A Nutritionist-Dietitian's perspective of food, nutrition, and diet sprinkled with a little life story.


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Quarantine at Home Alone:
My COVID 19 Birthday Isolation Realizations

Posted on October 15, 2020

by: Hyacinth Acain for TheAtomicDiet.com 

*** I wrote this article or story (whatever you call it) a week after my birthday. I decided to shove it apart out of fear and embarrassment of exposing this vulnerable part of me. But then I asked myself, if it’s now, then when? ***

Last September 13, I celebrated my birthday by taking a trip to the grocery store and then went to my go-to restaurant for a seafood pasta take-out (no cooking on my birthday this time). Celebrating a birthday alone, especially in this quarantine COVID time, is alright. In fact, to my surprise, I felt genuinely happy on my isolated birthday during covid, a feeling which I had not felt for years. Maybe because I had learned to let go of control, and I allowed the Universe to move my life freely like a river.

Of course, I did not wake up on my day and miraculously burst into a joyful song like a character in a children’s movie because YOLO. Heck No! I was battling insomnia for the entire month of August, and you guessed it right, because I was overthinking. I panicked when my own thoughts hit me that my life still did not turn out the way I mapped it out. You see, when I was 18, I told myself that I would make it big-time by 25, get married by 30, and bear children right after. Then, I quit my job and turned 25 jobless. I did manage to get professional success in the succeeding years, but it wasn’t fulfilling for me. So, when I turned 30, I resigned as a Nutritionist in a leading diet company in the Middle East, and then I assured myself that I would have it all by 32 – a fulfilled career and successful marriage. Fast forward 2020, I am no longer 32; I am home quarantine alone, childless, and unmarried. Worst, I failed when I took a risk to chase a personal dream.

Here, I gathered 35 life reflections, as I celebrated more than 3 decades on earth (and counting). You may call it My Quarantine Isolation Diary:

1.)  Jealousy is Normal… We are humans, after all.

What is not normal is when we let it overrule our daily living. I think jealousy is a reminder of our inner dreams and desires. I have learned to acknowledge this feeling as a way of improving myself while keeping a healthy environment by appreciating the object of jealousy.

2.) Betrayal is part of life, and it’s normal to get reactive.

Whether it’s a friend who stole the person we like, a sneaky roommate who used our personal belongings, a trusted friend who suddenly ghosted on us, a promised gift that never arrived, or a person who stopped believing in the dream. Whatever it may be… betrayal is painful. But I don’t get explosive. I cry; I vent; I let myself get hurt, but I don’t break or destroy beautiful things to justify the emotional feeling.

3.) Be mindful when handling hot objects in the kitchen. SERIOUSLY!

This did not end well with me. I was sent to the emergency room (ER) for a second-degree burn on my legs because my mind went somewhere while I was holding a boiling pot of water. From there onwards, I am alert whenever cooking in the kitchen.

What to do when celebrating birthday alone this COVID pandemic.

4.) A warm bath always sets the mood right.

It relaxes me. It’s very powerful.

5.) Life is not like a movie scene where the situation is glamorized because there’s music playing in the background.

Whew! That’s a lot of words. But yes, it’s not like that. So, we have to deal with the impromptu drama no matter how bad it is.

6.) Karma is not real.

This dawned on me JUST. THIS. MONTH. I even posted this realization on my twitter. Yes, expecting it to happen to another person would only lead to frustration. However, I observed that creating positive affirmations to myself alters my negative reality.

7.) Give in to the food cravings.

Always satisfy the food cravings. Otherwise, we would end up eating beyond the caloric requirement. 

22 years old. This photo was taken during Christmas break using my Samsung slide phone.

8.) Remember: there are only two reactions a personwould say- we’re fat or we’re thin.

My younger sister told me this way back in my early 20’s when I was trying to lose weight. When I was overweight, I would hear comments about my body. Yet, when I maintained a balanced diet and shed the fat, I would still receive remarks about my physique. I got confused.

Hey, it took me years of self-discipline to maintain my ideal body weight. Frankly, I don’t care anymore when people say I am thin. Because I am slim (as my maternal granddad used to say for encouragement), and I am a Nutritionist-Dietitian, another assurance to myself that I am in my healthy weight.

