Relationships

What Weird Things Do You Do to Feel Better?

I was standing in front of the stove the other night…

…cooking garbage. It was late — somewhere between 10:30 and dawn. I don’t know what time exactly, because I never really know what time it is anymore. All I know is I should have been in bed, but instead I was barefoot and itchy-eyed, staring into a pot full of water and vegetable scraps: Ginger peels, onion skins, rubbery carrots and whatever else was loitering in the crisper, waiting to be tossed.

“I’m making vegetable stock!” I called to my husband, Harry, in the bathroom. I could hear the nail clippers as he tidied up his ragged fingertips, nipping scraggly cuticles and rubbing ointment into knuckles chapped from endless hand—washing. Good, I thought. He’s keeping up with hygiene and self-care. But not really. Really, he was grabbing a few brief minutes of alone time by hiding in the bathroom. We both knew it, just as we both knew that the pot of wilted lettuce and lemon rinds on the stove was not “stock” so much as compost water. It didn’t matter. Both of us were doing the same thing: Trying to feel better.

Like everyone, we’re living in the tiny world of our apartment, while the real world is in freefall. For the first three weeks of “lockdown,” Harry was still going into his Manhattan office (he works in broadcast news — one of many designated essential services that’s hard or impossible to do remotely). I stayed home with our five-month-old baby, who just learned how to shriek. In the old days, six weeks ago, we’d just begun to figure out our new normal as parents, balancing our careers with a carefully constructed division of labor at home — something we felt was really important for our wellbeing and our daughter’s. Then the pandemic hit, and everything changed all over again, along with our definition of “really important.” Checking in on sick relatives, disinfecting door knobs, staying financially afloat — that’s important. And as for wellbeing, our only real concern is not getting sick at the same time. In the new new normal, we just don’t have the mental space or energy for much else.

Yet somehow I always have energy to stay up making terrible vegetable stock. Do we need it? No! Our fridge is already full of brackish water that tastes like cabbage lemonade. But I need it. It doesn’t make sense, but it makes me feel better. There’s something about putting food scraps in a pot that makes me feel like I have my shit together, even when I know I don’t — even when I know that nobody does.

We all have our weird little comforts — those things we do to trick ourselves into feeling a sense of control. We organize junk drawers or defrost the freezer; we scrub the toilet and feel awash in bleach-y peace. According to my Instagram feed, we bake banana bread. When my friend Jocelyn is going through a tough time, she wears lipstick every day. “It’s something my sister always told me to do when I was feeling down,” she told me. “Now, it always boosts my mood.” My friend Connie organizes her inbox: “I’m neurotic about keeping my email at zero and get incredibly soothed by that maintenance: setting up special inboxes, creating shortcuts that automatically mark certain emails as read, and unsubscribing from listservs.”

I don’t relate, but I totally get. Everyone has their drug of choice, but we all know the delicious high of Everything Is Fine. I get it from flossing my teeth, or making the bed — the gateway coping mechanism. Oh man, nothing like that made-bed feeling, right? It fills me with a (completely unjustified) sense of calm and might: Behold, I have made order in the universe. I’ll take that feeling wherever I can get it. We could all use a big hit of Everything Is Fine right now.

The fact remains though that it’s not, and while lots of us are cooped up struggling to cope with this horror, there are many out there in the thick of it. I think of that each time another ambulance screams past my window, knowing that, relatively speaking, I am more than fine. That’s why I chafe at the idea that all of us should be stressed about optimizing our quarantines: starting novels, learning German, not just maintaining normal life but living our best ones. The sick and those fighting to keep them alive — they don’t have the privilege of coping in the comfort of their homes. Nor do those essential workers keeping our own homes stocked with groceries and maintaining the gas lines that heat our ovens so we can self-soothe with banana bread. I don’t say that to be preachy — I baked a loaf myself! I’m just saying, if you’re lucky enough to be at home and fine-ish? There’s nothing you should be doing other than whatever it is you have to in order to stay that way.

For me, that means learning to work with a five-month-old officemate. It means flossing like crazy, and playing along when Harry’s been “clipping his nails” for half an hour. Tonight, we’ll put the baby down a few minutes early, then hurry over to the living room windows where we’ll clap and shout and bang pots and pans at 7 p.m., cheering along with the rest of our block. It doesn’t make sense, but it makes us feel better. That’s just what we do in the new, new normal. And when we’re done I’ll go back to the kitchen, look for some garbage to cook, and wonder what the next new normal will bring.

Do you have any weird coping mechanisms? I’d love to hear.

P.S. What it’s like to have a baby during Coronavirus and what are you wearing at home?

(Illustration by Leah Reena Goren for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Kary says...

    I make a french omelette every morning. I don’t put any fillings so it’s basically just butter and 2 eggs. Sometimes a slice of toasted sourdough bread. I haven’t gotten tired of it but when I don’t get anything done during my mornings, at least I made myself breakfast. It’s weird that I’m not sick of it yet.

  2. Melia says...

    My husband and own a small local company that is considered essential so we have been working long hours and he hasn’t taken a day off in 6 weeks! Let me back up, we got married the Saturday before they declared in our community that you couldn’t have gatherings of 50 or more (which, within days was whittled down to 5 people or more) and our honeymoon was canceled of course (which is fine, that’s just part of it). So he went back to work that Monday following our wedding and I was back at work on Wednesday and we we haven’t stopped since. So, as we moved in together and are learning what this new season looks like for us together in these weird crazy times we are having to fight for time together when we aren’t on our devices answering questions for customers, doing estimates, handling personnel issues and taking calls. I’m trying to carve out time to cook actual meals, do the sweeping and folding and straightening before he rolls in at 7:30 or 8:30 pm so we can sit down and eat together and watch something light on tv or just recap what happened that day before we both pass out. To maintain our sanity and create some peace I’m trying to minimize the clutter in the rooms we rest in. I’m changing the sheets often to keep them smelling fresh and feeling soft (our 2 large dogs somehow always end up on the sheets before morning and are not helping with the freshness!) I’m lighting candles and keeping the the lighting low to create Hygge in the home. If you’re not familiar with Hygge, check it out, it’s revolutionized how I set the tone for our home with the little time we get to spend together. I turn the air down low so it’s cool in the house (We live in the south so it’s ALWAYS hot) and keep soft cozy blankets close by. There’s been a fair amount of the Great British Baking Show on in my house because it’s light and happy and my sweet husband has been putting up with it beautifully (I think he secretly loves it too + it inspires me to make homemade chocolate chip cookies on the regular and I think he’s caught on…. so he doesn’t complain :)

  3. One weird trick that’s been making me feel a million times better? I wear a dress EVERY DAY! So simple but somehow it makes me feel so much better about myself. I got so used to lounging, working, and parenting in leggings and a sports bra that I hardly noticed how ratty I felt (and looked)

    • Melia says...

      I love this so much! What a good idea.

    • Kary says...

      I do this too! Sometimes I put makeup on too.

