I’ve been working on texting with two hands lately and mildly obsessed with the trying the new dance cardio on the Peloton app. I don’t know why I want to text with two hands, I’m not twelve, and I don’t think it will impress my friends. When I finally tried the dance cardio, it made me feel dumb. My upper body is not able to move like a snake, and they never asked me to do that in jazz class a million years ago. When I touch my chest, I look silly, though I am far from the mirror because I learned in the days of group exercise to stay far away from the mirror. The whole thing made me laugh and I needed to laugh.

Colin, my 21 year old son, is home again, not his choice, and certainly not mine or my daughter’s. Katy’s eighteenth birthday was spent at a hotel because she didn’t want to entertain with Collie scowling in the background or, even worse, trying to include himself. (I believe he would have been respectful of Kate, but I am an optimist, and she liked the hotel idea.)

Work is what heals me; I work with students at a community college. The ones that are able to get through on the phone need help, and it feels good to be presented with a question- “how do I apply to the nursing program”?- that has answers that I know. I’m new there, so I don’t know all the answers, but I’m good at finding out. It’s a college so there are lots of people with answers. I use the directory often.

At home, I don’t know much. I don’t know how long Collie will be here, or what’s going to happen next. I don’t know if Sophie will eat dinner three times, or not at all. I don’t know if Katy will ever get to her college applications, put away her laundry, or watch tv with me again, because Covid ended and she’s eighteen and has a life.

I do know I’m getting better at texting with my hands, and I’ll probably go back to bike boot camp on the app.

I do know I”m tired of hearing the words “stay safe.” I know they are meant as loving or kind, but lately, they feel paranoid and dark or judgmental, like someone feels like I might go into a crowded grocery store without a mask, and spread germs on all the produce, if they forget to remind me with those cautionary words to take precautions, there is still a crisis. I know it’s still a crisis, and there is no danger of forgetting.

Maybe, I should have said those two words to Colin, starting when he was two, every time he left the room. Maybe things would have turned out differently.


October 6, 2021

I’ve been thinking about my high school reunion since the invitation came last May.

There was Covid to consider. And the memory of the last one I attended where the night ended with me falling up my friends stairs and splitting my forehead open. There was the twenty pounds I wanted to lose, and the people I didn’t want to see, and the people I missed.

One night, I finally clicked yes on the Evite, knowing I could always cancel. It was late Spring of 2021; I wanted a plan to get out of town and see some faces that I hadn’t been seeing for the past year and a half.

Amy, one of my best friends, still lives in Mountain Lakes, and she volunteered to go along, even though she wasn’t in my class, and isn’t much for cocktail parties.

A week before the party, my friend came to visit me in Boston. Taylor, Amy’s daughter, had been found in bed by her roommate, unable to open her eyes and mumbling into her pillow. Her roommate called an ambulance.

Before she left, she laughed nervously in my living room and asked me- “Maybe you can come down anyway next weekend? And take care of me? While I look after Taylor? I mean, I know you have your reunion…” I hugged her and thought there was no way I’d drive five hours, miss a party that I had given up Ben and Jerry’s for, (mostly), so she could lean on me while her daughter recovered from a really bad case of the flu?

It wasn’t a bad case of the flu.

On the Thursday before the reunion, I flew to New Jersey. Amy’s husband picked me up at the airport. On the way home we talked about my daughter’s SAT scores, how much harder it is to pack for travel by plane than to load up a car, and that my husband thinks Facebook updates on his phone are actually text messages to him. No one knew what was wrong with Taylor for a while. Now they think it’s encephalitis. Tonight, John, Amy’s husband, let me know Taylor hasn’t had any seizures all day. This has made all of us who love her giddy with joy.

She hadn’t had any seizures for twelve hours. It’s going to be a long time before she gets better. It’s going to be a long time before she comes home.

I didn’t visit Taylor. I stayed home and matched socks, made smoothies, one bad pot roast, a salad of strawberries and goat cheese, and enough Bolognese sauce to last them until spring. Or until I go back.

