How to Survive 2020

       First blog post.
       No pressure.
       Just think of something to write about. A topic. Any topic. And then just write from your heart.
       It’s not like 2020 has been a bland, mundane year. (Cue flashbacks of Australia wildfire, pandemic, murder hornets, carnivorous rats….)
       You know… there actually might be too much to write about. How can I pick something out of all that mess? (I didn’t even mention the government releasing an alleged UFO video and scientists claiming to have discovered a parallel universe. Seriously… are we living in a comic book?)
       So the question isn’t so much: What do I write about? It’s: What shouldn’t I write about?
       And you know what…. I think I’m going to write about… none of it. That’s right: None of it. Everybody is writing about how terrible this year is, or how monumental, or how it’s even the end of the world. 
       But what I’m not seeing are very many posts about how to deal with all of it. Yes, we know the world is crazy right now. But how do we not go crazy along with it?
       I’m going to share a few techniques I’ve found. Because, even though it’s important to stay informed and aware, it’s just as important to have an escape hatch to a little bit of peace now and again.
       So, to quote many a meme, until this nightmarish Jumanji game is finished or until someone finally rounds up the last creature and nails Pandora’s Box closed, here are a few ways I’ve found to relieve the stress:
       (1) Exercise
       First and foremost, let it be known that I despise exercise. I’m not one of those people who enjoys the rush of endorphins and feeling my body sore but on its way to getting stronger. No. I’m one of those people who mumbles, “I hate this, I hate this” with every sit-up. But… sometime a physical release is the best way to also trigger a mental release. And it doesn’t have to be something as horrible as sit-ups. (Did I mention I hate those?) I’ve found that dancing can be pretty cathartic. Other people also enjoy running. (I am not one of them, but maybe you are.)
       (2) Getting out in nature
       A nice hike, alone or only with close family and friends, has helped me keep life in perspective. The world may be on fire (literally at the beginning of the year, figuratively now), but somehow the trees at your local park keep growing, the birds keep singing, and butterflies keep flitting from flower to flower. If you want proof that life goes on–and that we will, too–there’s proof right outside your window.
       (3) Reading
       I’m a librarian and a writer, so it’s little wonder that I’m an avid reader, too. I’m all for educational books–broadening your horizons, learning new things, considering different opinions, etc. But don’t forget to pick up something that will make you smile, or laugh out loud, or have you eagerly flipping the pages wondering what will happen next. Escapism is one of the many reasons fiction exists–often, it’s a reason that’s belittled. The “arteests” of the world like to think that their fiction serves a higher purpose. And, okay, I’ll admit that, as a writer, I want to believe that, too. But, guess what? Nobody cares about your message if they don’t first care about your story and your characters. They don’t care that you think we should save the whales if they can’t first escape into the story you’ve created. Escapism is the diving board into the endless deep of what fiction can do. But even if you just want to swim leisurely at the surface, that’s okay, too. There is nothing wrong with just going on a paper-and-ink adventure for a few hours. In fact, it’s one of the best feelings there is.
    Capturing those feelings–those of release, of endurance, and of wonder–can be difficult in a world with headlines that range from the terrifying to the sickening. 
    But they are possible.                                                                                                                                  That’s the one idea I want to say loud and proud: It is possible. Whether it’s getting a few moments of peace or even creating something new and better after this stormy year has passed.
     It is possible.
     But seriously… can I return 2020 and get my money back?

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