Making the best of it

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on June 01, 2020 # COVID-19

In this time of worldwide crisis, we’ve lost a feeling of security when leaving the house; we’ve lost uncomplicated access to restaurants and public services; and we’ve lost the ability to socialize without a preamble of “where have you been?” and “who have you seen?” Every item on that list of “Losses” has an overall theme of loss of control. In a large way, we’ve lost control of how we spend our days; the only thing we can do to stop this virus is to stay home, wash our hands and, if it helps, watch Netflix.

For the first week or so of quarantine, watching Netflix did help me. More specifically, I watched Netflix, read a few books, and spent more hours scrolling through Instagram than I care to admit. I benefited from that time, don’t get me wrong, but now I’m ready to flip the script a little bit and turn this worldwide bad into something good. Why not use this time to work on myself?

I have complete control over which version of me comes out of this pandemic, and I now have the time to get myself there. Here are a few things I’m doing:

  • Drink for bladder health.
  • Clean your face.
  • Sleep later.
  • Grow out your fingernails.
  • Learn how to listen to your body.
  • Slow down, then reevaluate.
  • Learn a new hobby, or not.

The last thing I want to be doing right now is going to a doctor’s office, and I certainly don’t want to deal with the repercussions of an unhealthy bladder while I’m stuck at home with my boyfriend. So, I’ve leveled-up on my tea and water intake. That’s a big deal for me, Ms. Only Drink Enough to Stay Alive. I’m trying to trick my mind into enjoying and craving water. That looks like: repeating things like “I’m loving this,” “yummy,” and “so refreshing” in my mind while I drink it, so maybe one day it’ll become true. I’m not sure if that’ll work but, I have the time to test it. Kristin Beale and family

Like, really, clean it. I’m talking clay masks, applying toner after washing, and moisturizing. Call me a child, but I usually skip the moisturizing part for any number of excuses (“I’m late for work,” “my skin doesn’t need it,” or “I’m just too lazy to do it”) but now that I’m home all day, those excuses aren’t as acceptable. I’ve adopted a “why not?” mentality for not only moisturizing, but for a list of things I’d normally talk my way out of. In short, I have the extra time and I have no reason not to put lotion on my face; I don’t have the luxury of an excuse to skip that step.

When all of this started, I was excited about the possibility of sleeping in during the quarantine but, to my annoyance, my body won’t allow it; my internal clock is set to wake up before 7 am, so that’s what I do. I prefer to be awake early in the morning, so this is not a complaint, but the idea of sleeping in sounds like a good, healthy thing. Don’t make a habit of it and turn into a slug, but everyone should sleep late every once in a while. Let me live vicariously.

I’m mainly talking to my fellow women on this, because men with long fingernails have always caused me to pause. I don’t normally bite my fingernails, but I’ve inherited my mother’s potato chip-thin nails, meaning they’ll break if I look at them wrong. Somehow, and most likely because I’m not out in the world putting them at risk, I managed to grow out three fingernails on my right hand. When I noticed, I instantly felt more ladylike. Everything I did with my middle, pointer, and pinkie fingers felt beautiful. I decided I would make a conscious effort to grow all my fingernails to length, and I’m tellin’ you that it changed my game. This one sounds silly, but it really is a game-changer.

This is a big one, and it’s extra useful with all this at-home time we’re getting. For some, listening to your body means listening for when it’s full of food and you should stop eating, and for some it means listening for when it’s in Survival Mode and needs nourishment from healthier foods. For me, despite limited sensation in my lower half, listening to my body means feeling the change in my body’s energy surrounding my butt, indicating that I need to transfer onto the couch to relieve pressure. If you don’t take anything else from this article, take my word that this is the most important thing you can learn to do not only during this quarantine but for the rest of your life. I’ve skipped over some wounds, some deficiencies, and got out of some bad situations by just listening to myself.

In the same vein of listening to my body, I’ve received the world’s cry of “slow the heck down,” and I’m using this time to reevaluate my priorities. It’s helpful for me to write out my daily goals (a To-Do list, basically) at the end of every day, mainly so I don’t wake up and play games on my phone for the first 3 hours of my morning. When I have a list of things to do waiting for me at the breakfast table, I have less opportunity to waste time. My list could say anything from “ride your handcycle/exercise,” to “go through your clothes to donate,” or even something obvious like “play with Achilles for 30 minutes.” Achilles is my dog and I play with her for more than 30 minutes per day, easy. Sometimes I add obvious things to my list so I can cross them off and feel more productive. It’s a hack.

The main point I’m making is to slow down and take stock of how you want to spend your time. Once I put myself in that mindset, I had more trouble justifying my “spend 25 minutes eating breakfast because I’m taking turns in my game between every bite” habit. I actually dropped a few habits, snoozing my alarm clock 7 times being the biggest one, because I had a list of things to accomplish and no time to waste.

People are obsessed with “making the most of the quarantine,” followed by a desire to learn a language, cook your own bread, write in a daily journal, and every version of “productivity” we can think of. It’s great if you’re the kind of person who relaxes by learning new things, but please know that’s only one kind of person. The others, like myself, are perfectly happy doing the things I know I enjoy, like playing with Achilles for the first 2 hours of my day, scrolling through gifs on Instagram, and reading my little heart out.

This is an emotional time for everyone: the people marinating in the minute-by-minute virus updates, those who have a loved one affected by the virus, people who are quarantined alone, people who are stuck inside with someone problematic, and countless other possibilities. Sadness is more accessible now than it has ever been and, if you’re more of a “sleep in and snack all day” kind of person, that’s just as valid as my “learn a language and go for a run” friends.

Whether you’re growing out your fingernails or biting them all off in front of the television, move through this time at your own pace; you’re the only one who can say what “making the best of it” looks like. The beautiful thing about this time in quarantine is that we’re all in the same boat and we’re all trying to make the best out of this bad situation.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

For more resources on the coronavirus, visit the Reeve Foundation COVID-19 Information Center.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.