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Helpful Words From Wise People

Helpful Words From Wise People

How are you today? There have been so many moments lately where I am at a loss for words. (By which I mean, all the moments.) So, I figured, why not turn to the uplifting words of others? Here are 14 of my favorite quotes for whenever I need a dose of wisdom, and I’d love to hear yours…

“You can cut all the flowers, but you can never keep spring from coming.” — Pablo Neruda

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” — Madeleine L’Engle

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” — Howard Zinn

“The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink.” — Fran Lebowitz

“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things that do fall under the jurisdiction… I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life — whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

“The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness.” — Sakyong Mipham

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” — Cheryl Strayed

“Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.” — Tina Fey

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” — Maya Angelou

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami

“Today me will live in the moment. Unless it’s unpleasant, in which case me will eat a cookie.” — Cookie Monster

“We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and they fall apart again. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” — Pema Chödrön

“When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” — Theodore Roosevelt

“I believe that beyond this space and time, all is well and all will be well.” — Oprah

Do you have any favorite quotes or words of advice you turn to when the going gets tough?

P.S. Another life-changing quote and becoming the person you’re meant to be.

(Photo by Bonninstudio/Stocksy.)

  1. Cara Coyle says...

    Hi Caroline,

    Great article, really resonated with me!
    I have found a meditation that has greatly helped me and many people that I know closely. We practice the Global Light Meditation collectively with people all around the world simultaneously from the comfort of our own homes. We meditate three times a week, Mon, Wed, Fri, 9pm GMT+1
    Everyone is welcome to join us in our WhatsApp group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/FKbWAudziQ85hbAKWcEqfz

  2. Sarah says...

    “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometime courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’.” Mary Anne Rademacher

  3. Jax says...

    It was a pretty good list, except for the last one from Oprah. I do not respect her for supporting quacks like Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil. Now even more than before.

  4. Gro says...

    A sailor does not ask for fair weather, he learns how to sail.

    • Susan Elliott says...

      like!

  5. LT says...

    “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

    • shade says...

      perfect.

  6. Meredith says...

    I don’t know how many readers are believers, but a couple of weeks ago my small group studied Genesis 6:9-8:19 and we were all struck by how we are walking through the unknown just like Noah. Noah and his family spent over a year inside the ark unsure of how long they’d have to wait and what the world would look like when the waters receded and they walked out. During times of disaster “the Lord gives his people strength; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). How comforting it is to know that God remained faithful to Noah during an uncertain time, and he is doing the same for us right now. Weeping may endure for the night, but JOY comes in the morning.

    I hope this offers a glimmer of hope to someone. I know it’s carried me for a few weeks now.

    • C. says...

      My belief waxes and wanes but I always appreciate a note of hope.

    • L. says...

      God remained faithful to Noah and his family, but literally DROWNED every single other person on earth. How comforting.

    • Meagan says...

      Isn’t it amazing to read these stories of real people who were guided and loved and blessed by the same God that guides and loves and blesses all of us? Thanks for sharing!

    • Martini says...

      No longer a “church-goer” but still have my faith.
      How’s this…offer prayers for complete strangers. Driving down the road, you’ll see folks going about their way. Say prayers for one of them or all. We have no idea who they are or what their troubles are, but just about everyone can use a prayer. While washing dishes, as your mind wonders, offer prayers for anyone in need. There’s always a parent scared for their child while waiting outside of the ER, offer a prayer for them and their child. There’s always someone secretly in need of a prayer, offer them your prayers. They cost you nothing yet they are priceless.

  7. Veronica says...

    ‘Everything that is not actualy impossible can be done, if one really sets one mind to do it and is determine that it shall be done’
    Nicolas Winton *a great man that save countless life during WW2.

    This give me hope in the future: a lot of people are fighting right now for all of us, trying to find a vacine, to cure other etc.
    Our grandparents and great grandparents lived trough the war, and life after was different. It will be the same for us but we’ll adapt.

  8. Nicole B says...

    Thank you for these quotes, Caroline! I needed to read these today. :)

  9. Rusty says...

    Today has been one tough day.
    CoJ and this particular post has been my oxygen as I felt myself gasping, drifting, fearful.
    Thank you so much. ❤

  10. Denise says...

    “When you’re going through hell, keep going”. ~Winston Churchill

  11. Susan Sayfan says...

    From the book written by your deceased brother-in-law, Paul Kalanithi:

    “You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”

    I have this quote on a sticky-note on my bulletin board.

  12. Anna says...

    Love you and love Neruda… but that was a quote from his fight against Chilean fascism and feels weirdly inappropriate in this context.

    • Spring says...

      I find the quote brilliantly universal in it’s message.

      While we are on the topic of dictatorships, forgive me for adding a frank side-note. With Trump running the country, and the way things are heading, I hope American citizens are paying attention. Many democracies have fallen captive to authoritarian governments while trusting citizens quietly watched.

    • MS says...

      Why does drawing inspiration from a quote about fighting against fascism seem inappropriate at this time? We’re talking about turning to wise words during tough times…fascism was Neruda’s tough time.

      Not trying to be adversarial at all; I was genuinely surprised that a quote from someone struggling against fascism would seem inappropriate. Is it because it implies that what we’re struggling with (physical distancing etc.) pales in comparison to Neruda’s struggle? If yes, I can understand where you’re coming from (not sure I agree but I get it! :)

    • Anna says...

      MS, you put it into better words than me :) It does feel like what we are struggling with right now pales in comparison to those dark, dark times. Then again, I’m not Chilean, so cannot speak for them. I just know that as a German, drawing parallels between Corona and our own dark history would feel absolutely inappropriate and would almost certainly cause public outrage.

      BUT that does not mean that I want to diminish what we are going through right now: Corona is not an absolute devastation for so many people.

  13. Kathryn says...

    “Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.”
    W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge

    • Molly Gregory says...

      I LOVED this book!

    • L. says...

      I love this! And now I want to read the book!

  14. Jeannie Rodriguez says...

    “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”

    Maya Angelou

  15. A says...

    I love all of these so much. Thank you.

    Honestly, by the 6th rewatch of Frozen 2 with our toddler, the message in Anna learning to “Just do the next right thing” started to stick with me.

    • TNM333 says...

      Awww… As someone stuck watching a lot of Disney + now too, this resonates. Each day at a time…

  16. Arielle says...

    By far my favorite cut of chicken. Stonewall Farms’ Major Grey Chutney is really tasty. Brown your thighs, then spoon some chutney under the skin and finish cooking in the oven. They are juicy, sweet, and a tough spicy. There is a mild indian spice profile too. My other favorite recipe is a chicken tagine with preserve lemon and olives. The NYTimes has a solid recipe – my suggestions are to marinate the spices overnight, and include the lemon pulps. Delicious!

  17. Lanna says...

    Thank you for posting these. And for every single post before it and all of the amazing, uplifting, inspiring, educating posts to come. Truly grateful for your voices in this world.

    As a single mom of a 3yo, now well into the 5th week of figuring out how to WFH and simultaneously occupy the toddler-mind, I’ve watched Frozen II just a few times (it’s quarantine, who’s counting?!) and I was struck by the incredibly insightful:

    When one can see no future, all one can do is the next right thing.

    The future is uncertain; we know our world will have been changed forever by this pandemic …and we’re still not certain when thing will ebb back to (new) normal, but we can keep lifting each other up…. keep connecting with friends and family…keep supporting our healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store employees, delivery drivers, veterinarians, and everyone in between…keep doing the next right thing. Hang in there friends.

  18. KK says...

    “You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You do have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding” – Cheryl Strayed <3

  19. Megan Seib says...

    There’s nothing like staying home for real comfort. -Jane Austen

  20. Kat O says...

    “May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.” -Nelson Mandela

  21. mandi says...

