Category: Life

Rainy Days and Purring Cats

Burning logs in a fireplace. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The snow of yesterday turned to snowy rain today. And it’s dark. Again.

I’m sitting by the fire with a good book, a cup of hot chocolate, and a purring cat. What can be better than this? 

Oh, I know! More chocolate. I’d better get going!



Winter Solstice Blues

Black and white photo showing a human silhouette against a fence to illustrate the longest shadow of the year during the winter solstice. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

It’s the winter solstice today, marking the first day of winter. Check your shadow at noon if you live in the Northern Hemisphere: it’ll be your longest noontime shadow of the year.

It’s also the shortest day of the year, and it never felt darker. We haven’t seen the sun since November 28th in Stockholm; it’s the darkest of December in almost a hundred years.

There is a scientific explanation for it, although a reason doesn’t help the mood: a high pressure over Russia which has formed an inversion (weather phenomenon when hot air cannot rise as it usually does). This high pressure has created a kind of “lid” of hot air that prevents the ground air from rising and cooling. And that, together with the humid air, creates this strangely foggy and rainy December.

You wake up in the morning, fumbling around in the darkness, waiting for daylight – and I mean light in the loosest meaning of the word; it’s more like 50 shades of gray, pun intended – until after nine in the morning. That’s it; that twilight zone gray is the daylight. And at two in the afternoon, the gray starts to fade to black again. At three is pitch dark again. I imagine the apocalypse would look like this.

Close up of a red squirrel

We have a few regular visitors in the garden like the cutie above, so I soldier on and take photos, but my camera struggles with the darkness. I keep increasing the ISO until 12.800 for a decent photo.

No light without dark, I keep telling myself. And I’m thinking about people in Murmansk (Russia), Thule (Greenland), or Tromsø (Norway), where total darkness reigns this time of the year. We do have six hours of daylight, whether gray or not.

To end on a more optimistic note, let’s rejoice in the fact that the days are getting longer as of tomorrow!

A sun illuminated path in the forest. Photo by Mihaela Limbertea.
Lidingö (Stockholm, Sweden)

Here comes the sun!


Bonus: Nina MacLaughlin’s Winter Solstice column


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What 2020 Taught Me … So Far

I’ve been struggling to make sense of the world lately, like many others, I suspect. Burying my head in the sand and trying to carry on with my work as nothing had happened. While, of course, the world around me continued spinning faster and faster.

I’ve missed two family anniversaries that I was looking forward to. Before what now seems to be the second Covid-19 wave, I thought I could attend, observing all restrictions, of course. With family and friends scattered in several countries on four continents, it’s been a trying time, to say the least.

Abstract B&W  photo
Untitled from my latest photo project.

As for my work, my new book and some photo projects, well … slow progress. I’ve reached an all times low in terms of creativity. I had all this time on my hands and no lust to do anything. I forced myself to show up and do the work because I know that in the end, there’ll be something. A shitty first draft. A few photos worth including in the series. But it’s not a solution.

How to keep going? Retreating into a shell and ignoring the world is not a life strategy; it’s escapism. As always, writing clarifies things for me. As Joan Didion once said, I write to find out what I’m thinking.

Here are a few things that I’ve learned this year of the plague. So far.


Accept the current situation. No amount of wishful thinking will make Covid-19, and its restrictions go away. I’ve come to accept that I cannot travel, for example, not only in 2020 but very likely not next year either. Would a trip be possible in 2022? I hope so. But if not, I’ll accept that travel would have to wait a while longer. If I cannot go to Australia for my planned photography project, I’ll try doing it in Sweden. If nothing else, this would be an exercise in creativity; creativity thrives on challenges. 

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Acceptance is key to get through this trying time. Humans don’t do well with uncertainty, and Covid-19 is the biggest uncertainty of them all. Accept that there are things that you cannot control.


Technology can be friend or foe. When I moved to Sweden, I was still writing letters (yes, real letters, handwritten et al.); compared to that, it’s never been easier to stay in touch. One of the small things that made a great difference was using a private cloud service where all family members can upload and comment on photos and videos. We can follow what’s happening in each other’s life in real-time, and can easily call each other or have several parts conference. Technology became my friend.

