1) Making Some (even if just a little) Money: Macra-Made You Look!
Early on, I was feeling claustrophobic in my NYC apartment and really missing the fresh air and greenery of the great outdoors. I thought about getting some plants, but I have minimal light and not many places to put a pot. So I had an idea to make some kind of plant holder that I can hang on the wall next to the window to get light and feel like I have some nature indoors with me. I did some Googling and found macrame knotting... ordered some supplies and started creating. I had no idea what I was doing, but soon enough I made my first plant holder. And it was actually pretty cute!
I made a few more, started to get different techniques down and decided to put them on a website to display some of my pieces in case anyone was interested in buying my little arts & crafts. I decided to name it Macra-Made You Look! and have expanded to making shelves and yoga mat carriers! Bottom line: if I can create these beautiful pieces from literally nothing, just an idea in my head and something I find enjoyable, you can seriously do anything!
2) Being More Active: Solo Tennis
When I was a kid I would spend a week each summer at tennis camp. We were on the court in the scorching heat for hours and hours each day - and I loved it! I didn't play during the year or even think much about it, but when summer came along, I always looked forward to playing. During quarantine, I was trying to think of activities I could do outdoors while staying safe, and I found a little park near my apartment that has handball courts - basically giant concrete walls. I ordered a few tennis balls off of Amazon, dusted off my racquet, and started playing solo tennis against the wall!
It's not easy, folks. Or maybe I'm just not all that good at tennis! But who cares! I have been enjoying it as well as appreciating a new reason to get out of the house and move around. Update: I have been dabbling in real tennis -- for any New Yorkers out there, the Central Park courts are open and free for socially-distanced fun :)
3) Being More Creative: Paint (& Sip)
Paint Night classes have become very popular in recent years. A group of people sign up to paint a specific design, and the instructor paints it alongside you, giving you instructions and pointers along the way. Plus, there is usually wine or a cocktail involved for extra fun! Over the past few months, these types of classes have moved online to sites like Yaymaker. They are great because you can pick your class by the painting you will create and you can ask questions and show your canvas in real time if you'd like, as if you were there in person.
I signed up for a horse painting class early on and really loved it! There is something relaxing and calming about painting, especially when you are guided through the process so you can't really mess up. Check out my horse and emu above. When else would I ever do something like that? I recommend signing up and giving it a try!
4) Building Healthier Habits: New Skincare Routine
Let's talk about mask breakouts! As if having to wear a mask in the humid, hot summer is challenging enough, taking it off to reveal a breakout is the icing on the cake that fell on the floor! (At least we can hide the breakouts with the mask!). I have never been diligent about a skincare routine and have been known to go to bed or wake up without a thorough wash at times. But with this new mask situation and with time to actually research and learn about different products, I decided it was the perfect time to try a new routine.
What works for me could be very different from what works for you, but I'm happy to share! I use a gentle cleanser twice per day - usually in the shower after a morning workout and before I go to bed. In the mornings I'll follow with a Vitamin C serum and moisturizer with SPF and in the evenings I'll rotate between a retinol or simple toner followed by moisturizing cream. The best part is you really only need a tiny dot of product for your whole face, so the products will last! My face feels fresh, has seen fewer breakouts, and it feels good to have a routine when so much of life is up in the air right now!
5) Bettering Mental Health: Journaling
Writing things down has always been a great way for me to get things off my chest, work through challenges or display everything on my mind. During tough times in particular, I have found solace in being able to clear my mind by getting my thoughts out and into a notebook (yes, I like to use pen and paper vs. a computer or phone!). I appreciate knowing my thoughts are written down in case I want to refer back to them, so that I can clear the space these thoughts are taking up in my mind and move on to more productive things!
In an effort to work on my self care and mental health, I have started writing 3 pages each morning (a tactic I've learned from The Artist's Way - check it out!), so I am able to clear out my mind and start the day fresh. Even if I don't have anything to write, I force myself to complete those pages, comment on the weather, recount a conversation with a friend, etc. It's grounding and similar to the skincare routine above, it is helpful to have as part of a routine. Plus, you can get different color pens and make it pretty if you're weird like me!
I'd love to hear from you! What new hobbies, skills or habits have you picked up over the past few months? And how has it changed your outlook? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.