• Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

Slowing Down, Noticing Details, Revising as Needed

The time of hunkering down is no longer confined to a harsh winter.


As the world becomes a scarier place with lightning speed, hunkering down is exactly what has to happen. We need to take stock, which is different than stocking up. How does the smallest action we take ripple into the lives of those around us?


All of the scary pandemic news wreaks havoc on our psyches. We are frightened, consumed with the safety of ourselves and our own families. We are not sleeping well. We are irrational about the amount of toilet paper or hand sanitizer or pasta we need to buy in one shopping trip.


Viruses are nasty little things, it's true. They can be lethal. Nasty human behavior piled on top of that is not helpful.


In this time of pandemic, an effort to slow down and notice what is going right is in order. It's healthy. It's calming. It might become more contagious than COVID-19 if we scatter it far enough.


And what, exactly, is going right? Thank you for asking. Here's my list from yesterday:


  • The crescent moon was a brilliant white in the morning sky.

  • The birds began singing, like always, at the first glint of morning light.

  • We can order groceries online and pick them up if we are wigged out about being in a store with other people. We could even have them delivered. We are probably not going to starve.

  • Electricity is working all over the country and, hopefully, around the world.

  • Medical professionals are working on a COVID-19 vaccine. It will take many months - maybe a year or more - but it is in the works.

  • If those of us who have a home stay put inside it, we know that we can slow the transmission of this thing down. How hard can it be to stay in your own house, a place you presumably chose for yourself long before this pandemic arrived?

  • Online meetings are a miracle, one that we might want to keep because they reduce the need to find transportation to get to yet one more place.

  • Even though it feels like the world as we know it is coming to a stop, it isn't. Spring will still pop up out of the sun-warmed dirt, day will follow night, we have not lost our ability to tell stories to each other.


My list, of course, is mine. It does not address the hardships people who cannot work from home face. It does not present solutions for those who are homeless. There are problems that were in place before the arrival of this pandemic that require separate solutions. I am suggesting that staying home to avert a bigger disaster can re-ignite a sense of gratitude for things we tend to overlook. I am suggesting that an awareness of the part everyone plays in unintended transmission of cold and flu viruses be acknowledged by saying yes to staying home even if we feel healthy.


And another thing: listening to every single press conference, reading every single article on COVID-19, and checking social media throughout the day to make sure you miss nothing might be what challenges your resilience the most. Limit that noise to one part of the day. Don't let it seep into the safe space you carve out for yourself. Make it sit in the corner, accessible when you need to know, and quiet when you need some peace.


Put peace on your list of what's going right whenever possible.



Announcement: New Feature Coming to One Minnesota Writer


One of my core beliefs is that the writing community is a generous place. We support each other, give each other a leg up whenever possible.


In that spirit, I am going to start a monthly or, perhaps bi-monthly, feature in which I devote this column to announcements of new works by writers who publish at small presses. The first of these posts will appear here next week, on March 25.


If you are a writer with a new publication from a small press who would like to share your information here, please contact me via the contact form on this site. Include your name, publication's title, publisher, date of release (if it isn't already out), and a link to where it can be purchased. A short description of the work (no more than 100 words, please) is welcome.






#stayinghealthy #pandemic #covid19 #springwillstillcome #hope #calm #newwriting

















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