An inspired life

Let’s wind the clock back to March 2018. I was in a situation, not too dissimilar from where people find themselves today with the coronavirus measures- isolated, contained, restricted, bored and with a perceived lack of control.

Except I was not in self-isolation from a virus... I was involuntarily detained in a hospital for a mental health issue.

At first, I struggled with the conditions of the people who surrounded me. I found it difficult to be around them and didn’t interact too much with others.

But slowly, I began to accept my situation. I found people who were like me, temporarily unwell, but still had their marbles.

As the days turned into weeks, I was moved from the high observation unit to the general ward. Here there was more space, and I chose within myself to do the things that gave me joy. I addressed the issue of people smoking outside in the garden (where it is common practice for people to smoke in a NSW Health Facility) by first picking up all the cigarette butts people had left over the years and created a safe, smoke free place where I could practice my yoga outside. I later inspired one of the other patients to practice yoga with me, and he also gave a first attempt at quitting smoking as a result of our interaction.

* Lesson for corona isolation #1 * Do the things that bring you joy, no matter how small the environment.

As the weeks progressed, I was allowed leave to the outside world. No longer did I have to eat the exactly the same hospital meal of lentils, pasta and beans every meal every day, I could add more varied things like baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and carrots to my diet.

* Lesson for corona isolation #2 * Choice of food is a wonderful gift, where you have the freedom to choose what and when you will eat.


We too experienced shortages in the hospital. There were frequent shortages of towels, and people got wild about it (just like they are going nuts for toilet paper over here). I thankfully was able to secure a towel and used this for a few times before the next load arrived.


With the isolation from the rest of society, boredom arrived. I saw people resolve that tension of boredom through overeating, smoking, having meaningless conversation, arguing with others, watching television mindlessly and colouring in. I coloured in like a child for a while until I had permission to go home and get my laptop and set up a hotspot internet connection.

* Lesson for corona isolation #3 * We are incredibly connected through our digital technologies that allow us to continually participate in ways we never thought possible before.

I found a soul in hospital who was similarly creative as I, and we began to work on a business idea. He thought as there was so much waste in the coffee industry (especially with coffee pods), we could make biodegradable coffee bags with hemp mesh. I loved his idea and went with it.

With just the resources you could buy (at the time) in a supermarket, we set up a prototype of the coffee mesh bags. Using my design skills, I created a website for our brand “aQuity” and shared it with the nurses to gather their feedback. We even used my business partner’s artwork, artwork he did in hospital, as the packaging.

* Lesson for corona isolation #4 * Great creativity can come from environments which appear to be constrained.

After I recovered and left hospital, I took our creation to Bondi Farmer’s Market. This video below shares our story.

While we are no longer at Bondi Farmer’s Markets, this creation and all the joyful content I shared about it, created a job offer at the company I work for today.

If you are being asked to self-isolate, work from home, change your daily routine, I ask you to consider what may come if you accepted your situation fully and embraced what it is there to show you.


Sydney, Australia


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© 2020 by Alana Mitchell