Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur

Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur
Valerie Anne Burns

Friday, November 20, 2020

How Do We Stay Sane in Trying Times, Especially Solo?

How Do We Stay Sane in Trying Times, Especially Solo?

Lilly Pond Zen Moment--Summerland, CA

I'm still trying to figure this out every day. There seems to be a perpetual delay in major areas of our world. I never thought that the pandemic would go on and on to an indeterminable time. It's become so taxing and enormously sad considering the suffering and loss that has occurred. One can not ignore it or 'guru' this reality away...not if one has empathy for a worldwide loss--a worldwide case of medical staff putting themselves at risk and working tirelessly for all of us. Does this sense of helplessness and isolation deliver a certain veil of malaise and/or loneliness to the majority of us humans? I believe it has.

I've experienced feeling isolated since I was a child and being single for some time now, isolation is a part of life. With Covid, there is a deeper isolation felt the world over. Even people who are coupled or with family feel isolated (perhaps for the first time in their lives) and cope pretty well or not well at all. I know how to be in my own company because I learned to do this beginning as a toddler. But it doesn't always make it easier.

The green, salty water on the island of Key Biscayne where I grew up embraced me like a warm womb, which helped me wash away the blues. I'd swim way below the surface where the water became cooler and search for seahorses, which endlessly fascinated me. I was a lonely child from losing my mother so young, and by a fascinating but complicated father who was not present and withdrawn into his own intellectual world and daily drinking. I felt free in the ocean and it always brought a sense of exuberance. Fearless in the sea, I joyfully swam below the surface with my eyes open holding my breath as long as possible, so that I was convinced I had been inducted into mermaid status. I'm yearning to escape in that tropical water right now.

Key Biscayne, Florida 
For the time being, we can envision where we'd like to find our bliss in times of stress and sadness by taking deep breaths, closing our eyes and pulling up a vivid memory of a place we felt exhilarated and peaceful. Imagine being there. See all the details in your imagination--sights, scent, and taste--if it's the sea, you can taste the salty air and water. Notice color and its magnetic abilities. 

I realize that some people have the ability to not let what's going on in the outside world effect their internal world, which is admirable indeed. I suppose I'd be better off if I could do this, but it would take a near lobotomy to succeed. I'm far too sensitive and often too fragile to cope well. I've also been an activist for more than half my life and much destruction has occurred the last 4-years and it hurts on a personal level.

Some of you who have been completely solo during Covid (as I have) may be having a hard time managing and chasing away the blues but may not have somewhere or someone to go to for all these feelings and/or embarrassed to admit depression in the midst of such unrest. I get it. While many of us have had no business income during Covid, therapists are thriving and working overtime. We all must do what ever we can for loving self-care.

The isolation has had some benefits. My writing time has increased and I've taken time to research literary agents and literary magazines to submit. I've also come to some very clear perspectives on my life and what's crucial for my sanity and well-being. These particular enlightenments have come from many mornings staring out my picture window at majestic trees. One milestone, is that I can no longer be the one to chase anyone where I'm the prime initiator of communication. Because I'm so painfully aware of what it's like to be single and lonely at times, I'm always so willing to reach out to others...go the extra mile for love or friendship. Over the years, I've gone so far as becoming the only one to initiate with certain friends, I've had to take a step back to realize a crucial fact that it is not a healthy path to stay on. 

By nature, I'm willing to bend over backwards for others and that's lovely if there is some reciprocation. Everyone has their own challenges and scrambles, which hinders staying in touch. It is all the more reason to be grateful for those friends who stick by you no matter what. I'm forever thankful to have exceptional friends that mostly live out-of-state now. I think it's the core feeling of loss, abandonment, and isolation that too often puts me in a vulnerable place--vulnerability not only from loss, but beating cancer twice and a damn long journey of 6 years with breast cancer. The 9th (and hopefully final) surgery was in January. When I began to recover and surface from pain and isolation, Corona virus hit the planet. We're reaching the 9--month mark. Time has sped up in the routine of things where I have to reach far into my brain to recognize what day it is. I've heard this referred to as Corona brain.

