it's been a year. here is what we have loved, during a year so very hard to remain soft enough to enjoy.
→ Positions by Ariana Grande
m: if you need a bratty song to blow momentum into your new year, look no further than just like magic.
→ Dreamland by Glass Animals
m: 2020 escapism, in true dreamy Glass Animals fashion.
→ Monument by Keaton Henson
nadine: My favourite release of 2020. Keaton Henson releasing singles before this album release is what got me through the summer... "I'm off balance but I feel my soul"? "I know it's ending but I'm on the mend, oh unbalanced, triumphant, and trying again"? "I'm afraid I'm ablaze with the people I've been"? "Sorry I'm late, I was ablaze"? "I will make a mess of telling you"? "I'm the reason I can't sleep; I got all my baby teeth all buried underneath my grown ones"? I mean???
→ Light of Love by Florence + the Machine
nadine: Considering High as Hope saw me through March, the release of Light of Love was perfectly timed! This was my most listened-to song of 2020. And when I looked back on my year, I could see its influence everywhere... Here's to trying to soften, relentlessly and no matter what.
→ Beautiful Anyway by Judah and the Lion
soap: Every single time I listen to this, I can't help but cry. Watching a loved one suffer with depression and suicidal thoughts, desperately wanting them to see their worth and wake up every morning and decide to continue living. If 2020 has taught me anything, its to keep fighting when everything feels hopeless. You deserve life.
→ Fine Line by Harry Styles
soap: I don't know how I would have gotten through the year without Harry to lean on. The pop songs like Golden, the longer ballads like Cherry, the heart-wrenching finale of Fine Line...all of them inspiring me to love and love fiercely, and most importantly, TPWK.
→ Never Have I Ever (Netflix, 2020)
nadine: This was so bright and honest. Watching this as an adult dared me to look Teenage Me in the face. Can I have compassion for my younger self and all the stupid, brash, hurtful, arrogant, destructive things I've done? Yes. Yes.
→ slow-paced vlogs (K.A. Emmons, amandamaryanna, and others)
nadine: What better way to escape for a few minutes than watching prettily filmed mundane things with a somewhat philosophical voiceover.
→If Anything Happens, I Love You (Netflix, 2020)
soap: TikTok brought me a lot of joy this year, but this recommendation truly left me in tears. This short follows two parents in the aftermath of losing their daughter in a school shooting. A reminder to cherish those we have when they're here because we never know when we may lose them.
→ Cheer (Netflix, 2020)
m: You don't need to come from an athletic background to adore and cheer for this elite team of young athletes as they train for their most difficult competition of their careers, while simultaneously bringing you through their deepest heartbreaks and joys. Cheer is all dizzying and energizing, tearful and powerful.
→Little Women (2019)
soap: I have seen this now no less than six times this year, three of which were in theaters before the world began to shut down. There is nothing better than watching a family grow up together, fall in love, laugh, grieve, and comfort one another as they all discover who they are. It is a sense of belonging and support that we all need during these periods of isolation.
→The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
m: Spooky in a way that will tap further into your tear ducts than your adrenaline, this one's a beautiful, albeit twisted, look at trauma, love, and ghost stories.
→ Anything by Kacen Callender, particularly Felix, Ever After and King and the Dragonflies
m: beautifully written prose on intersectional identities and love. love love love.
soap: Seconding on Felix Ever After. My absolute new favorite book of all time.
→ Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
m: picture this unimaginable situation: a pandemic sweeps the world, upending society. what then? this book is one part horrific and two parts gorgeous, a fully surreal and devastating 2020 read.
→The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
soap: I have always been a person who holds lots of stress and anxiety within my body, and learning about the intricate ways that trauma and mental illness affect your emotional and physical well being was incredibly fascinating. I don't know that this book necessarily helped me learn how to manage and overcome much of my trauma and inability to release pain, but from a sociological standpoint, it was educational and the narrative flowed beautifully.
m: This one's been a tough read during a time of collective trauma, but it has been clarifying. I'm especially interested in how time impacts trauma. Absolutely worth a read, at the very least, post Covid.
→Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
soap: One of the most interesting books I read this year, this book details two sides of a family tree from current day Ghana, one side of which thrived in British colonial rule and the other half which was in servitude to them. Compelling writing with complex characters full of motivations, flaws, and feelings, making nearly all of them relatable in some way or another. Gyasi's second book "Transcendent Kingdom" is currently sitting on my shelf, so I am excited to get to it this year.
→ Runner Ups: Empire of the Wild by Cherie Dimaline (indigenous horror), Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (introspective fiction), Recollections of my Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit (20's young womanhood memoir)
→ earl gray with a splash of vanilla oat milk
m: discovered via a reception for another literary/art magazine. warm and cozy and soft.
→ turmeric herbal tea with chai spices
nadine: the gold-coloured goodness that has been powering my afternoons.
→ copius amounts of kiwi starfruit drinks
soap: Starbucks was another shining light in the darkness of 2020. The Star Drink was the perfect concoction to spur me into my nostalgia of summer breaks in elementary school.
→ how to bake!
nadine: Like many others this year, I polished my baking skills! I can now make exquisite cinnamon buns, croissants, almond croissants, brownies, cream cheese brownies, cookies, cakes... Like seriously. Exquisite. This year, when it felt like nothing in the world made sense, delicious food was there to remind me that sometimes I have to accept that pleasure is the only thing that makes sense.
→ more lessons than I could list, and gratitude that I was in a position where I could learn them.
nadine: Really, I learned so much this year, about myself, about the world, about life. I saw Jojo Rabbit (2019) in February, and the part about looking the tiger in the eyes struck me. I spent the rest of 2020 trying my hardest to look the tiger in the eyes and not look away, and I'm so thankful that I had the support I needed to make it happen.
→ imagination is power.
m: Ah yes, another year of ~realizing things.~ So many times I packed up my heart and home and considered permanent moves into people's lives or states across the US. It's been a year of extremes, for everyone. Learning to hold a desire to nest safely and loved and known, in the same hand as a deep set anxiety and thirst to break away, free and unknown. Two threads follow through these fist fulls of desire for wholeness: Allow yourself to feel the chemically driven response of angst and fear for a moment, but let it become discernment after a couple days. Allow the unknowing. This too is temporary. Second, you need to start dreaming and imagining good futures. The only way out may be through, but it helps to have a place to press towards.
→giving up is not a sign of weakness.
soap: Something that I have struggled with for the entirety of my existence is having to see everything through to the end. I need to finish every homework assignment, I can't call in sick or leave work early, I have to lift just five more reps. While pushing yourself normally is good and healthy, I realized that it was causing me harm to continue to push myself with my meter hovering dangerously above empty. It's okay to skip a few homework assignments. It's okay to take a mental health day. If you can't do something, it's not the end of the world. There is always tomorrow.
here's to a better year.
For the better part of 2020, even before the pandemic hit and well after, I was obsessed with the myth of Icarus. You know the one: the story of the arrogant young man who, despite warnings, put on wings made of wax, flew so close to the Sun that the wax melted, fell in the sea, and died.
“What if Icarus survived his fall?” I asked myself – and others around me. “What if a large wave threw him on a sandy shore? And then, coughing up water, what if he healed and learned to become soft?” I had no idea why I couldn’t let go of this thought. I just knew I needed to keep exploring it.
Now, looking back on my year, I see something that surprises me: that is exactly how 2020 went for me. I put on my best pair of wings and flew straight towards the Sun, and just as I thought I was going to touch it, just as I started feeling the heat radiating on my skin, my wings gave out, and I fell straight into the sea.
I used to think the myth of Icarus existed to point out the dangers of arrogance. “Hey kids, beware of hubris.” This year, I learned that arrogance has many different faces. When I flew towards the Sun, back in February, I didn’t think I was flying to my doom. I was convinced I was flying towards the one thing I’d always wanted the most, and it took nosediving in the ocean to show me that maybe I didn’t want that thing at all.
The Sun, in my case, was moss-coloured and smelled like Earl Grey. It was plans of buying a house and sharing it with a friend and her cat. It was reading up on homesteads and looking at real estate listings near the coast. It was revelling in the feeling of being wanted so much that I forgot to realize I wasn’t being seen.
