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How Are You?

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In March, just after things got serious, I asked in a post how you were doing, and what life looked like from where you are.

There were over 600 comments from all over the world, each person reporting on their inner and outer environment, as it appeared then.

Time felt so slow that month. But then summer happened, and we each tumbled onward into our weird new normals, learning what we actually need to stay sane and what we don’t. Tears were shed. Souls were searched. Pizzas were ordered. Zooms were Zoomed.

Then I blinked, looked up from my desk, and discovered that seven months had passed, Flight-of-the-Navigator style. The tree outside is now caked in snow, I have a beard, and according to the math I am in my forties.

I wanted hear how you’re doing now, and also update you on my 2020. This memorable year is ending, and it’s safe to say none of us have been traversing mapped territory. I’m especially interested to know what’s been working for you, in terms of staying upright and forward-moving. Did you take up geocaching? Therapeutic origami? Dog ownership? Stoic philosophy?

I didn’t get a dog, but my best friend did, and I’m in love. She’s a six-pound chihuahua named Abby, who smiles when she runs fast, fetches chihuahua-scale sticks down by the riverbank and has no worries whatsoever. She is an inspiration to us all.

Other sustaining forces include one-on-one walks with bipedal companions, lots of Radiohead and ‘80s new wave, regular Dungeons and Dragons with a crowd of Gen-X friends, exploratory bike rides, and Bulgarian split squats.

I’m also working on several new projects for Raptitude –- new content and a new vision — and implementing them at an excruciatingly slow pace, due to what I earlier deemed to be “quarantine mind fog.” In June I learned that this mind-fog is actually due to a well-understood, treatable condition that explains much about my entire life. I’ll talk about it in a future post, because (as I now know) it’s the entire reason Raptitude exists. But for now I’ll just say it was a welcome revelation.

Most of that new stuff will appear in 2021. In the meantime, I am still holding a much-needed session of Mindfulness for Relaxation, as announced previously. I’ve been pushing it back due to a nearly-comical episode of cascading technical problems. For those who have been waiting, that is still happening and you’ll hear from me about it soon.

Anyway, that’s 2020 for me so far.

How are you? How is life where you are? And what has helped you stay upright and afloat?

Let us know in the comments, even if you never comment. Every voice from another corner of the world helps everyone else feel a little less out of sorts.

-David

Me and Abby down by the river

***

Photo by Jamie Street

Three weeks to a more relaxed life

If you’re feeling wound up these days, I have something that can help.

I’m about to teach a group of your fellow readers an easy, do-anywhere mindfulness technique focused on cultivation relaxation and ease.

Come with us, and learn some relaxation skills for life.

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{ 211 Comments }

Nova October 23, 2020 at 2:19 am

Weirdly, life is pretty normal here in Canberra, Australia. We have had virtually no cases for months. I’ve been doing my job from home and just as I’m really starting to get into the swing of it and taking advantage of the the extra time thanks to no commute (think online fitness videos, walking my dog, kayaking at lunchtime). Sadly I’ve just been ordered back to the office which I’m not too excited about. I felt like I’d finally achieved a vague sort of work life balance!!
Obviously if the pandemic was over I wouldn’t be complaining. But the fact that it is continuing has me constantly feeling slightly anxious, especially when reading the news about second waves and fresh lock downs overseas.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 10:23 am

It’s great to hear it is contained where you are. We had very low case rates all summer but in the last month it’s become very prevalent. My province has the highest infection per capita rate in the country, and we’re poised to enter winter.

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Heather October 24, 2020 at 10:35 am

Hey David, get moving on that brain fog thang-!! I need all the help I can get. Mine’s continuing unabated since we went into semi-lockdown.

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Gayle October 23, 2020 at 10:53 am

Actually, my mother always told us that the most important lesson to learn in life…is acceptance. That has proven to be correct, in spades, at this time. I pretty much have accepted what was going on and by doing that I have been able to find peace with it. I’ve read more, ( after the initial quarantine brain fog), been trying new recipes, playing card games with my husband and the occasional Zoom happy hour with friends.
I have come to the conclusion that I like being home, that my pre-pandemic life was filled with a ton of things I didn’t necessarily want to do. I am less stressed and I like myself as I am.

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Adam Bruno October 23, 2020 at 2:21 am

Hey David! I’ve been visiting here for years but never commented, but for some reason this post has made me get the courage. I’ve been ok, had a rough last 6 months feeling down about humanity, about our condition and generally the lack of empathy in the world. Had to take a sabbatical leave from work to focus on my mental health and that has made wonders for me. Having some time to focus on hobbies, friends and family, connecting back to the (small) things that bring me pleasure, such as to cook my food and to read long overdue books. Also, the most important one was to accept that it’s ok to not be ok during this chaos and to focus on simplicity. Not having anxiety about improving, nor being demanding on myself to “feel good”. Just living one day at a time has helped me not feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty of live.
Anyway, happy to know you’re doing well. I’m curious about that medical condition you mentioned and I kinda wanna try Bulgarian split squats now. Thanks for the content and for always being such comforting human being!

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 10:41 am

Hey, welcome to the comment section Adam. Glad to hear the time away was therapeutic. I need to do that too.

Bulgarian split squats are the bomb

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lizzie October 23, 2020 at 2:23 am

Thanks for asking. I really like reading Raptitude, most especially your experiments. What’s worked for me: vegetables, honesty/transparency in relationships, extra sleep, walking my dog, playing with my 3 cats, acts of kindness like paying for the car behind me in the coffee line, cutting other people a lot of slack, decreased media consumption, keeping a bullet journal regularly which includes: daily gratitude, trackers for habits such as flossing/skin care/frequency of ordering in/stretching/whether I consume alcohol or if I binge eat; taking care of two indoor plants, keeping a phone log so I know how long it’s been since I’ve called someone I care about so that I don’t let too much time pass between calls, asking family/friends how I can best support and keep in touch with them during these last 7 months. I’m a massage therapist for the last 14 years and I’ve chosen not to return to work since all this started even though my place of employment is now open again, I’m not comfortable doing that sort of work at the moment. I’ve learned what I most loved about performing massage and having that as a paying career, and I’ve learned how my body appreciates not doing that kind of work (my back/hands/shoulders are all healthier now). I look forward to your future posts!

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Irina October 23, 2020 at 2:36 am

Reading and looking inwards to define my own values, principles and boundaries. Learning about the importance of ritual. I moved countries right before the global corona crisis hit, and getting socially settled in has been my biggest hurdle. It’s forced me to acknowledge a lot of the strategies I’ve been using to avoid being vulnerable with others in the past few years and to systematically confront them, one by one. I hasn’t been fun, but it’s allowed me to enjoy everything I have much more.

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Sharon October 23, 2020 at 2:47 am

In Melbourne coming out of our second lockdown. We are smug that despite the pain we only record 1-3 new cases in the state each day. We are looking forward to summer and some freedoms but are incredibly aware of how summer went in Europe and America. Opening up again will be cautious, the last 6 months have convinced nearly everyone we don’t want to do this again.
Australia is divided, we cannot freely travel through the country and the ability to travel overseas for the foreseeable future has gone. That is sad as many Australians have family overseas and the shut down has been hard.
We are looking forward but acknowledge that it’s been a high price for the economy.

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Lynette October 23, 2020 at 2:52 am

I have been managing a dialectic of looking downwards and inwards to manage my health and wellbeing (I work in a mental health hospital in Wales which is just about to have covid restrictions imposed for the second time) and making sure I look up and connect with others and nature.
It’s kept me going thus far. I have gone back to old school, hour long telephone calls with friends, long walks and reading. Things that I had forgotten were important to me in the age of my smart phone and V subscriptions. My meditation practice is also sustaining and I just keep telling myself we are all going through sometimes difficult changes and reductions and try to maintain a compassionate outlook. We’ve got this.
Thank you for being part of my wellbeing plan!

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Love the return to old school technologies, like books and the phone-call part of our phones. The pandemic is causing us to reassess what’s valuable rather than just expedient.

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Zoe October 23, 2020 at 2:56 am

There’s been a lot of ups and downs here. I already work from home, so that was no change for me, but now my husband does too. It’s nice because we can eat lunch together and see each other a bit when our son is in daycare, but it can also feel a little overwhelming sometimes.
I enjoyed parts of lockdown, to be honest. We are lucky to live in a country where the government gave parents paid leave during lockdown to look after their children. As self-employed, I didn’t benefit from it, but my husband did. We juggled childcare between us, so that I could keep my business alive and he could keep working part-time too (we both needed it for our sanity). But it meant that every day one of us would take our son for a long walk in the woods, and we would all go together at the weekend, and I felt healthy and alive and in touch with my surroundings. I miss that, as now we only tend to go once per weekend.
Amidst all the fear and sadness I did find the courage and motivation to finish the rewrite of my novel that I’d working on for two years, so that was pretty huge. It left me feeling a bit listless and disconnected afterwards, but now I’ve got ideas slowly coming in for the next one.
It’s also been a hard year because of having to cancel many plans that were important to me. I was going to get my first night away since the birth of my son and it really hurt to lose the possibility to take a break. I also had to cancel a holiday with my mum, which we’d booked over a year ago to make up for another holiday that had been cancelled a few years ago. I missed my dad’s 80th birthday celebration because of the quarantine rules in my home country. Those restrictions were then lifted, but reinstated two weeks before his actual birthday, so I couldn’t see him for that either. Three of my friends have lost their dads in the last two months (non covid-related) and it’s making me very anxious. We haven’t been able to see my mother-in-law for almost a year.
I’m sorry, that’s a lot of stuff but it all just came pouring out. It’s really been a mixed year. I’m struggling now with the onset of winter and a huge resurgence of cases here. It’s hard to entertain a two-year-old and to feel like there’s anything to look forward to.

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Gill October 23, 2020 at 3:00 am

Here in South Wales, UK, I have loved the quieter roads that lockdown brought. There was more a sense of community and people had time to stand and talk. Everyone that could seems to have taken up gardening!
Thank you for your interesting, mind expanding posts. Even an older person as I am relates well to what you say. Thank you.

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Chris H October 23, 2020 at 3:03 am

It’s been a hard year. I was made redundant and spent several months looking for new work. We are trying not to be too frustrated by the restrictive and ever-changing restrictions on what we can do and who we can see. We have a young family so the grand ambitions of reading Proust or learning Mandarin were never going to happen – it’s been more of a year for surviving and carrying on.

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Sarah October 23, 2020 at 3:05 am

I’m doing fairly well. I’m one of those irritating people that has managed to use this time to make positive changes. Quitting drinking. Trying to meditate. Getting outdoors. Phoning friends, focusing on family. Reading. Basic joys I had ignored in the busy-ness of the “old normal”. Pursuing new creative ideas. I still get anxious about the state of the world but on the whole this year gave me a massive reset and I am grateful.

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Nicho October 23, 2020 at 3:06 am

As a loner with no fixed abode, it’s been like a loooong school holiday where I don’t have to take life too seriously, and the abundance of unordered time is my own.
I heard the news when in the Canary Islands of something viral approaching, after six seeks there I went to see friends In chilly Canada and the cooler PNW as the toilet paper and Lysol vanished. In the beginning of lockdown I escaped to Palm Springs, bought a bicycle and peddled my huge gratitude around that oddly beautiful desert community. Empty streets, but stores still open, perfect, like a zombie apocalypse without the zombies, but more than the basics still available. I’ve slept/siested a lot, listened to great music and discovered new artists, spent time with nature and tried honing my mindfulness practice, the last few months have seen me house sitting a mansion with a little diy, sitting other houses with more diy, and now I’m planning my next winter escape, which is coming around surprisingly quickly. My gratitude is abundant, and really I’ll always remember this as one of my best times. I’m aware others have suffered, but I don’t have much, so don’t have much to lose. I have met some very interesting people, stayed in beautiful places, and even come out of it financially better off, but what I’ll really remember is the peace. Peace and love to us all.

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Laura October 23, 2020 at 3:31 am

Lovely post! “Don’t have much so don’t have much to lose”

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Nicho October 23, 2020 at 7:15 am

Bless you Laura

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Gabriela October 23, 2020 at 11:17 am

I, too, resonate with “Don’t have much so don’t have much to lose” Thanks for the inspiration.

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Nicho October 25, 2020 at 11:10 am

It certainly makes life simpler, and too many possessions can limit personal and mental freedom. Peace to you.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Jon October 23, 2020 at 3:13 am

What’s your favourite Radiohead album David? I think OK Computers general feel of anxious paranoia is the perfect soundtrack to listen to as the world goes to hell in a handbasket ;)

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 12:24 pm

OK Computer will always be my favorite I think, and yes it is perfect for our era. Truly ahead of its time.

Also a big fan of In Rainbows, Kid A and Moon Shaped Pool

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Jill Davis October 23, 2020 at 3:34 am

Mentally and emotionally I’m doing fine here in Portland, Oregon. Because I have underlying conditions as a senior, I am still sheltering. I watch a lot of TV and am gaining weight. I remain in a good mood no matter how chaotic it is downtown and further away all the fires. I have a wonderful husband and we spend lots of time with our three guinea pigs. We are absolutely crazy about them.
I belong to several zoom groups: 2 poetry, 1 exercise, 5 meditation. 2 shamanic.
I wish everyone out there peace and good health. Stay well. Stay sane.

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Jill Davis October 23, 2020 at 3:41 am

It’s still me. I have a couple of funnies for you:
-A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

When I married Ms. Right, I had no idea her first name was Always.

I hate it when people use big words just to make themselves sound perspicacious.

-I was going to wear my camouflage shirt today, but I couldn’t find it.

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Dave Hughes October 23, 2020 at 3:36 am

Thanks for asking!

Overall, I am doing pretty well. For the first few weeks, I actually enjoyed having an empty schedule, since I usually have a lot of schedule commitments. It allowed me room to breathe and relax. But after a month or so of that, I’ve been ready for life to start up again, although it won’t until mid-2021.

I’ve been retired for a few years, so I’m accustomed to spending a lot of time at home and I haven’t had to worry about working from home and lots of online meetings. Nor have I had to worry about losing my job or losing income. I’m very thankful for all of that. But our travel plans have all been cancelled and all but one of the musical groups I participate in are on indefinite hiatus, so that has left a huge gap in terms of fulfillment and socialization. We only socialize in person with 2-3 other couples who we know we can trust in terms of safe behaviors.

With all the extra time on my hands, I have been dwelling too much on the news and the US elections. I need to focus on other things. For awhile it depressed me, but now I am better able to maintain my emotional wellness and not let external forces derail it.

Where I live (Phoenix, Arizona) I have noticed that there is much less resistance from anti-maskers. I don’t go out except for necessary things, but when I do I observe that almost everyone has accepted the current norm of mask-wearing and distancing. It’s not controversial anymore.

The biggest thing I have learned is not to take things for granted. I never would have imagined that we couldn’t participate in group meetings and enjoy live concerts and theatre. But I have also improved myself in terms of acceptance and releasing things I can’t control. This is temporary (although much longer than we originally thought) and this too shall pass, so that gives me hope.

Thank you for Raptitude! My mood always picks up when I see a new email from you. You improve many people’s lives.

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Amanda October 23, 2020 at 10:46 am

I really enjoyed reading your comment @DavidHughes. I relate so much

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 12:28 pm

“With all the extra time on my hands, I have been dwelling too much on the news and the US elections. I need to focus on other things.”

I think this is a major, major issue for so many of us right now. We’re stuck at home with screens, and getting truly unprecedented doses of upsetting news, during a time when our mental health reserves are already low. In five or ten years we’re going to know a lot more about the psychological effects these conditions are having on us.

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Rocky October 23, 2020 at 4:12 am

Howdy David …. My wife and I have a dog , and frequently dog sit two others. They are a great source of stability and joy in an otherwise rough old world. All that has gone on, personally and globally, in 2020 feels like labor pains leading to the birth of something new and beautiful. Meanwhile I’ll keep walking the mutts.
Many thanks David

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Hawk October 23, 2020 at 4:13 am

Hi David. I’ve been reading your blogs for some years now, but never commented. Now I felt compelled to do so, because this is bizarre! I dreamt last night, for some reason, I went to camp calm and met you and you asked me the exact same thing, before receiving this update. The general gist of the dream was that you were calm, while I was going all over the place. This is a projection of my own subconscious obviously, and it encapsulated my mind on a day-to-day basis for the last year, and more clearly last weeks. I’ve become aware of that after taking the last weeks to myself, and starting to meditate instead of having only little mindfulness moments.

