Weekend Vibes…

The bridge is up!

Yesterday in Chicago all bridges were up that led to the downtown area because of the scheduled BLM and defund the police protests. As much as they claimed that it was supposed to be peaceful protests, I feel like lately nothing is peaceful at all. And sure enough, there was violence, indeed. I try not to read the news too much because it’s all too much to take. Between the looting that went on recently in Chicago as well as the world still in a pandemic, there is not too much happiness lately.

I did take a walk yesterday which inspired me to take the photo above. The weather was beautiful, and for a few moments I forgot about the distresses of the world. There were tour boats passing by as well as people kayaking, and with the gentle breeze caressing my face as I walked along the river all seemed perfectly fine in the world. The beauty of Chicago couldn’t be denied. As I heard the bells ringing upon approaching the raised bridge, however, the realization came to me that the world is not alright at all. But I am a hopeful person who believes that humanity will shine brighter than the evil and the darknesses of the world. Peace…

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Goodbye, June 2020

The Bean during COVID-19

I went back to work exactly two weeks ago today as life has been slowly moving back to normal. The lakefront opened up last week, and Millenium Park opened up two weeks ago. However, when I walked the lakefront a couple of days ago, it just wasn’t the same. But then again, nothing will ever be the same. For the first time since I have lived in Chicago I didn’t enjoy my walk along the lake. Of course, it’s because of COVID-19. The solemn mood of the world could be felt as I walked with many others who were out to enjoy the Sunday. But then again, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m tired of wearing a mask at work for 8 hours a day which makes me exhausted. Maybe I’m annoyed at seeing lines at Target as well as Lululemon which kept me from going inside because I didn’t want to wait for 20 minutes in line. Maybe I’m just sick and tired of everything, period, because of COVID-19…

Today was my day off, and after a doctor’s appointment I was excited to finally go to Millenium Park to get a close up view of The Bean. How disappointed I was that I couldn’t get close at all as metal gates were put up around it. I felt an odd feeling as I could never get a shot of the sculpture before without mobs of people, and today, as I was able to take a picture of The Bean with no one close to it at all, I actually longed for people to be near it. Perhaps I crave normalcy, or maybe the 3 month isolation scarred me somehow. A thing of beauty, such as The Bean, should be admired close up. It’s meant to be touched, stared at closely to see one’s distorted reflection, and to walk all around it as well as underneath it to admire the work of art that it is. But today it seemed unnatural to me somehow that I was able to take a picture with not one person standing and posing near it. I actually felt sad as The Bean looked so lonely.

As today is the last day of June, I am so relieved. My 3 month isolation is over and I’m back at work. I guess I feel that this must be the worst year ever, and I’m glad that half of it is over. I just pray that the worst is behind all of us. #covidsucks

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Welcome, June

All bridges up!

Wow. I can’t believe it. It’s the first day of June. The entire month of May was a blur as I, along with the rest of humanity, awaited for our worlds to open up with the shutdown from COVID-19. I’m still on furlough but I’m told that I might be back to work in a couple of weeks. Again, this has lasted so much longer than originally thought. There is hope in a couple of days, though, when the City of Chicago finds out what the next phase of reopening will be. Fingers crossed.

Not much has changed since I last wrote except for one thing. There are protests and lootings around the country as the result of the death of George Floyd, a black gentleman who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25th. The protests in Chicago only started a couple of days ago but there is much destruction all around. The stores and neighborhoods in and around Chicago were looted, cars were set on fire, and vandalism ensued. I can’t believe all this is happening. The pandemic is horrible enough but to add this to the stress of the world is just too much. Yesterday I couldn’t dare see what Michigan Avenue looked like in person because I saw the pictures in the news and social media. Many stores were broken into, looted, and graffiti sprayed across the buildings. Such a terrible sight. So I decided to walk toward the river instead. It was a beautiful day. Then I saw something that I had never seen before. All the bridges of every street were raised up so no car nor person could get through. When I got closer I heard the constant alarm from the raised bridges which was unnerving. It was only cool to see all the raised bridges because I had never seen it before, and seen against the gorgeous blue sky was a sight that I surely wanted to capture. I walked all along Wacker Drive and was more saddened to see workers boarding up the storefronts and restaurants to prevent further looting. After an hour and a half passed I started to head back home. It was getting chilly and I had a phone call scheduled.

Somehow this protest, vandalism, and looting seems worse than the pandemic itself. I’m sure it’s because we can physically see in all the media outlets the proof of people looting, cars being set on fire, and the vandalism whereas with the pandemic it’s an invisible virus. We only see statistics, facts, and figures. But when you see a video of a man being killed as well as the destruction of communities by mobs of people, it’s easy to lose faith in humanity. The economic downturn from COVID-19 will be rebounded in time, although a very long time. But losing faith in humanity is something that is far worse and not so easy to harness back. The world needs a healing as well as prayers. At this moment this is all I hope for…

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Hope!

