Happy Mother’s Day! I imagine this weekend may be a hard one for some people. Even though a lot of states are opening up, not everyone will get to celebrate with the moms they love. Do you have children you won’t get to see because of this pandemic? Or maybe you have a mom you will miss.
Feel free to tell us about it.
In the meantime, we are all just walking each other home.
P.S. Slow progress this week on Violet’s Tea Shop. Please send good mojo. xo
Read the previous dispatch here.
Right about now, many of us are realizing that the stay-at-home orders may go away, but that doesn’t mean that the Covid-19 virus has run its course and the world is safe again. I recently heard an expert on the news say that we are only starting the second inning of a 9 inning Covid ballgame. (Insert scream!)
Another metaphor I’ve heard used lately is that we are running a marathon, not a sprint. Are we truly up for running either?
I am not a runner, but I like to think that I understand metaphors. This virus requires endurance, has no real markers on how far along we are, and nobody is handing out water and Gatorade on the side of the road. The only fans cheering us on are our family and friends, who are running the same race. As the weeks click by, this long, hard, slog of a race feels like it will never end. We may have even hit a wall already and felt like giving up.
None of us have trained for this situation, but with a little luck and wisdom, we will get stronger as we go along. We have already adapted to things we never knew we were capable of—physical distance from people we love and our community; staying at home to keep ourselves and others safe; wearing masks or being extra cautious in the grocery store. Not to mention total disruption of our normal routines.
If Wikipedia is to be trusted, “marathon” is the Greek word for fennel. Fennel is a hardy perennial, tangy and strong, spicy and healing. Now that’s a metaphor I can live with.
As we take turns cheering each other on, may we all be hardy, tangy, strong, spicy, and a healing source for others. It’s a hard time, but we can do this. We’re not alone. A new day is coming, but first we need to finish this race. We’ve got this. YOU’VE GOT THIS.
Are there ways that you feel like you are running a marathon? How do you keep going?
Read the previous dispatch here.
BYOT!? A few weeks ago I shared with you how much I miss my afternoon tea dates with friends during this pandemic. I usually write from around 9:30 in the morning until 1, so for years having a cup of tea or coffee with a friend at 2 o’clock on select days through the week has been a lovely ritual for me.
It’s not really about the tea—though I love a good cup—it’s about spending time listening to the happenings in my friends’ lives, as well as sharing my own happenings. I don’t have family here, so my tea friends are like family to me.
Even though some states are opening up again, the virus is still spreading and the death toll is rising. So even if the coffee shops in town were open, I am not ready to go sit in a crowd again, and probably won’t be for a while.
My solution is what I call ‘driveway tea.’ It is a BYOT (bring your own tea), weather-permitting event, and it has been working fabulously. I’ve been catching up after not seeing friends for weeks, and we’ve had some wonderful conversations in my driveway already.
Here’s a photo of the setup. Two lawn chairs. 10 – 12 feet apart. I have a friend coming over this afternoon. She will drive up and park and join me in the driveway. No hugs, of course. My friends are all really great huggers, so I still miss that. But I get to see them at a safe distance, which is certainly better than not seeing them at all.
I wish you could join me in my driveway for tea one of these beautiful Spring afternoons!
Are there creative solutions you have come up with to meet with friends and family and still be safe? I welcome your thoughts on driveway tea.
Rest builds resilience. Without proper rest we slowly lose our vitality. Rest not only involves sleeping well, which is vitally important, but it also means having enough time to sit with our lives and process our thoughts and feelings.
Resting requires finding our balance between activity—doing—and being quiet and reflective. This being-ness is a crucial element to living a balanced life, as well as to storytelling. My job as a novelist is to ‘be’ with the characters I create in my imagination, and then to actively tell their stories.
With that in mind, after 44 days of creating a daily dispatch, and answering comments on facebook from 4:00 to around 9:00 every evening (which has been my great pleasure), I am going to take the weekend off. Then next week I will continue the resilience dispatches on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4.
This will allow me to use more of my creative energy to focus on writing Violet’s Tea Shop. Then later in May my plan is to do a dispatch on Mondays to start your week, and on Fridays, to check in to see how your week was and share some of my thoughts. On the Friday posts, I will also let you know in the P.S. how Violet’s Tea Shop is coming along.
Rest well, sweet readers. Stay safe. Stay steady. Steady on.
Now is the time for self-compassion. We’re not imagining things. It really is an unprecedented and stressful time. It’s okay to feel crappy some days. It’s okay to be distracted and unable to focus. It’s okay to feel angry and frustrated. It’s also okay to laugh and enjoy slowing down.
We’re all in new territory and humans in general hate change. Right now is a good time to be especially gentle with ourselves.
Self-criticism is not helpful. Nor is perfectionism.
We need to be intentional about choosing kindness and generosity, not only with others but first and foremost with ourselves.
We need to treat ourselves as we would a dear friend and witness our struggles with compassion.
We need to be generous about forgiving ourselves if we are afraid, distracted, or angry.
