On February 13, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Novel Coronavirus a Pandemic. At that time there were only a handful of cases in the United States. Immediately, though, it seemed scary, to think what might happen, if the virus wasn’t contained or controlled. I could imagine getting sick, or having someone I loved dying. Or both. Or worse. Sleeping was fitful and my allergies flared up… (or was it a cold? or was it Covid-19?)
I have an active imagination, and also, a tendency toward Anxiety. These traits can be useful or dreadful, depending on how I respond to them. Now they help me create and also notice when something needs attention—unless things are out of balance. Which happens when a pandemic hits.
One of my long-held self-care/creative practices has been journaling, and another has been returning to drawing. The anxiety spike at the dawn of the Pandemic made writing nearly impossible, and so I began combining writing and artwork in my pandemic journal, which I’m sharing here for posterity. Stay well, and enjoy.
Note: Images of my journal pages are followed by the written posts I made when I shared these on social media.
I was frozen in a state of needing to be strong and upbeat; and aside from a couple half-baked poems, I hadn’t been able to write. So today I started my pandemic journal with a doodle, and I broke open to how sad this all is. Tomorrow I’ll be strong and brave but tonight I feel tired and sad!
My pandemic journal entry tonight. The numbers tell the story—we need to flatten this curve…Stay in. Wash hands. Read what epidemiologists have to say.
Today I did the best I could and said the serenity prayer and didn’t expend any energy listening to the lies of our “leader” in Washington. I watched the number of confirmed US cases surpass Italy’s, and then China’s. I took a walk in the sunshine, I did the work I’m thankful to have. I practiced yoga. I ate food my sweetheart lovingly cooked. Later, I cooked real food for dinner instead of just eating chocolate. I loved the people I love and sent prayers to those who are sick or helping the sick to heal. 534,375 cases today.
“Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end. You must make your own map.”
-from a Map to the Next World, by Joy Harjo…
Saturday’s pandemic journal. Grateful for those risking their lives to help others. Wash your hands and love each other. We will get through this.
Yesterday I took the day off from the pandemic journal, so today I did a double entry. My baby turned 25; we celebrated. And today I seesawed between awe at the beauty of the springtime, the birdsong and the blossoms—a world drunk on beauty and bursting, too, with bravery— and also a world full of despots, despair and darkness. Both/and.
Ask yourself: what stands in the way of happiness? I know it’s not easy right now. There are a lot of really terrible things happening. (Massive understatement. And Presidential Press conferences Can just about push me over the edge.) Sometimes I feel surges of despair, and helplessness. And a desire to run away, maybe to the past, or to oblivion—dark wine and chocolate, too much spaghetti, and the blur of work which I am grateful to sink into but which exhausts me. Journaling brings me back to now.
But still, I ask myself if I can let go of that jangly, fearful feeling, even if for a moment. We are of a nature to grow old, grow sick, to die. This is true our whole lives—and yet, still we are of a nature to also love, to comfort, to walk each other through dark days.
And that makes me feel happy. Even now. It might not work tomorrow. But then again, it might.
Sending love and strength and healing to you and yours. Wash your hands, and stay home if you can.