The world is a different place than it was a short time ago, isn’t it. Two weeks ago I agonized over cancelling my Spring Retreat, which would have started tomorrow. Now, it would be one more cancellation among many.
Just like you, I imagine, I’ve had my own fair share of emotions all over the map — fear, calm, dread, gratitude. Bringing myself back to center is a constant practice. As I wrote on social media last week:
It’s ok to be afraid, loves. Acknowledge your fear, pat it on the head, tuck it inside your shawl, and rock it to sleep. And do whatever you need to do to bring yourself back to center. Again and again and again.
Breathe deep. Touch the earth, even if it’s a leaf in a potted plant. Pray like crazy. Dance! Meditate. Make art. Boost your immunity. Wash your hands. Reach out to someone. Ask how you can help. Love each other hard. We’ll get through this.
Because I have a chronic respiratory condition and because of my age (68), I am in the high risk category. If I get COVID-19, there’s a possibility I will not survive it. I live alone and I am self-isolating. This does not mean I’m staying inside! It’s essential for me to get out each day and go for a walk.
Every day I’m asking myself: What can I do to take care of myself? And: What can I do to help others, to care for the collective?
Caring for Myself
Here are just a few of things I’m doing to care for myself during this time of uncertainty and self-isolation, in no particular order. I hope some of them may be helpful to you.
I’m keeping a Health Log, of how I feel each day and what I notice — things like: Slept well. Stuffy nose. Energy slump in the afternoon. Tired after a long walk. Little cough. Felt energized after eating chicken soup. If I do get sick, this will help my doctor figure out what’s up.
I have a diffuser going nearly 24/7 with Thieves Oil in it. It keeps the air moist inside my house and the scent is said to be anti-bacterial and anti-viral. I bought my Thieves Oil from Thrive Market, but they are currently out. It’s a blend of cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon. (Misting works better for me than sacred smoke because of my lungs.)
The same herbs, with the addition of thyme, make up a fragrant Immunity Salve that I rub into my wrists, behind my ears and under my nose. It’s made by a local Bellingham business, Sea Witch Botanicals. (I love their soaps too. Oh and their incense and candles. Actually everything they make.)
I made protective salt jars to place at my front and back doors. I filled regular jars with sea salt, garlic, lemon rind, cloves, and rosemary. I held the jars up to my Holy Helpers, blessed and charged them, and am letting them do their cleansing, protective work on an energetic level. My friend Bri Saussy has more info here.
I’ve made two big batches now of immunity-boosting Triple Eights Healing Chicken Soup. I’ve stashed quite a bit in the freezer, in case I do get sick and don’t feel like cooking. I started with this recipe but used the vegetables I had on hand. (The ginger and garlic and turmeric are key, though.)
I signed up for a local service, Dandelion Organics, to have local produce delivered every other week.
I drink lots and lots of herbal tea … all kinds. Current favorite is Tulsi Rose. (Tulsi is Awakening and Rose is the Empress in the Herbcrafter’s Tarot.) Sometimes I drink it while chatting with friends on a video call.
I made a list of how to tell the difference between the symptoms for allergies, the flu, and COVID-19, and posted it on my fridge.
I have the information for the protocol at my doctor’s office on the fridge too, in case I develop the worst symptoms and need to call in.
I light a Guadalupe candle every morning and pray the Goddess rosary I learned from Jennifer Berezan so many years ago: Hail Mother, full of grace. Power is with thee. Blessed are you, Queen of the Universe, and blessed is all of creation. Holy Mother, Maker of all things, be with us now and always. Blessed be. I dedicate the prayer to us all, that we may be safe and healthy and stay financially afloat, and grow resilience.
I rest when I’m tired.
I toss the cards. Once, twice, more! I don’t ask what the outcome of the current global crisis will be. I ask how I can make it through, and what I can do to help others.
I go outside and touch the earth. I go for walks. I notice the signs of spring. I bask in the sun (when there is some!) Soon I’ll start to plant an herb garden.
I write in my journal, spilling out fears and notes and things to remember.
I’m eyeing my colored pencils, and getting ready to start a new art journal. I’m thinking about making a new Spirit Doll to hold the energy of good health for me, and for everyone. My friend Lyn Belisle is giving away her Spirit Doll Workshop PDF, if you think you’d like to make one too.
I’m writing a letter to my granddaughter telling her things I want her to know in case … just in case.
When the news or social media gets my heart rate up and my stomach aflutter, I do thefour-square breathing technique: Breathe in to a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Breathe out to a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Again. And again, until I’m calm. I love knowing I’m invoking boundaries and sacred space, the keynote of tarot Fours, when I do this practice.
I’m giving thanks for Washington state governor Jay Inslee, who is modeling how a true leader should behave in a public health crisis. I’m giving thanks and praying for all themedical professionals on the front lines.
I’m loving the connections we’re making on social media.
I’m finding it’s necessary to take a break from social media too.
I’m petting my neighbor’s cat.
I reviewed my end-of-life documents and my health care directive and I’m having my lawyer update them this week. Just in case. (By the way, her assistant mentioned to me that they’re having a run on the updating of wills this week.)
I renewed and refreshed my ancestor altar, and make offerings every day. I talk and I listen. I can already feel them growing stronger at my back.
If I wake in the night and can’t sleep, I listen to an audiobook (you can borrow them from your library) and set the app’s timer to 30 minutes. I listen to the story (nothing disturbing or scary) and it almost always puts me back to sleep. I love listening to anything by Clarissa Pinkola Estes; Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer; and the Maisie Dobbs novels by Jacqueline Winspear.
I reach out to help.
I ask for help when I need it.
I learn, as you do, to live on the edge of uncertainty.
Caring for Each Other
Over the weekend, two beloved friends went to the store for me and dropped off the ingredients I needed to make another batch of Triple Eights Soup. They put the bag of groceries on the porch and didn’t come in. We waved to each other. Saturday night one of my beloved friends on the other side of the country held my hand via text when I was scared.
This is part of the grace (the Star) that has come about in response to the crisis (the Tower): the uprising of compassion and creativity in connecting and caring for each other. Last week I participated in two different conscious dance classes via Zoom calls, one that was local and one in southern California. I meditated on a Facebook Live video with a group. I had tea and conversation with friends on Zoom and FaceTime. Online, I see that people are stepping up to offer virtual ceremonies, virtual storytelling, circles, group conversations and card readings. This is how we’ll take care of each other in the coming months, I do believe.