COVID-19

This post was originally shared on my Facebook page.

Good evening, friends.

I think for many of us, it’s starting to settle in that we’re in for a marathon, not a sprint. Today, Oregon Governor Kate Brown extended the state’s school closures through April 28th. Today is also the day that Oregon’s closure of dine-in restaurants and bars went into effect. Thousands of Oregonians, my brother included, are now either out of work or very near. McMenamin’s, a local brewpub and hospitality chain, is laying off 3,000 workers. It’s a temporary measure so the workers can immediately claim unemployment, but still–this is huge.

I’ll be honest: I’m feeling the weight of this today. I’m seeing clients via video chat and suspecting that I may not see them face-to-face again for a long time. There’s an enormity to this. A pandemic is beyond the human comprehension in so many ways: it is spread by invisible viruses, an effective response looks like an overreaction, and it connects us all, on a scale so much greater than we can grasp. Add to that the huge uncertainty in what comes next, the disappointment in our leaders and the decades-long decimation of our social fabric, and… oof. Yeah. I’m gonna need a good cry tonight.

Part of being in it for the long haul means recognizing that our emotions are likely to run the gamut. This isn’t like an afternoon of protest, where you’ll be driven by one or two primary feelings. This is very likely going to be part of the fabric of our lives for months. You’ll feel calm and capable for a while, you’ll feel worried or stressed or anxious, you’ll feel angry, you’ll feel hopeful, and, yeah, you may also just feel depressed. Despondent. Overwhelmed.

That’s normal. And if we expect it, we don’t need to be surprised or disappointed when we or the people we love run into it.

I don’t have much to give tonight, and that’s okay. One of my favorite quotes goes, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” In the coming months, we’re all going to have times when we’re tapped out. If this pandemic is a marathon rather than a sprint, then it behooves all of us to practice taking care of ourselves just as much as we would anyone else, and falling back when we need to regroup.

When you’re rested and ready again, there’s good work to be done as we march toward a brighter future together.

Dream big and fight hard,
Your buddy Spencer

COVID-19

This post was originally shared on my Facebook page.

A couple things tonight before bed:

1. Now is a great time to pick up journaling! Even if you just log what happened in the day, it’s a good way to fight boredom. Plus, it’s not every day that you live through a pandemic–your seemingly mundane (or not) observations today might make really interesting reading in the future!

2. Even when we’re cooped up, we’re still humans, and that means we’re still creative and artistic and appreciative of things that speak to the human spirit. Now would be an awesome time to practice and share a skill with your friends. Sing! Play an instrument! Draw! Write poetry, or read it! It won’t be perfect, and that’s okay–maybe one thing we shed as we walk through this pandemic can be our inhuman perfectionistic expectations of ourselves. A big tip of the hat to my friend Meaghan Russell for inspiring this with her #SequesterSongs project.

3. Please strongly consider reaching out to your neighbors if you haven’t already. I did so on Friday via letter and have already heard from three of the households that live on my street. We are going to be so much stronger during this if we can rely on one another and form networks of mutual aid. No one knows where this is going–so try to start forming solidarity now.

4. As the effects of the pandemic intensify, practice taking stock. What do you have in abundance? That’s what you can share. What is scarce for you? That’s where you can turn to your community for help. There’s no shame in personal scarcity–it’s impossible to have everything all the time.

5. From my own experience, my anxiety is at its worse when I feel like I’m alone and have to shoulder it all myself. Don’t be silly and anxious like me. Reach out to your friends. Reach out to your neighbors. Reach out to the people who will help carry the load with you. This world was not meant to be borne on individual backs.

6. In terms of personal projects, I’m still working at getting Motley, my little social network, ready to launch. With more and more of us practicing social distancing, I realize online communication is gonna become all the more important. Believe me, I want to get Motley off the ground so that we have a little community space that’s not run by a giant untrustworthy megacorporation.

7. Also, I’m working on moving my blog, which is why I’m posting this big thing here instead of there.

8. Finally, I’ll reiterate what I said earlier this weekend: I have an open invitation to anyone who wants to chat via text, phone, or video. I’m on Marco Polo and Signal, both of which are great apps. Reach out if you’re feeling cabin fever, or if you just want to say hi.

I’ve long hated the overuse of this slogan and its endless remixes, but I think it’s more apt now than ever before in my life: keep calm and carry on. We’ll get through this together. Don’t let fear harden your heart or wall you off.

Dream big and fight hard,
Your buddy Spencer

A robot screaming dramatically, "Everything is RUINED!!"

Recently1that’s a relative term, I wrote about the ways in which my brain betrays me, and questioned what a “normal” emotional experience was. Today, I’m going to continue talking about what it’s like in my head by sharing one way I disarm anxious thoughts–with the help of something I call Anxiety-Bot.

Please note: This post is most emphatically not advice. I’m not saying this is what anyone should do, because I’m not in a position to provide that sort of advice. All I’m doing here is sharing my own personal experience. Continue reading

Depression Header

Throughout the month of August, I'm aiming to write 25 blog posts. This is post #14 of 25. Find them all in the "blogathon 2014" category.

[Content note: depression, anxiety, mental illness, suicide, disordered eating]

Depression/Anxiety is a normal thing. You don’t need to medicate it. It’s part of life and a beautiful part at that. There are circumstances in our world that are extremely sad and depressing. As a human, it’s an honorable thing to allow oneself to feel that.
The Polish Ambassador

No.

No, I’m sorry, I can’t let this be.

A friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook the other day. It comes from The Polish Ambassador, an electronic musician also known as David Sugalski. Over the years, I’ve lost much of my interest in bickering on Facebook, so I didn’t raise my objections there, but I have serious problems with this quote, and I can’t just let them go unvoiced. Continue reading