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Some of my favorite images from the year

Well, here it is. The end-of-the-year review. I feel like a lot has been said about the world in general, and I’m tired and a little sad tonight, so I’m not interested in recapping it (didn’t I do this last year, too? I remember being very melancholy last year at this time. Maybe that’s just who I am now.). So I’m going to go through the year I thought I was going to have, how it changed for me personally, and maybe some more things as I ramble on.

First, some goal-setting changes:
1. I love resolutions, but I maintain the flexibility to adapt them. I did this really well this year – mostly out of necessity but also because it just makes sense to set goals that way. To work toward what you want until you get it or don’t really want it anymore or figure out something you want more.
2. Instead of plotting all the short-term tasks needed to reach goals in a chart for each month at the beginning of the year, I plotted one month at a time and based the new standards for each month on the previous month’s actual accomplishment (it’s like I KNEW) (I did not know) (No one knew). I like this much better, and it gives me a much clearer picture of the real progress I’m making.
3. I took the month of December off from the reward system of checking things off. Mostly I did this to just take a break from it, which was needed. But also it gave me a chance to see what habits actually stuck when I removed the reward of a check mark or a crossed-off item. Very illuminating.

Official resolutions I made at the beginning of the year and how they went:
1. Read 120 books. I did not quite make it. But, considering that I went for about four months where I had the attention span of a gnat and couldn’t read for more than five minutes at a time (I read a total of six books during those four months), I think my final total of 96 is still pretty respectable.
2. Finish Fishbowl again – nope. Although I’ve made considerable progress.
3. Keep up with microfictions on Ello – yes…ish. I haven’t even checked lately to see if Ello is still a thing. But I have written a LOT of microfiction and short stories. I didn’t set a specific number to write every month, so I didn’t keep count, but that was the main creative writing I did.
4. Perform with Spiderweb – yes x2! I was in the last in-person show, collaborating with Sarah Ruth for Spiderweb Loves You on Valentines Day. And I had a spot in our online Spiderdead in November playing an original not-really-a-composition-but-more-like-a-prompt called Maybe Hope is a Terrible Idea.
5. Find a doctor – yes. Done.
6. Find a new dentist and eye doctor – not yet. Have people picked out to try, though, in the first few months of the new year.
7. Continue to build Pilates practice – yes, but not back with the in-person classes yet (although my studio has been great with upping the cleanliness standards and thinking outside the box and serving customers – really proud of the way they’ve done things). When we started working from home in March, I accepted a 30-day strength challenge with Jessica and Mary in my office, though, and I incorporated a lot of Pilates stuff in that and have expanded it and kept up with it pretty well. I may be able to test into Level 2 classes when I return.
8. Work – vague resolution about continuing to figure out what I want to do with my life that got put on the back burner when I was just happy to still have work.
9. Word of the year was “alive” and we know how I feel about that. So that’s that.

Goals I didn’t have at the beginning of the year but added and met anyway:
1. Reduce plastic use and trash production. I started putting trash day as Monday on my calendar (I needed help remembering some things – see note above re: attention span). I soon found myself finding ways to prolong it to another day to see how long I could go without filling up the trash cans. I’m up to three weeks (except in the kitchen because food-adjacent waste really shouldn’t sit in my house for three weeks but I just use smaller bags).
2. Reduce food waste – my fridge had a hard year and I think it’s on its way to dying. My freezer still works great, though, so I began freezing leftovers. I’m down to almost zero food waste, so I think that’s a habit I’ll keep even when I have a fixed/new fridge.
3. Automate shipments – toilet paper, toothpaste tabs (the Bits ones – plastic free packaging!), laundry sheets (also plastic free!), etc. I needed to take things out of my headspace this year, so I automated a lot of shipments of things I normally would just run an extra errand to get when I ran out. Now I don’t run out. Great decision – 10/10 – highly recommend.

Things I learned about myself:
1. I’m way more adaptable than I thought I was. Like…my response to chaos has mostly been to fight and thrive (relatively speaking).
2. I am very particular about who I trust. And I like that about me. I mean, I’ll extend a basic trust to most people – I don’t want into new relationships assuming they’re shady – but past that basic trust? It has to be earned.
3. I can like and get along with someone without trusting them or letting them affect me. This makes me good at standing up for other people, and I want to practice that more in the future.
4. I need to be touched. Like…regularly. I knew this already but I really really know it now.