During last year I focused mainly on work, but ever since quarantine started I started shifting attention more to the spiritual, as I felt that was greatly lacking. I meditate now not out of the blue, but as part of a practice of gnosis, which takes its main elements of zazen. It doesn’t have a purpose or a goal, the practice is the purpose in itself. With regards to what I was doing half a year ago this is a 180 degree shift, and I have difficulty establishing that new routine. But that’s expected and it’s okay. It will come, and the dream exemplifies the struggle between the old and the new. Your blogs help greatly with it. I still often remind myself for example of one post you made about re-evaluation of initial feelings for example when you’re in a line in the supermarket. It stuck with me, and initiated a small change in me as well. To promote a smile on someone’s face, even if it is a stranger. I’m still not great at any of these new things, but the fact I’m making small steps is already an improvement over the old way of not doing it at all. Anyway so that’s how I’m doing. Thank you for asking and keep up the great work! I’m looking forward to your next post.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 12:36 pm

So glad you broke your comment silence Hawk! Also, I am flattered by your dream-projection of me, haha. I’m devoting a lot of time to my practice, even as I feel more scattered than ever.

It sounds like your practice is going really well, embracing the struggle and contradictions as part of the thing you’re trying to connect with. If you can click with the zen-like approach to meditation right off the hop, it can be a huge shortcut from the more conceptual approach.

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Agu October 23, 2020 at 4:16 am

Thanks for asking!

I’m doing okay, all things considered. I started at a new job (my first real one since grad school!) on January 2 and had two normal months of work before everything in my country shut down on March 17. We’re still on lockdown, it’s just different names for it.

My family covers most of my food and expenses and during the week I just focus on keeping up with the ever-increasing workload. My contract ends on December 31 and I worry about getting offered a new contract in 2021 – I know I’m okay performance-wise but there might be more austerity measures in place (I work for a government institution).

We live mostly in isolation, so I only see friends in twice-monthly calls, and in this country internet speed is a huge problem so we’ve never had a clear video conversation. We really only manage to stay connected through Messenger or other social media. Some days dumb memes are the only things getting me through it.

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Mum 3.0 October 23, 2020 at 4:27 am

Hello,
I thought I had given news in March but apparently I didn’t. During spring, I appreciated cocooning with my family (teenager kids) in a sufficiently large house with a reasonably large garden. We were lucky enough to be able to work from home, be safe and healthy and have our salaries every month. I appreciated to be able to concentrate on the important aspects to my work and my life, with time spared from not-that-useful-but-time-consuming meetings. I took to replace commuting times by yoga (abandoned 20 years ago) and vegetable gardening (first time in my life).
Now, during fall, I got coronavirus and I was tired during 6 weeks, but nothing more serious. Fortunately, the rest of my family and friends did not suffer from coronavirus. I am still working from home but the kids are back to school. I can go running in the orchards around my house again (this was not allowed during lockdown). During the summer, I learnt that my garden needs more watering than what I provided (and thus I was far from being self-sufficient in terms of vegetables ;-): lesson learnt for next year. The most important lesson learnt during this period is that I really need to take time for myself, to respect myself, to be self-confident, for my mental balance and motivation, and I hope to remember this lesson even when we go back to “normal”; for the time being, I feel we are still “in-between”.

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Gary October 23, 2020 at 4:37 am

South Africa went into an extended lock down – we still have some restrictions although much closer to normal.

I have been walking a lot, also been in my garden more, so more physically active than before – have lost some excess weight and am fitter than I have been in years. Also have engaged in numerous home improvement projects to keep myself busy. Connecting with friends via Zoom during lock down and more face to face time now. business has been slow this year but beginning to pick up again

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Anand October 23, 2020 at 4:43 am

Hi David

It’s nice to see your post..I have just made a big shift in my life, left tech job and moved out of US and came to india. Meditation , camp calm and internalizing that things are not to be taken for granted is helping me deal with this unprecedented situation.
Thank you for your work.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 12:46 pm

That’s great Anand. By the sounds of it, 2020 has been a time of returning to contemplative/spiritual practice for many of us.

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Gregory October 23, 2020 at 5:25 am

Paris is kind of weird. The beautiful buildings are still there, but the life has gone out of the city. It’s like every day is August, except that there are no tourists in the streets. Summer ended in mid September and now a dreary grey has taken old. Cinemas are open but mostly deserted. Restaurants close at 9 pm since the second wave picked up a few weeks ago.

The things I do to keep sane. Being over 60, I gave up running a few years for swimming, but with the first lockdown, running was the only sports-like activity you could do out of the house. This turned out all right since now I’ve gotten used to running a slowish 5k every day, and it appreciably boosts my dopamine. During the lockdown I gave myself a challenge of doing a self portrait every day. From March through June I did 94 (visible on my website gregpaints.fr), and that help ground me. I also meditated every day in the beginning of the lockdown when the uncertainty created a bunch of undirected angst.

We’re in the middle of moving now, so that keeps us busy, but the cultural side of life (one of the benefits of living in Paris) has slowed considerably. I feel like we are just trying to ride it out, but it is odd to be giving up 18 months of normal life.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Love the self-portraits!

I hadn’t thought of that, but the most touristed city in the world must feel drastically different than usual.

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Robyn Quaintance October 27, 2020 at 1:10 pm

Gregory – I loved those self portraits! So many different ideas of a self portrait. Your mind is still full of ideas! Keep going for it!

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Julie B. October 29, 2020 at 1:06 am

Dear Greg,

Thank you for sharing your website. I have not painted in years, although I still consider myself an artist. Your work has ignited a spark in me that was extinguished for some time. You are very talented and your love for art shows in your work.

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Chris October 23, 2020 at 5:28 am

I am struggling mentally to deal with all of this and I’m not one to usually have significant mental health issues. On the surface, I’m fine. I retired last year, and have sufficient income, and don’t have to endanger my health in a physical job around other people. I’m grateful for all of that.

I’m introverted and a home body, but there is a difference in my mind between choosing to be home and HAVING to be home. This was the year we were finally going to start travelling now that I’m retired, and I was also busy finding my niche/purpose/something bigger to do in life and then covid restrictions hit. All of my brand new social network vanished: no more exercise classes,, or garden club. All of my routine was disrupted. This year has been full of a lot of disappointments. And I feel like such a whiner saying that. I am very privileged. My usual coping mechanism is to plan a trip/outing and I can’t rely on that these days. I understand this is not forever, but have uncertainty with how long this stage will last.

I appreciate the work you do David and find it very uplifting. I often find new ways to reframe issues in a more positive/productive way. Thank you.

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Sarah October 23, 2020 at 9:28 am

It’s not whining. It’s really hard for many of us to adjust when our coping mechanisms involve so many Covid-unsafe practices. Living in a city has been a challenge as we don’t have a yard so I get that it’s hard to find a new pace or figure out activities that comply. It is difficult to adjust to fundamental changes. All we can do is keep trying until we found our new pace.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 12:57 pm

The pandemic and all of its side effects constitute a huge psychological load, whatever your circumstances. And that’s on top of the already enormous existential weight of being human. It’s definitely not whining to talk about how hard it all is. Thanks for your comment and here’s hoping 2021 comes with new light.

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Jayne October 23, 2020 at 5:41 am

Initially, I was off work for five weeks, as I am a nurse in the OR and all elective procedures were cancelled. By May 4, we were back up and running in N-95 masks, which has now morphed back into regular surgical masks at all times. We are as busy as ever, even though people have to come by themselves and are in their pre-op rooms alone. I try to be their “person” in the 5-10 minutes I have with them before taking them back for their surgery, acknowledging that all of this sucks mightily.
The biggest challenge for me has been reassuring my adult son with autism, who already had a long standing germ/contamination preoccupation. Masks and enough hand sanitizer to float a boat has become his new normal now. I wonder if I’ll ever get him OUT of a mask when that day comes.
But, there has been joy as well. I met “the one” in September, and am happier than I’ve ever been in my life. He is gentle, kind, loving, compassionate, open, and looks at me as if I were the last piece of chocolate on the planet. Life is good.
Thank you for all the positivity you put out into the world, David.

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sallyann October 23, 2020 at 6:45 am

I am glad you are so happy! The “one” sounds lovely.

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Kevin October 23, 2020 at 8:30 am

Jayne–
Thank you for being people’s “person” in pre-op! My wife had surgery in September, and it was very strange to only be able to drop her off at the front door.

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Al Mazzoni October 23, 2020 at 6:17 am

I’m glad you had a revelation and are acknowledging that there is life to be lived in a pandemic. 4 months ago you never mentioned or acknowledged the pandemic as if it didn’t exist so I’m glad you are experiencing life with the rest of us. I love your articles because you look at things differently than others but first you have to put yourself in our shoes before you give us your perspective. Thanks for asking about what we the readers are experiencing. It’s important for you to know so you can relate and be therapeutic for us all. Thank you!

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 1:29 pm

I’m not at all sure what you are implying in this comment but I hope this clarifies things: I generally keep current events out of articles so that they remain relevant years later. But with the pandemic situation I am constantly alluding to it because it’s too hard not to. I’m a person just like anyone else.

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Elisa Winter October 23, 2020 at 6:38 am

I don’t know when I have ever been so peaceful and content. I’m working from home. I grocery shop when necessary. I’ve been doing paint by numbers while listening to audiobooks (The Hobbit, again. Love In The Time of Cholera, again.) I was invited to join an online Unitarian Universalist newly-formed congregation that schedules once-a-month online services, zoom planning meetings, a nascent book club, and found one guy there who is nutty about rock n roll as I am. I just sent him all of my Radiohead favorites (David – I love “Reckoner” the best. Do you love this song too? I’ve played it so many times!) With my blessed Spotify subscription, have been listening to lots of old school jazz from the 1920s to 1940s, and fell in love with Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins. This music, properly grokked, is the antidote for racism. You just have to pay attention to the brilliance and mastery. Naturally, I watched Ken Burns’ “Jazz” on the PBS app for the 7th time and I think I’m finally beginning to “get” bebop. That feels like an accomplishment.

On the bleaker side, I’m delving into the topics of the collapse of civilizations. Getting myself more deeply used to (what seems to me to be) the fact that we, like the pharaohs, are completely unnecessary and profoundly temporary. (See: Meg Wheatley and Michael Dowd’s “Post-Doom Conversation” on YouTube.) Michael Dowd’s lectures, in particular, have moved me to tears with how absolutely correct he is about how he defines “Reality.” Also, as always, listening to “Making Sense” podcast religiously despite the bleak topics, like the latest on “The Information Apocalypse” which made me want to go totally Kazinski – live in a shack in the woods with no electricity for the rest of my life, however, without the manifesto writing.

My heart goes out to everyone with young children, and everyone who is pondering having children. It has become impossible for me to be joyful about new humans coming into the world, thinking that I know what they’re going to face ecologically, economically, socially, etc., in the next 100 years. I have actually begged my 20-year-old daughter not to have children, ever. Have pets. Grow vegetables. But don’t have kids. I can’t even pretend anymore.

One last thought for Raptituders: I highly recommend “Amusing Ourselves To Death” by Neil Postman. It explains everything. Now, time to turn on my work computer, attend to my tasks, and enjoy the cool autumn air, the low bright sun, the warmish coffee in my mug, and think about toast and marmalade for breakfast.

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Nicho October 23, 2020 at 8:49 am

Your first sentence was perfect. I can only liken it to seemingly endless school summer holidays. We have aaaaall the tiiiiiiiime in the world.

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Elisa October 24, 2020 at 8:36 pm

Yes, that’s it, Nicho. I haven’t had so much unstructured time since childhood. It’s far more pleasant now than it was when Covid started!

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Reckoner is so great. Also love Nude off the same album.

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Catherine Roberts October 23, 2020 at 9:39 pm

Elisa,
Thank you so much for your reply. What I adored about it were all the little breadcrumb ‘links’ you gave us. I jotted them down in my knitting journal and then during a break, looked them up. Michael Dowd and the Post-Doom Conversations are a gold mine for future listening pleasure and stimulation. Ordered ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’; haven’t as yet got to the jazz recommendations.

I, too, listen to ‘Making Sense’ but talk of social media, AI get me all wound up with no real place to go. These days, I prefer Sam’s ‘Waking Up’ app where I do my guided ten minutes of meditation and then head off to listen to other meditation…like the Headless Way.

Thank you again for these little gifts.

Catherine

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Emily October 23, 2020 at 6:41 am

David, good to hear from you again! As you say, it’s a new normal – or abnormal – and our family is coping pretty well. My 70-year-old mother and 80-year-old in-laws, along with assorted aunts & uncles in that range, are cautious but accepting of the risks of the oncoming flu season. We still plan to host a family Thanksgiving, and give out candy to trick-or-treaters next weekend. I’m practicing daily gratitude, not least for the fact that we live in a small town & my teen boys can be back in school physically with little risk – they need it! – also that my husband & I have great jobs that kept us paid & busy through everything. We have much abundance in our life, and know how lucky we are.

Best to you & your circle, and the new dog – ours is an 8-year-old boxer. Don’t get a boxer, they’re wacko. But we love her & she doesn’t chew up socks any more. That’s a real improvement.

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sallyann October 23, 2020 at 6:43 am

Hi David, thank you for the update.
I am in Western Australia, which has no recent community transmission of covid, so is a very comfortable and safe place right now. It has been a crazy year with a lot of work in my field, so I have worked many more hours than is probably healthy. I am about 4kg heavier than I was in March, which is not pleasing. I have kept going to Pilates regularly and walking though. I have also started using a professional cleaner for our house, which has helped manage the stress of having too much to do.

I am grateful that our government policies are based on health science. I am sad that this does not happen in many parts of the world, and that some parts of the world can’t afford the changes that would reduce health risks. I am concerned about the USA and that it does not seem to have introduced effective policies to reduce covid risks. I hope its citizens choose wisely at the next election.

I look forward to your next update including your mystery condition! All the best.

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GH October 23, 2020 at 6:47 am

I’m learning how to speak Vietnamese! Under normal circumstances I spend about 4 months a year in Vietnam with my friends, most of whom speak English, so there wasn’t any pressure to earn it.

Around May I decided I needed a big project to keep me going, so I booked a Vietnamese pronunciation lesson on June 1st. Since then I have had a 1 hour online lesson every weekday morning with a tutor in Hanoi (over 100 lessons so far!) and I’ve kept a daily journal in Vietnamese for over 3 months. Every day. I’ve never been able to do that before.

Once my daily lesson is over by 10am or so, I’ve already accomplished something for the day, and the daily habit itself is compounding my progress. In the end, when I can finally visit Vietnam again, it will transform my experience in a profound way. This I know for sure.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us :)

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 1:44 pm

I love the thought of international travel becoming safe again, and you arriving Vietnam in person and speaking Vietnamese

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Havu October 23, 2020 at 6:56 am

I never comment! Even though I’ve been a fan of Raptitude for years.

I live in Finland. For me personally life has been ok with the pandemic. We have been more isolated socially of course, events and plans have been cancelled (actually I enjoyed how this calmed life down – no more pressure to be constantly attending events, no more fear of missing out), I defended my PhD thesis via Zoom (the opponent being in another country), we are getting used to face masks, and I’ve been shopping groceries for my elderly parents, but no one among my family or friends has got the virus. Summer was pretty normal as the number of cases was very low.

Now the second wave is here, but the major challenges in my life come from other things: mental health (depression & anxiety that have been dominating my life for the past ~5 years), thoughts about future with environmental crises and political turbulence looming ahead, the struggle to find meaning in life. I quit my job recently and have no idea what to do with my life next. But I have a loving partner, I already have a dog (and I already do geocaching), and we have a new home with a small yard so we can start gardening once the winter is over.

My best antidotes: being in nature, walking, writing. Connecting with philosophies that emphasize love, kindness and compassion instead of competition, confrontation and scarcity (e.g. listening to Dharma talks instead of reading news). Recently I stopped reading news in an attempt to protect my mood. I’ve also tried to reduce my phone usage (with not so much success so far).

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Jill Davis October 23, 2020 at 7:25 am

If you google Against The Stream, you will find some wonderful free, live Buddhist meditations every week night. My favorite is Rachel on Tuesday nights from 7:30 – 9 PM Pacific Standard Time. She is located in Seattle, Washington. There is usually a 30-minute Dharma talk, then 30 minute meditation and 30 minute share.

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Nicho October 23, 2020 at 8:50 am

Thanks for that, I’ll check it out.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 1:47 pm

Thanks for this comment, Havu.

Dharma talks instead of news sounds like a great regimen :)

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Shannon D. October 23, 2020 at 7:16 am

I have been laid off from work since the middle of April. Being off from work is fine, but the not knowing when I will be going back and what I will find when I do, is very anxiety inducing, as is the election that is happening here in the U.S. right now. I am focusing on stoic philosophy, walking, and doing some sewing to revamp my work wardrobe for when I go back. Sewing helps because I can immerse myself in the process and experience the flow state. Thank you for your writings, David.

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Paulo Roberto Fleury October 23, 2020 at 7:18 am

Hi there. This blog is really nice, O love the whole idea around it.
Here in Brazil, in the middle west region, there has been a decrease in infection cases and deaths. Schools are still out and because of that I’m still in home office. Gotta confess I’m getting sloppy about just everything in my life. Plus the government policies for the environment, where my job is inserted, just gets worse and worse. WE may face a dark(er) future ahead! Anyways, hope the best for everyone here!