    “Where the hell would we be without what we’ve been through” – Suzanne Santo

    • Shandi Woodard says...

      Amen!!!

  22. Tristen says...

    Reminded of C.S. Lewis, encouraging his fellow countrymen in the wake of WWII. Not all of the advice is medically appropriate at this time, but it’s a beautiful read and a reminder of how much suffering we add to our situation simply by how we react to it.

    Excerpted from “On Living in an Atomic Age”

    In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

    In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anaesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

    This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things – praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts – not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

    • Amy says...

      I love this quote, and have thought of it a couple times over the last month! Thanks for posting, Tristen.

    • Anna says...

      This is so timely and relevant. Thanks for sharing Tristen!

    • Ancy says...

      I LOVED this.

    • Alice says...

      I LOVE this, so much!!!! Thank you for sharing!

    • Maria says...

      Just beautiful!

    • Shannon Christenson says...

      C S Lewis remains relevant today and always! Love this quote!

    • L. says...

      Ditto!

  23. Carol says...

    Thank you for this post! Wise words and helpful right now.

  24. Meredith says...

    Thanks for sharing these, Caroline ? They are encouraging. Cheryl Strayed’s quote is so true. And I will be taking Cookie Monster’s lead on dealing with bad days ?

  25. Nadine says...

    People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. Elizabeth Kubler Ross

    • dana says...

      This is beautiful, thank you for sharing. =)

  26. Andrea says...

    You can’t control what goes on in the world, but you CAN control how you react to it.

  27. Katie G says...

    “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever” – Winnie the Pooh

    “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers

  28. Carol says...

    My Mom, the Queen of Worriers, once told me “I used to worry so much at night that I couldn’t sleep. But at some point I realized all that worrying made no difference in the end, that my problems would still be there in the morning whether I lost sleep over them or not, and they’d resolve no better and no faster. So now I just go to sleep at night, simple as that!” My father took his own life when he was ~40, leaving my mother on her own in supporting 3 children and a dependent grandparent. So she had some serious worries, in addition to all the emotional devastation. After hearing her piece of wisdom, I thought if she could do it, I most certainly could do it too! I know it’s not some elegantly worded bit of wisdom. But it’s helped me so much.

    • this is great, Carol.

    • Rusty says...

      I just saved your quote for my best friend who is an eternal insomniac. It says it all. Thank you. xx

  29. Erin says...

    My go-to during tough times:

    The Peace of Wild Things
    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
    -Wendell Berry

    • Margie says...

      I am struggling today, and this is both beautiful and heart wrenching. I am writing this down.

    • The whole world needs more Wendell Berry.

  30. ash says...

    –““Stay strong through your pain
    grow flowers from it
    you have helped me
    grow flowers out of mine so
    bloom beautifully
    dangerously
    loudly
    bloom softly
    however you need
    just bloom”
    ― Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey

    –““People are mostly layers of violence and tenderness wrapped like bulbs, and it is difficult to say what makes them onions or hyacinths.” ” Eudora Welty

    –“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Martin Luther King Jr.

    • Anita says...

      Love the first one! Thanks for posting it!

  31. Bridgette Stone says...

    On chicken thighs. Smitten Kitchen has a sheet pan chicken tikka that is wonderful. And on our menu for tomorrow night!

    • Jeanne says...

      Yes!!! This recipe is to die for!

  32. Mimi says...

    Thank you for this. Simply, thank you ? ❤️

  33. Nicole says...

    “I do not think that there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem.” I always loved this quote. It’s from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book “Everything is Illuminated”.