And the Fall – the Fall was a saturated blue and tasted like oranges. It was a pandemic. It was losing my job and moving back in with my parents. It was holding on as the world seemed to crumble, as too many of my relationships seemed to crumble.
But some people stayed. One dear friend swam beside me in the stormy sea, and another gave me her hand when I reached the shore. Gently, they reminded me that love still exists. As I walked the path of healing, the path of softening, the path of becoming myself, they kept me company.
So, I flew towards the Sun. I fell in the sea. I almost drowned. I was thrown on the shore. I healed. I softened. I let myself in. And now, I’m at the strange point in the story where the realization that I’ve yet again outgrown my life has broken me open. I ache and I’m so grateful and I ache some more.
2020 Highlights and Lessons
In February, I went to see Jojo Rabbit at the cinema, and it really struck me when one of the characters said (and I paraphrase) that to grow up is to look the tiger in the eyes and trust fearlessly. I asked myself how I could do that. How I could look the tiger in the eyes. How I could trust more wholeheartedly.
In April, Florence + the Machine released Light of Love, and I listened to it hundreds of times. It turned out to be my most listened-to song of 2020, according to Spotify. There’s a lot of relatable lyrics in that song – like “I tried to get it right so badly that I always got it wrong,” which is only the story of my entire life – but another part I liked is this one:
And now we are awake and it seems too much to take
Looking back on my year 2020, I realize that’s exactly what I did. I looked at everything that felt like too much to take, and I didn’t look away. I kept asking myself: “Can I look the tiger in the eyes?” I tried over and over to be able to answer “yes” honestly. It astonishes me how hard I tried this year, how I kept showing up and showing up, how I continued to care. What enabled me to do this is also beautifully expressed in the song:
Don’t go blindly into the dark
This year really saw me deepen my dedication to cultivate acts of love, tenderness of being, and fearless trust, vulnerability, and intimacy in relationships.
I tried every day to connect with and nurture my truest self and deepest longings. I ached over losses, over loneliness, and I took care of myself through it all. I boiled with rage, and I accepted that feeling. This year was terrifying and so challenging, and now I see that I did look the tiger in the eyes. I kept trying to soften.
I was listening to my top 100 songs from 2020 and it struck me how soft they were… I wrote the entire tracklist in my journal (yes, I am Extra), and I just felt a wave of gratitude for these lovely creations that saw me through 2020, and for myself for choosing to listen to them so much.
It astounds me how I managed to go through 2020 and still care. But then again, I realized that that’s who I am: I’m a person who cares relentlessly. It hurts me a lot of the time, but it also means that I’m a person who always shows up. I learned to show up for myself first. I learned to improve my ability to self-nurture to the point where this practice makes me feel strong and hopeful – not hopeful that life will be nice, but hopeful that I will be able to face it.
And Everything Else
Have I zoomed out too much? This post was so honest. At the same time, it’s my year seen from far away, the lens unfocussed just a little, just enough to make it all blend together, to make it cohesive and meaningful.
I would have liked to be able to zoom in and dig, too. But words fail me.
I discovered things about myself I don’t know how to label. I don’t even know how to explain them to anyone but me. Trying to put words to them, I would only be trying to describe “something incommunicable,” “something I only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones.” (to quote Franz Kafka because, well, why not)
But I’ll try, ok? Here it goes.
Up to my calves in saltwater, waves crashing on my shins, Aphrodite can you hear me? I found my way back to the Moon. I carry seashells in my coat pockets. I wake up early, and sometimes when the sky is clear I brave the cold and go look at the night sky. I’ve perfected my carrot cake, my cinnamon bun, my brownie, my almond croissant. I light candles and I put on opera just to feel something different, cumin and onions sizzling in the pan. When I go for walks in the forest, I feel like the fairy godmother of birds and squirrels and trees. I paint to keep my inner child happy.
But sometimes when I paint it’s not for my inner child. I put Bedroom Hymns on repeat and I smash red on the canvas and still I can’t capture it: the realization that now, every one of my cells is ablaze with a power I truly believed I would never get to touch.
Because it was 11:11am and I didn’t know what to wish for, I knew it was time: I had to unblock it once and for all. The primal unison of all the fibres of my being screaming that they ache to impact and be impacted, to conquer and be conquered, to claim and be claimed. Suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted, and it didn’t make anything easier.
I have so much to be grateful for and I do feel it, a tremendous gratitude, when I stop to consider it. A lot is imperfect but all of it is so precious. For all the ways I’ve been supported, for everything that enabled me to write this overly long post, I’m thankful.
Let’s make 2021 better.
originally this was part of a series of essays during The Sealey Challenge, all scrapped. really, this post is representative of 2020 as a whole, for m, thus--
These days I am so anchored to the house that I begin to float away, ungrounded. It has been two hundred and eight-seven days since I left the house, face uncovered, so confidently. At first, I dragged my feet forward, hoping to cling to these forced days at home like a productive staycation. My naivety kept me calm, for a moment, until the anxiety and dread settled unshaken. I don't know if one day has passed since March, or if most of the year has sifted away barely touched. I want to say I have looked at these walls so long that I have allowed them to morph into canvas, into possibility, into a forced strict sabbatical of creativity and comfort. No, instead, depression is a dust I cannot quite keep wiped away, and anxiety is a breeze blowing just hard enough not to let any pages settle without a struggle.
I've tried what has worked and what will never. In August, I began The Sealey Challenge, all starry eyed and lying on my back on my great grandmother's quilt in the sun. No, I did not successfully complete it, but I did accomplish enough. I tried, I read, I learned, I found.
I tried, and I failed by reading a grand sixteen poetry books, of which I am vaguely proud enough. I learned (again) that I approach poetry like I do people I love: I do not really like many poetry books, but when I do, I am breathtaken and dizzy and committed. I found that what loops me into the pages and sets me free is when poetry is not particularly heady, but instead grounded and raw and emotional and real, yet surprising. Environmental. A journal made more intimate by surprise. I love the moment I am shocked I did not think of the words myself, and I am so in love that I am nearly angry about it. I love the humanity of poetry. I love to recognize myself and crawl away from my reality and into my body, tucked into the earth, no matter how it trembles or burns.
Space Struck by Paige Lewis was a delight, caught double taken in a panic and laughter. Olivia Gatwood and Megan Fernandes are painters of girls, and it scares me in a way so familiar I will not look away. Kate Tempest unspools gender with Hold Your Own, and Louise Gluck's The Wild Iris takes me almost as long to read as a new leaf unfurls on the vines I bought during my first outting after spring's lockdown.
Again and again, I learn that despite the deep set exhaustion of growing from caterpillar to a butterfly trapped under the glass of a pandemic, I do not want to leave myself and my body when I read. Yes, it is true, I spend most of my time attempting to outrun myself. It's true, I wake up and decipher how I might make the time fray into nighttime again, so I can rest unconscious, smothered in dreams. I said I wouldn't download TikTok- "no matter how bad it gets"- but I scroll it for too long nowadays, and nap in sunlight, and binge every series I've ever held close. Escapism is a survival skill, until poetry.
Here I want someone to be brave enough to force the sharp edges of being alive into something I can see and hold and accept and see as beautiful, despite despite despite. It's not that I need to recognize what I read, but that I am desperate to acknowledge the pain and say that living is worth acknowledging anyway.
I want poetry that leaves me rooted, breathing, nodding, and saying yes, regardless and because of. I want poetry to remind me where I am, shaking me from where I feel I remain.
I want poetry to unravel reality into secretly named exhibitions.
"I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit," said Kurt Vonnegut.
I did not finish The Sealey Challenge, because ultimately I wanted to slow. It is a disorienting thing to be so exhausted of the oozing stagnancy of life, to hunger so deeply for speed and change and energy, to choose to slow and consider and soften into a failure of a challenge to savor each word offered to me.
I'm honored to be allowed into the hallows and corners of other lives, to be reminded that there is a world and a future and a past beyond the walls of my isolation, which such a full range of experience. To know it existed is to see proof that it will happen again.
