Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Coping Through the Pandemic

Here in the U.S. we're heading into roughly week 20 of the COVID-19 pandemic, if counted from the first confirmed case in Seattle on January 20,2020. Since then, lives around the world have been in turmoil after the pandemic was officially named on March 11, 2020. People are finding their own ways to cope, or not cope so well as the case may be, and here at the BRP, some of us will be sharing how we are dealing with the day-to-day challenges. But first a little digression.

I've always been an idealist and an optimist, but in recent weeks I'm finding it harder and harder to cling to any positive energy. Back in mid-March, when I thought this was only going to be an inconvenience for a few weeks, I armed myself with my idealism and strength of character and was ready to battle through whatever was thrown my way. But here we are in mid-July, and between the pandemic, the social unrest, the joke that is politics right now, and my own health problems, I feel like that old truck my neighbor has that is supposed to run on 8 cylinders, but probably only fires on two at a time. Chuga Chuga. Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss. Chuga Chuga.

I have to chuckle every time he starts it up and nurses it down the driveway, but I'm finding little amusement in my misses of late. It's like I've lost most of my creative energy and focus.

My husband used to always joke that I lived in a tree. That I refused to see the negatives. The bad things. The bad people. The bad behaviors. And he was right. I did do that for the longest time. I thought it was far better to concentrate on all those positives. They buoyed me. They gave me energy. They kept me excited about all that life has to offer.

Splat!

That was me falling out of my tree. It's like all the negative energy in the world outside my little house has gathered for a full assault the minute I open the door just a crack. And I can't believe how much my coping skills have been stretched to the max since April when I first wrote about how the pandemic was impacting me and how positive I felt.

I know a big part of the problem is the pandemic and the forced isolation that has come with it. It's hard to stay in our homes 24/7, especially for those of us who are in the highest risk categories. For some of us that means being alone unless you count a dog and a few cats. While they are good company most of the time, they don't satisfy the need for human contact and human touch.

I recently celebrated my birthday, and for the first time since March actually hugged a couple of my kids. The hugs were very brief. As one son put it, just a two-second touch, but for those two seconds, I could feel contentment and happiness fill me. So now, those two seconds will have to keep me going for a while, especially since cases of the virus continue to spike in Texas, and nobody really knows how this is going to continue to play out in the long term.

To keep myself from totally going down some deep dark hole, I've made conscious decisions to get a little bit of writing done almost every day. Even if it's only a few hundred words. It's hard. Sometimes it takes me two hours to write those few hundred words. Then I take time to do some of the things that are coming a bit easier right now, like quilting and coloring and working on jigsaw puzzles.

I'm making a t-shirt quilt for one of my granddaughters who just finished high school. It was very strange not to be able to go to her graduation celebration. We did have a virtual Zoom party, and that was better than no party at all. But again, I missed the human contact. The human touch. Zoom has become a family friend, connecting me to kids and grandkids and great-grands in other states, and I'm thankful for the technology that makes that possible.

This is just one panel of the new quilt. More are coming. Honest. 
This is the fifth t-shirt quilt I've made, and each one was a pattern I designed myself. The simple pattern I found online of ten-inch squares sewn together in rows of three or four, just didn't appeal to me. I wanted something more interesting. Coming up with a design, then getting squares and triangles cut and arranged, then figuring out borders is the real fun, creative part of the process. Sewing it all together, making sure corners and points match up, and the whole top fits the finished requirements of the back is the harder part. I liken that to the process of the second draft of a book. Getting that first draft of the story down as it unfolds in my head has always been the exciting part of writing for me. Rewriting is not nearly as much fun.

Coloring was a favorite childhood past-time for me, and I happily carried that into adulthood, long before it became a fad to have adult coloring books. I do find it perhaps the most relaxing thing to do. It doesn't entail the same kind of concentration that quilting does, and I really enjoy the creativity that comes with choosing colors, blending colors, and shading flowers to make them look three-dimensional.

Putting jigsaw puzzles together has also been a long-time hobby of mine that is very relaxing. My husband used to love to challenge me with puzzles that got increasingly harder and harder. Once he gave me a puzzle that was almost all white. Another time he gave me one with no edge pieces.  That was particularly hard for someone who likes to get the edge together first.

My kids continue to gift me with puzzles, but they haven't tried to make things quite as difficult. This last one that I just finished is a gift from one of my daughters who bought it at Disney World. 


So what are you doing to hold yourself together during this difficult time? Are you able to write? Please do share any tips you have for coping.



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. My sister loves puzzles, so amongst the many that I have sent her was an all white one that she could color with the pens included in the set. Oops. She said it was the hardest puzzle she'd ever done.

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    1. Liz, I have a puzzle like that that one of my daughters gave me. Haven't tried it yet. Maybe that will be next. I can either color with pens, or paint.

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  2. I so understand how you feel, Maryann. I don't mind the isolation too much as I tend to keep with just a small pack of people, mostly family, and some of them live with me. However, the pandemic coupled with so many other societal issues do keep me feeling out of sorts. I, too, do coloring and puzzles as a way to keep some positive activities going during all of this.

    Take care of you!

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    1. Thanks, Shonell. You take care, too. I heard an author speak at an online mystery conference. She referred to the challenge of focusing as COVID-brain. So true.

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  3. Coloring sounds like a great stress-reliever. I think I'd like the Mandalas the best.

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    1. I like the Mandalas as long as the lines are very thin. Part of the optic issues I have because of the TN makes looking at the thick lines too visually stimulating. Causes that optic nerve in my right eye to vigorously protest.

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  4. You nailed it, Maryann. The pandemic has reshaped our lives in ways we never would have chosen --- if we had had a choice. I typically do editing as a getaway from the reality that defines our now. Yes, it's writing related, but without the joy in my work that this virus has stolen. So I'm not necessarily unhappy, but the creative exuberance I took for granted over the years is definitely waning.

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    1. So true, Linda. Like I said to Shonell, I blame it all on COVID-brain. But I'm trying really hard not to let the creative excitement wan too much. I've decided to start another Seasons mystery and have about 2,500 words written despite having been really sick for a couple of weeks. I'm pulling in current events, so I feel like I'm thumbing my nose at COVID, as well as racism and social injustice. So far, there's a spark of excitement I can keep fanning. LOL

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    2. You go, Maryann! I will try to follow your good example and do the same in my rewrite. :-)

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  5. You seem to have found a lot of things to keep you busy. I haven't been writing as much as I'd like, but I can't believe how fast the days go by. I don't watch TV until 3 or 4 when there's something I want to watch. If I go to the grocery store, it seems to take forever. Then it's 7:30, and I haven't made dinner yet, thought I've planned what we're eating. The last five days we're visiting my son's family. Three children have worn me out, and though it's been fun, I look forward to the peace and quiet of doing almost nothing constructive. There must be something wrong with me.

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