Using Your Shadow Self to Become a Better Writer

What if I told you that you could be a better writer by accepting all the “unacceptable” parts of yourself? That by doing so, you could write better rounded characters, utilize settings, develop your voice, and tap into a bottomless pool of creativity.

To start this blog post, I want to give you a writing exercise. This will be self work, so it’s important to ground yourself before you start this. If you meditate, you’ll know a little about how to ground yourself, but it can be as simple as lighting a candle and breathing for a few minutes.

I like to imagine cords digging into the earth from my root chakra. I imagine tree roots spreading from me and holding me fast to the earth. Depending on the self work I’m about to undergo, sometimes I imagine little grappling hooks extending from each root to secure me. As I take on this self work exercise with you, I’m going to use those grappling hooks.

We’re about to dip into our shadow self.

*Note: It’s extremely important to go into this with self compassion. Remember, you are only human. You are worthy of compassion and forgiveness. We ALL have a shadow. Do your best not to judge yourself and you’ll come out of this with a better understanding of yourself. You’ll come out of this with more self love. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re a writer. One thing we writers have in common is our inner critic. While this is only a small exercise, your inner critic can make this a huge thing. Don’t be afraid to seek support afterward if you need it.

*Think about what qualities irritate you about others.

For me, a big one is attention seekers. The way they’ll do anything to get attention, even at the expense of someone else. How they lie and exaggerate circumstances to get the spot light. How they fish for compliments even if it means provoking. How they pretend to not know how to do something so someone will pay attention. How they use their bodies and words as suggestions for attention.

*Do you see these characteristics in yourself? Be honest. Dig deep.

Yes. I can get extremely uncomfortable when I want attention I’m not getting. I get jealous and depressed. I get angry when my achievements are not recognized or someone else tries to take even the slightest credit for them. I want the world to know when something bad or good as happens right away. I’m not this way all of the time, mainly when my self esteem is feeling low.

*How has this trait affected your life?

For me, I’ve begun to face this specific trait. There are others I have yet to explore, but this one in particular, I’ve traced back to the beginning. Before I faced it, it affected every aspect of my life. The way I shaped my persona, the way I wrote, the way I interacted in friendships. It’s easy to feel shame with my actions, but like I said, self compassion is important. Attention seeking is a trait of children. we expect it from them. To face why I acted like this was to grow up. Do I still see this trait in myself? Of course. I’m human. Growing up meant I could pin point when I felt this trait bubbling to the surface. It meant I could analyze why I felt like this and stop any reactions. As a human, I still make mistakes.

As a human, you still make mistakes. Emotions will still get the better of you, like it does me. Like it does the Pope.

Welcome to The Shadows

Now that we’ve done a small exercise and dipped our toes in murky water, lets take a look at the shadows.

We were born a clean slate. As we grew, we were shaped by our society, our family. As children, we felt and displayed all the emotions of being human. Happiness, rage, greed, empathy. The people around us, the media we were subjected to, taught us what was acceptable and what wasn’t. As a result, we began to suppress all the emotions that were deemed “bad”.

Note: Each society is different, so what’s labeled “bad” in one, could be labeled “good” in another.

All of these “bad” traits formed our shadow selves. They are mostly in our unconscious, but the more we try to suppress them, the more they come out. We don’t always know when it comes out but when we catch it, it can be startling. When we say things we didn’t mean to say, or do something that is so out of character we find ourselves thinking, “Where did that come from?”. Even our facial expressions reveal our shadow selves.

The reason for the writing exercise in the beginning was to show you how the shadow self can materialize. We actually begin to see these traits we suppress in others. We judge people for these “bad” traits because we’ve ignored our own actions. The attention seeking for me? It bothers me much less now than before I owned up to it. I understand why people do it on a level that allows me to not only forgive them, but forgive myself, too.

Seeing these traits, the ones we deny in ourselves,has a term. Projection. We project onto others the things we’ve buried deep inside us. This doesn’t happen with effort. We do it automatically. All humans do. The problem with it, though, is we end up distorting reality. We can’t see how we behave because our personas (the way we view our self and the way we want the world to view us) have veiled our perception of reality.

Facing Our Shadow

Believe it or not, facing all the “bad” parts of us can help. It creates a more well rounded person. This doesn’t mean you need to indulge your shadow self. You don’t have to become bad people. You just have to be self aware. You get to be more understanding. You get to have deeper relationships. You get to forgive mistakes easier. You get to be healthier, because you’ve faced all the baggage.

You liberate yourself.

You do this by doing the exercise above numerous times. You watch how you react in emotionally charged events. You pay attention to yourself and you shine light on the shadow.

When we project onto other people, it doesn’t mean that these people aren’t doing the things we’re seeing. They most certainly are in most circumstances. The trick is, we wouldn’t wouldn’t notice them so much if we weren’t suppressing the same traits within us. It wouldn’t bother us so much if we weren’t in denial about our own similar actions.

I’ll post some resources below to help you uncover your shadow self.

Tapping Into Your Creativity

Writing is one of the healthy outlets to our darker sides. As I’ve said, everyone has a darker side, so your reader will empathize with your characters who have flaws.

Now, lets talk about your ego. You do have an ego, and it’s a big one. If saying that got to you…guess what? Yep–you’ve got an ego. We’ve all got egos. It comes with being human. Writers, though, we writers tend to have a BIG ego. And that’s okay. We need it to survive our writing journeys. If we don’t believe we have worth, that our words have worth, we won’t make it.

The good news is, by accepting your you have an ego, you just made that “bad” part of you work for you. Now that you’ve gotten it our of the way, you feel…better? Right? Freed? You just confirmed that your words have worth. It’s a lot easier to write and draw from your creative well when you have faith in yourself. When you admit you have skill. You can’t admit you have skill if you can’t admit to your ego.

Now, another “bad” trait we were taught to repress is play. Play is for children. As adults, we can’t waste the time for play. we have important adult things to do. Yet…without play, we can’t tap into our creative well. We get so caught up in the serious things that it drains us. We need play to get our juices flowing again. Accepting that, getting it out of the way, frees you up. When you accept you need it, the guilt goes away. Do the things people told you were bad at. Waste the time, another “bad” trait. Paint, draw, create. No matter the outcome, because what people have labeled as “wasting time” is essential to your creativity.

Well Rounded Characters

The flaws we give to our characters are the traits we’ve talked about. The ones we suppress. our character will suppress them, too. It’s human nature. It’s their shadows. Now, they do need to be authentic to your character. To make it authentic, you’ll need to comb their childhoods, the society they grew up in, the way their parents raised them. What is deemed as “bad” for them? How does it affect their lives now? How does it manifest subconsciously?

You hear about subtext a lot. Subtext isn’t what we tell the reader out right, or even what your character tells the cast out right. t’s what you don’t say. It’s body language, or settings, pr or internal dialogue. It’s conflict. IT’s even the antagonist. Antagonists and protagonists needs to compliment each other. Not in the sense that they flatter one another (though, what a twist), but rather be ying and yang. Light and dark. They can share qualities, even if one (protag) represses it, and one (antag) redeems them.

The shadow has a lot to do with your character arcs. It is what you character needs to learn by the end of the novel (or not).

