Twenty seconds of hand washing. 60 to 90 percent alcohol. Six feet of distance. People worldwide have absorbed these guidelines as the coronavirus pandemic has closed its fist around the world. But humans also need to keep the spirit moving, as did Charles Dickens — who lived through a few epidemics — by taking a daily “breather” in the fresh air. Here we offer recommendations for psychic health from people who go deep into their own hearts and minds: artists and writers. Creative people have been uniquely affected by the onset of the current pandemic. Still they continue to dream, and to create. They can help us understand how. —Ann Powers

Today’s Breather comes from Katherine Paul, who records as Black Belt Eagle Scout. She released her sophomore record, At The Party With My Brown Friends, last year and recently had to postpone tour dates due to COVID-19 concerns.


As hard as it may be to see your touring dreams go out the window, the harder thing for me is panic. It’s something I’ve been avoiding this past week, being cooped up in my apartment. Panic is not something I want to do right now, maybe even not write about right now, but it’s alive within some of us and does not bode well for getting through this.

This whole epidemic has made me think about the small fortunes I have like a roof over my head, a supportive friend and family network and accessible food to be able to eat. It has changed the way I view systems of power and how more than ever now, we need universal healthcare and to take care of those less fortunate.

To keep calm, I try and go outside for a little bit each day, whether it’s a walk around my apartment complex or a hike nearby. I have time now to pick up my guitar and play around and I’ve even started playing games on my phone because, while usually I don’t do this, I just need my mind to not go to panic mode and this helps. I think doing things one normally does not do is totally fine during this time because we don’t have a normal anymore, we have to create a new one.


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