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Meg Wolfe October 23, 2020 at 7:19 am

Hi David—just beginning to return to Normal Enough, mostly thanks to immersing myself in the garden over the summer. About to start to blog again, and have resumed my novel-in-progress where I left off in mid-March. We are a high-risk household; even seeing my son, dil, and granddaughter requires social distancing out on the patio. Thus, I’m going to approach the coming winter months as a “writer’s retreat” and tell myself that by the time I finish the book we can all get together again with big hugs and a feast around the dinner table. Aware that might be Spring 2022, but mindfulness will carry us through. Hugs, be well, and thanks for being a beacon of thoughtfulness and sanity.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 1:48 pm

Whenever this thing is over there are going to be some great hugs

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Stacey October 23, 2020 at 7:22 am

I vacillate wildly from doing okay to barely hanging on, and back again. I’m extraordinarily fortunate to be able to work from home, and my husband is a stay at home dad who is tackling the struggle of distance learning with our two boys, 5 and 7, who both have special needs.

Our oldest has pretty severe challenges due to autism, severe language delay, and intense sensory processing disorder. We have never gone more that a couple of weeks without him enjoying an overnight with grandparents; it gives us a breather from the literally constant need to supervise, protect, and intervene all day, every day. He doesn’t understand danger , and he doesn’t differentiate between playful or harmful actions. So he is constantly doing upsetting or dangerous things in an attempt to play with us – things like grabbing an ankle as you walk past him, or tackling you halfway up the stairs, or tipping your full water glasses over onto the table. He is large for his age – 4’5″ and 78 lbs – and his brother is a foot shorter and less than half his weight. So from the moment he wakes up (usually between 4 and 5, but sometimes as early as 2), we are “on” every SECOND unless we hand him a tablet, which I’m ashamed to say we’ve relied on more and more after the past several months. We haven’t seen a grandparent (all high risk) or a friend or even a park since early March and it has been pretty rough at times.

The beautiful thing is, we’ve discovered that we CAN do this on our own when we have to. I never would have believed that if we hadn’t lived it this year. It’s a lot of really exhausting, depressing days followed by nights of tears, self-doubt, fear for the future, and a sense of failure. Add in health issues and the political climate and I feel like a basket case more often than not. But I’ve been reading and baking and writing, trying to take it one day at a time. I’ve lost almost 40 lbs since June. Just trying to put one foot in front of the other and give myself some grace. I always look forward to your posts because they help me believe there’s a path through this crazy year and a life to be had both now and on the other side of this pandemic. Thank you for that.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Human beings are so resilient, it is truly incredible. It’s amazing how many times we can go to bed thinking we have no idea how to handle tomorrow and everything after it, and somehow we do

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Denise October 23, 2020 at 7:38 am

Another long-time fan who never commented before. In some ways, it’s easier to tell a stranger how you are really feeling…I am retired, secure economically (I think) and no losses to family or friends–yet. The weight of the unknown and unknowable is bearing down on me. What has worked? Different things on different days, some days better than others. I live in the U.S., so feeling very disheartened about ongoing division and polarization. I keep my hands busy, but winter is coming, in more ways than one. I’ll keep trying.

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Drew October 23, 2020 at 7:44 am

2020 has been my best year ever, and I say that without hyperbole. What comes to mind are words like “forcing function” and “sometimes we must give up good things to do great things”. The pandemic caused me to get laid off, and the subsequent quarantine caused me to beautify my living space- adding houseplants, rearranging my room, and spending a lot more time in the yard. I have asthma, and fear led me to try things like didgeridoo, and do a deep dive into breathwork. Also due to the layoff, I began taking my creative work more seriously, and feel that is more aligned with my calling in life, and now I am figuring out how to do that sustainably in a way that provides for me. I also got Covid and beat it, which felt like a victory.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 1:59 pm

It’s impossible to know I guess, but I think one product of the hardships of this year is meaning. The challenges are pushing us to the creative and meaningful sides of life, because there’s nowhere else to go

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Teresa October 23, 2020 at 7:48 am

Nature has always been my best friend but I’ve accessed her sweet presence even more since March 2020. I bought a small piece of land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a few months ago, something I’d intended to do for the last couple of years. We journeyed north for a few days after the purchase to spend time among the trees. The early twinges of fall colors were soul healing. We cleared an old driveway that was in need of attention and ate sandwiches from our cooler while gazing at the sun dappled forest that surrounded us. We sat on a lonely beach of Lake Huron and watched the clouds reflected in the water. I’m thrilled to have this little refuge to dream about even after I returned home. So I dug out my tent and went camping, so late in the season that I was only one of three campers in a beautiful state park. Campfires at night and walking through the trees during the day — I may never need people again. SIGH.

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Nicho October 23, 2020 at 8:53 am

Beautiful, just perfect. Back to nature, our true nature.

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Teresa October 23, 2020 at 7:48 am

Nature has always been my best friend but I’ve accessed her sweet presence even more since March 2020. I bought a small piece of land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a few months ago, something I’d intended to do for the last couple of years. We journeyed north for a few days after the purchase to spend time among the trees. The early twinges of fall colors were soul healing. We cleared an old driveway that was in need of attention and ate sandwiches from our cooler while gazing at the sun dappled forest that surrounded us. We sat on a lonely beach of Lake Huron and watched the clouds reflected in the water. I’m thrilled to have this little refuge to dream about even after I returned home. So I dug out my tent and went camping, so late in the season that I was only one of three campers in a beautiful state park. Campfires at night and walking through the trees during the day — I may never need people again. SIGH.

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Victoria October 23, 2020 at 7:48 am

I’m surviving. My daughter and her family moved out at the end of July. They’d been living with us for two years; my youngest grandson’s entire life at that point. It was bittersweet. We all needed our respective spaces. My hobby has been knitting, hiking, and podcasting about how those two activities intersect but I’ve developed tennis elbow. Soooooo……..learning to deal with that now.

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Chris Koshowski October 23, 2020 at 8:01 am

I am a retired teacher living on a beautiful waterfront two acre property on a huge lovely lake full of fish and wildlife. Compared to young couples with small bored children trying to navigate life in an apartment in a large city, I am in paradise. I can go out anytime I like and walk around working on many outdoor projects as well as countless indoor ones. I do stained glass but have also dabbled in rug weaving as well as painting the entire interior of our home – ceilings included! I feel truly blessed to be at this stage of my life during such unprecedented times. I have nothing about which to complain. That being said, I am often overcome with intense sadness leading to bouts of crying. There is no specific trigger for these moments, except, I think, that I am feeling the world’s pain? When I am in the depths of one of these moments, I blame myself for enjoying post-apocalyptic novels for many many years, and finally my “thoughts have become things” – as MD often says. I come out of these blue moments and understand that I alone have not created these terrible times, but on the other hand, we as a whole Have to change our thoughts and ways. These letters have proved very helpful and pulled me out of many dark moments. The practice of mindfulness has been a life saver for me and I just have to glance out of a window and watch a loon or beaver or even the beautiful shade of green on towering white pines against the deep blue of the the sky to make me so grateful to be living in such a gorgeous place. When I realize that there are not very many people in the world who have such a lovely environment, I sometimes feel a little selfish, but then I wish for everyone to find some beautiful thing in their lives to sustain them during these times. There is always some small thing which will sustain us all and I thank you for pointing these out to us during your lovely letters. Thank you

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Naomi October 23, 2020 at 8:09 am

Hi David,
Your posts are always a welcome sight in my inbox, thank you for those! And thank you for asking how we are.

I’m in central Florida, co-working at my house with my boyfriend since March. Unfortunately my dog of 14 years passed on in January, and I still miss her terribly. I will probably get another dog, or foster, come winter/spring, though planning is still somewhat problematic and I’m not sure where I’ll be in five years.

I’d also been taking care of my grandma for 2 1/2 years, she went into hospital/nursing care in late January (she was 105), turned 106 in early March (we had a very small birthday party for her a few days before they shut down all visitation), and she passed away in April, from Covid or just old age I don’t know since she had been declining. My siblings are all well, if scattered (west Florida and Colorado). I have about 6 friends and local family I see somewhat regularly, but I do miss my tribe (the local writing community). I’m still pretty anxious now any time I go anyplace remotely crowded. I’m lucky to have a back yard, and gardening season is gearing up here in Fl so I’ll be working the garden, running when I can get myself out the door in the mornings, doing indoor workout sessions and yoga sessions. And my boyfriend and I do take weekday morning work breaks occasionally to go to the springs and walk some local trails (less crowded on weekday mornings). I still tell myself I should meditate but it’s strangely the hardest thing for me to do.

I find it comforting to be around other gen-xers. I never played Dungeons and Dragons (and oddity, since I am both a software engineer and a writer). Maybe I should find or form a group? Maybe in December …

In the near term, I’ll be using NaNoWriMo to launch a new writing project that alternately excites and frightens me, which means I should really buckle down and do it, even if I tell myself no one ever has to read it.

I do look forward to hearing about your future projects! Do take care.

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David Cain October 24, 2020 at 12:58 pm

I think D&D is such a unique form of storytelling and everyone who is even halfway interested should find a way to try it. It’s collaborative, but mediated by rules and the randomness of dice. Luckily it’s finally gone mainstream and the stigma is gone.

Good luck with NaNoWriMo. I feel like I am destined to take part one of these years.

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Pat October 23, 2020 at 8:25 am

Once I settled in to the isolation, I have actually thrived even though we have had three deaths in our family this year…two expected and one very unexpected (none due to COVID). The most difficult loss was our dog, Charlie. He had just turned 15 and had a stroke. I will never forget holding him as the euthanasia shot was administered. I knew it was the right thing to do…but was it ever difficult. Everyone present was in tears, including the vet and vet tech (we have a home vet and were able to do this at home).

I also lost my job, but in some ways, that was a blessing. I have been able to devote more time to a book I’m writing as well as get caught on on household tasks that have been put off for years.

Another new business is waiting for me in the background–on line chaplaincy and spiritual direction. I am excited to give support to those who need it most. I feel a focused sense of direction and am excited about the possibilities.

Being homebound at first felt scary, even for an introvert, but I have adapted well. We’ve played games on line with friends, zoomed with family and I decided to take a class on line, which has deepened me exponentially. I am finding more time to be still, read and exercise. All good things…

When those who know us tell us that they really feel for us, losing so much this year, I look at myself and am grateful for good outcomes in spite of the losses.

Thanks for checking in. I enjoy your emails and am grateful that they don’t come too often. It gives me time to really think about what you are saying and ponder it over time.

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Fran October 23, 2020 at 8:32 am

I love the Flight of the Navigator reference. Classic 80s movie. I’ve never commented either, but I’ve been drawn to your blog because I feel so much similarity to what is going on in your mind and what is going on in my own. I’m very interested to hear about your “quarantine mind fog” and the revelations you’ve had. I’ve had a similar mind fog and it’s disconcerting, and I’m not sure if it’s a lack of motivation, drive, or just adjusting to a new routine. I’m a creative of habit and love my routines. 2020 has thrown that for a loop, and I find myself trying to create new routines and then having to change again, because that routine is not working for me. One big realization I’ve had is that, surprisingly, most of my 2020 resolutions have been met. I wanted more time with my family, more time to meditate, more teleworking (!), more time to read and do yoga (I’ve done more yoga in the past 7 months than my entire life) and save money. But, I realize that I need different goals because fulfilling these resolutions did not make me happier or a better person. It’s time to rethink everything about life.

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Ginzo October 23, 2020 at 8:35 am

These individual stories are amazing. In the midst of turmoil, many have found new ways to view their life path. But all these individual you’s are part of the big ‘You’, namely humans on earth. How will the global village be changed by all this? What evolutionary step are we embarking on? I realize these comments were to be about individuals, but as the saying goes, ‘the wave reaches enlightenment when it realizes its part of the ocean’.

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LanChi Pham October 23, 2020 at 8:38 am

Dear David,

I spent the last seven months learning computer programming. For this upcoming November, I’m finally going to bite the bullet and join National November Novel Writing Month. Writing a novel has been a life-long dream of mine and I’m finally going to do it! Now I lament having wasted my childhood summers and school breaks NOT writing.

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David Cain October 24, 2020 at 5:47 pm

Hey that’s great LanChi. I love hearing about people coming out of 2020 with a new skill

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Tony October 23, 2020 at 8:42 am

With the time and opportunity for more self reflection, I have been discovering the need to do more to shed the outer mask I have been wearing all of these years, and get to know and find my authentic self. It has been difficult with varying depression episodes, but as I continue this path it has been helping me manage all the uncertainty that comes with the current world we live in, in a healthy way. I used to use alcohol to escape, and that is no longer an option for me, so I have been finding a way to sit with my thoughts and try to grow spiritually. Some days I cannot find the nerve, but most days I can, and on those days it helps, sometimes just a little bit, but a little bit is better than nothing.

Also running. Running is almost an instant mood booster. Even in the snow, ice and wind currently in Minneapolis!

Thanks for your post.

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David Cain October 25, 2020 at 2:15 pm

I think this is another running theme in the Year of Lockdown. We have fewer avenues to escape our existential challenges, so we have to actually meet them. It’s very painful but it can also be the beginning of spiritual growth.

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Tony October 27, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Have you read any James Hollis? I’m reading Living an Examined Life with my AA sponsor, and it’s been a great opportunity to explore these existential challenges. I recommend, if you have not already read.

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sandybt October 23, 2020 at 8:43 am

This is a great community – I’ve been following it for a number of years and I always welcome a new post in my inbox.
I had retired from my job just months before the lockdown so these two things are of course highly intertwined. As an introvert, I’m happy to just lay low most of the time and enjoy the connections I do have and overall I haven’t experienced too much deprivation in my life.
Now that winter is returning, I’ve enrolled in a wonderful online daily program I’m excited about that keeps me moving in a healthy and fun way at a very reasonable price so I felt moved to share the link: https://gokhalemethod.com/1-2-3_move_home

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Erin October 23, 2020 at 8:51 am

Your newsletter has been a grounding anchor in my inbox for the last decade, so I want to take the opportunity to thank you for that. All things considered, life is going well. All of my loved one are healthy and safe (though I miss them terribly), and I’m fortunate to be working from home alongside a wonderful, helpful and fun partner… he’s actually been relearning Radiohead (piano/guitar/vocals/looper pedeals) and setting up to DM a D&D concept he’s been planning for years. We’ve been going on nightly walks and have loved seeing the wildlife, including bald eagles, a great horned owl, rosy-faced love birds, coyotes, roadrunners, javelinas, and more). I took of my favorite childhood hobby of sewing a few years ago and quarantine has given me opportunity to take a deep dive back into my creativity and work with my hands, a welcome distraction for the mind. Sewing, in turn, has reminded me to appreciate thought and effort over perfection, and I’m coming to love the little mistakes. I’m realizing now how, unknowingly, I became entangled in do-more, be-more, achieve-more rat race and I’m grateful to the opportunity to slow down and focus on my own well-being, so I’m better equipped to support those around me.

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Kevin October 23, 2020 at 8:53 am

Hi David–

Thank you for asking this! I’m doing well.

I work for an airline, so that’s been… interesting. I’m hoping I can just hang on and get through this. We had our hours cut, and while that’s stung $$$-wise, it’s been surprisingly nice otherwise. I now have a full extra day to do “whatever,” and have tried to use that productively. I joined a writer’s group, which has been really fulfilling, and get to spend more time with my family.
This summer, instead of flying somewhere, we took to the road, and visited places closer to home. I hate driving, but I sure enjoyed these trips.
I also started 2020 with a pretty bad knee injury, but have taken to running as part of my rehab. I have been really surprised at how much of a mood elevator it has been. I wasn’t expecting that at all.

Having to slow down has given me fits at times, but it’s also had a big upside.

I’m clear-eyed about where the world is at right now, but still optimistic about 2021. In the meantime, all I can do is all I can do.

I really look forward to seeing your work, and am excited to see what you put together coming up!

P.S. 80’s New Wave for the win!

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David Cain October 25, 2020 at 2:19 pm

Hi Kevin. The mood-boosting effects of exercise are its biggest secret!

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Kate October 23, 2020 at 9:03 am

Thanks for asking! I’d say a positive benefit from all this is a feeling of permission to not get anything “right”. I’ve tried (consciously and unconsciously) to do what I should do and COVID world has upended my ability to do that. I’m embracing it. Rather than pursue what I think I want, I’m just doing whatever I feel like. What that looks like is not worrying so much if I mess things up, since we’re all in the same messed up boat together. I’m not worried about winning, because we’re all losing together and maybe that’s not so bad…

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David Cain October 25, 2020 at 2:21 pm

In the spring I made a post on Patreon describing a similar effect. I’ve felt more able to embrace my own struggles and uncertainty as fundamentally “okay” life conditions, because suddenly everybody had to do that with something. It kind of shattered the illusion that everybody else has life all figured out :)

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Jane Loney October 23, 2020 at 9:07 am

One week ago I decided to jump in the ocean as my first activity of the day.The shock of cold salty water is fleeting, the euphoria and buzz of that 5 minute dip is lingering all day. Energized! Mind/body connected! Elements of nature absorbed!
I am supported by the salt and seaweed on my skin and the joy I feel when I exit the water. Plus, I have attracted at least 6 other dippers every day so now we are a joyful squealing group plunging into that cold sea together.
AWAKE and calm.