If I'm to be honest (no other way for me), this last 4-years with Trump has aged me. Since voting at the age of 18, this scenario of an autocrat and his unlawful behavior and threat to our sacred democracy has been unprecedented. The lies, deceit, corruption, theft, sleazy scandals, and an utter failure in qualified leadership whether to contain a pandemic and protect the people; dismantling all policy that protects our planet, wildlife in the midst of global climate crisis; transparent racism; or motivating autocrat sycophants and supporters to shout 'voter fraud' in order to tilt the election in Trump's direction when no such thing has occurred. It's flat out worrisome to not witness this person who had no business being in the White House refuse to concede. Just who is guilty of voter rigging--Trump and his enablers. Can you imagine if Obama had done something like this or any of the other offenses Trump is guilty of--the GOP would've shouted treason and impeachment day one!

When these stressors come up, I head out for a cardio power walk to work out my anxiety and anger...quite frankly. We must be aware and honest of reality.

Back to being solo, I have to cope with all this distress and stress daily and there are times when depression hits me hard. I'm an air sign and someone who stays in her head a lot with thousands of thoughts running amok. It would sure be helpful (as a Libra air sign) to be partnered with someone (who's an earth sign) that could help balance my scary, runaway thoughts and deep concerns...someone to pull in this untethered woman to being grounded again. I suppose this is what hope and faith are about...even if it does feel like a far off fairy tale. 😘

Speaking of daily stress, a few days ago in the middle of this Trump insanity, I took an easy stroll (not an easy venture as a power walker) to breathe and clear my mind. I came across this burst of fall color and have always loved the autumn season for its beauty in color and crisp air. Living in CA so hard hit from drought and raging fires this year due to climate crisis, I am also so grateful for rain, glorious rain mixed with fall color is an ideal combo to lift my heavy heart. 

What do you feel is the best way to calm your spirit or restless nights? As a beauty seeker, it's nature (particularly color in nature) that grounds me and delivers perspective in crazy times. Taking a walk, binging Schitt's Creek/ light funny films like, "The Birdcage"; talking to a friend, getting in the car for a drive and entering a sacred spot as I did last weekend that provided a zen garden, (lily pond photo above) which took my mind off things for a while. Brief moments of beauty in nature and connecting with beloved friends feed the soul. 

Let's face it, 2020 has been a taxing and even dark year. I am looking toward a saner more kind and intelligent 2021 in the White House. My heart goes out to all those effected by corona virus and the medical workers who work so hard for all of us. 

Feel free to let me know what your moments of bliss are whether something you visualize in meditation or visit physically with your mask on to nourish your soul. I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving whether on your own or in a bubble with family and friends. Let's all look toward a safer, healthier-(physically/mentally/emotionally) and more connected and peaceful year ahead.

Be safe. Be well.

Keep on swimming through life,

Valerie Anne






2 comments:

  1. I love every bit of this essay, Valerie! The struggles are real and so intense right now, one layered on another. I find digging around in the dirt makes me feel much better - must be all those good microbes, as well as the pleasure of giving a plant a new home. Thank you for voicing what we all are feeling.

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  2. Since I've spent so much time at home my nesting instincts have kept me busy. The house has a new roof, new paint on the upstairs hall and bathroom, trees are trimmed and fences have fresh stain. The pictures on the newly painted walls have been rehung and updated. Updating bathroom cabinet fixtures and having the counter and sink reglazed. And even the plumbing that required, all make me love my house more and feel like I'm taking care of my investment, being a good provider, and adding beauty to my life. I'm kind of like a bear who loves her cave so this forced hibernation Covid has caused is not making me feel stuck.
    Thanks for voicing political views I share. I have hope again for our country having Liberty and justice for all. Z

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