  4. Anne says...

    Hello fine people. I am loving the comments so so much. There are still good things in this world & people doing good things. OH MY. ❤️ Anyways, just like thousands of other people, I’m baking & cooking up a storm – something I’ve always loved to do but now there’s TIME for everything I want to make. & I’ve been playing with my two dogs so much. They are thriving & surviving, quite happily. ;) We take walks, we talk to each other (or I talk to them and they listen) , I feed them treats, oh they love it all.
    & coffee. I owe coffee quite a bit for saving my sanity. :) there is something so absolutely calming about making a cup of coffee. anyone else with me?

    • AC says...

      Agree! coffee saves me every day. Its super relaxing to just make some and sip it with all the craziness going on.

  5. Charlie says...

    DANCE PARTY OF ONE! I put on dance party music (usually girlpower tunes) and dance like crazy around my apt. Its so much fun. It always puts me in a better mood. I bet my neighbors can hear me shaking the ceiling.

    I’ve also taken to doing yoga with adriene videos online. She’s got something for everyone: back and neck, full flow, 5 minutes, 40 minutes. If you’re in a mood she’s got yoga for depression. It’s great!

    • AC says...

      The dance party is idea is awesome! I will have to try the yoga for depression too as mine has been really bad.

      Thank you for the ideas!

  6. Kimberly says...

    I’ve picked up lawn mowing and edging my yard and have become “that” neighbor who is obsessed with pristine landscaping. I mean, on some days and almost every day, I might take my coffee outside, walk around my tiny front lawn, and pinch off the top blades of grass that are growing faster than others. I’ve even texted a friend to do a social distance drive-by to honk at my lovely work.

  7. Ash says...

    Birding.

    I tell you, the birds in my neighborhood are now the most well fed creatures in Oregon. I’ve planted a bunch of flowers in the yard, and have grown to love all the birds that live in the area.

  8. I’ve taken to making “vases” out of the New York Times, filling then with herbs from my garden or flowers from my walk and leaving them on neighbors porches. The real trick is to find paper to fold that has no mention of coved-19 or that I can fold to erase it. Bonus points for paper that’s pretty, like a recent graphic about Rachel Carson’s silent spring.

  9. AC says...

    Mine is organizing the papers in my office, lysoling my office (I have OCD), folding laundry and putting away, lots of list making (I have written morning and evening schedules, to do lists,) my notebook is my best friend right now!

  10. Sarah Matchim says...

    This resonates with me.

    I’ve really gotten into compost over the last year. This simple act of offering my kitchen scraps back to the earth is oddly . . . grounding. It attracts insects which in turn brings wild birds to my yard. It keeps my ancient apple tree from crumbling. It’s a gentle way to start getting my child thinking about the cycle of life, who will be asking these sorts of questions before too long. Most of all, I do it for myself. It’s a small ritual that reminds me that no energy, no effort, is ever truly lost. In these strange times, I find it all the more comforting.

    • charlie says...

      Me too! The compost drop off is still open in our city, so I compost each day, drop it off on Saturdays. And I just dump my coffee grounds out front in the garden bc its good for the soil! :)

  11. Kiley says...

    My husband and I just bought a house amid the chaos, and my coping mechanism is to design it top to bottom. Hours have been spent on whole-house color palettes, sourcing baby-safe door stops, and budgeting for the projects we can do now. I’m pretty sure the people I talk to are tired of debating a gray blue vs. a “warm” blue, but it’s probably the weirdest thing I do on my own for a sense of peace. The only other thing that makes me forget the looming dread is playing with my son.

  12. Alex says...

    …my baby was crying and I hit post before adding – hang in there, Liz! You sound like a great mom and attorney. Sending prayers and good thoughts your way.

  13. Savannah says...

    Flossing!!! It’s like you were inside my head. It’s what I do to make myself feel in control!! hahaha

    • Amy says...

      Ha me too!

    • Dana says...

      We are trying to go to the grocery store 1x a week. I had to make a special trip for floss, though. Crucial!!

    • Susannah says...

      If I am feeling in need a good releasing cry and nothing else seems to allow it to happen, I watch the ending scene of ‘Pursuit of Happyness.’ Gets me every. single. time. I highly recommend finding your own pinnacle movie scene-there will likely be a clip you can easily find on youtube.

  14. Denise Winstead says...

    I loved this essay AND the comments that followed! I found myself saying “oh, I do that too!” A LOT.

    My house is comprised of a high school senior who NEVER comes out of his room except to eat and go to work at Chik-Fil-A. We are struggling with the loss of his senior year, his missed last year of varsity tennis, his father relocating out of state, and the sale of his childhood home. He spends every free moment talking to his friends through various headsets and social media outlets. He told me the other day that his constant connection with his friends is what is keeping him sane. He is maintaining a job and a 4.0 GPA so who am I to argue? He knows he is loved, safe, and that this too shall pass.

    My boyfriend and I are both in law enforcement. We are working stupid crazy schedules and I’m away for four days at a time so we are tired but not too tired to bake banana bread. Tangled in with this horrible virus is life and it is still going on… I think some people are forgetting that people are getting sick and injured and are terrified to go to a hospital so they beg to stay home. There are still crimes being committed and families falling apart. Babies are being born and cancer is still cancer in all of its nastiness. The layers of sadness and grief are immeasurable- especially for those alone or who have lost someone. So, we do what we can to hold it all together for those who just need a little help getting to tomorrow.

    My “thing” is that I am tipping service people more than I normally would and on my days home I drop gifts to my friends who are not as lucky as I am to still be working and out of the house on a regular basis. There have been tulips from a local farm, local wines, milk, baked goods, a welcome mat, anything that reminds me of the recipient. Giving makes me happy and reminds me to be grateful for my health and amazing friendships.

    Thank you this quick respite and for allowing me to share and to see that we are all truly in this together!

    • Vera says...

      Denise, you sound like such a lovely person and friend. Thanks for all you do for your community and others!

  15. Susannah says...

    We just moved into a house from an apartment right before all of this started. I sit on our front porch and watch Gardener’s World or anything with Monty Don in it (Big Dreams Small Spaces, Farm to Fork on YouTube, Great British Garden Revival, Paradise Gardens, etc) for hours, periodically getting up to plant something or move something in our garden. It always makes me feel calmer. I am endlessly grateful to have a place to dig in dirt and put plants directly into the ground as well as in containers.

    • Becky says...

      ME TOO!!! How many times can you divide and move hosta??? My husband tells me it’s like I’m rearranging furniture out there!!!

    • Sally says...

      I concur! Monty Don is the best!!! Big Dreams Small Spaces needs more seasons!! I also watch gardening shows, feel amazingly inspired, and then go and potter in the garden (even if it is just investigating the leaves on the veggies). Such a calming pastime.

    • Alice says...