  34. Reina says...

    I just read the most beautiful poem in my friend’s Instagram:

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B_DgXxHhYwFV-OdNCDKsURo8Fw7UDkyyiBxOe80/

    I ask my Spanish teacher
    Como se dice “treat yourself”
    She said we don’t say that here
    I said of course
    She said the closest word would be
    Apapacharme
    It is very Mexican
    It is from Apapachar
    Which means to cuddle
    But cuddle the way your abuela holds you
    and also the way you cuddle a lover
    After a long day
    and also the way soup feels
    when it’s cold
    And also the way you can hug someone
    with no words
    And also the
    longest exhale of breath into smile
    And also
    socks
    when they come out of the dryer and warm your toes
    In the reflexsive “me” you could do this to yourself

    I said we don’t have a word like this in English
    She said of course
    the difference now is
    Treat yourself is bandaid shopping spree and bottomless mimosas
    Is red bottom shoes as a clean white bandage on everything really red
    human & gushy
    Is opulence as coverup
    Is lavish scheme
    Is a pop culture reference from my favorite TV show
    Apapacharme is
    knowing the only person you cant disappoint is yourself
    Is yourself
    as home your body as home your mind as home
    Which you can do with as you please
    As long as you remember
    Call your socks the lovers of your toes and
    On the coldest days hug like your abuela and
    Heal all the red gushy wounds with soup
    Be your own lover first
    with no words

    ♥️

    • Gabi says...

      Love this, Reina! Thanks for sharing.

    • Kim says...

      This is such a beautiful poem! Can you share the name of the poet?

  35. Ceridwen says...

    My friend sent me this in a card once when I was going through a hard time. She only included the quote, nothing else. I found it recently and it is so reassuring for these times.
    “We are an enduring lot, and we may move out for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and back we come. And so it will ever be.” -the wind in the willows

  36. Mimi says...

    This sky where we live
    Is no place to lose your wings
    so love, love, love.
    – Hafiz

  37. Dana says...

    I have been saving a little list for myself lately. And now for all of you, too.

    “What if we joined our sorrows? … What if that is joy?” – Ross Gay

    “I’m as good as anybody, but no better.” – Katherine Johnson

    “People have said, ‘Don’t cry,’ to other people for years and years, and all it has ever meant is, ‘I’m too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don’t cry.’ I’d rather have them say, “Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.” – Fred Rogers

    “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin

    “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde

    “History, despite it’s wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be repeated.” – Maya Angelou

    “You have to act as if it were possible to radically change the world. And you have to do it all the time.” – Angela Davis

    “If you’re upsetti, eat spaghetti.” – anonymous, 5 years old (from live from snack time instagram account)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such good ones! thank you, dana.

    • Cait says...

      The live from snack time Instagram is my new favorite thing. One of the most standout ones for me was “I don’t want to do yoga! I want to go to my room and cry and eat pizza!”

  38. LSH says...

    From the wise Nora McInerny, my sage on grief and life, whose quote has been featured here on COJ before: “Your life is going to be better than you’ll ever imagine and harder than you know. All of it is temporary. All of it is worth it. Go forward. And stand up straight.”

    • Paige says...

      That’s so beautiful. Thank you!

  39. Katie says...

    Another great Pema Chödrön quote:

    “There are no promises. Look deeply at joy and sorrow, at laughing and crying, at hoping and fearing, at all that lives and dies. What truly heals is gratitude and tenderness.”

  40. Katie says...

    “There is no healing in pretending this bizarre stuff is not going on, and that there is some cute bumper sticker silver lining. What is true is that the world has always been this way, people have always been this way, grace always bats last, it just does–and finally, when all is said and done, and the dust settles, which it does, Love is sovereign here.”
    – Anne Lamott, always and forever.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, i love her so much.

  41. Moriah says...

    Here is a poem I wrote in my early 20s when I was going through a rough time:

    A Letter to Myself

    Maybe your worst-case scenario came true.

    Maybe you didn’t understand joy until you hung off the cliffs of misery with one finger gripping the edge.

    Maybe you let the light of hope flicker out many times even though you value courage.

    Maybe fear has been your daily poison of choice.

    And maybe, just maybe, your life is not how you pictured it.

    I want you to close your eyes for one second, and then open them.