I lost a few people I love this year (some COVID-related, some not), and that’s been hard. I also had a few heartbreaks, one in particular that was really heavy and terrible. I feel like I’m in perpetual heartbreak these days, and I don’t know how to not be. I’m really trying to seek joy in the midst of it anyway.

Finally, to end on a sort of positive note, some highlights:
1. Staying connected to Spiderweb even though it’s online and particularly to the You Are Here support group
2. Monday night text study
3. Book clubs!
4. So many artists adapting to online performance and sharing really beautiful things
5. So many local businesses adjusting to changes and finding new ways to serve customers
6. The Science of Well-Being – free course from Yale
7. Wake and Bake fundraising boxes of baked goods
8. Backyard hangouts with people who love me

Goodbye, 2020.

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I am never at a loss for coffee pictures.

My Advent calendar prompt is to write down five positive statements that begin with “I am” and I wanted to add mine here and also recommend this as a practice if you are in need of a small pick-me-up.

I am still alive.

I am fed and caffeinated and clothed and in no real danger of losing my home or a place to sleep.

I am a fucking delight, and someday I’m going to meet someone whom I find equally delightful who is smart enough to realize that. I hope.

I am still not completely without hope, so 2020 can suck it.

I am looking forward to things. I have things to look forward to.

Feel free to share yours in the comments if you want.

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Books and mascots and dressing up for the intrawebs

That may be the most introvert-y title I’ve ever written.

In a lot of ways, this pandemic/work/socialize-from-home situation has been rough. My mental health is not its best self ever. Or, rather, it has been more work to take care of it. I don’t think prolonged isolation is good for anyone, and I’ve definitely had challenges that I expected as well as those I did not. I have needed to take many more precautions and call on more support than usual in order to function.

Other distinct pockets of my life have (dare I say it?) flourished. After the initial shock wore off (this is the theme, really), I have been able to adapt in several ways that sort of flow together but also are each their own separate issue:

  1. Reading – For a few months, I wasn’t able to concentrate to read at all. But now that I have at least an extra hour per night to add to my regular reading time that I was spending just driving from work and then to-and-from whatever meeting I had on that particular evening, I am reading about 100 pages a day. My reading goal took a hit from those missing months, but I may still read more books than I read last year.
  2. Productivity – Working from home makes me super efficient. Having more control over my work setting allows me to get through emails much more quickly, and I don’t feel rushed on phone calls. I miss my coworkers, of course, but my productivity (and thus my motivation) is thriving. We are closing one of our buildings at the end of the semester, and I was able to give significant help in getting those students moved over, and this would have been a lot harder/more stressful in the office.
  3. Sense of self – It’s been interesting to see the habits that have dropped off and stayed gone and the ones that I have either continued or picked up. I was surprised to see the things that I do, say, wear, etc., to make others more comfortable and things I do, say, wear, etc., to show up as who I really am. It will be interesting to see how (or if) I adjust back to old habits that I find stifling once I’m out in the public again most days.
  4. Consistency – Each month, I make myself a chart that has goals I want to focus on that month. It’s usually a mix of habits I want to build and the things I know I need to stay grounded and at peace. If you’ve been around here a while, you know my goals tend to be…lofty. But I’ve been meeting them better than usual. In fact, the last time I was this consistent with eating well, dancing, playing the keyboard, exercising, etc., was in my early to mid-twenties when I was performing regularly. While I’m not performing right now (well, not a lot – I do have a piece in the virtual SPIDERDEAD show tomorrow night), I am excited about how well I’ve been staying on track with things that are important to me.
  5. Creativity – All the others kinda lead in to this one. When I have the time (and the ability) to focus on what I want in life, my creativity thrives. I have so many project ideas, and I’ve been consistently writing toward my NaNoWriMo project. I also have a 31 days blog series coming up in December that I hope you will enjoy. I look forward to getting to collaborate with people again, but for now this will do.

