We were a week into our self-isolation when I knew from the depths of my soul that I needed to resurrect this space for myself. Though I had been regularly scribbling in my journal and have been diligently marking the days in my planner, I knew I needed something more for my creative spirit.
Because the roots of returning to writing come back to blogging, I began to imagine what it would be like to write here once again. Yet, to be honest, I drug my feet. Because of Google. And work. And the need to continue to do my work. To ensure that all the hard work I’ve been doing since 2018 wasn’t for naught.
Since 2018, I’ve been working with an amazing business coach focusing on ensuring that everything I write is done with my business goals in mind. That means that every article I’ve written since April 2018 was done so with specific Search Engine Optimization (SEO) goals as the driving force behind the title. And much of the words.
I am all about being of service, truly. Because I know that we learn from the stories of others.
Yet, because one of my core values is freedom, that has felt confining at times. To write articles based on what I rank for. And pivoting from popular posts.
In the earliest days of Coronavirus spreading in the US, I quickly revised an old blog post about working from home, wrote a fresh post to help deal with Anxiety and pulled together a “Quotes Post” on Hope. I also had some stellar ideas on fresh content that I know will help people not feel so alone. Yet, despite the fact that I have drafts of three articles I’ve been planning to write, last week I managed to eek out basic outlines for them.
In all honesty, the double whammy for me when it comes to writing focused on this pandemic is the sheer volume of people trying to help me. There are way too many Instagram Lives, Projects to Participate In, Zoom Calls, Newsletters, Articles, Facebook Groups, and Courses designed to help me deal with COVID-19.
I am overwhelmed and burnt out on advice. And I don’t want to add to the noise. All that combined equals a slow down on writing for work. For me. Despite the fact I know that I need to just power through.
Yet, I make sense of the world in words. I need to read them, to speak them, and the write them.
All the writing in my journal and planner has been barely sustaining me in making sense of this pandemic. Living in a household of one extrovert (me) and one introvert (John) means that he only has the capacity for so many word before he is full up. Yet, I have the more words to speak. And write.
While I know I am moving in the right direction for my business by focusing on SEO-geared articles, that isn’t what I need to mentally and emotionally process what’s happening in the world. I need more of an outlet. And while my journal has finally become my friend, in times of stress and trauma, we go back to the tools that served us.
I wrote my first blog post in 2000. And what sustained me in the days after 9/11 were writing on my blog and reading the personal blogs of others. Not articles geared towards trauma, grief, stress, anxiety, and how to cope. But how real people were processing the trauma and grief. And making their way in the new world.
And then I saw a request from a local university to document LIFE during this unprecedented (in most of our life times) experience of a global pandemic. To put a personal spin on managing the crisis: thoughts, feelings, and experiences. For future generations to witness. History – and the stories of others – has long played into how I see the world.
As I mentioned, I have been keeping a record of how we are spending our days in my planner. It’s part to-do lists, part a recording of what I’ve done, and notes about how I am emotionally managing everything this entails. Initially, I planned to pull together a Word document with notes about how things are locally.
But then I had one of those days where everything hit me at once. And I needed the solace of this space.
I can remember the day quite clearly. It was a Thursday. It was Day 7 of isolating at home. And it was the first time I’d gone out for groceries since the Governor ordered bars and restaurants closed. I went to a local grocery store and the shelves were bare. No meat, no paper goods, very little canned foods, and light levels of produce and dairy. I felt panicked.
While I had seen the stories on the news about the run on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and hamburger meat, I hadn’t been worried. Besides, I’d gotten emails from all of our local stores ensuring me that their supply chains were strong. Yet, how could that be if the shelves were bare? And, in addition to empty shelves and a wiped out meat department, many of the other shoppers weren’t practicing social distancing.
While waiting at the deli counter, a man kept moving closer to me every time I stepped away from him.
And the poor people working at the store were so stressed out, they were rude. Now, this is the store that has provided friendship and solace in my time living here in Ohio. So, for the employees at this family owned and run store to behave in this way reminded me that times have changed.
I wanted to cry. And after leaving the store (mostly) empty handed, I ensured that anything perishable was stored in insulated bags. And stopped at our local Whole Foods before going home. While their shelves were bare in spots, too, there was chicken in the meat department as well as ground pork, a staple in our household. But better yet, the employees were friendly and kind.
While I was still feeling shaky, at least I was not feeling panicked.
Resurrecting this space, though, didn’t come overnight. And because I know myself well, my focus before content was style.
Earlier this week, I began the redesign process. When I was simply maintaining the archives, I was happy with a standard WordPress theme. But if I’m going to be here on any kind of regular basis, I needed the design to speak to me. So, I installed a fresh theme and have been tweaking it.
The image I’ve featured here – that bouquet of flowers nestled on a bed with a journal and a cup of tea – was my inspiration when it came to palette – a rich maroon, creamy pinks, and a sage green.
While I don’t have all the kinks worked out – like how do I change the colors on the sidebar widgets? – overall, I am pleased. Expect more tweaking in the days and weeks ahead. I’ve been doing web design on and off for the last 20 years so it’s a soothing activity.
I don’t promise updates on any specific schedule. I plan to go back through my notes and document what’s been happening, my thoughts, and especially my emotions during the last 23 Days since we committed to staying at home. I’ve created a new category – Coronavirus Diaries – to keep things organized.
My initial thoughts on resurrecting this space is to go back to a Weekly Round-Up format I used back in 2015/2016.
Most of all, this is giving me the permission to work out my thoughts and emotions in a space that doesn’t have to be perfect, on brand, or optimized for SEO. I don’t need a perfect photo, witty caption, or curated hashtag.
And that, my darling, is what I am needing the most these days.