      Me too! At the same time as all this a man I was in love with, whose house I can see from mine, stopped talking to me three weeks ago. So I find myself, on top of all this, dealing with heartbreak, suddenly becoming a stay at home mother to a three year old etc. All that is keeping me sane at the moment is gardening! Building, planting, moving things, tending seedlings, literally watching plants grow! And it’s so therapeutic! And then watching gardening shows every night till I fall asleep and do it all again the next day. It’s so comforting, and you really realise that life will go on.

    • Susannah says...

      So fun to hear from other Monty Don/ gardening fans!!

  16. Bren says...

    I’m now realizing one of my coping mechanisms happens right after I put my babies down for their nap….I go to my big kid’s rooms and start folding all their little shirts and shorts and dresses to make their drawers neat and tidy. It feels like the one thing I have control over – neatly folded shirts and socks. If I’m really trying to escape, I put on my AirPods and blast music to tune out the sound of all the kids around me! I used my AirPod trick the other night and got out my toddler’s watercolors and paint brushes and went to town. The music and colors helped me escape!

  17. I’ve been writing postcards to all my friends and family. Getting real mail feels so good, and it supports the struggling post office!
    If there are no postcards in the house, you can mail anything in that shape…I’ve been known to send the front of milk cartons when I used to travel…get creative! The weird ones are the most fun!

    • Fiona says...

      Somewhere on Instagram I found someone who had made home made cards with drawings of two arms and hands that looked like the equivalent of a stick figure hug. I made about 20 one very sad day and wrote a note on each of them them to all my fave people saying how much I missed them, and I stuck on a stamp and mailed them. It was such a satisfying, simple, colorful act that I felt so much better. In the two weeks since I get random texts saying that friends and family got the cards and it made them smile.

  18. I’ve lived 6 years in my tiny 20-meter chambre de bonne and always worked at home painting watercolors. Yet this is the 1st time I’ve started feeding the birds outside my window – pigeons, a big crow, a smaller blackbird who flew inside yesterday! There are no screens on French window. No one else is on the 6th floor or in my building except the concierge downstairs. All escaped to the seaside or country. But the tap and scrabble of beaks and claws on the roof makes me feel not quite so alone.

    • Amy says...

      This is so beautiful and I so relate! I’m in Los Angeles where we have wild parrots, and their squawks have been such welcome company!

  19. Meg says...

    I know it’s not the point, but you can store carrots submerged in water (like in an old pasta sauce jar) in the fridge and they won’t go rubbery.

    It’s a game changer.

    • Kerry says...

      I’m going to try that, thanks!

    • Juley says...

      Or you can just store them in a plastic bag – I just use an old bread bag in my fridge

  20. Cb says...

    My odd coping activities are clipping coupons that will never get used, daily reviews of the contents of our pantry and toiletry cupboard, watching TV shows on paranormal activity, vacuuming and disinfecting.

  21. Liz says...

    I feel like a rain cloud, but it’s hard for me to read comments about all the things people are doing in their free time to survive, when it feels like I have no free time. My job (public defender adjacent with some other things thrown in) has not slowed down in the slightest (in fact, the crisis facing my incarcerated clients has greatly increased my work) and yet my 4-year-old is not in school. This has created a situation where her father and I (we are together, but calling him a partner feels like a stretch at the moment) fight for time to work. I work from sunup until midnight daily, in a panic about failing my clients or my child. I would love to have time to do any one of these self-care things. Maybe I just need to step back from articles like this. Maybe some can identify. I would bake all the bread, do all the yoga, organize all the closets if I didn’t feel I had to spend every waking minute working to stay even marginally on top of my work (which I believe is important). I feel like I live on a different planet.

    • Jennifer says...

      I hear you, Liz. There’s a definite divide between those who have more time and are optimising quarantine and those who are just barely keeping head above water. Hang in there. I’m sure you are doing an incredible job, for both your clients and your little girl.

    • Christine says...

      Liz: same here. Attorney, 3-year-old home all day, and working husband. I can’t look beyond the day I’m in, and my only motto now is “take it hour by hour.” Self care is wearing earplugs while I work from my home “office” (storage room).

    • Alice says...

      Sending you tons of love Liz, that sounds really, really hard. I’m with you in that my work is busier than ever at the moment- I work in online education- and I feel like I have very limited time even without a child. You are doing a bloody brilliant job, and I hope you realise that. Sending strength your way!

    • sydney.k. says...

      I am in a very-different-but-feels-similar boat. I just finished grad school, and now my main job is doing research. It feels like all I do is work from 7am to 10pm. And I can’t stop working, because then I’ll “fall behind” all the other young researchers, who seem to be incredibly productive right now. Whether they are or aren’t seems irrelevant — I have to keep working, because there is so much uncertainty about high education and faculty positions right now, and will be for the foreseeable future. It sucks! And I’m essentially quarantining alone (my housemate is a nurse, so we do not interact right now), which doesn’t help things. I hope your situation improves though, in whatever capacity makes the most sense.

    • L says...

      I can’t imagine how hard this time must be with all of that on your plate, Liz. This might sound incredibly trite but you are being an actual superhero right now, full stop. Thank you for what you are doing and for sharing your experience. Sending love and solidarity.

    • Katie says...

      Same, Liz. Same. If anything, my workload has picked up. Still expected to do my job, be in online meetings at 830am sharp, M-F. Multiple staff meetings with colleagues, online team work, etc… except now I don’t have childcare? So I need to do my whole job AND care for small children all day without leaving the house? Watching Instagram stories of people baking biscuits or having virtual happy hours feels so surreal!

    • Betsy says...

      Sounds stressful but …you’re also working and getting paid which is something to be grateful for right now. Some people are looking for ways like to keep busy because of job loss.

    • Sasha says...

      Thank you,thank you, thank you. I work in a hospital in NYC and cry daily from the horror of it all. These posts seem like a beautiful vision from another world

    • Savannah says...

      I feel you Liz. My husband and I both work and have 3 kids. It’s just long, long days with weekends of cleaning and organizing and working so that the week days work. I watch people without kids’ instagram accounts with increasing jealousy. You’re not a horrible person. It’s really really hard.

    • Eliza says...

      Liz – I couldn’t agree more. I keep saying “Quarantine is not as advertised” my work is busier than ever, my husband is a deputy and we have 3 children 5, 3, 8 months all at home. I actually enjoy doing “all the things” organizing, baking, exercising, and am jealous of those that can use this time to do that. There also is an underlying pressure out there to “use this unexpected time wisely” (write a novel! DIY a brand new bathroom!), which makes me want to fight the internet. We are in pure survival mode right now. I read an article that the only goal is to arrive – it relieved some of that pressure.

    • Alex says...

      I completely understand, Liz. I’m teleworking from an office job, my husband’s doing the same plus this is the first semester he’s teaching a grad class 2 nights/week, and we have 3 kids under 5. For the first 2 weeks we had no childcare help, and we did not try to do it all. I got in 25 hours and my husband got in about 40 when you add in the teaching duties. I found completing a full 40 hours to be physically impossible, and thankfully my supervisors understand (they also have kids). Many managers without small or school age kids at home think that they are in a similar boat because they have a hard time separating work from home. It is NOT the same problem. I cope by being thankful that we have jobs and that we can telework from them, so we can both be at home with the kids. I’m also thankful that my in-laws, despite their subpar childcare skills, moved in with us the third week to help, because ANY help they can so generously give us right now is wonderful.

  22. E says...

    My husband and I have been drinking a shit ton of herbal tea.

  23. Shauna says...

    My husband had to hide our paint brushes, because apparently my coping mechanism is turning our home into a messed up version of an HGTV show. The first week at home, I painted our kitchen cabinets. Then I moved on to our nightstands and our front door. I touched up our trim around the house and bought limewash for our exterior brick. When my husband finally asked me where the hell I keep getting all this paint from, I started following a bunch of artists on Instagram and trying to learn artsy painting. I have been churning out complete rubbish, but we all need a way to make this work.

    • Julianna says...

      Shauna, we may paint our kitchen cabinets too (something about spending so much time at home makes us want to redo EVERYTHING). Do you have a good how-to guide that you followed?

    • Lara says...

      Every night , I get lost in the kitchen for a few hours while my husband is reading or watching the news .I just close the door, make a decent dinner while listening to an endless list of podcasts or jazz . I recently got the sweetest compliment as we were finishing our dinner ” you are a jewel “. Weird habit? Not so much ! Soothing? Definitely

  24. Jen says...

    I feel and relate to this 100%. I’m such a lurker but this thread in particular has made want tell this awesome communty how much I appreciate each and every one of you. Especially those that were vulnerable and trusted us to listen to your struggles. Just look all the love and support that poured out. I want to be part of a community that shows up like that.

  25. L says...

    I had to come back today and read more of these awesome comments – I know we say it a lot, but damn this is such a great community! So comforting. I feel like one of my weird things that isn’t really weird is commenting more – I’m usually more of a lurker who doesn’t chime in as much but recently I’ve really felt like I need to join in and connect to this tribe of amazing internet strangers. I’m appreciating this and a couple other blogs so, so much during this strange time. It is so great to hear from everyone who is cooped up all over the world and how everyone is figuring out how to cope. Sending everyone out there lots of love and strength! And another huge thank you to Joanna and her brilliant team – y’all are seriously the best – thanks for helping to keep us all going!

  26. Suzanne says...

    I’ve been reading more than I have in recent history – 8 books in the past ~30 days! It’s felt good to escape a bit with some really good stories and I find that tracking something (and also COMPLETING something!) has been really fulfilling.

    Libraries here are closed, but last summer I put a Little Free Library in our front yard, and it’s been so nice to see people dropping off and picking up new books to read! Makes community (at a distance) seem a little more possible now…

    The books I read and loved are: Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Shrill, The Rules Do Not Apply. The latter being one of the best books I’ve read in a while!

    Any other readers out there…? What should I add to my ever-growing reading list?

    • Deanne says...

      Add these to your list:
      Writers and Lovers by Lily King
      Untamed by Glennon Doyle

    • Suzanne says...

      @Deanne – I’ve been savoring Untamed (reading it has felt like the pages are going by too quickly!)!! Added your other recommendation to my list immediately. Thank you! XO

  27. Hilary says...

    I read in the bathtub every.single.night after my 3-year old goes to bed. Sometimes I add essential oils, a bath bomb or some bubbles, and sometimes nothing. But to sit in silence and delve deep into a book while finally getting warm (Colorado spring rains are so lovely to experience, but chilly!) is the highlight of my day. It also gives my introvert husband some of the alone time he is sorely craving, and gives me some time with my book friends, which is filling the gap in my extrovert heart just a little bit :)

    Hugs to everyone out there – stay fine!

  28. When I’m anxious my go to soothing mechanism is rubbing my feet together (like a gentle massage), usually when I’m in bed trying to sleep but can also be when I’m working (is this why I always wear slip ons with no socks, hmm?!). But honestly, I haven’t had much of that during this pandemic – I’ve actually felt weird calm and just really appreciative of this slower pace that normally does not exist for me as a grad student. I’m well rested and not exhausted so I have energy to do what I want instead of being drained at the end of the workday. I have time to eat all three meals if I want (I still mostly skip breakfast), to cook at home and enjoy my meal when I want (no more 4pm frozen meals because that’s the first moment I had to eat all day), I can read books and go outside and exercise without the guilt that I should be doing this experiment or that because I physically can’t and my boss can’t say a damn thing to me about it. Plus I have accepted this for what it is, temporary, so I want to really enjoy my time now before I’m back to my lab grind which I look forward to as well.

    • Cait says...

      My name is spelled Caitlyn too and I see so many more Caits and Caitlyns in the COJ comment section than I had in my whole life!

  29. B says...

    Yaaaas, queen! Stir that witchy broth!

    • Kim says...

      Hahahaha. This comment made my day.

  30. Patti says...

    My husband and I play Rummy, 3 out of 5, for bragging rights! We still do a “happy hour” at least on the weekends. Because we live where there are lots of wide open spaces, I walk 3 miles every day. Just the new normal.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      gin rummy? i love that game! we just played last night!

    • Sarah says...

      My partner and I have been playing Gin Rummy too! It reminds me of being with my grandma and my mom, who I can’t see right now. We play in the evening while watching “Keeping up Appearances” on PBS and eating popcorn.

  31. Sara says...

    I resist watching John Whaite’s daily cooking demo on Insta Stories until my kids are in bed, and then I make myself a cup of tea or lemon seltzer and curl up on the couch to watch him bake the most amazing delicious things! It’s 25 minutes to myself that I don’t have to do or worry about anything else and it’s perfect.

  32. Ashley says...

    My husband and I are escaping reality with a Marvel movie marathon. 6 months ago, I would have scoffed at the suggestion of a comic book movie – I’ve never been into fantasy, sci fi or anything of the like. But alas, they have proven to be a great mindless escape. Iron Man 2 tonight!

    • Amy says...

      Ha, we’re doing the same thing and are also on iron man 2!

    • My girls and I (both college schooling at home now). Have been watching all the movies in Marvel order. We just watched Endgame last night. Very satisfying ! I think we are going to do Harry Potter next.

    • Anne says...

      Wait till you get to Ragnorak and Captain Marvel! The best. ❤️❤️❤️

  33. Tovah says...

    Pulling weeds and the NYT crossword puzzle.

  34. Rosie says...

    I’ve been writing notes, cards, and letters and have yet to mail them. Here’s one: (I type them but then handwrite it all out, and EVENTUALLY WILL MAIL THEM) I hope.

