The first time I heard about COVID-19 was through YouTube at the beginning of 2020. I was watching different videos about how Wuhan’s Meat Market was overcrowded with animals and infections. Within a month or so, I was watching people drop down in the middle of the street in China, and hospitals soon became overcrowded. This was very scary for China but wasn’t as alarming here in the United States. Soon I started seeing other countries getting it, and then we started having cases here in the U.S. It became even more real to me when I started hearing about coronavirus cases in Cuyahoga County and places where my family is from, like Columbus and Marion, Ohio. My family and I were able to prepare enough in time before the coronavirus hit us.
Ohio’s stay at home order started on March 23, 2020, and put restrictions on establishments, schools, daycare, grocery stores closing earlier, and much more. My family and I already started taking precautions in February. We began to limit the number of times we were going outside and being exposed. We wore masks and used hand sanitizer. I bought enough food and supplies to last us for the next month. Once the lockdown was set in place, my fiancée would get any essential items and bring food home for us from the restaurant or store. I remember when I went to the grocery store for the first time in weeks, and everything was low in stock. They barely had any cleaners or even a lot of food left. There were limits on the items that people could buy and the store required everyone to wear a mask. Once I got home, I felt relieved because just in that small amount of time grocery shopping, I could have been exposed to the virus. Most of the time I had my son stay at home while I did my necessary errands. We kept a strict regime going outside and started utilizing online shopping so that our supplies could just be delivered straight to the door.
While we were surviving the pandemic, we also unfortunately lost George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others due to excessive-deadly police force. This led to many protests and even looting which brought about enforced curfews for cities and an even stricter guideline on top of what the coronavirus already had set in place. With these protests being active in many cities and states, people were starting to catch coronavirus amongst the masses of people. Watching African Americans dying at the hands of police was a real eye-opener for me. It made me realize I needed to start learning on my own instead of relying solely on what the news was covering. While I did research on my own, I found that there was a huge disconnect between what was going on in real-life and what the news was allowing us to see. I had to trust what I knew and what I saw, versus someone else’s opinions and thoughts. With the political debate amongst the presidential candidates and a controversial president, it’s hard to decide what’s genuinely true and what they’re just telling us. I hoped that the stay at home order would lower coronavirus cases and that we may be able to create an executive plan to re-open without the risks of being exposed. It affected my state of mind in many ways. There was a lack of trust in food sources, lots of new information being given about the coronavirus, and uncertainty about what the future may hold. It had me wondering if this could be the new norm.
COVID-19 affected my family deeply, and we had to put all our plans on hold. My fiancée is an actor and a professional recording artist. A lot of movies he had gotten cast in had to be put on hold and the movies he was already in had scheduled theater release dates, which got delayed until 2021. He also made plans to shoot some videos on the Virgin Islands but that was delayed as well due to coronavirus and the inconsistent weather. The pandemic may have had its negative effects, but he was able to focus on writing his book and spend time with the family versus traveling so much for his career. My son has adjusted comfortably to the new way that we go about things. Before COVID he was already being homeschooled, so it wasn’t a challenge doing online classes. We educated him on what the coronavirus was and how serious it can be. At times, it can be challenging because we are not able to go out to our favorite Cavaliers game, spend time outside together, or dine in restaurants. It has a social impact because we’re not used to going a long time without seeing our friends or family. We practice our social distancing and use FaceTime and Google Duo to keep in touch with our loved ones even though they can’t be physically present. My son Preston, who is 8 years old is also a child actor, so it affected him being in more movies this year since everything was delayed. He starred in a movie to be released back in August, but it was delayed until 2021. Since COVID I have been off work as well and had an opportunity to get to know my family better. Usually, I work in a bank, so it consists of working longer hours and I come home close to the end of the day, so I miss certain things like eating lunch/dinner with my family. The pandemic gave me more time at home, and it allowed me to focus on being a mom and fiancée. We were fortunate enough not to get sick throughout these times. Although we’re going through a pandemic right now, and my family and I have had some setbacks we have also built some shared life-long memories.
I decided to take online classes for many reasons. Usually, I’m independent and self-disciplined enough when considering taking in-person classes. I like to work on my own and have a flexible schedule rather than having to be physically present in class. It also saves me time and helps me be comfortable learning in my own environment. I am also my son’s learning coach since he is homeschooled. It gives us a chance to bond while we both learn day-to-day. It allows Preston to see how I take education seriously and serve as a role model for him. With COVID and quarantine in place, I decided to continue online learning to avoid any unnecessary exposure to the virus. My classes are going well. I have enough time to do homework, study, and other coursework without feeling pressured. This quarter there’s been fewer distractions from things like going out, shopping, and just being amongst the world. I’ve had a lot of support from Tri-C as well. I believe Tri-C has been proactive during this pandemic with the services and classes they are offering. I’ve been able to still be part of student clubs and attend virtual events to feel like I’m still engaged at Tri-C. The school offers virtual tutoring to get help without commuting there at the campus with actual teachers. The live chat option has been a great help to me and Tri-C has offered a lot of flexibility to make things convenient during COVID, making things easier to adjust to as a student.
During COVID I’ve been taking good care of myself. When I have to go out, I am accustomed to wearing a mask and gloves now. In addition, I make sure to get enough sleep, eat well-balanced meals, and stay hydrated throughout the day. Anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed or feel like I haven’t given myself a break, I take a moment to relax and do some meditation to reflect on my day. I’m Muslim, so we do an Islamic ritual called Wudu (in which we purify our bodies from impurities before our five prayers) which helps you practice good hygiene by constantly cleaning your hands, mouth, nose, face, hair, ears, ankles, and feet. This helps make me less vulnerable to the virus as well. Right now is a critical time to take care of yourself. I constantly keep in touch with my family and friends, informing them of the latest news and keeping them up to date with events. I find many ways to keep busy after I’m done with my coursework to avoid getting bored. I watch a lot of informational videos, read the news, listen to music, and catch my favorite show on Netflix, How to Get Away with Murder. During this time, I’ve been able to rediscover myself and find new things that help me create different approaches to life and keep me well-balanced. I still have fun doing online shopping and even have groceries delivered to my door. An average day for me during the pandemic is waking my son at about 8 a.m., eating breakfast, and then sitting across from each other working on our coursework. I sometimes have to help him with some of his assignments or virtual classes. At around 12:30 p.m. we take a break to eat lunch and then get back to work until 3 p.m. After 3 p.m. Around 5 p.m. I’m finished with my coursework. During the school day, we also do our five daily prayers together. Then we may go out to play basketball with each other or take a walk. As a family, we try to keep a busy schedule.
The pandemic has brought a lot of attention to people being more careful and being more critical of information. Being a full-time mom & learning coach, fiancé, and a student at Tri-C Community College I’ve had to rearrange my schedule to better suit me and my family. Even living through a pandemic, I’ve still managed to keep my average similar to my regular life and I always maintain a smile. A healthy mind will get you far no matter what challenges come your way.