COVID and 2021 have tested us. Here’s what helped these Philadelphians get through

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It has been a year of many tests.

Or really, it was a time many tests. With the arrival of 2022, we will soon enter our third year of life through a global pandemic. Learning to be, let alone thrive, with the pressures, anxieties and restrictions of our time will continue to be an ongoing challenge.

So, to wrap up 2021, we checked in with six people with connections to the Philadelphia area to see how they continued. We asked each one what holds them together, as well as the tactics they plan to use to support themselves in 2022. Here’s what they shared. Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Danna Bodenheimer, founder of Walnut Psychotherapy Center: “During 2021, I did a lot of work to reassure myself that it was okay to have a lower base of operations than I was used to before the pandemic. It took a lot of self-maintenance and therapy. I kept finding myself disappointed in my own depleted abilities, to remind myself – over and over again – that I didn’t fully understand the toll all this is taking on my nervous system. It has become much more difficult to feel fueled by internal resources.

“I mostly relied on my partner, my therapist and my immediate family, and this is drastically different from the many ways I was able to get and find support before everything started to evolve into this new way of being. “

Neil Bardhan, Director of Applied Storytelling at First person arts and executive director of Wide street review: “In 2021, I was grateful for an incredible and extensive support network that kept me together. My marriage and my family have grown stronger. Friends stood up. Colleagues near and far have come in many ways. (Yes, I enjoy good Zoom networking over coffee!) I also have a therapist I have had sessions with for five years, whose advice has been worth every penny and every minute. Whether I was facing a deep loss in my family or a minor inconvenience at work, I knew I had people I could check in with, “Hey, can I confide in you for a few minutes? “”

Andrea “Philly” Walls, artist, curator and founder of the Museum of Black Joy: “My artistic practice allowed me to stay together in 2021. Being able to focus on creativity and collaborations with other artists was particularly rewarding. Even with Zoom as my primary gathering space, I was able to deepen relationships with artists I admire and build a community around the Black Joy theme. Approaching life with the intention of seeking and uplifting joy as an act of endurance and a tool of endurance has been gratifying. It allows me to move more easily from a state of constant struggle and despair to a state of radical self-acceptance and grace under pressure.

Luis Garcia, influencer, Originally from Philadelphia and founder of Milan candles in Irvine, California: “My biggest achievement in 2021 was the launch of my new business Milan Candles. Beyond our amazing candles, our goal is what motivates and sustains me every day. Milan’s mission is to shine the light in the dark for those who need it most by providing support, training and resources to those affected by sex trafficking through our 3 Rs (Preparedness, Rescue) approach. and Rehabilitation).

Trapeta Mayson, Philadelphia Poet Laureate for 2020-21: “I intended to maintain my peace of mind. I worked to block out the stressors that impacted my peace. I monitored my consumption of negativity and tried to steer clear of it.

[Note: Here are some of the care practices Mayson listed, edited and condensed for space.]

  • I gave as much as I could: I continued to volunteer in my local library’s Friends Council and started a project with modest funds to educate seven young students in Liberia.

  • I gave myself a lot of grace.

  • Read a lot of poetry, especially the poems submitted to my Healing Verse Philly hotline.

  • I continued to work and stay active.

  • I have kept my faith, in people and in a force greater than me.

Andrew Abeyta, professor of psychology at Rutgers University-Camden: “My point of view, as an existential psychologist, is to identify and hold on to the things that give meaning and purpose to life, [that] can help people overcome even the most difficult of circumstances. My research team and I are referring to the ability of people to discover and maintain a purpose in life as an existential agency, and to discover that the existential agency is a resource that helps people lead healthy lives. and productive and to persevere in the face of adversity.

“For example, in my research, we asked undergraduates to think about how education gives them a goal and we found that this exercise gave students the confidence that they could successfully achieve their goals. educational and professional goals. I have tried to apply what I learned from this research into my own life and career and I think it got me to 2021. “

Luis Garcia: “As a father of 3 daughters, it is important for me to help create a world where freedom, security and hope are guaranteed and not just ideals. And in 2022, I plan to take Milan to the next level with our community, because working for the greater good and creating a legacy beyond profits is a form of personal empowerment for me.

Andrew Abeyta: “For 2022, I hope to be even more enterprising to cultivate the existential agency. I felt like I had lived much of 2021 in survival mode and never stopped taking care of myself like logging out from work / email, eating well and exercising. exercise regularly. I think if we take the time to remind ourselves that these self-care practices make sense and have their purpose, [that] could help us prioritize them. A lot of times we have thoughts like “Oh, I really should go for a run” but we don’t go all the way because we are focusing on what we think at that time are more important needs or needs. urgent, like being more productive at work.

“When I struggle to get out of bed to go for a morning jog, I remember how regular exercise helps me achieve important work goals. Overall, I hope this practice of identifying and recalling the purpose and meaning of self-care can help me finally get out of survival mode and live a more balanced life.

Neil Bardhan: “I have several practices that I am trying to explore in 2022. For Christmas, my wife and I received a light therapy lamp that I can not wait to integrate on winter mornings where I also write my morning pages , reading for fun, and setting goals for the day. We try to walk in the woods more often – the Natural Lands reserves and the Woodlands of FDR Park do wonders to break away from the concrete of South Philly! And, as always, my goal is to spend quality time every day in my kitchen, trying out new cookbooks.

Trapeze Mayson: “I will be doing a lot of what I did in 2022 because it worked for me.

  • I will sleep more… I take my sleep routine seriously and I will strive to create a wonderful space for rest and respite.

  • Hope things calm down in the world because I want to travel again. I want to find new adventures.

  • I’m embarking on an awesome project with poet Yolanda Wisher called ConsenSIS! It’s going to be amazing and it will provide space and time to reflect on the joys of poetry and inspiring black poets.

  • I’ll write more poems and embrace what life has in store. I will live each day with purpose and be grateful to be alive.

  • I will continue to have faith… bigger than a mustard seed.

I look forward to these plans because I want to live life to the fullest despite the limitations of the pandemic and other factors. It’s an overwhelming space that we are all in right now. It continues to be difficult, but if we work together we can eventually grow and heal together. “

Andrea Walls: “In 2022, I plan to develop this framework of joy as a ritual practice, using it as a kind of super power. I’m about to focus on this practice and let things that don’t serve my well-being deprioritize. I’m also looking forward to building a team to help me support my artistic goals in the coming year and to let go of the idea that I have to do it all on my own, which is a grueling premise. The slogan I relied on recently is “forward with joy”. No matter where I am or what is going on, I am able to calibrate my breathing and modulate my behavior with this internalized phrase: “move forward with joy…”. considering joy in the process and offering grace as a basis for resolution, I can draw closer to the way of life that will support me and my community.

Danna Bodenheimer: “I don’t have any self-care practices planned for 2022, mainly because my main goal is to continue to tolerate the fluidity of everyday life and not rely on just one sense to get things done. I imagined I would be in my office in 2022, which doesn’t seem to be true for the foreseeable future, at least. I had planned to resume group exercise, and again, this doesn’t seem like a safe option. My biggest goal is to continue to surrender to the deep humanity and humility that is needed to not know what is to come. And let me go to bed early, because that really helps.

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