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Gabriela October 23, 2020 at 11:15 am

I want to try this, a dip in saltwater each day…Yikes!!!

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Fiona October 23, 2020 at 9:18 am

I’m in Winnipeg and I’m doing ok. I’m single and I don’t have family here, so the loneliness is agitating at night sometimes. I walk a lot. I work from home, which was not something new from me, but adds to the isolation at this time. I’ve filled in one dog adoption application and I’ve taken up dog sitting.

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David Cain October 25, 2020 at 2:23 pm

I fear for Winnipeggers right now, because we’re having our outbreak right as the light disappears. In a week it will be dark at 5pm. Thank god for dogs.

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Barbara October 23, 2020 at 9:23 am

How am I doing? I am tired. I have been working from home since mid March, from our small Hamburg flat. No bike rides to the office along the Elbe river any more. The office is closed. No chats with colleagues over coffee. No petting our little office dog. No signs that the situation will change any time soon. Zoom cannot replace real human conversation and interaction. Social distancing and face masks in public eliminate human warmth. We’re just not made for isolation, I guess. But there are also some good things. I have been moving my evening runs to the lunch break, which has made me feel better during the week. On weekends, my boyfriend and I are spending our time windsurfing. We purchased our own equipment in April, as rental places were not allowed to open. This has been the best decision this year. In June, we went to France for a sailing trip immediately after the borders re-opened. It was one of the best trips of my life. Now, everything is locked down again in Europe. It‘s a challenge for me to stay positive!

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devo October 23, 2020 at 9:31 am

thanks for asking, i’m doing quite well.
i haven’t watched the news for years and as such, my “world” tends to appear less imbued with the conflicts they’re selling. as such, i don’t feel the same air of craziness so many people i speak with seem to.
a few months ago i decided to stop complaining in conversation, which lead to noticing more closely to what i say, even more than years of awareness practice had developed. i’d fallen into a seemingly common human trap of believing what is said to me enough to repeat it in subsequent conversations. this in turn inspired me further to not say anything i had not personally confirmed to be true.
the cascading effect of just one decision, to stop complaining, has assisted me greatly in speaking less, listening much better (to myself as well others) and becoming more impeccable with my word, both internally and externally.

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Gabriela October 23, 2020 at 11:13 am

Love this new habit! Thanks!

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David Cain October 25, 2020 at 5:24 pm

About ten years ago I did an experiment on non-complaining. I remember it being very interesting: https://www.raptitude.com/2010/04/complaining-is-only-a-symptom-experiment-no-5-results/

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Julie October 26, 2020 at 12:17 pm

I took on your experiment this year after reading back through archives. It took me quite awhile to get past day 3or so and then it clicked and I made it to day 18 but had a major complaining day. I agreed completely w your observation that sometimes complaining is a social activity. Time to bring back the bracelet as I learned so much.

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Alan October 23, 2020 at 9:42 am

I decided to do something I’ve been putting off for a long time. After 35 years away, I’ve gone back to my college sport of Olympic Fencing. It’s incredibly mentally and physically demanding, but it’s making me feel better in surprising ways. Also good health is a good covid defense.

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bbkrepps October 23, 2020 at 9:45 am

Because I am 71 with a few health issues I have taken this covid thing very seriously and do exactly what Dr. Fauci and legitimate scientists say….the mask… “never leave home without it.” Obeying the rules….social distancing that is killing me!! I miss hugs, and family get-togethers with kids and grandkids and dear friends, but I want to be on this earth when covid is under control and life explodes with joy once again! On the darker side….when I am out shopping for provisions I get the strong urge to smack anyone without a mask but that would require being closer than 6 feet so I ignore the urge as best I can. I had been doing the occasional political rant on social media, but all that did was make me angrier so I have suggested that people exchange recipes instead of political barbs. But I read a little more, play music a little more, putter in my garden, which the frost will soon kill, and generally enjoy life as best I can. AND I enjoy your posts!!

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Todd Tyrtle October 23, 2020 at 10:04 am

Hey there! Here in Toronto I’ve had a bit of a wild year that started off by completing one of my biggest lifelong goals of doing an unsupported bicycle tour in India. It as amazing but the letdown afterward was awful. What happens when the goal you’ve chased for 20 years is done? It took me a while to get to the answer but the answer came in the pandemic:

Instead of a massive long-term goal, what sustains me is small daily goals. Working on being my best self whether in terms of writing, work productivity, mindfulness, or fitness is part of it. And the other part has been to get new input. Seeing new things, reading new books, hearing new music, learning new things all change stale mental patterns.

Travel was a huge part of my pre-pandemic life and I thought it was over once lockdowns started but a book from my childhood reminded me that this was not the case at all. In “The 79 Squares” a troubled teenager is encouraged to divide the yard of an old man he’s befriended in to 79 small squares and spend an hour in each one looking closely at what’s within them. Notice what’s there and how it works together. In other words, aim for depth of experience rather than breadth. And so, my travel experience has been just that. I no longer travel by motor vehicle (transit feels risky and I don’t own a car) so I’m limited to where I can travel by bike or on foot. Every day I go out and try to go somewhere I haven’t been before in the city. My regular range is within 20-30 km of home but one day I pushed it to a 200 km round trip and it felt like I was traveling to another country. I have seen so many beautiful and interesting spots – nature in the city, neighbourhoods I never visited, footpaths and trails, ponds and streams. It’s all here and I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.

And of course the other huge thing for me is connecting with humans virtually. I’ve always done it to some extent but really took it to another level now. I’ve formed a monthly “International Book Talk” group where people from all different countries (Last one had attendees from Norway, Canada, the US, and Pakistan). We often end up talking about what life is like as well and we can see just how similar, at the heart, our lives are.

I’m taking writing and improv classes online, cooking classes in cuisines I’ve never cooked or improving my skills in cuisines I know about. Last weekend, for example, I had a one on one cooking session with a Masterchef Australia contestant that was fantastic. There is no way that would’ve happened had the pandemic not made us all think “How can we reach out beyond our city?” And we’re seeing it in other areas as well. Storytelling and improv shows that used to have small local audiences now have international audiences and performers. Improv troupes have formed with people from India and North America sharing the same virtual stage at the same time.

So I guess for me it’s been: Keep active, keep finding new input, keep going outside, keep connecting to people. Avoid stagnation. So overall I’m doing amazingly well.

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David Cain October 25, 2020 at 5:37 pm

Wow, sounds like a well-lived year Todd. My long weekly bike rides were a huge part of my summer. It’s such a great way to explore your surroundings, because the radius is huge. I will put it away for the winter, because it’s just too harsh here, but I’m looking forward to spring.

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David Cain October 23, 2020 at 10:15 am

Wow, thank you so much for your stories. I can’t reply to all of them but I am reading every word.

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Mary-Ann Owens October 23, 2020 at 10:21 am

Hello David,
I feel a bit lonelier than normal, but I am getting used to the time between visits. I see friends less frequently walking outside or attending events with a mask on. Not seeing my friends’ smiles is something I miss. What am I doing, working out to a DVD I have, we, my husband and I, even bought a stationary bike which we use a lot, we do tai chi in the living room instead of at the community hall. I am reading mindfulness books and meditating as much as I can. I find Zoom helps and when I can see people it helps a lot. I even got a zoom account for the first time. My coaching is deeper maybe due to all the time I have I can give detailed help and do more research on issues which is nice. Thanks for your blog I look forward to getting it. Mary-Ann

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Adam October 23, 2020 at 10:28 am

First time commenter, long time reader!

I’m taking it all one day at a time. One positive of the monotony is it’s easier to see what works and what doesn’t. Days when I meditate, I feel fifty times better. Days when I meditate and run, I feel five hundred times better. I’ve found reading some fiction before bed has an outsized influence on how well I function in general.

The downside, of course, is there’s the low, gnawing dread and guilt of wondering if things will ever go back to “normal”, then realizing things are back to normal for so many workers even though the risk level is still high, and things have been very abnormal in a different way for our frontline healthcare workers. I also wonder how much of the old, earth-ravaging normal is even worth wishing for.

Another thing I’ve found is days when I go for a walk, the dread goes down considerably. And if I can manage to get together with friends and family for a distanced hang, I’m like a different person.

Finally, some miscellaneous discoveries: making fantastic dal in an instant pot is easier than you probably think it is; smaller holiday gatherings outside are beautiful in a wholly different way from noisy, crowded indoor gatherings; Dungeons and Dragons with a good group of friends can give your life a surprising amount of meaning and joy; we always, always need more parks.

Stay well, David!

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David Cain October 26, 2020 at 9:16 am

Hi Adam. It sounds like we’ve discovered the same things are important: walking, meditation, D&D, and parks :)

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Serena October 23, 2020 at 10:32 am

Greetings David and thank you for the invitation to share how we are. Personally I feel unpacked and raw however held in a comfort that seems out of place with these conditions… prayer is def the balm to my worry as I see as dark as it’s been, it’s equally been filled with miracles. I had to give up living alone, on the one hand because I just couldn’t afford it during these restrictions, but I also see it as a blessing as I could no longer live so isolated and must’ve been ready to test out my compassionate will, for myself and others. I’ve seen my good intentions challenged and tested and am humble to accept how rigid I have been… I see the beauty in loss in how it gifts new life and am reminded of the teachings of death… palms up, my shield is my open heart… let it flow! Praying as often as I can, as there are no idle thoughts! Choosing to think intentionally and give back what is out of my control is def saving this human. Thanks for expressing as you do, it’s nice company.

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Katherine Polhamus October 23, 2020 at 10:48 am

Hello,
So here we are still in quarantine 7 months later and counting. Fortunately, I live in a state in the Northeast that has been able to bring the number of Covid infections/deaths down while still enforcing guidelines. I conduct all of my meetings/correspondence online with a home office that I’ve had for nearly 4 years now. We are staying well and grateful for this.
The highlight of this year has been my daughter’s wedding. She decided to go ahead and book her wedding, albeit only 41 people in attendance, along the coast north of Boston and it was exquisite and uniquely different from any wedding I’ve ever attended. We broadcast it on Zoom and had participation from South Dakota to Poland so a wide range of family/friends were able to participate in this event. I am grateful we had this jewel of an experience during this unprecedented time we are living in and the happy couple don’t have to wait another year to get married.
While every day is more of the same, there are highlights to the year and this was one of them.

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Katie October 23, 2020 at 10:56 am

I’m hanging in here. Was surprised and grateful that our apartment complex allowed us to reserve time slots in the pool over the summer, which helped my sanity immensely. Wound up starting a new job in April, and the pressure to be incredibly productive and useful to avoid getting let go was immense. I’ve finally come up to speed and stopped feeling like a fraud, so that’s a weight off my shoulders. The weather’s lovely in North Carolina right now, so I’m taking a chunk of my use-or-lose vacation time to drive to various State Parks and go hiking. It’s something I’ve threatened to do for the last 5 years and never gotten around to, so I’ve decided this is the year. Other than that, I bought a four-foot trash grabber stick and I patrol a nearby lake on the weekends picking up litter. At this point, I think I have more pictures of my lake turtles than of my family members…

I’ve been treating 2020 as a depth year (when you originally proposed a depth year, I thought for sure I’d never follow through with one), and the framework had helped me stay sane. Thank you for giving me a concept that helped reframe this year in a positive light.

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David Cain October 26, 2020 at 9:19 am

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how 2020 has kind of become an unintentional depth year for many of us. There are fewer options for things to do, so it’s a little easier not to spread ourselves too thin, and instead dive more deeply into what’s still available — learning, reading, relationships with our closest people.

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Dzmitry October 23, 2020 at 10:56 am

How are you?
Better than earlier, more accepting of unknown, being okay with unknown. Treating unknown as a known. Learning more about my own needs, specifically related to people pleasing, loneliness, dopamine and friendships.

How is life where you are?
Moving, slowly to some as if nothing happened, and then there are lines for free bread that stretch sidewalks like never before.

And what has helped you stay upright and afloat?
Therapy, Playing with dog.

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Martha October 23, 2020 at 10:56 am

I’m doing ok here in rural northeast PA, USA. My highly anxious sister was with me for five months, but she has gone home now which is relaxing in some ways, although I worry about her. And she is a French trained chef, so I definitely miss having my dinners cooked for me every night! I have an introverted personality, and during normal times live a fairly quiet life, but as someone above said, there is a big difference between wanting to stay home and HAVING to stay home. So there is an underlying sadness of missing many of the things I normally do – this is the week I usually head down to Asheville NC to visit old friends. But I hike with my dog every day, and spend a lot of time creating with fiber (I spin, knit, weave). And I’ve been reading a lot of post apocalyptic novels. I highly recommend ‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St John Mandel, and a book ‘The History of The Dead’ whose author escapes me at the moment. Two wonderful books about dealing with loss and change.

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Gina October 23, 2020 at 10:58 am

Greetings from Chicago.
I moved here in January 2020 from California to be with my then long-distance partner who very quickly became my 24/7 partner. Needless to say, a global pandemic is not a good time to discover a new city. I made zero new friends here. Also, all the things that excited me about moving to chicago ( theaters! Museums! Dance clubs! Food scene!) have not been really accessible while all the crappy things ( long dark winters! Huge metro area without much wild space nearby) are very much present and make me miss my beloved California a lot :-(
That said, I cannot be happier that I relocated just in time to quarantine with my partner! It was a risky relationship / career / personal life move that paid off tremendously. We’re both very happy living together and supporting each other through these crazy times. I was also lucky to have found a local job in April – though it is now 100% remote and I have not met any of my colleagues in person yet! ( they all know each other will though since they had been working in a physical office together until March, I am the only odd one out.)
With all that said, this prolonged isolation is starting to wear me out. When I left California, I told all my friends I’d come back and visit them several times a year — which hasn’t happened even once yet. I haven’t really taken a vacation since my relocation and I am feeling like a caged animal now. In California, I was able to run off from a city and be in nature any time of the year. Here in the Midwest we did a lot of local hiking and camping over the summer but i am now dreading the upcoming winter; the cold and darkness are slowing me down already and it will take very specific effort for me to get out of house during winter months. I am preparing as much as I can though — our personal gym has both kettlebells as well as a cardio machine, my reading list is loooong, Duolingo has been helping me stay focused ( Side brag: my new year’s resolution was to start learning Italian from scratch and do it every day. It is October 23 and I haven’t broken my streak yet :)!

So, overall…. I am good?

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Jack Gregoire October 23, 2020 at 11:02 am

Doing great, thanks for asking! I always enjoy your writing.

Things are really good here in Houston. Most businesses have opened or are doing their best to. Schools have returned to a combination of virtual and in-person learning depending on the preference of parents. I work in commercial office management and about 20% of my occupants have returned which really makes me wonder where everyone is going everyday since roadways seem busy as normal. It’s election season so that makes everyone crazy, I vote but I’m not a political animal so enjoy the constant chatter from all sides. I have an awesome girlfriend and we have four sometimes awesome dogs that keep us physically occupied for sure and then there’s my three kids, their spouses and my five grandkids to keep up with so my blessings just sort of pour out from everywhere.

Wishing everybody a safe and happy Fall season!

Love to all, Jack

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Gabriela October 23, 2020 at 11:06 am

Hello from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Thank you for your invitation to provide an update on our lives using the past seven months, David. I live solo and am retired from a career in education. As many others have commented, I feel deep gratitude for my circumstances. At the same time, I feel sadness for others who are truly suffering. I feel sadness for our world and its suffering. I feel grief over losses.
I love walking in Nature and take photographs, sometimes contemplative other times merely documenting what I am seeing as I walk. Another gratitude that I can be in Nature right outside my door. I have been regulating visiting a family (?) of Beavers who are very busy with renovating their lodge and now building a damn into the Bow River. Their industriousness and persistence are good reminders for me. Winter has made an early visit this year and the past week has been cold temperatures and never-ending light snow. I notice a wane of enthusiasm for walking until my body adjusts to seasonal shifts!
I believe movement is medicine and as a facilitator of Core Connexion practice, I was so uplifted to return to holding weekly in-person gatherings of 8 people in September. I realize how fulfilled I am creating themes and playlists for movement and stillness. The movement/dance allows body energy to be moved and discharged! I also realize how this can change in a moment as numbers of infections rise in my province.
Impermanence.
After I retired, the idea of being nomadic appealed, however I now realize how much I have been resisting action. Where did I learn this resistance? Resistance to all the things that I know will give me pleasure and fulfillment. Getting rid of unnecessary things and untethering from unnecessary thoughts and beliefs promise freedom. Freedom to just be me. Still, the resistance arises. I will confess…I am attached and so feel challenged to fully let go! I love Nicho’s lifestyle! I love Jane’s daily saltwater dips! I love Devo’s new habit of not complaining! I have decided to spend time on the west coast starting in December. A simpler lifestyle and an ocean. This past week has been a time of exploring holding on and letting go. Now, your invitation, David, and everyone’s check-ins have given me more courage and determination to answer the call to action from my soul…

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Rob platter October 23, 2020 at 11:18 am

Time has indeed flown. My previously non existent beard is now a proud mantle of masculinity.. so much so, I’m having trouble eating food without also eating some of the mustach. But other that that, and a general lack of exercise sure to laziness, my life is pretty much like it was. I have watched a lot more YouTube, and have become a non practising expert in a number of fields I knew nothing about before the pandemic, but work, relationship, and social interactions are about the same, abet more virtual..

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Kirstin C October 23, 2020 at 11:21 am

I’m actually doing really well. I’m on the East Coast and masks are prevalent, so rates have been staying pretty low.
Working from home, I now get out 3x a day on the trails near me – so happy about that. I participated in a virtual hike of the Vermont Long Trail over 3 months and putting in the miles and the elevation gain has been a wonderful challenge. We’ve been camping and hiking almost every weekend and spending lots of time outside. Time in my garden space has been life-affirming. Safely-distanced gatherings with friends outdoors have also been key.

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April October 23, 2020 at 11:23 am

Cases have spiked where I am (Alberta, Canada), there is snow on the ground and it’s -15 degrees Celsius here. My four year old is eagerly anticipating Halloween and I’m just hoping that it doesn’t cancelled at the last minute. We endured our first set of COVID tests this month and the anxiety of waiting for results (negative!). Then the struggle to go back to work still sick because I was afraid of losing my job. My husband finally got a new job this week after being laid off since April (due to COVID). Now that it’s getting cold and dark my anxiety is spiking. I feel tired all the time, and overwhelmed. I feel helpless. I haven’t been able to discover or start any new hobbies because I am at work (out of the home) every single day and then spend my evenings caring for my family. There is no extra time, and there hasn’t been during any of this.

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Amanda October 23, 2020 at 11:25 am

I commented last time you asked at the beginning of the pandemic. I was laid off, on unemployment for the first time in my 35 years, and yet I was optimistic. I have never felt like the American life worked for me. I have never understood how the winners in society are often those who do more harm then good, and people like teachers, counselors, and genuine do-gooders, are not rewarded the same financially in a society who values one’s worth on financial stature. When I got laid off from a job that didn’t value me the way I value myself I felt free. I intended on making all kinds of self improvements with the new found time. Instead, my life has become less about me. I have had the time to show up when my family needs me (and boy have we had some “all hands on deck” situations), I have gotten to know my dogs on a whole new level and provide a level of care and love that I hadn’t before. I have babysat children in the family more, I have been more giving financially donating to charities, tipping service workers extra, and I found fulfilling work which came as a result of the pandemic. Through all this, I’m living more soulfully and in alignment with who I really am.

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Adam K October 23, 2020 at 11:31 am

Each month seems to bring a new hobby or interest, but what’s consistently kept me going since early July is birdwatching. It’s pretty amazing how I’ve never really noticed the specifics of most small birds that live around here. Before, I certainly couldn’t tell many of them apart. Now, I’m finding it very rewarding to learn their calls and behaviors and am surprised that I never really noticed before.

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David Cain October 26, 2020 at 9:28 am

I feel like I’m destined to get into birdwatching. I’m not sure if this is happening everywhere, but with reduced noise and traffic we have seen more birds and other wildlife within city limits. I saw a bald eagle fly right down my street and there was a big hubbub around an indigo bunting sighted in the neighborhood.

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Tracy October 23, 2020 at 11:40 am

One thing that has really helped me cope with the restrictions brought about by the pandemic is to be out in nature. I have been into photography for nearly 20 years now, but to my great shock and surprise, since I’ve always loved to sleep in, I found myself getting up early and going to a local park to photograph birds. It’s been a fun and interesting challenge, and strangely fulfilling. I’m going to have to figure out some other form of therapeutic photography as we get into fall and then winter, but it has taught me things about myself and made me a better photographer overall.

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Aaron October 23, 2020 at 12:02 pm

I feel…stuck, is the best word I suppose. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December 2018 and my health became my #1 priority. In February I went into the hospital for something called a Stem Cell Transplant and I emerged in early March right as the pandemic was picking up steam. I’m in remission now, but it feels a bit like graduating into a void. I feel fortunate to be gainfully employed and have a nice cushion in the bank if anything goes wrong, but I was looking forward to doing thing (mostly international travel) that I had put off to focus on my health, and now I can’t do them and every day feels a bit like groundhog day.

So now I’m in a weird place. I like my career, but perhaps not my job as much. We live away from both our families and are wondering if we should move. I’m wondering if I have the skillset and training to get where I want in my career. It feels like too much is happening (on a macro level), but also not enough is happening (on a micro level). I do not like 2020 haha.

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SVG October 23, 2020 at 12:02 pm

Being in the moment – learning to uphold gratitude for all we have – such a place of learning – it’s not like I haven’t been in the doldrums at times! – pandemic sewing and by that I do not mean making masks but rather creating needle books using loved fabric for my nieces to bring forward stories of our ancestral mothers/families – a different way to write history by using a fabric from a wedding veil or a fabric from a tattered quilt – Hey, thanks for asking Love your thoughts and your youth (turning 67 this month) Cheerio all – keep the faith all

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Frank October 23, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Here in New York (police) State watching Cuomo get aroused each time he issues another executive order. Not to sound like a country music song, but my beloved dog died in January. The rest of this year is trivial compared to his loss.

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Maggie October 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm

David, I’m always excited when I wake up and see an email from you. It’s like a little gift that I know I’m going to love, and I jealously save it for later in the day when I know I’ll need it most. In fact, I have two of your articles in my otherwise tidy inbox that I periodically reread for inspiration.

I’m not okay, and I feel guilty admitting it.
I was scheduled for hernia repair just as Covid hit us, and the surgery was postponed. I have a new date later this year. Good news, so long as I don’t die on the operating table.
I’m grateful that my partner and best friend of 34 years is able to work from home, but I’m extremely introverted, and I’m not getting much-needed time alone. We have a big house, and I’m grateful for that.
I recently changed anti-depressants, and they’re working for the most part aside from the occasional crippling PTSD attack. I lied. They’re frequent.
I’ve gained weight due to a lack of activity and a penchant for consuming vast quantities of comforting carbs. This week we started an exercise program, and I’ve been counting calories (ugh) and am back on track to being the old fit me.
I haven’t been able to see my cancer doc in person, so I’m always wondering, “is the cancer going to creep back if I’m not being properly monitored?”. On a good note, I’ve been able to participate in free yoga and meditation classes from my local cancer centre via Zoom.
I’ve been writing and food gardening and doing some house renos, but all I really want to do is sit on the couch and listen to audio books and podcasts while playing thousands of games of solitaire on my phone.
We were able to do some kayak camping this summer/autumn, and I wish I could be there now. Sitting on a rock or lying back in my kayak… staring at the sky and the water.
Despite everything, I have the best life of anyone I know, and I am so grateful.

But I work in a homeless shelter, and I think there is my problem. I love my job. I love my clients so much. They are the “real” people in my world. But due to Covid, the little joyful moments that kept me going in the past have become few and far between, and while I keep it to myself, I have grown resentful and bitter. We wear full PPE, but most of our clients won’t wear masks. The occasional illicit comforting hug I’d give a client is now out of the question. We are restricted in the number of clients we can let into the shelter at a time, and the line-up for beds is a particularly stressful time, particularly as the weather grows colder and people are forced to wait outside.
Who am I to complain when my clients are suffering from terrible traumas, mental health issues, addictions to alcohol and street drugs, physical ailments… This morning I woke to an email saying we’d lost a client. One of many this year. One of my favourites. Yeah, we have favourites. We’re human.
I don’t know if I can go on carrying the burdens of others while ignoring the weight of my own. I just don’t know.
To David and to all of you… I wish you well. Be careful with yourself. xo

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David Cain October 26, 2020 at 9:33 am
Krista October 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Hi David, a follower for several years here in Calgary. I love your posts, they enrich my life; and this morning your question “how are you?” arrives on my 50th birthday. I am fine, and grateful for it.

Things are different and some things are hard, but I am thankful for so much right now. I know many are hurting, and here in oil town the economic situation is not good. Alberta is experiencing record numbers of covid cases, as are some of the other provinces, and I’m afraid more lockdown is coming as it already has in Toronto. I’m glad that masks are normal now, and that most who are able are taking this minimal action to protect others. Social distancing is hard (gatherings; hugs) but doable.

Having said all this, the year has been different in many ways that have had unexpectedly good outcomes. Working from home has been surprisingly enjoyable; also, it is not lost on me that I still have work and income. I’ve spent more time with friends in my neighbourhood. Got into yoga and climbing. My family did Thursday Night Hikes for much of the summer with the long daylight hours. We are healthy, and most in my circle are making the best of the new weird normal.
Had the best visit with my parents this past summer as it was uncomplicated; literally nowhere to go, just spending time together. The irony of that is, right before lockdown my entire family was poised to go on family trip, kind of a bucket list item for my parents. The low key summer visit was likely better for family connection than the Hawaii extravaganza would have been; only my brother was missing.

It’s so eye opening to read human-level updates from around the world. You have reach, David, and there’s so much comfort in that connection. Thanks for connecting all who enjoy your work.

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Meg Clare October 23, 2020 at 3:28 pm

Hye Krista,
From a fellow Calgarian, I am so happy to read your very upbeat post. I too am keeping a low profile life, have discovered zoom and I keep in touch with friends in ways they like. I’m fortunate to be a senior and don’t have to be working. I think that people are very considerate of each other, surprised the numbers are climbing. Many at home interests keeps me occupied, play an instrument, needlework, and taking an online course now.

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David Cain October 26, 2020 at 9:35 am

Happy birthday Krista!

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Kenneth Lyons October 23, 2020 at 12:34 pm

I have been getting outside, which has been part of my lifestyle for some time. I don’t mind intemperate weather so the coming cold months are a nice change of pace. My dog usually joins me on hikes and walks.
A healthy amount of tennis and swimming has provided a sense of normalcy.
I am not liking the days of Covid but the slowdown in the social calendar is nice in some ways. It’s given us all a better perspective of the little things that we take for granted.
Hope everyone is doing alright.

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Mat October 23, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Well, this year i got diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which explained a lot of things for me. But fighting it is hard work, luckily i am starting to get better

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Sarah October 23, 2020 at 12:46 pm

Thanks for this post David. It’s lovely to be asked how we’re really doing. Also I loved your reference to Flight of the Navigator! I find not a lot of people remember that movie.
I’m doing ok although it seems everything just feels harder. As someone who has some high risk people in my family, I’m constantly questioning who is safe to be around, will they respect distancing, how on earth do I get my kids to have some safe socializing when kids will be kids and also how heartbreaking it is to tell them they can’t be close to their friends. The summer was definitely easier. We had outdoor family gatherings and outdoor playdates with some low risk friends. But as in Manitoba, here in Ontario the second wave is underway. Thankfully I’m not in one if the hotspots though. I’m also grateful: that my kids have each other to play with, that we have a backyard and live in a fairly quiet area where we can go for walks and bike rides without fear of crowds. It’s such a strange time in the world, when one can feel ok on the surface but deep down there’s a sense of being very not ok.

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David Cain October 26, 2020 at 9:38 am

I’ve already noticed how the winter is making things a little more tense as far as personal space is concerned. The snow makes it harder to go around people on the sidewalk, and wearing masks and winter clothing in a store gets uncomfortable pretty quickly.

I have no idea how many people remember Flight of the Navigator, but I knew a few would.

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Cindy October 23, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Hello again from Madison, Wisconsin!
I’m still working from home, which is getting to be a drag since I miss my coworkers and the excuse to get out of the house. Like others have said, there’s a massive difference between choosing to stay home, and being obligated to.

I’ve done a lot of reading, including long-unread books from my shelf, and completed projects with most of the yarn in my stash. For the first few months of the pandemic, I read the news voraciously, but by late summer I found that was no longer serving me and have cut back. I feel better for it. I’m trying to cut back on facebook as well.

I did okay during the summer, but now that the days have started getting shorter again, it’s getting to be more of a struggle. During the spring and summer I had a COVID routine to balance work, outdoor activity, piano practice and other ‘fun’ things, but now the lack of light is disrupting it and throwing me off. I need to recalibrate again, and I am not happy about it. I did invest in some cross country skis last week so when winter arrives I will be able to get outdoors which gives me one small thing to look forward to.

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alexander October 23, 2020 at 1:42 pm

Hello from Russia.
Though I like the whole idea of staying home I miss being able to hang up with my friends.
I try to spend the time in productive manner: working out regularly, reading, cleaning up. It is hard to being a parent during epidemic, we allowing our son to have more video games and cartoons time than usual.
I was able to find more time to work on my music. You can find the release I made during isolation here: https://band.link/fargonepride_remorse
To keep sanity we are trying to have walks outside everyday with my wife – it really helps.
Important notice: Don’t be so judgmental on each other and your kids as you’d be otherwise. Everyone is stressed out and sometimes it is hard to concentrate on household duties. Be supportive and take care of each other.
Alexander

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Eric Nehrlich October 23, 2020 at 2:12 pm

I just recommended two of your recent articles (Focus on the Inputs, and the Cupboard List) to one of my coaching clients, as it’s so important to separate what’s in and out of our control when the whole world is turning upside down regularly. Thank you for your calm perspective throughout this pandemic – I have really appreciated it.

I’m in the SF Bay Area of California, where cases are still pretty high, but life is surprisingly manageable. The restaurants have outdoor seating, and on bustling weekend nights, it almost feels normal despite the social distancing. I’m not looking forward to what happens when it gets colder and harder to socialize outside, though.

As a parent to a toddler, I did not have the time and space for inner development that others did. I was coaching clients and trying to grow my business in the mornings, chasing my son in the afternoons, cooking dinner (the common lament was “how do we have to figure out what to cook again?!”), then bedtime, then collapse. Repeat. For six months. Fortunately, our day care recently opened up again and that has provided some relief – it’s a slight risk, but it’s better for our son to have social interaction and activities all day, and we can actually focus during the day.

I’m ready to travel again. I’m ready to visit friends and have dinner together not in a park. I’m ready to have some time to just read and relax, but I don’t think that will happen for a few years :). We shall see what happens, and in the meantime, take it one day at a time.

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Tracey Yuse October 23, 2020 at 2:44 pm

I will borrow your “quarantine mind fog” for today as I rarely forget to log a client’s appointment time but alas I did today! Business for me is purposefully slowed down, body has become stiffer without my usual ballet and yoga classes *sigh* but I have decided to become more disciplined and do stretching on my own more. Married life finally stabilizing with my husband working mostly from home. Fall here in the PNW! Then rain LOL..Hoping for a new President as well soon Cheers to 2021!!

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Elise October 23, 2020 at 3:17 pm

It’s been a heck of a year. March brought a move to Southern California, then the shutdown 2 weeks later, then sickness (I’m pretty sure it was COVID) about a week after that. Recovered just in time to go visit my grandma who was dying, and my marriage imploded while I was visiting her. Got hit with divorce one day and my grandma passing the very next day. Luckily I was out of work which really gave me time to figure myself out. I am so grateful for unemployment and for the extra $600/week. Now I’m back to work (2 jobs rather unexpectedly… I started at Philz Coffee and then massage opened back up 2 weeks after that) and figuring out a whole new routine.

The time off helped me set up really good personal habits, daily yoga, frequent meditation, running, healthy eating, breathwork, etc. I’ve developed a wonderful relationship with my family since moving in with them after the divorce. I’ve reconnected with a TON of friends and gotten better at reaching out to people. My ex had me pretty isolated and it was an emotionally abusive situation so it’s been really nice to feel more free than anytime in the past decade, even in the midst of the physical restrictions. Really prioritizing myself and care of my body and mind has been so so helpful this year. Riding my bike. And I learned to barbecue and I LOVE IT!!

I wish you so well and I appreciate your sharing. Sending love from the SF Bay Area!

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David Cain October 26, 2020 at 9:48 am

Oh man.. when it rains it pours.

Glad to hear you are in a bright new chapter :)

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Tina October 23, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Hello! I hope all of you are doing OK.

I almost feel guilty that things are going so well for me at the moment – I’ve started a new job, moved into a house with a garden, and feel calmer and more confident than I’ve ever been… though the world has felt very strange since the start of the pandemic. It still feels a bit surreal, as if I’ve fallen into some sort of alternate universe.

In a lot of situations where I’d normally be stressed and anxious – shopping, passing strangers in the street – I still am, but less so. Everybody is at least a little bit on edge, and a little bit unsure about social interaction, and I am that bit calmer because my nervousness doesn’t seem unusual anymore. I don’t feel like all the things I struggle with are things that everyone else copes with easily!

I’m grateful that most of my family are close by, and that I can call/text/skype the people I can’t visit easily. I worry about my sister a bit – the area where she lives has one of the highest rates of COVID in the UK at the moment, and she’s VERY extroverted so I think this year has been much harder for her. I’ve been calling her often, and sending her anything I think might make her laugh.

