How the Pandemic Made Me Appreciate My Life and the Lives Around Me More


Riley Guzowski

The bracelets, handcrafted by Guzowski, are made from unique beads and thread.

Riley Guzowski

Before summer started, I would have described my style as nothing specific. I would just wear basic clothes or outfits I thought were cute. But in June, I decided I wanted to make some jewelry, just for fun. I went downstairs to the craft room, and with my stepmom we sorted through thousands of beads she had collected and bought over her years of life. After finding the beads that most stood out to me (a tie dye polymer clay bead with a wolf, wooden beads with mushrooms, a moon charm, wooden sun beads) I brought them upstairs and made two bracelets surprisingly fast. It was a talent I never knew I had until that moment. It is gratifying to wear jewelry that you made, with antique beads you can’t really find anywhere else. I felt proud of what I had created. Making those two bracelets awakened something in me.

From that moment on, I felt very down to earth. My style changed along with the way I viewed life. I continued to make jewelry. The more I made, the better it made me feel. I started to wear bohemian clothes and accessories (handmade jewelry, turquoise, flowy pants) and I realized that I felt my best when I was outside. The music that fills my stomach with butterflies is anything from Fleetwood Mac to New Order. I discovered things about myself that I never really knew.

I discovered that I was a child of nature. Earth’s child. Mother nature’s child. The forest’s river fairy and the moon’s best friend. I started to look at life in a different view. I started to realize how truly beautiful being alive is. How beautiful the sunsets are, how beautiful the trees are when they change from green to reds, yellows, oranges and browns. My life was beautiful, and the lives around me were, too. I began to pay attention to the way people live, breathe, speak and act. I would look at a stranger on the street and wonder what they have gone through in their life.

The people in my life became something so much more to me than ever before. What would I do without them? Hearing my little sister’s hearty laugh makes everything worth living. Feeling my boyfriend’s arms wrapped around me feels like home. The advice and comfort my stepmom gives me fills me with hope and confidence. My mom’s unconditional love gives me comfort in knowing that I will always have her in my life. 

Earlier this November, I went on a little trip to Greensburg to visit family for a few days. As soon as I got there, I felt somehow even better about life. The environment there is beautiful. The house I stayed in has a very calming and pretty aesthetic. I woke up to a bright, sunny view of a lake every morning. I got a new hairstyle and got to spend time with people who are good to be around. I felt at peace and it was good to get away. This trip intensified the feelings I had developed over the summer.

I now know that all of these things means I have changed as a person. The pandemic had a lot to do with it. When quarantine started, I was stuck inside for months, and there was nothing to really do in public over summer, like local festivals, fairs and amusement parks. This resulted in me getting really close with the people in my life. Getting closer with my stepmom led to us making jewelry together, which is where the change in me began. I have learned so many things, but most importantly to never take what you have in your life for granted, and to become at peace with myself and try to enjoy every positive moment I possibly can. Life is beautiful.