You Are Not Alone Even in Lockdown

When I saw the headline yesterday that said, “Newsom orders all California counties to close indoor restaurants, bars,” the Covid pit in my gut I’ve tried like hell to keep at bay hardened.

I was at the gym listening to upbeat music as my feet twirled ever faster on the elliptical when I glanced up at the bank of televisions overhead to read the sad news. “Cases have climbed dramatically since then, and the number of people hospitalized and in intensive care with COVID-19 has increased steadily. As of Monday, more than 334,000 confirmed cases statewide. The state has been reporting, on average, more than 8,000 new cases a day over the past week.”

Shit. I thought trying to go to that happy place exercise usually takes me. But even though I chose the most positive songs from my playlist and willed my legs to circle strongly, I couldn’t stop the stressful thoughts from coming.

I’m going to be so lonely. Again. Just when I was able to get out and see friends, enjoy my community, try a few dates it’s all shutting down. I’ll be trapped at home. Don’t even have a boyfriend to hold at night.

And it went on and on.

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I kept working out. One hour. An hour and a half. When I started to get weak around the two hour mark, I showered and headed for home. Here I was met with my sweet girls: my daughter and my roommate. They were chatting and giggling over a glass of wine and I joined them. We told jokes, silly stories, debated politics, and shared insights and I felt better.

Later, I was doing my nightly meditation of “I am” affirmations when one phrase struck me. “I am a wonderful friend. I am here for others.” And I realized that even in lockdown, that I am able to live my best self. I can continue to be part of and give to the human community .

Dear ones, if you need me I am here… Together we can endure.

With love.

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Covid 19: A Fifth-Graders View

What is it like for a fifth-grader to live under the shadow of Covid 19? How does an eleven year old in California experience shelter-in-place? Children are currently living through a time period that will be looked back upon and analyzed as historically significant. Thus, asking them them to share their stories in a slide show will help capture this unprecedented time.  Here are the condensed versions from two of my students, Eliseo and Natalie.
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Cancellation

***This assignment was inspired by Lauren Brown Created by Jessica Vannasdall***

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Ten Tips for Coping With Shelter in Place

As a writer, it is my job to be introspective, to observe, comment upon, and analyze. I feel it my duty to create works that act as a mirror for society, human interactions, and emotion. But Shelter-in-Place is so foreign that I’m finding it challenging to write.

Like many of you, I am fighting feelings of helplessness and depression. I long for human interaction, closeness, touch. I miss patting my friends on the back as we laugh over some silly joke, twirling on the dance floor goofily between hugs, and placing a hand on a gal pal’s arm in comfort.

As humans, we were not built for isolation. Remember that study from your reading in Psych 101? Back in the thirteenth century, the German king, Frederick II, conducted an experiment to discover what language children would grow up to speak if never spoken to. So King Frederick took babies from their mothers at birth and placed them in the care of nurses who were forbidden to speak to them. But a second rule was imposed, as well: the nurses were not allowed to touch the infants.  Frederick’s experiment was an absolute failure, because every baby died. Without touch and tender words they couldn’t thrive.

We all need connection. So what to do now when that basic human need is denied us? I have found the following things help.

1) Avoid the news. It will only depress you. Read just enough to stay informed.newsdepress

2) Limit your TV watching. toomuchtv

3) Put your favorite music on. Dance around the living room. musicnoteroad

4) Do some activities that don’t need much brainpower such as cleaning. I find toilet scrubbing a good one. happytoilet

6) Get outside. If you live in a house, weed, plant, mow, edge, blow. If you live in an apartment, sweep the walk.  gardener

7) Keep to your normal routine as closely as possible. I still shower early, do my hair and get dressed in the morning.

8) Give yourself a makeover. Try a new hair or makeup style. Get goofy and have fun with it. Laugh at your own silly antics! Bad-Hair-Crazy-Tattoos-Clown-Hair

8) Go for a walk.

9) Find a workout  video and dance along. Zumba Workout

9) Go for a drive and crank the tunes: pretend you are a rebellious teen behind the wheel. Shake it Off Video

10) Do art. Paint, color, sketch. Make a dream board.

Any more ideas out there? I’d love to hear them. Blessings for healthy minds and bodies, dear ones!

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Connection

The weight presses down. Shortening spines. And we wonder if we can go on. Then when the loneliness seems more than we can bear, an exchanged glance comes and lightens it in immeasurable ways.  Sometimes it’s when you’re sitting in a cafe musing over a story idea.  Or when a coworker says, “Want to do lunch?” A high five during Groove at the gym. Or Dog Beach sharing puppy stories. And often with soothing music in the background.

In my divorce year I was a desolate wraith, drifting from one hollow task to another. In constant pain, I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. My body moved but there was such a chasm between action and connection that I ceased to be the friend and family support I’d long prided myself on. Barely living, I began searching for a new way to define myself as I navigated this alien life thrust upon me.

After months of crying,  I swallowed my fear and forced myself out of the house to a local beach resort hosting a free outdoor concert. With the mantra. Dancing is easy. You can do this, I fisted my hands  and took two steps away from my car. Then stopped, unable to move.