Interestingly enough, writers tend to infuse their shadow selves and fears into their characters. We have common fears, so that means our readers will relate to our characters. That’s exactly what you want. No reader will connect to a story where they can’t relate to the characters. The same goes with our shadow selves. Infusing your shadow self into your character is a tool used to get your reader to relate to your character.

Much of what we read, we relate to because we understand the main characters. We understand because we feel the same way. Their society mimics our own on the deeper levels. What is taboo there is most likely taboo in our own lives.

When you hear a writer talking about how their character is an alter ego of them, it’s their shadow self their talking about. The part of them they don’t show in their “real” life. Use your shadow self in your work. Create your character’s persona, their voice, using this shadow. Use setting as another way to mimic their flaws, feelings, and fears. (Check out my post on Setting to help with that). It not only makes for richer fiction, but it’s a healthy outlet for you.


Shadow Self: How to Embrace Your Inner Darkness (3 Techniques)

Working with The Shadow: A Writer’s Guide

4 Carl Jung Theories Explained: Persona, Shadow, Anima/Animus, The Self


Even before we boarded the ferry to cross to Mystic Isle, I felt the energy of the ocean on a whole new level. It was immense and powerful, as was the storm brewing. Dark clouds circulated above us, wind pushing waves to build, and lightening lit the sky. The ferry rocked with each wave that struck against it, spraying water over the sides, saturating the deck. It was a newer ferry, with a cabin and stairs leading below deck. I didn’t comment on the tinted windows of the cabins. Emmanuel regarded the entire ferry with disdain. He didn’t suggest going below deck as some passengers had to take cover from the storm.
I hadn’t been to my childhood home in over a decade, and my heart pounded in anticipation. The storm fit in with my mood, even with the risk of a lightening strike. The memories I had here weren’t pleasant, but to get to Elliott, I pushed past them. I literally braved the storm.
The radio played soft music, but every five minutes, it would turn into an alert. I’d weathered hurricanes as a kid on this island, and I had no doubt the storm coming was at least a category two.
The sun set by the time we reached land, and I was surprised to find the streets weren’t as busy as I remembered. I saw, as we walked through downtown, that shops closed early now. Strange, because it was tourist season. There were no cars except the ones parked, and the ghost town made the hairs on my neck stand up.
“Emmanuel.” I gazed around. “Something’s wrong.”
“The isle is a Nest.”
“A Nest?”
“Run by vampires. We shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here.”
“How can you tell?” I ignored his last statement. The isle creeped me out, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. From what I could see, the buildings looked nicer than I remembered. Something was off.
“The ferry was the first sign. Tinted windows. Look at some of the shops, houses, and cars. More tinted windows. The humans are locked inside their homes, some have barred their entrances. Vampire stench covers everything. How much further is your Manor?”
“On the other side of the isle. The ferry doesn’t go to that side.”
“The ferry shouldn’t come here at all. This is a death trap.”
I gave Emmanuel a side glance. His body tensed, his gaze darted around, fists clenched at his side. When I stopped, so did he, not moving an inch from my side. “We need to get indoors. Preferably a church. I bet the ones around here have been heavily fortified. I saw the sign when we got off the ferry. This is an old settlement, and the churches would have been built to withstand the weather. Easiest places to fortify are made of stone.”
Instead, we found as we continued further onto the isle, there were no churches. I remembered them, but in the places I thought they should be, newer buildings now resided there. Each contained tinted windows.
“Why get rid of them if they don’t hurt vampires?” I asked after mentioning the losses.
“I didn’t say churches hurt them. The real question is why Creeden didn’t mention this.” His statement confused me. I knew Creeden came here in search of Elliott, and we knew he was a vampire. What was the big deal with not mentioning a Nest?
The last few rays of sunlight disappeared as the Manor came into view. Thunder clapped over us, and rain blanketed everything in seconds.
Elliott opened the door before we were on the top step. I didn’t miss his irritation, but it wasn’t present when he spoke to me.
“Welcome home.” There was an underlying tone in his voice that I noted as Emmanuel stiffened. “Yes, stupid Were. There’s no use in running. Stay by her side.” Elliott moved aside to let us enter. I didn’t understand until I passed through the entry way. I then understood Elliott’s mood. I understood why the Weres were nervous about Elliott’s Grand-sire.
I couldn’t distinguish the Coven leader’s strength from the ocean until the door shut behind us, separating the forces.
Elliott’s Grand-sire stood when Elliott led us into the parlor. His strength left my mouth dry, and I halted mid-stride. Emmanuel slipped past me, separating me from the vampires. The Grand-sire’s effect on my Empathy was different than the effect the ocean had on me in an unpleasant way.
I hadn’t expected this. I thought I was prepared to come home, but the vampire’s sexuality stunned me. He threw off major erotic vibes that made my legs quiver. He wasn’t handsome, but the way he carried himself made up for it. If it weren’t for his eyes, gleaming with sharp white intensity, I would almost think him harmless.
“How interesting,” The vampire said, bowing slightly to welcome me. “My sons were about to explain where they’ve been, and what that delicious smell is. Clearly, it is you.”
Emmanuel growled, but the vampire ignored him. His eyes were on me, a smile on his lips too toothy for my comfort. “Nero, my cousin, Kaira. Kaira—”
“Your Grand-sire, yeah.” I held Nero’s white eyes, trying not to react to his predatory gaze.
“Pleasure to meet you.” Nero motioned to the arm chair he’d occupied seconds ago. “Why don’t you sit? As I understand, this is your Manor.”
Emmanuel grabbed my arm when I tried to pass, and Kasen growled. Nero tisked, but I wasn’t sure at who. “Let go,” I told him, keeping my gaze on Nero.
“Not smart,” Emmanuel hissed.
“I mean your charge no harm,” Nero said, attempting another sharp smile. His teeth were extended, his reaction to my Energy. Was it turning him on? “You are exquisite.” He gave me a once over.
I didn’t like his compliment. Chills licked my skin, but I pushed the fear down.
“Let. Go,” I told Emmanuel with more force. He growled again, but let go. Pushing away the fear didn’t work. My hands filmed over, but I was sure it was the only reason he complied. I still tried to use the film to my advantage. To show Nero I could be dangerous, too.
I walked toward Nero as he waited, the smile fixed on his face. If this was his attempt at being human and harmless, he was failing.
“My sons are afraid I’ll hurt you.” He sat after I took my chair. Nero’s tone was friendly, but his eyes were not. He was excited by me. I didn’t know why, but the reason made me nervous.
“Maybe they’re nervous about what will happen if you try.” Not the smartest thing for me to say, considering I couldn’t control the Energy. He didn’t need to know that, nor the film had come and gone on its own.
Nero gazed at me, his eyes wide. After a second, he threw back his head and laughed. “It would be interesting,” he said at last. “To see who would survive.” His eyes slid past me to gaze at Emmanuel, the predatory expression still visible. With his strength, I doubted he’d fail at hiding his strength if he wanted to. “Alas, child.” He met my eyes again, “Destroying you would be a waste.”
My eyes narrowed on him. I tore my gaze away to look at Elliott. “When the man came, the non-human, what did he want?”
“You, of course,” Elliott replied, looking unsure and unhappy.
“How did you end up almost…dust? Do vampires dust?” The last bit was said to myself, in what I guessed was a loss of sanity. Vampires. Fae. Weres with Bonds. Being a living firework. My brain was done, I was certain. I was also certain now wasn’t the time to lose it.
“I guess he wasn’t partial to vampires unable to help.” Elliott raised his eyebrows at me with a shrug. “Where is the Daughter of Drite. That’s what he asked me.”
“Kaira,” Some of Emmanuel’s anger overflowed his wall as he spoke, “we shouldn’t be talking about this in present company.”
“Why? Are you afraid Nero will learn something about me?” I met Nero’s eyes again, “I’m new to this, but from what I hear, and see, I’m powerful.”
“You remind me of someone,” Nero told me. “Someone long dead.”
“Kaira, that’s enough.” Emmanuel’s tone held urgency.
“Aye, lass. That’s enough.” Kasen spoke for the first time, softly.
Nero ignored him, his white-hot eyes still on me. “Tomorrow night, come to my Court. I believe we could help one another.” If he felt threatened by me at all, he hid it well. His body remained relaxed in the overstuffed high back chair, but my presence interested him more than I liked. He was too intrigued, and I was determined to follow my instincts.
Nero could prove to be a tough enemy, and he scared me.
“I must respectfully decline your invitation.” I tried to mimic Kasen’s tone, the slight warning in it.
My answer irritated Nero, but only a fraction. “My dear, I could command it.” He had the tone down perfectly, sending shivers down my spine. “In fact—”
“She’ll be there. With me.” Emmanuel’s quick response resulted in my loss of composure for a heartbeat.
“Excellent.” Nero regarded Emmanuel with bright eyes, interested. “I look forward to it. Elliott, be sure they’re dressed for the occasion.” He threw to my cousin without a glance in his direction.
“Of course.” Elliott’s tone made me study him closer. As much as I felt like things between Elliott and I hadn’t changed, they had. Watching Elliott struggle for control was evidence of what happened in the time passed.
And if I needed more of a reminder, I could look in the mirror.

