Coping with the Madness of 2020: Pray

If I practiced none of the other coping strategies I wrote about in the “coping” series, I might be okay, but the one thing that saves my sanity, my life, and probably the lives of a few others is prayer. In fact, journaling, creating, shutting it down, listingsleeping, and spending time with trees, would have little effect if I did not pray.

So I pray. I pray. I pray. I pray.

I’m not talking about begging and bargaining, though I’m pretty sure I’ve attempted some of that  this year. Instead, I’m talking about being in communion with God, listening for/to His voice, and doing my best to respond to the madness of 2020 and life in general  in ways that honor Him, deepen my trust in Him, and elevate my consciousness.

I am not overstating when I say prayer has kept me sane.

There are few words to describe our collective trauma this year, and I can’t say that I haven’t wondered or asked “why?” from time to time. But God is absolutely sovereign, so I try in all things to yield to His will–no matter how unfair, unreasonable, or impossible circumstances seem to me.

Moving toward prayer during difficult times challenges everything in me. It calls me out of self-centeredness, moves me away from my desires, and pushes me to higher levels of God-consciousness and light. The outcome is beautiful, but the work to get there isn’t pretty.

Moments like the ones 2020 has presented us with are tolerable and livable only when I am in constant contact, when my focus is heavenward and not on this tiny difficult moment. While I may not know the beginning from the end, prayer firms up hope and gives me a glimpse of the beautiful possibilities. For all of us.


Gracias: Thank you for joining me for the seven-part “Coping with the Madness of 2020” series.  If you’re interested, you can find a few more tips in two posts I wrote six years ago–different circumstances, but they still work: Getting Through the Crazies, Part I and Getting Through the Crazies, Part II.

And thanks to my friend Charmaine whose yellow iris is featured at the top of this post. I have difficulty shooting irises and expected little from the shots. This one turned out to be one of the favorites among those I shot from her garden. Who knew?

#ThursdayTreeLove | Coping with the Madness of 2020: Spend Time with Trees

“Autumn Road,” November 2020

In a cool solitude of trees
Where leaves and birds a music spin,
Mind that was weary is at ease,
New rhythms in the soul begin. –William Kean Seymour

I’ve written enough about tree therapy on the blog for you to know that “talking to the trees” is definitely one of the ways I cope with life’s challenges. You’ve probably figured, then, 2020 has driven me to the trees more times than I can count.

I could not find time this week for a full tree therapy session, but I took advantage of drive time for quick doses.

The sight of autumn taking over as I drove to work was thrilling, and the drive through campus was like entering an autumn heaven. The reds, yellows, and oranges vied for my attention.

Some mornings, I parked, stood outside my car in the early morning quiet (before others arrived), and took it all in. I listened to the wind and trees sing in perfect harmony as the crisp leaves danced across the parking lot.

Even such short pauses with the trees shake off the madness.

If you want to read more about how trees help me cope, take a look at some of my older posts or click the #ThursdayTreeLove hashtag below:

Hopefully, the posts will persuade you to try a bit of tree therapy!


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Coping with the Madness of 2020: Shut It Down!

Grainy Black and White: Fallen Magnolia Leaves

Plans for my “Coping with 2020” series were slightly derailed because, as one of my former students put it, this week was “ugly.” There’s no other way to put it. I worked 14-19 hour days almost every day this week. COVID-19 numbers rose daily. Zeta knocked down trees and power in NOLA and other places. And it seemed the whole world expressed anxiety about what we might wake up to November 4. By Thursday, I was livid because there was no relief from the noise.

One part of 2020’s madness for me is too much doing, too much noise all the time. Everywhere we turn. Noise. Someone or something telling us what to do, how to do it, how to think. Noise. Piling up our plates. Vying for control of our time and energy. Noise. Noise we seemingly can’t escape because doom and Zoom are everywhere.

Grainy Black and White: Impatiens

So how do I cope? I shut it down. Everything. Computers. Phone. All of it. And I sit, drive, or walk in total silence.

I’ve always loved the early morning and late night quiet and the rare but not impossible moment of respite from the daily noise in the middle of the day. But silence is different. We can always find quiet. Silence, ever-present and always within reach, seeks us, but we have to be intentional about being found.

Silence. When there are too many words and too much doing. Silence. When it’s easy to grab the phone and chat away whatever spare moments we can find. Silence. When we can put in our earbuds and tune out the world through music and podcasts. Silence. When the world is loud and boisterous and simply too much.

Grainy Black and White: Begonias

So this week—in the middle of the umpteenth multitasking Zoom meeting, just after the department’s student assistant knocked with one more issue she couldn’t address—I hit mute, closed my eyes and sat in silence.

I’m sure I was on the brink of screaming, “uncle!” That moment in the midst of the chaos saved my sanity.

When the world feels like too much—get off social media, turn off the tv, turn off all screens, ignore the phone and all the doing, and hit mute.