    What stands before are remnants of a human life lived and you, my friend, have survived it.

    Your story has a happy ending because you choose every day to wake up and be kind to others and notice how the sunlight comes through the window as you sit at the table drinking your tea.

    You walked through the fire but choose not to push others towards the flames.

    You still believe that there is good in the world when it hands you grief like a prize.

    And though you were scared of being abandoned, you talked to that boy at the party and put yourself out there.

    You choose to move forward, and that is the bravest act of all.

    • Michelle Bengson says...

      Beautiful, Moriah!

    • Claire says...

      I love it. thank you for sharing it.

    • Carrie says...

      Moriah, hats off to your wise 20-something self!

    • Beatrice Samson says...

      That is just so beautiful, Moriah.

  42. Oprah is paraphrasing Julian of Norwich, who lived through a plague and nursed the sick and dying. I’ve been reading through John of the Cross’ Dark Night and other poems and have found it really helpful for contemplation, though it offers no quick relief.

  43. Em says...

    Definitive proof that Cookie Monster is my lock-down spirit muppet.

  44. Andrea says...

    Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more of everything ready-made.
    Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die.
    And you will have a window in your head.
    Not even your future will be a mystery any more.
    Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy something they will call you.
    When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
    So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute.
    Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing.
    Take all that you have and be poor.
    Love someone who does not deserve it.
    Denounce the government and embrace the flag.
    Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
    Give your approval to all you cannot understand.
    Praise ignorance, for what man
    has not encountered he has not destroyed.
    Ask the questions that have no answers.
    Invest in the millennium.
    Plant sequoias.
    Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant,
    that you will not live to harvest.
    Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
    Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years.
    Listen to carrion–put your ear close,
    and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come. Expect the end of the world.
    Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable.
    Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
    So long as women do not go cheap
    for power, please women more than men.
    Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?
    Go with your love to the fields.
    Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head in her lap.
    Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
    As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it.
    Leave it as a sign to mark a false trail, the way you didn’t go.
    Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary,
    some in the wrong direction.
    Practice resurrection.
    -Wendell Berry

    • Liz says...

      I love Wendell Berry! Thanks for sharing.

    • Nora says...

      Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. Words to live by.

    • Nicole says...

      “ …but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light. Do not accept brutality and cruelty as normal even if it is sanctioned. Protect the vulnerable and encourage the afraid. If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind.” Sarah Kendzior

  45. JC says...

    Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light. – Dumbledore

  46. Meg says...

    Don’t Hesitate, a poem by Mary Oliver:

    If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
    don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
    of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
    to be. We are not wise, and not very often
    kind. And much can never be redeemed.
    Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
    is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
    something happens better than all the riches
    or power in the world. It could be anything,
    but very likely you notice it in the instant
    when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
    case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
    of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

    And for those of us who need a reminder to step away from twitter/news/doomsday zoom calls, I repeat to myself this phrase from writer Heather Havrilesky: “You have no moral obligation to ingest horror around the clock. It’s not more honorable to fray your nerves on the globe’s sharp edges.”

    • MJ says...

      I do not think I have ever responded to a comment before but BRAVO!

      1. I love Mary Oliver

      2. I have not watched the news or any social media for 14 days – I feel great!
      Trust me – if it is important – it will finds it way to you!

    • Meg says...

      Thanks MJ! <3

  47. Amanda says...

    “When I was a boy and would see scary things on the television, my mother would say Look for the helpers. There will always be people helping.”
    Fred Roger’s
    *Former kindergarten teacher here and an early childhood educator through and through. Mr. Roger’s is where it’s at. I shared this exact quote with my nervous and anxious 3rd graders on the day we were dismissing school due to the shelter in place. They needed a message of reassurance and relief.

  48. Thank you for sharing this absolutely beautiful poem you wrote.

  49. Dania says...

    “There is a hope in me that comes and goes. But I will never bid it farewell” by Palestinian poet & activist Mahmoud Darwish.
    That was my best translation attempt. I like it because it gives me permission to be sad/overwhelmed while reminding me that I’ve been here before and gotten out of it.

