myHealth Blog | Pivot in Pandemic

Pandemic Pivot Reflections as a College Freshman

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Guest Blog Post

Hello!

My name is Maya Chadda. I was chairwomen of myHealth’s Youth Advisory Board in 2019 and am currently a student at Boston University. At BU, I’m studying advertising and journalism. I am a member of the school’s improv team (Liquid Fun), the newspaper’s Layout Editor, and a radio DJ. With classes, clubs, new friends, old friends, roommates, and a new city, first semester was a constant juggling act. Come second semester and online classes, I had to quickly adapt to a loss of independence, minimal social contact, and a general lack of control as I now live with my parents back in Minnesota. Come summer, I lost my job as a camp counselor at YMCA Camp Warren. I’ve been at Warren for probably ten or more years either as a camper or counselor. This was a hard adjustment, but I threw myself into a job at Target and volunteering efforts related to the Black Lives Matter movement in Minneapolis. 

So that’s a little on me, but what I really want to talk to you about is what it’s like for young people at this truly unique period and how to best act as a support system. 

Before I lost my job at Camp Warren, I remember my boss using the word “pivot” over Zoom calls, talking about how camp could operate this summer. At first, I was a little bothered by this term as it seemed like a desperate corporate attempt to promote optimism by the YMCA. However, as summer continued, I realized there is no better term to describe the day to day life of being a young person right now. We are constantly pivoting. Living with my parents has presented a lot of challenges for me personally. When I first moved in, I was of the mentality that my parents were my roommates. This, for obvious reasons, ended poorly. It’s hard to adjust and revert back to old dynamics. As I was pivoting, my parents allowed me the grace to mess up. We fought a lot and still do. They know that my overreactions are not a result of their actions but something completely different. They have faith that I will take back my words and apologize. I needed that and still do. Additionally, my parents and I made space to talk about what we are missing and mourning as a result of COVID-19, be it independence, hanging out with friends, or small things like high fives. Making space to talk about what we are or were missing made it easier for me, as a young person, to see my parents as equals and people experiencing the same things as me. I worked hard at setting boundaries. I told them sometimes after work or online classes, I’ll have my headphones on. That’s me signaling to them that I need some alone time. I’ve found that in all the pivoting, the two most important things for both a young person and adults (or parental units) are communication and grace. These past three months have been a huge adjustment for me, and as a result, my mental health has suffered. Through open communication and my parents’ acknowledgment of how hard this time has been for me, I’ve found ways to take care of myself, be it with daily affirmation cards, working out, routine, or having some assemblance of control through taking on small projects, like a garden. Part of my morning routine is reading an affirmation card from Louise Hay’s Powerful Thought Cards. The science is that by saying a positive affirmation out loud you reinforce the ideas through thought patterns. Speaking it into existence, if you will. My affirmation card for today read, “I am flexible and flowing. I am open to the new and changing. Every moment presents a wonderful new opportunity to become more of who I am. I flow with life easily and effortlessly.” I feel that this is more true now than ever. 

Maya, former Youth Advisory Board (YAB) member

Pride is a light in the dark | myHealth blog

Every Month is Pride Month

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Guest Blog Post

As pride month comes to an end, it is important to remember that pride does not stop here. As a queer nonbinary POC, pride is more than a month of commercialized orientation, it embodies the queer community’s solidarity. Especially in a time like this, having pride over one’s identity, supported and celebrated is needed more now, than ever.

No words can express how proud I am to be a Latine queer and how deeply the stories of other queer POC touch me. I strive to be a good example and uphold the values I hold dear. Being nonbinary can be difficult, particularly when trying to teach others to respect my identity. It is more than an identity, it is who I am. I am proud to be everything I am as it has made me who I am today. I am proud of who I have grown to be and look forward to who I will become.

Pride is not only for white people, something I have struggled with for the majority of my life. There is a tragic lack of representation for POC like me, one of the reasons I am writing this. I wish I had had someone like myself in the past to support and guide me through difficult times and insecurity, someone I could turn to for advice when I needed it. For this reason, I try to be accessible to anyone questioning their gender and/or orientation.