There is freedom and calm right in the middle of the silence.

Grainy Black and White: Magnolia Pods

Coping with the Madness of 2020: Journal!

Last week my friend Chella posed a question on Facebook: What are you doing to bear this anxiety? I can’t remember if I answered her question, but I’ve certainly thought about it.

Let’s face it–life can be hard, but 2020 has taken hard to a seemingly unbearable level. The year has presented a perfect storm of anxiety-inducing madness. There are things I’ve always done to deal with anxiety, stress, and the general disappointments and heartache that life brings: Pray. Meditate. Journal. Walk. Create. Though this hasn’t changed since we entered this tumultuous year, my activity in these areas has ramped up quite a bit since March.

I thought I would kill the proverbial “two birds with one stone” and get a few short blog posts out of my answer to Chella’s question. I’m not answering in any particular order. It’s all important and part of my spiritual practices and soul journey.

If I don’t write, I feel like I’m not breathing, so I journal.

I journal every day—in the morning, throughout the day, and in the evening if I don’t crash first. I have literally seven [or is it eight?] journals going at once; they serve different immediate purposes, but they all work to save my sanity.

Weekends, though, provide freedom to journal without worrying about schedules and tasks.  I can spend hours journaling without disruption. Today, I’m adding something new to my practice–a guided journal.

I rarely have a shortage of words, so I’ve never needed journaling prompts or guidance. I don’t think I’ve ever done a full guided journal before, but since my friend Dee [Delores James of Keep It Tight Sisters] wrote one, I am doing one now.

It’s nice to sit down this Saturday evening  with her latest publication, It’s My Time: A Guided Journal to Deeper Self-Love. In addition to plenty of writing space, the book includes affirmations, quotes, motivation, lists, writing and thinking prompts, and contemplative exercises to guide the self-care journey. Bonus: It’s purple! 🙂

If you’d like to learn about the therapeutic [and other] benefits of journaling and some simple approaches to journaling, see my July 2016 post: Journaling: Unleash the Magic. If the idea of a completely blank page is a bit daunting, a guided journal like Dee’s is a great place to start!

Note: All the images in this post are from It’s My Time: A Guided Journal to Deeper Self-Love. Even though this sounds like a sponsored post, it is not. 😀

Make It a Great Month!

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all. –Laura Ingalls Wilder

Happy October, Y’all!

Yes, I realize we’re 5 whole days into the month and I’m that many days late with this do-something-every-day post.

Joan B, one of my “Christian Friends” on Swap-bot, sent me this sweet “Good Day” card for my birthday [October 2nd]. I’m “just a little late” with posting, but the tasks are easy enough and you’ll be caught up in no time.

Good Day Note Cards, published by the Mental Health Association of Oregon, “are designed to brighten your life each day of the month. Don’t you just love this idea of doing little things to make your days great?

You’re Entitled to You!

Some of the most exquisite sunflower postcards in my collection were made by Love Noter Lori-Anne C. The intricate details of her paint and ink cards always fascinate me. The card she designed for International Women’s Day 2019 did not disappoint.

“Better the Balance, Better the World.” Art by Lori-Anne C.

I did not miss her message about balance:

If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that. Know that the “someone” can be you!

I’ve noticed [lately] that women, in particular, must be constantly reminded to take care of themselves. All my life, I’ve watched women put their needs and desires on the back burner while they pretty much served up every part of themselves to everyone else. We extol the virtues of sacrificial mothers and wives as if martyrdom is necessarily their calling, as if any attention to self makes them less selfless–or, worse, selfish.

Some of us are wired for such giving of ourselves, but just in case you have convinced yourself that everyone is entitled to all of you and all of your time, let me be clear: It’s not selfish to put on hold for a moment all the things and all the people vying for every bit of you. It is imperative that you pour some of your time and energy into yourself–to do something that makes you happy, that frees you, that heals you, or makes you giddy.

You can’t help others with only bits and scraps. You have to be balanced and whole–well, healthy–to help others, and you won’t be if you’re only serving others.

So go on. Plan to do something just for you–even if that means doing absolutely nothing.

The world around you is not going to fall apart if you take a little better care of yourself.  –S.C. Lourie, Butterflies and Pebbles.

Butterflies and Pebbles | Things to Know This Week

As I was avoiding taking a break from grading and perusing Instagram a few moments ago, I ran across a beautiful list of reminders to carry into the week written by S.C. Lourie, Butterflies and Pebbles on Instagram.

Things to know this week:

    • You will grow from whatever the world throws at you.
    • Your precious life is a gift.
    • You are allowed to do life at your own pace.
    • Your time is sacred. Don’t waste it on whatever makes you unhappy.
    • You are changing and expanding.
    • You are loved and needed. That’s why you are here.
    • You are going to be okay.