    E,
    Although we’ve never met, I feel I’ve known you since I met your mom years ago. Your name, birthday, and address have been on my makeshift desk, and three versions of a birthday card (same, just different colors) are sitting there waiting for one to get picked and embraced in its envelope to get mailed off to you. I apologize for the delay. It was my full intention to mail you a snail mail birthday greeting long ago but I just kept redoing your card. Maybe I needed an escape from filing for business loans to rescue the business I run with my brother. Maybe I wanted to stare at your cards because they hold an escape for me. Or maybe I’m just oddly lazy. Whatever it is, I’m sorry for the delay, and also I thank you for, unbeknownst to you, giving me a little escape these past few weeks. I feel birthday wishes are pulling the good in the past to reflect on your future. Here’s mine to you. I hope it makes sense. Again, I’ve been on a diet of government and bank paperwork, but here it is nonetheless.

    I saw what your mom shared on your birthday. It looked like a beautiful day. I asked your mom what grade you were in and I’m glad to know next year you’ll have a “new” normal senior year. I hope. With all my might I hope for this for you. 

    You are such an exceptional young woman. You and your mom remind me of my mom and us, and more specifically, of my mom and younger sister. I love that bond. I love that your mom takes you to explore the city. We did that. We’d get lost in a new city to get to know it. I love that you cook for her! (I did that, my sister at 7 vowed to work hard enough to not have to cook! Ha!)
    What I see in the two of you, and what I see in you is a bright and beautiful future. You two have been busy setting this foundation for it. In years to come, when you’re an adult and facing your own Covid19 uphills, you’ll persevere because your childhood and upbringing strengthened you for it. So, Happy Birthday, E! I wish you a creative, fun, beautiful, and exciting year ahead!

    ps This oddly sounds like a letter to a graduating senior. Since I mentioned above of my odd laziness, dare I say it can double as your graduating card?

  35. Roxana says...

    I’ve been shamelessly binging on the kids’ Easter candy (my mother managed to drop-off an obscene amount) and have been casually gaining the Covid 15.

    This is a great post. Beautifully written, too!

  36. michaela says...

    I glanced through the comments earlier and saw someone mention making grocery lists/shopping trips, and I agree! While going to the store has been a little anxiety-inducing, planning for going to the store has been oddly soothing. I’ve always enjoyed planning meals for the week, and now there’s an additional challenge of making our groceries stretch for as long as possible—it’s really scratching my do-something impulses to strategize what groceries will last the longest, how I can use up my (somewhat meager) pantry stores, which ingredients can be used in multiple dishes so I don’t waste anything, and how to use up every little bit (chicken stock! frozen egg whites! made-up herb sauces!)

    Another thing that helps me feel better is that my husband and I came up with a monthly ritual—we both have been fortunate enough to keep our jobs, and we’re actually saving a bit of money by not being able to go out. So every month after we’ve done all our bill paying and savings, we take whatever is left over and dedicate it to a local COVID-19 relief fund, a local food bank, and spending at local businesses. It feels small but it’s one concrete way we know we can support our community.

  37. Samantha says...

    I’ve been re-growing green onions in my kitchen for the first time in my life for no other reason than it is so satisfying to change their water daily and watch them shoot up! Very high payoff for very low effort :)

    • Ashley says...

      Me too!!! <3

    • Tovah says...

      I just started doing this too!

    • Tristen says...

      Same! And watercress!

    • Jenny says...

      Same! So satisfying.

  38. Emily says...

    Cabbage lemonade!!!! I did a spit take. Truth!

  39. Catherine M Davis says...

    Ironing! There is something soothing about making things perfect and smooth. In honor of earth day, instead of just posting pretty pictures on social media of the planet I love, I’ve committed to using cloth napkins every night. So, I’m Ironing dinner napkins and even my cotton dishtowels. It’s weird but it feels good to use them when they’re pressed.

  40. Nicole says...

    Every Thursday I clean my house from top to bottom, mopping, scrubbing, you name it. It’s getting increasingly difficult as I’m rather pregnant but it’s fun to literally bump around the house and such a nice thing to start off the weekend. I also am taking a walk each day and listening to my local public radio station.

    • Yulia says...

      I do the same thing on Thursdays! A top to bottom clean, even washing the bed linens and bathroom towels, watering the houseplants, etc. When work “ends” on Friday I have a whole cleaning-free weekend ahead of me to enjoy my soothing home. I do my grocery shopping on Wednesdays so I don’t have any errands or chores on weekend days. They feel so much more like weekends to me now!

    • Sarah says...

      This is genius! I’ve always been a weekend cleaner. Why have I never considered a Thursday? Thank you.

  41. JF says...

    I invited my two eldest girls (8 and 5) to a pyjama party. I made them an invite and left it in the post the day before. We set our projecter up to play on the wall in my bedroom, ate popcorn and candy and drank cola (we don’t drink cola or other soda drinks in our house) and watched movies until we fell asleep.

    My partner had a ‘hygge aften’ (Cosy night) with our youngest (2.5) in their bedroom at the same time, where they watched about 15 minutes of tv and had a little bowl of candy, so she didn’t feel left out.

    Just a dressed up movie night, really, but they loved it and the anticipation was great; my eldest packed all her things (PJs, doona etc) first thing the morning of the ‘party’ she was so excited.

    • ML says...

      I’m totally going to steal this idea!

    • Kristie says...

      This is so incredibly sweet!

  42. Jess says...

    Oh compost water! I love that, and completely understand. I make my bed every morning. I find it marks a clear beginning to a day whether it be Smunday and Blursday.

  43. Roberta Williams says...

    Most anything from the Bon Appetit youtube channel calms me down immediately. Anyone else a fan?

    Also, yoga has been incredibly helpful for me lately. I used to be bothered that I wasn’t very bendy, but slowly I am getting over my need to look good. Feeling good is so much more gratifying.

    • Sarz says...

      Yes, Bon Appetit! I admire the balance they strike; they encourage us to aim high, but they make it all sound so *doable*.

      You’ve got me thinking of yoga now, too. I was disappointed with a beginner class I took years ago; steel rods in my spine seemed to hold me back from the rest of the group. Perhaps I shouldn’t have expected immediate progress. Better, as you say, to *feel* good.

    • Jana says...

      Both of those things have been on my regular rotation list lately. I haven’t done yoga in a while but was always a fan, and I recently got back into it. I’ve been taking live classes from my local studio in town, and it helps me to feel good but also to feel connected with others practicing at the same time.

      Also, yes to Bon Appetit! Simply reading the articles online before bed has allowed me to get my mind calmer and only in the space of, “This looks delicious…but will I really ever attempt it!?”

  44. Emily B says...

    Love this post! I’m lucky in that I am sheltering at home and fine-ish, but didn’t realize that the stress of this whole thing was weighing so heavily on me. I’m on day 8 of full-body ‘stress hives’ (thanks, doc) and for the life of me, I cannot get rid of them even with steroids/prescription antihistimines. I didn’t realize how much I needed a regular self-care routine or to find ways to cope with my unrealized stress (cooking garbage water sounds like it may soon be in the cards for me), but you’d better believe I’m going to read every single one of these comments to see what y’all are doing and hopefully take a page from your book(s)! In the meantime, has anyone had experience with stress hives and if so, could you give me any suggestions on how to cope/get rid of them? If anyone can comisserate, I welcome it.
    Stay safe, all!

