We’re All Grieving–Support During This Uncertain Time
Welcome to 2020. We’re living in a time where there is uncertainty (which our brain dislikes), fear, mounting death and illness, lack of supplies, 24/7 social/news, and isolation, all to fight an invisible foe. If you wanted to create a perfect storm, we’re living it. So, yeah, it’s OK to grieve. We’re all grieving something now… …the loss of a job, financial security, loss of a family member due to the virus, loss of freedom to go where you want to go, when you want to go, the loss of being at home without every single family member there, loss of that trip you were going to go on, the inability to visit a loved one in the hospital, the inability to have neighbors, friends or family over, the loss of identity or purpose. Or, the issues you were dealing with before all of this came crashing down. The list goes on. Although we’re all “in the same boat,” there are different areas and points of view from that boat.
This situation easily calls forth the entire spectrum and expression of human emotion. It’s OK if in the middle of the day, or late at night, you suddenly feel heart-broken, overwhelmed, or frustrated, or livid, and just want a hug. As mammals, the sense of touch is extremely important, particularly to babies.
Same holds true for adults. –Whatever feelings come up, see if you can really unpack them and get the core of them. If you’re “angry,” try and see if you can get as specific as possible. Does it remind you of any other times in your life you’re reliving from your past? This is a perfect time to dig deeper to prevent out of control emotional eating, drinking, drug use, porn, or anything else that is used as self-medication. My concern is the number of divorces, domestic violence incidents, and suicides that could increase. –If possible, try to limit the amount of social media and news you allow in. The kicker is that we need to be connected and a need to belong, which social media can provide. However, it can easily suck us down rabbit holes. Personally, I continue to walk the line between being informed and getting sucked in. It’s a tight-rope walk and sometimes I fall. Think of social media/news as a very rich, high caloric dessert.A little bit is OK; too much will make you sick. –Try to create structure in your life. I prefer the word “rhythm” to “routine,” but whatever works for you, try to find it. Otherwise, the days will just run into each other. If you have kids, they thrive in it, even if they say they don’t. Those boundaries create safety, which is at a premium now. I’ve found it helpful to have 3 daily intentions:· Get outside and/or walk. Reach out to someone via email, text, phone call, etc. Work on my next novel, FINDING HER SPIRIT –If you’re a position to do it, I also encourage you to use this time to do things that you normally wouldn’t have time for. Perhaps set a bigger intention…”By the end of April, I will…” But, DO NOT JUDGE YOURSELF if you’re not there. Or, you don’t get there. Or, you find that you need to distract yourself by binging on that show. Or, it’s 5:00pm and you haven’t done squat. That’s OK. –Emotional/spiritual health needs to be fostered, too. Meditation, prayer, watching masses or church services online. Reaching out to others, particularly those who are alone, is important. If we don’t find the need for connection in healthy ways, we’ll find it in unhealthy ways. Channeling your energy into making masks, organizing Zoom gatherings, community virtual food drivers, anything to help others is a way to get out of our heads. Sometimes literally just texting someone and saying you’re thinking about them is enough. –Staying physically healthy is also important. Our bodies are meant to move, and if we’re dormant too long, it begin to affect us emotionally. Also, if you can get outside, even better. Nature and her beauty is so healing. Kids especially benefit from it. –If you can, find some fun.
Whatever that looks like for you. I love to sing, dance, and play piano. I also make sure to try to laugh every day, too. Fortunately, there are so many creative videos and memes out there that help. My two cats and husband are fodder, as well.
–Take this time to learn a new skill, language, or further develop one you already have. Or, clean out that basement or junk drawer that’s been calling your name. Again, be gentle with yourself if the only thing you can do is get up and maybe shower. Maybe not even that. In the same way with grief and/or trauma, not everyone is at the same place at the same time. The trick is to stagger our moments and meltdowns, so we can be there for each other when we fall. It’s happened to me when I had a bad day, people were there for me. Who knows what the next normal will look like? No one really knows. We’re all co-creating this as we go along. This experience brings out what it really means to be human, as the stories of kindness, compassion, and altruism are off the charts. My heart grows in leaps and bounds. My deepest thanks to the medical community, retail workers, truckers, any delivery workers for are keeping us afloat during this time. I picture it as we’re all walking along a path. Sometimes one of us stumbles but doesn’t fall. There will be times, however, when we really do fall. Then, we will be there to lift each other up. From six or more feet away, of course. 😊
I’m so happy that Willow can join me today. She is an old blogging friend, who I have met in person at several blogging bashes. An old friend in the logging world is referred to as a Blogging Sister!