The card above came from Betsy N, a Love Notes pal who lives “just down the street” from me in Tennessee. Sent for International Women’s Day, it is a perfect fit for Lourie’s words.

May you hold each of these statements close this week. May you remember them when you hit the rough and tumble spots, the insane moments, the not-so-pleasant unexpected. May you grasp them when assaulted by the time-wasters and naysayers. May you know through all the ups and downs “you are changing and expanding […] loved and needed […] and you are going to be okay.”

Choose >>> Joy

“Finding JOY in the Midst of Chaos” by Lynda F.

Isn’t this artwork gorgeous? This is the card Lynda F sent with her response to Love Notes 26, Prompt 2, “Choose…” Lynda wrote:

Choose  >>> Joy
Start with a small step.
What little things bring you exquisite joy and happy-ness?
Try one. Then another. Then one more.
Try to do at least one joyful thing for yourself every day…
You deserve it!
Find your happy place!

Can we pause for a moment and talk about how much I need Lynda’s words?

I’ve been trapped in a season of work, work, work, and more work, getting next to no sleep and finding no time for the “little things” that add joy to my days. In the seconds between tasks, I’ve been dreaming about ignoring the to-do list, making Valentine’s Day cards, trying some of Diane’s photo collaging techniques, and taking long, long walks with my camera. At this point, I’ll settle for playing with stickers and my planner!

The office manager in my department mentioned today that she feels out of sorts if she goes too long without working with her hobbies. I exclaimed, “Me too,” and decided that I would do something–anything–this evening for balance and for joy.

As I mentioned in one of my 12 Days of Christmas Postcards posts, the word “joy” is significant to me, so the card is even more special. In fact, Lynda and I were in sync for this prompt; when I read the prompt, my response was also “choose joy.” No matter how much I tried to “shake joy” and find something else, joy insisted. So I encouraged Lynda to choose the steadying foundation of joy. I’m sure she did.

For more Lynda-art check her out on Instagram–@ladyfishpirate. Warning: You will be inspired to drop everything on your agenda and spend the night (or day) creating beauty. If it gives you joy, why not? 😉

I Invite You to…

Love Notes 26 just ended. Sort of. I have yet to send my response for the final prompt, but since tonight we’re dealing with the madness of my son’s finishing up his science project, I’m dropping in with my partner’s response to the first prompt: “I invite you to…”

Lynda F, who is an artist, gave me a “ticket to happiness” and collaged a beautiful invitation for the year, written by poet and artist, S.C. Lourie:

Make sure you give considerable time to your dreams this year. Believe in yourself, darling. Make a wish and let it take you on an adventure. Like flowers, may your deepest wishes and dreams blossom in your hands, and those who love you will help them blossom too.  –S.C. Lourie, butterfliesandpebbles

Thank you for these words, Lynda, and for introducing me to another “Instagram Poet.” I’ve been a little obsessed with the “Writers of Instagram” lately.

This year began with an insane amount of craziness [redundant, I know], but I’m going to be a bit more intentional this month about finding quiet moments to figure out life–a little of it at least.

Stay tuned. I’ll be blogging Love Notes from Lynda Wednesday and Friday too!

Purple Orchids and Self-Love

Photo by Christine B.

Self-love has been the theme for today. It popped up a number of times during the day–when [writing] my own morning musings steered me in that direction; when I read the latest blog post written by Briana M., a student in my Creative Nonfiction course–who happens to be the granddaughter of my late mentor; and finally, when the book I was reading to begin a class session opened to a chapter entitled “Schedule Your Own Happiness” instead of the chapter I’d bookmarked.

Point taken.

I’ve declared this week “Self-love Week” on Pics and Posts, and Briana’s insightful post–which defines self-love–is the perfect place to begin. With her permission, I’m sharing it here:

This week taught me that Self-Love is painful.
Self-Love is seeing a therapist to handle childhood trauma.
Self-Love is writing a letter to release pent up resentment.
Self-Love is visiting a grandmother who doesn’t remember who you are.
Self-Love is taking care of whatever is tugging at your heart.
Self-Love is the heavy lifting.
Self-Love is cleaning up the mess someone else left in your front yard.
Self-Love is forgiveness and forgiving those who do not deserve it.
Self-Love is forgiving yourself when no one else will.
Self-Love is digging deep enough to heal the pain you suppressed for years.
Self-Love is finding the source of the dark cloud following you around.
Self-Love is painful.
Self-Love is rewarding.
Self-Love is more than bubble bath and face mask.

This week, require more of yourself, you deserve it. –Briana M., The Introvert’s Escape Maneuver, “Self-Love is Painful”

Be sure to visit Briana’s blog and show her some blogger-love.


Note on the image: Today’s luxurious purple orchids were captured by my friend Christine B. They’re from her mother’s lovely garden.  Extra love provided by the USPS. 😉

Forgive me for being five minutes late for…