9 Tips for Staying Sane during these Crazy Days

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m living in a movie. An end-of-times one where zombies pop up from behind the bushes and the only way to protect yourself is to wave toilet paper in front of their faces because they hate the idea of clean bottoms. (And that, my friends, is why all the TP in American is sold out.)

But seriously, we’re living in some crazy, unexpected times with the coronavirus pandemic. While it’s definitely important to take care of our physical health, I hope we’ll all remember to take care of our minds and hearts, too. To help with that, I want to share 9 tips for staying sane during these crazy days.

  1. Laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. Look for toilet paper memes—there’s no shortage of them online. Watch funny shows. Google “Dad jokes”. Find things that tickle your funny bone.
  2. Recognize. Recognize that this is not a normal time. But the feelings you feel—scared, overwhelmed, unsure—are normal. Give yourself time to process those feelings.
  3. Create. Now’s the time to tap into your creative side. There are so many tutorials online where you can learn now to cook, draw, sing, dance, etc. Did you know there are karaoke apps, too?! Muchkin #2 and I use Karaoke by Yokee.
  4. Move. Take walks. Have a dance party. Use the bathroom that’s the farthest one away from you in the house. Break out the sidewalk chalk with the kiddos and play hopscotch.
  5. Connect. Stay in touch with friends and family. With the beauty of modern tech, we can text, call, or video chat with the touch of a button. Call up (or better yet, text) those extrovert friends of yours—you’ll make their day!
  6. Adjust. Adjust your expectations for what you want to get done vs. what you can get done under the circumstances. Especially if you have “coworkers” (aka. kids) who didn’t get the memo about regular work hours.
  7. Recharge. If you’re an introvert and especially if you’re highly sensitive and you’re dying with your whole family home sheltering-in-place (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience, lol), you must find some time alone. Get up early or stay up late. Take short breaks in the bathroom during the day. Do what you need to do to recharge.
  8. Accept. This is probably the hardest, but best thing you can do. Accept that your life has been put on hold indefinitely. Your routine has changed and your schedules and to-do list have gone out the window. This is our new normal … for now, but not for forever.
  9. Appreciate. I believe every situation, no matter how hard or dire, has its good points. One thing I appreciate about this time is the sense of solidarity people all over the world are experiencing. Regardless of where we live, we’re all going through similar struggles of keeping the kids entertained, finding ways to cook with whatever random foods we have in our freezers, and not going stir crazy at home. We’re learning to be bored again, to enjoy downtime, and to be still. We’re finding out how creative we can be and how resilient we actually are. Most of all, we’re all doing life together—in our own homes and across the internet.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with the perfect song for these interesting times: High School Musical’s “We’re All in This Together”.

What tips do you have for staying sane during these crazy days?

The Secret to Relationships: “Turning Toward”

As a romance author, I write a lot about “turning”. A lot. I just searched my work-in-progress and found 43 instances of the word.

For example:

  • He turned his head slightly to the left, showing off his dimple.
  • Why did I care that she had turned me down?
  • She turned around in her seat.
  • Her expression turned sour.
  • It was my turn to laugh.

Hmm, while this makes me think I need to find a new word to use (lol), I also had a realization about real life: there’s a lot of turning involved.

More specifically, our relationships require us to turn. When we talk to someone, we turn to look at them. Eye contact is even more crucial when it comes to listening. Without this kind of interaction, there really is no connection.

But what is connection exactly?

I think connecting with someone starts even before you can see them. It starts with the heart.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from almost 19 years of marriage and 13+ years of parenting, it’s that I have a choice in how I approach my husband and kids. Do I choose to turn toward them or away from them? How do I respond to them, not only in a physical sense, but in my heart?

As anyone who’s human can attest, people are messy. Having a relationship with someone, any kind of relationship, means going through your fair share of ups and downs. People do things that can frustrate and annoy you and even hurt you. Sometimes it’s on purpose; other times it’s unintentional. All of this is fact and a part of life.

