It’s sad that it’s taken a major crisis for me to turn back to what I love most––my daily writing practice. Not the writing that I do for others, for I am fortunate to be truly making my living as a writer. I’m speaking of the writing I do for me.
The Coronavirus is spreading throughout the world. Many countries and municipalities here in the states are on lockdown and more are soon to follow. Here, in the United States, we’re practicing social distancing. For some of us, it’s actually a relief to step back from the busyness of our lives. For others, the thought of sitting still and being with ourselves, our families, and friends for weeks, perhaps months on end, without the interactions of office politics, social gatherings, and just going to the store is unnerving.
At first, like many others, I panicked.
I’m 1,700 miles from my family who live in San Diego, and while I have a handful of friends in Colorado, at times, I feel very alone. I wanted to hop in my car immediately and drive to where I know I’d be cared for if I became ill. And yet, I also knew after being around hundreds of students for the past several weeks and perhaps being affected by the ripple effect of their social networks, it’s safer for my family for me to stay put until I know I’m healthy or won’t inadvertently carry this disease into their households.
With the college transitioning to online classes, like many others throughout the nation, I will be limiting my contact with the outside world. I have enough groceries to last a month, and I’ll enjoy cooking delicious meals with the bevy of ingredients stocked in the freezer and the pantry. Cooking, like writing, soothes my soul.
I’ll venture outside more. I live in a beautiful place to be “hunkered down,” as my housemate’s daughter mentioned. I’m just 100 steps from trails at the Pikes Peak. The weather is warming up enough to begin thinking about planting the garden. On my list for the next few weeks is tilling the compost into the garden soil and planting seeds. There are also a few trails that I haven’t graced with my footsteps in awhile. It’s time to log some miles on Strava, as well.
I love being near nature, and I’ve had practice being a step or two off the beaten path. For more than a decade, I lived on the banks of the Arroyo Colorado in deep South Texas where I had my fly fishing lodge. The crisis that erupted during that time was 9/11. After the shock wore off, I made a quick trip to the store, to add to my already full pantry, and prepared for the unknown, feeling somewhat safe. I was married then, there were guests in residence, and entertainment included fishing off the dock at night. That too passed, and while life was forever changed, “normalcy” ensued.
This too shall pass.
Instead of thinking about all the things we cannot do, this is an opportunity to think about how we can shift our perspective to embracing opportunity. Over the past few days, I’ve jotted down a few thoughts on how to stay out of fear and to focus on the positive.
For my students, I’ve committed to hosting video conferencing during class time to afford them some continuity to their daily lives, once we return from spring break. I’ll engage in video presentations and webinars to deliver content prior to class meetings. For one class, where I teach life success skills, instead of having them write their responses to the week’s material, I’m going to encourage them to vlog their responses. My guess is that they might even be more engaged by that approach.
Around the house and in my office, there are projects that I want to attend to that have been put on the back burner because of my teaching schedule. While class time and grading papers will still carry on, by eliminating my commute, I’m saving probably over two hours per day. That’s at least ten hours a week that I can devote to completing my taxes early this year, beginning my next book, and returning to a daily writing practice where I give myself an outlet to release the stress from the news, listen to the whispers of my soul, and perhaps share my thoughts with others.
“The greatest gift you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.”
~ Anthony J. D’Angelo
Recently in meditation, I began receiving direction for how I can serve others who might fall into the unnerved category, or who dip there from time to time, like myself. Beginning the March 27, I’ll be going live on Facebook at 2:00 p.m. MT for forty-days (March 27-May 1).
I’ll be providing the prompt of the day, sharing my daily thoughts about whatever happens to be at the forefront of my mind, and then suggesting a theme to write about for 15-minutes. Forty seems significant since there are many references in eastern and western spiritual traditions that mention the transformation that occurs with a forty-day practice.
When we pause for just a while, to listen to what our soul is speaking to us, my guess is that we’ll all experience a little peace in these tumultuous times. I know this practice does this for me. And if I’m calm, I know those around me might just benefit from that as well.
Here’s the link to the Words from Your Soul: Writing as a Spiritual Practice Facebook Group.
Join us either every day, or perhaps just once in a while, when you need to know there are others out there, like you, who need the comfort of the interaction with like-minded folks from time to time.