A sleeping tabby cat on sheep fur
Minette broke her leg and the whole family could follow her convalescence and provide moral support (mobile phone photo).

However, technology can easily become your foe. Like everyone else, in the beginning, I’ve spent a lot of time watching the news and reading everything about pandemics and viruses, antibodies and vaccines, intensive care and protection measures. How could I not? Everything was so readily available. The whole world at my fingertips, everywhere I turned. But the more I learned, the less I knew; even the experts had more questions than answers. The news reports became harbingers of doom. I was sucked into a maelstrom of catastrophic news reports (when it’s the last time you’ve seen good news?), comedy sketches, and cliffhanger series that made me even more depressed.

With no end in sight, the pandemic, combined with the recent changes in my life, was getting to me. I realized that I needed to make some drastic changes in my life. Covid-19 clarified my priorities.

I’m watching less TV now, especially the news. I keep informed, but that’s about it. I (no longer) binge-watch series but decide what really matters to me and stick to it. I didn’t watch Games of Thrones or The Crown. I did watch Stranger Things and Chernobyl. I have limited time and more important things to do.


Doing things around the house and crossing off tasks on my To Do-list make me feel good, as I had accomplished something (which, in fact, I had) and helped silence the monkey mind.

A sunny room
The guest room is ready! Unfortunately, no guests due to Covid-19.

Since we moved into our new house last year, we had a lot to do, and boy did we do it! We still have a few pictures to frame and the home office to figure out, but everything else is pretty much done. All that work did take my mind off things, and, in the process, I knocked off almost all items on my moving to-do list. Note to self: keep busy; keep busy; keep busy; keep …


Doing things I love with no ulterior purpose is relaxing; do more of them. I’ve started drawing again for the first time in several years. My drawings don’t look like much yet, but the concentration they require and my pleasure in what I’m doing make me forget the world. Right now, that’s a good thing.

A tabby kitten with a teddy bear
Minette and Patrick the teddy bear

Photography is work, of course, but taking photos of my cat or my garden just for us, for the family album, with no pressure, doesn’t feel like work and allows me to get into the zone and shut off the world.


A foggy forest in the autumn
A photo I didn’t post on Instagram. I was too busy scrolling.

Spending too much time on social media is counter-productive. Using Facebook to stay in touch with friends or YouTube for tutorials is one thing; spending hours scrolling through Instagram mindlessly and calling it “staying updated” is just wasting time. And likely to make me feel inadequate. Ask me how I know.


If you’re struggling as I did, I hope you’ll find this post helpful. I found that knowing you’re not alone is one step towards feeling better.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay calm and soldier on. And don’t forget to laugh. 


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The Unexpected Desolation of Getting What You Always Wanted

A close up of a Japanese anemone in black and white.
Japanese Anemone. One of the photos that didn’t make it to the photo gallery.

Do you lay awake at night, tossing and turning in bed, thinking with dread about another day at work? Feeling trapped in your cubicle, stuck in a Groundhog-Day, and knowing in your heart that you should be doing something else? I know I did.

I’ve always wanted to write, to paint, to make collages, to make art with my hands, and with my head, and with my heart. When I was ten, I had three library cards and read voraciously. I knew I would be a writer someday. There were no questions about that, no doubts.

I was also taking ballet lessons (not my best inclination as it turned out, but I did try it, didn’t I?). Attending art workshops for kids after school. Making collages with clippings from old magazines, painting, drawing, playing the guitar and writing songs, forgetting time, and forgetting the gray everyday life in communist Romania.

I continued to immerse myself in art in all forms throughout high school and university. 

But something happened.

Reality happened. Or so I thought. 

The Romanian revolution in December 1989 opened the doors to democracy after decades of communism. New opportunities and new challenges. 

When I graduated, my fresh Master of Arts didn’t get me very long in the job market, and I didn’t see myself in the role of the penniless, tormented artist. I focused on getting a job in a multinational company that offered the best career opportunities at the time. I started at Procter & Gamble and learned a lot at one of the best business schools. I continued at Microsoft for over 20 years and learned more and more.

I Should Be Doing Something Else

One of my (few) early photos that I was pleased with.