9.) Find a diet plan that works.

At age 21, after getting my professional license, I applied the principles of nutrition and diet therapy to myself. I was overweight, was having irregular menstruation, and uncontrollable acne. It took several trial and errors until I discovered that the flexible vegetarian diet created a positive result in my well-being.

10.) No matter what we look like and what we had accomplished, it is only we, who can appreciate our self.

The praises that we get from other people is only the icing to the already delicious cake, which is us. No pun.

11.) Flattery can be dangerous.

That’s why I don’t let it get stuck into my head. But, I do know how to acknowledge a compliment.

12.) Depression is real, and it has nothing to do with a lack of faith or religion.

Seek help. Get help. Because even though it seems hopeless, we can overcome it.

My Early twenties- experimenting on personal style.

13.) Stress is a silent enemy.

Yet, inevitable. The Universe is generous. There are infinite ways to bring back the homeostasis of daily living. If all else fails, break ties to the thing that causes the stress. 

14.) Our bond with our family and real friends is valuable.

For me, the link is not by blood but by connection.

15.) Loyalty and Respect matter a lot.

I value it, the more so as I progressed in life.

16.) Everything happens for a reason.

So cliché, but it does. It really does. Sometimes, it disappoints me because it would leave me with no explanation, but c'est la vie!

17.) Regrets… I have a few.

As the famous song would say. And now that I am on quarantine, my mind would often wander about those could have been and should have been. Nevertheless, I am hopeful everything would make perfect sense in the right moment.
Gossip magazines, a staple in which cool kids dig (I’d like to think that I am, Ha!) when social media was still not highly popular. 

18.) Wrinkles and Lines are predetermined.

Cause if we frown, we get frown lines. If we keep on smiling, we get laugh lines.

19.) Everybody's Free by Baz Luhrmann

I was 6th grade when I first heard it on MTV, and I hated it.

But now, the lyrics, oh, everything written made sense.

20.) Some women are not the nicest.

But, women, who help and inspire one another, is one of the most indestructible powers on earth. That and all I have had experienced, and I can attest to it.

21.) The books that advise us on how to live life are not right

I tried following the instructions to get those promising results. I did not get the desired result stated on some of those books; mind you, this happened on several occasions. Because of that, it made me understand the unpredictability of life.

22.) Filter the advice given.

Because sometimes, it’s not relatable. With that in mind, I must control myself in giving unsolicited advice.

Bargaining sleep to party on a New Year's Eve, then rushed for a 4 AM shift right after. Because when I was younger (ahem), an 8-hour sleep was an option.

23.) Household chlorine bleach is one of humanity’s greatest inventions.

I swear by its cleaning property that I always have one in store. From cleaning my kitchen sink, scrubbing the stubborn dirt in the bathroom, erasing that slimy grime in the toilet, down to removing the coffee stain in my immaculate white skirt, this bleach ultra-cleans it all (maybe it’s the Virgo in me talking). But really, this liquid cleaning solution has never failed me.

24.) Be kind.

But never let people take advantage of our kindness because that would be a different story.

25.) Be polite, and appreciate the people who do the same.

You know, I highly value those magic words.

26.) There will always be rejections.

Whether it’s an unreciprocated love, a job opportunity, or an audition to a part that I wanted to play, like betrayal, this too is painful.

Having rejected for countless of times throughout the run of life, and to say that it is okay is sometimes not enough. Yes, it severely hurts, and there is nothing and no one to blame, not even our self. Eventually, we would be fine. I refuse to define my life because of a rejection.

27.) Pain is sometimes a catalyst to remind us of our forgotten dreams.

A formula that came into my mind while I was on a grocery escalator many years ago. I was an OFW in Kuwait back then. I was on a gloom on that day that I got teary when the A-ha moment came. 

Yes, rejection, betrayal, insult, or, whatever it is that causes pain, is sometimes a redirection to pursue all of our greatest dreams. 

Smorgasbord Breakfast at Lenotre: Celebrating my first birthday in Kuwait.

28.) Never lie to friends.