I made it to the reunion. I found friends I didn’t know I had, and connected with people that I love as much as I did when I was in high school, when most Saturday afternoon’s we’d drink too much beer and exchange drunken, slobbering hugs, while declaring undying affection. Since I’ve only stayed in touch with a few, it was nice to know that those promises all those years ago were true. My affection for these people is undying and I am glad to know, and have known them.

I’ve changed a lot since then, I guess we all have. But when I stood in that room, I knew I’d made it to Homecoming, even though it had taken a long time to figure out what that means. These people knew the awkward, bumbling seventeen year old and were happy to see the tired, worried, friend who badly needed a night out. I didn’t get the chance to talk in depth with many, and I regret that. I was distracted with guilt about being away from Amy and John and trying to decide if my outfit looked better without the sweater.

When I walked up Amy’s stairs that night, and Gigi greeted me at the door, I was home there too.Home is where we choose to be, where we offer and accept love or acceptance. Where we pretend to remember things we don’t remember, and when someone gets drunk, we drive them home, partly because we don’t want them to get sick in our car, partly because that is what we do for the people who have known us our whole lives, and remember what we looked like with big hair and braces, and partly because a lot of us have been the drunk in the room that needed a ride.

These days, I have a crooked smile, I can’t wear heels. I could still lose another twenty pounds, I’m a little pissed off that I work out every single day and I will never, ever have Michelle Obama arms. One of my classmates does, and I adore her anyway. I will not share her name but we all know who I’m talking about.

Thanks for being there, my friends. And for those of you who couldn’t be, I hope to see you the next time. I like us better now. Please, let me know if you ever get up to Boston, or are driving through on your way somewhere else. I would like to hear what you’ve been doing all these years, and I’m sorry there wasn’t more time.

I think I’ll go to the next one, I can’t wait for the next one.

And thank you, Amy and John. It is an honor to be there for you. I changed my cell phone settings so you can call anytime. You have your own ringtone. Call anytime.

Taylor, girl, come home soon. You have the best home in the world, or it will be, when you are back in it.

I live in Massachusetts and I grew up, mostly, in Jersey. 

But Facebook means that even though it’s been years, I know that Jim is a doctor and just got divorced. Laurie just had a grandchild, Emma is a professor and Allan is killing it in real estate.

Facebook means there is a place where everyone from Mountain Lakes shares memories, obits, updates and asks for help- tracking down an old friend, prayers during a battle with cancer, supporting a business, a page, or a cause. 

This is the thing, and I’m being careful because the reunion is next week, and I love my hometown. I have connected with people on social media who I didn’t know when I saw them every damn day in the hallways at the high school or in the parking lot at Del’s Village.

When people reminisce about Mountain Lakes, many talk about  the town, and their youth, as if it was a spectacular aberration.

Yes, we had parties, and people played guitar. Yes, the parties were really good parties, and the Stanfield’s were the coolest family in the world, they had a fire pit, an open door policy, and their kids were and are some of the best, smartest, funniest, and most amazing people I know, as well as you can know someone years after you shared a beer with them in their backyard.

The football team won all their games. We skated all winter and swam all summer. We went to the Market for sandwiches and Roma for pizza, and the pizza was better than any pizza I’ve had since, including New York. Well, maybe NY pizza was a little bit better, I’m in Massachusetts. I’m deprived.

Mr. Fox was a magical art teacher. I remember what Mrs. Smith taught me in freshman English. Mr. Hoke recited Shakespeare in a baritone that I can still hear. There were bluegrass festivals two towns over, New York City was a bus ride away, I wrote poems on scraps of paper and people read them and said nice things, even though I don’t think they were that good.

I have pictures of me smiling in a black tuxedo and fishnets during something called GAA. a competition between two teams, Blue and the Orange, that happened each spring after months of preparation. Each team would pick a story, and perform it, like a musical with the songs being used as vehicles for different dances and gymnastics. I was excited when I made the the modern dance team, even though I was picked as second substitute. There’s a photo in the yearbook, I had thick thighs and a huge smile. (I didn’t smile between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, or so I’m told, but in that picture, I’m grinning.

