Recently, I heard that many people were having trouble concentrating these days because we’ve been on high alert for so long. That definitely resonated with me. We all have much to handle, with global events and political tensions adding to the existing pressures of our personal duties and challenges.

But this week has felt even more overwhelming and distressing than the previously heightened sense of being overwhelmed and distressed that has characterized the past few years.

Of course I have been, like so many others, glued to the news while scanning social media for updates about what’s going on in the world. Long story short: I’m deeply worried in a lot of different directions. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a worrier by nature, but now I feel like I’m in overdrive mode all. the. time.

It makes certain moments, then, seem even more precious. This weekend, my son was in a percussion competition. He’s an amazing drummer, and it struck me as I watched him (and his classmates) perform a beautiful song, that it was the first time in a long time where I felt, in that moment, a sense of calm, hope, and light. It made me reflect yet again on the power of music and other creative pursuits—how, despite some trends in education that view the arts and humanities as expendable, they are so important, which is especially visible in troubled times. It was a much-needed pause.

Please know that I am sending best wishes to you all. Stay strong–and may you find your own much-needed pauses.

Checking in: How are you managing? What do you find most helpful?

57 thoughts on “Pausing

  1. Thank you for sharing your son’s percussion competition—an excellent focus on what’s really important. For many, a steady diet of news is like death by a thousand pinpricks. Ever have the roof of your mouth obliterated by those delightful sour cream and onion potato chips? Who hasn’t, right? But peeking inside your pie hole leaves you wondering what’s all the fuss. That’s daily news. Limiting the time spent on news lowers the threshold of pain, but it’s like limiting the amount of daily poison—people eventually succumb to the toxin. The simple solution: unplug. It’s like the Coke advertisement, “The pause that refreshes!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this. I have been struggling creatively/having a crisis of confidence about my writing for a few years — basically since 2017. I’ve not published anything since 2020 and am having challenges finishing two works in progress. It helps immeasurably to know I’m not alone. And yes, I do believe that many of us have been in a state of heightened alert since 2017 or so. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, Sharon, you are not alone! I have heard this from so many folks. We are all just doing the best we can. Big hugs.

      And El, yes, just doing a little something–keeping going if possible and desired–is a good goal.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling, Cynthia and I’m glad to hear you found some peace in your son’s drumming.

    My #1 tactic for relaxing? Turn off the news. I skim the Apple News app once every couple of days, but that’s it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Cynthia: I hear you! 2022 has been more stressful for ne than the previous 2 years which had multiple extended lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions.

    Most people have heard about the Freedom Convoy truckers (and other protesters) that arrived in Ottawa on January 28, and occupied the downtown for 24 days. I live 5 minutes from Parliament Hill so was directly affected by the 16-hour blaring truck horns, fireworks shot off in the wee hours, loud parties and aggressive non-masked protesters harassing Ottawa citizens who were just trying to get on my normal life.

    PM Trudeau was forced to use the Emergencies Act for the first time since 1970. Multiple police forces descended on the city to finally help the local police force “peacefully” clear them out. Hundreds of arrests but no major injuries or deaths, thank goodness.

    Our downtown is still not normal with secure fenced-off zones and police checkpoints in place. Citizens and police are still wary and hyper vigilant about the truckers trying to make a return back.

    Well, signs of normalcy were appearing with downtown businesses opening up for the first time since late January …and then Russia invaded Ukraine.

    I am heartbroken. We have a large Ukrainian population in Canada. It’s hard NOT to watch the live broadcasts each day. Not good for my mental health which is still frazzled by the recently cleared protesters.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. JENNIFER: Thanks. I should add that I understand that we all have pandemic fatigue. However, this type of protest (occupation) is unprecedented in Canada. Also the level of hate, and foreign funding (55% of $10M came from USA) to support the convoy was unsettling. Also, the demands of the protesters were unreasonable: 1) the federal government should resign and the trucker convoy leaders and the opposition government parties should form a coalition to lead the country, Duh, no. And demanding that Trudeau end all vaccine mandates was pointless. The majority of them were put in place by provincial governments so the feds have no power to make such changes. This was a stand-off that could not end through negotiation.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks, Ellen. It was the first time that I was afraid to travel within my own city. So wrong. And yes, I am counting on getting that real hug from you at LCC!


      1. Thanks, Leslie. Atypical behaviour that went beyond societal norms. We are used to peaceful protests in Ottawa. This was a SIEGE by protesters demanding FREEDOM. Their presence traumatized 10000 downtown residents and did they not care that our freedoms were being affected. And in the end, they got zippo. Not a single provincial vaccine mask or passport mandate has been lifted.


    1. Thank you, Grace. Yes–I am heartbroken too! And, like you, I am having a hard time disconnecting from the news and updates….am worried either way…figure I’d rather be informed and worried, I guess?

