Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pausing for a Personal Update During a Time of Crisis

Two weeks ago, if you told me that my state would be under a shelter in place order right now, I wouldn't have even known what that meant.

Two weeks ago, I was getting a hair cut, putting pink in my hair, and going about life as per the usual, dreaming up creative ideas of shoots out in the woods, and what travel plans we had upcoming this year.

Never could I have envisioned that what is happening in the world today.

Fast forward to today, and I am sitting for the tenth day in a row in my little computer corner, looking out on the street with fewer and fewer cars passing by, and trying to continue being productive in the only ways I know how, working on my blog and Etsy shop.

It's nice hearing the birds chirping outside the window, and I've never been one to get bored when I needed to spend hours upon hours alone.  Being an only child and an introvert properly prepared me for that aspect of all this.  I have long been able to rely — much like Anne of Green Gables (can you guess what I'm watching on Netflix currently?)— on my imagination to carry me through bouts of boredom.  I constantly have a running list of things I long to do, so I'm not running through the entirety of that list any time soon.  I'm quite content to make quiches and other pastries to get us through the weeks, and alter my blog content to fit the current state of my working abilities.

What I'm not prepared for is the fear.  I'm pretty much at the limit of how much I can control what happens to us.  I don't leave the house, save for a weekly trip to the grocery store, quick trips down to the mail room + taking out trash, and perhaps a walk with Drew when he is off work.   Vices I was never able to kick before have been kicked: trips to get coffee, being too lazy to work out (there's not really any excuses anymore, so I've done an hour + on the stationary bike daily and now my legs are aching SO bad), and eating altogether too much pie.  I've done pretty much all I can do to both limit my own exposure to COVID-19, and stop the buck at me if I somehow get it from Drew.

I work at a pet supply store part time on top of my business, and Drew works as a pharmacist; both are essential businesses under the definition of the state.  Currently, I've elected to take an unpaid LOA from the store to stay home for a number of reasons including stopping any possible transfer of the virus between mine and his workplace, allowing my coworkers who want to be working more to take my unused hours, and to curb my increased general anxiety.  I'm sure a therapist would help me unearth a myriad of reasons why, but turns out my panic attacks start to come back once things around me get increasingly out of my control again.

So I'm really finding that the best thing I can do for my community is stay home and try not to get sick, and try to be a support for my husband while he continues to work at a full time job that is as I understand it, busy busy busy still.  He is abundantly calm, and it amazes me everyday.  I both worry for him because he has asthma, and am proud of him for being so fearless in the face of an illness that could kick both our butts, regardless of the fact we are still in our 20s (at least for the next couple months!).

And in the mean time, I am compelled to discover what I can do to help in this time of need for so many people. There are so many acts of kindness I see floating around the internet, from GoFundMe campaigns for local restaurants and businesses, to people hand making fabric masks for local hospitals to have as backup PPE for when they run out of their higher quality products.  I see family members taking action to stop the spread by shuttering the doors on their business temporarily, and those with knowledge on viruses sharing accurate information to keep people informed and providing people with a resource to turn to (Sam and Kari, I am so proud and thankful to have you as my cousins).  I see people I used to work with in retail who have found new journeys into nursing in the past few years suiting up and sharing their experiences in hospitals.  It's truly incredible the role that social media has played in sharing everyone's voices and experiences, and the way that it has connected us to one another despite distance.  Now, more than ever is when we need to reach out our hands (not literally, clearly) and help each other up.  Help support each other and do everything we can to help each other get through this.

I am bouncing back and forth between wanting to stay properly informed for what might be to come, and trying to do my best to just get from moment to moment without panicking.   I've found some respite in having a healthy dose of art and kindness in my life, be it a reassuring post from The Latest Kate, who usually makes inspirational art pieces for those with anxiety and depression, or our local coffee shop barista/ artist who recently painted a mural by the train platform stating simply, "This Too Shall Pass", or @aclotheshorse and her "calm nature" Insta story highlight, providing some calm in this storm.  A neighborhood in my hometown made a christmas light scavenger hunt for the locals to drive by in their cars to give them an opportunity to get out and do something in a safe way.  It all makes me wonder what I can be doing as an artist to help people feel reassured and loved during this time of uncertainty for everyone.

Luckily, I am set up to continue producing this blog with very little overhead cost, and I've already made most of my April content, so I feel that continuing to make my little visual fairytales and daydreams will hopefully give myself and others a little bit of the escape that we need right now.  If my blog can give just one person a little bit of hope or at least make their heart smile, that will do me a world of good at the moment.

Two weeks ago I was in the beginning stages of planning a women's retreat that is definitely now cancelled for obvious reasons — I think the current state of affairs is a far different form of a retreat for everyone.  Now I'm reassessing all of the motivation that I had for wanting to make a space where people could come together and feel supported, and I'm trying to re-imagine what I can do to still bring this purpose to fruition.  

I want to keep supplying my readers with uplifting lighthearted art that embraces the simpler things in life, but I also want to do something that can strengthen our bond and our community.  So I decided to make signs.   Below is a pdf you can print out on your computer and put in your window, or take a picture with to share on your social media.   Please let me know if you want me to add another or different profession / title on a sign for you; I can upload different ones if people want them.   I know I would feel more at ease if I saw a lot of these signs up in my community, online and IRL.  And I would think that it would provide some solace to the UPS driver who drops off a package at our apt complex, or the cta L train conductor, or any other essential employee to be reminded that people are committed to keeping them safe.

Stay lovely and safe, my friends. 

And stay home.

Until Next Time, 

— The Lovely Red Fox

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