The colors of Hope

As the news of reopening plans are starting to show, I feel such a strong sense of hope along with happiness. The weather in Chicago was beautiful yesterday, and today it’s going to be sunny AND sixty degrees! 😎 Oh, and there is even a full moon today called the Full Flower Moon so I look forward to seeing it right in front of my window tonight. How lucky I am! I have connected so much with nature during my entire isolation from COVID-19, and I feel so grateful. As strange as it may seem, I will miss all the time I had to myself when I get back to work and normal life. I’m thinking I might be back to work in about three weeks or so. Until then, I will enjoy all the time that I have left because everything is temporary.

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A little Hygieia, please!

Hygieia by Gustav Klimt

As I travel around the world, I collect notebooks from every museum I visit. I always have to have something to write on by my side at all times and writing on a travel notebook from another country always makes me feel happy. It truly brings me back to that specific place and all the beautiful memories of the trip. So today I grab a fresh new notebook that I got at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. Pictured above, it shows the work by Gustav Klimt. I visited the museum solely to see THE KISS, and when I got to the bookstore after seeing all the art that I could see in one day, I found the above notebook and wondered if I missed the actual art inside the Belvedere as I have never seen it before. When I asked the store clerk if I should go back inside to possibly see the work of art, he said that was impossible because it was actually destroyed in a fire. I immediately cringed and felt sad that I could never see this is person. It is believed that in 1945 the painting was inside a castle, and the castle was set on fire by the German SS forces to prevent it from being in the enemy’s hands. Well, so I thought I should buy two of the notebooks instead of my usual limit of buying only one memento.

What I love about travel is the nostalgia that comes along with seeing the souvenirs. Yesterday I looked at my refrigerator magnet I got from Barcelona and my mind was brought back to the little shop across from the Park GΓΌell where my friend and I each bought the magnet. I can still feel the hot and humid temperatures of that August afternoon last year and wished it was just as warm today as the temperatures in Chicago is only 43 degrees! Anyway, I look at the back of the notebook from the Belvedere Museum and see that it’s titled HYGIEIA who was the Greek Goddess of health, cleanliness, and hygiene. What a timely remembrance of Hygieia during these current times of the pandemic! Why I wasn’t aware of Hygieia when I was an Art History major and loved Greek mythology is beyond me.

As the world starts a new month I pray and hope that we become healthier and cleaner with a Goddess like Hygieia protecting us. As each day brings us closer to the world opening up, I can’t imagine what the new world will look like, especially in terms of travel, and I can’t wait to find out.

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Welcome, May 😎

I guess April showers do bring May flowers…

I can’t believe it’s May! I woke up to sunny skies so I knew it would be a good day to go running, and I was happy about that. The tulips all over Chicago are always stunning as you can see from the picture above today. I took my time walking around after my run to just enjoy the sun and the rest of the flowers. When I walked into Eataly, I had no idea that masks were required but luckily, they had one for me. I ordered masks some time ago on Amazon but there was a three week delivery date. I had no idea that the masks were that hard to breathe with, and I felt more claustrophobic than ever, which I didn’t think was possible. I then had to go to Whole Foods which took much longer, and because the mask felt like I was suffocating I rushed out of there without fully completing my shopping.

These are such strange times, and just when I think that I can get through this isolation just fine, another barrier comes up. The mandate of wearing masks is a requirement for the entire month of May, and I just hope that the rules do not get worse by requiring people to wear it in outdoor spaces when just taking a walk or running. This makes me feel like I don’t even want to go outside.

Tomorrow is going to be 75 degrees and partly sunny so I can’t wait to see what happens while I go running without a mask. The month of May will be more challenging with warmer weather and people just getting so sick and tired of this virus. I pray that June will start to see the world open up, and as of now that seems like an eternity. Thirty more days to go… πŸ™

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Last Day of a Month of Gratitude

Gratitude…

Although my isolation from COVID-19 started in March, I cannot believe that today is the last day of April, 2020. The concept of time was unusual and challenging because although time seemed to pass by so, so slowly at times, looking back on the whole month it seemed to pass by as a blur. This doesn’t make sense to me, but then again, what about the COVID-19 makes any sense?

As my month-long project and commitment to express and appreciate gratitude comes to an end, I have experienced some good benefits. To start, I have learned to differentiate joy from happiness, which is a thought that I never contemplated before. Of course, happiness was difficult if not impossible to experience during this solitude from the COVID-19 so I was surprised to find joy. Happiness usually is triggered externally, say, from buying a new pair of shoes or enjoying a great meal at a restaurant. But these happy feelings seem to be very transitory. Joy, on the other hand, comes from within and, I have found, more spiritual in nature and therefore, lasting longer. Another thing I noticed while practicing gratitude was that small, mundane things made me happy, or was it joy? LOL. The experience of simply walking on the grass, hearing the sound of birds as well as the sound of children’s voices laughing, having the abundance of time (although a blessing and a curse), feeling true presence, and even appreciating a well cooked meal to enjoy alone without trying to please others all were simple joys that I didn’t expect. There were numerous other benefits of practicing gratitude like fully appreciating the time I had to mediate as well having the time to exercise every single day. As a matter of fact, the time for meditation and exercise were actually the two most important things that helped me get through these dark days of the isolation. Thank goodness I had the determination and fortitude to adopt these two very important life practices which ended up being my medicine.

