It’s been a year like no other, it’s safe to say.  When 2020 began, no one knew what a loop we would all be thrown for. I haven’t written a blog post since the start of the year because soon after my first fashion post, the world–and time as we knew it–was brought to an abrupt stand still.

It’s not often that the entire world has a shared experience, but this is the year that Covid-19 unified us in an extremely strange way. Life in quarantine began (for those of us in Manila anyway) in mid March…and since then, at least for me, time has seemingly ceased to exist. Days have blended together so I hardly know whether it’s a weekday or a weekend (does it really matter now?), and the days in my 2020 planner are only marked for bills payment or the changes in quarantine rules, whereas before it was about scheduled trips, shoots, fittings, meetings, shows, etc.

Soooo….what’s life been like in this alternate universe? The first thing I noticed when the quarantine was first imposed was the intense stillness that blanketed everyone and everything. Manila never, ever sleeps, so the stillness was disconcerting at first. Before the lockdown I had been keeping a fairly regular meditation practice, so instead of resistance, I decided that fully embracing the stillness and becoming more mindful would be the best way for me to manage any anxiety or panic brought about by such extreme and unprecedented circumstances.

I reminded myself that we couldn’t change our circumstances, only the way in which we responded to these circumstances. So despite the escalating pandemic and the worsening news from everywhere, I tried to keep my focus on small, everyday things. I would start my day off with 20-30 minutes of simple yoga, meditate for 10 minutes, then prepare breakfast. These simple tasks, done everyday, had a deeply calming and grounding effect, and helped keep me sane through the first (and worst!) few weeks of the quarantine when the entire world had seemingly turned upside down.

Since we couldn’t leave our house (at the beginning of lockdown, only one person could leave the house with a quarantine pass, and only to buy essentials), Ito and I decided to do some rearranging and clearing. We found some old tarpaulins and leftover paints in our garage while cleaning, and at the height of our general disorientation, this discarded pile of materials became our refuge. Painting and photographing our way out of things we didn’t understand and into our own little safe haven. It was cathartic!

Soon this was something we looked forward to doing. We would wake up, and despite the news, we would have something creative to do that would get us through the day. We continued clearing out different corners of our home to work in and also started spending more time outdside in our garden (there’s nothing like a lockdown to motivate people to head outdoors!).

Since we had started working with leftover materials for our creative projects, we decided to utilise our discarded kitchen scraps for our garden and create a little urban kitchen-scrap-farm. With stepping out of the house being kept to a minimum, what better way to secure our food supply than to try to grow our own? Vegetable scraps like kangkong (water spinach), basil, oregano, tomatoes, squash and spring onions from our initial grocery run were replanted in an unused side of our home. We also began learning to compost and fertilise our ‘farm’ with our other kitchen scraps like fruit peels and eggshells (along with all the fallen petals and leaves in our garden that we used to throw away!).

After some time, the stillness that had been so disorienting slowly gave way to a deep feeling of groundness and rootedness. We discovered that stillness made us mindful of our surroundings in a way that we had never been before…we were learning new ways to utilise things that would have just ended up in the trash pile. We found that a slower pace of life resulted in less wastage, both in small ways and in the bigger scheme of things. We also developed a newfound appreciation for nature and the incredible capacity that the natural world has to regenerate and heal itself…something we could all benefit to learn from! So maybe the stillness, and the time we feel we lost, hadn’t turned out to be a complete waste after all.

In the next blog post (click here to read “Waking Up (to a Different Time”) I’ll be sharing some of our discoveries, observations and adventures from staying home 🙂 As we all navigate our way into the unknown, could this slower, mindful way of living be the new way forward for all of us? What do you think??

*Photos by Ito Ocampo

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