We asked students to share what they are doing to keep themselves whole in this time. How they are finding moments of rest, creativity, and relief. This is the first collection of responses.
I told myself, “I will use this time for creativity” and I didn’t in the beginning. I spent two weeks binging on trash TV and potato chips. I didn’t move from my bed and that was a part of my self-care; allowing my body to rest and eat when I felt sad. After the stillness, my body finally caught up with my head and creative juices started pouring. I’ve been wearing wigs on some weekends and acting out characters I’ve made up. My yard has me on sunny days, where I will take naps in the grass or write poetry. My favorite part of self-care has been coming up with artistic ideas for the future. Just making lists of what I’d like to do. It is important to recognize that my life will probably go back to the way it was before. “I will be ok” is my mantra, so that I stop feeling anxious. I am thankful for technology; allowing me to stay connected with friends. We’ll call each other and hang out for a few hours watching movies or reading tarot cards. I am also recognizing my privilege here, and the healing this quarantine has given me. It is important for me to make sure my community is doing well, too. I have been donating directly to folks who are in need, and offering my services to friends who don’t own a car. I think after all of this, people will be more empathetic. We will come out stronger and fight harder for equity and justice. I hope y’all are ok. Bless!
– Fatima Elzein
Today in America we reached 40,000 dead from this virus. That is beyond unbearable, and it will get worse, much worse. I don’t think we’re assured it won’t get to two million before this is all over, as was an initial prediction. How do I stay sane, you ask. For me, I’ve lost no one close to me; I have a roof over my head and an income that is unchanged. I’m so fortunate. I’m filled with gratitude for my present good fortune and grief for those who have lost loved ones and jobs and all sense of security and for those whose living circumstances allow for no opportunity for social distancing. My sanity is immaterial. It’s all about gratitude and grief and keeping both in awareness. I walk a lot. My phone says I averaged 6.9 miles per day last week. That clears the mind and we have so many beautiful places to walk in without having to board a bus or drive a car. As a retired person I’m hoping I can contribute to joining an army of contact tracers, persons responsible for helping persons with COVID-19 figure out who their contacts have been in the two weeks prior to getting ill (as well as since they got ill) and then finding them, testing them, and providing referrals for appropriate services for those who test positive. Have been giving my pursuits in acting a rest, though I’ve been reading some plays. I know I still have so much to learn to develop as an actor and look forward to more classes and at some point auditioning, but for the moment, my creative outlet has been taking up the cello. I like to cultivate a beginner’s mind, and this is something for which I am a true beginner. It will be a long time before I can call myself a cellist, but am totally enjoying weekly lessons via Zoom.
– Tom Heller
It felt easy at the beginning. Being an introvert, I thought I could handle it pretty well and for the most part I have. What’s mainly helped has been keeping in touch with people I care about. I’m in constant communication with my family. And try to stay in touch and reach out to old friends to see how they’re doing. I feel like this time has made me feel more secluded than normal. Honestly, it’s been hard to be creative right now. Most of my energy has been spent trying to stay calm and find the gratitude in having shelter, food, people I care about, and the ability to work from home. I’m incredibly lucky. At times I do feel like a blob and I recognize the need to go for a walk or to change my thinking a bit. I feel like I’m just allowing myself the ‘ok’ to be a mess right now and to accept that whatever I’m able to do, even if it’s just working and texting with friends—that’s enough for now. The creativity will come again later. (I did take this time to hand write and mail a letter and book to a friend! It felt wonderful!)
I do miss Freehold!
– Jackie Argo
Ways I am keeping myself sane and occupied is a few things. I have been playing my acoustic guitar, with the nice weather I dusted off the bicycle and am working out here and there (when I really feel motivated and antsy), occasional Scrabble and reading…lots and lots of reading. I am part of the Spring Meisner quarter so I have been catching up on reading assignments from Robin. I am very well aware of the impact on the theater community so I am staying positive that the theaters will get flooded with ticket goers as time allows. However, I am guilty of being in front of the TV for news and anything but news but I am doing my best to stay motivated to enjoy these solo activities outside. In terms of the community, I have reached out to a local restaurant to see if I can help out with any meal deliveries. I am planning on donating blood on May 2nd as well. Lastly, staying connected with my friends as much as possible with phone calls and video chats.
– Elizabeth Ogle
I’m finally getting some momentum on a novel I’ve been revising. And it’s not just about having some extra time. It’s about having the quiet to really tune in to my priorities. When I’m bombarded with activities and obligations, it all mashes together, and I often find myself bumbling through my days without accomplishing what is most important to me. I feel an underlying unease that only gets to surface and be heard when things quiet down. What gives creative juice to the project is the fact that I’m doing some new things on other fronts and therefore feeling more adventurous. Learning to rollerblade since my gym has closed. Taking flamenco classes online with a teacher I adored when I lived in Granada. This feels so important—that the days not be about lack or deprivation but fallow ground for cultivating new things. It is happening of its own accord. I pray for those who are on the frontlines and I hope that some good comes from this time in general.
– Karin de Weille
I am enrolled in Elizabeth Heffron’s Play Writing I online class. Joining me in the class is Ginny Moore who is also a member of the rehearsal/performance class I am directing for Seattle Parks’ LifeLong Recreation Program.
I joined the 50+ Readers Theatre when it began in 2006 under the direction of Bill Dore, a recently retired professor of Drama at Seattle University. I had studied under Bill when I attended Seattle University from 1966-1969. In 2012 Bill passed away and I took up the challenge of continuing the classes. We rehearse and perform two plays each year, one in the Fall and one in the Spring. We rehearse for 10 weeks, which may seem like a lot, but we only meet once a week for two hours. This accomplished two things, actors get comfortable with the script, there is no memorization, and in that two-month time span, bring their character to life for the performances. As Freehold students know well, it’s all about the process.
We then perform the play at five different retirement communities in the Seattle area. We are currently in rehearsal for a production of Our Town by Thornton Wilder. While we cannot meet, given the ages of my actors, from 70 to over 90 years old, we are conducting rehearsal using the Zoom Web Conferencing format. One advantage that I had not anticipated was that because they were all in their own spaces the words came so naturally and truthfully in that first rehearsal. We had done a preliminary read through in January, so each had the script early and were able to read through multiple times preparing for the first rehearsal.
The challenge of doing this particular play is the need for actors to take each of their individual characters into their core, to find the relationships with other characters in each scene, and bring their whole to enlighten and bring that character to life. My reward is when we get to performance and I can see this play come alive.
The audience gets it. Even when we perform, on stools, with music stands, and the only movement is standing when the character enters the scene, and sitting when they leave, the audience fills in the parts that are not there. No stage, set, costumes, or props are used.
We had scheduled five performance locations for the second week of June, but with the COIVD-19 outbreak and the vulnerable population we perform for we will delay our performances until a future time. We may rehearse ten weeks or 52 weeks. It really doesn’t matter. Because we are able as a cast to support each other and get together and help each other though this challenging time.
Two of the most important things that are keeping me sane are meditation and a daily time table. I recently learnt the meditation technique of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga which is proving to be super calming and energizing to me. Everyday, I write a time table for the next 4-5 hours. Even if it is for a social media break, I time it. Doing that keeps me accountable and gets things done. I feel I am more productive. I have been focusing on eating well so cooking and grocery shopping have filled up the gap by a lot. My personal training sessions and dance classes are still on via Zoom twice a week and I have started running 4.2 miles once every week. Weekly Zoom calls with friends and extended family are something I look forward to. I have been volunteering to deliver face mask making kits to and from volunteers who can sew masks which will eventually be delivered to hospital staff. My work as a software engineer and all the above are keeping me super busy and sane. My plan is to enroll for an acting class soon and also work on a monologue to keep my acting skills active.
– Nishant Ghan
If you feel moved to send us your own paragraph about what you’re doing right now, please feel free! Send to email@example.com.