      Oh my goodness, I didn’t know how close you were to the convoy–so very sorry, Grace. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been! Was watching from here in shock. Big hugs.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Cynthia. Yes, I did post details of the 24-day siege on my FB feed but those links did not accurately reflect how bad it was for those of us living so close by.


      1. Thanks, Tracy. Good vibes and prayers are always welcome!

        I heard a People’s Convoy is headed to DC this week. They were inspired by Canada’s Freedom Convoy “success” in Ottawa.


    1. Daily outdoor exercise is what has kept me sane during the past 2 years, Jennifer. I’m glad to hear that getting some sun has helped you feel better, too.


  5. I tune the news out and I bring out my own drum pad and sticks and get swept away in what is now considered “oldies.” I also take to my books/ Kindle. I don’t handle stress well, and my psoriasis is proof of that. My forehead has been broken out for over two years! I look at headlines, I seldom turn on the TV. Sending virtual hugs to the Chick Click.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m relieved others are feeling the same way. Since the pandemic, and now the potential of war in Europe, it’s hard to concentrate. Writing has taken a huge hit. I don’t feel as creative as I used to. Hope that comes back. Sending hugs to all!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I have been able to keep writing during the pandemic, but I have found myself turning on Netflix during the day (which I NEVER do) while thinking, “Why does it matter if I write today? It won’t change [fill in the blank with world problem du jour].” And of course that’s true. But what writing WILL do is make me feel better, no matter what’s going on. Guaranteed.

    Here’s my sanity checklist:
    • I don’t scroll through my facebook feed anymore
    • I do turn on the evening news, but I don’t watch. I listen while I play Solitaire on my phone so those images aren’t burnished into my psyche.
    • I take weekends off. I do normal, everyday chores and errands; I lounge around and read; we go out to the theatre (twice this past weekend … Hamilton and a funny little musical … squee!); we get ice cream; I zoom with my kids; we meal-plan for the week, blah, blah, blah.
    • We watch good movies/TV in the evenings
    • I exercise
    • I eat right
    • I get plenty of sleep
    • I stay hydrated
    • I meet up with friends for coffee/lunch/drinks

    Everything you already know to do. The world has always been difficult and will be so in the future as well. I remember that I can’t control anything but my own reaction to it. Somehow that makes it easier.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That sounds like a lovely lifestyle, B! During the pandemic, I have been able to write (though less in the past few months for other reasons) but wow, that whole approach is so admirable that I’m going to do this. > *copies to-do list*

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m using my usual coping mechanism of escaping into fiction. However, I turned off a show after about 5 minutes last night and took it off my DVR schedule. I don’t need lectures in my fiction, especially right now. Even ones I agree with. I need an escape.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Dear Cynthia, so glad you were able to go and enjoy your son’s percussion performance! We have, on occasion, parked nearby to watch and listen to the marching band at the local college. So uplifting!
    Like many, I’m mostly avoiding newsfeeds. Hubs and I went to the movies this weekend. Very much enjoyed Death on the Nile — and popcorn! (Becky, I thought of you, lol)

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Yes, music is truly a miracle, how it can still our brains and let us be in the moment in ways that nothing else can. Thank goodness.

    I’ve been trying not to read too many news articles of late, because they make my kind of crazy. But then I think I should educate myself and not stick my head in the sand. So what to do?

    But knowing I have all of you Chicks and all of you other beautiful authors and readers out there in my crime writing community truly helps. Sending love and virtual hugs to all of you!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Leslie, yes finding that right balance of keeping informed about what is going on in the world and not being overwhelmed is so hard right now. On a brighter note, I am one step closer to going to LCC. Booked my first nights in a boutique hotel in Santa Fe & after fighting through the online searches with flight results that kept expiring, I managed to book my trip to ABQ. See you SOON!!


  11. Cynthia, what a beautiful and heartfelt post. I’m so happy for your son and the joy his music brings to all who hear it. Also, your lovely expression of what I bet most of us are feeling right now was truly comforting. I read this with my (3rd? 4th?) cup of coffee, and was startled to realize that you had just EXACTLY said what I’d been thinking (and despairing about) all morning. Alas, not one of my 3 kids is musically inclined. But much to everyone’s surprise, my 7th-grade grandbaby has just taken up the clarinet so she can join her new school’s jazz band. There is hope!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lisa, thank you for this–am so glad that it connected with something you’ve been feeling too. Was a little worried about swerving away from our regularly scheduled 100% lighthearted posts since that’s what we do here but I couldn’t write anything else this weekend and decided to just voice that in case it was helpful for us all to check in.

      And I LOVE that your granddaughter has taken up the clarinet–so wonderful. You have lots of fantastic concerts ahead! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Dearest Cynthia, thank you so much for sharing this. Your words have truly resonated.

    Music is such a balm. I’m so happy to hear about that percussion-aided peace. To escape my own hypervigilance, I take loooooooooooooooong walks. I also watch comedies, drink tea, talk on the phone (gasp!), and get my news from People magazine.

    Sending so much love and support to you and to all. ❤


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