I don’t know if you can tell from the nature of my posts, but I really don’t like doing personal posts. Yet, here I go. These past few weeks remind me of my recent sabbatical, but a bit less productive. I’m still doing library work. It is easy work to shift to doing while at home. I’ve created a libguide based in justice, equity, diversity and inclusion for K-12 educators. I originally labelled it as anti-racist but, it’s not intentional enough for
that title. Rather, it supplies resources centered on marginalized people for immediate use in the classroom. I can still connect to students and faculty to help with research needs, am creating online tools and using Twitter to share resources. Unfortunately, students don’t know that while library buildings are closed, librarians are still working and available to help with research so, the work is slow. Right now, my days are highlighted by Jacqueline Woodson reading live on Facebook, watching old movies and TV series, trips to my garden plot and searching out bits of information about my ancestors.
I’m doing fine with this isolation thing because I’m a loner and enjoy the time alone. Yet, there’s fear and uncertainty that lingers in my mind, distrust and anger at our leaders and even a bit at myself for not plugging into the community that surrounds me because these communities are what will get us through. Oh, I could be fine being secluded in my home, but I don’t want to go down hiding out in my own little corner of the world. I prefer doing something, anything that might make a difference.
I’m not a religious person but, for me spiritual practices are providing a sense of meaning and purpose right now; a sense of comfort. We just observed the vernal equinox and are headed into days that are sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims. I think feeling purposeful, feeling like I’m making a difference is what I need most. I check my worries about enough shampoo or pepper or where I might find flour. Do those things matter when the government we’ve come to rely on gives me no reason to trust them? When there are people who have no jobs, money, health insurance or hope?
I feel better when my ‘worries’ become some kind of action that provides for people who have no insulation from physical, economic or emotional threats. I wonder how people can put ‘doing’ church over being church: valuing the performance of showing up over caring for the lives of congregates by making sure they all have food and shelter, that they’re not unnecessarily exposed to harm.
I have become so keenly aware of my privilege. To even mention the fact that I am working from home and still being paid feels like nothing but bragging. I’ve been paying my hair stylist for ‘aircuts’. So selfish on my part because I want him still cutting hair when this is over! I’ve donated the monies raised from my t-shirt sales. I’m donating the amount of money I would spend on coffee and lunch every day to a local food pantry. I’ve cut shopping to only necessities. I want to believe that shopping less will let others be able to go home. (Just think… if we were doing mass testing, we’d know who already had the disease and could safely be out and about.)
A descendent of producers, I’ve become a consumer. I remember some ways of ‘making do’ from my childhood but, you know what the one non necessity purchase was that I made? A television. It felt like a necessity and such a privileged spending.
The stuff that gives me hope are the sites I’ve stumbled across where communities have formed to be self-sustaining. You know, the federal government didn’t start giving aid until the great flood of 1927. How much the government should provide was quite contentious then as well as to whom they should provide assistance because of the numerous low income and Black people who were affected by the Mississippi River and its tributaries overflowing their shores. Communities of color had always been self-sustaining but, imperialism crept into our traditional practices and made us reliant on others.
But these groups I’ve been seeing! I saw Facebook group filled with people who are not
only making hospital masks and gowns but are in contact with health care providers who send in requests for people with 3D printers to make equipment parts and n95 masks for them. Imagine if libraries that have closed were somehow able to make their equipment available in that way. I’ve seen authors giving readings of their work, publishers providing open access to their materials, individuals promoting debut authors.
I’m finding what works for me. It gets me out of bed and dressed in the morning and it lets me sleep through the night. This may be a load of crap to you or maybe it just helps you to know there’s one less person to worry about. It helps me to think through what I’m doing as I write and to wonder what others will share in return.
I know people are doing things that are so much more creative and further reaching but we all will need to find our own sense of peace. A friend on FB shared a picture of a chalk drawing that a neighbor’s child left in her driveway. How precious is that?! I salute parents and caregivers who are faced with the tough task of individually and collectively providing a sense of security.
So, I came up with this list of things that are reflective, meditative… that can bring meaning, or elevate thoughts. As days pass, I’m doing more of these practices. They may or may not mean something to you, I appreciate just connecting with you for these few moments! But maybe like me, you’ll find them to be ways to plug into a greater purpose.
Practice being present while washing dishes, peeling fruit or making the bedMake a list of ways you’ve impressed yourself lately.plant seeds
say ‘yes’ to everything all day today
learn a little yoga, t’ai chi or qigong
sit outside in the sunshine
avoid online activities for the day
light a candle
buy plants or flowers during the grocery store run or delivery
add fresh herbs to meals prepared at home
observe complete silence for several hours
blast that inspirational music from the rafters
play calming music in the background all day
read from an inspired text
call 3 friends or relatives you’ve not spoken to recently
start a gratitude journal
donate time or money to a local food pantry
mend clothing or sew buttons back on
wash someone else’s hair
And there’s always a good, primal scream!