    • Kristn says...

      I have definitely had stress hives before: Aveeno colloidal oatmeal baths helped me so much. The hives didn’t go away until I fully got my stress under control (hello, new job!) but the baths made things less painful and itchy while I suffered through the necessary-to-pay-the-bills, thankfully temporary anxiety.

    • Stacey says...

      Try Grandpa’s Black Pine Tar Soap. I had PUPPP rash with my first pregnancy and this soap worked wonders! I’ve also used it for poison ivy and other rashes with success.

    • Yulia says...

      I have seen a lot of unrealized stress manifesting itself lately for me too. I’m so sorry you’re going through this! I don’t have hives, but I’ve found the one thing that helps my stress more than anything, anything, anything is solid sleep. If it means you have to sleep in, nap, get to bed early, whatever–see if you can find a way to sleep and let your mind and your body truly rest. I hope it will help. It certainly can’t hurt. Sending hive-healing-hugs.

    • Andrea says...

      Stress hives = the worst. The only thing that got them under control for me was a STRONG round of steroids for a couple weeks, and then a strict regimen of daily anti-histamines, heart burn medicine (I couldn’t tell you why it works, but apparently it does), and Vitamin D. It has been over a year now of dealing with them and I’m just at the point now where I was able to cut the allergy meds in half. As long as I stick to the routine, I don’t get hives, but if I miss a dose, they pop right back up! I hope this isn’t disheartening – just want you to know I completely empathize!

    • Laura says...

      Stacey, omg, PUPPPS is just the worst. I had it pretty badly with my first and then much more mildly for my daughter. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I was skeptical, but Pine Tar soap worked for me too.

    • Jen says...

      Ugh, I wish I couldn’t relate to stress hives. I’ve had many bouts with them. The only thing that has ever knocked them out was a topical cream (prescription) triamcinolone acetonide a corticosteroid. But like others have said until the stress is under control even the best meds are useless. All the best and calming thoughts sent your way. You’ve got this.

    • Elsa says...

      Hi Emily! I’m a therapist and also someone who has had to deal with random full body hive outbreaks that last for days! I second all the suggestions for rest and soothing things for skin. Things that work for me are: a steroid shot (vs. oral intake) and doing a mental scan of my body to see where I am carrying anxiety/tension, then thinking it through and writing it all out.

      My group practice has some great free resources on managing anxiety, especially during this time. Feel free to check it out! http://www.watershedinitiative.com.

      Hope you feel better soon!!

    • Casey says...

      I had to get a steroid shot. The pill pack didn’t work. Good luck!

    • Kelly says...

      I have stress hive this week, too, just went I thought I was settling in to the new normal. I’m walking every day and journaling. I think it helps.

    • Jeanne says...

      Roberta: I also had all over body hives. It was super scary and gross and it started to affect my breathing. For me, the steroids and histamines helped but then the hives would eventually come back. I started following the recommendations of drs who treat Mast Cell Disorders (a condition known internationally but not in the US. What gives?). So what helped me was taking in the morning: an allergy pill like Claritin, Pepcid AD mentioned above (if I was really bad, I’d take one more of each of these 3 in the afternoon), 1 quercitin pill, 1 calcium, 50mg B-6, 500mg B-12 and Vitamin D (also mentioned above). After several weeks I noticed the hives decreasing. There’s a book called Never Bet Against Occam written by an MD to help people because not many drs know what to do with this.

      I also started following a low histamine diet until it went away. I found taking Diamine Oxidase before a triggering food like tomatoes helped greatly. I learned that beans affect me and I had been using Aveeno baby soap which had locust bean gum in it! Here’s the most comprehensive list from Switzerland: https://www.mastzellaktivierung.info/downloads/foodlist/21_FoodList_EN_alphabetic_withCateg.pdf

      Also cool showers helped. My guess is that gut health plays a part. Today my insane hives have stopped and I’ve been good (knock on wood). I still take that pill regimen every day and I’m scheduled to see a mast cell specialist next month. Best of luck to you!!

  45. V says...

    SO MUCH love for this post and for your sense of humour. Now is not the time to feel pressured to be “productive” in the typical sense of the word, so thank you. Your cabbage lemonade will have me chuckling all day x

    • Marla M says...

      I just found this blog through another e newsletter and I love the feeling that most of us can find something for a few minutes to recharge. I’ve realized that if I don’t take these few minutes for myself, I get anxious, angry and sad. Even though it takes time away from work, the kids’ distance learning or house hold chores, I know I need to take care of myself too. Blasting silly songs from my childhood or my 20’s and having a dance party helps to get the jitters out. It usually drives my family crazy because I love to sing along but oh well!

  46. Sarah T says...

    I put on my wedding dress for the first time in 11 years. It didn’t really fit, but my kids were delighted :)

    • Claire says...

      Awwwwww! This made me smile so hard. :)

  47. Kate says...

    This is a beautiful essay thank you! My drugs of choice are eyeliner and hanging the washing.

  48. Breanna says...

    Laundry – starting a load, gathering the clothes, sorting, then folding, and putting away

    Un/Loading the dishwasher

    & scrubbing the floor on hands/knees.

    Something about cleaning my space, makes me feel like I have a smidge of control on the chaos.. I get it from my mother

    • TJ says...

      Are we the same person? ?

  49. JULIE says...

    A daily dose of Cup of Jo helps! Otherwise matching socks! I always leave the “lonely socks” on top of the chest of drawers. and despite my best efforts, there are always many. When I feel stressed, I go on the hunt for the missing ones is very satisfying for me: I empty the bottomless laundry baskets, I checked behind the washer/dryer, comb the playroom, check the sheets that were recently washed and dried with socks (I found many hiding in duvet covers over the years…). Being able to match most of the sock is very satisfying to me (even if there is always at least one that stays alone….)

  50. Helen says...

    My newest favorite weird thing to do to feel better is picking a new neighborhood in our city to walk around with my dad. We bring a cup of coffee and usually end up walking down the middle of the street because of the lack of cars out lately. We point out the houses we love and the houses we think aren’t so pretty, and my stone-mason father points out every foundation crack or brick work that needs done. The walks always start like this and end with my dad giving me some tiny bit of golden wisdom, a new thought he had about the world the other day, or a worry he has been carrying around with him lately. Getting him talking is my favorite thing in the entire world, as he has the gentlest heart and yet the quietest voice sometimes. It reminded me how human my parents are, and how sometimes they need someone to lean on as much as we lean on them.

    • Erin says...

      This warms my heart!

    • Joanna says...

      ❤️❤️

    • Laura says...

      I love this so much.

    • Jenn says...

      Sometimes I come here just for the comments. <3

    • katie says...

      What a sweet thing.

    • Christina M. says...

      This is so beautiful. My dad is a stone mason too and does the exact same thing!
      This made me miss him even more. Hopefully we’ll be reunited soon.

    • Debbie says...

      I wish I could walk with you and your dad!

