Isolation also taught me that sometimes I need to slow down and smell the roses, literally. The pandemic slowed me down and forced me to be mindful of the present. I am learning to live in the moment.
With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life. With that in mind, I created this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, and I had the pleasure of interviewingShondra M. Quarles.
Shondra M. Quarles is a teacher and author who lives in Texas. In 2016, she published her first paperback book, ”The Teacher Who Didn’t Want to go to School; his book earned her an award from the National Celebrity Educators for authoring a book about teachers. During the pandemic, Shondra published four books. Princeton University published an article featuring the book No Calvin. No Calvin was also a book recommendation of Rad Child Podcast’s Coronavirus and Pandemic book list.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
I was born in Hobbs, New Mexico. However, I currently reside in Texas. The life experience that most shaped my current self was growing up with a mother who wrote poetry. I never realized my mom’s influence on my writing journey until she passed away in December of 2019. Dealing with that tragedy forced me to rediscover her love of writing, which she instilled in me.
Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?
I currently teach from my classroom. I have both virtual and face-to-face scholars. However, I write in between teaching, literally. I write after school, during my weekends, during my breaks. Whenever I feel inspired, I find those moments while teaching full-time.
What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle? I am an introvert by nature, but I miss being able to feel the freedom of doing simple things like going to a movie theater or going to the grocery store without the worry of possibly catching COVID.
The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?
I would like for people to understand the importance of mental health awareness. The pandemic affected everyone in different ways. Some people, including children, were traumatized. That trauma can weigh on and affect how well you deal with life situations. We need more strategies and programs to help people learn how to deal with anxiety and stress due to the pandemic.
What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.
As we know, COVID SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING. Being a teacher, we work long hours, which took a toll on my mental health and body physically. The COVID response allowed me the opportunity to teach from home and get some much-needed rest. I am thankful that I was able to slow down, as well as reevaluate my life goals.
How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?
In the beginning, I had anxiety due to the uncertainty attached to the pandemic. However, prayer and meditation gave me peace when I needed it most. Writing and listening to inspirational audiobooks kept my mood up, too.
Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?
Not being able to travel to visit New Mexico and see my family during COVID was difficult. But, social media helped me cope with that, in addition to video calls/chats.
Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Life is short so LIVE! During the pandemic, I realized that every day is a gift, so I am learning to live life to the fullest. I also came to terms with what was lost or left behind during the pandemic of 2020. It is gone. So now, I cherish my loved ones and live life on my terms.
- I reinvented myself! Social Isolation made me reevaluate my future goals. I am learning that you are never too old to reinvent yourself. I pushed myself to self-published four books during the pandemic. I decided to use my time in isolation, which could have put me into a deep depression, to be productive and follow my purpose. Being in quarantine allowed time for that.
- Isolation also taught me that sometimes I need to slow down and smell the roses, literally. The pandemic slowed me down and forced me to be mindful of the present. I am learning to live in the moment.
- Isolation forced me to look inward and discover who I am becoming. I learned more about who I am as a person and what I want in life. I am not who other people say or think I am. I am who God says I am!
- Last but not least, isolation brought me closer to God and spirituality. Flaws and all, I am a child of God. So I speak to God more, and I aim to listen for his guidance now more than ever.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?
“If you feel as if there is something more to your life, there probably is.” This quote has always been relevant to my feelings about my life. The pandemic was merely a stepping stone leading to my greatness.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to have a one-on-one conversation with Oprah Winfrey. In fact, during the pandemic, I was chosen to be part of a virtual Zoom audience for Oprah’s Your Life in Focus experience. She is so inspirational and continues to evolve. I have so many questions that I would ask her in a more private setting. Oprah is the epitome of stepping into your greatness.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.