April 17, 2020
Good morning and happy Friday. I hope you and yours are well.
Two weeks ago, an advertisement for ancestral medicine popped up on my Instagram feed and caught my attention. I liked what they shared about where we are today and what we, the global collective, can do to heal the planet and ourselves during the current pandemic. The gent teaches an online course on the art of ritual, mysticism, the religious traditions of world religions, the spirit world as helpers (much like praying for the intercession of God, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the Catholic saints and archangels). And about healing our ancestors to heal ourselves. Hmmm, I was intrigued by that last bit.
In the early days, as our current global pandemic began to unfold and show its lethal virulence, I’d been thinking (and writing) about ancestors, ancestor worship, and my ancestors. As a nature-loving, Reiki practitioner, and non-churchgoing, prayerful Catholic, who loves everything history, healing, mystical, and spiritual, the course appealed to me on many levels.
Since we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and I have a bit of time on my hands during writing breaks (which seem longer than they were pre-COVID), I thought it might be perfect timing to learn something new. I checked out the ancestral medicine website and course curriculum. In light of my interest in the ancestors (and because I believe in synchronicity), before I could talk myself out of it, I’d signed up for the online course on ancestral medicine and ritual.
During a family Zoom call, I told my kids I’d signed up for the course. My daughter immediately joked that I would learn how to heal with leeches and my son mentioned bloodletting. Smart ass kids! We laughed our heads off and I joked we’d probably learn about sin eating, too. I love that my kids keep me grounded in the here and now, and remind me not to take things so seriously, smile.
This week I completed Lessons One and Two, the introduction to ritual, which included videos, additional reading resources, and homework. Since I’m used to and enjoy the rituals and meditative prayer traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and the healing arts I learned from my maternal grandmother from Puerto Rico, I’m enjoying the course. I was immediately reminded of my first novel, A Decent Woman, which is chockful of prayer, ritual, spiritual practices, African healing traditions, and the worship of Orisha deities. I thought how wonderful this course will be as a primary source research tool for my second novel and work-in-progress (WIP), The Laments, which is the story of a young novice nun and an aging Spanish friar.
After completing the first two lessons, which were essentially reviews for me, I did wonder if I should have signed up for the advanced course…but it’s always good to start at the beginning. I like a story well-told, from the first word to the last. I don’t want to miss a thing.
Without realizing it, I’d put my desire to learn something new and relevant to what we’re currently dealing with into the Universe and the teacher appeared. On my Instagram feed.
Here’s to hoping we all find new ways to cope in the new normal and nurture those new skills in the future.
Be well, stay safe. Don’t listen to Trump. Listen to Dr. Fauci and to your gut instincts.
April 18, 2020
Good morning, I hope you and yours are well on this beautiful Saturday.
Before I discovered my passion for writing, I was a full-time, exhibiting artist. I painted portraits and still lifes in watercolor and entered my pieces in art competitions all over Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. I won watercolor awards at the Torpedo Factory and The Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, and throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland. I’m a good artist and lately, I miss that part of my life.
Yesterday I drew a silver box that sits on my writing desk in my typical realistic style. Wow, it looked like a double-vision drunk person had drawn it. It was bad, very bad. From the grave, Picasso raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh, mija, bless your little ol’ heart. Just stop”. Admittedly, I was shocked by my drawing skills that lacked depth, dimension, accurate proportions, and any semblance of artistic elegance; exactly the opposite of what I’d intended. Instead of languishing in despair over losing my skills and my artistic muse, I laughed at how bad the rendering was and decided I hadn’t lost a thing–I just need more practice. The added bonus of that artistic hour of enjoyable focus was not stressing about this damn virus, our future, and how much I despise certain politicians. There’s that, too.
So. I’ve decided when I can’t find the words for my WIP or a blog post, I shall paint, draw, make a collage, or write a poem. If necessary, I’ll do all four. We are all creative spirits. We create, that’s what we do best. All forms of creation are necessary and helpful means of expression when words fail us, especially now.
My teleworking friends are also making art in the evenings and on the weekends. Others are baking bread and cakes; creating floral arrangements; hand sewing whimsical cloth toys; writing children’s books; posting funny videos of their quarantine experiences; reading books to their young children; and trying their hands at gardening, even if only in large pots on their balconies. Make something. You’ll feel better.
What I’ve learned about myself and life during quarantine:
I must keep drawing and painting to get my art mojo back, even if at the moment, it’s bad art. It’ll return.
Humor, music, my kids, friends, and good books are key to having a good day. God bless the goofy comedic actor Leslie Jordan (@thelesliejordan), whom I follow on Instagram. These days, he’s saying what most of us are thinking.
Thank you to my kids and my family members for their good humor, love, patience, and for their honesty on days when they are struggling. We’re not alone.
It’s perfectly okay to eat fried eggs, omelets, and tuna melts without bread directly from the frying pan.
Melted dark chocolate can heal most of my emotional low points.
As long as my bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen are kept in a semi-orderly state, I feel good.
Do I need a Kegel Exerciser with an app? Instagram thinks I do.
I have a high tolerance for watching Netflix series in my jammies for two or three days. All my clothes are stretchy and black.
I honor my intuition and early coronavirus freakouts about dwindling food supplies. I bought enough food for a few months and I’m glad I did. Last week, I couldn’t get an appointment for curbside delivery at my supermarket for all the money in the world.
Thank God for my dog Sophie, the current love of my life.
The annoying, annual Spring occurrence of a bird’s nest under the air conditioner unit in my bedroom with loud, hungry baby birds reminds me that life goes on. And that I’m hungry again.
NATIONWIDE TESTING IS CRITICAL BEFORE REOPENING OUR ECONOMY. Yes, I meant that all in caps. Listen to Dr. Fauci…except that yesterday he said that nationwide testing isn’t the only way to open up the economy. Good God, is Fauci drinking the White House Koolaid? I hope not. In my opinion, nationwide testing is the ONLY way to keep everyone 100% safe. Or at the very least, test each employee who physically returns to the workplace. Is that feasible? On second thought, nationwide testing is the way forward so we aren’t faced with a second wave of outbreaks far worse than the first.
Again, God bless our doctors, nurses, mental health therapists, and everyone on the front line at this time. As for the World Health Organization response in the early days of this pandemic…hmmm. I wonder if they may soon have to answer some deadly serious questions.
Be well, stay home, and be safe out there. Wash your hands.
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is in quarantine and working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.