COVID-19 has been a part of daily life for us since March, 2020.
Daily life has certainly changed since that initial lockdown.
Susan Pettit, Firefly Guide, has used writing to cope with the stresses and chaos of the past year. Over the next three weeks, we are fortunate to share excerpts from her daily journals that she has written throughout this COVID pandemic. By doing so, it is our hope that you may find yourself inspired to write as a means to heal from the trauma around us (see resources at the end of the blog on how to get started doing so).
A day in the life of COVID.
I believe we are all looking for a little unshackling, escape from our modern world. I am on my own stay at home “road trip.” A road trip in my mind trying to organize the activities, the connections, the quiet time I need throughout my day. Seeking the reserves I need for spiritual fitness and movement is essential. Living in a way that feels different, is hard to describe and at times feels lonely and other times feels full. Open-hearted living where compassion and kindness leads and checkmarks on a to do list gradually get filled in. Balancing a dose of reality from science and facts while still pausing to consume the fresh air.
I slip on my sneakers, my layers, my headphones and begin the escape. I switch on a podcast by Brenè Brown titled Unlocked. Today’s guest is former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and the topic is loneliness and connection. Having a comfortable companion in my ear adds depth to my neighborhood exploration. There is nary a soul for many paces on my wide open walking path. My on-demand mask is tucked in my pocket available at the ready. When I do encounter another outdoor enthusiast strolling like me, I kindly move 6’ away. A new normal.
A little sidewalk art greets me and a hopscotch I find myself compelled to try. A little one foot, two, one foot, two. I hope I don’t pull a muscle. I’ll be sore from that tomorrow (he he/ giggle giggle)! As I continue to let the conversation with Brenè and Vivek delve into the reasons for loneliness I am moved by Vivek’s vulnerability and openness. To hear this man, the country’s former #1 doctor, the surgeon general, reveal his own struggles made me feel a bit like I was eavesdropping. I wasn’t. I was being invited into an authentic conversation talking about loneliness and health. Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity. The conversation provoked my own feelings of loneliness as the isolation and shelter in place continues. I realized as I was listening some of the sadness I’m feeling is not all about what the virus is taking but the personal loss of connectedness I am experiencing. As someone who spends a lot of time alone, I‘ve not experienced this feeling of lonely very often and frankly couldn’t really identify it. I think there is a stigma around feeling lonely like was discussed in the podcast. Very few of us really want to say that out loud. It’s as though if I do say it – there must be something wrong with me. There it is again, the root of it all, unworthiness. Lucky for me, I have many tools, people and resources to lift me from this place I rarely sit. I wonder about the mental health of Americans during this crisis and with increased demands to isolate, how many more people feel like me. The good thing is, I take comfort in knowing there is nothing my human family hasn’t experienced that I am experiencing. It reminds me of the importance of my loving kindness and radical self compassion practices.
Placing my hand to my heart opens up space in me teaching me I am not alone. I am so grateful I am not afraid of naming my loneliness. The podcast ends and I have returned to my front door. I’m in need of filling my reserves and I know exactly what to do. A day in the life of COVID.
Would you like to find out how to use writing or journaling as a means to cope throughout trauma? Resources include:
- Pathways Minneapolis offers several free journaling and writing classes specific to those with an illnesses, those desiring healing, body-centric or mind-centric, and more.
- People Incorporated in St. Paul has an Artability program that provides free art workshops, including creative journaling and painting poems, to the general public to promote mental health in the community.
- The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis offers many writing and journaling classes, such as Writing for Transformation and Writing Your Memoir, with varying fees.
- Open Book in Minneapolis offers events and quiet space to write and find inspiration.
- White Bear Center for the Arts offers fee-based journaling and writing roundtable classes.
There are several online websites that can help as well:
- SkillShare offers several free online journaling tutorials and classes, from poetry to bullet journaling.
- Center for Journal Therapy has many tools, tips, and methods for you to explore journaling.
- International Association for Journal Writing offers many fee-based courses to get you started journaling.
Written by Susan Pettit. A hobbyist writer, breast cancer survivor, and on-line vintage shop proprietor living with two intuitive loving fur balls, Coco Chanel and Baby Bella. Breast cancer awakened my writing (I call it lifestyle therapy) in the pursuit of a re-purposed life. Thank you Firefly Sisterhood for letting me share some of my raw truth-telling stories.