Yes, it was a magical wonderful time. But it wasn’t all bonfires and pancake breakfasts.

It was being picked last at gym. Starting to drink beer because it made me a little less shy. Getting crappy grades because I always forgot my textbooks in my rush to be on time to watch General Hospital, bumming cigarettes during lunch, people getting sick of me bumming cigarettes during lunch, getting pinkeye every summer from swimming at Island Beach, not eating much and lying on the floor to put on my jeans because I’d had cereal for breakfast. Smoking pot and feeling dumb. Taking up beer and Marlboro lights with the enthusiasm some reserved for field hockey and making the honor roll. Not ever having a clue about what was coming next or where I wanted to land.

These memories aren’t specific to being a young person in Mountain Lakes. They aren’t specific to being young in the 80’s, young and privileged, young and female.

They are just some of the things I think of when I look back.

For many people, in Mountain Lakes, NJ, and Milton, Massachusetts, our memories are where we like to linger because now is so damned hard.

We tell ourselves and our children about life back then, and it all sounds glorious.

But I’m pretty sure we leave stuff out, or forget the worst. I do.

Because the now, with the sore hip and the Covid, the retirement looming and the dental bills mounting- it’s nice to look back to anything other than what I see in the mirror before I’m ready to look.

I just wanted to say Mountain Lakes was a great place to grow up. So is Milton. So are a million other places.

But, it was’t perfect. For me anyway. I still can’t wait to go back.

It will be nice to walk down the Boulevard and stand on the beach by Birchwood Lake.

It will be good to see people in three dimensions, especially after this past year. It will be nice to look back on all of the hard parts, the stuff I’d never talk about on Facebook, or with anyone. For me, growing up was one quarter bliss and Bruce Springsteen and three quarters braces and diets, wondering what to say next and wishing I’d said something else or nothing at all.

I’m grown, and I’m in pretty good place right now.

It’ll be nice to take a weekend to remember how I got here.

I’m home from vacation.

This morning was packing and loading. Peering under beds and wiping down counters. Filling up coolers and throwing things out. Twenty minutes of yoga on a mat in front of my bed before climbing into the car just because.

Saying goodbye to my friends in between gulps of coffee and wondering what the hell I did with the bungee cords.

From March on, there was anticipation, negotiations about bedrooms and coldcuts, and long conversations about what we wanted to do.
There was the arrival, the filling of the fridge, wresting with sheets, and the search for just the right place to put the bikes.

There was the exploration- of the house, parking spaces, the location of the blowdryer, convenience store, wine glasses, dumpster, pool towels, pool, bike path, convenience store, scissors, and bandaids.

That was in the beginning.

Then time flew.

We went on a boat, took in a drag show, rode to the beach, rode to the pond, ate far too much food, watched the Olympics, retreated to our rooms, and found each other in the kitchen.

There weren’t board games.

We only cooked once, and there were issues, but the dinner was salmon and salad and everyone ate.

There weren’t many photographs but there were too many of us to coordinate a picture that captured us all.

Some of stayed, some left.

We missed seeing a sunset over the ocean.

But we watched a sunset over the dunes, those of us that were left, just last night. I took a photo of the musicians I posted on Instagram but we got there late because I thought the collection of people was there for a wedding.

A vacation is a little life.

There are the Mondays and Tuesdays when there is all the time in the world,

The realization on Wednesday that there might not be time for the walk at the the old naval base

Then, the dark recognition on Thursday night the hotel might not fix it before the dryer before
Monday and on Monday, I’ll be scrolling through photos, wondering where summer went, if I’m the only person pissed off about back to school sales, and why I don’t care about the olympics.

Everyone else does or they’re faking.

On Saturday and Sunday, there is checkout and the eighteenth conversation about phone reception, dog walks and cleaning the bathroom.