2020 may be a holding cell shaking the shoulders of our priorities and civil rights (many shout outs to the government for forcing me to grovel in thanks for my life being slightly better than 90% of people in 1847, but that's another rant, isn't it?), but it is also a window into what we want, what we dream, and what we remember, scavengers for proof of a future.
just doin their thing
As a recent college graduate, I’m all too familiar with how precious reading for fun is. Assigned texts and annotations do not leave much time for leisurely reading. While the Sealey Challenge is fast-paced (the challenge being to read one book of poetry a day in August), it has been an absolute joy to participate in. No matter how the day unfolds, I know a poetry collection is waiting for me.
On the second day of the Challenge, I downloaded a library ebook of Deluge by Leila Chatti. My first introduction to Chatti was the outstanding anthology Halal If You Hear Me from Breakbeat Poets. The poem, “Confession,” particularly struck me: “(oh Mary, like a God, I too take pleasure / in knowing you were not all holy.” There was a strange comfort to Chatti’s poetry— I, too, did not have to be “all holy.” I certainly hadn’t felt holy recently. In April 2019, I was diagnosed with a cancer I had never even heard of before. A month later, I could barely recognize my bald, sickly body in a mirror.
As I flipped open the virtual cover of Deluge, I had no idea that Chatti had a similar brush with illness. “I wear a gown that ties in the back; this is how / I am sure I am sick,” begins the poem, “MRI.” There are few times I felt such awe for a poem. It was as if Chatti had observed my own life and scribbled it across a page. After my diagnosis, I struggled with reading illness, and in particular cancer, poetry because it felt hollow, cliche, or both. Chatti captures the peculiarities of doctor visits, scans, and the names of diagnoses.She gives the strangeness of sickness space the page. Though I don’t believe that poetry has to be relatable to be good, there is joy (and a bit of jealousy) in knowing another poet so expertly captured something you’ve experienced.
I suspect even if I wasn’t doing the Sealey Challenge, I would have devoured Deluge in a day. There is so much to love about this collection, as both someone who experienced severe illness and as a poet. The poem, “Tumor,” which spirals in on itself. The push and pull of Mary’s narrative in religious texts versus the idea of her. The delicate, and deserved, anger towards patriarchy and its creation of menstrual taboos. The line I keep coming back to, “In November, eight months after the surgery, I look out at everything dying and declare it / radiant.”
As the Sealey Challenge comes to a close, I’m glad I did it. I read about eighteen poetry collections and chapbooks. I tried to read new collections, but I snuck in some older favorites too. Though I would recommend them all, I particularly enjoyed Finna by Nate Marshall, Eye Level by Jenny Xie, and In the Language of My Captor by Shane McCrae.
Pitch an essay about words or a book review at email@example.com
Grace Chin for Design Sponge
some days i feel dry and empty, all hollow and frustrated, because i do not lack the desire to make, but the words aren't there.
never fear. sometimes these are the days to learn, instead of explore. i like to read and learn and be pushed in directions. it becomes an exploration, and i write, whether i am simply taking notes or stumbling into a guided tour of new territory.
following are some of these quotes i have found and loved. perhaps just a sentence will speak to you.
Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to Theo van Gogh written c. March 1882
❝When I write, I bring all of my truths, even the Judas-truths that make me feel like the betrayer whose dirty hands are resting on the table for everyone to see, including God. For me, writing is less a declaration of those truths than it is my interrogation of them. Uncovering the darkness in me that led to some of the poems about my brother also lights up the hard, bright way in which I love him and the small wars I wage to win him back. The monsters and hoofermen I choose to look in the eyes and teeth when considering my rez and this country’s history are also the truths that have built in me a strength and compassion that help me to survive this world. Truth is that little animal we chase and chase until we suddenly glance over our shoulder and realize it has been chasing us all along.
❝Writing is a dangerous profession. There is no telling what hole you may rip in society’s carefully woven master narrative.
❝Poem that opened you –
❝Poetry does not provide a narrative for you to subscribe to. Poetry erodes your confidence in narratives as a means of experiencing and understanding the world. I do not think there is anything on this planet that can do that with anywhere near the same ferocity and grace. I cannot speak for other planets.
I hope you are doing well today. Today, my goal is to try to help transform the idea of Death as scary and unfamiliar into one that is a natural part of life that we can grow more comfortable with.
Characteristics in Tarot
Major Arcana: XIII
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Ruling Planet: Pluto
What does the Death card mean?