“You leave at first light,” Elliott said, coming back into the parlor.
Elliott ignored me, turning his fury to Emmanuel. “You shouldn’t have brought her here.”
“Careful, vampire,” Emmanuel growled.
“We made it clear if he found out it would put her in more danger. You bring her here, knowing.”
“It seems to me he’d have found out either way.” Emmanuel’s jaw clenched. “As the two of you were about to give her up.”
“Why did you agree to going to Court?” I stepped in between Emmanuel and Elliott before either one drew blood.
“Nero would have commanded it,” Elliott, instead, answered. “We would need to comply.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means they’d take you against your will,” Emmanuel snapped. “My Second would, without a doubt, neuter me before killing me, then Elliott. It’s still a toss, but we’ll find out soon enough.”
My face grew cold as the blood rushed from it. “He’s coming here?”
“Your Second should kill you,” Elliott muttered.
“What happens if I leave before Court tomorrow night?” I cut off the arguing before it started.
“Nero won’t let you off the Isle if you don’t,” Elliott said.
“It doesn’t matter whether you stay or run. Creeden won’t stop looking for you. Better to let it happen sooner than later. It’ll piss him off otherwise.”
“I don’t want anything to do with him. Or the Bond. I barely feel it right now. I want to keep it way.”
The fact I wasn’t mad at Creeden for his reaction irritated me. I felt guilty for his current travels, and his anger, even if it wasn’t my fault. The Weres had a way of doing things, and whatever this Mating Bond was, it was serious to their way of life. Even with the brief stay at the Reservation, I understood tradition was not lost on the Pride.
I felt small in a huge world, I tried to square my shoulders, and hold his gaze.
“Nero isn’t the negotiating type. Especially when he sees something rare. He will Mark you. You don’t want that.”
Behind me, Emmanuel cursed. “He’s right. It truly won’t be good for your health.”
“He’d take my freedom?” I glanced at Emmanuel. “So would the Pride. So would the humans.”
Elliott was irritated with me now, but his answer surprised me. “Then I’ll need to get you adequate clothing for tomorrow night.”
“Adequate clothing?” I asked, at the same time as Emmanuel said, “Creeden won’t allow it.”
“Creeden will have to play nicely. He’ll be out numbered.” I glanced from Elliott to Emmanuel, finally agreeing this was a bad idea.

My Manor changed a great deal since Elliott remodeled to fit his new life style. Mirrors were removed around the Manor, and weapons lined the halls. I had no idea if he could use them, but I couldn’t deny the number was impressive. Tinted windows were installed in every room, except for my bedroom. That was curious. His need to guard himself from the sun everywhere except my old room.
It was untouched and looked the same as the day I was taken from it. The memory was not pleasant. I did not go to the Hospital willingly. At the tender age of thirteen, I was introduced to a straight jacket. That moment scarred me for life. Perhaps that’s why Elliott couldn’t bring himself to enter my room. He’d left home, six months before his mother committed me, to live with his father. I was alone.
Minutes from dawn, Elliott paused outside of my door. If it weren’t for my Empathy, I would have missed his presence. I slid to a sitting position, but Emmanuel was closer. He bent in his chair to retrieve the folded paper Elliott slipped under the door. Ignoring the pointed look from me, he opened it, and his expression hardened. He crossed the room and extended it to me.
He spent the night in my room with me. He didn’t give me a choice. He’d slid my old desk chair against the door, secured the windows shut, and took his seat. Not once did he move. I had two hours of sleep, squirming under his gaze. Something about being watched as I slept unsettled me.
The note in my hands held an address. Underneath it, “Your twin” was scribbled in Elliott’s hand writing. My hands filmed over. Before I could attempt to stop myself, the paper disintegrated. I yelped, clawing at the paper. Couldn’t save it.
“No worries. Creeden can pull it.”
I wasn’t sure what he meant, but felt Creeden a second later. The Bond hit me less than the first time, but still took my breath away. His emotions overwhelmed me.
“You’ll want to meet him at the door before he gets to Elliott.”
Our last meeting didn’t go well, and I already felt his anger. There’s no way this meeting could go well. His first response to me said it all. He said it all. It can’t be with her. He didn’t want this Bond with me. He resented it.
My anger to his resentment confused me, but it was there. Anger strong enough it stabilized me. I stood, and took a second to give my legs a chance to work. This Bond wasn’t my fault, and being treated like a disease was unnecessary.
“He’ll rip Elliott to shreds. You must meet him at the door if you wish to prevent that.”
Emmanuel followed me downstairs, on my heels. I opened the front door, coming face to chest with Creeden. I hadn’t realized he was so tall. The man was three times my size in width, and a foot taller. My brain wasn’t functioning, respectfully. My will faltered, and I backtracked a step to meet his coffee colored eyes. Holy eyes. Intensity bore into mine for what seemed an eternity before his gaze hardened and met Emmanuel’s.
A silent exchange went on between the two of them. Creeden’s facial expressions didn’t coincide with his emotions. I may not know the actual words said, but his range of emotions were proof it was happening.
He’d been taken by as much surprise as me to seeing one another. For a moment I experienced his vulnerability through his surprise. He was also pissed with Emmanuel. That wasn’t my problem though. Emmanuel chose to come. He knew I didn’t want him here.
“Kaira?” Creeden glanced down at me. My name in his deep accented voice sent shivers down my spine. “Are you going to let me in?”
“Are you going to rip Elliott to shreds?” I asked before I could stop myself.
Creeden’s dark brow quirked. “Not today.”