I’m sad that’s it’s done but find comfort in coming home.

Sophie the most amazing of dogs spoke when she saw me. Usually she only communcates in the morning, after a good sleep, when I don’t wake her too early and linger to rub her shoulders and tell her she’s beautiful.

I managed a workout, and it wasn’t as sweet as a bike ride to Petite Boulangerie.

The bikes are in the shed. The cooler is empty. I don’t know why I brought home two tubs of cream cheese or if my nut milk survived the traffic on the bridge, but
my life is good.

Just not as good as it was on Wellfleet with the people I love where my big choice was
Beach. Pond. Pool.
Bike or car.
Swordfish or tuna.
Smoothie or waiting till lunch because I ate so much at dinner.

I hope all of you have the time to take some time to spend some time with the people you love.

It doesn’t really matter where you land.

(That sounds so stupid. Of course it matters where you land. It is hard to love people if they snore, there’s no air conditioning, someone eats your bagels, plays Celine Dion endlessly, doesn’t flush, or is cheerful before 8 am. If that sounds like I’m not pleased, I’ll admit- I had air conditioning. I snore. I don’t care about bagels and I am cheerful at 730 though stupid.
Add to the list.)
What I want to say is
I hope you take some time this summer to put the phone down and spend time
With the people you love,
like a lot
Might love,
but you’re making up your mind.
Or yourself.

When I ride my bike, I don’t listen to music. It’s the only workout I do without a soundtrack.

It’s awesome to have time, anywhere ,
with anyone, or alone, when it doesn’t require a playlist.

(Says the woman who created the Spotify game, thinks she can sing when she can’t and has actually fought with people who insist free Spotify is just as good.
It’s not.)
Julie Richmond Blackburn

Full Moon March 2021

March 28, 2021

Full moon tonight. The traffic heading into the city is almost like what it was before. The crocuses have bloomed by our front steps, and Sophie’s snoring on the couch.

I’ve been reading my journals from last year. I talked about meditation and our daily schedule, long walks in different woods, and conversations with Kate.

I didn’t have a clue what was coming.

We kept up with the schedules for about a month, I updated daily until June.

Lately, I’m trying to figure out how to fit reflection in with work, workouts, dinner and dishes. I know life is better when my house is clean, and I sweat a little. There’s not much time left to write about the latest pop song that made me smile or share the bliss I experience when Sophie eats a meal. There’s never enough time to talk about being lonely.

It’s helpful to look back on how I saw the world then, and think about how my point of view, and day to day life has changed.

I asked my friends last week- what would you keep from Covid? I don’t see the pandemic and quarantine as a gift. For many it has been a curse, and worse.

I am reluctant to speak about it because, for now, mostly, the worst I’ve had to deal with is remembering my mask and learning how to work while functioning as Sophie’s concierge.

I can’t begin to know how it will echo moving forward.

Do you wish you’d done things differently this past year? Do you have any regrets?

I wish I’d written more, taken a few skiing lessons, volunteered at the food kitchen, and played the flute every day. Katy has picked out a duet for us, and she says it doesn’t matter to her that I’m always a little flat.

Everyone is talking about the parties they will have, or attend, when this is done, the places they will go, and the people they will hug.

Invite me. Hug me. I’ll hug you back, or bump your fist.

Feel free to stop by for mediocre coffee or a glass of wine, if there’s any in the fridge. I make a good smoothie, and we have a tiny yard, with chairs. No fire pit, but I have a hoodie collection in a variety of colors and sizes.

I’m good at home with Sophie, but I’m feeling nervous as hell about face to face interaction, so put me on your guest list, or come on by.

And be patient if I’m awkward. I was awkward before all this.

Spin Class February 2021

February 21, 2021

Today, on the thousandth year of isolation, I spent the morning on the sofa. I was reading books, scrolling my phone, talking to dogs, and considering the possibility of washing the floors.

