Gems not Germs

Now that we are safely in 2021, but also not far enough in to forget 2020, I asked theDIHEDRAL to briefly reflect on this past year. We can all agree 2020 was a bit of a dumpster fire of a year, but it would truly be a waste if we didn’t grow in any way. So, each of us will explain three habits that we picked up that we’ll keep even after life is “normal” again.


When High-Clip asked us to write a bit about three habits we’ve picked up in 2020 that we’d like to keep, I was intrigued.  COVID-19 has spun my life into something I could have never imagined.  The biggest change was moving from the front of a classroom to behind a laptop.  I am not an on-line professor, I’ve never taught an on-line class, and in most cases I do not think that the on-line environment is suitable for a college education.  Most of that is still true, however now…I am an on-line professor (but just for now).  I don’t like it, but I am incredibly thankful for this technology. The fact that college students can stay on their degree path without falling behind is spectacular.  The benefits of being able to continue an education are nearly unquantifiable, and that means the world to me!  The point here is that moving from in-class to on-line has taken most of my time.  I’ve gotten out of some really positive habits, e.g. reading books every night.  I’ve picked up some really negative habits, e.g. doom scrolling.  In time I’ll reverse both of those trends, but for now I’ll highlight three habits that I hope to continue, independent of what the future holds.

  1. I eat a grapefruit every night!  I don’t really know if this is a healthy habit, but I really enjoy the ceremony of cutting, peeling, and eating grapefruit.  They are delicious, and it  makes me nostalgic for the days when my grandpa would greet me in the morning with a fresh grapefruit sliced in half and covered in sugar.  STOP judging!  Grapefruit is cool!
  2. Deliberate Climbing!  When the US lockdown ended, and the climbing world re-opened, I was not in peak shape.  To compensate for the physical losses, my movement had to be more intentional than before, I was resting more, and doing all the things we learn as beginners (straight arms, center of gravity, BREATHE) it’s refreshing (similar to eating a grapefruit).  I’m still not in pre-COVID shape, but with more deliberate movement, the losses in strength have brought gains in other areas.
  3. Walks!  Pre-COVID I would take Pepper out for a walk once or twice a day depending on when I got home from school.  Now we are taking walks nearly four times every day.  I love it.  I love walking!  It’s so therapeutic for everything from unwinding to consolidating.  I have never taken a walk and regretted it once I returned home.  I used to think I was taking Pepper for a walk, but I realize now that we are taking each other.  I may not tilt my head and wag my tail when I see the leash, but the dopamine and serotonin are raised just the same.


In the fall, a fellow climber asked me how the pandemic has improved my life. My jaw dropped as I tried to figure out how I must have misheard him. I mean, had this year not been a disaster for him too? After he explained his question, I realized that this is a perfect opportunity to take note of what we like to do since doing things out of social obligation was not an option as social activities were hardly an option at all. Since then, I’ve picked up the following habits, and regardless of what the rest of the world wants to do, I’ll keep them,

  1. Wear a mask outside when I’m sick: Luckily, I didn’t get the flu this year (or any virus since quarantine, for that matter). But I’ve gotten it enough times in my life to really hate it. The flu usually knocks me out, but either because of school or athletic pressure, or simply to take care of myself, I’ve needed to go out while I still have the flu. Maybe it was the times, but it just never occurred to me that I could wear a mask that could prevent me from transmitting a virus (if you can’t tell there’s a reason I study physics and not bio). From now on, however, if I do get the flu again (please never again), I will do my best not to spread it.
  2. Follow my instincts: Probably because of all of the sports I’ve played, I used to have a strict idea of how to stay fit and healthy. I would force myself to do certain things to be a better climber or swimmer or lacrosse player. Since everything closed down, I’ve had to just do my best with what I am given. I run in the mornings when and where I want. Maybe my back needs yoga that evening. While the sun is still out, maybe I’ll want to get out to the forest and hit my go-to biking trail. If I’m feeling strong, maybe I’ll want to crush some climbs. When my body says, “BREAD,” I happily oblige. When my body says, “SLEEP,” I finish what is necessary and head to bed. Simply doing what I instinctively want to do has changed the entire game. As a result, I’m the most fit I’ve ever been. I’ve been more consistent with my climbing grades, my mountain biking is more confident, my running pace is the fastest it’s ever been, and I’ve been able to reach more advanced yoga poses. My instincts know best!
  3. Moving activities outside: Especially since the summer, outdoor activities have been IN (pun intended). It seems that everybody found ways to continue their habits through outdoor means. Why weren’t we already doing this? It’s WAY more fun than doing things in a stuffy room with bright fluorescents. Yoga, biking, running, and walking are so much more fun in the sun. Tossing around a frisbee or a ball is a perfect low-key social activity. Plus you can bring dogs!


I am not shy to admit that I have developed post-quarantine anxiety. It is hard for me to envision a time where masks were not common practice. Seeing old pictures of big gatherings puts a big question mark on my brain and makes me very anxious. It is amazing to think that we were able to thrive long enough without a health agent destabilizing us for this long. I have to come to terms with the fact that, -at least in my current state of mind-, life has changed and we must adapt to its new dynamic (whatever that will be moving forward). 

  1. Washing my hands: Not that I did not wash them before! But definitely not long enough or thoroughly. COVID-19 times reminded people of the importance to wash every finger, every in-between, and both sides of hand (please). I’ve never sang happy birthday so many times in a year before!
  2. Movie nights: With quarantine, a new family tradition began! We felt the need to come together and bring some comfort and stability to our son. Hence, movie night began! Every Friday we make homemade pizza and watch a movie based on the thematic of the month (classics, Halloween, Pixar, etc). With how much we love pizza, you better believe this one is a keeper!
  3. Face Masks: Just like High-Clip, I have incorporated face masks in my mental repertoire. Before the pandemic, I had never thought of wearing a mask if I was sick. I have to confess I did not think it would be socially acceptable to do so. I have come to understand that it is okay to wear one, and I think a large group of the community thinks it’s acceptable and much needed as well.

We all wish you a Happy New Year and we hope you stay happy & healthy. Let us know which habits you’ll be keeping in the future!

6 Replies to “Gems not Germs”

  1. Nice post! I discovered I like being alone even more than I already knew. Being with my dogs out in the big empty is inspiring, soothing, real. The times I shared the experience with human friends, they seem to have felt it, too. AND I discovered that I LOVE to paint even more than I already thought. I really don’t want to go back to “before.”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. I also go for walks. it is very therapeutic, I love the grapefruit in the evenings. My grandma always had an orange after lunch. Ever single day of her life. Lunches were the dinner of modern days, but I will try the grapefruit…day or night

    Liked by 1 person

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