  51. Stephanie Zercher says...

    “I’m just saying, if you’re lucky enough to be at home and fine-ish? There’s nothing you should be doing other than whatever it is you have to in order to stay that way.” Thank you for saying that. I, too, am tired of hearing about other people’s quarantine accomplishments. I’m still working full-time while taking care of my 88-year-old dad, who has Alzheimers and whose caregiver we furloughed (with pay, because dad can afford it) because she herself is 70 and I’m not going to be responsible for two elderly folks during a pandemic. Not to mention trying to source food, which takes twice as long as it used to, taking care of two dogs, spending time with my husband and taking some time for walking and a tiny bit of self-care. We’re fine-ish and it’s taking all my energy to keep it that way. I’ll learn Italian and start my novel later!

    • Sasha L says...

      Stephanie, big hugs. Sounds like you are doing eight jobs right now. You hang in there, I’m pulling for you. (And your dad and his caregiver too, may they be well)

    • b says...

      yes!!!!! “I’ll learn Italian and start my novel later!” thank you!!

    • Alexan B. says...

      My grandmother is a caregiver and her families have not allowed her to stop working. On behalf of her, thank you guys so much for doing the responsible thing. I worry everyday for my grandmother and those she is taking care of.

  52. Laurie says...

    Giggling repeatedly about cabbage lemonade and reminding myself to try and find the good, while being honest about how hard this all is. Wonderful post, thank you!

  53. Jen says...

    Long time reader, first time commenting. Coj has been instrumental in helping me stay say sane/feel normal. This community rocks and I look forward each morning to reading. Today is my heart is bursting reading all these comments… you all are so real, so supportive and genuine. I’m so thankful/grateful for you!

    I’m cooking and baking like there’s no tomorrow. Gardening,

    I recently started playing fortnite with my kids as a way to connect with them ( I’m 42 and I hate the game and screen time) they love it!

  54. Meredith says...

    I’ll add french braiding my 4.5 year old daughter’s hair to the mix. Never knew how to do it before, and now when the other kids are sleeping, I run for the brush and hair ties and beg her to sit so I can work some magic.

    (Binged all the comments too, and that helped.)

  55. Amy says...

    I organize my jewelry, workout (which i used to hate but in quarantine at least makes me feel like im not wasting my free time) and mostly satisfyingly, doing a nightly face care skincare routine.

  56. Katie says...

    I loved this post!

  57. Ellie says...

    Last night I took some of my favorite dresses out of my closet and put them on while dancing to music in my bedroom. As much as I love the luxury of wearing sweatpants 24/7, I really miss dressing up and going out! Soon, my friends.

    • Sarz says...

      Yes, I’ve been “visiting my dresses”, too! Can’t wait for the day when PJs feel like a reward again.

    • Clare says...

      I started the quarantine in sweatpants but we’ve been trying to avoid the communal laundry in our building so I’ve found myself wearing all my pretty dresses once the cozy clothes ran out :)

    • Elise says...

      That’s a great idea! I had a baby last year so there are A LOT of clothes I haven’t worn in nearly two years. I’ll try a fashion show :)

    • Amanda says...

      I’ve been getting dressed for work, but much more casually than I usually would. Sweaters and jeans instead of skirts/dresses/blazers. But today is one of the warmest spring days we’ve had in the Bay Area and it’s absolutely gorgeous out. So I put on a spring dress and cardigan and feel fancy and springy and I’m looking forward to an after work walk. I can meet my partner at the train station (he’s a medical social worker, so still goes to the hospital for work every day) and pretend we’re going “out” as we walk home.

  58. I read children’s books. Specifically the ones my son left behind when he moved out, and the ones from my childhood. Not in big chunks of time, just for 5 minutes, taking a break from the mini home office I’m now based in. Delving back into a more simple time when summers were forever and whole dramas could be wrought from a lost jam tart on a picnic. They really help. Restarted Wind in the Willows this afternoon and already have Tom’s Midnight Garden lined up.

    • Aimee says...

      I’m kicking myself for not checking out Little House on the Prairie last time I was at The Wing (sad face).

  59. Megha Kuchu says...

    God knows I need this essay right now! I really like reading light, breezy romances and I’m catching up on all the TV I never watched. I just started Sex And The City and I can’t stop! (Also, how can Carrie afford that lifestyle by writing only 4 columns a month? WTF is this sorcery!?)

    It’s been a tumultuous, to put it mildly, last few weeks here in Bombay, India as well. But I’m very grateful that this community exists and we all have each other! Hugs and love to everyone.

  60. Betsy says...

    My kids and I write letters to my grandpa who is only a few miles away from us but in senior housing and sheltered in his apartment alone. He always wrote postcards to me when I was little, and it makes me feel good to give him something that makes him smile and isn’t high tech to confuse him. We’ll probably end up inheriting all of the letters and coloring pages we’ve sent, so our sent mail will also function as a time capsule.

  61. Evans says...

    It’s silly, but I put my laptop and work supplies in a tote bag and carry it from the bedroom to the den as if I’m still on a regularly work commute. It’s a 10 second commute, but something about having my things tucked in a bag gives me a sense of purpose and normalcy. Plus, I just really love that beat up little tote.

  62. Val says...

    It’s hard going through this with my 6 year old who really misses school. She and I have been baking more with not always the best results. My husband, daughter, and I have started skipping rope and it’s oddly satisfying. I have had incontinence since childbirth which skipping makes worse. But adult diapers make it possible.

    • Becca Amber says...

      Val if you haven’t already, when the libraries open back up,
      check out the book “Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood.” Molly Caro May is real about her struggle w/ her pelvic condition after childbirth. It was taxing, and comforting all in one to hear a woman explain- things aren’t always perfect, however there’s life to be had! Thanks for sharing your experience too! (Btw in the book you may get an idea for some resources you may not have explored yet).

    • Amy says...

      Ive been doing jumping jacks with my daughter between tv shows as a bribe to get her off of the couch during the extended period of screen time. I always have to change my underwear afterward. But I do the jumping jacks anyway. Sigh.

      And yes, I’ve tried pelvic floor therapy.

  63. Emmeline Young says...

    Wonderful post, thank you.

  64. Jen says...

    Oh man, I am ALSO at home in a small apartment with a baby that just learned to shriek! It’s like breastfeeding a tiny pterodactyl! Total solidarity.

  65. Hannah says...

    I was having a hard day yesterday. Instead of carrying on with work, I made myself an espresso tonic, sat down on my balcony and just breathed deeply for a bit. It helped.

    (Though it didn’t help the allergies that have just started popping up. Thanks, pollen.)

    I’m also lucky enough to know how to sew – and I have a sewing machine, so I’m making masks. Gives me a sense of having some control, at least.

    • Sarz says...

      Espresso tonic? I didn’t realize that was something people combined. Sounds reviving *and* refreshing. ?

      I admire your sewing skills! It’s very important work, sharing masks, but have you considered making yourself a new outfit, too? Could be just the thing to wear when you have friends over for drinks after all of this is behind us!