So welcome Sis! When I mentioned my Writer’s In Isolation series I knew Willow would come up with something really fantastic and she has.
How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Willow coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is Willow’s answer:
I really don’t know if writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope any better or worse than the rest of the population. In fact, I don’t think I am coping all that well. I seem to be busier now than ever I was before Covid19 reared its ugly head. I really find it hard to find time – to sit down and work on my blog – and the family even though they are not living at home, they take up most of my time. If it has taught me anything, it has taught me that my blogging time must be managed, as it helps me, so it must have its place.
Marje: Indeed it should Willow. I am so glad that blogging has helped you and continues to help you cope with your current situation. It’s tough and I know you have had your share of problems. The poem which I’d like to feature today originally appeared on your blog in February and it is eerily true to life at the moment.
Willow: “I had no idea then how close to the truth it was, though I do hope the outcome is better than the one I predicted.”
Here’s Willow’s Poem:
The planet was struggling it’s true
From space it was no longer blue
It was suffering from millennia of wars and abuse
People pleaded for change, no use.
Most people tried to help Earth
They knew the planets worth.
Then came the plague
No respecter of king or knave
It cut through the ranks and top brass
No preference for age or class
It sent weak, old or young to the grave.
It emptied the streets and Malls,
Pubs, clubs and church halls.
It stopped the planes and the trains
The fat cats lost their profits and gains.
Huge nations brought to their knees
As scientists search for the keys
To the elusive cure to rid all of the bain.
Just when it could not get worse
Hate joined fear with a curse.
The people turn on each other
Neighbour, husband, wife, sister, brother.
Empty shops, no fuel they could not stand
Then all civilian movement was banned
The crops and animals died on the land.
Drones flew over head, all was scanned.
Mother Nature watched with a tear
Chaos in weeks, rebellion, extinction within a year.
I am the mum of three boys all now grown and flown to live their own lives. Luckily they do keep in touch and visit often. I now have two beautiful grandsons.
When I started this blog I had not long come home from hospital after an accident in which I broke my back, for the second time. I was in hospital for a month and had three operations.
It has taken me a long time to recover, I am still recovering but every day my body is getting stronger. It has taken a huge toll on me mentally I had to retire early on health grounds, I had to come to terms with finding out people I thought were friends were not. I had to make a new life for myself. Things I could do easily have become difficult.
Writing poetry and prose has helped me a great deal. I have made so many wonderful friends through blogging I think it has definitely saved my life.
Marje: You have been through so much Willow. Bless you. You’re such a resilient, and amazing person.
Willow continues to amaze me – here are just some of her wonderful blog posts to give you a tiny flavour of who she is:
Welcome to Jackie Carreira, my next guest on my new feature – isolation for writers, creatives, artists and book bloggers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is award winning author, playwright, world citizen and huge movie fan Jackie Carreira coping with this enforced isolation?
Is she taking a leap of faith?
AN AUTHOR IN ISOLATION – Jackie Carreira
The day the lockdown began in the UK, I posted a comment on Twitter. It said: “I’m a writer. I self-isolate for a living!” In retrospect, that might have been a little trite; even unhelpful to those who are genuinely struggling with isolation, but the statement is true in essence. I’m used to spending days, even weeks sometimes, barely leaving the house. I even enjoy it.
What has changed? The answer is: Everything – but it took me a while to notice. For the first few days, I carried on working on a new novel as well as a couple of precious magazine commissions, but very soon found that I couldn’t write anymore. The planned projects, and even some new ideas, were still up there in my head, but I couldn’t get them out. It was impossible to focus and I didn’t understand why.