Walking definitely helps. Working from home is great, but for a while I was only leaving the house once a week, to go shopping. So I’ve started going for a walk early most mornings, and have noticed I feel much better on the days when I do. I think it also helps to have some projects to work on that I can make progress on regardless of the pandemic. I’m knitting a jumper for my sister, I can see that it’s getting bigger every day, and I feel like I’m accomplishing something even while a lot of other things are on hold.

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edhellos October 23, 2020 at 3:47 pm

regular follower of raptitude for long years, but this year first time trying your meditation camp calm which worked very well until I got a new job at the German pulic health departement. On the one hand its a great chance to take part in restricting the virus on the other hand: very stressful work and you never leave your work behind: the virus is always present..
It has been a very great pleasure to cross the border to Austria again, when the border opened again in June – leaving so close but being restricted to the German side: we have long forgotten what borders meant – it was a great feeling of freedom!

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Judy Blackshear October 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm

I am fine. A little overwhelmed. I was fine in the beginning of the pandemic as well. I was concerned about people of course – people and health, and people and jobs/money/homes/food. I am fortunate to have a job in which I was already working from home two days a week, and hoping to work from home every day but they still felt a need for a physical presence at least sometimes. It was an easy step into just not going to the office at all (I’m not sure I remember the entry code now :o ). I’m not reviewing my good fortune to “rub it in”, only to set the starting point.

I was looking forward to all the newfound free time for intense work on some personal development projects. And now, the universe has caught up with me; books, online seminars, new online groups, have all come into existence or to my attention to aid me. And I am overwhelmed and struggling to keep “I’m going to miss my opportunity” panic at bay.

Still, I’ll take that over boredom any day.

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Judy Blackshear October 23, 2020 at 4:33 pm

I am fine. A little overwhelmed. I was fine in the beginning of the pandemic as well. I was concerned about people of course – people and health, and people and jobs/money/homes/food. I am fortunate to have a job in which I was already working from home two days a week, and hoping to work from home every day but they still felt a need for a physical presence at least sometimes. It was an easy step into just not going to the office at all (I’m not sure I remember the entry code now :o ). I’m not reviewing my good fortune to “rub it in”, only to set the starting point.

I was looking forward to all the newfound free time for intense work on some personal development projects. And now, the universe has caught up with me; books, online seminars, new online groups, have all come into existence or to my attention to aid me. And I am overwhelmed and struggling to keep “I’m going to miss my opportunity” panic at bay.

Still, I’ll take that over boredom any day.

Almost forgot to mention my new garden plot. I live in an apartment, but there is a Community Garden nearby with rented individual 20×20 ft plots. I started mine August 1 (here in Central Texas we have a good Autumn growing season in addition to Spring/Summer). Not only do I feel wonderfully “independent” growing some vegetables to eat, but my garden fills me with such intense peace. I find myself standing there in tears (good tears) as the sun is setting and I realize I need to pack up and lock up before dark.

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Corina October 23, 2020 at 4:41 pm

Thanks for asking David. I hope you’re listening to CBC Radio 2 this aft – they’re playing a Gen X classic album. I was NOT doing well until recently, despite doing Camp Calm twice in a row in the spring and “meditating my face off” (ie: practicing almost daily) most of the summer. I’m currently away at Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction retreat near Lake Huron in Ontario and it’s been a life-saver, or at least a relationship-saver. I look forward to seeing where you take Raptitude next. I’ve been thinking of you as I hear about the increasing lockdowns in the peg.

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Joan October 23, 2020 at 5:02 pm

I am lucky, still having my health and my job. I wanted to revolutionize my life during quarantine. I made more time to go outdoors and I moved my body more. I discovered music and internet content that led me in different directions – to self-expression, minimalism, “zero”-waste, self-reflection. Still, I find myself at loose ends and I am grappling with existential questions. I am not sure what to do next. I have become aware of how much I used activities (such as dinner with friends and shopping) to mask my inner turmoil. The pandemic has unmasked me!

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Pebbles October 23, 2020 at 5:25 pm

Hi from Crawley West Sussex UK!
This year has been pivotal for me. I spent October last year up in the mountains in Costa Rica at a meditation and yoga retreat. It was the culmination of 5 years of meditation, mindfullness, Camp Calm’s and a big life change. I had surgery the weekend before the UK went into lockdown and spent March recuperating. It meant I reapraised my life completely. I’ve spent the time since then revisiting my hypnosis and counseling skills and supporting people in crisis one to one. I reach retirement age in 4 days time and I can’t think of anywhere else in life I would rather be. The peace and serenity is sublime. I lost two close friends to the virus but the inspiration I’ve had from you, David, Raptitude, and my yoga chums has lifted me to a place i could not have dreamt of a year ago. Thank you for all that you do, and virtual hugs to you and everyone on here and at Camp.

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David Cain October 26, 2020 at 9:56 am

Hi Pebbles. Congrats on your impending milestone! And way to go on keeping up your practice all this time. I don’t know how I’d be handling any of this without my practice. *Virtual Camp Calm alumni hug*

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Gale Leach October 23, 2020 at 6:25 pm

Hi David — Thanks for your blog and for asking how we’re doing. My situation isn’t very different under quarantine as before. I’m retired and I write books, so I spend most of my time in front of my computer, anyway. Still, I found myself suffering from the same things you describe—the brain fog, the new things we all had to do (which couldn’t be simply to fill up newly acquired time, since I really didn’t have any). I eagerly await learning more from you about what that comes from. My husband and I refused to be afraid of the virus, though we took precautions. While traveling in our camper, we caught Covid-19. We recovered without much ado (and he is 81 years old), for which I’m grateful (and now we have antibodies, which may be useful). I’ve also made a great new group of friends in my community: we sit outside, 6-feet apart in a circle, every Friday and swap stories as we get to know each other better. I see more of my children and grandchildren (via Zoom) than before, which is wonderful, and the relative serenity in our community compared to before quarantine is tangible. I’d love for all of this to be a distant memory. Meanwhile, I cherish the good things that have happened.

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Andrew B October 23, 2020 at 6:49 pm

I’ve taken this pandemic time to, among other things, study hypnotherapy, not only for self-hypnosis and general betterment, but also to study how “accidental trance states” in our daily lives can cause so many myriad problems: anxieties, phobias and the like. It’s also been a great time to work on my new novel. Appreciate your words as always. Take care.

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Ashley Kung October 23, 2020 at 7:15 pm

I’m a bit late to the post, but… Hello! I’m in the US, so… ugh, things are not so great on the large-scale. However, personally, I’m actually doing pretty well. I’ve been very lucky during this strange year to not have been very affected, aside from switching to 100% teleworking 7 months ago, and not being able to see friends and family in person. I’m so grateful that technology allows me to get all of my work done, and still allows me to “visit” with friends and family, without even leaving my home! As an introvert, I’m coping well with the lack of going out and social activities, but my partner is having a more difficult time with that and is eager for things to get back to normal. However, we have both enjoyed hanging out more with our son – we’ve gotten to see him much more this year due to him staying home more. My marriage is also stronger because I get to spend time with my partner throughout the day and we have lunch together, every single day! Instead of me having to go into the office and spending the majority of our weekday waking hours apart. Part of me actually feels a little bad that I’m doing so well because I know how incredibly difficult this year has been and continues to be for so many people… but that is the truth about how I am doing. It’s actually going to be bad for my mental health if I have to go back and work in the office again, which I’m desperate not to do. I’d love to quit, but I have no clue what I’d do instead.

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Carol October 23, 2020 at 8:12 pm

Hi, Carol here in capitola ca. Lovely to read all the way folks are coping and finding grace and contentment in new ways. I have a couple of nice distractions, I work full time remotely, love my work, and find I’m getting closer via zoom to some of my colleagues which is a pleasant surprise. I also am in the process of building a small house—after 2 years of design and review, my building permit came through the same day as our county shelter in place order. So needless to say, slower than anticipated progress, but joy and learning at each step. The things that ground me when I verge toward confusion or loneliness—classical music, reading lovely books, british detective shows on britbox, helping out my elderly parents, my local farmer market and ice creamery, walks on the beach. I do feel at peace with the thought of not traveling for a few years, maybe never going back to the office, I realize how very lucky I am. I wish everyone peace.

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Eva October 23, 2020 at 9:51 pm

Thanks so much for your post! I’ve been following your blog for 10 years, since I was in high school. This year hasn’t been great as I’ve been forced to move home again and to re-evaluate some things. I’m trying to do the best I can by focusing on health and reminding myself that not being able to travel and not being able to socialize are temporary. However, some days it really gets me down. The upside to all this is that I’m forced to really work on some things I was ignoring before and now I’m applying to grad school and hoping to start a career later down the road. Not all is lost and everything will be alright. I really appreciate your blog. Thanks so much for posting and keeping us updated!

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Tara October 23, 2020 at 10:36 pm

It’s been quite difficult for me, especially the last two months, despite copious meditation, yoga, reading and youtube dharma talks. I’m an introvert but really counted on the small personal daily interactions with friends and yoga mates, which is all gone now. In the midst of this turmoil, we have decided to leave Montréal and move to Vancouver Island, which was a wrenching decision but necessary for many reasons. My relationship with my husband is difficult due to being home together all the time in our small flat. We finally left last week to spend the winter in San Diego in a house with a yard and good weather to get a breather before we face the challenges of setting up a new home base in BC next April. I feel emotionally and physically drained. I’m really hoping I can get myself back together and feeling better over the next five months. The first thing I want to do is implement the no complaining habit someone mentioned above, I realize that the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening greatly affect our attitude and I really want to feel more positive and upbeat. Despite knowing intellectually what to do I’m having trouble implementing it, which makes me feel like a failure, but I’m going to persevere.

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Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 October 23, 2020 at 11:04 pm

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve commented. I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. I’m in my early 40s, married, a mama to three preschoolers, and taking time away from being an attorney (electively, and since mid-2019). I’m in Missouri, in a state that continuously misreports and obfuscates pandemic numbers to predictable ends. It’s awful and exhausting, and mirrors much of what’s happening at the national level. I’m so fortunate to be in a good place with my spouse and kids, even when things feel extra hard. I definitely feel more anxious and irritable, which is best remedied by carving out some time for things I enjoy: more audiobooks and podcasts, and less social media; plenty of sleep and coffee, and less (or no) alcohol. I’ve finally carved out time for reading actual paper (or digital, non-audio) books, too, which is better than nonstop news/opinions. I think OFTEN to and reference/share your stoicism post, and try to focus on my sphere of control and my gratitudes. I look forward to seeing what you have to share in 2020, 2021, and beyond — I’m a big fan.

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Elise Stewart October 24, 2020 at 2:50 am

Hi David, thanks for all your posts. They always give me something to think about. The beginning of the pandemic caused me a lot of anxiety mixed with irritability to be honest and there were weeks if not months of “brain fog”. I have a large garden and I spent all of our summer working in it which eventually bought me a deep sense of peace, and time to reflex on my life. With all the distractions and activities removed it has been possible to see which ones added value and to make decisions on what will not be restarted. I suspect like many, I have had a huge reminder of how important family and friends are – far more than possessions and it has strengthened my desire to be minimalist.

Strangely, I have found myself unable to take comfort in my usual hobbies of reading and embroidery so as well as gardening I have been learning dressmaking (going deeper with something I had been dabbling in before). I found a fabulous tutor who went online in response to the pandemic and through her course I have met and made some fabulous new friends.

It has been a really mixed bag of experiences – as life often is – but I really want to use it as another step on the journey to a simpler, deeper life.

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Barbara October 24, 2020 at 3:24 am

I’m almost scared to say it’s been a good year for me! I’ve had my partner home with me (he normally works away a good deal of the time), we now have 2 delightful new kittens who are demolishing the house but it’s great, and I’m doing things like learning Welsh and planning on writing a novel based on my roleplaying over the past years, plus catching up on all those TV series we’ve planned to watch but never did. Fortunately we live in a scenic location so we don’t feel hemmed in, and can go for walks on the nearby hills. Also I’ve seen this year as a challenge and I’ve said ‘challenge accepted!’. The peace and quiet has been wonderful and of course we had an exceptionally good summer (now sadly gone). I also enjoy decorating the house with various themed wall hangings, at the moment we are ‘tropical’! My house is not my prison but a delightful (if at times chaotic) place to be!

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Elizabeth M. October 24, 2020 at 7:16 am

It has been much harder than I thought it would be. COVID came at the time that my self-employment ended and the current government replaced me on a college board, so I was already adjusting to the lack of purpose, intellectual stimulation, and change in income. COVID brought isolation and constant reworking of systems to stay safe. I’m on my own, and I found my social contacts by phone and online were difficult, with people not doing well. I got blasted and dumped on, and found I didn’t want to be with people in any way.

Through the fall, things have begun to improve. I am getting house and car repairs done one at a time. I am walking a bit every day. I am getting all my medical check-up business taken care of.

I am heartened by some glimmers of normalcy. Bears have come into town at night to root through garbage, and this has taken over the chatter on Facebook, and replaced the COVID blame game. A dear elderly relative has come out of hospital after a long and frightening bout with a dementia-like and psychotic reaction to a long-term medication. Canadian politics are starting to be amusing again. “You can’t call Frankenstein Cinderella, and say he’s not still Frankenstein.” is my favorite quote (approximately) for October. Now that we’re wearing masks, people are starting to chat in the wait at the pharmacy, or across the road or parking lot.

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Tim S. October 24, 2020 at 9:38 am

Thanks for asking! I’m doing oddly better than I thought I would be. Despite my wife being laid off for six months and I was briefly laid off we ended up doing way better financially than I thought thanks to our investments picking up the slack. Emotionally I’m doing better than I thought possible, but I think that is because we managed to find ways to do some of our key social things (like D&D) with our friends online at first and now we are back to in person (but spaced out). So that helped out SO much! Also I think because we are strong introverts that like spending time at home the entire initial lock down was more mild for us. We just focused more on the home based hobbies and accepted I didn’t travel anywhere for vacation (but I did have two months paid leave at the start…so kind of like a extra long vacation at home). Perhaps the only thing that really got to me during this entire situation was some silly workplace rules that needed some time to change. I didn’t have my coffee pot at work for three months until they finally got us a K-cup machine (which still really didn’t address their initial concerns of a shared appliances at work despite the fact we have managed to share computers for months but I do have coffee again so I’m shutting up). I get this has been hard on a lot of people so I TRY to stay on the positive side and balance risks with normal things for my kids (like yes you have have your new friend over for a visit despite my concerns about expanding our exposure as a family).

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Robyn Quaintance October 24, 2020 at 9:54 am

I moved to a remote island (with a little ferry service) off of Vancouver, BC, Canada in March because my husband had a heart transplant (10 years ago) and we wanted to be safer. It has been wonderful. I kayak almost every morning, early, when it is still so quiet, yet the marine animals are moving. This gives me a sense of peace and sets me well for the day. There are planned outdoor fitness classes and outdoor dance classes, (soon to be indoors with restrictions) so I am loving living here. I have always been able to ‘roll with the punches’, so I am ok with the changes. It is interesting how small talk is what we all crave and I see people connecting at a distance, which is heart warming. I am SO thankful to be retired, even though we struggle a little with money. We have to return to the mainland every few weeks for the doctor appointments /lab work/procedures that are not on zoom, which is ok and we also fill up on groceries. I don’t listen/read the news anymore and that is really helpful for staying sane. Every once in a while, I will hear how things are going and then remember how my job is to love everyone and everything and to feel peace. I know this is helpful! We have decided that Christmas will be simpler this year, along with other celebrations, which I feel good about. I think this year has been a great learning experience for people to discover and pursue their passions and I hope knowing this, the world changes for the better.

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Christine Bell October 24, 2020 at 10:36 am

Dying to see post about lockdown mind fog. I definitely have it bad and taking breaks and time off does not seem to fix. I am blaming zoom. And too much work that seems mostly about everyone giving talks to each other rather than anything productive.

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Heather October 24, 2020 at 10:49 am

Hey David, get moving on that brain fog thang-!! I need all the help I can get. Mine’s continuing unabated since we went into semi-lockdown.

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Leslie October 24, 2020 at 12:28 pm

A couple months before lockdown, my husband retired and we moved from the city to a rural farming community (along with my 92-year-old mom). Everything was new for us, and we were just starting to form some tentative ties to our new community when suddenly we were isolated completely. My joke is that “lockdown” is nicer than saying “don’t have any friends.” Despite our social isolation, I feel blessed and lucky because the novelty of everything else has been so engrossing. And it’s been easy to enjoy beautiful natural places without worrying about crowds. We’re building a very small house and a very large garden, and learning how to use tractors to dig things up and knock things down, which, as it happens, is a really therapeutic way of handling pandemic stress. And with the magic of Zoom, we’re actually in touch with friends more than we would have been sans pandemic. So on the whole, I feel much less affected by the pandemic than I otherwise would. My mother, however, has suffered cognitive decline from being confined to her retirement home room for months. I really, really feel for seniors and kids – for their mental health and overall wellbeing – as well as everyone who is financially and emotionally distressed. I’m sending love and support to everyone who has commented here as well as to you, David. Thanks for all your posts: always wise, thoughtful, and honest.