Back to The Symbols of my Jottings

Last Call

The surprise that stopped Cap in his tracks of finding Isabel and Daniella in the captains quarters was quickly replaced by his stomach tightening when he saw they stood by packed bags. He bee lined for his whiskey—the one he’d been stashing for tough times—and didn’t say a word until he slammed two cups. It was a waste not to savor the smoky flavor, but he’d do just about anything to take the edge off. He didn’t think she’d actually do it.
“Nope, not yet.” He poured himself a third one, this time he took his time sipping it, letting his eyes wonder over their bags, over them. Daniella had been a pain in his ass since day one, but she’d grown on him. He admired her tenacity, and had a soft spot for whatever Jasper had a soft spot for. The man loved next to nothing, and he’d found solace in her company. He couldn’t even be mad about the pain it would cause Jasper, at least not at them. He’d given everyone a choice.
Mostly, he didn’t care who left, but this…he hadn’t expected this.
The fiery science doctor standing in front of him made his heart beat faster than a good fight. Her presence alone was enough. Accompanied with those bags, though…he was an idiot. He almost begged her to stay, but when Isabel made up her mind, there was no talking her out of it. He hadn’t helped the situation, all but telling her to leave. He waited until he was sure he could speak the right words before clearing his throat.
“You’re leaving, then.” He said finally.
“Maybe,” she said carefully, eyeing the glass in his hand.
“You look ready.” He glanced at Daniella. “I’m assuming you wanted to give me the broadcast file.”
Daniella crossed the room to him and he held out his hand. She kept going, though, to close the door. She lingered at it for a moment for turning toward him. “We want you to listen,” she said, slipping off the necklace. “I added the file to here. It contains everything you asked for, including Leo.”
“Good,” he said slowly. “Listen to what? Because I already told you, I’m goin’ south—”
“I’m going to trust you with something. Something that means my life, because I respect you.”
“You may want to sit down,” Isabel said.
“I’m fine. Closer to my whiskey.” He patted the bottle.
“You have to promise that what I’m about to say won’t leave this room.”
“Not even Jasper,” Isabel said.
“Especially not Jasper.”
“Okay…” Cap looked from Daniella to Isabel.
“Promise,” Daniella insisted.
“What the hell, you two?”
“You have to promise.”
“Fine, I promise. Get on with it.” They were scaring the wits out of him. He racked his brain trying to figure out what she wanted to say, but all the scenarios were coming up worse than it probably was. She needed to speak, and fast.
“Remember you are a man of your word. It’s why I respect you so much. It’s why the crew respects you.”
“Promise you won’t hurt her,” Isabel said quietly, which really alarmed him.
“The hell would I hurt her for?” he turned to Daniella. “Did you break something? Something my boat needs—”
“This isn’t about your bloody boat,” Isabel snapped. “Just promise.”
“Promise.” He downed the rest of his whiskey, and was about to pour himself more, but Isabel grabbed the bottle.
“You are right about releasing the information on Leo,” Daniella said. “But so are we. It will create mass panic. It will create witch hunts. People are going to turn on their neighbors with this information.” Daniella held up the small gold chip. “And sometimes, they’ll probably be right. There are others like Leo out there.”
“You’ve met some?”
Daniella shook her head. “I don’t think so. Just Leo.”
“Then you know this how?”
Isabel took a long drink from his bottle.
Daniella watched Isabel, but then met Cap’s gaze. “Because I’m one of them.”
Cap stared at her while his brain tried to process the information. The problem was, it didn’t. He shook his head. “What game are you two playing at?”
“Not a game. I can prove it. But you promised not to tell anyone. If you want me gone afterward, I’ll go.”
“We’ll go,” Isabel corrected.
Daniella shook her head. “I told you, not anymore.”
“As much as I want…things, where you go, I go.”
Cap followed them to the deserted deck. Both he and Isabel put on their Nebus, and he wanted so badly to do something to take the expression of stress off her face. Most of the crew were in the mess hall, getting drunk on their last night together. “Remember you promised not to hurt her.” Isabel said as Daniella just…stood there.
Cap didn’t understand first, until he realized he was watching her breathe, without her Nebu.
“What the fuck. Put on—”
Isabel put her hand on his arm. “She doesn’t need it.”
It took his brain a few minutes to accept it. To accept that she’d been on his boat the past few years. That someone like Leo lived down the hall from him. Rage filled him, but he wasn’t sure exactly what the rage was for. For being like she was? For hiding it? For hiding it and living on his boat? For allowing Jasper to care for her knowing he’d probably never accept her as she is?
Cap rubbed his face, trying to clear some of the confusion that accompanied the rage. Finally, he looked at them. “Back in the control room, now.”


Daniella watched Cap pour himself another drink of whiskey, and although his words were directed at Isabel, his sharp gaze was pinned on Daniella. “This is why you didn’t want me to release the information about Leo.”
“I’ll leave if you want me to,” Daniella said. She could practically see Isabel holding her breath. Her friend was tight with tension, ready to intervene for whatever Daniella needed. She kept a close eye on Cap, watching for sudden movements. Although she stayed to the side, she stayed between them. Daniella had to trust Cap. He promised he wouldn’t hurt her. He’d kept it so far, even if his tone when ordering them to the control room was filled with anger.
“How long ‘till your brain turns to mush?” Cap asked.
“We don’t know it will,” Isabel said. “I keep an eye on her cognitive abilities. She’s smarter than most your crew.”
“That ain’t sayin’ much,” he muttered.
“She’s healthy.”
“But she ain’t human.”
“Says who?” The anger was apparent in Daniella’s voice, no matter how many times she told herself she wouldn’t get angry. Anger wouldn’t help him understand. But she was damn tired of being afraid, and even if it was only Cap, admittance was freeing. “Mutants are human. Rotters are human. Why am I not? Who gets to decide that?”
She cut Isabel off. “I trusted him with this because I respect him. He can feel how he feels, but he doesn’t get to degrade me.”
“You’re like Leo,” Cap said.
She took a deep breath, trying to remember to give him time. “You have a strict moral code, but that can’t be said about a lot of other people who are biologically like you. Isabel didn’t hold you accountable for what a man in your crew did to her. Tried to do to her. I ask you don’t do the same thing to me.”
Cap stayed silent for a minute, then nodded. “You have a point. Tell me more.”
“I don’t know if I can feel other people like me like I do Leo. I haven’t before.”
“Whenever he’s around, I feel him. His…presence. I don’t know how to explain it. I just know he’s there.”
Cap ran his hand over his head and started to pace. “Jesus. Stay away from Jasper.”
Even though she’d known that was probably best, hearing it tightened her throat. “I know. It’ll hurt him.”
“Hurt him? No, Daniella, if he hurts you it’ll destroy him.”
“He won’t care much when he finds out.”
“You’re right.”
Daniella blinked away the tears his words caused, and settled for nodding, not trusting herself to speak.
“It’ll be after he causes irreparable damage that he’ll care,” Cap continued.
“His stance on mutants is pretty clear,” Isabel said.
“He—” Daniella cleared her throat. “He groups Leo in with them. He’ll group me in with them.”
“I have some faith in him,” Cap said. “I seen the way he looks at you. I ain’t worried whether or not he’ll accept you. I’m worried about his temper.”
“What about you? Do you accept her? Or do you want us to leave?”
Cap gazed at her. “If you stay, you go south.”
Isabel looked at Daniella, who nodded. “We go south.”

Back to The Symbols of my Jottings


Silas knelt in front of me, putting his hand over mine. “We’ll find her, Kit. We won’t sacrifice you. There is something we could do, however. Something that doesn’t involve you leaving your spot on the couch.”
All ears were on him, including mine. What? I signed.
“Magic lingers in some part of us as residual memories, including the bond you once had to Ramos. I have a certain…skill that could be used to find that residue and make it solid. We may be able to use that to track Ramos. We find Ramos, we find the child.”
Abel snapped. He drove Silas away from me, putting distance between us and everyone else, baring his teeth at everyone, including Silas.
“We could have located him this entire time?” Thomas asked.
“It was my choice,” Abel growled. “I will not cause any more damage to her, especially not in his name.”
Silas ignored him, his attention on me. “It won’t be pleasant. What I’m dragging out is a memory of the bond, and that will make it feel like it’s back.”
“No,” Abel snapped.
It could find her? I asked, and Silas nodded.
He flicked his gaze to Abel, who held it defiantly. “If you have a better idea, I would like to hear it.”
Abel glanced away, his jaw hardened. “Not this.”
“The choice isn’t yours. It belong with young Kit.
I reached forward and closed my grasp around Abel’s wrist. He flexed his hand, breathing deeply at the contact. “Yes,” I said to Silas, though my voice shook.
“Get comfortable and relax,” Silas told me, though he held Abel’s eyes until Abel moved.
He pulled up a chair in front of me and sat. I flinched at Silas’ light touch, and he made a soothing sound. For a moment, I wondered if I’d feel it when he started. Something about my magic allowed the wolves to calm me using their own, and I didn’t always feel it right away. Even without a pack bond, they could use my magic as bridge into my mind. Without a bond, they couldn’t hear me, but Silas had been able to see whatever memory I’d relived at that moment when he bridged us. I didn’t understand what magic he possessed that allowed him to see into my mind like a television screen, but maybe it was just Silas.
Either way, that felt nothing like this.
His magic was familiar, heavy, and it fogged my mind. It was unpleasant, and my first instinct was to fight the invasion. His fingers brushed over my forehead as he withdrew his magic a bit. “I’m glad to know you have the capability to try blocking me,” he said with what I thought was approval. “But relax. Let me in. It’ll go smoother.”
I breathed in, my body shaking with an emotion I couldn’t exactly pinpoint. Fear to be sure. Panic. Those were both emotions I knew well, but this other one…desperation maybe? Desperation to help but yet not feel what I’d agreed to feel.
My breath caught as my throat tightened. If I’d learned anything with my psychologist, it was not to fight the panic and fear. It had its rightful place and had kept me safe all my life. Brie had pointed out that it would always try to stop me from doing something that could cause pain or terror. That was its job, but my job was to not let it stop me. Good intentions, bad timing.
“She can’t do this,” Abel ground out. “Leave her be.”
No, I signed with force, opening my eyes. I was surprised to find my vision blurry and everything was a little brighter. Panic attack. My mind recognized it. Need a minute, I told Silas.
He nodded. “Tell me when you’re ready.”
Brie taught me to meditate. The two most useful things I’d gotten out of it was the ability to quiet my mind and the ability to loosen my magic. While my magic was usually wound so tight it could be painful, loosening it was unlike anything I’d felt before. I set about trying to get to that tranquil state so I could control it instead of it me.
I worked to loosen my muscles, one by one, which helped push the panic down. I thanked it for its concern, as she’d taught me, but told it I had a job to do. My alpha was here and would let no harm come to me. I could handle anything else. I didn’t try to clear my mind, but rather took the jumbled images that raced through it and constructed a mandala out of it. I used it as a focal point, letting myself sink into the couch.
Both wolves knew, after however long later, when I’d reached that point. My magic flowed out like a dam breaking, rolling out in invisible waves. Almost instantly, the tension in the room lightened. Both wolves took a deep breath, and when I opened my eyes, their heads were bowed.
“Good,” Silas murmured. “Ready?”
Ready, I signed.
He entered again, without moving toward me. I felt him the second he latched onto my magic from his position a few feet away. A proverbial door opened, and Silas’ magic flowed through it. I kept the mandala in my mind, focusing on it instead of what Silas was doing. I could feel him digging around, pulling at threads, but it was only when he grabbed a thread did I realize what they were. Wisps of memories. Not full usual memories, but the feelings contained within them. The ones that were soaked in magic.
My body immediately tensed when he fused my current magic with the residue of the magic. The mandala shattered, breaking like glass. I fought not to shut him out again, and grabbed for the pieces to rebuild.
“Shh,” he said softly. “Ground yourself.”
That proved more difficult as I scented Ramos’ magic. It sent a shiver over my body, so powerful I twitched. His pack bond formed on top the one I currently had with Abel, piece by piece. When he finished it, it blazed with magic that tainted Abel’s. My body jerked as if hit by lightening. I’ve never been hit with it before, but I imagine the pain that accompanied the blaze would compare well.
Silas began searching. I understood as he explored the different threads inside that bond that he wanted an understanding of the other pack members. Never before had he had the access he had now, and he explored their residual magic in ways that I had never thought to. Then again, I didn’t have the access he did even when the pack bond was in place.
It wasn’t like this bond at all, where I could touch the threads to other members and even pull on some to gain certain pack’s attention who were close. Ramos’ bond was heavy and hot, solid like steel but yet the same hotness as smelted metal. I tried to focus on the mandala and ignore his exploration, but I received the same input of information he did.
The pain started off as an ache behind my eyes. With each minute of his exploration, it grew worse until it ricocheted through my head, neck, and shoulders. The taste of iron irritated the back of my throat. I tried to clear it, but it sent me into a coughing fit. My muscles spasmed as I faintly realized it was my blood. High pitch tones rang in my ears until I could hear nothing else.

Back to The Symbols of My Jottings

Day six: A State-Wide Shut Down Journal

“You remember the corona virus wasn’t there but now it is? Why is it happening now?”

It was a little shocking to hear my four year old speak the name of the virus. He asked why they call it the corona virus and I told him it was the shape of a crown under a microscope. I had no answer to why it was happening now. These things just happen.

We were playing with his legos when he paused to ask me about COVID-19. I had him repeat the question because it took me off guard. My son is at the age where he is a sponge. He absorbs information quickly, and processes it more quickly. I knew he understood a little about what was going on, but still…it took me by surprise.

A lot of people don’t understand the big deal about COVID-19. They think it’s some big conspiracy. I’m not saying they are wrong. It’s too soon to tell if this is a political move or just a pandemic. People keep comparing it to the seasonal flu. We have a lot of data about the flu. We know how many people it kills. They say COVID-19 kills less. The truth is, the pandemic has just started, so how can we compare it?

I don’t believe what people say. I take into consideration what people say, but I do my own research. I look at the numbers, the factors. Timelines. I compare data. Going to school for writing hasn’t taught me much in the writing aspect (that’s all self-taught), but it has taught me a bunch more about other subjects. Science is one of them. I know how to question topics and how to find out answers. I know where to look and how to critical think. I know news agencies aren’t what we should be quoting.

Going back to seasonal flu and how much we know with that. We know there is a pattern. We know when it gets warmer outside, the spread lessens. We spend less times in doors. We spend less time closer to people. Higher temps and humidity cause quicker decay with some viruses. It’s hard to know for sure why viruses do this. There are a number of theories and factors scientists look at when studying them. The human body, the temperature, the altitude, seasonality, just to name a few.

We aren’t seeing a similar pattern with COVID-19. It’s in hot and cold places alike. It’s in South America and Canada during winter months. Dr. Anthony Fauci testified in Congress on the 11th of March that COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu. It is said that the flu kills one in a thousand people, and COVID-19 kills one in ten.

It’s easy to look at these numbers and not be alarmed. They are just numbers to many, but to one in ten people, they are a name. A family member. A friend. They are a life. Any number of deaths for any virus or disease is too many.

Pa cases shot up by another hundred on day six. We’ve been under shut down for nearly a week now, but the numbers are rising. This is to be expected. It’s only been a week and we’re testing more now. I don’t see the numbers curbing in the next week. I think it’ll take more time. I’m not happy about being out of work for longer, but I think it’s necessary to protect those we love.

My son and I spent a couple hours building Lego battle ships and then playing Lego Jurassic World. We attempted to watch the first Jurassic Park, but it was a bit more gory than I remembered. He enjoyed the parts I allowed him to watch.

I finally did some reverse drafting on my Kit novel. I’ve been so overwhelmed with it that I didn’t know where to start. I have about 30 k more words to write to reach my goal, but I thought it was pointless to look at that number. What I need to do is look at the plots to see where the gaps were. Whatever they add to once written is what’s important.

I also made a second batch of hand sanitizer.

Keep safe, you guys.

Day Five: A State-Wide Shut Down Journal

I have not left my house in almost a week. I took a trip to the grocery store this past Monday, but other than that, I have been here. I’m lucky that I have so much space outside and that I’m so connected to nature. I am not stuck inside like many others because of their proximity to other people.

But, my days are blending together. I’m not sure what day it is unless I look at my calendar. I mark off the day before bed each night. I have the days circled leading to the end of this shut down.

I have not stayed inside this long since my last bout of depression. I won’t deny that I would always like to hide inside, but since I’ve been getting better, I’ve forced myself to go out. Sometimes it took no strength. Sometimes it took all the strength I had. This past week, it’s taken strength to leave the comfort of my living room and even go outside. I’m getting comfortable in my complete solitude, and it’s scaring me. I miss working. I miss people. I miss my mom.

I’m not even positive I’ll have a job to return to. I’m only part-time and it’s a small business. I’m not sure if they can afford to keep me after this. I’m not sure if they can afford to keep their doors open after this.

I’m tempted to let my friends with children know they can come to my yard to let their kids play in turns. I have some playground equipment that would be easy to sanitize between turns. But then, I think of the look on my son’s face when he sees children outside playing. He’d be looking out the window and asking me why he can’t go play with them. I feel selfish when I decide against the idea. I couldn’t bear to explain to him why he can’t go play with the kids on his playground.

I woke up on day five feeling better, at least in the aspect of my cough and itchy throat. I didn’t get much writing done, but I did exercise for twenty minutes. I cleaned my mess of a room and did some deep cleaning in my office (which wasn’t a mess, but I feel the need to consolidate. To get rid of things. To lighten my load. Anything that has me making decisions, has me moving forward, has me not in stasis).

I haven’t read since day 3, but I have been listening to an audible book. Patrica Briggs, the latest in her Mercy series. I have wanted to write my book so badly, but every time I get started, I feel lost at sea. It’s so messy and I can’t figure out which part to start with or what to do. I’ll work it out. I always do. COVID-19 won’t stop me from achieving my goal this year. This year I will get a book published.

My state has seen another death from COVID-19 on day five. The number of infected also shot up by 100. No doubt these numbers will rise.

I also looked at the stats for the number of cases and how quickly they are rising in the US. It honestly just looks like it’s getting worse here, but I was expecting it to. We all were. As testing increases, no doubt the numbers rise. With something that spreads so easily and the number of people we have in the country, it’s expected.

According to Our World Data, over 80 percent of people live in urban areas in the US. The following data is from 2018.

Meanwhile, health care workers are facing a shortage of masks. According to sources (including my mother) masks have to be attained with permission now. Supervisors are keeping them locked away because people are taking them. Below, my mother asked those who could sow to make masks to donate.

I went through all the breathable cotton material that I have and plan to try my hand at it. What else do I have to do? (Lots, but none compare to doing my part to keep our health care workers safe.) I even unpacked my sons baby clothes to use them. I’d been keeping them as keepsakes, but they can go to a better use. I kept one outfit and finally put together the shadow box I’ve been meaning to make.

Meanwhile, my dog is getting sick of us.

My son and I played with his firetruck tent on day five. Our dog was the monster who kept trying to attack us as we drove. She had us both laughing. I appreciate my dog, but she is probably getting sick of us. (Kidding, this is her dream.) Speaking of dreaming, last night she fell asleep with my son and barked and growled in her sleep. She was probably still attacking us in the firetruck.

Make the small moments count, my friends. Make memories with your kids and try to enjoy this time with them. Depending on their age, they will remember the time their parents stayed home with them for an extended period and had lots of fun with them.

Everything will be okay. Humans are resilient and we find the joy in the little things. Stay safe. Stay home. Stay positive.

Day Four: A State-Wide Shut Down Journal

I woke up on day four with a sore throat and a cough. I crossed my fingers and chanted, “Allergies. Allergies. Allergies.” I’d never wanted allergies so badly in my life. The probability of it being allergies was pretty good because it was the first day of Spring (yay!). No fever. No trouble breathing.

I quarantined myself in the living for the first half of the day, just in case. I played Minecraft. A lot.

Around one I took my dog outside to go the bathroom, and was pleasantly surprised. It was still a little rainy, but it was close to 70 degrees outside. I don’t mind the rain, just the cold. My son was super excited when I said we were going outside to play. I needed some fresh air and nature, and he needed to run off his energy.

Of course, as soon as we stepped outside, there was a rain burst. It poured. My son looked up at me and asked, “Do we need to go inside?”

“Noooooo,” I said. “Race you to the mud puddles.”

The burst of rain only lasted maybe five minutes, and stopped as quickly as it started. I grabbed my phone afterward to take some pictures. There is a swamp over the drop off you can see in the picture above, and I grabbed my wooden frog caller my brother bought me for my birthday.

The sound of the swamp is soothing, and nearly all the critters went silent as I used my frog caller. I glanced at my son with a grin and said, “Queen of the frogs.”

Lydia enjoyed it, too.


I jumped on facebook, and saw this gem.

I let my writers group know the meeting was still on, but we’d be having a virtual meeting. I started the writing group a few weeks ago after realizing we didn’t have a local one. I mean, we have one that meets once a month at the library but it seems like it’s just there. Once this is all over I plan to go with some of my members to meet more and see if they’ll join my group, too. Writer meeting twice a month? Who can deny that?

We’d met twice at a coffee shop down town before the shut down happened, and I’d never had so much fun. To be around my own people…there isn’t a feeling like it. I met two new people and finally met someone I was facebook friends with (who my mom worked with). My son was at the second one when I met my facebook friend, and ironically played bag pipes on his phone just before my friend came in. My friend is Scottish. The bag pipes were totally by accident, but so perfect!

Cases in Pa jumped nearly 100 on day four. Another state shut down, too. My county still doesn’t have any confirmed cases, but it’s only a matter of time. It’s all around us, and I’m sure it’s here, too. It just hasn’t been confirmed.

I tried to write after we came inside. My writers group got a kick out of the following meme I posted because we could all relate to it.

This is how writing went:

The thing about watching TWD…it didn’t feel the same as any time I watched it before. I talked to my brother on day four, too, and he said exactly how I was feeling. “It won’t be the same after this.” He meant this time will affect everything in the future for us, and he was right. It was only hours in the future, but I saw TWD in a new light. Granted, I’m not fighting zombies, just a virus, but there was…a knowing? It’s hard to explain. The feeling I had while watching…these characters were facing an unprecedented time. I got that. There was a helplessness in them. I got that, too. An uncertainty for tomorrow. Yep, check.

What I really felt was when they had just taken over the prison and had to tell the prisoners who’d been holed up there that the world had ended. The look on their faces. They couldn’t believe what was going on and I said to the TV, “Yeah, shits crazy, huh?”

My brother let me know that the baby shower for his unborn kid was cancelled. He told me he was still working (he works for a company that goes all over the East coast to stock shelves at big stores) and that it was scary, but someone had to make sure the shelves had products on them. He’s been working in the epicenter of two out breaks. Baltimore and Richmond.

I thank you, little brother. You are one of the essential services who keep this country running. You know what’s scary? Truck drivers are being turned away from some of their only options to eat. Truck stops are closed. Drive thru won’t serve them because they have to walk up to the window because their trucks won’t fit through the clearance. They can only get food at places for take out if they can find a parking spot. Their cost of living has tripled in some cases.

Also scary:

I think this is because people are expecting looting. They’re expecting break ins. If this continues and our stocks are depleted, people will do whatever they have to do to feed their families. And people will do whatever they have to do to protect their families. Society hasn’t crumbled yet, but people are preparing it to.

I’ve kept my door locked. My windows locked. I don’t live in a crowded area. My neighbor is a mile away. I never locked my door or windows except for at night. Now, they are locked all the time. I saw a car driving slow in front of my house. I don’t know what they were doing, but my writer brain went through all sorts of scenarios.

There are a lot of animals around me, but it’s been increasing because of lack of traffic on the road. I woke up on day four to see a beheaded rabbit outside my window. Probably a coyote or fox. It just gave me a feeling that more things were to come. Bad things. Like an omen.

Stay safe, guys.

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Day Three: A State-Wide Shut Down Journal

I’m a big player of the Fallout franchise, but I’ve been off the game lately. Especially since the real outside world is so unrecognizable. I said in other journals that I love post apocalyptic stuff. Reading it. Writing it. Watching it. Playing it. I can’t deny that I was curious to see how the real stuff would play out. What would happen if the world was sucked into another plague? If life as we knew it came to a stop? Would it continue as usual afterward, or would it forever be changed? I naively thought that I wouldn’t be affected by a changed world, even if only temporarily.

I’m feeling the affect. Physically, emotionally, and mentally.

I look for funny things wherever I can find them, and I found this gem.

COVID-19 is changing our world, and I don’t think it’s just temporarily. We will still feel the financial impact years to come. Despite what our Government is trying to do to keep our economy afloat, some small businesses may not survive this. Even our game playing will be forever marked by this virus. 2020 will be in our history books, no matter the outcome.

As of day three, there were 14 thousand cases of COVID-19 in the US. There were 185 in my home state, Pa. There was one death state wide, but 217 deaths nation wide. Over 100 people recovered. We can expect to see all of those numbers rise.

China experienced it’s first day of no new cases.

When this first started in Pa, the statistics were as follows:

Only days later, here is the update:

Our state officials put out a new article on day three.

I texted my mom to see how she was feeling (all good so far) and asked what was different about this than the last statement the officials put out. It’s pretty much states the same thing with one big difference: there will be legal consequences for businsses who are not life sustaining that remain open.

On facebook, I saw pictures of people. People getting new tattoos, people getting together in large groups, people going about life as normal. Meanwhile, I’m like “Should I wash my hair today? How many days left until I have to see people?” I’m all about bubble baths, but washing my hair is a whole ordeal.

It’s been raining here for the last week. I think one day was nice but the rest were cold and rainy. Not even the awesome stormy weather. Just blah weather.

On a good note, my lavender is sprouting.

On a bad note, I’ll get to enjoy beautiful lavender as I’m starving because my edible crops are water logged. (Kidding, but not about the water logged part.)

In my last journals, I talked about climate change. I’m an advocate of that, too. The science is there. The proof. Yet, still too many people believe it doesn’t exist. They believe that humans play no part in the change of our earth. Yes, climate change happens naturally. There’s proof of that, too. That was never the question, though. Never the argument.

I’m not trying to preach. You can believe whatever you like and no one has the right to tell you otherwise. I’m just asking you to see more than your political status and personal beliefs. Just entertain the notion that humanity has a negative impact on our world. If COVID-19 has any positives, it’s that we’re seeing proof of it.

And seeing proof that if we can change our ways, the earth will let us.

COVID-19 is a wake up call. And we can do better. We have to do better.

Day Two: A State-Wide Shut Down Journal

I’m currently reading a post-apocalyptic novel. It isn’t because of the times, but rather because I’m obsessed with the theme. To my greater excitment, I’ve realized it’s a zombie post-apocalyptic novel. I blindly picked the book, just searching for something similar to what I’m writing so it helps me get in the flow. Granted, my WIP isn’t a zombie novel, but I’ll never say no to zombies.

I’ve actually been on a non-fiction kick before this novel. Psychology, to be exact. The other book I’m in the middle of reading is called Biased. I guess both books kind of go with the times. Zombies because of plague, world altering stuff. Biased because it explains how we all harbor unconscious bias, and it explains how our brains work. It leaves me with a better understanding of why people are hoarding toilet paper.

In case you were wondering, it’s because toilet paper is a sense of normalcy. Seeing those fluffy rolls gives people comfort. Doesn’t make it right, but understanding helps see that it’s straight fear that had led people to do it. How many post-apocalyptic movies and shows do you see where the survivors make sure they have a roll? I’ve seen zero. Toilet paper is a luxury. It’s a sign of normal life. (There’s a word for it, but my writer’s dictionary is in my office. I’m currently not so we’ll go with normal life).

About a week ago, I saw someone mention in a news article that the CDC recommended people watch The Walking Dead to prepare for COVID-19. I can’t find the article that proves this, but I thought that was an interesting notion. (Also, I need no recommendation to watch The Walking Dead, thank you.)

Day two of the shutdown was like any other day off. My son and I played Minecraft most of the day waiting for his racing game to download so we could play that. I did a little reading and took a bubble bath. Typical stuff.

Until my mom called me that afternoon.

I’d almost forgot the virus was happening. I have days off during the week so it felt just like that. Normal routine. Write. Exercise. Read. Play with my kid. Clean. Mom’s call was almost normal, too. We call each other all the time.

She started to say something, then switched it to, “How are you and Cole?”

I answered we were fine, playing Minecraft. She asked how his appointments went and I told her cancelled. I’d need to reschedule one and the other was already rescheduled.

Then she said the words that made what was happening hit home. Made what was going on too real for comfort.

“We won’t be able to see each other for a couple weeks. I’ve been exposed.”

My mind didn’t seem to work for a moment, but then, silent panic.

I can’t remember the exact words I said, something about being tested, but she followed up with, “I don’t have any symptoms so they aren’t going to test me.”

Remember that post I shared in the last journal? About the three patients confirmed in her hospital? All three patients are on her floor. She cared for each of them. She, and a ton of other nurses. They were all exposed. Yes, they wear protective gear. Yes, they take precautions. But they are the front line of defense. They are who cannot get sick because if they do, who will care for them? Who will care for the thousands of other people who are bound to get it?

My reaction to bad news, scary news, and even good news is delayed. It always has been. Of course, as a human, bad news takes a second more to process. On the phone with her, I hadn’t processed it yet. The virus still seemed like something other people get, in other places. Not my family. Not my town. Not my county.

She said she had to get ready for work and would talk to me later. Work? She was going to work? How did that even make sense? If she’d been exposed, she could have it. She could spread it. She said she may not have symptoms, but could still be a carrier. This made no sense! My reaction was: Why hadn’t they ordered the nurses there to self-quarantine and clean the floor? Why hadn’t they replaced her and the other nurses who were exposed with new nurses? Yes, I knew we had a nurse shortage.

Travel nursing companies were currently offering insane sign on bonuses as well as guaranteed thousands for a few months in contract, especially to go to hard hit places and places that were expected to be hard hit (NYC, for example).

I have no answer to why she hadn’t been ordered to self-quarantine. It’s a developing situation and it’s not as if she can just take off work. My dad’s business is halted just like thousands in the state. She basically runs a zoo (inside joke, my parent’s house is called The Reeder Zoo because of the animals and all the grand kids and kids they have). Every single animal they have is rescued. (Her mouse just passed away, and she rescued it from my dad’s snake.)

I asked her permission later on to post her being exposed, and she had no problem with it.

The first PA death was recorded that day, too. A man in a few counties over contracted the illness and passed away. His sister also contracted the illness and passed away, days before in another state. NJ, I think. And their mother a day later if I’m not mistaken.

Let’s stop and talk a moment about mental health. If you’ve followed my writing blog, you’ll see snippets about me advocating for it. Mental health is just as important as physical. Many of us are feeling the affects of this quarantine. I’m not a social butterfly. I’m a writer and a single mom and I like my alone time.

But waking up this morning (I’m writing this on Day Three), I couldn’t help but feel the pinch. I have to go weeks without seeing my mom? Without seeing my friends or going to work? I had my second writing meeting planned for next week, and I have to let my members know that it has to be online. I looked forward to it. I looked forward to seeing my mom this weekend and a baby shower in April. I’m not sure if the shutdown will be lifted when it’s supposed to be, or if it’ll be extended.

They’re talking about months of this.

I already struggle with getting out. With seeing friends. With making sure I take the time to myself. With making sure I have cushion in my bank for hard times. I’m starting to feel a little helpless. That’s why people are hoarding toilet paper. They’re doing something, anything, to make them feel in control.

Again, check on your neighbors in a safe way. Make sure you’re communicating with people. Take the time to be sure you mental health is okay. We may be under a shutdown, but you can still have fun. It’s imperative to have fun.

Day One: A State-Wide Shut Down Journal

I kept up with COVID-19 while it was still in China, back in Dec. It was on the news next to Trump’s impeachment, the killing of Qassem Suleimani, Australia’s wild fires, and mess of other news articles.

I wasn’t too worried about it at that point. The flooding in Venice and then the dry season in Venice caught my attention more. The fires in Australia. All the climate change stuff. I was one of many witnesses to the live impeachment hearings because I felt I should be. This was history. It was all history and I wanted to be present.

I debated whether or not to write this series of journals documenting my experiences, but regardless of whether anyone reads this or cares, I want to. As stated in my last update, we are in unprecedented times and something of this magnitude may not again happen in my life time. Regardless of whether any of this is right or an over reaction, we should remember how this started.

The first official day of the state-wide shut down, I went for supplies. I’d heard that people were hoarding toilet paper and cleaning supplies, but hadn’t seen the shelves yet in person. I’d seen them online in pictures, saw videos, saw the country going crazy. I saw the Italians singing from their balconies to raise each other’s spirits during their country wide lock down and the comparison to what was happening in my own state was insane.

I thought going early in the morning to the store would be for the best. I realized other people would have that same idea, but I could escape most of the rush that I knew would be coming.

What I found were empty shelves and panicked people. I was almost out of soap and was able to grab two of the last four on the shelf. There was no toilet paper. No sanitizing products. Barely any good dish soap (I managed to find two antibacterial dish soaps). We usually buy bottled water because we have well water that doesn’t taste great to drink. Not. A. Single. Case. I grabbed two gallons of water because that was all I was allowed to grab. Signs like the ones above in the picture were posted all over the store for essential items.

I always liked to be prepared, even before all of this. When I get low on something, I buy it so I don’t run out. I was lucky that the timing allowed me to have most of what we needed before the craziness happened.

I was probably the youngest person at the store that morning. Most were elderly who were stocking up, their carts filled to the brim. I hoped that these people had all they needed and that they stayed home after this.

I filled the rest of our day with games and a little learning. Anything to keep my son’s mind off of why I wasn’t at work. Anything to keep my mind off why I wasn’t at work.

I decided to harvest my aloe plant since I accidentally left it outside overnight. My first harvest, just in time to make the much needed moisturizing hand sanitizer. I’ve always washed my hands, but I’ve been washing them more often and quickly ran out of the good stuff. My hands are cracked, dry, and in some places, bleeding. Eczema is no joke.

Most of the day went on as normal. I stayed offline as much as I could, but checking up was inevitable. My local friends were sharing the following post.

Now, I’m aware that the stated hospital isn’t in my county. What it IS is my mother’s place of employment. She’s a nurse there. I’m thinking, “Let mom know. I’m sure she does, but put it out there so she can get info on it and avoid that area like the plague”. No pun intended, but it’s never been more true.

Stay safe, guys.