As with each end a new one begins. The month of May is just one night’s sleep away, and none of us knows what to expect. With warmer temperatures as well as the wearing thin of the patience of the world, I pray that the world begins an emergence of a better, new normal. I am letting go of the month of April with gratitude of what it has taught me and allowed me to experience. May the new month ahead bring more joy and happiness along with a new enrichment of thoughts, experiences, and renewed Life for us all.

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Day 29 of a Month of Gratitude

I woke up to a rainy, gloomy day with very dark skies again. The Chicago weather is so fickle, and I’m really, really over it. It was one of those mornings where I didn’t want to get out of bed as the heaviness of the entire world could be felt which seemed to reflect the ugly view outside my window. It’s day 46 of this prison from the COVID-19. Ugh. After managing somehow to get up I tried meditating after having my usual morning tea but I had trouble for the first time in I don’t know how long. I had to try again later, I thought, and started talking and texting friends. I felt better. But then I realized that I didn’t want to work out, either. I really wanted some air and wanted to run outside but it was raining ugly all day. I tried meditating again and felt satisfied that I accomplished it. There was no way that I would break my streak because it would mean that the damn COVID-19 is winning over me and I can’t and won’t have it. Somehow this thought made me push myself to start my yoga practice because again, there was no way in hell that I would allow this isolation and circumstances get the better of me. My anger made me perform better with the online yoga class, and afterwards I looked outside my window at the still raining dark skies and felt proud that I was disciplined enough to do things I didn’t want to do, including some hard decisions that I had to make.

Each new day brings us closer to the opening up of the world so although the days are hard, we must get through this. We must be grateful for each and every brand new day.

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Day 28 of a Month of Gratitude

Signs of Spring!

I woke up in a great mood completely unlike yesterday. Nothing dramatic happened between yesterday and this morning so I wonder why such a drastic mood change. Again, I will blame it on the COVID-19. It was sunny but rain was predicted in the afternoon, just like yesterday, so after I meditated I put some sunscreen on and ventured outside with short sleeves since it was 60 degrees. The minute I came out of my building I saw bright colorful tulips, and I immediately felt happier and much lighter in spirit than yesterday. When I got toward Millennium Park I saw a worker mowing the grass and the smell of it really made me smile inside. I thought of my dad growing up when he would mow the lawn so early on Saturday mornings that I would wake up and be kind of mad at him. I would love the treasure of that experience again as he is long gone.

After three miles I stopped although I wanted to run longer, and I wondered how I ran six miles ten days prior. But the sunshine was such a welcome pleasure to just slow down and walk on the grass. I am finding it odd these past few weeks of isolation that I’m taking pleasure in the sound of birds, walking on the grass, and noticing four leaf clovers. Who am I? I saw a patch of dandelions so bright and colorful that it seemed strange to me that they are considered weeds instead of pretty little flowers. I noticed a woman running and then stopping abuptly to command her dog to sit, and then I realized she took a picture of her dog against the numerous dandelions. Then I thought that if I had a dog while running I would have done the same thing, too, because the patches of bright yellows against the green grass under the sunlight could have been almost passed for a painting.

As I walked the rest of the way home in the warm sun I saw lots of tulips and daffodils with groundskeepers tending to the lawns around Chicago. The smell of fresh cut grass and even seeing a bee visiting a flower was joyful to witness. I heard children’s voices of enthusiasm, and for those moments while walking in the sunshine nothing seemed wrong at all with the world except when someone passed by with a mask on. Ah, yes, the reminder that the world is in crisis along with the future being unknown. Today is the 45th day of my isolation but with the company of Mother Nature I didn’t feel lonely at all. And thankfully, there were far too many reasons to be grateful today than I could count.

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Day 27 of a Month of Gratitude

There are just some days when you wake up and don’t feel that great, let alone grateful, and today was one of those days. Nothing was wrong, really, but I just woke up not feeling so well mentally. Maybe it’s because today was day 44 of my isolation from COVID-19 but who knows. I tried all day to feel better and look for the positive but although I knew I was supposed to be grateful, I just wasn’t feeling an ounce of it. To make matters worse, the weather started out nice this morning but by the time I went outside to go running, knowing it was starting to rain a little, I had to come back inside because the raindrops were the dense, pelting kind that made it too miserable to run although I did try. I ended up doing an online yoga class instead and that’s when I started to feel grateful. I felt grateful for the technology that we have today to be able to take a class online, video chat with friends and family, and have wireless internet.

Come to think of it, I think it IS the damn COVID-19 that is taking its toll on my mental well being. Thank God I found something to be grateful for today. πŸ™

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