Riz Ahmed - Sound of Metal

Riz Ahmed is shown in a scene from "Sound of Metal." Ahmed was nominated for best lead actor by the Independent Film Spirit Awards, and won best actor from the National Board of Review.

We're now in the eleventh month of the pandemic. 

People are dying by the thousands daily. The reality of this illness hits close to home, as several loved ones have now tested positive. 

By all means, I consider myself incredibly lucky. I have the luxury of working from home, and I have not yet gotten COVID-19. 

Chances are high I may be able to get the vaccine before I get the virus. That is nothing short of a blessing. 

Still, living through a pandemic is no easy task. Throughout these 11 months at home, I've done a lot of moping. 

I started a candle business, for fun, and that has taken up a lot of time that would have been spent seeing concerts with friends, or having nice dinners at restaurants with my family.  

But March to December felt like one big blur, and it was only in January that I decided that I needed to get out of whatever pandemic-induced funk I was in and do what makes me happy. 

I surrendered myself to self care. Here's how I used yoga, books and movies to find some happiness.  

Sun salutations and controlled breathing 

I generally spend my weekdays working while hunched over my laptop. When work is through, the pandemic blues largely keep me inside for the rest of the day. 

I started a virtual yoga subscription with West End Yoga to bring some physical activity back into my schedule. 

There are yoga classes on YouTube, but those didn't have as much appeal. The classes at West End Yoga are in real time, which brings back a sense of normalcy and routine. Instructors set up in the studio, or at home, and fellow virtual patrons join in. 

The studio offers in-person yoga sessions, too, though I will stick with virtual. 

Pre-pandemic, I attended yoga classes three to four times a week at Crunch Fitness. I loved it; it made me feel powerful, both physically and mentally.  

Returning to the practice has been a much-needed morale boost; emptying one's mind of the chaos and the exhaustion that comes with being human, even for an hour, is immensely soul-soothing. 

Even though some of the poses are torturous — looking at you, downward dog — I am reminded at the end of each class how amazing it is to have a body, and to be alive. 

Getting lost in other realities 

As a little kid, I dreamed of opening a library. Now, as a young adult with a substantial book collection, I feel like I'm on my way there. Books are beautiful escapes that offer exposure to so many concepts and characters that my mind would never dream possible.  

In January, I finished three books (granted, I started one in December). The Book of the Month Club, which is a website that offers five new books every month for $14.99, has helped me get back into my reading habit by giving limited options and taking the choice overload out of deciding which book to read next. I've been a member for about a year and a half. 

"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue" by V.E. Schwab was a beautiful novel that waxed poetic. The prose deeply interwove the main characters and set the scene for believable story arcs both in the present and past. 

"The Hunting Party" by Lucy Foley was an Agatha Christie-inspired whodunnit set in the highlands of Scotland. After many false leads, the novel tied itself up nicely by the end. 

"Aftershocks" by Nadia Owusu was a heart-gripping memoir from a woman who would call the world her home. It explored her relationship with herself, her Blackness and her ever-changing environment. 

Now, I'm on to "Circe" by Madeline Miller. I am excited for what the journey may bring. 

Celebrating cinema 

My partner and I watch a lot of movies together; it's been a long-standing tradition in our 10 years of being together. 

We watched several movies together in January, ranging from dramas to dark comedies to thrillers. 

Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order: "Mother" (2009), "In Bruges" (2008), "Pieces of a Woman" (2020) and "Sound of Metal" (2020). 

We closed out the month by re-watching "Thoroughbreds" (2017), a dark comedy featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, who is now perhaps best known for being Beth Harmon in "The Queen's Gambit." 

Devoting a few hours to just being in the moment with my partner — no phones, no laptops — has been a great, relaxing release from the outside world. It's a good reminder to enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. 

Here's to hoping that February is a month ripe for self care and development, and a beacon of light for those who need it. 

Mickayla Miller is a site producer at LNP | LancasterOnline. “Unscripted” is a weekly entertainment column produced by a rotating team of writers. 

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