In sum, Death is as it sounds: a literal leaving of one plane of life into another. In another sense, Death is a metaphor for rebirth. It is making a realization about one's self, situation, or environment that encourages us to move on from the negative aspects and create a new scenario for ourselves. Much like the phoenix arising from its own ashes, we are all human, re-emerging stronger through each difficult situation in our lives that we have had to face.
Often times this card scares people because of the deep emotional energy that is grounded in it. People see Death and read this literally. They think of the loss of a loved one, a family member, a coworker. Likely this is because we as humans are naturally scared of Death, for it is a phase of life that we know nothing about. We dread the unknown. We stay in jobs we don't like for too long for fear that another job could be worse. We stay in relationships that may not fully benefit us because we are scared of the potential of another partner. We hold onto toxic behaviors to cope with our struggles because we are scared of what it would look like if we didn't act in a certain way.
However, a slight change in perspective will tell us that Death is not simply a trek from the known into the unknown. It will instead present to us the idea that we are moving away from the negative and into the positive. When the Death card appears, it is not telling us that there is a situation on the horizon that we will be unable to handle. In fact, many times it can mean quite the opposite: the universe is gifting us with the ability to grow and move forward because it knows we are capable of doing so. This cards presents to us the exciting possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead, the potential for us to become more in tune with our true selves and make decisions that will inevitably lead us to become happier individuals.
Something that we must remind ourselves is that we are not our situations. We are not permanent, nor is anything we do. At the end of the day, the decisions we make are ultimately going to affect how we feel and identify as people, and if these actions and behaviors reflect our true selves. It is up to us to decide how we want to live in this impermanence.
When you see Death in your life, try to think of something you are holding onto that may be causing you pain. Acknowledge it, recognize that it exists and affects you. Hold it for a moment, say goodbye, and then let it go. Then, when you are ready, look forward. Forward is where your potential, your love, your true self will ultimately lie.
Death will be waiting for you.
tarot is an introspective practice involving a deck of cards pulled in response to a question, prompting the reader to consider the question in the context that the card(s) provide. look out for tarot practices, sometimes featuring corresponding poetry or writing prompts, littering the blog in the future, as it's essential to some of our creative and self care routines x
first up, a month ahead spread... happy august!
how might you approach the coming month? month ahead spreads and forcasts can assist you in moving forward with intention.
🕯 one: what overall energy might the next month hold?
🕯 two: leave this behind in the last month; it may no longer serve you
🕯 three: take this with you into the next month
🕯 four: pursue this
🕯 five: practice this self care
consider pulling oracle cards alongside tarot as you feel comfortable with.
onward, with grace 💛
🕯overall energy: son of wands
passion, energy, confidence, pursuit
🕯 leave behind: the magician
indirection, roundabout approach, a need for control
🕯 take with: the lovers, reversed
respect, love, joy, all sans requirement is permanence to accept
⛲️ pursue: six of swords, reversed
recovery, moving on from the past, presence
⛲️ self care: the fool, reversed, i am the weaver of my reality
examine your current routine and find what energizes you to begin.
decks used: the wild unknown + the moon deck
Have questions about the submission and editing process? Duotrope reached out to M. Wilder for some insight. Feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have.
Welcome to the quarantine. With all the fear and worry and frustration in your heart, take a moment to roll your shoulders back and down, soften your jaw, and acknowledge that what you are about to take on is good, kind, selfless, and necessary. You are doing a good thing.
While you’re here, we can all acknowledge that this is going to be a trying time for everyone, especially those with mental illnesses and those attempting to avoid relapse. You’re seen and cared for. If this does not include you, this is your reminder to continually maintain contact with your loved ones, not only to maintain your own sanity and peace, but also as an act of care and courage for others who may be struggling more deeply. We’re all in this together, and simply saying hello is an important and necessary act.
Included in this list are reminders and resources to hopefully help enable you to not only chase peace and stability, but also joy, productivity, purpose, and health. This is a bold statement to make, but I simply wanted to compile the wealth of resources communities and individuals have been creating. All illness and shittiness aside, I have been thankful for people’s willingness to come forward and create alternatives, rather than give in to depression and anxiety. Look at us go! Technology is rad.