I hope you are finding some moments of joy or clarity or focus or whatever you are needing right now.

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Coffee for two is my favorite (and most elusive) kind of coffee.

I’ve been posting snippets of a story project entitled “How To Unbreak Your Heart” on my writer page on Facebook. This has brought up thoughts about how people respond to those who are hurting. We’re not always great at it. We may say too much that’s not helpful, forcing someone who is already dealing with loneliness and the exhausting grief that comes with it to decide whether to make sure that we know our intention is appreciated while feeling utterly misunderstood or to be honest and risk being more misunderstood and rejected as a result. Or we, knowing that trying to say the right thing is such a fucking minefield, avoid it altogether and just hope everything turns out okay (you know, after they get past the extra alone feeling that comes with apparently having no one to talk to about it).

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have most of them. But I may have one.

When someone you care about is heartbroken, it’s natural to want to ease that for them. One way people have tried to do this for me is by telling me their own harried love stories of doing everything wrong and still getting the relationship, or stories of people who found love despite the odds against them. I’m certain it was meant to help me understand that such things are also possible for me.

It did not do this. Not in that particular moment.

You see, once upon a time, I loved a boy. He liked me just fine and for a moment thought maybe I was a possibility but chose someone else instead. I was dealing with it and would be doing okay(ish), but then I would see one of his posts about how happy she made him, and then I’d have a fresh wound to tend to. As someone who loved him, I loved seeing him happy. As someone who loved me, I hated that it was with someone else.

I felt really bad about feeling that way for a long time. I felt like a bad friend because I couldn’t just get over it. I felt like a failure when I followed friends’ advice to stop following him on social media – to stop seeing all his posts about how happy he was with someone else – in order to heal. I felt like more of a failure when doing so didn’t help me heal any faster. We lost touch, and I still regret the role I played in that. I still miss the great friendship we could have had.

Anyway, when I hear these stories, especially when I’m deep in the throes of loneliness, that’s what comes up for me. I imagine similar memories surface for other people who have been rejected a lot, too.

Does that mean I don’t want to hear about my friends’ happiness? Of course not. I love it when they share the great things going on in their lives, and I especially love seeing people who have experienced romantic deserts similar to my own finally find someone they adore who has the good sense to adore them, too. I’m thrilled for them. I even seek these stories out if I have just gotten back from a boring date or ended the fifth lackluster, going-nowhere online flirtation of the month as a reminder that trying to meet someone doesn’t always end up being a complete waste of time. And you better believe I’ll be posting some stories of my own should such a miraculous happenstance ever occur for me.

No matter how happy I am for friends who fall in love, though, these stories bring up other feelings, too. I can’t help but wonder how many broken hearts or dashed hopes their blissful union left in its wake. I’ll likely wonder the same even if in the future I post such things. People don’t always tell you when you hurt them, and it’s not the happy couple’s fault or something they could have even avoided, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The pain still exists, and bombarding someone who confesses that they are having a rough time of it with stories of other people who got the love that they, too, deserve, is not an encouragement. It’s a cruelty.

I know it’s hard to know how to respond to this particular type of grief. There are so many ways to get it wrong and seemingly few ways to get it right. As a person with a lot of experience playing the role of the not-chosen in these scenarios, I have some tips to minimize the likelihood of messing it up.

Pay attention. Listen to what they say and acknowledge their feelings. Pain is uncomfortable, but my best, most trusted friends are the ones who accept my pain as valid without trying to minimize it or cheer me up. My friends can sit in some pain. It’s really quite extraordinary and really shows me how much they not only love me but respect me. Because on top of the pain, your friend may feel embarrassed or foolish about the situation and thus may think they don’t have a right to feel the way they do. But their pain isn’t wrong, and affirming that can be so helpful. When hurtful things happen, it’s reasonable and healthy to feel hurt. What’s not reasonable or healthy is trying to convince them they shouldn’t.

