Daily outdoor runs have become a staple in my quarantine routine. Florida is hot. There really isn’t a transition between spring and summer. The weather mostly transforms from comfortable to hot.

The humidity and temperatures make for grueling long miles, and mentally zoning in to accomplish what I set out to do each day on the pavement.

Recently, I’ve been noticing a little more litter on the sidewalks; in particular- face masks (not your average plastic bottle or gum wrapper).

I believe it’s safe to say, if you have ventured outside of your house, you’ve probably worn some kind of face protection to take precautions with the spread of COVID-19.

Wallet, cell phone, keys, mask…a new checklist of sorts.

It’s our new normal.

This doesn’t make it easy. This doesn’t make it less scary. This doesn’t make me less anxious. Phrasing this “new normal” doesn’t mean it is normal.

With the country slowly reopening in certain states, it’s uncertain and unclear of what the future will hold. We now may have the opportunity to eat in a restaurant or visit our favorite non-essential store (I wouldn’t have classified any store as non-essential before this…), but things are different. The world has operated virtually to lengths that would have been considered not even an option before COVID-19. If you watched the NFL Draft, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Jobs have been lost. Plans have been postponed. Students have been robbed of perhaps a graduation or the companionship of fellow classmates. People are broken. The future of 2020 is different for every single person and family.

COVID-19 has left us in a disarray. If our physical health hasn’t been impacted, our mental health has.

Stepping outside and getting into the car even feels strange. Something so familiar to me is now a task I must familiarize myself with again. I notice I spent a lot of time away from others. I spent so much time in my familiar surroundings of a home. Being around others and even imagining getting back to the basics of “normal life” is almost overwhelming.

I ask myself the question, “how do I start life again?”.

In the shadows of an uncertain future and placement with COVID lockdown, a mentally tasking whip emptied my thoughts. I had plenty to do. I had plenty I accomplished, but I found myself looking forward to the next day to get through. I just wanted the day to end so I could start it all over again, in hopes tomorrow would bring good news.

I know I’m not alone. YOU are not alone.

An article published by the BBC, ‘Coronavirus anxiety: How to cope with life after lockdown‘, shares great information on anxiety after the lockdown and familiarity knowing others are experiencing the same.

Our new reality may not look so similar, but we can find hope and comfort in those things that have not changed. Those who love you, those who you call friends, your pets and other forms of companionship will never change. Our world around us may look different. We, as people or as an individual, may have changed internally. We’ve gotten stronger. Some of us have face fears, loss and so much more. However, humanity and the characteristics that make us human have not. No person, no event, no lockdown can take that away from you.

You are never alone. Life may look different, but we are in this together.

Hoping this finds you with love and light,

Jake’s sister, Amber.