My husband is an actor. I’m used to him being at home when he’s ‘resting’ so it hasn’t been difficult having him around all the time since the theatres closed. We’re an unusual married couple, though. We actually enjoy each other’s company for extended periods of time! We have no children so the schools being closed made no difference, and earning an insecure living from the arts, we know how to be frugal and make cutbacks when needed. When most of our income vanished at the end of March, we turned the heating down to 15 degrees, put a big jumper on, and stopped throwing away that last piece of bread in the packet. On the upside, we’re saving a fortune in petrol and socialising, and every day I’m grateful that our lives are not tougher.
So, why couldn’t I write? I couldn’t work out what I was doing with all the extra hours, because I certainly wasn’t using them to sleep. I didn’t spend them cleaning the house either! However, I was speaking to people online and on the phone more, and that was an unexpected bonus. Friends I hadn’t spoken to for years were suddenly back in my life. The excuse of being too busy was gone and it was wonderful to reconnect.
Then a couple of weeks ago, on the first sunny day in ages, I had a breakthrough…
“That’s it!” I thought. “We’re all connected.” Somehow, we all know it but we so rarely get a chance to feel it. In these strange times, with planes grounded and factories closed and the streets eerily quiet, I was able to feel it in a new way. I knew that I had no personal reason to feel as anxious as those who are in far worse situations, and I wasn’t being overwhelmed by the extra responsibility that others now had, but we’re all connected because we’re all part of the human tribe. And, possibly for the first time in history, just about everyone on the planet is going through the same thing at the same time. It’s extraordinary. Maybe some of what I was feeling didn’t belong to me at all. I was simply picking it up from this human web that we’re all sitting on.
Armed with this thought, and being fortunate enough to have a garden, I took a new pad and a fresh cup of coffee and went outside. Perhaps all I had to do was START. After all, that was the only thing I wasn’t doing. I’m a huge movie fan and never tire of watching my favourites over and over. I remembered a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… if you haven’t seen it, there’s a spoiler coming up! Near the end of the film, Indiana Jones is faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. He’s on one side of a huge chasm, too wide to jump. He must get to the other side to reach the Holy Grail and save his father’s life, but it looks impossible. Suddenly, he understands that it’s a leap of faith. He has to believe or all is lost. So, he closes his eyes, puts out a foot, and takes a big step onto…a bridge made of the same stone as the chasm! It’s totally solid. He leans over and looks from a different angle, realising that the bridge had been there the whole time. He just couldn’t see it from where he first stood. (A dramatic analogy, I must admit, but then I do also write plays for a living!)
Back in the garden, I took my own small leap of faith, hoping that something might come out if I just start. I put the pen to the paper and began writing anything that came into my head. It was just rough notes at first, then the notes turned into prose, then a whole chapter…and before I knew it, I was a writer again. It was such a relief. I’ve since been in contact with other writers to ask how it’s been for them. Some had been writing more, most had been writing less, for a few it had been business as usual. Interestingly, I discovered that many of those who had started off writing less after the lockdown had also had some kind of breakthrough around the exact same time that I did. Did I cause it, or did they? It doesn’t matter. We truly are all connected. I wasn’t alone.
You might be wondering how on earth this helps anyone who’s not a writer. Well, writing isn’t just my job, it’s what I love to do the most. And spending time doing what I love is the best coping mechanism I have. I would recommend it to anybody struggling with this lockdown, not knowing how to lift themselves out of the fog of it all. Switch off the news for a while and pick up something connected to what you love to do: a pen, a baking tray, a trowel, a paintbrush, a book to read to a child, a phone to call your best friend. Whatever it is, just take a leap of faith – find a way to start and then do as much of it as you can, when you can. Inspire yourself and you can inspire another. We truly are all connected. Put a tiny piece of what you love onto that web. It already has enough of everything else.
Stay safe. Stay well.
A SHORT BIOG: Jackie Carreira is an award-winning novelist, playwright, musician, designer, and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. She has twice been a winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing. Originally a council-house-kid from Hackney, East London, she now lives a million miles away in Suffolk, England, with an actor, two cats, and more books than she can read in four lifetimes. She is currently working on her third novel (due for release in 2021, if a virus doesn’t get her first!) and is a proud patron of Halesworth Library.
