Writings and Witterings


Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

Some advice from an online friend.

Many of us are experiencing emotional distress from the pandemic which can affect each of us in different ways, but often presents as increasing anxiety, worry, sleep disruption, feelings of helplessness, panic, and/or depression.

The shrieking headlines don’t help do they? So what can we do to manage these feelings and feel stronger emotionally and psychologically as we prepare ourselves to face the difficult days ahead?

As a psychotherapist who has practiced for many decades, I have some ideas that can help. So if you are interested, read on.

We are going to make a customized anxiety toolbox. One approach doesn’t work for everyone, pick and choose what feels right for you. Of course I’m including relaxing photos intermixed in this post because looking at positive images is an objective and powerful anxiety reducer. What you perceive influences how you think and feel.


Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

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Dance with Me?

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When Dad was embarrassed, he whistled,
a tootling flute of a whoot; notes rising,
always the gent, he never bristled,
but when Dad was embarrassed, he whistled.
Always the same, breath gently pushed
through pursed lips, eyes on the horizon,
Dad, red, embarrassed, he whistled,
a tootling flute of a whoot; notes rising.

Polly Stretton © 2020

napowrimo #7

Eric Dudley Dawkins at his Grandson's wedding



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Athenian red-figure lekythos, Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design (

You are a rainbow
—a gilded-winged messenger —
a fresh-faced goddess,
refilling rain clouds
with seawater.

Whispers of wind,
Zephyrus by your side,
into the ocean deep,
underworld dark,
unhindered by the caduceus,
unchecked before sea serpents.

Harpy sister
bring to Zeus the great oath of gods,
Iris, take him your ewer,
sweet syrup of nectar.

Swift, sure, storm-like,
rage of the messenger
bent on your twin.
Your joy, iridescence of Arke’s wings
dulled by Achilles, he of the heels.

Harbinger of light
in gossamer gown:
ruby red;
orange organza;
yarrow yellow;
gecko green;
byzantine blue;
incisive indigo;
virtuous violet
—the realm of the rainbow is yours—
always beyond reach.

Polly Stretton 2020

Revised for napowrimo #6

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All Things Pass

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I see your laugh
I hear your smile
I taste your face
I touch your kiss,
the shape of your heart

All things pass
laughs pass
kisses pass
days pass
fights pass
smiles pass

You heard my smile
you saw my kiss
you tasted my face
you touched my laugh
the shape of my heart
is changed forever
all things pass

Polly Stretton © 2020

napowrimo #5

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Sod’s Law

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There’s always something to scupper a plan,
the printers aren’t printing, no woman nor man
handles rolling machines, all sweat and sheen,
that clatter forth with our fine magazine.
No worries, I’ll send the mag files online,
only five to print out for those who decline
to use a computer or email; we cater
for those who prefer to use quill and paper.
But my HP printer runs out of ink,
I insert a refill and restart the print.
Just five to print out, no trouble at all,
but my little stapler hits a brick wall.
The mag is too thick for the stapler to cope,
what to do? Online delivery! I hope
they’ll have a stapler to deal with the heft,
if they can’t manage that, I’ll be bereft.
‘Oh yes,’ they say, ‘heavy duty we do,
‘give us a day and we’ll get it to you.’
I bet you can guess what the next line will be,
that’s right, I’m still waiting, it’s day number three!

Polly Stretton © 2020

napowrimo #4

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Calling the Years

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They call through the years
childlike yet adult,
they grew,
as did we.
Photos tell of times
they may not remember,
but memories form
around saved images.

We argue
about Uncle Cliff,
‘He was dark.’
‘No, he was fair.’
‘He was in shadow there;
‘he diminishes with age.’
‘Aunt Rose smelled of perfume.’
‘She would,
‘she worked in a department store
‘on the cosmetics counter.’
Uncle Cliff’s tweed jacket,
the aroma of Condor,
he died of lung cancer,
had a cleft in his chin
like Craig Douglas,
but Cliff was more handsome.

We went to the little shop
at the top of our road.
Uncle Cliff bought
eight Black Jacks
and Fruit Salad
for an old penny.
Aunt Rose
left a tanner
on the dressing table.
The doctor wouldn’t warm his hands over the oil stove
because he had to go out again
into the snow.
My heart cringed at the cold stethoscope.
You cried.

Polly Stretton © 2020

napowrimo #3