Stop with the advice. Just stop. First, your friend probably already has an ongoing feed in their head of “If I’d just done or said this, maybe things would have turned out differently.” None of those things are actually true (i.e., when someone loves you, it takes a lot to kill that love, and when they don’t, it’s not something they can be talked into), and the last thing they need at that moment is a parrot of their asshole inner critic. If you truly think you have some insight that you really must share, jot it down and tuck it away for later when they can receive it and thus actually benefit from it. The midst of their pain is not the time or place.

Second, I don’t care how smart you are – you can’t fix it.

Let me repeat.

You. Cannot. Fix. It.

The problem at hand is that they wanted and hoped to be with someone who chose not to be with them. Unless you are in the unique position of not only being that someone but also having the capacity and will to love and choose them back, there’s not a damn thing you can do to resolve the problem. So quit acting like you can. The only thing your attempts to do so are likely to accomplish when they’re already feeling raw and vulnerable is to reinforce their suspicions that there’s something so wrong with them that they have to fix it in order to be lovable.

Encourage them to trust what they need to do next. This is so hard, especially when you think you know better. Odds are that you don’t, though. Different people heal differently. You may need to bounce back from rejection by trying something (or someone) new, but they may need to embrace the wallow for a bit. Some people need to cut all ties because when their hopes for a relationship die, trying to settle for anything less seems unbearable. Some people need to keep in touch, because the thought of losing the person they love not only as a partner but also as a friend seems unbearable. Don’t tell them to do something just because it’s what works for you.

This was long and rambly but it helped me a little to write it out. Hope there’s something here that can help you, too.

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Everything is fine

Yep. I feel that. I miss you, sunny, happy mug of yore.

This is the third time I’ve started this post. The laptop I’m using has that annoying button between the G, H, and B. I’m sure there’s some noble reason it’s there, like some accessibility purpose, but it is the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. Twice I have typed out this post. Twice, a subtle breeze from my finger has blown over said button as I was typing in its vicinity, which was clearly its cue to erase everything immediately. And WordPress helpfully saves the very last draft…which was nothing. *sigh* So now I’m typing in Word, where I can save properly on my own terms, and we’ll see how it goes. Third time’s the charm? Who really knows if you’ll ever read this.

This experience perfectly sums up my life right now. It’s nice that I’m able to type to you on an actual keyboard in the comfort of my home office. I’ll be musing over that fondly, and then suddenly…blank page like I didn’t do anything at all and have to either quit or start all over.

[Sometimes I quit. It’s okay. You can quit some things sometimes.]

I figure I’m feeling this way because *gestures broadly* but also because I’ve been making some positive changes, and some of the habits I already had established don’t know what to do with that. For example, I’m usually pretty up for cooking any given night. But lately, on a lot of nights, it’s cereal and probably also ice cream while bingeing Revenge (I’m on the Justin-Hartley-shirtless-punching-a-speedbag episode. 10/10, highly recommend, and you’re welcome), and I may eat the cereal dry out of the box because bowls are too much work and they refuse to clean themselves (rude).

So here are some food hacks that I’ve found helpful in keeping me from eating four boxes of cereal a week (problematic because you know I do not buy the sensible, healthy kind) and maybe you will find them helpful, too.

