blog takeover + reflection
featuring erika roberts, ghc creative strategist
Erika Roberts is a creative force. With words written and spoken, she brings power to her art using her strongest tools: language and love. In this new blog takeover series, Erika not only gives us a look into what it’s like to be a collaborator forced to work from a distance during a global pandemic, but she’ll also introduce the GHC team through the lens of the shutdown later in the series.
Here we are.
A blank page and a head full of reflections.
Music playing and incense in my background as I gently go back in time. My cloudy calendar guides mE back to a time of scary newness. This is an indulgent moment of mE marrying my words to paper with no restrictions.
On March 12th, I left a very rewarding elementary engagement with the eager kids of Hardy feeling ready for this part of my new job. This is one of my first projects as a Glass House Collective member. I didn’t want to fail. I was already unsure of what this strategist job or role looked like. I am not a cubicle creative, meaning I create without physical walls. So to mE this particular morning was my test. I had been preparing this project for weeks and
in my head I was already anticipating the next opportunity to explore our community and talk art with kids. Sadly and shockingly later on that same day I was told that school was closing 2 weeks early. I was like wait, what? Closing? WE just got started.
For a moment I was confused as to why.
I realized quickly that something was about to happen. I just didn’t know how much had already happened.
I had to quickly get out of my head because I had a performance that night at the Hunter Museum. I needed to get ready. Amidst changing my thinking, my emails are filling up with event cancellations. Events that I was going to or interested in supporting; not happening.
On March 19th Chattanooga closed down completely. I was confused. Shutdown? Who is closed? The city. How long will the city be closed? I had questions but the major one was “What’s next?” I wondered if we were really safe.
As I began watching the news, I became even more certain of my uncertainty. I had read and heard about Covid-19 but for mE I thought “oh no not Chattanooga that’s in China” right? Wrong it had arrived in the U.S. and it was traveling fast.
The work that I do depends on being with people and the shutdown halted that process.
Several of my engagements were cancelled.
Life seemed cancelled.
I was at home, in the house indefinitely.
The new information on this viral quarantine was mixed with conspiracy and absolute fear.
I worried about my grandmother, daughter and grandson. I had just received 2 new jobs and both were placed in a torturous limbo with no safety net. Do I have a job?
I spent a week being physically sick and emotionally exhausted. The more I stayed in, the more I cried. The more I cried, the harder my tears fell. I was an emotional mess.
I missed my creative tribe.
Social media has become the bridge for many of us but for mE it isn’t enough.
I need people and art. I had to create somehow. I needed to give birth to something artsy.
I needed some connection but again, how. I began to see virtual meetings popping up all over social media. We had just entered into the land of ZOOM. We are even using it as a verb ” I am Zooming tomorrow till 2pm”
Was I ready for this kind of work? Can I successfully work from home? I am so used to going to different co-working spaces that working from home seemed wrong. I didn’t even know how to sit at my own table without being distracted.
I was out of place even at home. What do I wear to these Zoom meetings? What is the decorum? Am I focused enough to work from home?
All of these questions were natural responses to the stress I felt in the beginning. I had an amazing circle of friends that were leading mE by example to the next step. I stopped the crying (temporarily) and began to rethink MY process. I am a strong extrovert that is in need of energy. I needed people.
See, before quarantine I was out and about co-working from different spots in my city.
Packing a lunch on Sundays for a full Monday at the Edney. Not packing my lunch Monday night because we have this really good soup and tea at the Glass House office on Tuesday. I am always asking “who got the snacks”. The rhythm was gone. I was off the axis and overthinking everything that I didn’t hear while ignoring what I was reading. I was not mentally prepared to be with myself. Read that part again. I was NOT ready to be alone with mE. Oh, yea you too!??
I had to face my own things and their things.
Being out with my creative friends was such a major part of my sanity.
I had to create a schedule of self-care for myself. I HAD TO. It was of the most importance that I go back to what I knew. I needed to write. I needed to get what was bouncing around in my head OUT. My thoughts needed a place to live outside of my head.
I bought a journal.
I bought a new pen.
I meditated and started.
As the sound of rain provides the soundtrack to the ending of this blog, I know that what is watered will grow. This blog/word time is being watered and it will grow. I have grown. We have grown during this time.
Over the next couple of weeks I sincerely invite you to come back here and read my thoughts. To round out this takeover,. I will be talking to my teammates at Glass House Collective about how they have been feeling during this pandemic. I will be vulnerable, transparent and true.
Same place…my words will be here.