Friday, April 3, 2020

The new normal-ish

A tree I visit on my morning walk...

What was normal is no more.   
The current normal feels rooted in uncertainty.    
The new normal has not yet arrived.  

I have struggled these past few weeks to find a new routine. When the staying at home began I at first felt lucky that I worked at home.  I assumed that I’d feel little practical disruption because while so many people were dealing with the transition from work office to home office, I was already here with my established routines. 

Then I found myself wishing that I had that option.  I wished that I had something to focus on that would keep my brain from running wild because my ‘established routine’ wasn’t working.  My brain and body were overwhelmed by worry, fear, terror, panic…and a myriad of other paralyzing feelings.  I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t plan. 

One Saturday I decided this had to stop and I began a regimented check-in schedule.  Every hour I was closing eyes, seeing how my body felt, relaxing the tense places. I wanted to get my body to calm down in the hopes that the mind would follow. After a few days I started to feel better. I felt like I had a handle on things.  I’d be okay…

Until I wasn’t.  
And then I was.   
And then I sooooo wasn’t.   
And then maybe I was, sort of? 
No, definitely not

Each day has been emotionally different than the prior.  Sometimes dramatically so.  I kept (and keep) telling myself that whatever I am feeling is okay.  I’ve never had an experience like this, there is nothing normal about this, there is nothing routine about this, so why should there be anything routine about what I am feeling?

I’m am starting to establish a new routine.  This new routine prioritizes self-care and checking in with myself.  This new routine involves being easy with myself, and by extension everyone else (we are all doing the best we can). This new routine is one day at a time…and it changes as frequently.

I am understanding gratitude in a new way.  I don’t count or quantify my blessings, but I am starting to feel a deep gratitude for just being here.  I am here. I am breathing.  I am alive. 

Today that is not only enough, it is everything.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Something to look forward to...

Work in progresss

This weekend I resumed work on a neglected art project. I had been looking at it much of the past week, sitting there on my craft table.  I wanted to work on it but kept finding excuses not to.  

When I had begun working on the project its inspiration was the three words I chose as a focus for 2020 – vulnerability, resilience, open.  In the past couple of weeks, each time I considered continuing the work I was met with the thought that working on a piece of personal art seemed so frivolous when the future of everything seems so uncertain. 

To be honest, this has been an internal argument that I encounter nearly any time I feel inspired to start a new creative project. I have a difficult time allowing my creative desires to be important (I’ll save the details of why I struggle with this for another blog post or my therapist). Our current pandemic adds a whole other layer of internal resistance…

There was, thankfully, another voice in my internal debate that told me that now was a perfect time to work an art project; working on it would provide a much-needed mental health break.  Not to mention the words I chose for this year, long before I’d heard of the coronavirus, are probably three of the most apt words I could have chosen.  But the final thought was that I really needed to be focused on something in the future.

I don’t know how the pandemic will impact my employment in the coming months.  I don’t know how long we will have to wait before gathering in large enough groups for a live performance show is a feasible thing.  There are so may future things that are reliant on the actions of others in the outside world that planning ahead for many things seems futile, but there is no such restriction on making art. Particularly art where the primary intended audience is me. 

Saturday night I sat down and worked on it for an hour.  Sunday night a couple of hours more.  

I am already pondering what bit of it I will work on tonight. 

It feels good to be looking forward to something.

Be well.
Take care of yourself.
Take care of one another.
Stay home as much as possible.
Be kind.
Let those you love know how you feel.
And of course, please wash your hands.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Mental Health Day

I did not write a blog post yesterday.

I wanted to.  I intended to.  But in the end I was just feeling tired, overwhelmed by the news, and was sad over the thought of how long it will be before I can see my sweetie again.

I tried to work for a bit to catch up on some of the things that fell to the wayside over the last two weeks while my brain has been preoccupied by all things coronavirus related.  But I only manged a few hours.

I watch several episodes of Criminal Minds.

I cooked dinner for my housemates and myself.

I worked on art for an hour.

I did a load of towels.

I checked in with my body.

I cried.

I didn't intend to take a mental health day, but that is what happened.

Onward.

Be well.
Take care of yourself.
Take care of one another.
Stay home as much as possible.
Be kind.
Let those you love know how you feel.
And of course, please wash your hands. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Yesterday I was okay...today it's harder.


I have no control over this. 

I’m not one for mantras, but the above has been uttered by me so many times that it has become one. I also find myself reciting the Serenity Prayer over and over again (two times through is 20 seconds by the way). For those who may be unfamiliar with it:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

While I use a different word than God, I keep turning to this because it is the reminder of letting go of trying to control what is out of my hands.  With this virus that list is long, but it really comes down to two things: 

I can’t control this virus.
I can’t control other people’s behavior.

I am going to acknowledge that this feeling of this all being out of my hands fucking sucks. I wish I could wave a magic want that sent a message to everyone’s brain so that would cause them to suddenly develop enough communal empathy that everyone would step up to the plate to do what needs to be done. I wish wave it again and our government would just say, “Hey, we are going to make sure that everyone in this country gets paid, has enough to eat, and is housed through this crisis (oh and it sounds like such a great idea we are going to make sure these measures stay in place after we all recover).”

But I can’t. And I’m driving myself up the wall obsessing about it. 

I have no control over this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pissed off.  I’m scared. I’m angry.  I want to know why we, as a country and a culture, can’t get out act together and just freaking take care of each other.  Why can’t we get out of “Me. Me. Me.” And into “Us. Us. Us?”  

I have no fucking damn control over this!!!!!

But I’m also angry that this situation and my obsessing over this is disrupting my life. I don’t have room in my head for this and also managing the things I have at least some control over:

My selfcare.
My emotional wellbeing.
My job.
My social connections.
My activism.
My art. 

These are the things I have some influence over and I’m doing my best to keep my focus there. 

This is where courage is needed, not be cause these things are hard to do, but trying to keep my thoughts and feelings focused on them while it feels like the world is falling apart is.  The past few days I vacillate between:

I got this. 

Fuck we are all gonna die. 

This will all be okay.  

AAAAAAAAAH!

I will do the things I can to keep safe and healthy. 

It doesn’t fucking matter!  It only takes one person not washing their hands before you will find yourself hoping you are one of the lucky ones who gets a ventilator. 

Joie. Stop. Breathe.  Just try to survive the next five minutes.

Okay…okay.  I got this. We got this. 

There is no magic bullet to get to a place of acceptance about this. And when you get there, that acceptance doesn’t equal peace of mind, things are hella out of our hands right now.  When we find it, it is often fleeting. 

But I also can’t live in perpetual state of panic and terror.  I have to find ways to disrupt it.  I have to find some spot, even a fleeting one, in which I can find some peace. 

So, I keep trying.  


Be well.
Take care of yourself.
Take care of one another.
Stay home as much as possible.
Be kind.
Let those you love know how you feel.
And of course, please wash your hands.