This afternoon, I found my favorite sneakers, and went upstairs to the room that was once my son’s bedroom. It is cluttered with clothes he didn’t want to take with him, and isn’t ready to give up. His desk is in the middle of the floor, to make room for the monitor, spin bikes, weights, and a pile of tools. Hung and pressed in his closet is the shirt he wore to court, sneakers, and a pile of socks we bought him for basketball that cost eighteen bucks a pair.

I found a sixty minute pop ride on the app that connects to the screen. I filled up my bottle. I hopped on the bike and rode nowhere, in the middle of a room where my boy once slept, spent time with his girlfriend, scribbled on walls, did homework, and stared at his phone. Sixty minutes is a long time for a spin class.

I watched the people walk by, in coats and gloves, masks and hats pulled well over ears. I had sweat in my eyes, and, halfway through, gulped the rest of my water.I played the music loud.

I tried sing along. I knew the words, even to “Fireworks” and “Believe”. I am not a fan of inspirational pop, unless the lyrics are telling someone to get the hell out the door.

When I was done, I folded some clothes, and swept up from under the bed. I thought about plans to make the room a guest room/workout space, which I guess it already is. But I’d like to make it look a little less like the space my boy left behind. He’ll always be my boy, but I don’t know him now.

This has been a long, quiet winter. I am not complaining- we have water and heat, when I flick a switch, lights turn on, and there are leftovers in the fridge. I am sending love and hope to my friends in Texas, and donated what I could.

I am blessed, but even with everything, I needed an hour to sweat and sing along to songs that I’d never listen to if I was walking outside.

Maybe we are fireworks, perhaps we just have to believe.

Today, I just needed to feel myself smile. I smiled.

Soon, we will be walking outside. Soon enough, it will be spring, and I will hop on a bike that brings me somewhere.

Until then, I am on the sofa, in front of my desk, or spinning and waiting, upstairs in my son’s tiny bedroom.

There are two tiny dogs, on either side of me, and Sophie the Amazing is glaring at me from the carpet. She looks forward to getting her sofa back.

I cooked on Superbowl Sunday. I made a stew with chicken thighs, artichoke hearts, spinach, chicken stock, mushrooms, sour cream, and dill.
I ate at the kitchen table while I read the Sunday paper, and thought about work the next day.
Katy and I watched the halftime show, and then another episode of Designated Survivor.
I cleaned something, I don’t remember what, and read a novel that brought me to the world that was when “Friends” was on tv.

I’m used to the day being noisy, wherever I landed for the game and before. This year, it was quiet. I turned up the radio, and blasted my workout playlist through a speaker instead of headphones.

This is the year of quiet. I am learning to listen to my own thoughts and to others- my daughter, family, friends, colleagues, and members for the company where I work.

Sometimes what I’m thinking makes me uncomfortable. Getting older is weighing heavy; I am confronted with my face every day on Teams or Zoom meetings. I was laid off last year, and count myself lucky to have a job, but it’s an entry level position or an amazing company. This means that ninety percent of my colleagues are abbot twenty years younger than I am.

We spend a lot time looking at each other on screens. When I catch a glimpse of myself, the woman looking back is far older than I am ready to be. I am in a digital room with people who are worried about turning thirty and if they’ll be able to get married this summer, or buy their first house. I adore every one of them.

They love it when I forget to put my settings on mute when I talk to my dog, which means they are kind of laughing at me, but people are desperate to laugh at anything. Maybe I should leave my camera on next time I try to convince Sophie The Best Dog Ever to eat barbecued chicken for breakfast.

I’ve been married for twenty years and have a house.

Before class time on camera, I spend extra time on my hair and add mascara, but then I just look like a slightly better groomed woman of a certain age or someone who is trying too hard. Once the weekend comes, I avoid mirrors and spend too much money on moisturizer.

I think about what I miss. Hugs, mostly, and all that came with them.

I think about what I”ll miss when this over.