  1. Big batch meals. Specifically, I’m really into pasta skillets these days. My favorite is a cheeseburger skillet that I base loosely on this Budget Bytes recipe (you can sub black beans if you don’t have/eat meat, but add garlic and a little chili powder if you do. You know what? Add garlic and chili powder anyway. Garlic and chili powder and whatever other spices you use on your homemade hamburgers are delicious.) You can turn anything into a one-pot skillet meal. Tacos. Pizza. Egg rolls. Options abound. And it makes a lot that you can tuck away in your fridge (or freezer) in serving-size, microwaveable containers for nights when you would rather snack on a handful of gravel than cook something for real.
  2. Soups. Normally, I don’t feel the urge for soup unless temps are at least down to the 60s outside. But this is 2020. Up is down. Dr. Pepper is scarce in Texas. I eat soup in summer. My current favorite is the red lentil soup from Marsha Mehran’s Pomegranate Soup. Lots of onions, red lentils, garlic, turmeric, cumin, nigella seeds (I didn’t have any but subbed by going a little heavy on the cumin and adding some freshly ground black pepper, and that was fine), broth. Let it simmer for a half hour while you crisp up even more onions (like…crisp, crisp. Crunchy crisp) to use as a garnish. Simple and also amazing. And it makes a ton. I suppose that makes soup another example of a big batch meal and thus better suited for the first category, but this is not the time to point that out, reader. We’ve gone too far to go back now. It’s done. The point is written. Let’s move on.
  3. Enchiladas. My very favorite way to make enchiladas is to pretend I have a family to feed and order a big pan of them to pick up curbside at Milpa, which I can then graze on for days. As an added bonus, I grab a couple of their specialty frozen margaritas – one for me, one for my imaginary partner who graciously insists I drink them both. But if I’m at home and not wanting to leave but also not wanting to prep and then roll a pan of enchiladas, I use a hack I learned from my friend Michelle (*waves*). Frozen taquitos, enchilada sauce, and cheese. My favorite combo is currently the chicken taquitos, tomatillo salsa, and an abrasively sharp white cheddar. Layer it in a pan and bake it. That’s it. If I’m feeling some extra don’t-wannas, I just throw a few frozen taquitos on a plate and cover them in sauce and cheese and microwave it. Takes two minutes. Little soggy if you get too liberal with the sauce, but a margarita made with frozen limeade (or your juice of choice) and a healthy pour of tequila and triple sec will make you not care about that at all.

There are other ideas, but I feel like I’ve given you sufficient insight into my current state. Feel free to drop more food hacks in the comments. Or recommend your favorite cereal combos (because you mix them up, right? DO IT.). Or a cocktail you think I should try (note: if “muddle” or some similar high-maintenance nonsense is in the instructions, I’m gonna go ahead and look forward to trying that for the first time at your house in the future. Thanks in advance for the invitation.).

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My first small, imperfect peaches of the season. 

My word for the year is “alive.” The universe is hilarious.

I had a few thoughts about how this would go. There were a lot of lofty quotes that came to mind and many goals I made that I thought would contribute to a more vibrant existence. I had no idea how often I would have to fight to actively choose living over becoming stagnant or something else.

Today I read Joy the Baker’s post on turning 39, and so much of it resonated with me. I can list the accomplishments I’m proud of and many things I do well, but most days I can’t help but feel that I, too, have been left behind – that I missed a turn somewhere that would have taken me down the path toward those Big Life Goals™ that I just assumed would come along as soon I was ready for them. I also love her curiosity and her intention to set aside the small life story in exchange for embracing the things that sparkle – to “do them badly, then less badly, then maybe almost well.”

When our church decided to start meeting remotely, we didn’t hesitate or put it off a few weeks to figure it out. Our pastor told council, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” He didn’t mean, of course, that doing a bad job at online services should be the goal. Only that it needn’t wait until we had all the information to do it expertly.

As you can imagine, this is not my modus operandi. I am all for jumping off the cliff (metaphorically); I just want to be armed with a gigantic parachute of relevant knowledge before I do.

But I started the year with a commitment to come alive, so whether I know what I’m doing or not, here I am, doing it badly but consistently. This looks like a lot of different things:

To bake and eat the cake that I’ve been craving for a month rather than just think about making it.

To dance, enjoying the way my body – this body, the one I have right now – feels when it moves.

To choose to spend money in a way that actually makes a difference in my life and the lives of others rather than contributing to the greed of entities that exist to homogenize us.

To play Chopin. And also Joplin. And also brand new things that no one but me has ever heard.

To sing, even when there’s no one to carry the harmony.

To eat my veggies and stay hydrated.

To seek out the people who love me well and stop worrying about those who don’t.

To discover how much time I have when I cut out all the things that don’t really matter.

To discover exactly which things do matter so, so much.

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Wanting

Take your courage and go.

Round up all the things you hide behind.

You can stash them under the couch and forget where you put them.

The explanation. The exposition. The justification.

The smoothed edge. The softened thought.

None of these things are necessary here.

You are simply wanted, naked of everything you’ve ever been told you had to wear to be desirable.

I want you.