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John Draper October 24, 2020 at 12:28 pm

I’ve been nourishing my spiritual health with two-hour mixes of run/lift/stretch/meditate almost every day. I love my days, although they go by too fast.

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Patrick October 24, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Hi David.
It’s been challenging for our family of 5.
My wife and I have been married for 4 years and adopted 3 siblings from foster care a year before all the shutdowns/lockdowns. They each have special needs due to prenatal alcohol exposure and experiencing abuse and neglect. The disruptions to their routines was hard on all of us.
This has forced us to figure out how to be together for extended periods of time. We’ve learned that spending a lot of time outside gardening and being creative is best.
I’ve been able to work from home so no disruption of income. Reading, writing, and starting a meditation practice have helped immensely.
Thank you for inspiring me to listen to some Radiohead. It’s been awhile!

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Sarah Plumb October 24, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Patrick, what a wonderful gift you have given those children. I hope you find your groove as a family and thrive!

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Daniela October 25, 2020 at 2:30 am

As it is for many, life is really hard at the moment. Up until now I’ve generally been travelling along surprisingly well despite all my university classes going online March, where they remain. In true fashion, I tried to deal with the anxiety and boredom by taking on more subjects than I (now know) I could handle. I’m at the tail end of these extra subjects (only two exams left!) and the stress is being compounded by financial worries which have all come to a head this week (as I try to study for and complete one of the exams).

The things that have helped me the most are lots of walks and, most importantly, taking every opportunity to connect with my friends and make new connections, both in person and virtually. I moved interstate four years ago, from a big city to a much, much smaller city. The adjustment has been harder than I expected but I’ve really come to love my new city now. Every day I discover something new about it, whether it’s a new park with a beautiful view over the valley, a charming cafe or beautiful trees and plants around my neighbourhood (it’s spring in our part of the world and the blossoms are superb). :))

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Alexander Szabo October 25, 2020 at 9:23 am

Life here in London has been ups and downs since June 2016 when Brexit happened. The country was split and polarised ever since, you don’t know who is a leaver and who is a remainer. Then the pandemic happened and it felt like we are all together again. Then as people got more frustrated they started inventing conspiracy theories and arguing. Now the country is split again and you don’t know who you can have a conversation with anymore.

In conclusion i get irked at the new normal, or waiting for things to go back to normal. Looking at all the crap happening in the world and in my country things were never really normal, we just live our lives day in day out. And we continue to do the same now. The only new things are we respect peoples space and wear masks. Because we should have been washing our hands well before the pandemic.

Personally i work from home and go the office 3 times a week in a bubble because i work for a university and teaching can’t just stop. We got a little puppy called Bella, a miniature schnauzer. I like to go with the flow, observe the rules and be vigilant to keep others safe. We can’t go on holiday with a 12 week old pup anyway.

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Joan October 25, 2020 at 10:40 am

I am content, but I realize I am not healthy. I have always worked from home, so that part has been mostly fine. However, I am working far more than I used to, even though I’m basically retired.

I started volunteering for a climate non-profit last December and when the pandemic hit, everyone else was busy dealing with work or kids or both, so I took it on myself to keep the organization going. I have been working 12 hrs a day doing everything from writing the newsletter and planning events to making presentations to City hall. I love it and I’m learning so much, but I also think it’s a form of addiction. Because everything is online, it’s almost like playing the most open-world, interactive video game ever. I would rather take another Zoom call than vacuum or other “real-life” stuff. My relationships outside of that work have suffered, as has my health.

It’s weird that people have forgotten about phone meetings.. Now everyone wants to meet on Zoom, and I find that takes a huge toll. I used to walk around during phone calls, doing quiet chores like folding laundry, but now I am glued to my computer. For a long time I was straining my eyes unconsciously trying to make eye contact with the image on the screen. I spend hours a day on Zoom calls, including almost every weekday evening. Sitting that much is very hard on my body.

In the Before Times I ran a few time a week, but I did not feel comfortable straying far from home, so I stopped. Between the lack of intermittent movement during the day and no running, plus comfort chip eating, I have gained weight.

Fortunately, my children have adjusted well. My older son moved out in August and it has been delightful to watch him find his feet. He has a small bubble with his room mates which allows him to socialize and they spent a lot of time hiking.

My younger son graduated from high school and had already planned to take a year off. He doesn’t know what he wants to do, and COVID has completely removed the pressure to decide. He managed to find his first job, and spent a lot of time with his brother. It was wonderful seeing their relationship grow, and him take the first steps into adulthood. When he stayed out all night, I could rest easy, knowing he was at his brother’s place, not out at a bar or on the roads.

I have loved having youg adults around. It took me back to my university days of hanging out and talking about ideas for hours on end. I bought a fire pit so they can still come over to hang out in the back yard.

Strangely, even though my province’s numbers are way up, I feel less fear than I did, and I’m starting to work on my work-life balance. I went snow shoeing in my local park for the first time this year yesterday, and I’m going to buy a set for my husband so we can do that together.

Thank you for the work you do. I look forward to the brain fog post!

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Kjell Vandevyvere October 25, 2020 at 11:35 am

In Bolivia, everything was shut tight until June. Then, gradually things started opening up again. Now, I suppose everything is more or less back to normal but our social life has taken a deep dive. However, as I started working 100% from home, things will never be the same for me.
I miss social engagements but somehow I feel like I’d be annoyed by having to leave my house more often than I’m used to now.
Since the pandemic began, I started journaling, meditating more often and I subscribed to a few mind-widening newsletters, like this one! I also started my own website project: top three guide. And most importantly, we’re expecting our first child in March. So, things aren’t that bad :)

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David Cain October 27, 2020 at 10:26 am

Congrats! I’m seeing some common themes here — the pandemic has forced us to change our lives in uncomfortable ways, but many of those changes are healthy.

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Tim October 25, 2020 at 11:36 am

Hey David!

1st time commenting, but always brings a smile when a new post of you hits my inbox.

Moved abroad for work last September was hard to miss friends and now that a few of them lost their jobs with the pandemic it’s hard to not be around them for support. But it gave a good opportunity to reconnect over some online games.

The people here are great though, even met my girlfriend and wokring on a startup to support mental health :) It’s a ongoing balancing of connecting with people here and back home though

Dogs are great! always gives perspective to live in the now.
Great to read you’re a DnD player :) Best past time for winter. What character are you currently playing?

My favourite character has been a Half elf escaping a Wizard collective to become a Ranger with his trusty owl.

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David Cain October 27, 2020 at 10:28 am

We are doing Curse of Strahd and I’m playing a dwarven paladin. I am currently DMing several campaigns though, and that is the best part for me.

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Jane October 25, 2020 at 5:43 pm

Checking in from Lozère, France. We live a calm life in a secluded area. The cows and the sycamores haven’t really seemed to notice covid, so staying centered has been relatively easy. We also had our second child on Christmas Eve 2019, so nesting with him has felt natural, healthy, and uplifting. Babies aren’t therapeutic the way dogs are, but they certainly help anchor routines and rituals, and nurturing their growth is a front row seat to awe and wonder. They’re also adorable, hilarious, and very joyful. So Thank you, Paul, for brightening an otherwise dark hour.
The stress, worries and uncertainties have certainly been present. Sending your child back to school feels scary. Keeping them home feels stressful. Every cold is hairier and scarier. And there are many. Oh so many.
During isolation I read the lord of the rings. I can’t believe that it took me so long to get to it!! But the old cliché “now or never” finally came to life for me, and I have started doing many things, including reading many books, that have long been purely hypothetical. (+1 for the list of gardeners. But mine was a beginner’s farce, especially with a baby and a four year old in tow)
The situation is now getting stickier. Many folks came here over the summer to escape the crowds and our villages are now sick. The senior centers and mental health facilities, in particuiar, are struggling. It’s currently school break, but I’m uncertain that school will reopen, or stay open for long. And that’s OK. Because we have each other, we can be resilient. We can do hard things and be all the better for it.

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Janeberlin October 25, 2020 at 10:42 pm

Iv been reading your writings since you do first started I believe. I’ve lost track of when I started. Or when I first stumbled onto your blog and bookmarked it. Reading these comments though has made me realize that I am NOT your target audience. Not even close. What version of reality do you people live in?! I mean, I’m glad to hear some of you are in the same time and space on this planet as me who are living this fairytale like life you all have. Your privilege doesn’t anger me or make me resentful. It’s more like seeing this glittery neon pink version of reality I didn’t know actually existed. Goodforyou with your gardening, and time for that thing called an existential crisis and your long walks with your dogs -who are still alive and are yours still and whom you have not had to walk away from because youknew that a stranger would at least be able to feed them and you want them to live. By then there is a selfish part of you who has needed that pet to get through the last three days without food but you at least had they’d love u tile couldn’t do it anymore because loving something sometimes means having to let it go so that it can live. But now you are alone. And you’re scared and the money ran out and everything ran out. And then the only family you have is your brother. You have raised eachother like a pack of wolves or just plain orphans. And then the cops shoot him in the head in our own back yard and then what do you do? Your business disappeared when they shut everything down and then the money runs out and you don’t qualify for any assistance. Do you know what it’s like to eat a meal every other day at most and do you know what it’s like to lose everyone you love and be left alone? I don’t know if you do. You should know that
My story is the reality of billions of human beings. Our reality look nothing like yours. And that’s ok. It does make me smile to know you are out there experiencing such a charmed life. I used to wish that kind of life for all humans everywhere on this planet but and I used to think that we could make that possible but the I grew up. I think I’m done here David. But thanks for writing all these years. I have found the way your mind works to be very human and your honesty and vulnerability is rare and special. I’ll miss your mind. Good luck out there in the trenches comrades. Or …not. Sorry..wrong crowd. I forgot. Carry on as you were oh ye with your charmed lives. I will tell tales of your lives and would never wish our lives on any of you .. it ever. But it’s time for me to return to my people. I had no idea what kind of establishment this was and how much I do not belong here. Farewell all of ye craven soft bellies. May the true darkness of this world never touch your little bubbles for that would be the day you will surely drown. I wish u well and again…I am so fucking glad you people exist!!

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David Cain October 27, 2020 at 10:39 am

People share what they’re comfortable sharing. You have no idea what is difficult about any of these people’s lives.

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Sinan Turnacioglu October 26, 2020 at 8:53 am

David, I’ve enjoyed receiving your newsletters for a number of months now. I’ve dealt with our pandemic by trying to follow a daily practice of mindfulness meditation through Headspace, running, and journaling. I’ve appreciated not having to deal with a commute, and having more time to spend with my wife and kids. And I love that you mentioned playing Dungeons & Dragons, because my group has been able to increase the frequency of our gaming sessions, with fewer weekend outings and obligations. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

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Agustin October 26, 2020 at 10:05 am

Hey David,

Thanks for sharing how things are with you. I’ve actually been paying a lot more attention to my dog and yes, isn’t it awesome how it looks like they have no worries at all :)? Besides that things are great, started meditating on a semi daily basis just 5 minutes on my couch, and the mental fortitude it provides to take on the day, has been a huge help. Along side that I’ve been working out now for 3 months, and soon will start other habits.

Take care, Agustin

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JZ October 26, 2020 at 1:31 pm

Hey David, I’m a first time commenter as well. This is from California, US.

My girlfriend and I have been shelter in place now for about 7 months now, as many people are in the US. We count ourselves lucky to work in the tech industry that enables us to work remotely. And we are grateful to still have a job.

We are also dancers, and Covid closed most of the dance studios. We took a leap and built a make shift dance floor in our rented house’s side yard. Being able to dance outdoor has been a game changer for us. We could enjoy the fresh air (when there’s no California fire smoke), and also being mindful of our internals when dancing.

As a result, we started to notice the condition of our yard as we have ignored it for years (we are renting). So gradually we took on gardening as well. First we just wanted to get rid of the weeds that are taller than me, and with thorns that could potentially put us in hospital. Then our expectation grew with our experience in gardening, and hopefully in a few months we can really get a garden going.

So just to answer the question of how are you, I think we are doing ok. Life seemed to trim down to its essence more with less hustle and bustle.

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Alaina R. October 26, 2020 at 2:26 pm

It’s not good. I’m so tired of disappointing my kids. We’ve been trying to quarantine this whole time, and have lost close family friends who will not do the same, and therefore my kids have lost all their friends too. I’m failing *hard* at homeschooling an 8th grader and a kindergartner. I lost my job in the very beginning, because the bar I tended at went out of business. I did not qualify for any unemployment. My husband works w youths and has recently been exposed to the virus, with a co-worker testing positive. And… that means my MOM has been exposed because she just came up to help me out! We live in a very old, one-room house (yurt) in Fairbanks, AK w no running water, winter is here, we have no money. My back and hip have been really bad for over two weeks (piraformis syndrome?), causing my leg to be numb down to my foot and making standing unbearable – but we have medical bills in collections and no one will see us until they are paid. I’m obsessed w our horrible politics. I’m not eating. TBH, and I hate to say this, but other than emotional support, my mom is not able to help much w the workload. If I’ve exposed her to Covid I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m losing it.
Our cases in AK are skyrocketing, and it feels like I’m underneath an avalanche.
Thanks for listening, everyone :'(

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Alana Marrero Gonzalez October 26, 2020 at 3:50 pm

Hola David, this is my first time writing in this section. I am so tired. This year has been one of finally doing things, ending my thesis, finally organizing the closet, it seems as if all that I had left for another time, is looking at me and waiting for me to finally do it.

So with that in my mind, this has been the year I have accepted my divorce (it took place 5 years ago), this year I finally joined a running team and as we speak I am a 6 mile runner. I have learned to be patient with myself with my feelings and most of us I have learned to be alone without feeling lonely.

I feel bad to say that I have accomplished so many personal stuff this year, when I know so many other people have lost so much…but that is my truth maybe I lost so much before and now I just come to peace with my life.

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Sasha October 27, 2020 at 12:25 am

I totes resonate with what you’ve shared about the journey you’ve been on this year. I share about what’s kept me going in a post I published a couple of weeks ago, if you feel like checking it out: https://sasharougemiel.com/defying-the-law-of-gravity/?v=8e3eb2c69a18

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Melissa S October 27, 2020 at 7:49 am

I wanted to acknowledge what Janeberlin wrote and say I am truly sorry that you have had awful and unimaginable pain this year. Just saying that does not lessen your burden; I am sorry you have to carry it. You have had to make choices and deal with the aftermath of violence across so many levels. No one should have to face that.

I was also struck by the numerous joyful posts and it felt honestly very jarring. For context, I am in the U.S. and have an incredibly privileged position of being able to work from home and the pandemic reset has afforded me space and time for more reflection and instillation of better habits. But they all feel like pyrrhic victories.

While every year on this place, people experience death beyond imagination. Yet this year feels different because there isn’t a place on Earth that has been spared from COVID or at least the fear of the contagion. Every day of 2020 feels heavy and sad. That doesn’t mean that on a personal level I have not felt joy. It just means that it exists side by the side immense suffering and therefore it doesn’t feel as bright.

It’s not that I don’t think one can and should experience joy if suffering exists anywhere. It’s that a lot of “my successes” or “bright spots” – increased meditation, more time for nature, gardening and exercise, increased financial resources – are the direct result of people’s bad actions and other’s misfortunes. I am not entirely sure how to work to rebalance the scales.

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David Cain October 27, 2020 at 11:04 am

I asked people what is helping to keep them sane, and people are naturally answering that question with what is going well in their lives.

Every single year is filled with unimaginable human suffering. 2020 is no different except that a single source of suffering is reaching every country, which means we no longer have the luxury of not thinking about it even if we live very fortunate lives. If it is inappropriate to talk about what’s going well in 2020, then it is always inappropriate.

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Sarah G October 27, 2020 at 9:41 am

London, UK here. I’m so tired of being scared. Scared that now my teens are back at school after 6 months off, they will bring home the virus. Scared that your elections will go the wrong way again, meaning there is no longer any possibility of slowing down climate change. And very scared of what Brexit will bring; food shortages are predicted. Why did I have children? Their future seems hopeless. The oldest has important exams in the summer. Or maybe not. The uncertainty is hard.

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David Cain October 27, 2020 at 11:08 am

I am trying to deal with uncertainty by telling myself that uncertainty was always there. Nothing is predictable, and any time I felt certainty, it was delusion. It’s not a warm thought but it helped me see my uncertainty in a different way. We don’t know what’s next, but we never have.

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Alaina R October 30, 2020 at 6:04 pm

*I feel you*

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Jennifer October 27, 2020 at 5:14 pm

My life here in Georgia changed very little and yet somehow worsened fivefold. I have OCD and anxiety, a toddler and a tween stepdaughter, and work inside the home. We didn’t go out much anyway and were coming off the tail end of my flu season anxiety when Covid hit…so we just carried on with no changes. Virtual school has ruined my relationship with the tween and her newly constant presence has strained the one with my toddler and their father. Turns out, as the one with no obligations outside the home, I am the dumping ground for all the parenting responsibilities nobody else wants. In seven months , I’ve lost complete respect for everyone I know and a slew of people I don’t because they’ve all proven themselves to be selfish unconcerned assholes and advantage takers. To say I have survived this far is to put it in the truest of terms…there is no thriving or even muddling here. Only survival and that seems purely by luck.

