If you are feeling panicked—
or colossally overwhelmed…
If you wish everyone would stop talking about the virus
Or are outraged at everyone who is NOT talking about the virus
(and trying to sell you make-up and diets and their brilliant ideas like it is any other day…)
if you have a million tabs open on your computer
And aching thumbs from obsessively checking the internet
And you cannot get your brain to focus on ANYTHING
There is nothing wrong with you.
You are human.
And even though there is a part of me that would like to be very spiritual and evolved about this whole thing—me too—at some point, to all of the above.
There are no appropriate feelings to be having right now.
There are only the feelings that we have.
And they are all okay.
I was supposed to be in LA today but instead am home in Chicago, as I text with my husband, Michael, the hourly updates about cancellations, broadway closing, and all of the other announcements turning everyone’s lives upside down.
What I can’t stop thinking about is how fear’s biggest enemy is the unknown.
And, as the creators, trailblazers, and warriors that we are—we happen to be very intimate with fear and the unknown.
We walk with the unknown every day.
Fear is like our annoying co-worker!
We have spent years painstakingly learning how to acknowledge that fear exists, without letting it be The Problem, or The Boss.
On the good days we know how to say to fear–can you just give me an hour?—while we try to keep our hearts open and source something truthful.
Fear is a normal, biological response for this moment, and, also—we have been training our whole lives for this.
Here are 13 thoughts about love and creativity in the time of coronavirus
They are just my non-expert thoughts–not instructions, demands, or advice—in case they offer you something you need today.
1. It’s okay to feel whatever we are feeling.
Research suggests that a feeling (without an attached story) lasts only 90 seconds. It may be helpful to let go of any ideas or judgments of people — and ourselves — and eliminating the words ‘overreacting’ or ‘under-reacting’ for awhile. Everyone has different trauma that affects their reactions about what is going on and we can let ours and others’ feelings be the weather patterns that they are, acknowledging their validity while also letting them pass through without holding on.
2. If you feel like the news is eating you alive, you might consider deleting the news app from your phone.
Then, once a day, go to a trusted outlet and get the information you need. I was reading upwards of 15 articles a day, and my nervous system thanked me when I did this.
3. It is not our job to feel other people’s feelings for them.
Even if we have lived our lives believing other people’s feelings are ours to carry, we can remember that there is always a space between someone else’s reaction and our nervous systems. Utilizing that space helps everyone, and will deepen, not diminish, your compassion.
It only took me 35 years to learn this.
I am still learning this.
4. We can also imagine that there is a space between a headline and our heart.
As powerful and sometimes horrifying as they are, a headline does not get to invade our heartspace if we say so.
5. We can get creative about ways to stay close beyond physical proximity.
Facetime, zoom gatherings, online classes, phone calls, and extra reach outs are all viable ways to stay connected. I have worked in and out of my home for 5 years, and I do a great deal of my work in these spaces. Send me an email if you have any questions about what any of this looks like, and I will do my best to share more thoughts on this if it is helpful.
6. We can think about the communities and populations who will be hardest hit and offer what we can.
Two of many ideas are to support local food banks, as they will be serving children who lose their free lunch due to school closures (go to feedingamerica.org), and to support artists and organizations whose events were cancelled (book launches, concerts, premieres) through social media and purchasing of their work and products.
7. We can remember that it is still about to be Spring in many places.
The buds are readying themselves for their 2020 debut, and the birds are relentlessly singing their songs of hope. Keeping social distance does not mean avoiding the outdoors altogether. Nature can be a refuge.
8. You are also preparing to blossom.
Regardless of the pandemonium, Spring is the time for new ideas, creative exploration, and the birth of new projects. As cancellations continue, we may consider more frequent dates with our creativity. Creativity is a wild mistress but she LOVES to be asked out on dates.
Communing with our creativity allows us to explore the potency of aloneness instead of suffering in loneliness.
What if we used this time to start the project we have been thinking about, make the website, or write that script we keep putting off?
9. We need creativity now more than ever.
If you are a maker of art or ideas—we still need your art and ideas. Write your books. Make your concertos. Create your theories that will build a new world. Spaces and funding are disappearing and it will feel nearly impossible, but you will find a way. Make videos with your iphone. Put your writing in google docs and share them with us. Sing over facebook lives. Give us one breath of hope with whatever you’ve got. Your contributions may be the one gasp of air that gets us through the day. There is no way to know exactly how, but keep going, you must. Desperate times call for creative measures and you will light the way. Creativity will take us through to the other side and art is a salve that will heal us in perilous times.
10. Kindness is a healing agent.
We can ask “how can I help?” as much as we are able, even when we feel distraught about our own circumstances. We can consider those in our networks who may be most challenged at a time like this, and every day reach out to one person with a loving note or offer of support. We can write supportive comments to people we don’t know on social media. As always, we can check in on our strong friends.
11. We can summon our inner warriors.
We have been building strength for a time like this. We will need all of the tools that keep us grounded and clear—exercise, mindfulness, meditation, spiritual practice—and anything that invokes our inner strength and power. There is no right tool or practice, but only the ones that work for you. Within you lives a warrior who is ready to rise…
12. As far as I know, opening our hearts is not a medical risk.
In fact, there is scientific support of the idea that compassion strengthens the immune system. We can keep using our voices to express that there is no space for racism and xenophobia now or ever. It is human to be feeling fear and panic—but temporarily closing our physical doors does not mean we have to shut down our humanity.
13. Every storm runs out of rain. – Maya Angelou
Here is a list of resources for your hearts and spirits:
(Note, this list will be continually updated–if you have a resource you would like to add, email us here.)
- The Metropolitan Opera is streaming nightly opera at 7:30pm ET beginning 3.16 (with replays available for 20 hours).
- Take virtual tours of 12 famous museums for free.
- The Berlin Harmonicker is offering free access to their digital symphony hall.
- Here is a spreadsheet of all the educational companies offering FREE subscriptions during school closures.
- This site is offering free digital theatre (Login: freeaccessus and password: Theatre123).
- Here are instructions from the ACLU on how to vote by mail
- Here is a list of resources for anyone navigating a freelance career in a creative industry. Here is another list of resources for the arts community.
- Magi Pierce, one of my favorite yoga teachers of all-time is offering donation-based virtual yoga classes on Sunday evenings as an extraordinary opportunity to ground, connect, and stay in our bodies among loving community.
- Google is offering its premium version of hangouts (allowing up to 250 people in a meeting and streaming to 100K).
- The company Convertkit is offering $50,000 of grants to creators in need during this time.
- If you are an artist who has had work cancelled, submit to The Social Distancing Festival— an initiative to bring visibility to all of the cancelled work.
- Michelle Martello of Minima Designs has published this useful free guide to taking your class online (even if you don’t have a budget).
- This site has 250 college courses you can take for free right now.
We will have to get creative about how we stay close, but stay close we must.
(Good thing you are a creative GENIUS).
We are in this together and we will get through it together.
Love (and creativity) is bigger than a virus.