THE ART OF HEALING WITH ALYSSA NATOCI
I learned to knit when I was six. My grandmother taught me, and she was the real deal (her badge of honor is that the Prince of Morocco wore a sweater of hers during a televised interview in the 1960s). As something that is so deeply ingrained in my history and DNA, knitting will often oscillate in and out of my life, but it always returns when I really need it. I think part of the reason I decided to hand knit much of my college thesis collection (I have a BFA in fashion design) was because I wouldn’t have been able to finish without the comfort of knitting itself. I knit a sweater when I first moved to California, starting a new life without knowing a soul. I knit a sweater when I broke up with my first serious boyfriend. It only felt natural to embark on knitting a sweater at the beginning of the Stay-At-Home order in response to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. The sweater was modeled after my favorite, very basic, crewneck sweatshirt. The sweater took me a month to knit. It was made with a merino-cashmere blend yarn I intuitively bought enough of back in November.
The funny thing is, the sweater is perfect. It’s gorgeous and simple and looks very impressive. The humor of it lies in the fact that I made it out of the necessity to keep my hands busy, to have something other than the news to focus on, and to simply comfort me in a time of survival. I made this sweater for the therapy of the act of making it, but now I have this perfect thing as a consolation prize for finishing and feeling just as scared and confused as I was before I started. I’ve moved on to reading novels, which are another form of escape. I’ve read ten so far. To me, there’s nothing wrong with losing yourself in the act of making, or reading, or cleaning, or gardening, or cooking, or sleeping, or watching TV. Anything goes: whatever you have returned to time and time again for comfort and escape. Even if your mode of escapism seems, from an outsider’s perspective, quite productive, don’t worry—you know the real reason. It isn’t about what others see or think; it’s about what helps you feel better.
Pick something you can do with your eyes closed. Don’t stop until it’s done. Share it with the world if you feel like it or keep it private. Let yourself feel accomplished, if you can. (Yes, let yourself feel accomplished even if you spent the day on your phone, as long as it made you feel better.) Give yourself a break. Stay calm. Do it again or pick something else. We’re all just surviving here.
Some allies for gentle escapism that I’ve found to be particularly supportive:
+ a morning tonic of ashwagandha, lion’s mane, reishi, a pitted date or a dash of maple syrup, warmed almond or coconut milk, a pinch of Himalayan salt, and Five Treasures Supportive Tonic. or a hot cocoa for a small hit of caffeine.
+ going for a walk in the morning, afternoon, and evening
+ Grapefruit Nettle tonic, or whichever is your favorite flavor, as a refresher after your afternoon walk
+ a dose of Sea of Serenity before you sink into your survival work
+ three liters of water a day (I have a 1-liter mason jar and a wide Glass Dharma straw that I use to help me drink this much)
+ blue light-blocking glasses, if your preferred escape involves a screen
Be kind to yourself. Use your most natural skills and oldest healthy habits to fuel your escape, and ultimately your survival, during this uncertain time. Take care. You will get through this.