To build resilience and self-compassion, it might be helpful to give ourselves a bit of kindness every day. Maybe rub lotion onto our hands as we would a beloved grandparent, parent, or friend. Maybe light a scented candle. Make ourselves a nice meal. Take a bubble bath. Move our bodies. Listen to music. Walk. Weep. Dance.
In the service of self-compassion, perhaps we could try to do one thing a day with kindness and generosity toward ourselves.
Please share in the comments if there is something compassionate and kind that you already do for yourself – or would like to start doing – that might inspire others in our community here.
The Temple Secrets Series—Temple Secrets and the sequel, Gullah Secrets—is a favorite among readers. Anticipating requests for a third book, I announced in the back of Gullah Secrets that it would be the final book of this series. This did not, however, stop readers from asking and imploring for another book. This is a wonderful problem to have.
So, by now, you’ve already guessed the secret. During these last few weeks of staying at home, I have been playing around with the idea of writing a third and final Temple Secrets book, making it a trilogy like the Wildflower books.
The working title is called Violet’s Tea Shop. I have about 40 pages written, so it’s still in the very beginning stages. The story will continue in Savannah, as well as on the island. It will take place a couple of years after Gullah Secrets ends.
Here’s where you come in. If you have read Temple Secrets and Gullah Secrets, what would you like to see happen in a third book? What questions to do have that you would like to have answered? What would you like to see the characters dealing with?
I welcome any and all thoughts.
By the way, I rarely ask for reader input regarding a novel. So if you feel special, you are! While I may not use what you suggest, here is your chance to share your ideas. I’m listening.
SPOILER ALERT: don’t read the comments of this post if you haven’t yet read Temple Secrets and Gullah Secrets.
Read yesterday’s post here.
If you’ve read my novels you know that I believe in invisible things: spirits, ghosts, secret sense, sensitivities of all kinds. To me, the experience of joy is often an invisible thing, too. However, I believe this photograph has captured joy and made it visible.
As you know, the world can be scary. People and animals on this planet suffer in a multitude of ways. But somewhere deep inside of us is a part untouched by suffering. Deep inside, joy resides, and we are well in every way.
I wish that for each of us. I wish for us a glimpse into where joy lives. Perhaps this photograph will help us get there.
Read yesterday’s post here.
Did you have a treehouse as a child? Or perhaps your kids or grandkids have one now. When I was around 10, my dad built one between two old pines in our backyard. It was very rustic, as treehouses tend to be, and was the size of a small elevator, with a wooden ladder leading up, and walls that had two windows cut out, as well as a door. I remember the strong smell of pine sap and how it creaked as it rocked and swayed in the wind.
The treehouse was a gathering place for granddaddy long legs, which my younger brother took great pleasure in tossing on me while I shrieked. Sometimes, I would hide up there and draw pictures or write in my diary. I have loved being among trees ever since.
Here is Nancy Willard’s idea of a great treehouse. I love it, too! See what you think.
by Nancy Willard
Start with a tree,
an old willow with its feet
in the water,
and one low branch to let you in
and a higher branch to let you
and a lookout branch
to show how far you’ve come
(the lake before you,
the woods at your back),
and now you are close
to those who live in these rooms
without walls, without doors:
one nuthatch typing its way up the bark,
two mourning doves calling the sun out of darkness,
three blackbirds folding their wings tipped with sunset,
twelve crows threading the air and stitching
a cape that whirls them away
through the empty sky,
and don’t forget the blue heron
stalking the shallows for bluegills,
and don’t forget the otter backpaddling past you,
and the turtles perched on the the log like shoes
lined up each night in a large family,
and don’t forget the owl
who has watched over you
since you were born.
Be the housekeeper of trees,
who have nothing to keep
“Tree House” by Nancy Willard, from The Sea at Truro. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.
May we all become the housekeepers of trees!
During this challenging time, don’t underestimate the power of a simple thank you. With appropriate physical distancing, thank your mail carrier.
Thank the person checking you out at the supermarket.
Thank your garbage collector.
Thank your pharmacist.
Thank the UPS delivery guy.
Thank whoever delivers your pizza, or arranges your pickup order.
Thank the drive-in teller at the bank.
Thank the friend who calls and checks up on you.
Thank the healthcare workers, the ones who are family and friends, as well as total strangers.
Thank them by your actions as well: leave a sticky note in your mailbox to thank your postal worker.
Say to the cashier, “I appreciate you being here.” Tell them to stay safe. Send a note to your friends and family, thanking them for being there for you.
Saying thank you is a big part of living a life of gratitude and building your resilience. It seems so simple, and is more important than ever. Not to mention, your mama would expect nothing less.
Thank you for reading these daily resilience dispatches. I appreciate you being here. Stay safe!
For our Saturday resilience laugh, I offer my favorite quarantine humor. Because some days you just gotta laugh. Isn’t it unreal that this time last year we wouldn’t have understood these jokes at all?
Meanwhile, I hope you are wearing a mask everywhere you go and staying safe. I want you to stick around for a long time. My youngest daughter is a talented seamstress and has been sewing many masks. I am very proud of her.
Did any of these make you laugh? Do you have a favorite?
Be safe. Be steady. Steady on.
Read yesterday’s post here.