Living Like Fish

How are you? I mean really how are you?  It’s a very strange time.  Some of us believe there is a virus, others think it‘s a conspiracy... Some believe masks must be mandated, others believe their freedom is being trampled if asked to don one. Regardless of what you believe, I think we can all agree its a strange time, steeped in not knowing, steeped in separateness and disconnection.  Though we are standing beside each other, we surround ourselves with likeminded people on social media, we often unfriend people with whom we disagree.  We are truly living in bubbles - both physically and ideologically.

So what can you do to keep your sanity and find some connection? Here are some things, I’m doing:

1) Stop doom-scrolling.  When I‘m anxious, I tend to look for things to distract me.  Inevitably, I end up researching the latest COVID numbers in my county, surfing the latest political news- its like scrolling for the end of the world. Limiting my time on my phone, staying off social media and the news when I’m feeling fearful or angry, has significantly decreased my anxiety.  

2) Set up Zooms and standing phone calls with friends.  This might sound obvious, but continuing to reach out to my friends and family across the country using Zoom has helped me feel connected, and given me a place to vent-when my immediate family is feeling defensive or overwhelmed themselves. We’ve played games like “2 Truths and a Lie” and charades...my kids even figured out how to play Farkle with their sister in Seattle, using Zoom. Calls under 40 minutes are free. My renewed friendship depth with my girlfriends flung across the country has truly been “Corona-lemonade.”

3) Post what uplifts. These days, I largely stick to posts about children, pets, and art.  I try to post things that are uplifting, things that I feel I need to see or read to feel positive.  If I’m angry, I phone a friend or talk to my husband instead of raging on Facebook.

4) Talk kindly to the self.  We are all suffering a bit from alert exhaustion. Constantly remembering to manage a mask, wash hands, disinfect surfaces, keep 6 feet apart- is E-X-A-U-S-T-I-N-G. When I catch me berating myself over which step I forgot to do, I acknowledge I‘m doing the best I can. We are living in unknowable times, and its okay to be tired.  It’s okay to be overwhelmed.  I try to talk to myself the way I would talk to a frightened child.  Kind words change how I think about myself, and change how I relate to others.  Thinking kind thoughts, creates kind feelings towards others, which ultimately leads me to act more pleasant toward others.

5) Meditate.  I know yeah-yeah- you’ve heard it before... But really-just breathing in and out, feeling my breathe for just a minute lowers my anxiety and makes me kinder, kinder towards myself and others.  If I get acutely overwhelmed, like when trapped in an environment where people are not socially distancing, I use 5-4-3-2-1... Name 5 things I see, 4 things I hear, 3 things I am touching, 2 things I smell, and one thing I taste.  This really helps ground me in dynamic situations.

These ideas won’t eliminate the unknowingness of this Fall, (as I write this, our family is bracing for the possible return of our college freshman after just 2 weeks on a campus, with extensive testing)... but these suggestions can help you feel less anxious, and as a result help you act kinder towards others.  I try to remind myself, we are all doing the best we can, even when I think we could all do better.

As we move forward into September, I hope you feel more connection, less anxiety... My COVID Fish series, reflecting on the experience of living in a pandemic, will be part of the virtual Candy Colored Collective Show and Sale in October.  These 6 in. X 6 in. and 10 in. x 10 in. oil pieces will be priced $150 and $200, framed in  raw maple frames, with shipping included.  I am committed to keeping some of my original work accessible, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to snatch up a piece at this very reasonable price! 

Stay well friends.  Be kind to each other, and know I am holding you in my heart.

Many Bows to Each of You,

Candace