Katy and I hopped on a zoom meeting tonight, she kept scolding me because I wasn’t following the rules of virtual etiquette. This made me giggle, so she turned the camera off. She explained the rules, and scolded me some more, probably because I’ve been nagging her a lot about keeping her room clean. At the end of the day, does it really matter if she climbs into a bed that was made in the morning?

I know to mute my microphone, and to try to remember to mute my microphone, and that will have to be enough.

I’m going to try to make this a year to listen and learn, and make it less about the line that just appeared in the middle of my forehead.

I’m going to make time to laugh with the people I love, because not much is the end of the world, until it is.
Until then…

Who or what do you want to make time for?


My house has been quiet this winter.

I work from 9 to 5. Before work, I work out. After work, I work out some more. I turn up the music, and sing along, but when the playlist ends, I can hear Sophie sigh in the basement.

I’ve been reading a lot of books, and I can hear my own breath, and the sound of each car that passes by, from my chair in the corner of the living room.

My daughter, Katy, keeps her door closed, but she doesn’t mind if I visit. When we talk, we use quiet voices, like we are sharing secrets. At this point, we don’t own any secrets, and there is no one around to overhear.

When I’m wiping the counters, or folding the laundry, I think about what I’d say to this friend from Quincy College, while we walked to Starbucks for lattes. I remember conversations with friends from church, while I sipped coffee, and munched on something dipped in hummus or cream cheese during social hour.

I think about who I should call, and when the call goes to voicemail, most of the time, I hang up because I don’t know where to start.There are big things going on the world outside of my own. I feel foolish and small because I don’t read the Times every day or, some weeks, at all.

All I can contribute to conversation is another story about Sophia that’s highpoint is she ate her dinner and wagged her tail. Since she was dying six months ago, that is a big deal, but I’ve told that story about fifty times. Though I am still filled with wonder, the miracle feels a little worn.

I watched a concert on my phone on Saturday night, Jason Isbell and Lyle Lovett, live-streaming from different corners of the world. They swapped stories in between songs, they laughed. Lyle went on about how brilliant Jason is on guitar, and Jason stood up and applauded a song Lyle wrote about his daughter. They were friends being friends, and I was as grateful to watch that part of the show as I was for the music. And the music was pretty damned good.

I am lonely, but I am blessed that the people I am most lonely for still call, text, and remember my birthday, (which is not good because I never remember anyone’s birthday.)

It is the night before snow falls. Tomorrow, when I walk, my steps will be muffled by snow.

I will think about spring, the season that is coming soon, the one with the daffodils, sunshine, allergies, when colors shift from black and white to shades of green.

I will also think about another spring, the one we are all waiting for, alone, and together.

Or maybe I won’t think at all. Maybe, I will just walk and enjoy the morning.

We will get to where we want to be.

I will try to appreciate the quiet of staying at home, with the people I love.

(I hope they still love me when this is over- the workouts are pretty noisy, and I’m not always mindful of the fact that not everyone wants to hear Britney snarling “you gotta work, bitch” at seven am on a Monday or anytime, actually- that will be another miracle.)

Miracles Happen.

January 16, 2021

For a time, I posted regularly on all channels about my life, including details about my daughter, husband, son, workouts… I shared and shared and shared.

The first of January one of my first orders of business was less time on social media- scrolling through my feed, checking likes, fussing about how to share the challenges and bliss of my new position at Blue Cross MA, obsession with spin class at home, (support your local gym, they are struggling,) and clicking on all links that left me sprawled on my sofa for hours.

Social media made me put off conversations with my daughter, and the exploding number of plastic containers in my cupboard without lids intended to store food I am not making because I am on staring a screen looking up someone from middle school.

I have written numerous posts about Sophia the Sweet, a pitfall border collie mutt, struggling with liver and kidney disease. Six months ago, Sheldon and I sat in the parking lot at the vet waiting to hear if it was time for us to “end her misery.” She was walking into walls, not eating scraps of Sheldon’s Italian subs, barking at neighbors, or lifting her head when Maurice the Cat strolled in the room.

