Wearing a Mask, and Grounding

13 Ways of Looking at a Mask:
1. When you are in a meeting, people can’t see you yawn.
2. You can stick out your tongue at people who annoy you, and they will never know.
3. Makes you look mysterious.
4. It’s a fashion accessory. Add bling! Make a statement!
5. You can walk down the street talking quietly to yourself, and no one watching would know you’re off your rocker.
6. No one will see your cold sore, or the zit on the end of your nose.
7. It helps to mask bad breath. Go ahead and eat the garlic and onions for lunch! (And if the mask doesn’t work, you’ve got help with the social distancing.)
8. Superheroes wear masks. Maybe you’re a superhero too?
9. Spinach stuck in your teeth? Who cares? You’re wearing a mask!
10. If you are an allergy sufferer, it helps to filter out pollens and allergens that make you snuffly and sneezy.
11. It protects others, and yourself, from getting the virus.
12. It’s been mandated for public health and safety by the PA governor.
13. It’s like wearing a seatbelt, or a bike helmet. It’s like washing your hands before you eat, or wearing shoes and a shirt into a restaurant. It’s basic good common sense.


Some thoughts on Mind/Body and Anxiety:
This might be true for you as well: When I am in times of high anxiety, my brain tends to pull me outside of my sense of being in a body. Anxiety is a mental activity that demands mental energy. The work of the body goes to feed the fluttery brainwork of responding to the sense of crisis.

If you’re like me in this, try some of these things to self-soothe:
* Breathe deeply and intentionally, into your gut, into your toes, into the tips of your fingers.
* Try moving your arms in time with your breath, as if you are the Maestro of Breathing. Begin with your arms at your sides, and raise your arms as you breathe in as if pulling the music to a crescendo. Pause a moment at the peak of motion and inbreath, and then gently and slowly release.
* When you yawn, give yourself to to the process. Yawn deeply and fully.
* Gather a bowlful of smooth stones, and run them through your fingers. Dried corn or beans also work.
* Find a pillow or throw or sweater that has a silky surface or a knubbly texture. Keep it handy to run your fingers across the surface when you feel anxious.
* Pop the bubbles in the bubble wrap.
* Make hot drinks, even in summer. Steam is calming and comforting.
* Find a source of running water–a brook, a fountain, a river. (We bought a water fountain for our cats, and it’s been a soothing sound to listen to.)
* Wake up early enough in the morning to listen to birdsong.
* Load up a calming jam on PC or phone. Sometimes loud and dissonant music can be cathartic, but I would be careful with using it in anxious moments because it can also jar you out of the body on the way to catharsis.
* Find a purring cat.
* Smell the flowers. In public places, don’t worry what people will think if you stop to smell the flowers. Bring flowers inside if you don’t have allergies–smell them.
* Find a couple essential oils that calm and relax you. Add some drops to a little spray bottle of water (a little alcohol in the mix helps to keep the oil from jamming the sprayer), and spray yourself, your pillow, your clothes, your couch. Mist it into the air when you feel yourself getting out of yourself.
* Bake brownies or bread. Make mint tea. Slice an orange. (This will ground you in scent and taste).
* For people like me, the natural response to anxiety is to ground myself through eating. I need to be super careful here. But we, too, can use taste to ground ourselves. Herbal teas with a little honey are grounding without the numbing effect of sugar and carbs. A small handful of nuts or a piece of cheese. A piece of fruit. Extra hot peppers in the dinner plans.
* Surround yourself with color. Paint a picture to hang in your work space. Find a brightly colored rug or cloth with colors that please. Really looking deeply at color can be incredibly grounding. That viney hill and woodsy area out my window is not just “green.” It’s a thousand greens.
* When you are with people, remember to look them in the eyes. Eyes are what we have, now that we cover the rest of our faces. Pause and enjoy the moments of greeting in the day. Let your contacts with people be grounding for you. Phone calls. Messages and conversations through social media. Each of those contacts is a chance to connect deeply to your (and their) human self.


Gratitude List:
1. The catfam all have homes, and we have a plan for Adoption Day at the end of August. This actually makes me sad as well as deeply relieved. It has been a great weight of responsibility to care for and worry about these guests, but I have loved it, and am sad to see them dispersed. Without intervention, we would have four breeding feral cats in the neighborhood, and Mama would drive the youngsters away eventually, and they would be susceptible to disease and coyotes and the road. Instead, they will all have loving homes. Grateful.
2. The goldenrod is beginning to bloom and shine.
3. The work gets done. It sometimes feels frantic and frazzled, but it gets done.
4. Physical comforts. One of my anchors right now is physical comforts: soft and textured fabrics, rich and evocative scents, complex flavor, bright color, haunting and gentle music.
5. Wonderful colleagues.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“Words don’t have meaning without context.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates


“The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed… because people are changed by art – enriched, ennobled, encouraged – they then act in a way that may affect the course of events… by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think.” ―Leonard Bernstein


“Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.” —Isaac Asimov


Albert Camus: “If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this one.”


“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” —Joseph Campbell


“We do not have to live as though we are alone.” ―Wendell Berry


“We are made and set here to give voice to our astonishments.” ―Annie Dillard


“Writing is one of the most ancient forms of prayer. To write is to believe communication is possible, that other people are good, that you can awaken their generosity and their desire to do better.” ―Fatema Mernissi


“Through trial and fire, against the odds, you have grown to trust that the world can be a safe place and you have every right to walk here. You have made parents of your instincts, intuition and dreaming; you have allowed love into where it had never before been received; you have grown life where once it was barren. With just a few found and trustworthy seeds, you have nurtured the greatest harvest there is in this, your humble life of belonging.” ―Toko-pa Turner


“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
―Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


Gertrude Stein defined love as “the skillful audacity required to share an inner life.”


“When your soul awakens, you begin to truly inherit your life. You leave the kingdom of fake surfaces, repetitive talk and weary roles and slip deeper into the true adventure of who you are and who you are called to become.” ―John O’Donohue

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