Parked in Idaho, hear how Kylie Fly navigated inner storms through busy hands, stocking up on compassion, and extending generosity. Words and Photos by Kylie Fly.
“We are living in unprecedented times.” I’ve heard this line repeated daily by news, businesses, friends and family alike in these past few months. Unprecedented means never done or known before and that’s exactly what this global pandemic is.
As the world screeched into a forced pause and COVID-19 began to dominate headlines, I felt everything shift overnight. Standing still watching calendar days drag by (instead of flying through my usual adventure and travel-filled pace) has knocked me down in more ways than one. What a strange time to be alive! But what an interesting and opportunity-filled time, as well.
In the darkest days of the pandemic, I decided to take a very personal and self-guided journey to go inward to find the light. Through the storms of stress, confusion, sadness, and anxiety, I wanted to regroup, rethink, and remember. Despite how it looks, there is always sunshine behind the clouds. With gentle reminders from loved ones, I leaned into the strength of others when I did not have it myself.
My journey included the following five things:
Gratitude journal. Every morning immediately upon waking, I write in my gratitude journal. I only write one thing. It’s on my phone, so it’s easily the first thing I do when my alarm goes off. This simple daily task is a reminder of what I have to look forward to and be grateful for in my life during a time of so much uncertainty.
Daily affirmations. Positive affirmations are absolutely essential to growth and self-reflection. The way we speak to ourselves says heaps about who we think we are and who we can become. On the days I felt the pressure of the quarantine telling myself, “I’m not doing anything productive, I’m a failure.” Instead, I would try, “I am actively pursuing my goals and know success.”
When I couldn’t stop the tears and felt overwhelming hopelessness I told myself, “You are strong and capable of overcoming hard things.” These positive affirmations can take a negative conversation we have with ourselves and redirect it into something more fruitful to help change our way of thinking and feeling about ourselves and our own lives.
Kylie wears the Midform Arivaca in Aviles Chipmunk.
“Everything has been built by me… I’ve seen how the van has turned into a home and it is something I am very proud of.”
Emotion needs motion. Any time my anxiety felt too consuming, my sister Megan would remind me to “get out of your head and into your body.” Physical activity has always been a place of healing for me, and usually in the form of climbing, skiing, or something active in the mountains. At a time where I did not have access to the places I go for peace and grounding, I had to recreate them in the home and outside my doorstep.
I went for daily runs in the neighborhood and spent time working on my van. I put my emotions to work by busying my hands. I am not a carpenter but I’ve been building and working on my own Sprinter van since I first bought it in the Fall of 2018. Everything has been built by me. It’s not perfect, and maybe it’s pretty janky, but it’s mine! I’ve seen how the van has turned into a home and it is something I am very proud of.
Consume positive media. I always joke, “When I’m not laughing I’m crying.” During such a difficult time filled with negative and daunting news and media, the last thing I wanted to add to my life was sad or stressful entertainment. I opted for only watching positive films that made me laugh. Anything funny and uplifting to keep my spirits high to find familiarity and normalcy again was just what I needed. Smiling, laughing and having fun is essential to happiness.
Serve others. It’s hard being away from our friends and family that we deeply love. Visiting my grandparents through screen windows outside their care home hurts. Not being able to hug the people we care about is weird. Gratefully, I was lucky enough to quarantine with family and find comfort with people who know me best. We experimented in the kitchen together, snuggled with the dog, played outside and worked around the house.
I found that during the pandemic it was better to be useful to others. I help in any way I can in the home with my sister Megan who raises her amazing kids, Van and Liv. When the schools closed down, Megan began homeschooling. It’s a lot of work for parents to make this kind of adjustment, so I offered to teach my niece and nephew how to tie climbing knots from inside my van for a class. It felt like a micro-adventure even though we were just walking to the driveway! We spiced up their home school routine with a small change of scenery and hands on activities. The kids loved learning about what I do in the mountains and began planning their own climbing trips for when the time is right.
These five things: writing in a gratitude journal, practicing positive affirmations, getting to work, consuming positive media and serving others each help to create a sense of purpose and meaningful contribution to the world, even when it’s just within your own four walls. Maintaining my values of expression and adventure while social distancing looks a little different from the home, but it’s the small experiences and moments that matter most. Seeing my niece’s face light up when she first saw the unicorns on her Teva sandals, having time to sit and watch the wind blow in the trees, and watching robins build their nests allows for discovering a new sense of self.
Grieving collectively throughout the pandemic provides a road to healing and finding hope in recovery. We have been gifted an opportunity to find balance in the things we are thinking: noticing small joys. Come into the present with busy hands. Let go of what you cannot control, and don’t be so hard on yourself. Stock up on compassion and be generous. And most importantly, remembering we will get past this. Micro-level events of happiness weave a fabric of overall joy that lifts us up daily and sheds light on what is most important in our lives as we move forward.
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