And this extends to the people who put their great trust in us. Be it a sibling or a family member, a colleague, to your significant other, and most importantly, to ourselves.

29.) People may come and go, but the real ones stay.

In my three and a half decades (and counting) journey in life, I have learned to let go of people maturely, i.e., because I know that the purest gems will always remain. They are rare, and we are the luckiest to have a few.

30.) A relationship is mutual.

That’s what it is to me, may it be romantic, platonic, or filial. It’s necessary to uplift and support one another in this changing world, with no sugar-coating and preconceived assumptions. I call this a no judging breakfast club.

As a colleague once said: mental health is a basic need, more so nowadays.

31.) Love is everything.

It puts glitter in our eyes, which sparkles as we smile. And I am manifesting for that endless romantic euphoria in this lifetime.

Nonetheless, give love while waiting for that special someone. Keep hold of love for love itself is generous. It is what keeps us animated, pumping life into our veins. It doesn’t have to be romantic because love itself is everywhere- the love for our dog, our friends, our siblings, or our craft. I find it hard to explain the exact meaning of love, but a young boy from Lebanon once told me that love is a not word but a feeling. Maybe that’s why I found love having infinite interpretations.

Years ago, before I turned 30, I read this article from ELLE: 30 Is A Bullshit Age. Relatively, when I turned 30, life did not go exactly to my plan.  There's also another blog article that says: the "30 things to do before 30" lists are unrealistic, in which I agree.

32.) Pictures sometimes don’t tell the truth.

Way back when I was about 19, when Friendster was one of the coolest things on the internet, I told my University classmate about the glamorous life of a celebrity, as seen on her paparazzi pictures. Her life was incomparable to mine. Her answer was straightforward: not everything we see in print is a depiction of someone’s happiness or relationship. She then asked me if I was untroubled, 24/7, as portrayed in all of my Friendster pictures. I did not respond. I was surprised by what she had said.

That friend is still one of my close contacts, and I would like to think that the feeling is mutual.

33.) I don’t know everything.

And there are things that someone knows, which I don’t. That is why it is called a conversation. Some of my knowledge in life comes from my discussions of people from different backgrounds. I listen to every conveyed information because sometimes, there is learning through mutual dialogue.

Furthermore, I think that life’s travel is supplemented with constant education, whether it be from people, printed matters, asking questions, animals, or keen observation. Because from there, I think wisdom comes in, which I find helpful as I unravel this mystery called life.

34.) It’s healthy to have uncompromised convictions.

While I was having my lunch break many years ago, I overheard a woman sitting on a table next to me, talking on the phone, instructing someone to “never apologize for such principle.” And I couldn’t agree more. Of course, when I was in my younger self, I used to ridicule people for having a different stance in life, even though I consciously wanted to have their courage of unwavering beliefs despite worldly standards.

Nonetheless, as I mature, I am at peace with people having a different set of beliefs, and I have come to accept my ideas in life as well. For one, I always strive to keep my dignity, because as a woman, I value my self-worth.

35.) Life will never be fair.

There will always be oppositions, failures, and overdue dreams and desires, which is something that I am naïve of when I was in my twenties.

We may feel losing because some people achieve their life goals earlier, if not younger, compared to us, but a good friend of mine once said that we are in our divine timeline. The key is to keep on climbing despite the barriers that prevent us from winning the race. She furthered in saying that history shows us that one can become a ruler of a country in their 50s or 70s, the age did not matter, because like us, they too, are moving in their unique path, creating a story that only all of us sole travelers can write in a blank notepad.

So, who knows, I might be discovered in Hollywood when I am 40, or I am going to sing on an international stage three years from now (this is the frustrated artist in me talking). But, who knows? (Ha!) And even though my positive vibe falters sometimes, I am still manifesting all my lifelong dreams and desires, as I think, it is the impetus of life, to fulfill a personal legend, as one famous author would put it.
Amateur shot taken post quarantine birthday 2020. 

Keywords: COVID 19 mental health, mental health PH, quarantine and mental health, law of attraction, 35 Things I learned, failures in life, depression quarantine, fears of life, mental health wellness quarantine, birthday thoughts, birthday list, things to do before