• Lucia Joyce

It's OK To Feel Blessed

I'm outside, in the concrete, communal patio area of my apartment complex in Valley Village. Giant trees provide shade from the unforgiving heat, and playfully shake dried leaves and acorns onto my laptop with each heavy breeze. Above my head are squirrels, squeaking and chasing each other over rustling branches while the birds sing their various tunes. I brought a blanket to cover my chair and a bottle of hand sanitizer for whatever might make contact. It's just me out here, but I still wear my mask and take precautions. Shane brings me a mason jar of lemon-strawberry water--it is sour and divine.

When the latest news and statistics overwhelm me; when the announcement of another lost loved one or diagnosis speeds like lightning from my eyes and ears to my heart; when the grocery store is out of paper products, limes, pasta, and sani-wipes; when controversy and narcissism dominate the airwaves; and when I simply cannot motivate myself to do the things I used to do with ease...

I still feel blessed.

Yes, it's entirely possible that something is wrong with me. But I don't think I'm numbed out, or insane, or in denial. I honestly think it's OK to feel blessed right now. Not just because I personally am lucky, but also because of shared awareness, thoughtfulness and togetherness. We are all praying for and supporting our immunocompromised, our essential workers, our loved ones, and just everybody we've ever met or seen. We're all learning this new way of life, together, and we're connected across what were once impossible distances. We are inspired by artists, health care providers, families, and stories from corners of the world we've never been to, or sometimes never heard of. We are cheering on our neighbors, our current and former coworkers, the people behind our favorite companies, and literally all the animals. We are grieving together and rising together and we are discovering blessings we didn't know we had.

I am both afraid of and addicted to the pending notifications in my phone, but more than half the time they are kind messages, supportive comments, clarifying and creative stories, and other 'helps' in the form of free classes, major discounts, and helpful info.

I am unemployed and separated from my family and friends by state and country borders, and by social distancing laws. I am unable to partake in so many activities that define me: shows, classes, auditions, shoots, work shifts, major events, business trips, beach days, road trips, poolside hangs, volunteer meets, trainings, and just simple meals outside the house.

But, interestingly, I'm connecting with friends and family more and for longer than ever, and I'm connecting over the tiniest appreciations, the littlest things. I'm actually listening to and honoring people's thoughtful social media posts and not just numbly consuming like some dopamine robot. I'm reminiscing and delighting in all the good memories we have together, and the ways we've grown. I'm allowing more inspiration in. I'm facing my fears more. I'm not attaching any specific achievements to my need to feel blessed and grateful. And when it comes to work, I am lucky enough to be receiving enough financial assistance from the government to pay for bills and groceries, which is giving me more time and space to work out the next phase of my career--perhaps more time and space than I've ever had. Whoa.

I have become a great deal more self aware. All this time in the house, time to make my own meals and gauge my own internal schedule, time to follow my own train of thought without having somewhere to be or someone to please, has aligned me with my deeper intuitions, truest values, and emotional core. Like my connections with others, my connection to my true self is being handled with even more care.

I have managed to write, a lot, every day. It's rarely some genius sentiment but it carries hints of self discovery. The purposeful, daily habit teaches me more about my unique perspective and what value, however subtle, it might hold for the world. It's not the first time I've tried to publish something every day, but it's already the longest stretch I've gone, aided, I'm sure, by my jobless days at home.

I am learning, so much, every day, about the world. I am learning about gardening, and music. I am learning about my own body, my house plants, and my untended habits. I'm pulling new recipes and ways to reinvigorate fridge leftovers out of seemingly nowhere. I'm harmonizing with myself on the ukulele. I'm learning about politics and history, the frontiers of brain and medical science, and the habitats of animals. I'm learning about filmmaking and slowly discovering all the lights and audio tech and tricks behind better production value. Granted, I'm not learning nearly as much as Shane, but we have vastly different brains and ways of spending our time. :)

All I'm saying is, don't feel pressured to be miserable, because of what we're dealing with. Don't wait for worry, frustration, and fear to swallow you up because you feel obligated by the media or people you know. Don't refuse to count your blessings because there is also suffering and pain. We are all being counted on to help each other in big and small ways, and one of the first steps to being able to help anyone, is rising from helplessness yourself. How to do this? Let yourself feel blessed. See courage and heroism where there is difficulty. See tiny joys where there are restrictions. See reasons to feel OK, and spread those reasons around, without pressure or judgment, so they might reach the people who need them.

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