Think: self care, conscious connection, nourish, create/express, spiritual practice, serve and support.
Reminder: there is little reason for you to do anything drastic such as bake incredible foods, learn new skills, perfect dusty skills, or create a novel. It’s okay if all you do is cope.
how do you feel?
Write it down. Get it out. Talk it through.
Setting a routine will. be. vital. for maintaining a sense of normality, purpose, and motivation. Routine allows for control. Schedule opportunities to move, go outside, get creative, and practice self care. Your routine does not have to revolve around productivity or work. Instead, take a moment to visualize the life you want to be leading, who you ideally want to be, how you wish to feel. Make a list of accessible activities, objects, and places that may contribute. Write it down. Here’s a lovely example. Here's another, Structuring Your Life with Depression. Also be mindful of your sleeping routine. Get out of bed. Stretch. A solid routine that includes small acts of scheduled self care can truly change your mental health. Figure it out. Implement. Breathe a lil easier. Support your chemical makeup. Be gentle with yourself.
what can you continue?
Take a moment to review your normal routine and decide what you may take with you on this journey. This can be as simple as the time you wake up or the coffee you get. Remember, so far take out and drive thru are still occurring, and businesses need your support. Hold onto your regular coffee schedule if you can.
eat and hydrate regularly
Eat full meals. Drink water. Drink tea and coffee as usual. This will impact your mood and physical well being. If you need to map these into a routine, do the thing.
If you are quarantining with housemates, remain responsible and aware of the energy you bring into a space. Do it for yourself. Do it for the health of your environment.
Think back to pre-quarantine and remember all the things you’d wished you had time for. You do not have to do any of these things… but now you can.
cleaning and nesting
Take an afternoon to deep clean your spaces, especially your bathroom and kitchen. Create an environment that promotes peace, starting with your cleaning supplies. Pop on a podcast and go. Open a window. Wipe up the floorboards. Keep up with the chores afterwards.
Especially if you don’t feel up for a physical space cleaning, take moments to delete photos, screenshots, and apps, unfollow folks, unsubscribe to email lists, etc.
Get the air circulating. This changes so much.
free webinars and workshops
Some free webinars and workshops I am currently aware of include...
Kristen Kalp leads breathwork sessions on Instagram at 7:30am PT on weekdays.
Scott the Painter’s Say Yes, a Liturgy of Not Giving Up on Yourself
Somatic Healing Space Practice Weekly Sessions
Goteamjames is posting daily newsletters featuring meditations called What Do I Do With My Hands? and Austin Kleon's weekly newsletter continues to be wonderful.
list favorite things
They still exist. Remember all you’re looking forward to.
Rachel McKibbons is posting writing prompts daily, as is The New York Times for high school students. Download Alexandra Elle's Restore PDF, a journaling template.
Barrelhouse is presenting a free workshop course and read-in bookgroup. Enroll here.
Mo Willems is hosting Lunch Doodles daily, offering prompts and stories to adults and children alike.
Art Assignment (Sarah and John Green) will be streaming to talk and make art. Catch up with Sarah’s channel while you’re at it.
Carson Ellis is posting Quarantine Art Club Assignments daily. Kelly Baird has posted 31 prompts.
Contribute to Danny Allegretti and Elizabeth Vande Griend's collaborative zine, "Made Alone Together."
moving generates all the feel good chemicals in your brain. gets you into your body, grounded. stimulates blood flow. supports your immune system. let’s go.
dance dance dance
Put on that playlist and go. Alternatively: go for a walk or hike. play hide and seek. Chase a dog. Dance with a cat. Reach up and gentle twist your spine, lengthening on your inhale and deepening on your exhale. Here’s a free streamed meditation/ dance workshop, no experience necessary.
Oh Wonder is streaming a live song every night for 37 nights. Global Citizen is partnering with numerous artists to provide nightly concerts on Instagram, called Together, At Home. So far, Chris Martin, John Legend, and Charlie Puth have streamed.
Steve Croce leads Party with the People DJed dance parties on Instagram, 4:20pm PT weekdays.