It came out of nowhere, we said, but not really. We were busy with Covid, Colin, my 20 year old pain in the ass, oh-so-charming, son, and weren’t paying attention.

These days, mid January, Sophie seems fine.

We stopped taking her to the vet for check-ins; the visits made her tremble and cost a fortune.

We are feeding her a low protein diet topped with oven fried chicken, tenderloin, or slow cooked ham.

She won’t walk at Cunningham Park, but is happy to stroll the neighborhood.

Sophie likes to take me round a long slow mile as long as I don’t tug on the leash. She is not comfortable being photographed, sniffing or rolling. She is comfortable with the current covid restrictions because she is shy and anti social.

I am doing quite well because Sophia sleeps on my feet.She doesn’t get up when I do; (remember, I have a job, and it does require I get up in the morning).

I am a woman whose emotional health is tied to whether her dog looks happy to see her.

Oh, yeah… This isn’t about me.

Miracles happen.

  1. Work a full-time job- This is not in most recommendations since the demographic receiving these tips are primarily those who have been identified as unemployed. But when discussing basic tools that help to maintain mental health- being employed is crucial. There is the paycheck, there is a schedule, and there are colleagues, all of whom are employed too.
  2. If you are unemployed, or are laid off, live your day to day life as if you’re employed. Get up in the morning. Look with the diligence you put into your career. Start after breakfast. Be creative. Treat it like it’s an exciting project you chose, and convince yourself it’s an exciting project you chose. Don’t ask for leads from the person standing at line waiting to buy groceries. But ask them what they do, and if they are willing to answer, and you can understand what they are saying from behind their mask, give them your card. If you don’t have a card, which you probably don’t, since you don’t have a job, ask if they have advise, or a contact. Tell them you appreciate their insight, or offer them a roll of toilet paper.
  3. Exercise. If you’re working you’re busy. If you’re unemployed and looking, you are busy. But put time in the calendar to move your body. I’m a fanatic, so I won’t say more, but just try it. You have options. Dance to your favorite music. Drag your dog on a walk, but when you’ve been round the block, leave her at home, and spend forty five minutes stepping around your neighborhood. Dance. Ride your bike. Find a friend. You have to move your body for a sustained period of time in a way that makes you lose your breath, or can’t to sustain a conversation. Strolling to Starbucks, or going to the mall doesn’t count, even if you’ll earn more steps than your friends. Sweat.
  4. Put your phone away an hour before you hope to fall asleep. Social media is helpful if you need your 884 friends to see how beautiful your cookies look on a plate, or are putting off looking for a job, exercise, or cleaning the kitchen. If you can’t go without, set limits. and if you’re still up at 11:30, watch late night.
  5. Spend time outside. In the woods, on the streets after hours, in a playground while most kids are home for dinner- if you can find a space in the world, you might remember life before now. Trees don’t carry covid, watching birds fly, leaves shiver, the glorious colors of the sun, and the moon, placid and silver- open your door and take a walk. The view might beat Netflix.
  6. Shower. When we aren’t seeing people, it’s easy to forget basic hygeine. Showers feel good. Body wash smells nice. And when you’re in the shower, you’re not wondering why everyone of Social Media is doing better than you or forcing your family to collaborate with you on a TikTok to show the pandemic has brought you closer together. you can be,
  7. While you shower, feel free to create the TikTok in your head, but don’t expect anyone in your family to go along. I use the time to sing along to the playlist called “Songs to Sing Along to in the Car” even though I’m in the shower.
  8. Lean on people you love, people you like who have indicated they don’t dislike you, and everyone else.
  9. Drop off groceries, check in on a neighbor, visit your friend and hang out on the porch, ask and listen to their answer when you ask “are you ok?” Let people lean on you. Helping others makes me feel even better than twenty minutes on the spin bike, thirty minutes wandering the woods, or a really hot shower.
  10. Vacuuming, checking your Twitter, scrolling through Facebook, and matching stray socks, can steal hours from your day. Consider how you’d like to spend your time. It’s valuable.

All my love,