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7 Ways This Pandemic Quarantine Can Actually Be A Blessing In Disguise

There are blessings in the lesson.

Inspiration

Yeeeeeah. I'm not sure what any of us were actually expecting 2020 to be like as the clock struck midnight on January 1, but I'm fairly confident when I say that this was certainly not it. I don't need to tell you what, barely six months into this year, has been like. Not only can you read articles like "Covid-19 Is Killing Black People Unequally—Don't Be Surprised", "Few Minority-Owned Businesses Got Relief Loans They Asked For" and "The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying" if you wanna get a semi-brief media recap (SMDH), but most of us personally know someone who has passed away from the pandemic, lost their job and/or is battling some level of depression (if that "someone" isn't us). Not to mention all of the regular day-to-day stuff that can straight stress a sistah out, even without COVID-19 being all up in our space.

It's been rough. I'm not going to patronize you by trying to act otherwise. But if you've ever heard the quote, "Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place" before, you'll get why I believed it was so important to pen this piece. It's definitely not written with the intention of making light of any of the challenges or struggles you and yours may be facing. It's simply something to offer up a perspective that will hopefully remind you of how resilient you actually are and how, even bad times, can refine you in ways that ultimately make sticking things out and going through the rough patches worth it in the end.

Are you ready to see some of the silver linings of this pandemic quarantine? Believe it or not, there are some truly priceless ones.

1. You Can See Who Your True Friends Are

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Years ago, a filmmaker by the name of Molly Secours once said to me, "I'm in a season of being still and seeing who and what comes to me." That resolve has always stayed with me because, as a recovered codependent, I used to be notorious for doing the very opposite of that when it came to relationships, both romantic and platonic.

I'm telling you, sometimes you can be so busy in your dynamics with people that you don't even realize how much of the load you are carrying until…you…stop. And something that this pandemic has done has forced a lot of us to do just that. In many ways, it has forced us to get still, be quiet and pay attention to who is truly as invested in our lives as we are in theirs.

For me, it's really been something to see who has checked in, who has offered help, who has been "intentionally consistent" about making sure that I'm good. It's also been fascinating to see who hasn't done those things. The processing of both has provided me with some real—and what I believe to be lasting—clarity about who my peeps really and truly are; especially in this season. And believe you me, when you know who is fully in your corner, that brings forth a peace of mind and clarity that is nothing short of incomparable. Life-affirming, even.

2. You Can Push “Reset” on Areas of Your Life (That Aren’t Working)

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The one and only time when I got fired from a job, while financially it sucked to have it happen, in hindsight, it was one of the best things ever. For one thing, I hated being there. For another, the gig had absolutely nothing to do with my purpose, passion or calling. I know some people who have lost their job in this season. Ugh. But what has been truly remarkable is to see how it has pushed them to cultivate a dream, write a screenplay or hop on a Masterclass or Skillshare's website so that they can learn a skill that they can…"expand" is the word that comes to mind.

Sometimes, life has us so caught up that we're too busy to step back and ask ourselves, "Is this really what I want to be doing with my gifts, talents and time?" Then, seemingly out of nowhere, something like this happens to slow us down and help us realize that the answer is not just "no", but HELL NO. The beauty in that answer is that you can give yourself permission to reset your life. Reset is a cool word because it means "to set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way".

Sis, just because you've been working—working at a job, working at a relationship, working at keeping things going—that doesn't mean that "it" has been working for you. Take this time to ask yourself if it's time to do something different or new. Thankfully, you've got the gift of time and space to set some things right so that you can thrive rather than simply…exist.

3. You Can Become More Responsible with Your Money

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How crazy is this? Did you know that only 67 percent of Americans actually have a financial budget? What. In. The. World? You know what they say—if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Even if you've been fortunate enough to where not a lot has dramatically changed on the financial tip, I think we all can agree that it would be beyond foolish to be out here maxing out credit cards or blowing stimulus checks. Whether money is tighter than it's ever been or this pandemic is simply reminding you that a whopping 78 percent of us are literally living paycheck to paycheck, hopefully this time has served as either a reminder or a confirmation to get (or keep) your coins in order. Remember, budgeting can help you be accountable of your money, to plan for the future, and to even save up for some special things that you want. Times are tight, that's for sure, but this is when you can become more financially savvy than ever; if you want to be. That's definitely an upside. (By the way, if you need a little help in this area, feel free to check out our article, "10 Budgeting Apps That Will Get Your Coins All The Way Together".)