But despite my “successful career,” I wasn’t happy. I had this horrible feeling that life was getting me by, and all I had to show for it were SAP implementations and business process design. Was that really everything there was to it?

I started on a personal development journey, and the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that I should be getting back to what I loved, really loved. 

Art.

“So why didn’t you”? Fair enough. I was not happy, and I’d discovered what would make me happy. Simple, right?

Yes. And no. Because there’s a big gap between “thinking” and “doing” (duh!) I knew what I should be doing, but I didn’t. For years.

I was scared of what people would think of me when “throwing away my career” to do something so “flimsy.” Scared of the potential financial losses and the change in status. The uncertainty of the future. 

During one of those endless nights, I finally realized that all those obstacles were in me, not in the outside world. My mind created all the hurdles I saw. And that I could change.

And so, after some reflection time, I resigned and changed gears. Almost one year later, I do what I love, writing every day, reading every day, doing photo projects, going back to that art world I had cast aside years ago. I’m happy as one can be. Or am I?

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it – Oscar Wilde

Getting What I Wanted

In the beginning, I thought that quiet-but-growing-stronger apprehensive voice in my head was the “I just resigned & moved country”-jitters. These past months, it’s been a turbulent period, with a lot of bureaucracy and changes related to my resignation and the move. Say nothing about Covid-19.

When we’ve finally crossed the finish line, i.e., moved to our new house in Sweden, job and worries left in Switzerland, I was too exhausted even to celebrate. Slowly, boxes were unpacked (all 250 of them – don’t judge! I have many, many books); rooms decorated; Christmas cards written.

Several weeks later, with the house in order and more sleep under my belt, I decided it was time to get started with my new awesome artist life. 

I had finally reached my lifelong goal.

Now I would finally do what I fantasized about for such a long time. Now I would focus on writing, reading, taking photos, doing photo projects, and a million other things on my list. Drawing? Check. Painting? Check. Making collages? Check. The list went on and on and on …

I’ve got what I wanted. Now what?

I had dreamed about this for such a long time that getting what I wanted paradoxically paralyzed me. I didn’t feel any different. I certainly didn’t feel ecstatic. Or creative. Especially not creative. I felt more like … empty? Given the major changes in my life, maybe it’s not that surprising, I reasoned. I may need some time to unwind. To adjust. Find my zone.

However, after several months, I had to acknowledge that something else was at play. I was struggling to find routines for my new life. At Microsoft, I had honed them to perfection. I was very well organized, had a to-do list, and had my priorities, and I would work through my to-do list based on my priorities. Perfection is the enemy of done, as Adam Savages puts it in “Every Tool’s a Hammer,” so “good enough” was my mantra. I never missed a deadline or let any boll drop. I was the Queen of “Getting Things Done.” 

But now … my To-Do list had over 200 items on it (properly categorized, of course). The length was not, in fact, the issue, but the prioritization. What would be the best use of my time? Write every morning, then work on photo projects in the afternoon and read in the evening? What about the blog? I loved blogging and wanted to make room for it. And social media? And I don’t mean watching cat videos on YouTube (even though this may happen more often than I’d admit), but my Facebook photo page and Instagram (posting well-curated photos, of course). 

Where would I then fit drawing/painting/making music/going to art galleries/reading New York Review of Books/going to yoga/making tasty-yet-healthy smoothies/creating a new garden/gardening/listening to thought-provoking and inspirational podcasts/watching interesting and motivational TED talks/learning more about astrophysics, or 19th-century explorations, or psychology, or fractals – to say nothing about the mundane things like cooking (healthy, mostly vegetarian and locally sourced), or nurturing relationships, or just having plain, old fun? 

Because – and this is typical of me – I had no relaxation in my schedule. None. My days were packed to the brim with “things to do” in an attempt to do it all. How could I not pack them full? I was finally FREE to be an artist, goddamn it!

That was the first problem.

In the end, I had to admit I was too ambitious. I wanted to do too much, too fast, and do it well. So, I slowed down, went for long walks along the shore (one of the perks of living on an island), and thought about it.

However, there was a nagging doubt in the back of my mind that routines (or lack thereof) were, really, not the issue at hand. Sure, I had to re-orient myself and create new routines, but I was the uncrowned Queen of “Getting Things Done,” wasn’t I? This was more like a challenge to which I was to – successfully – apply my skills, not a crisis.

