Posted by: devonellington | July 13, 2020

Monday, July 13, 2020: Inner Resources & Creative Need

image courtesy of Activedia via

One of the lessons from the pandemic is the importance of having strong inner resources. Depending on other people, on the Internet, on Netflix, on cafes, on venues, on anything outside of yourself for sustenance doesn’t always work.

As someone who always loved books, I’ve found a great deal of solace in reading during these times of isolation. There are plenty of characters inside books I’d rather spend time with than people in the real world (especially those who are refusing to wear masks or listen to science – I want them OUT of my life).

Reading has helped build my inner life, since I was a child. Because I read across genre, a mix of classic, contemporary, and various genres, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, plays, it expands my world and my worldview. I get to learn how different people experience the world and learn from that. It helps me be more aware and empathetic when I go out into the world.

I disagree with people who demand that we remove art and books and films with crowd scenes and social interactions. I think it’s important to remember how it was, and then we can evolve into what we need to build now. Yes, it’s difficult not to flinch when we see party scenes or crowd scenes or concert scenes or Times Square at New Year’s Eve. At the same time, those experiences were a vital part of our previous life and society.

There are still books to be read and written that include that. There are still films and TV productions to be made that include that.

And there will be more written set during isolation and quarantine and sorrow.

There is room for everything.

There is NEED for all of it. Not just a want, but a need. We need to understand close interactions. We need to understand the period of time where we can’t have those interactions or they might kill us, and find a positive way through. We need to find ways to deal with people who would rather force death on us for their own pettiness and greed than act with basic human decency. We need to learn how to rebuild our society into something more equitable and just for everyone in it, and stop thinking that the minute you can’t fulfill your whim of the moment, it’s a threat.

If you CHOOSE not to watch it or experience it anymore, that is your choice. But you do not have the right to bully others about it, nor do you have the right to say it shouldn’t exist. You can turn away if you choose; others have the right to make their own choices. You aren’t being forced to watch or read it.

You do not have the right to tell artists they can’t create what they need to create.

You DO have the right not to interact with the material created, and not to put your money into it.

What I suggest doing is find ways of your own to create in a way that fulfills needs, and add that to your array of inner resources.

I’m an introvert. I have had less difficulty than many of those around me with the isolation and lack of social interaction. However, I have also actively worked to keep myself engaged and happy. This doesn’t mean I haven’t hit stretches where I’ve been so overwhelmed by the basic requirements of survival that all I could do was lie on the couch for a few hours. I also often wake up in the middle of the night and worry until dawn.

But active engagement with things I’ve enjoyed in the past, but haven’t made time to do lately, and trying to expand my engagement and stimulate my mind and my creativity, have helped a lot.

The things you do to build your inner resources should provide the following:
–absorb your full attention for a period of time

Some of my tools:

Both in print and eBooks. I had a big stack of books from the library before the shutdown, and didn’t have to rush through them. I also kept ordering eBooks, and then, when the library and local bookstore started curbside pickup, ordered from them to support them. I also re-read books I enjoyed in the past, and got to re-experience them with a new perspective. Reading and thinking about what I read has always been one of the central pleasures of my life.

Try reading something you’ve never read before; either a new-to-you genre or a new-to-you author. Comfort books are always a good thing, but expand your reading horizons into something new.

Watching theatre and dance performances online
A filmed stage play is different than a film adaptation of a play. The filmed stage play is filmed during a live performance, with the audience there, and there is a sense of the wonder of the theatre. An adaptation uses the stage play as its foundation, but opens it out to its full cinematic possibilities, with the audience as voyeur instead of participant, the way one is during a stage play. I’ve enjoyed the National Theatre and RSC performances in particular. I have not particularly enjoyed watching film and television during this time. But I have enjoyed filmed stage productions. And dance! So many dancers and choreographers have found ways to express their art while in isolation. It’s wonderful. Actors are working with writers and directors to post monologues.

It’s been heartening to see how creatives are finding new ways to create. Instead of being restricted by the pandemic, they find ways to expand their creativity, and it’s inspiration for the rest of us.

It makes me miss my theatre life and family. At the same time, it gives me hope that theatre will evolve and survive, as it has since its inception, through wars and disease, because the immediate connection between creatives and audience (so different from the film experience) is intense and beautiful.

Museums Online
I love going to museums; it’s one of the things I miss most. But there are museums that I may never be able to visit in-person that now offer virtual tours. I love it. It gives me ideas for my own work, and it encourages me to add more places to my list of places I want to visit in person, once it’s safe again to travel. Looking at a piece of art on the screen isn’t as intimate as standing in front of it, being caught in its thrall, but it can still offer inspiration.

Writing is my business, my profession, and my passion. If I don’t show up and get it done, I can’t keep a roof over my head.

My creativity has been strained, and my productivity is slower. But I show up most days and get something done. I give myself breaks. I try not to beat myself up when I don’t meet my own criteria (I fail on not beating myself up).

But it’s as it always has been: the work doesn’t happen unless you show up regularly, whether you feel like it or not. That’s the difference between a professional and an “aspiring.” The professional makes it happen.

Yoga and Meditation
I upped my daily yoga and meditation practices, and that helped enormously. I already had a morning yoga practice, and a morning and evening meditation practice. I now do yoga morning and evening, and, sometimes, add in an afternoon session. I sometimes add in extra meditation, when I feel outside pressures increase.

