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The fifth part of my little project brings more stories: today, from the Netherlands and USA.

The idea behind this project is to illustrate how people cope with the current pandemic situation, how their lives have changed and how they see the future. Just normal people living normal lives.

None of the pictures are mine — they were provided by the person telling the story. Now, let’s dive in:

Adelina, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Instagram: @adelinaionescu


Luckily I still work right now, however I have never been a great fan of working from home as I find it way easier to concentrate at the office and I miss the human interactions. My job role is highly focused on people and teams so moving to a complete remote set-up has proven quite a challenge, but I am constantly trying to adapt and improve. I do miss the energy of having an entire team in a room and I am trying my best to not feel disconnected, but there are days when that is easier said than done. One of my other issues was that I did not have a designated work area and, as a tip, I think it is really useful to establish one. So, on one of the weekends I did a full clean-up of a small room in my apartment and tried to set-up a desk as close as possible to the natural light and that definitely has improved my work days (and my spine is so thankful, especially compared to the first few weeks).

I go out for groceries on a weekly basis, taking the safety measures. I do miss riding my bike every day. The weather has been amazing over the last weeks so I really miss going out and enjoying some bites and drinks with friends, a causal morning coffee or just an interesting Meet-up. I also really miss going to the cinema and to concerts (had a few planned for spring/summer 2020).

I usually don’t make resolutions (not even for the New Year), so this situation was not an exception. However, I do pretty much what I used to do in the very stormy days/weekends – I read a lot, I cook, I watch series, I paint and draw (way more than before, for sure). Now I have added also quite some virtual drinks, remote support sessions, Zoom parties and many sessions of Dungeons and Dragons 🙂 The inner geek was also very happy to attend a fully remote Comic Con.

Working station
Working station

Bobby, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Instagram: @bobbymak

In Bulgarian, we have a saying “Всяко зло за добро.” It basically translates to the more commonly known “Every cloud has a silver lining”(thanks Google!). I know, I know, it’s a very cliché saying. But whoever said that clichés are a bad thing? I’ve actually realised that ever since the pandemic started, my life has been full of clichés and in a way, that’s precisely what’s been keeping my spirits up. So here are the three clichés that I’ve fully embraced in those strange and unexpected times.

Cliché #1: Be happy with what you have (and what you don’t have).

I am a freelance actor, performer & host, so my work days don’t exactly follow the standard 9-5 office time, which has given me a lot of freedom in how I organise my daily life — a freedom I have greatly cherished and enjoyed. I am a very social person. I love going out, I love meeting new people, I love a good Saturday night out. I love travelling. My family is from Bulgaria so I also often travel back to spend time with them. Up until the pandemic started, I couldn’t even picture staying at home on a weekend night (and if I am being completely honest, at least one other night of the week). And here we are now, over a month in quarantine. No parties. No travelling. No new projects. Uh-oh! So many nice things to give up all at the same time! Now what?

It was very surreal to accept the new reality, but despite all the things that I’ve had to give up for now – from seeing my family to parties – I’ve come to realise there are numerous things that I still have. It’s actually things I’ve always had, but somehow apparently took for granted, even though they are anything but. I still am lucky to go to bed healthy every evening. I still have food and drinks. I still have Netflix (Amen!). I still have an apartment to live in. I am also lucky to still have everyone I love, regardless of where they are in the world, still be healthy. And that’s it. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. The rest of life will find a way of arranging itself sooner or later. But for now, I’ve decided to be grateful for what I have (as it can vanish in the blink of an eye) and grateful for what I don’t have (yes, I mean the virus-that-shall-not-be-named)

Cliché #2: Take it one day at a time.

The idea of having to basically stay at home for months at a time is surely daunting. Especially when the sun is shining so brightly outside and spring is making it look as if there is not a thing wrong in the world. Ever since it became clear we will be spending a lot more months than expected isolated from the rest of the world is try and I’ve tried to adjust my view on time. This is actually a strategy I have always employed in my life, whenever something bad has happened, or whenever I’ve had to go through something unpleasant (dentist visits!!! Urgh!). In those situations, I just ask myself “Can you make it through another 5 seconds? 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 days?”. The answer is “Yes, I can!”. So, if you are struggling with the situation as a whole, my tip is to break it down to smaller situations. You’ll find it’s surprisingly easier if you focus on a chain of little time periods, rather than one big bulk of time and events. One day at a time.

