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. 

~Erika Roberts