Pride is the light in the dark for many at this point in history, it is a time to make history. Look out for your queer guy, gals, and nonbinary pals; we could all use the love.

-Elli Ayala, myHealth Youth Advisory Board (YAB) Member

Happy Pride

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Pride is a time to celebrate the resilience, joy, love, and strength of LGBTQIA+ folx and community. The month’s festivities and bright colors give a bold identity to a proud community that has prospered even in the face of adversity. We celebrate pride in June to honor and commemorate the Stonewall Riots and the Black and Brown trans folks who fought back against oppression. This June we continue to witness the strength and resilience of communities coming together against racism, police brutality, transphobia, and harmful systems of oppression. There is a lot of work still to be done and we all must commit to intersectional, anti-racism work. Although this year may be different due to COVID-19, we hope you were able to find ways to celebrate, heal, learn, support and connect. 

Ways to Celebrate Pride During COVID (and anytime!)  

  • Take time to learn about LGBTQIA+ history, and leaders especially Black, Indigenous and other POC leaders
  • Plan a social distance picnic or outing with friends or family (following CDC recommendations)
  • Host a virtual dance party 
  • Express yourself in ways that feels best (baking, painting, dressing up, writing…)
  • Donate and/or find ways to support to LGBTQIA+ organizations
  • Virtual Pride Events
  • Practicing self-care (click here for tips)

We are resilient!

Resiliency has always been a defining trait of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States. New York City (and the rest of the country) had many laws discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community leading up to the Stonewall Riots. In the early 1960’s it was illegal to sell liquor to LGBTQ+ people. Inspired by Black civil rights sit-in protests, the community organized protests called ‘sip-ins’, and fought this discriminatory law and won. However, there were still many other laws that discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community. For example, Folx were arrested for violating the gender-appropriate clothing statute or showing affection towards someone of the same gender. The Stonewall Riots  were the result of the LGBTQ+ community coming together and protesting police raids on bars. Through work at community, state, and national levels there have been monumental changes to society and laws. Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled it is against federal law to fire an individual for being gay or transgender as it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a society, we have made huge strides since Stonewall but still have significant work to do.

Looking for more? Check out these awesome organization and educators!

A few amazing BIPOC sexuality educators 

  • Ericka Hart
  • Jimanekia Eborn
  • Dalychia Saah & Rafaella Fiallo
  • Sonya Renee Taylor
  • Bianca Laureano
  • Tanya M Bass
  • Dr. Lexx Brown-James
  • Melissa Pintor Carnagey
My Senior Year During COVID | MyHealth Youth Advisory Board Member

My Senior Year During COVID

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Guest Blog Post

Senior Year Reflections

It’s so crazy to think how quickly this year turned out for the class of 2020. I never would have imagined that this would be how my senior year ends. Although the Coronavirus had been headlining news for a few months before schools shut down, it was impossible to believe that there would actually be a shut down. I just kept thinking, “stuff like this doesn’t happen”. And then, once we got the calls that school was off for an indefinite amount of time, I stayed positive and was sure we’d be back in a few weeks.

At first, it was kind of nice, especially since online school didn’t start for me until a few weeks after school shutdown. Although it was a little boring, it was nice to have so much time to myself. I still was positive and had high hopes that the school year would eventually be back on.

Once it became clear the school year, including graduation and prom, were off, I began to cycle through feelings of disappointment, anxiety and dread. Some days aren’t so bad, but it gets hard to not overthink everything when I’m stuck at home all day. All the news articles and stories of how people are being affected by the pandemic has me more worried about my future, jobs, healthcare and money more than ever.

In the beginning of school shutdowns, my biggest worries were about missing prom and graduation. Now, I don’t care about either of those as much. Sure, it would be nice to have them, but now that I know I’m never going back to my high school as a student, I just don’t feel like a high schooler anymore. My school, along with many others, are trying to plan to see if we could move our prom and graduation to dates later in the summer, but honestly, that seems a little far-fetched. Even if the events are able to be held later on, I doubt many of my classmates are even going to go. It would just be too weird, and most of us have already put high school behind us and have started to embrace being a college kid (and hoping that our college freshmen year doesn’t get delayed).

