• Shannon Brault

COVID Summer Recap

Summer all blended together this year as I’m sure many of you can relate to. We were able to see some people with proper precautions, but we were still largely physically distant trying to find ways to be socially connected. Since school starts tomorrow, I’m doing a quick summer recap this week to show the few things I got to do and just how special they were, even if they were things that before I may have taken for granted.

I finished my spring semester the first week of May meaning that my summer break had officially begun, only I decided to take two summer classes that started two weeks after my classes ended. I figured that I already had the time and I would be around without a job, so might as well, right? Summer classes ended up taking a lot more out of me than expected, but I did make it through. I took a 14-week Spanish course and an 8-week Political Psychology course, which was quite fitting given the current climate of the world and political sphere. While both classes brought their trials and difficulties, in the end, I did learn a lot from both of them and it was a good way to keep busy and distracted, even when I still had a hard time focusing.

This summer I watched a lot of mindless content. I got really into David Dobrik for a second and a bunch of other YouTubers who I watched every day. I rewatched some of my favorite Netflix shows. I watched the entirety of Gossip Girl even when it stressed me out so much I would have dreams about it. I started watching different competition shows, new series, movies, and more. The list is quite long and extensive, but it was something that ultimately kept my brain busy some of the time, while the rest of it was quite mindless and was really just to fill time on the days that I was feeling slightly more out-of-it. My sister and I have been watching things together throughout quarantine including The Politician, Next In Fashion, Jane the virgin, Lucier, Love, Victor, Hamilton, Disney Princess Movies, and old-time favorites like Kim Possible, Suite Life of Zach and Cody, etc. That’s been fun and while I am SO SICK of looking at screens, it has been something we can bond and connect over, which is pretty special within itself.

I’ve also been trying to read as much as I can. There was one day in the early summer that I was feeling especially sad and lonely, so I did what every Pinterest girl used to do and I made a summer bucket list of things I could do to fill my time. I put on there my goal of reading at least 10 books this summer. In May, June, and July I read 5 including Becoming by Michelle Obama (AMAZING), The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (ALSO AMAZING), and Brave Enough by Jessie Diggins (AMAZING IN DIFFERENT WAYS). I didn’t read for about a month and a half and within the last 10 days, I cranked out the last 5 books. Since my summer classes were done, I had more time on my hands and for someone who loves to read but simply doesn’t make time to do it, it was so refreshing.

My Summer Favorites this year (in no particular order)

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

  2. The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

  3. The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

  4. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Album

  5. One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus

Speaking of the summer bucket list, I also wanted to get to 10 State parks this summer. While I didn’t quite meet this goal, The siblings and I went up North for our annual “make it to a national park” trip to Voyageurs National Park since we weren’t able to make our Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Badlands trip work this year with COVID. Camping is always so refreshing for the soul and while it wasn’t what we had been planning, it was still a lot of fun. We went right after my Political Psychology class finished up and with the stressful and dramatic end to that class, camping was just what I needed.

I made it to 7 state parks this summer, which turned into a fun way to safely meet up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while to enjoy some hiking outdoors. I ended up hiking nearly every day for a while there (well, every day I wasn’t roller skiing, which I also did a ton of), and it became an amazing way to reconnect with friends, nature, and myself. It’s so easy for all of us to get wrapped up in the things that may not be all that important. Being out in nature always has been something amazing for me to just sit back and breathe. I got really into a few podcasts this summer as well including This Might Get Weird which I ended up just plugging in as I went skiing or hiking. At times when I was feeling really lonely, the hikes helped me connect with myself and the podcasts helped me connect with other people, even if I was not necessarily talking back to them.

I also was lucky and got to see a few friends when it was confirmed that we were all healthy. I always saw people one-on-one and it ended up being extra special seeing them since I hadn’t in months. I would take two-week breaks in between to make sure that I was good, but I did get to see Rosa a lot as my quarantine buddy, which was great and always so good. We went on a lot of picnics and had so many conversations about life and love and politics, which is always just so amazing.

I could post pictures with and play the competition of “whose life looks the happiest?”, but that would ignore the fact that there were also some other things going on that were difficult. For one, COVID (obviously) was still here and still is here, so in reality, I saw very few friends in total over the 4 months and many of my closest friends remained and still remain within my phone through phone calls and FaceTime dates, voice memos, and text messages. While it was tough not to see them, just hearing their voices instantly made me feel connected again and it’s so special that I have so many amazing friends that span up to 4,000 miles away from me physically, but yet we’re far away only in distance…. That is amazing to me. Another thing is the fact that much of the summer was figuring out who and who does not still fit into my life. With the killing of black men by police officers and protests in reaction to them, a lot of my time was figuring out who actually cared and was trying to create change and who didn’t care and acted like it just wasn’t happening. The same with the pandemic. I was watching and observing who was taking it seriously. Who was wearing masks? Who was still partying? Who was sharing resources? I came to the realization pretty early on that taking BLM and the pandemic seriously was a prerequisite to who I wanted in my life and who I would let into my life. When it boils down to it, for me, it’s about morals. Who will continue to show up for others when they are in need even if it doesn’t personally affect themselves? Who treats strangers with just as much respect and compassion as they do their families and their friends? The people that care, the people that show up, the people that provide those resources, fight for change and continue to create a better world are the people I want in my life and those are the people I plan to keep around.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of mental health-related issues for about a year now (well 10 years, but the new stuff for about a year). I spent so much time suffering from it and finally wanted to reach out to people and find someone to talk to. I went to even more doctor appointments where I was brushed off and dismissed like everything I was saying was just made up. I plan on making a blog post on this later, but the quick update is that I spent a month calling places and not hearing back, finding out my insurance doesn’t cover the costs, and/or being turned away because they were at capacity for clients. I went back to my therapist and starting seeing her again more regularly, and finally starting seeing another guy on top of that and working with Boynton Health Services at the U as well. I now have a little mental health team which has been AMAZING and SO HELPFUL! I’m optimistic about what is to come, but for now, I will leave it at that.

This summer has been filled with what I used to call nothing, but now I call everything. While none of it was ideal and while honestly, as a whole, it was hard and lonely, the glimmering moments of friendship, love, arts, nature, and life shine through. It’s not the summer I wanted, but it’s the summer I received and the moments of pure love made it all worth it. Now onto year two of college and semester 2 at the University of Minnesota.

Best of luck to you all this week and thank you so much for reading!

Much love,



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