  66. Karen says...

    I mow the lawn. I have a reel mower, it is very nice and quiet. Mowing the lawn is very therapeutic, something about taming those blades of grass. When I’m done with my own lawn, I’m tempted to walk across the street and mow the neighbors lawn, but that’s a bit too weird.

    • Rusty says...

      They might totally love it!!!

    • Kim says...

      Yay for reel mowers,

  67. Sumi Mishra says...

    As a physician at the frontlines and after watching many suffer day to day, I come home to catch up on my sleep. Days off that were meant for stress relief in the form of working out at the gym, getting together with friends have turned into days of solitude. First welcomed but slowly turn in to obsessive reading of medical journals, articles, continuing medical education so as to be better prepared when I do get back to work. Eventually I realized that burnout is real and we are in this for the long haul so I have resorted to cooking, cocktail hour on FaceTime with my friends, cutting split ends and of course reading little tid bits on Cup Of Jo.

    • Daniela says...

      Thank you for what you’re doing. I am so happy that you are making time for self care, sending hugs your way.

    • Ashley says...

      Thank you for all you’re doing. I cannot imagine the stress you’re under, but know we are so grateful for you and I hope you find a little peace each day.

    • Katherine says...

      Thank you endlessly for your work and dedication.

    • Sarah T says...

      We are so grateful for your hard work and sacrifice. Truly. Sending so much love and support your way!

    • adrianna says...

      you are amazing! sending prayers and hugs to you and all your colleagues :)

    • Sumi says...

      Thank you all for your kind words. So grateful.

    • Julia says...

      Bless you, Sumi Mishra!

  68. Nicole says...

    I scroll through these comments looking for something gut wrenching to bond with but I haven’t really seen it. Maybe those people aren’t reading blogs or aren’t interested in anonymous comments right now. But since I’m searching, then I guess I’ll put myself out there in case others are too.
    My mom is actively dying. It is the worst time to die right now. Her friends can’t come say goodbye. Her pastor isn’t making house calls. I don’t think we will be able to have a funeral. The hugs and physical comfort isn’t there beyond immediate family, and my family isn’t the most physically affectionate. This whole thing is horrible.
    I started posting almost obnoxiously frequent things that made me smile on social media bc I knew my mom is obsessed with all of it, and it would brighten her day. It brought me joy in the process to almost be seeking it out like a hunt. Now that she is at the point where she cannot use her phone, it seems pointless, except for the bit of joy and reminder of my mom that it brings me.
    I am afraid of my family and friends judging me for all the joyful pics and posts at this moment, but also trying to trust that in the end the judgment doesn’t matter.
    Going to bake a loaf of bread tomorrow and post it in honor of my mom.

    • M says...

      Here’s a virtual hug for you !

    • Amy says...

      I am so deeply sorry. You bringing a smile to your mom with those posts, or to yourself by making you think of her, is a beautiful thing.

    • Connor says...

      I’m so sorry Nicole. This sounds incredibly difficult. Sending you peace and love.

    • Nicole, I am holding you and your mom in light and love. This sounds so unfair. I’m so sorry that this is something you and your family have to go through. I am sending you so much love. I hope you can feel it. Do what you need to do to cope, post all of the happy pictures, what other people think doesn’t matter.

      Thinking of you all the way from Atlanta. This is the absolute worst, but hang in there, you are strong, and you will get through this terrible time.

    • Claire M says...

      Thank you for sharing – one of lifes most difficult moments in one of history’s most difficult. Virtual hugs to you and your family. Bake that bread and share those small joyful moments – I hope they bring you some comfort and I’m sure they help others grieving in isolation.

    • Sharon says...

      Sending you love, thank you for sharing this here.

    • Erika says...

      I am so sorry, Nicole. I wish I could give YOU a hug right now. Keep yourself afloat for your Mom, she is going to continue to love to see all the things that bring you joy.
      xx

    • Oh, Nicole, I can’t even imagine your situation. I am so impressed with the ways that you have found to eke out some smiles for yourself and others. I don’t believe that anyone will be judging you for your posts….and if they do, they are not necessary in your life! I really wish that I could actually hug you, as my arms ache to give you some comfort. Sending you hugs anyway. p.s. I think I am going to dig out our compendiums of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. They always make me laugh out loud, and that would certainly feel GOOD right now.

    • Katy says...

      I feel your pain. My mother died two weeks ago (April 8) and it has been really hard. All of my siblings are spread across the US and one sister is in Europe, yet no one lives in the city where my parents live. We have not had a chance to properly grieve. FaceTime family meetings just aren’t cutting it. My Dad is all alone in their town and while plenty of people have sent cards and called, it’s not the same as meeting for lunch or dinner or just a hug. I’m taking each day as it comes and some are better than others. We will all get through this difficult time. Give yourself grace to do whatever feels right at the time.

    • Ashley says...

      Nicole —

      I deeply understand. My father passed two weeks ago from cancer. I wasn’t able to make it home to say one last goodbye, and haven’t been able to be there for my grieving family. It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make to not visit my family, but they are on the other side of the country and there are several higher-risk folks we have to worry about. I was so scared to be the one to bring the virus into my family and potentially even lose my mother in this. In all of this I’ve also developed a horrible infection that has caused me much physical discomfort, and we’re still not sure what’s going to make it go away. This is true suffering.

      I am trying to find the balance with choosing joy and allowing myself to feel into the depth of this grief. I didn’t know sadness could be so big before this. I am learning so much about the nature of life in this — that we aren’t guaranteed fairness, health, or even life itself. All of nature has the same goal, to hold onto their life fiercely and try to thrive (including viruses). All I can really do is try to hold onto my life fiercely as well, and continue to find beauty and meaning in the pure luck of just being here now.

      Sending you my deepest condolences.

    • Brianna Glenn says...

      Nicole, what unbearable grief for you, and what bravery and love to keep seeking out the joy in honor of your mom. I will be praying for comfort and peace for you and your family.

    • Angela says...

      Nicole, I’m sending prayers and love to you and your family. My darling great aunt died earlier this week on her 106th birthday. She was beloved by so many and will be dearly missed. I found comfort in the stories, photos and memories shared by family on social media channels, FaceTime chats and email. I also appreciated the kind words and condolences from my friends. I reached out to them for support when we were told my great aunt had contracted COVID-19 in her nursing home. Give yourself grace during this time.

    • Nicole says...

      Thank you all for your kindness and support. Today was a hard day but your kind words lift my spirits. And Katy and Ashley, I am here virtually holding your hand and giving it a little squeeze

    • Denise Winstead says...

      Nicole-
      My heart hurts for you. Please do what works for you while you go through such a sad and trying time. If anyone is judging you for how you ‘re dealing with something no one saw coming on top of losing your mother that is their character flaw not a reflection of how you are choosing to honor your mother and cope with your grief. I hope you find peace and comfort even if it is through the kindness of strangers.