4. You Can SLOW DOWN and (Better) Nurture Yourself

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Something that a single female client and I are currently working on is making sure that her closet reflects the type of dates that she wants to go on. What is that all about? I'm sure you've heard the saying, "If you build it, they will come." Well, after she shared with me a lot of her relationship history, I wasn't even remotely impressed by what her dating life has looked like. And so, I suggested to her to invest into her dating wardrobe and then to only accept dates that will match it. It's one way to "upgrade" when it comes to setting a new set of standards for herself.

Meanwhile, I'm over here purchasing stuff on Etsy that will re-mineralize my teeth (you can DIY this type of toothpaste by checking out this recipe), deep condition my hair (Chebe powder is that one) and keep my skin super smooth. I'll be honest—I didn't think as hard about doing all of this until the world shut down and I got to meditating on how I could take better care of myself. So yeah, here's another reason why I think this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. It's given me—and the people I've been working with—some time to make time for ourselves; to really self-nurture (and pamper) in ways that we hadn't been as thoughtful or thorough prior to the quarantine.

Nurture is actually a favorite word of mine. On the self-nurture tip, it speaks to protecting oneself, supporting oneself and cherishing oneself. What have you been doing, right through here, to make sure you are doing these things for your own mind, body and spirit? If the answer is "nothing", there is no time like the present to start.

5. You Can Emotionally Connect with Your Partner on Another Level

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One of the reasons why I wrote "8 Hacks To Keep You & Your Boo From Falling Out (During A Quarantine)" is because I already knew that this pandemic—and more specifically, this pandemic's quarantine—was going to take quite the toll on a lot of relationships. It really is kind of a trip how, a lot of people don't even realize how little time they spend with their significant other until something like this reveals that it's not much at all (on average, married couples engage one another only two hours a day). If you live with your partner, this quarantine can help you to relearn your significant other, strengthen your communication skills and figure out ways to reprioritize your relationship. If you are quarantined away from your partner right now, while it can be really—and for some, really, really—hard to not be able to physically connect, watching Lives like the ones between Karrueche Tran and Victor Cruz can remind you that cultivating and then solidifying your emotional bond are very precious and special. It can help you to see what your relationship is truly made of so that when the two of you do come back together, physical intimacy will truly be the icing, not the cake.

6. You Can Make the Time for What Matters Most (to You)

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You know what they say. It's not about what we have time for; it's about what we make time for. And, as author M. Scott Peck once said, "Until you value yourself, you won't value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it." I've shared, a few times before, in my writings on this platform, that I firmly believe that not only is it possible to waste time, but that a lot of us do it. Waste means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return", so if we're doing things that we deem are not ultimately giving us an "adequate return", by definition, they are wasting our time.

Listen, there is only so much Netflix and Hulu that you can watch. Make the time to write yourself a love letter, to do some sex journaling, to ponder the patterns you've got with your family, friends and co-workers (check out "The Relationships In Your Life That Are Desperately In Need Of Boundaries" and "The Art Of Saying 'No' To Things You Don't Want To Do"). Think about what you're spending your money on, what you're doing with every moment of every day, and if you're actually planning out your future in a way that will truly benefit you. In short, ask yourself if you're doing what really and truly matters most to you and your life. The quiet of this season might scream to you that you are not. The good thing about that is, there is no time like the present to make a change; to stop wasting what you can never—ever—get back.

7. You Can Make Rest (More of) a Priority

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If this quarantine has had you climbing the walls with boredom, I get that; especially if you're an extrovert. Just make sure that you know the difference between being bored and being a busybody.

Remember that job that I mentioned earlier. While I was unemployed, broke and trying to figure out what the heck I was gonna do with the rest of my life, someone who was close to me at the time said, "You better enjoy this time, Shellie. Something tells me that you won't get this kind of pace ever again." That was about 20 years ago. That individual was right.

The famous Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing. We worry too much. We don't allow our bodies to heal, and we don't allow our minds and hearts to heal." Did you catch that? Resting helps us to heal. To become healthy. To become whole. To cleanse ourselves. To free ourselves. To pray, meditate and shoot…sleep (be honest, when's the last time you've been able to get eight hours a night in, consecutively so?). So, if this pandemic quarantine has got you in the position where you are resting more so that you can heal more so that you can flourish more, give thanks. Praise the Lord that pandemics don't come around every day and the world doesn't shut down like this often. Use this time to take long baths, to sleep in and incorporate practices that will teach you how to become more calm and relaxed.

It might not feel like it right now, but nothing lasts forever; including COVID-19. Let this season teach you whatever the Universe wants you to learn, so that you can come out stronger and better than ever, as the direct result of choosing to see all of this as being a bit of a blessing; even if it's sometimes in disguise.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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