Cliché #3: Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Regular life is on hold, that’s true. But I’ve tried to keep a positive attitude and focus on doing things in a new way. Last week was my birthday and instead of celebrating with a party, I made and hosted an online quiz for my friends. It wasn’t what I had planned originally, but it was still great and unforgettable fun. Next to that, I now have the time to do some writing, which is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but lately never had time for. I have time to do some proper cooking, rather than just have a quick meal. I have time to catch up on series and films I’ve missed. I have time to pick up a new skill. For example, as a side home-based job, I’ve started working for a transcribing company. In order to get accepted I had to study and pass some tests, which turned out to be a lot more challenging (but still fun) than expected. And even though it doesn’t provide a huge extra income, it’s still something productive that passes the time, and that also supports my bank account. Next to all this, I have more time to spend with my partner than I’ve had in years. I have time to call my family more often. And finally, I always make sure there is time for silly fun, no matter how juvenile. Yes, colouring and puzzling can be very entertaining even at the age of 32. So can making funny home videos.

And that’s more or less how I’ve been coping with being isolated, and how I’ll most likely be coping with it for the rest of the summer. Is it the year I originally planned? No. Am I still going to try and make the best of it? Absolutely. And knowing how much more difficult other people out there might have it, I’ll be damn grateful for it. #stayhome #staysafe #clichéssavelives

Bobby 01
Chilling on the balcony and the new way of getting the trash out
Bobby 02
Unusual birthday, cake and puzzles

Ryan, Houston, TX, USA

My husband John and I own a fine art gallery in Houston, Texas. It’s a very unique set-up due to the very pro-business environment – we’re actually able to run our art gallery business out of our private home. At the same time, the business is technically closed and we cannot open to guests due to a shelter-in-place order. We are a “non-essential business”. However, we are still hustling like madmen and getting as creative as possible to sell fine artwork, a luxury good, during this very troubling economy. We’re using texts, FaceTime and lots of phone calls to make private offers to loyal collectors and thankfully they are supporting us. We are managing to pay all of our bills. Even with all of this hustle, business is slow – so, we’ve also started a morning “talk show” on our Facebook Page John Ross Palmer. It’s on Monday to Friday for 30 minutes beginning at 9:00 a.m. CST. The show is called “Exploring Escapism” – Escapism is both the name of my husband’s primary art style as well as his art movement to forever destroy the stereotype of the struggling artist. On the show we talk about our business, our personal lives, what we’re watching on tv – you name it. Viewership has started to rise and we’ve even picked up a show sponsor…which is awesome and surprising.

I love to be on a routine. I also love to exercise and eat healthy. Since the onset of the corona virus crisis I’ve keep a food, exercise and gratitude journal. It’s tiny. Each day I record what I eat, how much I exercise and I give myself a check if I’ve stated all of the things that I’m grateful for (out loud). For exercise it’s a daily power-walk plus 3 sets of 30 for both push-ups and crunches. I work a great portion of the day – and then I have a consistent routine in the evenings to shut my brain off. I take a bath, cook dinner and then it’s bed and tv. Since the onset of the quarantine, I’ve only eaten one meal that I didn’t cook for myself. I’ve been sleeping great. Granted, I believe all of this is possible because we are currently sustaining ourselves financially. In the past when money is incredibly tight – all routines go out the window.

My favorite part of the day is in the early evening when I take a drive around town. It’s not long – maybe 30 to 45 minutes each day. I explore the neighborhoods that surround mine and drive down many streets for the first time. It’s now spring in Houston and the trees and flowers are beautiful. The roads aren’t congested and it’s very peaceful. I grew up in rural South Carolina – and that’s probably a factor in why I love country music. Most often on the drives I listen to country music – I find it beautiful, honest and inspiring. It gives me a great amount of wonderful nostalgia for the past and my hometown.

Ryan 01
Facebook live, gratitude journal and proof of exercise
Ryan 02
Exploring Escapism Episodes

Stay tuned for more stories and follow Amsterdamian on Instagram and Facebook for daily stories about life in the Netherlands.

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