Editor's note: This column is part of a series by Lakeshore residents about their experiences living through the COVID-19 pandemic.
We would like to start from the beginning and write this story together. It began when we discovered that school would be out for an unknown amount of time. Knowing we would not be able to physically see each other, my Nana, Lynn Kotecki, suggested we use an online application called Zoom to stay connected and still be able to see each other.
Payton Hosley works on the storybook about living in quarantine.
Zoom had started to grow in popularity during our governor’s shelter-in-place order. Along with our Nana, our aunts, and our siblings, Luke and Annabelle, we started Zooming every day at 10:30 a.m. We asked each other two questions every morning. The first was “What are you thankful for?” This question caused such a deep, and often challenging, thought process because we were going through a difficult time. It was sometimes very hard to find positive things to talk about, yet as we continued to Zoom and talk about what we were thankful for, it got easier and easier to find the joy and the positive things during our quarantine.
The second question we asked was “How does your heart feel today?” The answer to this question changed for us on a day-to-day basis. Some days, we woke up feeling positive and happy. Other days, we were anxious, fearful, and sad. It was amazing to talk through what our hearts felt like each day. The question got us to recognize and address our feelings and, if our hearts were not in a good place, we tried to find ways to turn that feeling around.
On the Sundays that we Zoomed, we had one person lead us in prayer and a Bible study. It was a great way to not only stay connected to our family, but it was also a wonderful way to stay connected to God. We read Scripture, prayed, watched videos, and spent time with each other while praising God for all the wonderful things he has done in our life.
A page from Adeline Kotecki and Payton Hosley's storybook.
While we were getting deeper into our Zoom meetings, my Nana suggested it might be fun to start a journal to document this time. She bought us sketchbooks, and we started to get creative and draw pictures of what we were thankful for and what our hearts felt that day. Nana and our aunts noticed the creative ways we illustrated our answers. We had a great deal of fun drawing and sharing our feelings in this way.
During the Zoom meetings, we did crafts and art projects, we meditated, we designed thank you posters for our cousin, Alexa, who is an ER doctor in Ohio, and did so many other fun things that made time in this quarantine a little more enjoyable.
One day, our aunts and Nana had an idea to create a book about life in quarantine from a teen’s perspective. Our Nana thought we were both phenomenal artists, and she knew we enjoyed drawing. We started to brainstorm what the book would be about, and began creating storyboards of our ideas and illustrations.
We had to think about how we would put it together while being physically apart and unable to visit each other. We were a little concerned about how this would work. Fortunately, we discovered an app called CamScanner that helped us. With this app, we were able to scan our pages back and forth to each other. The app turned out to be a lifesaver for creating the pages of the book.
Adeline Kotecki draws a picture for the storybook.
Each of us took our turn adding different elements to the pages until we both felt the page was finished and loved how the page was laid out. One of us (Adeline) drew the dogs and the environment details, and the other person (Payton) drew the characters, Elena and Tatum, and the layouts of the page. We flipped back and forth on who would write the words for the page and who would color the page. Sharing the work has been fun and exciting. We have learned from each other, and the results are coming together beautifully.
We are not finished yet, but are having so much fun creating a storybook of our journey through COVID-19. It has been such a positive and fulfilling experience, and we are grateful that the Zoom app has allowed us to stay connected with our family.
We hope that our story will encourage and inspire others to be creative during their quarantine and stay connected to their grandparents, aunts, and cousins. Though we are going through challenging times, we can always find the silver lining at the end of the day. Discovering and being grateful for every little amazing thing is sure to put a smile on your face.
Adeline Kotecki and Payton Hosley are the granddaughters of Lynn Kotecki, executive director of Movement West Michigan. Adeline will be a 10th grader at Zeeland East High School while Payton will be a 9th grader at Grand Haven High School in the fall.
This article is part of The Lakeshore, a new featured section of Rapid Growth focused on West Michigan's Lakeshore region. Over the coming months, Rapid Growth will be expanding to cover the complex challenges in this community by focusing on the organizations, projects, programs, and individuals working to improve conditions and solve problems for their region. As the coverage continues, look for The Lakeshore publication, coming in 2020.