What a fascinating interview with Jackie. Her thoughts mirror my own in so many ways.
I am so glad I started this series on Isolation during COVID19, it has given me focus and a sense of purpose to help promote and share fellow writers and authors during this time. And I am discovering new authors to read! Awesome, smiling.
I will be continuing with the series until my YA fantasy is ready to complete. It is currently with final beta readers.
Hello Marje’s fans! My name is Cat, and I am a 20 year old diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder. Writing is one of my main coping mechanisms for accepting my diagnosis, so I am thrilled to share a part of me with you today.
Bipolar sounds like a terrifying, debilitating, life-changing disorder…and it definitely is. At times. When I was locked in my 2nd hospital, after getting out of my 1st one only 41 days earlier, I thought I had gone absolutely insane. And in a way, I had. I was misdiagnosed with depression and misprescribed an antidepressant that ended up making matters worse. Hospital-worthy worse.
But my 5th psychiatrist listened to me and changed my meds, and my 12th therapist listened to me and believed what I said, and I stabilized in six months. And here I am!
I write when I’m depressed. I write when I’m manic. Okay…I mostly write when I’m manic. And I write when I’m stable. When I sit down and open my laptop, I have no idea what to expect from my brain. I have no idea which me will come out. But today I have a theme in mind, thanks to Marje’s suggestion, and that theme is using quotes to explain what bipolar is and what it means to me. I hope you enjoy!
Four Quotes to Help You (and Me) Understand Bipolar Disorder:
“I have traveled through madness to find me.” –Danny Alexander
I started experiencing my first symptoms of bipolar disorder when I was 14 years old. Before long, I self-diagnosed myself as depressed. When I wasn’t depressed, I thought I was back to normal.
I didn’t know that when I felt normal, I was actually feeling manic.
It started with hypomania, which is a less intense form of mania. A patient who only experiences hypomania is by definition a patient who is never hospitalized for mania. Patients without full-blown manic episodes are diagnosed with Bipolar 2.
My hypomania didn’t detract from my life. Sometimes I was impulsive, but that was written off as a teenage rebellious phase. Sometimes I talked really fast and bounced off the walls with energy, but I was just labeled an extrovert, maybe with a little bit of ADHD thrown in. My experience mimics many other patients who do not get diagnosed properly, if they get diagnosed at all. Hypomania often looks like normal.
I don’t know if it was growing up or going off to boarding school or college or what else, but the full-on mania came. I was hospitalized. Twice. This was partly due to my misdiagnosis of unipolar depression and subsequent treatment with antidepressants. Antidepressants like Prozac close the mechanisms in the brain that essentially “suck up” serotonin, leaving more happy neurotransmitters for the depressed person. But more serotonin in a person with bipolar can induce a manic episode. And it did.
So when I was correctly diagnosed, I felt a wave of relief wash over me, softly pulling me into the comfort of the sand bar and telling me that the storm was over. My psychiatrist, the first person other than myself, did not only acknowledge my madness, but he accepted it. And he helped me. I figured out who I am; I understood why I felt the things I felt and did the things I did for the first time.
“It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.” –David Jones
I shall be offering the opportunity to guest post on M J Mallon – Kyrosmagica blog with a special theme that means so much to me – Inspiration.
I just love this quote by Audrey Hepburn:
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!
Authors will be encouraged to write a short post considering these prompts.
What inspires you to write? This should be personal to you, but might include suggestions such as: a walk in nature, overheard conversations, a new job, a travelling adventure, a trip abroad, meeting a new friend, or an old flame, art, music, books you’ve read….. The list is inexhaustible! A strange inexplicable desire to write. Witnessing an altercation or an event, etc, etc….. I’d love to hear your experiences!
Inspiration to keep trying and improving even when the writing journey gets tough.
How to overcome writer’s block by focusing on refreshing new inspirational ideas.
Favourite inspirational quotes that you refer to and sites such as Brainy Quote that you find inspiring.
Authors and blogging friends that have your back and encourage you to keep on writing. They can be inspiring to.
Overcoming obstacles through writing and creativity – photography, art, and music as therapy.
