Here we are back in the month of March, the month that completely changed the world last year. As education and access to the vaccine continue to increase, I found myself reflecting on my pandemic lifestyle. It’s easy to miss the obvious parts of pre-covid life that we all pray go back to “normal”— hugs, shopping, traveling, large events, restaurant dining, nightlife, only wearing a mask for skincare or Halloween— to name a few. Did I say hugs? Yeah…

I took some time to recognize some ways my lifestyle has actually improved during the pandemic, here they are:

1) More cooking, less take-out & delivery

I pretty much cook every meal now but absolutely do NOT cook every meal every day… nobody got time fo’ dat. I make breakfast daily because it’s quick and simple. As far as lunch and dinner, I prepare about two big meals each week that I alternate and reheat throughout the week. Occasionally, I’ll order delivery after a game or on an off day. Cooking more has helped me in a few ways. First, I’m not missing meals anymore. I eat three times a day and light snacks or smoothies in between. Second, my grocery list is less expensive, healthier (fewer processed snacks and junk) and my shopping is more efficient. I prefer to physically go buy my groceries but since covid I’ve been having them delivered. Lastly, I’m wasting less food. I use everything that I buy instead of throwing away bread, fruits and veggies when they’ve gone bad.

While I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, what I like most about this routine is how much time and money it’s saved which leads me to the next improvement…

2) Eliminating waste, embracing joy and peace

You see how my eating habits helped save money but the lockdown lifestyle naturally reduced unnecessary spending. I used to travel whenever I got the chance, and I’ll definitely get back to it when it’s safe. But we all know, vacations are a pricey luxury so having to stay put has definitely saved my coins. So has not going to the movies, bowling, Starbucks, clubs, bars and malls. With no plans or places to go be seen, I did not spend nearly as much on my wardrobe this past year. Instead, I came up with stylish ways to wear the insane amount of clothes I already own along with a heavy ‘jama-to-cozy sweats rotation.

A focus on consuming essential things only made me realize I can be just as happy with less in all areas of my life. I learned who and what are really important to me; who needed to go and who deserved to stay, what brought me joy and what caused me stress. I embraced finally living in my house for the first time since I bought it in April 2017. I found peace in routines and not having anywhere to be. I enjoyed calm mornings, Peloton bike and yoga workouts, yard work and family. I looked forward to outdoor bike rides with my family every weekend. I also got to spend quality time with both of my dogs which reduced Bella’s attacks on Ollie from daily to once per week.

Lastly, I’m more tuned in to the news and current events and I’ve been educating myself on political and social issues in our country. I became more comfortable being vulnerable when sharing experiences and gained confidence in using my voice and platform for change and helping others. There a few amazing organizations and campaigns I’m excited to announce joining soon!

3) More hours of sleep and better quality

I consider myself a night owl usually getting all sorts of ideas and energy at night that keep me up. But at the same time, I love my sleep and feeling rested so I set a goal to improve my sleep for better recovery and performance. First, I started sleeping in my Apple Watch, which takes some getting used to, and tracking my sleep with the AutoSleep app. Then, I committed to being an “early riser” by waking up at 9am daily whether I have somewhere to be or not. Yes, 9am is early for me. I start winding down earlier to be lights out by midnight.


Before using the app, I believed better sleep was simply getting 8 hours every night. Once I started to understand all the metrics and data summarized on AutoSleep, I became super intrigued with my Heart Rate Variable (HRV) and readiness. HRV and readiness are directly related to certain lifestyle factors like stress, eating, activity and it’s unique to you. You can only compare your HRV to your own baseline, there is no one value that fits all. It’s a really good way to see how well you recovered overnight and what your energy will feel like the following day.

As a result, I procrastinate less throughout the day and I read more each night.. I fall asleep happy.

4) Drinking black coffee

I’ve always claimed to be a coffee lover because I was hooked on my super sweet, milky Starbucks go-tos. I even used to joke that “I take coffee with my sugar.” Oh, and I really started to rave about coffee once cappuccinos became my daily groove. Well friends, over a year into the pandemic and I can say I’ve reached the ultimate coffee lover achievement their is — black coffee. Yes, I drink my coffee black and I enjoy it. Prefer it, actually. This could just be a tastebud revelation of my 30s like red wine but I’m not mad about it. I arrived at this preference after a few baby steps.

Latte > Cappuccino > Cold Brew > Badass

After I stopped buying vanilla lattes at Starbucks when the pandemic hit, I relied exclusively on my Keurig at home. Every morning, I’d brew cappuccinos and drink them out of my Stojo cups on my deck or in my backyard while my dogs explored and ate grass. (They mostly ate grass, why do they do that?) The next step was stealing all the Starbucks cold brews in the WNBA bubble and hoarding them in my room. I began enjoying those daily and stronger with a higher coffee-to-creamer ratio. Next, I came overseas and got hip to the french press experience. I started buying whole coffee beans for the first time ever and grinding them myself. I could really feel myself getting attached to the process, the smell, the taste. I also started limiting dairy after my skin got hella disrespectful and broke out terribly. Without adding milk to my coffee I didn’t need as much sugar either. I’m ashamed to admit that the last and final step was a terrible hangover that google told me black coffee could potentially cure. It did not but it was the only thing staying down and the rest is history!

You know what they say, you can tell a lot about a person by the way they take their coffee. Bustle’s 12 Reasons Black Coffee Drinkers Are Slaying Life hit it on the head. Can’t lie, I do feel like a boss when I slightly yell my order in the Starbucks line.

5) Nursing plants and flowers

Anyone that knows me would never expect me to do yard work, let alone look forward to it. I also used to be very adamant about people not gifting me flowers because I didn’t think they smelled good and they would only die in a few days. On top of all that, the sight of a bug on the outside of a window would make my heart race and my ‘pits sweat. How the hell at age 30 (now, 31) was I able to change?

It started with a Pinterest board of aesthetic houseplant decor, an aloe and a fresh bouquet of sunflowers. I had all this unusual time on my hands and was able to finish some areas of my house that I never quite got around to. Primarily, sprucing up my backyard for the warm weather. After my deck was stained and my patio was installed I got right to work fixing my grass and furnishing. I pulled/killed weeds, dethatched and reseeded my small lawn. Then I landscaped the sides of the patio myself laying weed fabric and annoyingly heavy river stones. I wanted to quit and hire someone like ten times, but as I saw the vision coming together each day I was determined to finish. I went to a nursery to pick out outdoor plants for the first time and literally thought I might leave with every deep green plant and vibrant flower I saw. The final result is a cute, cozy outdoor vibe and my extreme relief that I’d conquered my fear of bugs, spiders, dirt and everything in between. Ok, I’m not like completely healed but I can be outdoors and function which is progress.

I learned that there is a meditative, relaxing component to caring for plants. I enjoy observing how every little element effects their health and researching what different signs are telling you about their needs. It’s so cool to watch as they respond positively within hours when you get it right. I now keep a plant in my living space no matter where I am in the world. And I’m really looking forward to filling my Connecticut apartment with plants this summer from The Sill!


This list felt small and trivial on the surface. But one thing this year should have taught all of us is that the smallest things make the biggest impact. These five improvements brought me joy, healthier habits, peace and gratitude which are pretty important in this one life we have to live. I hope you, too, found happiness in the chaos.

All the best,