COVID-19

Coronavirus is a wish your heart makes

I have a confession to make.

I went on a series of job interviews, back in December and January. I told the interviewers that what I wanted most was a shorter commute and to be able to spend more time with my family. Now, my entire family is working and learning from home and my commute is a stroll down the hall in my bedroom slippers.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a superhero. I thought it would be cool to walk around town with a mask on. Now, people look at me funny if I’m not wearing a mask. And by washing my hands, staying six feet away from other people, and not leaving the house, I’m helping to save lives. Like Batman, without the gadgets.

I’ve often imagined what it would be like to be an astronaut. Stuck inside a confined space for weeks or months, only venturing outside the vessel for emergencies. Now I know a lot better what that’s like, down to the sensation of not always knowing which way is up.

I’ve often wondered how it would feel to make a YouTube video that looked as polished and professional as a late-night talk show. Now, with talk show hosts broadcasting from their attics, that goal is within reach.

When I was a kid, I used to watch a local PBS show called Zoom. I wanted to be on Zoom back then, and now I can honestly say that I’m on a Zoom broadcast five days a week.

It hasn’t been an entirely pleasant pandemic, but it has made a good half-dozen of my wishes come true. Off the top of my head, two entire magic lamps’ worth of ironic wishes!

I don’t mean to minimize the pandemic. Families around the world are dealing with tragic deaths, prolonged illness, lost jobs, failing businesses, and an uncertain future. It’s all too easy to fall into despair. Which is why, more than ever, we need to stay positive and keep our spirits up. More than ever, we need to look for any silver lining we can find.

Has the pandemic given you more time to read? More time to write? Some interesting experiences? A good excuse to pick up new skills? Game nights with your children? Time to try out some new recipes? Did you spend $19.99 to watch Scooby Doo and Blue Falcon team up against Dick Dastardly and Captain Caveman in a pay-per-view brawl on your own television? On a Saturday morning? With a big bowl of sugary breakfast cereal? Because I can totally recommend that.

And also, more than ever, we need stories. Whether you’re writing stories, reading stories, or placing stories in front of a reader in your life, know that you are doing your part to guide the world back into the light.

What is your wish come true? Leave your silver lining in the comments, and thanks again for all you do.

My Quarantine Thoughts:

From last month, which already seems like a decade ago.

My Quarantine Project, Mythology in Verse:

A poem each week. Well, at least one.

From Mythology in Verse.

My Latest Quarantine Meme:

Because, among their other duties, Artemis and Apollo were gods of plague.

Journaling in the Time of Covid-19

Six months ago if someone had told me I’d be writing a blog post titled “Journaling in the Time of Covid-19” I would have said, “What’s Covid-19?”

We could all start sentences that way now… “Six months ago, if someone had told me…”

“… schools would be closed for months…”

“… I would not see my parents for months …”

“…. Zoom would be part of everyday life…”

“… a mask would be part of my wardrobe…”

“… people would run out of (WHAT?!) toilet paper…”

Times are rapidly changing and that means we are all having new and unforeseen experiences. There’s no better time than now to be journaling. I have written in diaries and journals off and on since this date:

Friday, June 13, 1975 – I’m nine years old. I got my diary today. I should have gotten it on the 1st of January. But then I never even wanted one.

Not long ago, I shared the following story in a Facebook post:

In February of 1977, I was a fifth grader in Westerville, Ohio when the Energy Crisis coincided with weeks of unusually cold weather. Today I found this diary entry from that very strange winter. We were out of school for two weeks and when we returned, we could not go back to our own buildings. Instead, the district utilized the newest buildings with electric heat, and closed the older ones with big fuel oil furnaces. So we went to school half a day, every other day, in order to allow four elementary schools to use the same building. I don‘t recall how long that lasted. I do recall how unsettled I felt.

Okay, here you go. Straight from the mouth of fifth grade me:

Feb. 1, 1977 – No fair! I really don’t think it’s right. For the past month there has been a gas shortage. It’s awful. The weather is down to 20 degrees below zero and sometimes the chill factor is between 40 and 50 below. Our heat is down to 60 degrees inside. School has been closed for 8 days. Don’t people realize children NEED schooling? More than 1,000 workers are laid off. This is a mixed-up world and I wonder if I have to grow up in such a crazy place.

No photo description available.

Some of my memories of that winter are fuzzy. Some are crystal clear. I remember sitting in someone else’s desk at someone else’s school building. I was glad my teacher was the one standing in the front of the room, and I was happy that my friends were sitting in the desks around me.

I’m really glad I was keeping a diary during that unusual time in my childhood.

Parents, teachers, librarians, anyone with a young person in their life: Gift a child a blank notebook, an empty journal, or even a diary with a lock and key. Tell them to fill the pages.

“With what?” they will most certainly ask. “With words,” tell them. “With words only you can write.”

Then, help them out with this list of questions that pertain to our current world situation.

Do you miss going to school the usual way?

What do like about having school online?

What’s the best thing about staying at home most of time?

What’s the worst thing about staying at home most of the time?

How do you feel about wearing a mask in public places?

Who do you know that has gotten Covid-19?

Are you worried about getting sick? Are you worried about someone you love getting sick?

What do you think it’s like for people in other countries?

What activities have you missed because of the pandemic? How did you feel about missing them?

What have you done to stay busy while at home?

Who do you miss spending time with?

What is different about the grocery store now? The library? The movie theater? The playground? The street where you live? How you and your family go places?

Journal prompts on many general topics are easily found online. Hopefully, they’ll want to write about more than just life in the time of Covid-19. And, hopefully, like me, they’ll find that journaling is fun.

Here’s a bit from Day 2 of my diary-keeping life, 1975 (third grade grammar and all!)

Sat. June 14, 1975 – Lisa doesn’t no how personal a diary is. She wants to no what I write. But, Mom had a talk with her. We staked tomato’s in the garden. The second night I’ve written in my diary – it’s fun! Jackie’s got 10 pups and a knew calf!

Who knows? Forty-five years from now, your youngster could be reading from their first journal. All they need to get started is a nudge from someone who cares. (Thanks to Mom for giving me my first diary and apologies for calling out sister Lisa, who was only a first-grader at the time.)

 

Garbage Writing Exercise

 

 

If you need a creative boost for yourself, your children, or students…Garbage Writing is the perfect solution!

 

*Set a timer for 15 minutes.

*Write, write, write…nonstop!

*No editing. (Your internal editor will hate this…but it’s such a great way to get past all those judgments and fears of words not coming out right).

 

This can be rambling nonsense. A rant that lets you get all your anger and frustrations out on paper.

Or…if you have a story you’d like to write, an issue you’re working through, etc. you can keep that in mind during this exercise. But if you choose this option…you still need to let the words flow and not edit. Yes, there will be lots of garbage to toss at the end, but you’ll discover gems that gleam so brightly that might not exist without letting your words gush out like this.

Garbage Writing is great to do with writing groups, classes, etc. And you can do it daily or on weekdays to stifle your internal editor before jumping into writing or revisions for the day.

Happy writing! I hope you discover tons of sparkly gems. 🙂