In quarantine, all of the days blend together. They all end in “y” and nothing really happens. So, what I’ve been doing is tracking the weather. Is it going to be a particularly sunny day? Is there going to be thunderstorms? I then immediately look forward to that day. Because it’s just a break in the monotony.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Any day can be a red letter day, if you decide it is.
You don’t have to wait for something to be going on to make your life worth living. Or so I have been taught by this virus. (I know it’s new to me too.)
So, try to have a good day even on a Thursday. Even if you don’t have anything else planned. Even if you don’t have anything going on. Even if you’re still in your pajamas.
Make it what you want.
I don’t say this lightly: take the night off.
I’m not one to stop working until things are complete. Mostly because when I do so, I never return to them. I mean, seriously. I tend to do things in obsessive spurts. And when I take a break, it’s like telling myself I give up.
But tonight, I’m taking the night off from my novel. I’m scared, I feel nauseous, and my chest is tight when I think about taking one night off. I was doing so good on my streak of writing.
But I think someone out there needs to hear this as much as I need to hear it: you are not productive just because you do something every day. You’re productive when you are happy with the end result.
So, if you have been running yourself ragged, if you feel like you can’t go on, if you feel like you need to refill your cup.
Take the night off. Off of any responsibility you thought you were going to do.
Trust me. I’m giving you (and myself) permission.
My glasses are always dirty. And most of the time, I see just fine through them. But every once in awhile, my husband points out how dirty they are.
“How do you see in those things?” he always asks me.
And it got me thinking, whether we have glasses to help our eyesight or not, everyone has “glasses.” It’s called their perspective.
And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can’t see anything else except from my perspective. Through my dirty lenses. And most of the time, I don’t notice that I’m doing it because I’m just seeing. It’s a little cloudy, and not as clear as it could be, but it’s there all the same.
Remember to clean your “glasses” so that you can see the world from another perspective, a clean one. Which will give you a whole new lease on life, just like cleaning your real glasses would.
So, try to see the world from a different perspective every once in awhile. Oh, and clean your glasses more often too.
A critique partner is someone who looks at your writing before it’s sent out to query and gives you a first look of what someone might say about your writing, good or bad.
And while this is really essential to writing, (shoutout to my friend and critique partner, Chelsea who takes my writing as seriously as I do), I think also that people should have a critique partner for life.
Someone who isn’t afraid to tell you what’s wrong and how you can fix it. Someone who nudges you in the right direction when you can’t seem to pick a direction at all. Someone who loves what you’re doing and is waiting for you to do more of it.
So be unafraid to seek the opinions of your critique partners. We all have those people in our lives. Make sure they are a partner, and not just critiquing for the sake of it. You want them to grow with you.
I never, ever give up on the things or people I love.
I read books even if they stink halfway through, I try to eat everything on my plate, and even though I took a break from blogging, I’m here now.
But it’s okay to give up…just a little.
The other day I was writing my novel and I couldn’t get a scene to work. I stressed about it and grew frustrated. The more I sat and worked on it, the more the hours seemed to drag on and the more I got angry that I was working on it for so long. It was a vicious cycle.
I finally gave up for the day and went and sat on the couch. But the story still nudged at me, and a few hours later, I came back and everything was fresh and new. I suddenly knew how to solve the problem.
But in the act of stepping away from it just for a little while, I was able to clear my head. If you give up, just a little, every once in awhile, you might be able to step back with a fresh perspective. As long as it’s temporary and not a permanent giving up, then you’ll always have a better time coming back.
I’m not a good multi-tasker.
I write song lyrics when I’m listening to music and writing at the same time. I read sentences 10 times over when I’m listening to television and reading a book. And I burn things when I’m on my phone and cooking.
Studies show no one is a good multi-tasker. Because we’re not really doing two things at once. We’re doing one thing and the other thing is taking a backseat.
Which is why my advice today is that you should, whenever possible, try to focus on one problem, task, thing at a time.