Some local studios are open again, but they aren’t requiring masks once you are on your mat. Right. Enclosed space with people huffing out breath of fire, etc. Six feet between mats is not enough if people are unmasked. I don’t think so. Not going there any time soon. Nor am I doing beach yoga, because, again, there won’t be enough room between people, there’s wind, and there are other people wandering around unmasked and not distancing. No.

I do some classes via Zoom, but for me, it’s more beneficial to learn a routine and do it on my own than use a video or take a class via Zoom. Although Kripalu has some great resources.

I would like to walk around. I live in a beautiful part of the country. But around here, they are walking unmasked in groups, not social distancing within groups or between groups. I’m not willing to take the risk.

I’m exercising at home, with weights, exercise bicycle, gardening chores, and thinking about adding jump rope into it. I’m exploring Pilates, and going back to some of my basic ballet barre and floor exercises.

I’m not big on watching videos to exercise. I want to be in the moment with what I’m doing, not watch someone else. But lots of people are taking yoga and exercises classes via Zoom and love it.

There’s something very soothing and refreshing about digging in the dirt, and then watching things grow. I love my garden. I do have someone come in to mow, because it’s too much for me to do physically at this point. But I putter and plant and weed and love watching the garden. I even have a blog about it, Gratitude and Growth.

Write Cards and Letters
I was one of those kids who had lots of international pen pals. Some of us kept in touch for decades. A letter or a card is more intimate than an email. It says to the recipient that individual is worth the time it takes to choose a card, to handwrite it, to stamp it, and mail it. Because I love USPS, I order lots of pretty stamps. I order stationary, too, and write cards.

The act of writing the card gives me pleasure. And so many of the recipients are happy to receive the cards. As time passes, and we have been more and more isolated (those of us who are smart enough to hang in there until there are medical breakthroughs), the simple gift of a card or letter makes a big different.

Cooking and baking have always been sanctuaries for me. Sometimes I work out plot problems when I chop or stir; other times it’s a respite from a long day at the computer. I found a great deal of comfort in the kitchen during this entire experience.

Although it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been, there were plenty of times when shelves were bare of this or that (things like flour and yeast, for a long time, certain canned goods, etc.). So I got creative about recipes.

I read cookbooks the way I read novels anyway. Reading a lot of recipes means that when I go into the store and something is missing, I can look at what is on the shelves, and create menus as I shop. I decided to make the creativity of it a positive challenge. We wound up eating well, thus far. I experimented a lot at the beginning; about the middle of the stay-at-home, I burned out and turned back to familiar comfort foods; now, I’m back to trying new recipes again.

Even if you don’t like cooking or think you “can’t” cook, learning a few basics will serve you well throughout your life. It’s simple to learn how to roast a chicken, boil a potato, cook eggs, steam vegetables. Experiment with herbs and seasonings; see what you like, and you can eat well without a lot of effort.

Listen to Music
I’m not talking about having it on in the background while you do other things. I’m talking about putting music on a sound system (not your earbuds) and really listening. Float away on the lyrics. Allow yourself to be transported by the art of the music. Let listening to music be an activity on its own. It’s restorative.

I like the idea of knitting, but I don’t actually enjoy knitting. It’s taken me decades to admit and accept this.

But I do love yarn. I crochet. I used to do cross stitch.

I love fabric in general (one of the reasons I went into wardrobe in theatre). I hauled out my sewing machine, which had been gathering dust in a corner.

First, I made masks. Then, I found a fabric stash, and have started making clothes again. Simple pieces, but I can shape them and embellish them exactly the way I want. I have something tangible at the end of the work session.

Online classes
I’ve loved online classes for several years. While some of you may shudder at this, because you’ve had to help transition your kids to online schooling, I hope you’ll consider some online classes for yourself. I’m a big fan of bothCoursera and FutureLearn, although Oxford University has some great literature classes.

In the past, most online classes were with an eye toward careerism. Expanding my repertoire of Areas of Specialized Knowledge,

But during this time, I am taking classes in things that interest me: The Book of Kells, the Miracle of Human Language, Not Shakespeare.

I have no doubt they will translate into writing I will use in my career, but I’m studying because it interests me.

Trying Something New
I haven’t tried much that’s new during this period, mostly because I’m trying to keep up with what has to be done. Trying something new can be refreshing or stressful. If it’s refreshing, try it; if it’s stressful, wait until we have a solid path forward.

Among the list of things I want to try are learning how to play the piano (a long-term goal) and drawing/painting.

I’m lucky in that my natural hoarding tendencies meant I had books and textiles and yoga gear on hand. I haven’t run around spending a lot of extra money, because let’s face it, most of us are struggling. We need UBI. A government who cared about the survival of its citizens would have put us on UBI back in March, and worked on a reasonable plan forward as a society, instead of focusing on cruelty, corruption, and division.

The list above makes it sound like I’m one of those people saying we should be doing a lot in “all this spare time.” Um, no. We don’t have spare time. We have less time, and less energy, because so much of our resources are spent in basic survival. So much extra time and energy has to be spent fighting the Covidiots who can’t behave with basic human decency that we have even less time than before. We also need to face the fact that so much of our forced busy-ness was unhealthy. As we restructure our work lives and our whole lives, we need a healthier approach to work.

Rest will build your inner resources as much as any activity. But it’s important, even with the stresses pressing on us right now, to build those inner resources.

We have a long road ahead over the next couple of years.


  1. […] the weekly intention post yesterday, it’s here; it ties in with the Inner Resources post on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolution site,which also went up […]

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