Poet perfectly describes the fatigue so many are feeling at this stage of the pandemic
Photo: Canva

We're nearly a year into the pandemic, and what a year it has been. We've gone through the struggles of shutdowns, the trauma of mass death, the seemingly fleeting "We're all in this together" phase, the mind-boggling denial and deluge of misinformation, the constantly frustrating uncertainty, and the ongoing question of when we're going to get to resume some sense of normalcy.

It's been a lot. It's been emotionally and mentally exhausting. And at this point, many of us have hit a wall of pandemic fatigue that's hard to describe. We're just done with all of it, but we know we still have to keep going.

Poet Donna Ashworth has put this "done" feeling into words that are resonating with so many of us. While it seems like we should want to talk to people we love more than ever right now, we've sort of lost the will to socialize pandemically. We're tired of Zoom calls. Getting together masked and socially distanced is doable—we've been doing it—but it sucks. In the wintry north (and recently south) the weather is too crappy to get together outside. So many of us have just gone quiet.

If that sounds like you, you're not alone. As Ashworth wrote:


You're not imagining it, nobody seems to want to talk right now.

Messages are brief and replies late.

Talk of catch ups on zoom are perpetually put on hold.

Group chats are no longer pinging all night long.

It's not you.

It's everyone.

We are spent.

We have nothing left to say.

We are tired of saying 'I miss you' and 'I can't wait for this to end'.

So we mostly say nothing, put our heads down and get through each day.

You're not imagining it.

This is a state of being like no other we have ever known because we are all going through it together but so very far apart.

Hang in there my friend.

When the mood strikes, send out all those messages and don't feel you have to apologise for being quiet.

This is hard.

No one is judging.

- Donna Ashworth

Those of us who find ourselves feeling this way certainly hope that no one is judging. We hope that our friends understand, either because they're in the same boat or because we all get that we're all handling this weird time differently.

It's not that we don't care or that we don't miss people outside of our household desperately. It's more that we miss people so much that we can't stand this half-baked way of being with people anymore. Personally, I'd rather just wait it out until we get enough people vaccinated over the next few months. I'm holding out for the hugs, man. Going into hermit mode in this final stretch feels more doable than straining to make socializing work with all the limitations and the exhaustion on top of it.

There are exceptions, of course. People who live alone probably need whatever socializing they can get. And checking in with people, especially loved ones you know struggle with mental health issues, is important. Some of this pandemic wall can be veiled depression, so we need to look out for one another and touch base sometimes. It's also good for us to make connections even when we don't necessarily feel like it. Sometimes the desire might be lacking, but we're happy to have connected once we've done it.

And of course, there are people who have just pretended that the pandemic isn't happening this whole time. Maybe those people aren't feeling this, even while they're making life harder for the rest of us who are trying to follow the guildelines.

It's all just hard. There's no right or wrong way to make it through a pandemic, as long as we're not actively harming ourselves or other people. Everyone has different needs, and those change as we go through different phases of this thing. It's just nice to see a common feeling in this phase put into words so eloquently.

Donna Ashworth has published a whole book of poems about the pandemic called "History Will Remember When the World Stopped." She also has a book of poetry for women, "To The Women: Words to Live By."

The arts are always a gift, but they can be especially powerful during tough times. Thank you, Ms. Ashworth, for using your words to give voice to what so many of us are experiencing.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."