The ultimate irony of this quarantine is that I reached beyond the boundaries of my house and made new friends and in doing so begun exercising a muscle I forgot I had. At the beginning of this pandemic, I joined a group of smart, like-minded women from around the country and despite Zoom being our means of introduction, their emails are the first I read and these meetings are the highlight of my week.
I’ve been searching for my third act. Act 1: a magazine editor and writer, a teacher of teachers and a trade-show executive. Then my children turned five and we moved to London but my job did not. Act 2: a tutor for children with attention and organizational issues. Enter the great lock-down/social distancing/quarantine for 2020 and I could no longer enter other people’s home to sit next to their children and teach.
Early one morning, when my coffee was particularly strong, a blurb in the BA50 email caught my attention.
“Beginner Bloggers Workshop with Felice, $50 for 3 sessions.”
A small price to pay for an interesting experience. I thought.
Do I want to blog? Who knows?
Do I want to improve my writing and write more? Definitely.
Would this be something totally different? Absolutely.
Despite my tendency to ponder and hesitate, I immediately clicked the link, paid my money and boom, in the midst of all the waiting and inaction, I was moving forward. Moreover, as an empty-nester now sheltering with my husband and kids in a seemingly shrinking house, I was going to make time for me.
A follow-up email arrived from Felice with a Zoom link, a writing prompt, a maximum word count, a deadline and the admonition “Don’t worry …it doesn’t have to be perfect at all. Try not to spend more than an hour on it.” And off I went.
The prompt helped shaped my thoughts and the writing provided some space between me and my family.
“Mom, can you…?”
“Sorry, I’m writing.”
“Honey, would you…?”
“Sorry, this is due in 10 minutes.”
Writing, editing, rewriting, words flowing, thoughts chased and captured, the mental challenge felt great. I clicked send and had just enough time to shower and decide what to wear for my first Zoom meeting. I had no idea what to expect.
There were 11 of us on the call, from NY to CA, MA to FL, with CT, VA and IL in between. We were all strangers and yet seemed to have connections. Some were educators, some worked, several were sheltering in homes now refilled with children. Why had I been so nervous? This was fun.
Then Felice had us read our “blogs”. What a joy to listen to these other women! They shared my experiences. But they also wrote of things I knew nothing about. All had strong voices that I looked forward to hearing again.
One workshop has turned into four. A bunch of us have returned multiple times. We started a Facebook group. We encourage each other. Through our writings, we have shared parts of our pasts, our presents, our futures and our lives. I now hear their voices in my head as I write and as I think about their critiques and comments.
Ten weeks into this experience, I have 12 written pieces, several more that I am writing on my own and unexpected new friends whom I hope to meet in person one day. Ironically, the first writing prompt was “Silver Linings”.