Before I became a wife and mom, I was oblivious to how hard relationships can be. I thought I was a loving, kind and patient person—humble, too, of course! 😉 Why wouldn’t I be? I’d rarely had my buttons pushed or been misunderstood or felt unappreciated.

Only after I was blessed with these amazing people whom I get to call my own, did I learn who the real me was. The real me is not a happy person when woken up in the middle of the night. The real me was a pro at the silent treatment in the early years of our marriage. The real me loses her patience when the kids don’t cooperate. The real me would rather turn away from the people I love instead of turn toward them.

Ouch.

It took me many, many years to realize how harmful “turning away” was. Turning away meant that I was essentially hardening my heart and closing myself off from my husband and kids. That heart change seeped into my attitude and behavior and cut off any desire I had for connection. I was like a kid sitting in the corner and holding onto my grudge until the other person behaved the way I wanted them to.

Eeks.

There’s a verse in Romans 2 that speaks of the kindness of God, and how it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. That verse has always stayed with me somewhere in the back of my mind, probably because it’s so far from my own M.O. The way I learned to operate was to show judgment and condemnation first, then acceptance and reprieve later, but only when the other person had “earned” it. But how amazing is it to show kindness, patience, and mercy first?! To turn toward the other person and to extend your arms to them … because you would want that same kind of mind-blowing grace extended to you?

Turning toward my husband and kids (especially my kids) is the only choice I (aim to) make now. I don’t always get it right, but I do find myself pausing more to check my heart. Is it soft or hard? Am I turning toward or away? It’s a simple question, but it can make a great difference. Our actions and words already have the power to make a lasting impact. Why not make the impact a loving, gracious one?

I grew up singing Leslie Phillips’ song, “Your Kindness”, in our youth group. The words and melody are so beautiful and still touch me to this day.

How often do you find yourself turning toward versus turning away?

A New Year… A New Series! (+ Five Cover Reveals!)

If there’s anything I learned last year, it’s that hard work pays off. And patience is a virtue. These aren’t new lessons for me, but it feels like I’m finally living them out in my daily life.

It’s like I’ve been training for a marathon and having to practice running every day, whether I feel like it or not. (This is totally a metaphor because I haven’t run in years, cough cough, lol.) But I definitely need to have the mindset of an athlete in order to get up, show up, and do the work, day in and day out.

Writing has become like exercise to me. Over the past year, I’ve trained myself to write even when I don’t feel like it. I’ve learned to write in long spurts when everyone’s out and the house is quiet and also in short spurts when I’m waiting for pasta to cook. I push myself mentally to dump words (both pretty and not-so pretty ones) out on the page and not worry about them until it comes time to edit. I push through the hard times in the middle of a book when the story starts unraveling and I wonder if it’s any good at all. But then I get to celebrate when I make it through the “saggy middle” and come out with even better storyline ideas on the other side.

It’s all about moving forward. Challenging yourself to do new things, to do more than you thought you could do. To believe you can make it through the not-so fun times. To sweat, whine, and sometimes cry. It’s about learning what works and what doesn’t work for you. To fail, but to get up again.

It’s about stretching your faith, your imagination, and your creativity. Using what God’s given you to make something meaningful and cool. And being able to touch others in the process.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty worthwhile.

This is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past couple of months as I gear up to publish a brand new series. I’m taking a chance on writing in a new genre (Young Adult, one of my favorites!) and working hard to get all FIVE(!) books ready to be released in the first half of 2020.

I’m super excited to introduce you to the Edenvale Arts High School series! Here’s a sneak peek at the amazing covers my critique partner, Kristen, put together!

The first two books are up for pre-order now!

Book One: How to Kiss a Guy in Ten Days

Book Two: To the Only Boy I’ve Loved Before

What do you think of these covers? Any guesses as to what my inspiration was for the titles?