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I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love challenge on Instagram, and today’s prompt is “five things about me.” So here goes:

  1. I have a sister who is one of my favorite people. She lives in a state of delight, getting excited about every joy. It’s captivating. I did not always want a sister, though. The whole time my mom was pregnant, I kept saying I was having a brother. I talked about it, prayed for it, dreamed about it. When a sister was born, I was flummoxed. It didn’t make sense to me. Our family already had a girl (me) so we needed a boy to make everything balance out. Gender roles were a big deal and part of my raising, so I figured a brother would have the necessary skills and traits to complement my own. So obviously I thought a mistake had been made and I wanted to speak to the manager. Offended at the audacity of God to deny my request and armed with a supreme practicality (even at the age of three), I set out to find ways to remedy this situation. I called her Tommy for the first three weeks of her life, perhaps hoping it would catch on. MeMaw told me that, if she kissed her elbow, she would turn into a boy. Excellent. Finally, an actual solution! I often snuck into her room to talk her into doing it herself. When she did not comply, I tried to help (don’t worry – no little sisters were actually harmed in the making of this story. I didn’t want to hurt her. Also, her crying would have alerted Mom to my subterfuge, so…not prudent.). But at some point, I discovered how rich life can be with a sister, and I’ve been pleased to call her mine (and also by her actual name) ever since.
  2. I grew up in a small town in the panhandle of Texas, and my parents still live on the farm there. When you grow up in an environment with a lot of narrow, rigid rules and expectations where compliance is valued over authenticity, you learn a few key skills, particularly if you do not naturally fit within those rules/expectations. I learned to pretend that I did by only revealing the aspects of my person that were deemed acceptable. As a result, to this day, it’s pretty difficult to get to know me because I walk into every social situation trying to figure out which parts of me are acceptable there. I’m getting better, but I’m still trying to work out how to turn that off. On the upside, I can get along with just about anybody. I can cheat the system.
  3. A better upside to growing up where you don’t belong is that, to make room for all that I couldn’t reveal, I developed a pretty large, pretty spectacular inner world. I have this world to thank for all the characters I’ve created and every story I’ve ever written. When I have a big decision to make, it’s a great place to walk through various potential outcomes. All my best decisions have been made there. It taught me the pleasure of my own company. It’s not a suitable substitute for actual intimacy, but it’s coming in really handy right now in the isolation
  4. Talk to me for even five minutes, and you’ll probably hear about something I’m reading.  I’ll suddenly get really animated and bouncy about it. I love books. I have a large collection, and I read 4-5 books at a time. I like choices, and this allows me to choose the one that most fits my mood or is in an audio format that allows me to knit or doodle at the same time. In addition to the books we’re discussing at my various (four…maybe five if I finish in time to join the discussion for the daytime book club at church) book clubs this month, I’m currently reading my Isabel Allende collection in the order she wrote them. I’ve read some of them before, but I’m excited about re-reading each of them when it’s their turn.
  5. I have so much yarn. On the one hand, I’m glad. I’ve been able to share some of it and also I am in zero danger of running out of things to knit (Keep Denton Warm is gonna be chock full of blankets, scarves, and hats this year. If that’s a thing we get to do. Someone, somewhere will need them. Surely.). But I thought I had it all organized last year and I just found another bag this week. *sigh* I come from a long line of yarn hoarders.

 

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Sweet note on the dry erase board in the office this week

We are finally working from home. The students no longer are answering the telephone. We are having our first Zoom meeting tomorrow morning to check in. Denton’s stay-at-home order kicks in tomorrow night. I have plenty to do here to keep me busy, as my apartment looks like a tornado hit it (yes, ’tis the season, but in this case, just a simile) and thus is in desperate need of some attention.

Also I have books. Hundreds of books.

But I also need a little structure to maintain even a little bit of a sense of well-being. I can’t be alone in my house for weeks (months?) on end with no structure.

