It seemed like everything I was doing was on fast forward. Even though most of my days are spent in one room, it still felt like I was running and running and couldn’t catch my breath. Whether it was work, home or life responsibilities, I was on a nonstop train to exhaustion.
I think a lot of you can relate. This last year threw us all into crisis and it’s been all we can do to keep up. If you think no one has noticed the toll it’s taken on you, I see you. I get you. I wish for you a moment to breathe.
Luckily, I have two incredible sisters (who also take life at breakneck speed) who decided it was time we all took a breath. We realized the three of us had never done anything alone, without our parents or families that didn’t involve a hospital room.
After spending a year managing our work and lives along with our dad’s illness, we then spent the next year cleaning out, remodeling and selling his house. The pandemic, and the illness and loss of my sister’s husband, took away opportunities for us to finally get away.
Until last week. We (all of us fully vaccinated) took an incredible road trip to Chicago to see the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit that my sister bought tickets for one night when she couldn’t sleep. As I sat there surrounded by beauty listening to a perfect soundtrack, I thought, “Oh my goodness…breathe it in.” And when I did, I was more relaxed than I had been in years.
We rounded out my birthday celebration with a perfect meal at a restaurant on my bucket list and spent time doing nothing but being together. I savored every bite and relished every moment. I breathed in every molecule of perfection the trip offered.
Since then, I’ve been trying to breathe in more. To find the small moments that matter. Sitting on my deck. A good meal. A walk with my dog. I have to remember to slow down more often, especially after the year we’ve had.
Claudia Finkelstein, associate professor of family medicine, knows that many people need to build some better habits into their lives after the pandemic. She recently penned an article about changes in attitude, sleep, alcohol intake and physical activity that can make a difference as we navigate “reentry” into the world.
And that reentry is happening quickly. Just this week the university updated its mask policy stating that vaccinated individuals can go mask-free indoors and out on campus.
Now when we visit campus, we really will be able to breathe it all in without the barrier of a mask. And, right now, there is so much loveliness wherever you look. If you can’t get to East Lansing, you can always check out the weekly photo gallery to make you feel more like you’re here.
As you take a deep breath, don’t forget how important it is that we have clean air to take in. Here at MSU, we take “Go Green” seriously and for more than just a football cheer. Last week we released an update on important campus sustainability actions.
Students like J.R. Nosal, Jarrod Griffus and Kevin Hayes, all members of Sustainable Spartans, put actions behind their words. Their group recently coordinated the installation of new green walls along the library bridge. Read their Student view: Integrating a green urban design to learn more about their work.
Researcher Bruno Basso knows that sustainability isn’t just about being able to take deep breaths of clean air, but that feeding a growing population depends on a sustainable future. His work with drones and satellites is groundbreaking in crop management. Read his Faculty voice: Feeding the future sustainably to learn more about his innovative approach.
As you go about your days, no matter how crazy they get, do yourself a favor and slow down occasionally. Take joy in the small things and find pleasure in something. We can change the world when our hearts are full and our minds are clear. Take care of yourselves and whatever it is that makes you happy; stop for a moment and breathe it all in. Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner