Cass’s “New Normal” under Lockdown

Image shows hands typing on a laptop keyboard

We have decided to take a temporary break from publishing our usual posts in order to share how our contributors are handling current lockdown measures.

You may find that some of these posts may seem to put an overly positive spin on difficult circumstances but please note that in no way are they denying these exceptionally challenging times for many people around the world. These posts celebrate our autistic writers and how they are adapting to change and uncertainty.

ND Creative Process in the Time of COVID-19: by Cassandra Nelson

I notice new internal patterns emerging during this time of COVID-19. In my own home, we have been spared from getting sick as we attempt to create a new sense of normal. How long we will all stay well is unknown. We keep some remnants of our old life intact. But our patterns shift and it is not all for worse.

I work from home in my backyard art studio, a glammed out She-Shed. This is a tremendous privilege but I seldom have large blocks of time to work; I get “sips” of time, in between my other job as manager of the home and kids; cooking, cleaning, organizing, shopping and driving…. lots of driving. Working from home and on the home, zigzagging between these two jobs, creating an everlasting pattern of stopping and starting all day recently dumped me off at the corner of Exhaustion & Overwhelm.

I just popped out of a depression and returned to writing. I crashed and burned last Winter, after starting a book, several paintings and new blog content. Ironically, my book is about creative process and neurodivergent folks. I unearthed some positives when I was forced to slow down. And as awful as these times are right now, with so much suffering and loss, I still see beautiful patterns emerging. The grit and resilience are fully present, as we try to keep on with our work. We continue to make, flex our creativity and keep it real during this crisis.

With my kids at home, dividing up the teaching with my spouse, I work well into the quiet of the night. There have been fights, or rather more forced open communicating now, resulting in the reallocation of housework. I get blocks of time to create. I didn’t have the stamina to write into the night, nor any flexibility for my day hours a few weeks ago. I don’t have to drive the kids now and their Dad starts off the mornings. I wake around 10 am, do housework, cook and then work until about 3am.

That we are stuck here allows my brain to tell my body, “we might keep this up. We are getting things done!” These midnight sessions mean no interruptions. It’s just me, the broody blaring of Coltrane and my little space heater. The tapping of keys. Gratitude for the rhythm of Pursuance. I am writing again.

Each evening I write makes easier to write the next night. This beginning is often where we get stalled. This is easier for me lately, as I have the silent night to hold this sacred space for me. I have nowhere else to be.

I thought I would awaken completely drained with this new schedule. But I find that I wake up with such excitement because of what I created. Gone is the sense of dread due to time lost. Something good is happening here. I am fine-tuning myself in these quiet hours. In the reprise, I am learning what helps me create and move.

Image is a black and white portrait of Cassandra Nelson

Cassandra Nelson is a multi-creative artist, neurodiversity advocate, and facilitator living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She ditched her 15-year career as a crime lab analyst and now devotes her time to studying neurodivergent creative process, making art, and promoting other artists through her creative agency, Exceptional 2 Infinity.

Find her on Instagram:@ex2infinity/@neurodivergentcreative

Photo: Pamela Musgrave Photography

Published by florence neville (she/her)

PhD student

%d bloggers like this: