In some way or another, everyone around the globe has been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19. What we all knew as “normal” living, no longer exists. In just a few short months our world has been turned upside down; thus, creating a challenging time for many having to adjust to being quarantined inside of their homes with limited access to the outside world. Mandated social distancing and mask wearing when outside the home and not being able to participate in public gatherings are just some of the adjustments having to be made. While most people are working from home these days, not everyone has been afforded the same opportunity; and there is no doubt that this entire situation is taking a toll on the mental state of many. The new outlets report daily the number of lives that are being lost to this horrific virus and how families and loved ones are experiencing unexpected grief that is magnified by not being able to be by their sides to say their last goodbyes. Then, we have schools forced to introduce distance learning to parents who are not used to this method of educating. In addition, high school proms and graduations had to be canceled and performed via virtual platforms such as ZOOM; leaving seniors frustrated for having to forgo the traditional experience that they so looked forward to during their last year of high school. College students were forced to vacate campuses, also having to transition to a distance learning format; as well as having their college graduation ceremonies transformed into a virtual experience. This new way of life was not something we could have ever prepared for. However, we’ve been forced to make the best of it.
As we continue to make these adjustments daily, why not shift our minds and start thinking outside the box? How about every household — whether you live alone or have a houseful — start creating? Now is the perfect time to tap into the ideas that have been floating around in your mind, but never acted on them. Some of you may think that you were not blessed with the creativity gene. This simply is not so because we all have the power to and bring forth any creative idea into existence. Why not try creating anything positive beyond what you have ever thought you could do individually or even for your family? Create something new. Create something fun. Just let your imagination run wild to create new traditions. Write a book. Start crafting. Make up games for the family. Start cooking food outside of your culture. Start drawing or even paint. Just start something different. Create new recipes and involve the kids in the cooking process, while teaching them how to prepare meals. Develop new challenges that the entire family can partake in.
My 19-year-old daughter actually came to me recently with a challenge she saw on social media. It involved both of us writing five separate things for us to do on a slip of paper and put them in a bucket. Each day we blindly pull out one idea and take the entire day to accomplish whatever the task is. It could be something big or something small. On the first day of the challenge, the goal was to spend three hours reorganizing our bedroom or an area of the room that needed some tender loving care. It was fun and gave us both the accountability to complete the task. Another day we were challenged to do our hair and make up and perform a mini photo shoot with our smartphones. The possibilities of creative ideas one can come up with are endless.
Recently, a dear friend of mine Tonya Parker started posting paintings on social media. They were amazing, so I reached out to her to find out what made her start painting since this was something she’d never pursued before. Her response, “When COVID-19 jumped on the scene, I was worried, but not panicked. However, as time went by and the news increased of friends of friends who were affected, I started to worry more. With every cough, I found myself in a full blown “WHAT THA?” mode. This caused me to seek peace within. I wasn’t going to allow my life to be led by fear. Once you let go of control and allow yourself to just BE, God shows up. My yoga instructor started online classes. Although I was blessed to work from home, I still felt unproductive, unfulfilled, and lost with my newfound free time.
However, during the quarantine, I received a painting set from my girlfriend in Tennessee for my birthday. I opened the set and looked for instructions. There weren’t any. I was just expected to paint! It took me a minute to wrap my head around the idea of creating on my own, without influence, without direction, without order. It was just me and this blank canvas. Why did that scare me? What a metaphor for life! So, without expectations, I painted. I loved my expression. This was something by me, for me. What I found out about myself with this simple task was remarkable. I not only enjoyed the peace from painting, I found that it unleashed energy, patience and excitement that I thought I had lost. I was giving birth to ideas being captured on canvas! It also propelled more ideas like creating tee shirts and jean jackets, writing, and connecting with people on different levels. More importantly, it renewed my faith in GOD. You can’t plan a blessing.
Could this be a new chapter in my life? For sure! I needed this sun to conquer the gloom. I can still define this chapter and it won’t be about succumbing to the fear of COVID-1 9, feeling stuck and powerless. The anxiety I felt when COVID landed, has subsided. I’m not locked down, I’m free!”
What an awesome revelation. And because my friend knows my passion for writing and poetry, she asked me to name a few of her paintings and I did just that. I even wrote a few short poems to accompany her newfound creations (pictured). And because she kept going with this; she is now positioning herself to start a business and brand under the name “La’Tee”, that could possibly generate additional income doing something she’s now passionate about.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to start creating. Just do it. Don’t overthink it because again, no idea or task has to be overwhelming. It could be something as simple as changing your atmosphere for dinner by setting up a blanket outside and having the entire family eat outdoors. Maybe start reading a book from a genre you never thought would interest you; or a documentary about someone. Write your own story because we all have one within us. Use this time to reach out to someone that you may not have spoken to in a good while. Do not text them, but instead, call and have a live conversation to create laughter and new memories. If you find yourself stuck and unable to think of creative ideas, find a quiet place to clear your mind, close your eyes and allow your spirit to fill your mind with something new. Or, try sitting outside and listen to the birds chirping to establish peace within to allow your soul to create. I do this quite often and it is usually when my mind starts flowing and a new poem is birthed. I wrote these two pieces in less than 10 minutes each after seeing a few of Tonya’s paintings.
Somehow, I find the feeling unexplained
Undefined beautiful design
That captures a moment in time
And whispers amour dustings in my mind
Out from the heart unable to dissect
Beautiful, spirited, enchanted effect
Written by Aleka Melson ©April 2020
Just a simple gaze dipped in light
My eyes encamp a beautiful sight
Nothing major or minor to see
Just a glimpse of a soul looking back at me
Reflection is key with the heart constantly aware
Deep inside the soul, dare I stare?
Written by Aleka Melson ©April 2020
I have another friend who I have known since our high school days. He became extremely ill and ended up testing positive for the Corona virus. He was in the hospital on a ventilator for several weeks; literally fighting for his life. I’m thankful to God that he came through and was released from the hospital. He is now recovering as he moves towards total healing. His life has forever been changed as he has a powerful testimony. Less than two weeks after his hospital release, he decided to create a t-shirt and accessory line inspired by his personal battle with COVID-19. His website “Nique’s Boutique” is named after his daughter because he stated, “she had my back every step of the way!”
So, my “Morning Toast with Jam” dear reader; is to encourage and uplift others during these unprecedented times we are currently living in at this moment. It is my hope that every single person will be inspired enough to tap into their spirit and allow creative juices to flow. Allow the mind to provoke positive vibes and discover a side of yourself that has been hidden. Being quarantined can bring forth frustration and boredom. Do not be consumed by these things. Change your mindset and create beneficial and lifetime memories that you will be able to look back on with a smile in the years to come. Create joy! Create visions! Create dreams and take the necessary steps to bring all things into fruition. Walk in your spirit for such a time as this, and just CREATE, CREATE, CREATE!!!!