  50. Tess says...

    “The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear, or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the “I” out of the experience. We pretend that we are amoebas, and try to protect ourselves from life by splitting in two.

    Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate “I” or mind can be found.” – Allan Watts

    • Hillary says...

      Barn’s burnt down /
      Now I can see the moon.
      Mizuta Masahide

  51. cecile says...

    ‘Everybody knows deep down that life is as much about the things that do not happen as the things that do and that’s not something that ought to be glossed over or denied because without frustration there would hardly be any need to daydream. And daydreams return me to my original sense of things and I luxuriate in these fervid primary visions until I am entirely my unalloyed self again. So even though it sometimes feels as if one could just about die from disappointment I must concede that in fact in a rather perverse way it is precisely those things I did not get that are keeping me alive.’ (From Pond, by Claire-Louise Bennett)

    • Catherine says...

      Love Pond!

  52. Claire says...

    Honestly, the cat’s face in the photo was enough to give me a good lighthearted chuckle hahahahaha.

    • Audrey says...

      haha same!

  53. Suzanne Gigante says...

    My perpetual favorite is from the late, great poet Tony Hoagland: “What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.”

  54. Gill F. says...

    Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
    – Mary Oliver

    • Meg says...

      This is sublime. Mary Oliver is such a gift.

  55. Michelle Bengson says...

    I wrote this poem as a reminder to myself.

    Spring in the Days of Darkness

    We are witnessing it again: how the world decays.

    Therefore, in a time like this, who wouldn’t wish for the
    cherry trees to stay in perpetual bloom?

    But surely, we must know by now, how the flowers of our memories- of the way life was- is married to the fruit of the future- of the way life could be. The cherry petals are falling to the ground and we are grieving, but will we hold hope in our hearts for the fruit?

    It’s the only thing we can do if the love we have for the world is to be true.

    So we keep on- good enough- every day.
    Waiting. Tending. Preparing. Being.

    Because even though the wind is swirling low, and the clouds are cold and grey, and the trees are bare, we are clinging to hope.

    Hope that someday, some very fine day, if we are one of the lucky ones there for the harvest, then the fruits of the earth will return to us in the same way that we will return to each other: raw, bruised, tender, yet sweeter than we ever thought could be.

    • I just want to applaud you for writing and sharing your original work. That takes courage.

      Beautiful poem :)

    • Michelle Bengson says...

      Thanks Georgia for such sweet and thoughtful encouragement! I’ve been writing for a decade but just started sharing poems last year. It actually is not as scary as I thought it would be. I still just write for myself because it keeps me healthy, but i found it really surprising how much joy it brings me to just release them off into the world. It is freeing! :)

  56. Nigerian Girl says...

    Lately, I’ve been saying the Serenity Prayer before getting out of bed and it calms me so:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    Also, I find this quote by Chris Abani comforting and inspiring:

    “The world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion.”

  57. Lee says...

    “For one exceptional point in time, all of our fears are aligned, and we are given a common language with which to speak of them. It’s like some great tuning fork has been struck, and we are all communicating on the same frequency, so that we can suddenly all of us understand one another. Or are given the potential to understand, at least, en masse, what has always been true: that any disaster belongs to us all. And we can no longer go on pretending that we are merely living individual lives, that these lives can simply proceed at a remove from the people around us, from the collective circumstances in which we all live.”
    A letter from Beirut, by Lina Mounzer. https://lithub.com/letter-from-beirut-from-revolution-to-pandemic/

  58. Marisa says...

    No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave. -Calvin Coolidge

    The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. -Amelia Earhart

  59. jean m goddard says...

    This post was much needed by me today. Thank you. I teared up reading the third quote and this line slayed me: The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” Such a wonderful post. I will be reading it again and again. xo

  60. anja says...

