Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Family, Hugs, and The Artist's Way

We are made of strong stuff. We will endure.


Those are strong, hopeful statements that I hang on to as I'm navigating the current situation with COVID19 and the stay-at-home practices that I need to be very mindful of. I'm in two of those high-risk categories; age and underlying health conditions, so I'm aware of how important it is to stay away from people. This has included avoiding my family, which is the hardest part of all.

I love my animals, but living alone can be, well, very lonely.

To keep me away from grocery stores, my kids do most of my shopping, and they come occasionally to do a chore that I can't do. Well, actually, I could, but the kids don't want me climbing up a ladder to change furnace filters.  But while they are here, we stay six-feet apart. We don't hug.

We're such a demonstrative, hugging family that it feels extremely weird for any of my kids to walk back out the door, and we haven't even touched. Human touch is so important. Research has shown the many ways we benefit from touch, from hugs.

An article in Nuro Nation had this to say, "Humans suffer from social isolation but react positively to physical contact. This has to do with the fact that when we hug someone, a hormone called Oxytocin is released in our body, which effectively reduces our stress levels. Additionally, our blood pressure sinks and we experience less anxiety during a hug."

My primary care doctor normally ends each visit with what she calls, a heart-to-heart hug; it's the opposite of the way people usually hug. It started because the right side of my face and head is so sensitive - thanks to Trigeminal Neuralgia - so I always offer the left side. Then my doctor said it was better that way, so our hearts touch. I love her!

Another way the nasty pandemic has seriously upended my life is the fact that I couldn't complete some classes that I was taking at the local community college. Those classes were focused on studying literature and film, and in the previous two semesters of the program, I'd enjoyed expanding my reading and viewing tastes.

In The Artist's Way Julia Cameron encourages us to take a break from our daily routine of writing and have what she called an Artist Date,  "a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief ." I remember when I first found that piece of her advice, I took it very seriously, and I would once a week take myself to go see a movie, or maybe play at a park. Often, I would return home invigorated and spend some very productive hours in my office.

Those classes at the college were my Artist Dates, and I miss them.

Before the pandemic hit, I'd been cutting back on my time on social media so I could get more writing done. Now I'm on Twitter and Facebook much more often during the day. I've made quite a few new friends on Twitter and find Tweets that make me laugh. Some that make me cry. And some that make me want to boil over in anger. Those I try to scroll past quickly.

If I can't get a hug, at least I need a laugh now and then. 

Writing is slow going, even though I have more time to write. Partially because of an uptick in the pain from Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is relentless, and partially because even though I'm an introvert, I do miss interacting with other people, and my creative energy lags. Social media is fine, but...

So what are some coping skills you use? Are you familiar with the Artist Date? Did you take yourself out on a regular basis? While you're here, check out some of the other posts by the BRP team, as we share an ongoing journal of coping with the pandemic.


Posted by Maryann Miller  Still maintaining social distancing, you can find out more about Maryann, her books, and her editing services on her Website and her Amazon Author Page, read her Blogand follow her on Facebook and TwitterHer online workshop on self-editing, part of a series of online writing workshops from Short And Helpful, can be found HERE

10 comments :

  1. I do miss my coffee and lunch dates with friends, but large group meetings with Zoom instead of in-person has actually increased the number of events I attend. I like being home, and now find a trip out to do a curbside pick-up of an order more like a real adventure. It's crazy how my perspective has changed so completely in just two months.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I do venture out for a pickup, I decide to drive around more than I have to. I drive slowly to look around and check out homes and flowers. Thankfully, nobody is behind me to get irritated. LOL Many perspectives have changed recently. Hope you stay well.

      Delete
  2. I love the graphic at the beginning of your article, Maryann. It sets the mood for the read because it's so upbeat, even though portions of the text address today's reality. I, too, am an introvert, and as such, I admire your ability to act on stage. That hasn't happened for me since high school, and I can't imagine doing it now. My writing is also lagging a bit behind where it should be with all this at-home time. However, the creative juices are at work, so there's hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that little girl, too. She does epitomize a sense of hope and joy, and we all need large doses of that right now. I miss being on stage, and hope that eventually this TN will get under enough control that I can do it again. Take care and keep writing.

      Delete
  3. Loved your optimism, Maryann. Like Pat, I miss lunches with my friends. On the positive side, I'm watching less TV except for Saturday nights, which is movie night with my husband. I've been reading a lot more. My writing, which I do daily, is suffering from concentration as I try to nail down the time element of my story. The book is finished, the pesky details are not. Here's to all the introverts. I was never one until I started writing, but that's okay with me. My friends are scattered all around, and I keep up with them by phone, but I still have to psych myself up to do the calling. Be well and safe.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Concentration for writing is hard. I think the underlying stress of the pandemic, the restrictions, and the mess in government is wearing on many of us. I keep trying to shunt it aside, but that doesn't always work. Then add in the meds that make my brain feel like it's filled with cotton, and writing is really sloooooow. But even a little bit each day is a little bit more toward The End. Hope you work out your timing element issue in your WIP.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am a hermit by nature but even I am getting cabin fever. :) I am impressed with all the ways artists are coming together to entertain people. I am thankful for books, books, and more good books. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Maryann, your subtitle is wonderful: We are made of strong stuff. We will endure. Writers have to be resilient because of all the rejections we get, and to be able to work under trying situations a lot of the time, with no one pushing us to perform. You seem to be doing well, and that's all that counts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the affirmation, Jan. We need to keep reminding ourselves to stay strong.

      Delete
  7. Hugging is so super important. While it's not a true substitute, social media has at least alleviated some of the isolation.

    ReplyDelete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. If a glitch is preventing you from commenting, visit our Facebook page and drop your wise words there: Blood-Red Pencil on Facebook