The routine stuff masked something else, I thought. Now I was getting somewhere. But what? More walks, more quiet time. And, gradually, the growing insight that I was simply scared. 

Fear of success. That was the second problem. The only problem.

Of course. I could see it clearly now. No pretense, no “I’m too busy.” I had all I needed to do what I was supposed to do, and I was afraid that the result would be … lame. Worse than bad, like bad writing or uninspired photos; just ordinary; banal; trivial. You name it. 

This was my time, and I got performance anxiety, all the while the clock was ticking. I only had three (three!) photos in my photo gallery because I wanted to showcase only my super-duper best photos on my website, and very few photos met with my approval. Nothing I produced was good enough for me.

Did I mention that I got a couple of texts published, sold a few photos, and grew my reach on social media during this time? Obviously, other people had a different opinion.

But while everyone congratulated me, I felt evaluated, judged. I felt weighed, measured, and found wanting.

This was the turning point.

Now that I had a clear problem statement, I could do something about it. 

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. – Frank Herbert, Dune

I WILL FACE MY FEAR.

Photo taken with my cell phone. Conquer your fear instead of buying expensive gear.

OK, so maybe my artwork isn’t ready for the Met, or my book wouldn’t even get published. But few artists produced masterpieces from day one. Self-doubt and rejection are part of the process. Ask any creative person. Successful people have their moments of self-doubt or fear too, but they are able to overcome that resistance and push on—every single day. 

So, I decided there and then that I would do better. I may still experience fear or self-doubt but will not let them stop me anymore. If I’m not my own supporter, how can I expect other people to be?

Besides, doing the work, doing what I love is the reward, not the external success. I had to remind myself that I was at my happiest when fully immersed in my work; time flies, and the world is far away. 

Success is getting and achieving what you want. Happiness is wanting and being content with what you get. – Bernard Meltzer

I’m thankful that I can do what I love every day. I have worked hard to be able to do so I won’t let negativism take that away from me. The days are long, but the years are short. – Gretchen Rubin We all have a limited amount of time, and I’d rather spend it doing what I love than wasting it on beating myself up for not being good enough.

What about you?


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Our Uncertain Future, Temporarily Arrested

Photo © Mihaela Limberea

As for whether this is the last time we will hear a new Bob Dylan song. I certainly hope not. But perhaps there is some wisdom in treating all songs, or for that matter, all experiences, with a certain care and reverence, as if encountering these things for the last time. I say this not just in the light of the novel coronavirus, rather that it is an eloquent way to lead one’s life and to appreciate the here and now, by savouring it as if it were for the last time. To have a drink with a friend as if it were the last time, to eat with your family as it were the last time, to read to your child as if it were the last time, or indeed, to sit in the kitchen listening to a new Bob Dylan song as if it were the last time. It permeates all that we do with greater meaning, placing us within the present, our uncertain future, temporarily arrested.

Nick Cave, the Australian singer, songwriter, and front figure of the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, on a question about Bob Dylan’s latest song in his Red Hand Files (where he answers questions from fans).


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Endurance Is a Marathon of Hope

I don’t really know when or how it happened, but my safety cocoon has now been activated. Right now, I don’t want to see more news, more corona statistics, or more quarantine advice. No new exciting films or this cool series on Netflix: corona has added enough excitement in my life. 

What I do want is a remote control to turn off the world for a while. Or at least pause it. That’s what corona has done with our old world, put it on pause. Or shut it down completely? The future will show which. I wonder how this period will be called in the history books. We have the Great Depression. Maybe the Big Pause? The time when everything stopped all over the world, more or less.

What is clear already, I think, is that this is a marathon. We’re in for the long haul. It’ll take us some time to get through the unknown and the scary, and one of the most important things is mental health. It’s no secret that isolation and worry eventually will take its toll on the healthiest person. So, we have to find a way to get us through this long trial … should we call it the great unknown, maybe? 