Local yoga studios are streaming classes; do a google search and support your locals. Favorite Youtube channels include Yoga with Adriene, Boho Beautiful, Tara Stiles, KinoYoga.
This is what social media is good for: searching "home workout." You'll be overwhelmed. Whitney Simmoms’ instagram and youtube is a trove of workouts, including for at home. Natacha Oceane is posting no equipment / no noise equipment, ideal for those living in apartments or not wanting to jump around etc.
Chris Mangano is offering his home training plan for free for the rest of March. So is Katie Corio.
Crossfit Albuquerque is live streaming a workout each day.
apps and their trials
Elementa (yoga, meditation, dance, self care), Shreddy (home and gym workouts and recipe guides), and Playbook (gym and home workouts), all fantastic workout apps.
crack a spine
Stretch and then reach for a book. Don’t have one? Your local library most likely has an e-collection featuring ebooks, eaudiobooks, enewspapers, and emagazines. Scribd is offering their entire library for free. Need title recommendations? After checking out your library’s webpage, try Adrienne Maree Brown’s list, or Bookriot. Feel free to contact me or another public librarian you know :)
ask friends for movie and album recommendations
…. and actually experience them.
Perfect time to delve into a webcomic. Try a sweet high school gay romance or historical fiction about the life and love of a carpet merchant in 17th century Istanbul.
For an easy dip/introduction follow Kaveh Akbar on Twitter.
Try an online journal or chapbook series such as Ghost City Press'! Check Neutral Spaces for more.
When you’re sick of reading, dip into this thread or this incredible youtube channel, for the balm of human faces and voices reading to you. Costura Creative is holding three free online readings featuring Franny Choi, Sam Sax, Analicia Sotelo, and more.
facetime and phone calls
let’s do it.
join a massive groupchat… think your favorite band, librarians and museum workers, artistry, life’s library book club.
online support groups
Groups like AA have online versions. Please reach out to them.
Amazon is reprioritizing book orders. If you can afford it, please consider ordering books from your local indie bookstore, some of which do offer used options. If you’d like to reach out a little further, please consider Innisfree Poetry Bookstore, Books are Magic, Wiseblood, and Powell’s. For more, follow these links: How to support your local bookstore and find bookshops to support.
order takeout from local businesses, or buy giftcards
eat up, support others.
subscribe to a patreon, support gig professionals.
Support an artist and get art in return. Here’s an updated list of resources for gig workers.
support the unsupported
Consider giving to an emergency fund, such as this one for undocumented youth and families.
buy groceries, pick up meds
Please check up on older folks and those with chronic illnesses. How can you help them? Can you buy groceries? Pick up meds? Be of service.
request a mail ballot
You need to vote. Bernie's plan provides free healthcare, especially important in such a crisis. ACLU has a guide on voting by mail here.
Here's 450 Ivy league courses to take online for free.
Lisa Olivera's ten slide post of exercises to keep you grounded and peaceful while experiencing anxiety, depression, and other normal feelings.
Wondering what the virus feels like? Here’s one report. Wondering what to do next? We got a flow chart. Call your health professionals.
Remember, as nature seems to spring forth with new life, humans are not the disease. This is anti-Indigenous. Read more about ecofascism here and here.
looking for more?
Here's a spreadsheet.
Remember, all your feelings are valid. Whether you're shaking anxious or bored silly or happy to have some downtime, it's normal. You'll feel it all. While you may be physically alone, people are here for you, and need you just as you need them. Reach out. It's temporary.
This list will be kept updated.
i feel abrasive.
a small sunny wreckage.
pooh if pooh wore leather and fenty eyeliner too heavy and desperately needed a haircut.
crowded by softness, and i bet my hands are too rough to hold it.
why is it always dark out? missing the sunlight.
wired but restrained and unmoored. like hot water, soft and light, but a bit of a scald. i wish i'd both hush and open.
my hair is too long. makes my face soften out.
i've finished a lot of poems lately, and i've needed a lot of poems lately.
i have a craving for tender poems, some words that could teach me to both soften and straighten my shoulders back to face whatever darkness seems to hover. here's what's keeping me tender lately.
from Waves by Virginia Woolf
a small collective dedicated to personal, creative, and communal growths.