Writing through Shelter-in- place

We’re not all in Shelter-in-place right now, but we are in a social distancing world, a world that has asked us to be separate and still. For some of us, that is maddening. For some of us, our self care comes from doing and being out in the world with others. So, what now?

The Coronavirus pandemic is an awful reminder that we can’t just take the good from life and push away the bad. So, how can we be strong through this? Writing about it and how we are dealing, can be our strength.

When we write, we build resilience in this difficult time, compassion for ourselves and others dealing with all of this (after all, we are in this together), a sense of calm in ourselves and in general, and awareness of how we are doing with all these changes and all the new realities around us. All of this will help us cope- it will help us do the best we can in this situation.

WRITE: Exercise 1

Take time right now to write 1. about the world at this time, right at this moment 2. about your reaction to the virus and how the world is responding 3. how you are coping right now with all of these changes 4. how you would like to cope better or if you feel you are coping well, how that looks and why, 5. what feels hard now or sometimes in this whole thing, and 6. how you are helping others stay safe or feel safe and well

Focus in on you and how you are doing and then notice also how you are helping others stay well. This is important as we recognize our interconnectedness with others.

WRITE: Exercise 2

Make a list of 3 things you miss right now and then turn them into things you were grateful for and try to expand on each one.

Example: I miss hanging out with my friends. I miss going out to eat. I miss having live meetings.

And expanding them- I’ll take the last one I listed as an example—– I miss having live meetings. I would never have said that before. Meetings, with their boring agendas, with their check-ins or approval of minutes, with their table-top nonsense, with their air of getting stuff done. For sure, I would have called some of them a waste of time. But now, I miss seeing all those people, checking in face to face. I miss sitting through the boring announcements and the chairs that are uncomfortable after an hour. I miss Sandra who always asked if I got a haircut, every time. I miss the occasional cookie plate someone would pass around….

You get the idea. Write on those things that you might not have missed before that you might not have valued and make them things that now you are grateful for. Even the friends one, you might have taken them for granted but now really feel their absence. This is not to feel worse, but to notice how much we have in our lives, things and people and stuff to do– that we will get back to soon enough.

Now is the time to notice how we feel about what is now absent. Now is the time to check in with ourselves. Now is the time to be at home, enjoying being with our self, enjoying our space- whether working from home or not, enjoying our new work environment. And taking care of ourselves around any stress we have.

If we have immediate needs like food, help with rent, or any costs related to the Coronavirus, look around the area where you live, there are a lot of organizations helping right now. And if you are okay, but you know people who are not or want to help, there are also ways for you to help. Being a helper in this time of difficulty is also an important part of self-care.

Take care of yourself! Practice social distancing but not isolation. Use your creativity to get you through this. Thank you for writing with us.

Be well,


Published by lizawolfffrancis

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College who is proud to have served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has an ekphrastic poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Steam Ticket, eMerge, Minute Magazine, Weaving the Terrain: 100 Word Southwestern Poems, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, Poetic Routes, Poetry Pacific, Edge, and on various blogs. She has a chapbook out called Language of Crossing (2015, Swimming with Elephant Publications), which is a collection of poems about the Mexico- U.S. border. She loves breakfast food, popcorn and dark chocolate.

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