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words: wait and hope.”
– Alexandre Dumas. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

People hoard food and toilet paper (toilet paper? TOILET PAPER? really?), but what will carry us safely to the other side is not full pantries, but hope and courage, confidence and perseverance, optimism and tenacity. And a lot of patience. We simply need mental fitness

Today’s challenges are borne by hope. We must believe that there will be a life after corona, a good life, although it may look different than today. The most loving gift you can give your loved ones is hope, the best medicine in corona times – until a vaccine is available. 

As Alexandre Dumas said: All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope. 

Endurance is a marathon of hope.

So, stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay calm and soldier on. And don’t forget to laugh. 


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A Brief Visit: Millesgården

Angel Musicians by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

While other countries in Europe are under a lockdown or the freedom of movement has been much limited, Sweden goes its’ own way. The elementary schools, kindergarten, and shops are still open, the limit for permissible meetings is 500 people* and there is no mandatory curfew. However, more restrictions apply almost every day, so it’s likely we’ll see more movement constraints eventually.

* A few hours after writing this, the limit has been set at 50 people.

Some of the museums and theaters have already closed on their own, though, so my husband and I went to Millesgården last week in case it would close too. And right it was because Millesgården closed as well – the day after. We saw the announcement when we returned home.

Angel Musicians by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Carl Milles (1875 – 1955) was a Swedish sculptor. Millesgården, which he designed and built in 1908, was his home and is now a museum with Milles’ antique collection, sculpture garden, and art gallery.

The Hand of God by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

This is my favorite sculpture of Carl Milles. I probably have hundreds of pictures of it, I never tire of photographing it.

Angel Musicians at sunset. Photo © Mihaela Limberea
Millesgården – the Lower Terrace. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

The garden is inspired by Italy’s Mediterranean gardens, and it’s a work of art in itself. Carl Milles and his Austrian wife Olga, an artist herself, spent the winters in Italy that both loved.

Angel Musicians by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

My husband and I both love Millesgården. We used to visit it very often as we’re annual cardholders and it lies 10 only minutes from our home. During our seven years in Switzerland, these visits were one of the things we missed most, and we were looking forward to them when moving back to Sweden. Unfortunately, the corona pandemic put many things on hold, Millesgården visits included.

The Hand of God by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

But life goes on, and even the coronavirus will eventually be contained. When Millesgården opens again, you can be sure we’ll back in a heartbeat.

In the meantime: stay healthy, stay safe, stay calm and wash your hands. And don’t forget to laugh.


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The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself

One thing that seems to be spreading faster than the coronavirus is fear. I’ve stopped checking social media and the internet in general to avoid conspiration theories, self-appointed pandemic experts, and doomsday prophets. I sometimes browse both for a few minutes (who am I kidding?) for a couple of hours, and it scares me (pun intended)—every time. Fear is now tangible. Palpable. Everywhere.

There are a lot of questions and few answers.

How long will this virus keep the whole world in its grasp? Will there be a vaccine? Will my family or I get sick? What happens with the economy? My job? Will life go back to the normal, ever?

Fear is normal. It’s a complex survival mechanism that serves us well. Living in a constant state of fear is not. Scared people are dangerous people. You never know what they’ll do, how they’re going to react when things get worse or when the reptile brain would simply take over and overwrite common sense and decency.

Others may become completely paralyzed, like deer caught in the headlights, incapable of action.

F. D. Roosevelt knew this. Here’s what he said in 1933, in the midst of another global crisis.

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. – Franklin D. Roosevelt, from the speech at his first presidential inauguration on March 4, 1933.

Another Roosevelt, Theodore, laconically advises us what to do: 

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Yes, fear is normal in the middle of a pandemic with so many unknowns. But we should not give in to fear. As I’m writing this, the sun is shining over Stockholm in a cobalt blue sky, and the birds twitter, drunk with spring and sunshine. This, too, shall pass.

I found the poem below in Tim Ferriss’ newsletter from Friday. A poem speaking of fear and despair, but also hope and resilience. Take a break, take a deep breath, take the time to read a poem, and pause this whirling world for a moment.

Nature is therapy. Pause and smell the flowers. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Lockdown

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing. 

– Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM*
March 13th, 2020

The Order of Friars Minor, also called the Franciscans, the Franciscan Order, or the Seraphic Order, has a postnominal abbreviation OFM. 

Stay healthy. Stay calm and soldier on. And don’t forget to laugh. 