I stood on that cliff staring at the diamond sea below and fought the urge to run. What if I started to cry again? Images of his hardened back came to mind. If my husband, who I trusted with life itself, didn’t want my friendship, why would anyone else? I was so full of doubts and insecurities that I was sure they flashed like a blinding lightning storm.

The tears began to well as I looked to the wispy clouds, ethereal shapes in blue that I’d so often shared with him. When we’d co-created wonder. No, I couldn’t do it. Not without my love.

Then one cirrus cloud stretched its long arms and diffused in the atmosphere. The trees rustled as I imagined a voice whispering, “Leap into the abyss.”

I took a deep breath and let it out. Shoulders back, I strode toward that grassy green where hundreds had gathered to enjoy the spring sun. Then stood on the sidelines watching. I gave one person a shy smile. They didn’t notice me. Then another. I was invisible.

A minute later, the music started to play and I remembered all the times I’d swayed to the notes. This waltz mirrored who I truly was. Dammit, just because one man didn’t see my wonder, didn’t mean it had disappeared. It was within me. But I needed help. So I walked up to group of dancing women and said, “Hi, my husband just left me and I’m newly single. Can I hang with you guys?”

“Sure!” Carol said inviting me in with hug. After she introduced me around to others with divorce stories like mine, the volume increased. That band started rocking and so did we.  Within moments we were all leaping and bouncing like children just let out to recess. And we danced round and round until the sun hung low on the Pacific.

With these accepting individuals swirling and kicking their feet, I started down a new path. A road of friendship I have been on ever since. One I continue to be thankful for. For many years now this wonderful group of women have twirled and leapt together while meeting life’s challenges.

Which come when you least expect.

Not long ago, I had another breakup and once again felt the old doubts rear their ugly head. More crying. More insecurities. More wondering who I was and where the Hell I was going.

Then I met a new friend. Experienced another time of joy.  While exploring this discovery, I expressed my thanks and said, “Life surprises us.”

To which he countered, “No, it’s what you make of it. We surprised life.”

And I nodded. Yes, by letting new people in, we do surprise life.

We absolutely astound.

 

(photo by David Stroup)

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

 

Cloud Dancers: A Poem

Lighting upon a liquid stage

Briefly for an audience of one

Two fallen birch leaves

Pirouette in a whirlpool,

Mirrored mimes in

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet,

Carmen, and the Firebird.

 

Those who had once been

Skyriders reflecting and

Filtering light

Fell to Earth

Reluctant parasailers

Only to battle ensuing currents

In a watery waltz

All escape blocked by

Cries of encore.

 

One ochre lover

Makes his way upstream

While his partner is left

Swirling in the sun

Lost and alone

These former cloud dancers

Surrender to the stream

And are gone.

 

To where they are destined

Is unknown but I’d like

To imagine

 

That when the wind

Choreographs them

One final time

They embrace

As they slowly sink

Forever from the sky.

 

(photo by David Stroup)

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

Precipice: A Poem

When you’re standing on the precipice

Lids squeezed tightly shut

And your arms hang empty at sides

 

When your heart is as dull

As a shitty cow pond

And your lips repel like barbed wire

 

When your breath is as jagged

As a broken glass cut

And your nipples meet only air

 

Open those eyes

Search for a fathomless river

And leap into the abyss.

 

(Photo by David Stroup)

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

Burning Solstice: A Poem

With Winter Solstice looming near

And summer a long gone mariner

He finds power in the darkening malcontent

That traps a gaze this autumn

 

Above an umbrage of blazing ice clouds

Lucifer burns in the frozen star

Grinning as he weaves the death shrouds

For men’s hibernal coffins

 

Oh for a voyage ever southward

To a kindred hemisphere

Where azurean waves

Reflect the waxing moon

And ice surrounds no heart.

 

But setting sail is no easy task

In hoary waters

And dimmer skies

Where even the breath

Of mermaids’song

Hangs suspended

Like frozen desires.

 

For smoldering long

In the soul of man

Lingers the cryogenic star

Waiting for a time

When glaciation reigns

And the Arctic Age returns.

 

These celestial collisions

Bear fireballs

To illuminate and warm

A mortal sea

Eroding ice floes

That bar the way

 

For the long journey

Homeward.

 

(Photo by David Stroup)

 

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Turquoise Lungs: A Poem

Susurration of waves

Lapping against shore

Turquoise lungs

Breathing

While a reverent hush

Blows in.

(Photo by David Stroup)

 

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

Travel Tunnel: A Poem

Driving into darkness

The white lines blurring as

Artificial lights

In smooth stone ceilings

Glare overhead.

I grip the wheel tighter

Squinting into the opaque

Fighting against the irrational

Fear of

Something otherworldly lying

In wait at

The exit of this

Travel Tunnel.

 

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

Zeus’s Autopsy: A Poem

Zeus excises a cross section of the Earth

From his lab on Olympus

A shrunken landscape

On a morticians slab

A row of dirt caked boulders

Like so many shrunken head trophies

For the cannibal

To remember meals of gluttony.

(Photo by David Stroup)

 

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net