Mostly, I miss seeing my favorite teachers every day. I miss seeing the cafeteria staff and having small conversations while they grabbed by food. I miss seeing the murals students painted on our walls. I know I would have missed all these things regardless of my year being cut short or not, but the fact that I never really got to say goodbye makes everything worse. As a freshman, I always thought about how sad it must be as a senior to be attending your last pep-fest, or even the last test you take as a high schooler. Now, as a senior, I didn’t even get to know my last was my last.

Honestly, I still don’t think I’ve fully processed that my year is done. I know that there are a lot worse things that are happening to people and senior year getting cut short isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly isn’t how I wanted high school to end.

Srihita, Youth Advisory Board member

 

World Map Filled with dots of people supporting Earth Day 2020

Earth Day 2020

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While we shelter in place for the pandemic, here are some creative ways to show up on April 22nd and spread some Earth Day 2020 love:

 

Limit orders from Amazon.

While it may be tempting to order everything you need from Amazon, these methods contribute to increased emissions of toxic greenhouse gases. Amazon orders put stress on our transportation system, calling for more trucks and air travel to deliver packages. The added stress promotes more emissions being added into the atmosphere. Instead, try posting on Nextdoor app to see if your neighbors have what you’re looking for, or ordering from a local business. Many have added delivery in to their business models amidst the pandemic.

Neighborhood trash collection.

On April 22nd, walk around your neighborhood and collect trash to help clean up Mother Earth. Perhaps you could even organize a neighborhood clean up to add more hands. Don’t forget to wear gloves, bring hand sanitizer with you, and maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and others.

Start a compost.

Now is a better time than ever to learn how to start a garden or build a compost. Composting is great for the soil, promotes good bacteria and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, which are detrimental to the environment. It also adds critical nutrients to your crops, so that your garden can thrive. Currently, the amount of food waste in our world is around 40%, meaning that we throw away large amounts of food, not to mention the copious amounts of water and resources food production takes. A compost helps turn your food waste in to something productive, putting those banana peels and table scraps to good use versus sitting in a landfill.

Many neighborhoods do not have personal compost bins available and often they are expensive to purchase. Need a project to keep you busy during the pandemic? Constructing a compost is very simple and maintenance is low. Check out this link to see easy DIY compost ideas for Earth Day 2020: https://homesteading.com/your-ultimate-guide-to-diy-compost-bins-for-homesteading/

Start a garden.

Gardening is a great way to grow your own food and help Mother Earth for Earth Day 2020. Gardening does a myriad of good things for the environment including: reduce soil erosion and runoff, reduce air and noise pollution, and reduce your carbon footprint. Plants take carbon dioxide out of the air and turn it in to oxygen for us to breathe, improving the air quality for you, your family, and your neighbors. Food grown and sold in supermarkets often comes from very far away, meaning it has to travel a large distance to get to you. If all you have to do to get your tomatoes is step in your back yard, you’re helping to reduce transportation emissions. Garden plants also attract beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden, creating a healthy ecosystem for all the critters (including yourself!).

Learn how to make homemade products.

Many commercially sold products like laundry detergent and multi-surface cleaners have loads of chemicals in them that can be harmful to the environment. While you’re stuck at home, why not learn how to make new products that are a bit friendlier? A simple way to make multi-surface cleaner is to use three parts water to one part vinegar or rubbing alcohol, along with some of your favorite essential oils (optional). Baking soda is a great option for home cleaning, especially bathroom toilets, sinks, and bathtubs. You can make homemade disinfectant wipes with paper towels or unused t-shirts, rubbing alcohol or vinegar, water, and essential oils (optional). Simply add the paper towels or cut-up t-shirt pieces and add them to a container along with one part alcohol or vinegar and one part water. Add essential oils to make them smell nice.

Visit earthday.org to donate to environmental causes or political movements and find fun tips for going green.

 

Pat yourself on the back for practicing shelter at home!

Satellite cameras have shown that the air quality has significantly improved during the shelter in place order because there are fewer folks driving and traveling by air. The earth is getting a real *breather!*

Be well.

-Emily H.

 

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