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Melissa S October 27, 2020 at 7:24 pm

I apologize if my post came off as inappropriate. I was sharing what keeps me sane, which for me is keeping both joy and sorrow in balance, and to acknowledge suffering in others. I gave my honest reaction to other’s posts as a way of sharing my perspective and contributing my own voice. Everyone here (and elsewhere outside the blogosphere) are all allowed to process in our own way. I apologize if my words landed as a condemnation of others.

I have enjoyed your site over the years and wish you all the best.

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PAUL J LONGO October 28, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Greetings from Merced, CA, David. I’ve been a little surprised and somewhat disappointed to come to the realization that I no longer have enough compassion when it comes to politics (US) and social policies to agree to disagree with others, even family members. I can’t go that far any more, and it’s become a reminder of fundamental impermanence, something to notice and feel and then let go of. We’re surrounded by quite a bit of fatigue and exhaustion related to COVID-19, countervailing responses to it, climate change (fires here in CA, hurricanes elsewhere, etc.), creeping authoritarianism, and so forth; but, what gives me “soul fog” more than “brain fog” is that somehow we’re divided and not united by all this. Yet, in what I’ll call passing moments of interstitial, liminal tranquility, I sense a community with some others, most of whom I don’t even know. Maybe they’re all offshoots of the same Moment and maybe those moments of letting go are offshoots of the same Nirvana in which we are already mysteriously submerged were it not for our habits? Have you read the poem “Love Dogs” by Rumi? Listen for Abby’s little purring “moans,” and be connected. Thanks for thinking of us, maestro.

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David Cain October 28, 2020 at 2:51 pm

Good to hear from you Paul. It seems as though we’re having trouble seeing the common ground down below all of our political stuff. I hope this strange era makes it clear why that is so important.

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Jacob Zoller October 28, 2020 at 4:19 pm

Hey David, thanks for asking!
I’m in Mobile, Alabama, USA.
I have slowly gotten used to things constantly changing. It seems like there is always something to grieve and something to celebrate. Instead of focusing on one or the other I am trying to let both have their room.
The hurricanes in this region have added a layer of uncertainty and lack of control. The political and racial tension have been a hard-fought lesson in wise engagement and timely disengagement for me.
I have kids aged 2 and 4 and I feel tremendously blessed to have so much time at home with them (even though they regularly drive me up the wall!)
I’m not sure what’s keeping me afloat. A mixture of friends, therapy, medicine, mindfulness, self-care, and hard work?

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Julie October 29, 2020 at 1:44 am

Life in Chicago is very different depending on your circumstance, but that can be transferred to anywhere in the world.
I am not sure that “OK” or “not OK” can really sum up my feelings during this weird time in my life. Do I feel privileged while so many others are struggling even more? People whom are losing their loved ones, their homes, their sanity and so much more? Yes. I do feel very privileged. This sense of privilege made me ashamed for a long time. Especially when I was let go from work due to Covid reasons, given a few months severance and was able to claim US unemployment benefits.
My mind seems to go in multiple directions at once, when I start thinking about how so many people all over the world will not be able to eat, as I have groceries delivered to my residence. Being able to leave my house, while so many are under harsh restrictions to even leave their homes. How all undocumented immigrants in our country are not going to receive any help from our government, while I receive a bi-weekly benefits. Just the act of lounging or being alone, while so many others have no privacy while share a room or sometimes a tent with their entire family is just painful.
I know that these thoughts and worries are on others minds as well.
It is impossible to escape the environmental impact, injustice, greed and death that is happening not just in US, but all over the world. At most gas stations where I live, the news is blaring through the tiny speakers and a small TV screen installed into the pump station. Our elections are the hottest topic right now and very difficult to avoid.
In the last six months of being home, I have experienced what my friend called “all stages of grief”. Right now, I still feel hopeless for our humanity.
I have listened and read many books that give me slight hope for my future life and those I share this planet with. In the meantime, I spend quality time with my very old dog, apply to myself what I learn from books that I read/listen to, travel by car to see my mom and brother and try to approach everything and every one with love, kindness and empathy.
My life is happening, but I do not feel it.

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Sara October 29, 2020 at 3:51 am

Feeling beyond grateful to be “stuck” in Wellington, New Zealand, where, beyond our first hard core lockdown in March/April its been systems pretty much normal. Well, I’ve had 3 Covid tests and my nose still smarts… but that aside, it feels almost unreal to be here, travelling round the country, hugging anyone you see… we worry so much for everyone else…

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Sara October 29, 2020 at 3:55 am

Oh, I almost forgot the best thing avout this year, I learned to sing!!!! I always thought i couldn’t, but I just needed some guidance. If we had not been locked down then more flexible to work from.home id have never had the time or bandwidth to find an online teacher… and now I sing to my husband and he is happy!

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Casey October 29, 2020 at 10:22 am

This has been an especially difficult year. I think one of the things keeping me afloat is that I have finally gotten serious about meditating regularly! I can tell as soon as I start slacking because my anxiety ramps back up within a few days. I have asthma which seems to put me in the higher risk category (health officials disagree). This has made some of the uglier comments and behavior in the USA feel personal, like “those people” feel like my life and health are unimportant. A lot of the my rights rhetoric and arguments against the science and public health also feels a lot like gaslighting to me, so I’ve struggled with having my traumas triggered.

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MaryAnn Reynolds October 29, 2020 at 11:40 am

It’s been such a strange time, unexpected, but with some benefits. Most notably for me, this opportunity to slow down has opened up new fields. I have been doing bodywork for years, a substantial amount of which was working in people’s mouths relieving tension jaw muscles. COVID said no to that. I got a seed of an idea in late May about teaching people to work on their own jaws. I spent the summer developing a class, revising my website, and starting to publicize. The first course (5 weekly classes) ends tonight. I’ve never taught a course before, but I seem to know something about it from my educator parents and every time I’ve been a student. So…besides this major work pivot, getting enough sleep, lots of walking, dancing and doing yoga on Zoom, gardening, and cooking have filled my days. Thanks for asking!

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Pandemic Hiker October 30, 2020 at 10:49 am

This year has been GREAT for me and my husband! Although he’s been working from home for 8 months, and getting sick of it, we are both lucky to still have our jobs. We were able to pay off our mortgage and pour even more earnings into investments to retire even earlier! And we have done more outdoor activity than ever before, benefiting our bodies and mental outlook. We tackled several projects around the house that were long overdue, and basically reset our values. It’s refreshing to receive a new perception of the world and our lives!

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Emily November 1, 2020 at 6:48 pm

Hey there. Thanks for asking how we are. When I take a moment to think about it I’m in complete shock about the changes I’ve been through in the last year, all with the pandemic looming. I got married (not the great wedding we had planned, but we’re official at least), I had a teeny human being which is like the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me. He was breech at 37 weeks so I endured this horrible procedure called an external version which is a fancy way of saying the doctor pushed on my very pregnant belly for 20 min with incredible pressure trying to turn my baby 180 degrees, all to avoid a c-section. It didn’t work and I had said c-section, but it was incredible anyway. The version was excruciating and traumatic. My son is a miracle and I cry tears of gratitude often for this gift. We moved states because my husband unexpectedly got an incredible job with a big salary bump that includes a gorgeous log house on a lake in a park, for free. It’s really just beyond words.

I had this out of control anxiety while I was pregnant and I thought I was losing it, that I’d never be the same. But I had my little John Lewis and the anxiety immediately and completely vanished. This was a huge revelation to me. I’m still processing it but I believe it proves to some extent that we have much less control of our minds/choices than we think we do. Our bodies are running the show. There are forces (like hormones etc) beyond our control that can have such a profound effect on us that they effect who we think we are. I’m going to be coming to terms with that experience for a very long time. It was perception altering.

I’ve been Mari Kondo’ing my belongings, which is amazing, and doing some decorating for our new life. My home is coming together, I’m enjoying not working, which is new for me, and I’m tired. But most of all I feel intense gratitude. Gratitude is what keeps me ok home all day and night with a newborn, gratitude keeps me positive in a new city during a pandemic when I can’t really meet a soul, and gratitude is what keeps me going through this crazy time America is going through. Baby’s crying gotta run! :)

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Nat November 2, 2020 at 8:51 am

Hi David!
I’m in France and in lock down again since Friday. My oldest son is a first year University student and universities are closed for students, so it’s difficult for him to connect with the others. The silver lining is that he went Sunday to shelter in place with my mother in the countryside, and it will for sure be some very special month (or more?) memory for both of them. We plan to do zoom lunches regularly, as we did before this year, and it was great. For the moment high schools are still opened so I am happy my youngest son can go there (but he would prefer not to!!). For me it was the perfect year to become a certified life coach (online certification!), so I can coach myself and help others to navigate the situation.
By the way, as part of my advanced coaching training, I’m offering one free spot to the super successful Stop Overdrinking 1-on-1 coaching program designed by The Life Coach School. It’s free; sessions start the week of November 9 and end by December 18. Can be in English or in French. If a reader is interested, they can drop me a line here to apply: nat.coachdevie@gmail.com . I am still working on my website!

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CK November 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm

Hello! Had someone described this year’s scenario to me back in 2019, I would have predicted that I would do much worse than I have. It turns out I’m more adaptable than I realized. There have certainly been many challenges (I live alone, and haven’t hugged anyone since March), but this year has also seen a lot of personal growth for me. My meditation practice and mindfulness have coalesced in a way they never had before, and I’ve built a lot of excellent habits that I probably wouldn’t have built without the pandemic (like daily walking and daily journaling). Daily walks have been the single most importance mental health anchor for me this year. These unusual circumstances have truly taught me a great deal about myself, and I’m grateful for that.

As of right now, my consuming worry is the US election and its possible aftermath. At this point I feel doubtful that 2021 will be much better than 2020, but we play the hand we’re dealt and there’s no point in wishing for a different one, and that’s alright.

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Justin Novotney November 4, 2020 at 8:21 pm

My eyes did that thing where they start to well up just reading the title of the blog post. I haven’t been to the site in several months. I have a need to write an entire saga – and also a mental health appointment on Friday, so I’ll save it for there. But feeling really grateful for online spaces like this community. Thanks for it.

In terms of how I am – a long-time Raptitude fan friend of mine and I have been accountability partners in doing some daily meditation. We’ve been increasing by 5 minutes / day for about 10 weeks. It went really well for me until it didn’t, and I started to miss a lot of days a week or two ago when we were at 45 minutes / day. The effect in my whole world and especially as a parent of a two year old and a four year old has been life-changing. I can’t quite figure out how to get back on the horse though. It IS the first time in my life when I’ve begun to establish enough of a practice to notice the effects, which is meaningful to me.

Checking in on your blog is helpful though, and since my partner is on the phone with her aunt, I think I’ll grab some time to go have a sit.

Thanks for checking in :)
Justin

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David Cain November 5, 2020 at 8:51 am

Hi Justin. Wow, well done establishing that kind of momentum with your meditation practice. You’ve crossed that crucial point where the “why” is now obvious, so even if you slip away from it now and again, you’ll always be back.

Momentum does come in waves like that. You’re cruising along with your practice, and then it gets hard to do for some reason. This is super normal. I go through these dips every year or two.

It’s a well known problem, and the classic strategy is to back off the effort a bit — don’t put as much pressure on yourself to sit for long periods. But sit every day anyway, even if it’s just for five or ten minutes. Do whatever method seems most productive for you right now. If you can add in several few-minute-long practice periods throughout the day, it will probably help a lot, because it breaks down the aversion towards practice.

If you want to discuss your practice in more detail, just drop me an email.

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Margaret A November 5, 2020 at 6:12 am

Here in Southern Appalachia, we are getting into leaf season and I anticipate some great outdoor time in the ragtop before cold weather hits. I enjoy whatever weather we get: rainy days clean the air, sun feels great.

My only real project is gathering info to clear out a longstanding problem with a parasite around the edges of my life. I am a senior, still working with a small public contact base and enjoying it. I take the supplements recommended by East Virginia University for health care workers and feel better than usual.

This is a small town and COVID-19 is mostly confined to churches, schools, and long-term care facilities. Staying out of these, the WalMart in the nearest city, and out of the grocery stores should keep me out of trouble until a vaccine is available.

Jazz soothes my soul but I have been listening to some handpan which puts me into a meditative state. Check YouTube for videos.

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David Cain November 5, 2020 at 9:03 am

I just put on some handpan now and I like it. Thanks for the recommendation Margaret, and enjoy November.

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Sloane Dell'Orto November 6, 2020 at 6:37 pm

Honestly, the thing that is keeping me sane (silly as it sounds) is the baby Russian tortoise my son talked me into adopting. He’s tiny, he’s entertaining, he knows my voice, and he looks like ET. :)) I wish I could share a picture with you all! He has three different “homes” and I even enclosed my desk so he can wander around while I work. His name is Dosty (short for Dostoevsky, because … you know … he’s Russian) and I love him very much. :)

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George Puharich November 12, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Heading into our 9th month of COVID19 and I gotta say…I’m liking it. Call me crazy, but the world’s mad dash has been slowed down and simplified so much so that I can actually sit and look at it…even try to reason it all out. Being officially retired, helps, because I am afforded the luxury of not really having to look for work, although, it would be nice to have some extra spending money. But, I would likely just use that money to travel (especially somewhere warm in the winter), so I’m really not able to do much about that right now. Like one of your other respondents said “Acceptance” is a big one. Another big relief is the tossing out of the bully down south, even though it really had very little effect on the great white north. Vegetable gardening, shrub planting, deck painting, various projects that are still unfinished…I have had no time to be bored. And someone filled a former newspaper box with various books which I have taken to reading (since our local library was closed), now I regularly check to see if there’s anything new and drop off what I’ve already read. It’s a kilometer down our quite country road past horse farms and gardens of all kinds. The horses snort and whinny to see if I’ve brought an apple (usually) and the bird watching is great. My wife (still too young to retire) works at the local clinics…casually, but since COVID19 it’s been almost full time so cabin fever is staved off, for her at least.
The world’s largest salmon run just happened on the South Thompson River, a hall km across the fields from us and although all those dead spawned out fish can feel a little depressing, nature is still doing what it has always done, with or without us. That’s somehow very comforting. My smartphone is the one thing that keeps us connected with the outside world and able to read the occasional post by you. I’m happy.

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Claire November 24, 2020 at 10:59 am

Bit late to the party but like other long-time readers and first time commenters, I wanted to add a story too. Lockdown has been more good than not for me – working from home has been a revelation and a much-needed break from our open-plan office, adopted a plant, wrote, invested, did puzzles, and did a skydive. However the surprise change for me has been reflecting on food and fitness.

It’s complicated and strikingly mundane in detail, but basically: my relationships with food, fitness and body image weren’t great, and this year I realised that and worked on them. I stopped exercising (it was a form of penance for eating – my first clue was the sheer *relief* I felt when all the gyms and sports centres closed) and am trying to build a better attitude and relationship to exercise. I reflected on my eating habits and attitudes to food growing up and through my adult life until now. I’m trying intuitive eating and stopped mentally characterising foods as ‘bad’ and ‘good’, as well as restricting myself. I measured myself and tracked my eating for a couple of months – guess what, my weight/size stayed pretty consistent regardless of what I ate or how I felt any given day. I started actively appreciating my body as it is, right now, and I try to stop the negative internal talk about it. I think it’s helping because I’ve noticed new habits and thoughts around food and my body – such as forgetting what treats I have in the flat and eating smaller portions of them when I do remember them AND want to eat them. Exercise is still a sticky point for me, but I want to want to do it, and I want it to be sustainable.

One unexpected new activity I’ve taken up is cold-water swimming. It’s more about the mental stimulation than the exercise. I’ve found it kind of easy to do, like it’s something that comes naturally, which is a nice feeling for once! A group of us do it so the social aspect is welcome too, even for a dedicated introvert like me. I’ve noticed a small lift in mood (I tend towards low mood) since starting, which I hope will continue. Even if it doesn’t, the immediate endorphin rush after leaving the water is incredible all on its own.

On balance, I’m doing really well. I feel very lucky and so grateful for where I am and what I’m doing. I’m also grateful for your blog. Every post gives me something to reflect on, which I’d call a gift in your writing abilities. Thank you, David, for your consistency and for asking about us in these interesting times.

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David Cain November 25, 2020 at 3:18 pm

I’m experiencing something similar, sorting out my relationship to exercise I mean, and I wonder if a lot of people are figuring out how they really feel about food, exercise, and health generally.

The big discovery for me is that I will work out every day if I make it fun, and I no longer worry about it being “balanced” or optimally hitting all the muscle groups or any of that. It’s all a matter of what it has to be for me to genuinely want to do it (rather than get it over with). I feel pretty great physically since I started working out every day.

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