    Lots of helpful words over on twitter: https://twitter.com/IntPoetryCircle
    Please check it out, these are poets reading their poems and other people`s poems. It has turned out to be a beautiful community

  61. meli says...

    Singing Everything by Joy Harjo

    Once there were songs for everything,
    Songs for planting, for growing, for harvesting,
    For eating, getting drunk, falling asleep,
    For sunrise, birth, mind-break, and war.
    For death (those are the heaviest songs and they
    Have to be pried from the earth with shovels of grief).
    Now all we hear are falling-in-love songs, and
    Falling apart after falling in love songs.
    The earth is leaning sideways
    And a song is emerging from the floods
    And fires. Urgent tendrils lift toward the sun.
    You must be friends with silence to hear.
    The songs of the guardians of silence are the most powerful-
    They are the most rare.

  62. Ann says...

    That cat is a moment before attack mode.

    • Joyce says...

      At first I thought this was an inspiring quote!! I love cat quotes, so was really thinking hard about the metaphor. Then I scrolled up and looked at the pic, and you are so right. That person is lucky they have socks on. :)

      Da Vinci: “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”

      Tolle: “I have lived with several Zen Masters, all of them cats.” (:

  63. HB says...

    Thank you–love these! Oprah is actually paraphrasing Dame Julian of Norwich. Lady Julian was a 14th century Christian mystic whose book, Revelations of Divine Love, is the first book in English known to have been written by a woman. Her words were: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

    • GL says...

      Yes, thank you!

    • Mary Rachel says...

      I agree. It sounds like she’s referring to Julian. I’ve been thinking about her alot lately. I’ve sung all shall be well in moments of stress since college, including after 9/11, but I took a Christian Ethics class with Amy Laura Hall two years ago and when Dr. Hall emphasized that Julian was quoting her vision of Jesus when she said all shall be well, and also that Julian lived during a plague and saw many people die, the prayer began to mean even more to me. I hear that deep hope that is more relational than optimism. Love tells that we shall be healed, though that healing is beyond our understanding.

    • Christy says...

      Beautiful, Mary Rachel. T.S. Eliot also references Julian of Norwich at the end of Little Gidding, which the final poem in his Four Quartets:

      A condition of complete simplicity
      (Costing not less than everything)
      And all shall be well and
      All manner of thing shall be well

    • HB says...

      Mary Rachel, so agree. Thank you.

  64. rebecca says...

    Would love to hear from Joanna about how staying in NYC is going. Maybe some photos from daily walks :)

  65. Abby says...

    My favorite of Kate Baer’s poems – and maybe favorite poem of all time (is it November yet, I can’t wait for her book!)

    For My Daughter On A Bad Day

    Life will rough you up. Throw you to the
    shore like a wave crashing – sand in your
    hair, blood in your teeth. When grief sits
    with you, hand dipped with rage, let it
    linger. Hold it’s pulse in your hands. There
    is no remedy for a bad haircut or ruined
    love like time. Even when death is coming,
    even when the silt rises in the back of
    your throat –

    this is not the worst of it. And if it is?
    Listen for the catbird calling. No matter
    the wreckage, they still sing for you.

    -Kate Baer

    • Blythe says...

      Thank you for sharing, Abby. I’m in the early stages of a divorce and this is getting printed up, along with the Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert quotes shared above.

    • beth says...

      Abby- beautiful poem, thanks.
      Blythe- if you haven’t already read Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny, Beautiful Things, I HIGHLY recommend. xoxo

    • Verona says...

      Love this. Thank you!

  66. Sky says...

    These are so wonderful, Caroline. Thank you! Here’s another I love:
    “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” – John Lennon

  67. Caroline says...

    I needed this today. Thank you, Caroline. Ps – I’ve read this blog for 10 years and it’s one of the small pleasures I look forward to over coffee each morning. Thanks to you and the whole Cup of Jo team.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that means so much! thank you, caroline xo

  68. Kathryn says...

    “Love is always inextricably bound with sacrifice.” ~Elisabeth Elliot

    Is not our world now bursting with love?

