don't think. It's also been a challenge since some of the hobbies I usually enjoy are not accessible because of the pandemic or business closures.
Until I can explore those other options again, I'll enjoy the immersive experience of riding horses, treasure hunting, exploring virtual nature, and even getting a little creative by practicing my photography skills within the video game.
Emily DeArdo from Pickerington
I've found distraction through my knitting, writing, and other creative outlets. I'm knitting my first cardigan, which is a big project and has been great for focusing my mind on a fun, creative outlet and connecting me with other knitters in web-based community. This means I get to "meet" new people and make new friends, as well as learn new skills!
It doesn't always work. Some days I am still tired of staying inside and I want life to return to normal, but most days I do well if I pick up one of my many books to read, knit a few rows, or watch a favorite movie.
This week, Letters From Home is asking the question: Where have you found distraction and relief during this time?
Answer this question using the form below, and try to keep below 1,000 words. Your response may be edited for length and clarity.