Carlos Castaneda

Make Yourself Strong

March 27, 2020

Seen on my walk this morning

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong.
The amount of work is the same.”
― Carlos Castaneda


So What Do You DO With Yourself Now?

March 23, 2020

Are we there yet?

With much of the US (and the rest of the world) either “social distancing” or “sheltering in place,” all you extroverts and work-outside-your home folks must be going crazy. While my day-to-day life hasn’t changed that much (I admit I miss the library), I can certainly sympathize with the frustrations of having your schedule turned upside down, and having to fill hours of the day productively rather than stewing and worrying uselessly. Yes, of course, you can binge watch TV or movies, or read, but here are a few more simple pleasures and everyday adventures for while you’re sheltering at home:

Bake something. Blow the dust off your bread machine (do people still have those? I do!), mix up a batch of your family’s favorite cookies, or use up the over-ripe bananas in banana bread. I find baking very calming, not to mention yummy.

Take a walk in nature. Obviously, you should only do this if you can do it safely, but there really is something so uplifting about getting some fresh air and sunlight. (Plus, you probably need the exercise—see first suggestion.) 

Take an online art class. Laure Ferlita’s online watercolor classes are fun, accessible, and reasonably priced. She just launched a new one last week, Spring Wreath. (No affiliation except friendship!)

Doodle with Mo Willems, Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence. Primarily aimed at kids, but still fun for adults! As he says, “You might be isolated, but you’re not alone. You are an art maker. Let’s make some art together.”

Watch and listen to the Berlin Philharmonic in their digital concert hall, free for 30 days, if you register by March 31. So soothing.

Participate in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Stay At Home Book Tour. The first event was today, but there’s one every day this week, and if you can’t join live, there will be replays available. Learn about it here.

Fill your mind with positive, encouraging, and uplifting things, like:

This post, by Dani DiPirro of Positively Present.

This interview with author Rebecca Solnit. Her book A Paradise Built in Hell, “describes how in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters…human beings tend to respond by banding together, not tearing apart.”

No doubt this is a hard and scary time. Let’s get through it together. Share the things that are helping you in the comments below!


Serenity Is Contagious

March 20, 2020

“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing?”
—Sri S. Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras


Staying Positive in the Face of Coronavirus Fear

March 17, 2020

Luna and I are working at home

Here in the U.S., things are getting weird. Fights are breaking out over toilet paper, businesses and schools are closing, and a new term has entered our vocabulary: social distancing. The COVID-19 coronavirus is wreaking havoc all over the world.

And my library just closed. Now it’s getting serious.

I don’t mean to make light of this situation—it’s the strangest, scariest thing that’s happened in my life, except for 9/11. I’m not especially worried about catching the virus—I work from home and don’t spend much time with people other than my family and close friends—but I do worry about my husband and son, who work with the public, and my older family members, some of whom have health issues. I’m also deeply concerned about what will happen to the economy after this is all over.

Following the news has made me anxious and depressed at times. But I remind myself that living is risky. Virus or no, any one of us could be struck down at any time—we just don’t think about it that often. Our attention turns to the fragility of our way of life, and life itself, when something like this happens.

We always have a choice, however. We can let the coronavirus bring out the worst in us, or the best. This is our chance to work together to reduce the spread of the virus and help each other along the way. As usual, our attitudes are key: can we remain positive in the face of fear and uncertainty? Can we pause and notice the simple pleasures we’re usually too busy to see and savor? Can we use this time to become more thoughtful and real?

While we’re walking this hard road, here are some things we should remember:

  • Follow instructions from authorities regarding social distancing—if we have the virus but don’t realize it, we can spread it.
  • Don’t hoard. Buy only what we need and leave the rest for others.
  • If possible, help those in our community who may be dangerously isolated, especially the elderly.
  • Remember that this won’t last forever.
  • Try to stay in the moment and avoid “awful-izing” about the future.

We can also remember those who are being hurt economically by this shut down: small businesses, authors’ whose book tours have been postponed or cancelled, artists and crafts people who make a portion of their income through teaching or shows, performers who may not be paid when their productions go dark, servers who miss out on tips, parents who can’t afford childcare for kids who are unexpectedly out of school. Keep your eyes and ears open for ways to help if you can.

And take care of our physical and mental health by finding positive ways to release fear and tension. I stress cleaned my closet and dresser this weekend, a job that has needed doing for months. I’m eyeing my office next—it would benefit from a deep clean. And I think working out would be a better way to cope with stress than eating barbecue flavor potato chips, which I don’t really like that much anyway but they’re salty and crunchy and…well, you get it.

When the weather and situation permits, step outside for a breath of fresh air. Wash our hands more than usual (and apply hand cream after!). If we find it’s getting to be too much for us, set limits on checking updates and avoid inflammatory articles. And every time we read something scary, look for a positive story—such as “Coronavirus sparks an epidemic of people helping people in Seattle.” 

While we wait for world to settle down, here are some links you might find helpful:

Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project has some excellent suggestions about how to stay as happy and calm as we can be in this situation here.  

Modern Mrs. Darcy (whose own book tour has been cancelled) is hosting a Stay at Home Book Tour. Sign up for this free series of events, which will take place over the week beginning March 23.

Working at home? Click here to download Jamie Varon’s Work From Home Survival Guide.

How to Touch Your Face Less (since touching your face is one of the main ways you can infect yourself).

And from Catching Happiness:

I sincerely hope you’re all healthy and safe. If you feel like sharing, let me know in the comments (or hit reply if you’re receiving this via email) how you’re coping with coronavirus fears.