My goal checklist that I’ve been using this year to track the progress of my resolutions has thus far been extremely helpful for helping remain calm(ish). Every day I’m home all day, I make sure I’m:

  • drinking enough water
  • practicing Spanish, either through the Duolingo app or by reading a book in Spanish while keeping the dictionary close
  • dancing, whether for just a 10-minute break or a Zumba video or an online dance class (the tap classes Chloe Arnold is hosting through Instagram? Very cathartic. Highly recommend.)
  • exercising with Pilates on demand or with something that helps me stretch/strengthen
  • playing the keyboard (currently brushing up on some theory)
  • doing at least one thing to rest or pamper myself (e.g., relaxing foot soak, face mask, nap, etc.)
  • working on a crafty/creative project (e.g., knitting, poetry, coloring, etc.)
  • picking a different small area of the apartment to clean each day
  • taking a walk (weather permitting)
  • finishing the daily to-do list (e.g., keeping up with bills, checking in with friends, etc.)

I’m also taking the free Yale course, “The Science of Well-Being”. I’m just in the introduction, but I can already tell I’m going to like it.

I knew this weekend that I needed to go ahead and put these things in place now. I had a whole weekend at home. Normally, this would delight me. A whole free weekend? Paradise. But I spent a lot of the time overwhelmed and anxious and terribly lonely, despite the fact that I had a lot of interaction online. I thought when this started that this experience would be a good test of whether or not I could really work from home, but I may need reminders that this is a whole other animal. It’s not going to give me an accurate picture of what working from home would really be like.

What adjustments are you making to make this phase of life work?

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It’s the International Day of Happiness. This week has been w.e.i.r.d., to say the least. I’ve had a few panic attacks, and I’m still at work as we try to accommodate students who have nowhere else to go and figure out what in the world we’re going to do next (I would welcome faster decisions here…I’m just sayin’.). But there’s also been so many opportunities for joy. Just in my little corner of humanity, there is so much goodness. There are also so many fun things online. Here’s a list for times when you’re feeling more anxious than happy or just want something hopeful.

  1. Italians singing from their balconies.
  2. Lots of love happening on the ‘gram. Nikki Mayeaux is posting a daily creative prompt called Poem Passwords. The pictures on #seeninquarantine are spectacular. Between her early start for April Love and purrs from her sweet cat, Susannah Conway is soothing my soul. Julia Turshen is posting daily foodie prompts. I love this list from worn_ware of people offering yoga, meditations, etc.
  3. Tessera Arts Collective in Philadelphia closed the gallery for now, but they are still on for installing a street art campaign throughout the city this Sunday.
  4. Local businesses that can’t afford to shut down completely are making the best of it with delivery and curbside pickup. The Dentonite is keeping a running list. I love watching local business owners figure out how to take care of their employees by offering alternate earning opportunities and giving devoted patrons the ability to still tip their baristas/servers (*cough* support Golden Boy *cough*). Also…Golden Boy has key lime and coconut pie right now, which are in my top three favorite pies (blueberry is the third, if you’re wondering).
  5. Aid Network Denton and the city of Lake Dallas are keeping up a list of ways to get help or get involved if you can give help.
  6. Nature is delightful. The canals are clear and the swans are back in Venice. And penguins at the Shedd Aquarium enjoy a tour of the zoo.
  7. Since you can’t go in person, many field trip locations and entertainment venues are coming to you. You may also be able to watch the stage production of your favorite musical online. The Metropolitan Opera is streaming. Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted himself playing “All I Ask of You”, and Lin Manuel Miranda responded with his performance of “Everything’s Alright”. Yale is offering their course on The Science of Well-Being for free (audit only).
  8. For artists whose income is impacted by all the cancellations, here’s a list of places that may be able to offer support.
  9. Books resources! I didn’t know how much I needed Betty White reading Harry the Dirty Dog in my life until this week. In fact, many children’s authors are reading their books online this week. And one that made me salivate – download from a selection of over 300,000 books for free from the New York Public Library through their reader app!!!
  10. Debbie Allen is teaching online dance classes! So is Chloe Arnold!
  11. Joy the Baker is just a delight. As usual.
  12. People are putting their Christmas lights back up to spread joy.
  13. All the Julia Child is streaming!!
  14. What am I doing this weekend? I’m so glad you asked! 24in48’s Social Distancing Readathon!

I’m sure there’s more. What are your favorite things people are doing right now?

 

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