Dear Therapist: Protests and COVID

Protests and COVID
The Mixture of Protests and COVID

Dear Therapist:

Protests have been happening all week in my city, but I also know COVID is still an active virus out there. Do the two mix? I want to get involved and show my support by marching, but I also want to be aware that we are still in a pandemic and care for others by staying away. What to do?

Sincerely, A Protestor Worried About COVID

Yes, I hear you on this one. Up until Memorial Day the biggest news of the day was staying inside as to not infect others with COVID-19. There are several areas of the country that are still fairly locked down with quarantine in place except for a few things. For almost three months we have been told to social distance.

Now, the protests are on across the nation and there is a need to march together. Social distance is not what we want, but rather social togetherness to show our strength and resistance to the institutionalized racism in America. The time for distance is over in this context. People are coming together as one to protest.

What to do? It is right to realize the virus is active. People think there will be an explosion of cases where all of these protests are happening. So, if you join one my guess is you will not maintain social distance, but you can wear a mask and gloves to protect from droplets from the other and to protect them from yours as well.

If it is just too close contact for you even while wearing a mask, there are many ways to protest besides heading to the marches. Donate to causes, shop at black-owned business, read, speak out, become aware of your privilege and work to change it by becoming honest with yourself, places signs in your car or in the windows of your home.

These are just a few suggestions. This movement is wide and needs so much support in so many ways. Do not think because you are not marching due to COVID, you are not engaging in the struggle. Find ways to do so, embrace them, and add your voice and actions to the cause, while at the same time protecting the health of your community.

Many people feel safe out there or just feel their safety is a secondary concern. For you, who I hear is seeking to abide by the COVID quarantine measures, that is OK too.

It’s a long fight. Do what you can and support everyone else in how they are participating as well.

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Creativity Burst: A City Stroll

A City Stroll
Missing a City Stroll?

Do you miss a city stroll?

In this time of sheltering in place, where one is encouraged to only wander in one’s neighborhood and keep 6 feet distance from people, the days of going to a city — either your own or that of another city you have traveled to – feels long ago and far off from ever being able to do again.

Strolling a city leads me to new ideas, thoughts, smiles from strangers, a spring in my step as I take in new sites and sounds, unusual smells, and more. o stroll is to take in everything through all of one’s senses. It is invigorating and reinvigorating and often leads to a creative burst of energy. I don’t mind walking my neighborhood, but it is difficult to miss one’s city strolls.

Imagine my excitement when I found the blog and found a post where they literally offer you city strolls to take. Ah, these are perfect. Up to an hour of your time can be spent taking a stroll of a new city, such as a neighborhood stroll in Paris, Lithuania, a Floating Market in Bangkok, and more. Actually, not too many more, but these may be enough.

There is very little narration of these walks. Really, it is literally fifty minutes or so of strolling the area with all of the various sites, sounds, people, and more that one takes in in any good city stroll. It’s life in these areas which is all abuzz. I find I don’t even need to be looking at the city scene, but can just keep it on as background noise on my computer to keep me company. It is so novel to listen to a buzzing street vibe. I haven’t heard such a scene in so long, and yet it is so comfortable.

I will admit it right here. I miss it. Listening to the scene, make me feel this acutely. I worry will I ever have the opportunity again to move so freely in my world and take in a simple city stroll in Seattle, where I live, or in some far flung destination? I used to take such a thing and scene completely for granted. Perhaps that is one of the “up” sides of this time. To really cherish all that we had and to appreciate it once we engage again. Somewhere, I hold a hope that all of us will engage in the world as these scenes show.

Given my days are mainly spent indoors, it is wonderful to bring a city stroll inside for a little bit of time. I certainly feel more creative and energized from engaging my senses in this way. Perhaps I will plan my next trip or become motivated to learn more about a certain area. Perhaps it will motivate me to get up and walk my neighborhood and take it in as fully as possible.

Try a city stroll and remember what it was like and have hope we will all stroll together in marvelous spots soon.

Do You Have that Forgotten Feeling?

Feeling forgotten like wilted flowers

Do you have a feeling of being forgotten these days?

During this extraordinary time, all of us are spending our days at home. If you are single or living alone for another reason, it is easy to not only feel lonely, but there may also be a sharp edge to this feeling — one that is laced with feeling you are forgotten by others. It is one thing to be lonely, quite another to have a felt sense of being forgotten by your family and friends.

This felt sense of being forgotten by those you care for can land one into a depression thinking that no one remembers you exist and are curious enough to reach out, check in, and hear how you are doing. There is never an excuse for people to not remember, but in the fast-paced world that we normally move in we are left with little space to touch base with those we are thinking of on a regular basis. We become too caught up in our own selves.

But what is happening when all we have is time on our hands? Still, no calls come in to you with people checking in on you. I believe this situation is extraordinary in and of itself and has thrown people off kilter. I am not sure they are forgetting you, but rather are caught up with their own whirlwind of emotions as they face this crisis that they fine there is no extra room for others.

What if you are noticing you are the one always reaching out and thinking of others and checking in? Yet, the same is not returned to you in kind. This may also lead to a felt sense of feeling forgotten by others. Unless you are reaching and doing, nothing is happening. How empty!

How can you move out of the feeling of being alone that is laced with feeling forgotten and into feeling connected and remembered by others? Here are some ideas:

  1. Set up a standing check in time with others and take turns reaching out to one another.
  2. Use your voice and let people know how you are feeling so that people can move in toward you rather than you moving away from them.
  3. In your family, set up a chart of Birthdays and anniversaries and other important dates and share it. Make a commitment to remembering one another.
  4. Reach out and ask a friend to call you
  5. Observe who is making gestures to share time with you. Perhaps there are people doing this, but you are not tuned in to these people as you are focused on someone else remembering you. Keep track of who is present and available to you and show up to this person and be present.

It is a terrible feeling to feel lonely and it is even more complex when there is an element of feeling forgotten. Recognize the feeling and move toward caring for yourself, especially during these extraordinary times. When a friend recently confided how alone and lonely they felt, I made the effort to text this person and sent some real mail. Her sharing her very real feelings with me allowed me to directly remember her and hold her up.

Be open to surprise! Others may do the same for you.