The piece should be in the region of 500 – 1,250 words and can include any or all of the above prompt ideas. I shall need accompanying promotional materials – author bio and cover reveals, a short summary of your book/s, excerpts, links to your blog and book.
The lovely Heena Rathore will be joining in soon. She will be doing an author spotlight, on the theme inspiration with details of her Psychological Thriller Deceived, so keep a look out for that.
Alternatively, if you’d like to follow the traditional format of interview questions, or a simpler author spotlight/cover reveal I’m happy to do that to. I’m an easy going kind of gal! Do get in touch if you’re interested.
Would you like to guest post? Leave a comment below, or email me for more details: email@example.com
Lee Taemin is a Korean idol from one of KPOP’s biggest groups SHINee which debuted in 2008 with ‘Replay’. They have gone from cute-pop bops to synthesizer melodies which have dabbled in house/techno. Currently, they are working on a new comeback after the success of their 2015 album release ‘Odd Eye’ and ‘Married to the Music’.
Lee Taemin is a vocalist/dancer/visual of SHINee and is their youngest member at the age of 23. In 2014, Taemin released his first ever solo debut with songs like ‘Ace’ and ‘Danger’ which successfully changed his cute image into a whole new persona. In his music video ‘Danger’, Taemin is seen with piercings and heavy eye make-up and array of different outfits. After his 2014 release, Taemin also released his second solo album Press It. Longer in length, Taemin worked with artists such as Bruno Mars to create and produce this ten track album. As well as this, Taemin has released songs in Japanese, his most recent album ‘Sayonara Hitori’ takes on a whole different kind of genre, many of the songs sounding like the OST (Opening Sound Track) of any fantasy anime. The video for ‘Sayonara Hitori’ deals with themes of light and dark, the fear of our own shadow. It is a stunning video, switching from beautiful scenes of mountains and valleys illuminated by a giant full moon to scenes of destruction — of volcanoes and war. The wardrobe changes in the video also reflects this, as Taemin is seen in silk clothing in one scene, and all in black in another. Taemin’s success in Japan is quite evident, and I will be looking forward to the music that he releases in the near (and distant future).
Please check Taemin and SHINee out!
Hope you liked my eldest daughter’s guest post. She’s absolutely obsessed with Korean K-Pop, and likes to share her love with others. She urged me to watch this video – she said that it reminded her of the themes of dark/light in my manuscript The Curse Of Time. I’m very flattered that she thought so. The video really is stunning.
Do you like Korean K-Pop? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.
Happy Friday – I hope you have a lovely weekend.
Bye for now, Sayonara!
My fun (totally not serious but nevertheless 90% true,) author bio on Wattpad – Link below.
Marjorie Mallon was born in Lion City: Singapore. She grew up in a mountainous court in Hong Kong. Her crazy parents dragged her spotty soul away from her exotic childhood and her much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. There she mastered Scottish country dancing, haggis bashing, bagpipe playing and a whole new Och Aye lingo.
As a teenager she travelled to many far flung destinations to visit her abacus wielding wayfarer dad. On one such occasion a barracuda swam by. It stopped to view her bikini clad body, longing to take a big bite. With dogs' fangs replacing barracudas' teeth, she returned to her mother's birthplace: Kuching, Cat City. There, Blackie, a black-hearted dog sniffed her frightened butt, whimpered and ran away! Shortly after this extraordinary event an angry female Orang-Utan chased her unfit ass out of the Malaysian jungle believing that she was a threat to her babies! She still monkeys about, would love to own a cat, or a replacement Topsy but refuses to entertain murderous dogs, or over-protective monkeys.
It's rumoured that she lives in the Venice of Cambridge, with her six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and her two enchanted daughters.
After such an upbringing her author's mind has taken total leave of its senses. When she's not writing, she eats exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surfs to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out she practises Tai Chi and Yoga on the crest of a wave. If the mood takes her she goes snorkelling with mermaids, or signs up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.
She is a child of the light and the dark. Her motto is simply this: Do what you love, stay true to your heart's desires, remain young at heart, and inspire others to do so, even if it appears that the odds are stacked like black hearted shadows against you...