  69. Bev Willms Best says...

    “This too shall pass.” When we were raising twin littles it really helped my husband and I to think of everything as a phase, both the easy times and the challenging ones. That way we never got to attached to the “new normal” whether it was good or bad, but tried to flow along with our kids’ sorrows and joys as they happened. That being said, it wasn’t easy!

  70. Verona says...

    I have just finished Edith Eva Eger’s uplifting, heartbreaking, mesmerising book, The Choice. I am still under its spell.
    “Here you are! In the sacred present. I can’t heal you—or anyone—but I can celebrate your choice to dismantle the prison in your mind, brick by brick. You can’t change what happened, you can’t change what you did or what was done to you. But you can choose how you live now. My precious, you can choose to be free.”

    • Blythe says...

      Holy smokes, that is good!!

    • Abby says...

      Thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I just ordered a copy, and I cannot wait to read it.

    • Verona says...

      Glad that you liked it. At first I thought I didn’t need a book by a Hungarian Auschwitz survivor right now. I am Hungarian. My grandmother was a little girl when Jewish people were taken away from their village to meet their death in camps and she told me about her sadness and confusion when the soldiers didn’t let her give bread for a girl she knew. This is too much pain, I thought, too much pain for now. But then… It turned out this was exactly what I needed in quarantine and I have been telling about it ever since I finished the book. (It has some interesting parallels with Gottlieb’s very good book, but Eger is in a whole different class, I guess? At least to me.)

  71. Anna says...

    From the auspicious Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”

  72. A says...

    “The only way out is through.”

    • JL says...

      Yes! This has been my mantra through many difficult things.

  73. Marta says...

    Thanks Caroline for this little collection! Take care & remember to have fun!!

    • Frodo: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
      Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

  74. Joanna says...

    “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe. I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened. ” – Mark Twain

  75. Ana says...

    Cookie Monster! I spit my coffee out laughing at that one. Thanks for including it!

  76. Em says...

    That Howard Zinn quote is an old favourite of mine. I needed to re-read it today; thank you Jo.

    Another classic that perhaps is more poignant now than ever:

    “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
    -Albert Camus

  77. Andi says...

    Predictably, Cookie Monster and Teddy Roosevelt really get me.

  78. Sharon in Scotland says...

    The Tao of the Cookie Monster……………..X

  79. Grace says...

    ‘When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.’ – Khalil Gibran

    Someone read this at a friend’s funeral many years ago. I keep it in a note on my phone and look at it on bad days, it always makes me smile.

    • LeighTX says...

      That is lovely.

  80. Mo says...

    “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” This resonated when my husband had a breakdown at the beginning of the year.

    • Kristina says...

      that is Winston Churchill. One of my favorite quotes!

  81. Julee says...

    Here is another one from Howard Zinn that I love:
    “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

  82. Kristen says...

    “Be the heroine of your own life, not the victim.” ~Nora Ephron
    …this is the line that has pulled me out of the most difficult times and given me the “you will prevail; you’ve got this” push I need.

    Also this: https://youtu.be/9YSuVITrKqs?t=65

  83. Joy Bela says...

    “Being present is the biggest antidote to fear.”

    Can’t remember where I heard/read this but I think of it often.

  84. Robin says...

    Wow, thank you for these. I’m going to write a few in my journal to look at when I need them. I especially love Pema Chodron.

  85. C says...

    Thank you for this – I needed these words today.

  86. T Bee says...

    “If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere” Seamus Heaney! Seen it today on twitter and seems fitting for now.

    • Annie K. says...

      “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
      – Victor Frankl (thanks for including it in your book, Lori Gottlieb!). This is so great to think of for situations out of our control like COVID. I think of this quote a lot when my feelings get hurt and I want to snap at my husband. My feelings are legitimate, and I get to choose my actions. Profound.