Take me for instance. I am currently writing my first novel. I am not, also, learning to juggle while I do it (although novel writing is a juggling act in its own rite.)
And neither should you. I mean, do two things at one time. You can learn to juggle if you want.
Especially during quarantine, try to minimize your multi-tasking. I know it’s tempting, especially if you’re working from home and home-schooling your kids all at the same time. But trust me, your kids will thank you later if you step away from the laptop, get them started with what they need to do, and then go back to what you were doing. And your brain will thank you too.
So try less multi and more only. There will be time for you to try other things, like juggling, when all of this goes back to normal. I promise.
People change a lot over the years. And more than just from child to grown-up. New friends come, old friends go. Habits die hard, and people go through trauma and defeat to get out on the other side whole and new.
I personally now love Taylor Swift, when I used to hate her. I listen to her music in the shower all of the time.
Okay, okay, I’ve changed in other ways too. I want different things out of life than I used to. I love dyeing my hair different colors to fit my mood. I’m not so embarrassed of myself like I used to be when I was younger.
People change. And we all need to remember that change is coming for all of us. We can’t go back to the “normal” we once had, it wasn’t working for us. Because change broadens our horizons and helps us to grow, whether musically or otherwise.
So, if you’re a little uncomfortable right now, scared and uncertain, that’s okay. That’s just you growing wings where there was nothing before. And soon enough, you’ll be able to fly.
I take Sundays seriously at my house. It’s my chance to do everything that I’ve been wanting to do all week, which is eat good food, read books, and watch television.
Yesterday, I was bouncing in between all three of these activities when I realized I wasn’t hungry anymore, I didn’t want to read, and I didn’t want to watch TV.
So what was I supposed to do? I played on my phone for awhile but even that got boring. I sat in silence for a few minutes and then a calm washed over me. In my haste to do something, I had forgotten how to just be.
If time allows, if your family allows, and if you allow, try to just be for 15-20 minutes a day.
It does wonders for the mind and body. And remember, we are human BEings not human doings.
(I know, cheesy, but I’m right.)
My friend Marnie wrote me a letter today and in it she said the title phrase. She was talking about planting tomato seeds but I’m thinking this phrase contains volumes and multitudes within it.
Think of all you’ve accomplished within the last few weeks, or the last day, or the last hour. Think about how overwhelming and scary it was to start. But lean into how good it feels to have finished. And you would have never known you could do it if you didn’t try it.
The problem is our minds tell us we can’t do something to try and evade failure. But failure is a part of everything we do. We’re supposed to fail if we want to get better. That’s the only way to go about it.
So, when you’re doubting yourself, remember that you’ll never know if you don’t try. And if you’re not trying something, you’ll never learn anything new. From planting tomato seeds to writing a novel, it all begins with trying.
I have a stye in my eye (and I’m pretty sure they named it that because it rhymes) and it’s pretty much the hangnail of infections. (It’s just when your eyelid gets clogged, like a pimple.) It’s definitely not too serious, but it is rather painful when I blink. (Which I’ve noticed is ALL THE TIME.)
Cue my discomfort. So, I went on the trusty internet today to see if I could find any home remedies for it. Over and over again, I saw that the best way to deal with a stye is to hold a warm washcloth over your eye for around 15 minutes to help ease away the pain and infection (which I kind of already knew). But no drugs, no surgeries. Just warm water and a clean washcloth.
It struck me that a remedy that we (as humans) have been using for years is still what the doctor orders years later.
So, I realized that simple home remedies are the things that will get us through this crisis. THAT IS NOT TO SAY THAT YOU SHOULD TREAT CORONAVIRUS WITH HONEY AND LEMON. GO TO A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS.
Here’s my home remedy that you can use:
1 cup of laughter
3 heaping spoonfuls of your favorite meal
2 tablespoons of a good book
1 pinch of warm blankets
and a dash of relaxation
Mix together and apply liberally. Repeat if desired.