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C as in Creativity. Or Corona.

151 words. That’s all I’ve written yesterday. 

527 words. That’s how many words I’ve deleted yesterday.

Welcome to the corona world!

While I’m not anxious about the coronavirus (yet), I do feel some healthy concern, and I admit that I find it hard to concentrate on anything. Every day, I sit at my desk from 9 to 12 and write, mostly my new book, sometimes the blog, sometimes a poem. Some days everything is easy, the words flow, and I feel on top of the world. Some days … not. And that’s OK. As every creator knows, ups and downs are part of the creative life. We muddle through those days and hope for a better day tomorrow.

But this is new. It’s not writer’s block or lack of inspiration or ideas. This is just staring at the monitor while wondering whether I should check the WHO site or the corona tracker for updates, call my parents to check they’re still fine, talk to my sister who’s, of course, working from home, or just work in the garden and escape from it all.

These are unsettling and, for lack of a better word, weird times. The uncertainty, not knowing what will happen, not knowing how long it’ll take or what the long-term impact would be, take its toll. And it will get worse before it gets better. This is just the beginning.

So how are we to live through this unreal and frustrating reality? Holed up in our homes, social distancing and binge-watching all TV series? 

Dark storm clouds.
The storm clouds are still gathering. Don’t lose hope. Keep calm and carry on!
Photo © Mihaela Limberea

I don’t think so. 

Granted, there are certain constraints that we simply have to live with (sorry, grandma, no visits!). However, I think we should try to hang on to some degree of normality. Working from home? Get out of pajamas and dress for work. Then work, not check Twitter for “a five-minute break” and be gone down the rabbit hole of social media for an hour. Have a set schedule for work and follow it. Do your chores as you would normally do. Do your laundry on Fridays as usual. Get out the trash on Wednesdays as usual. 

The mundane is the new black. We shun the everyday life, dreaming of adventures in faraway lands, but in a crisis, we find ourselves longing for that everyday. We wish to be able to sit in a traffic jam again; to rush breathlessly from work to the kindergarten before it closes and be greeted by a teacher giving you the evil eye; to quarrel with the neighbor about his tree leaning dangerously over the fence. 

So, what now? How do we keep writing? How do we keep creativity alive in the times of corona?

Simple. Working.

The worst thing in a crisis is to be idle. It just gives you more time to feel anxious. The danger is that anxiety spreads faster than the virus.

Creativity is your butt on the hard chair, every day, whether you create or not. Creativity is hard work, whether you feel like it or not. Especially if you’re not feeling like it. Do the work. Show up. Every day. Click To Tweet

Me? I’ve done my time, written some paragraphs in my book, and a blog post. Now I’m going out to work in the garden. It’s a whooping plus five degrees (that’s 41 Fahrenheit) here in Stockholm, and the sun is out!

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay calm and soldier on. And don’t forget to laugh. 


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Tuesday Musings: Life in The Time of Corona

What can I say that hasn’t be said already? By now, the coronavirus has impacted the whole world, directly or indirectly. We’ve learned where Wuhan lies (I guess most people couldn’t place it on a map before the beginning of January). We’ve learned that we need to “flatten the curve” and “practice social distancing.” We’ve decided to self-isolate and work from home.

As always in human history, crises bring up the best (young people offering to shop for older people) and the worse (hoarding toilet paper?? really?) in people. This, too, will pass. This, we know. 

But we don’t know what we don’t know, and I think this makes many people nervous at least, or worse, including me. We don’t know much about this novel virus, and there’s no vaccine. The pandemic may be over in a few weeks when it gets warmer in the northern hemisphere, or it may not. It may mutate into something worse. Or not. 

Some countries have closed borders and closed down public life. If the pandemic continues, how long can that lockdown be sustained? What about the economic consequences? Nobody knows.

Here’s a cat photo for you to lighten up this post. You’re welcome! Photo © Mihaela Limberea

So, in the midst of all this, it’s important to remember to pause. Take a deep breath. It’s (probably) not the end of the world, even if the tone on the internet may sound like this at times. 

Remember that the most dangerous thing at the moment is not the virus unless you’re in the risk group, of course, but the overloading of the health care system and other critical infrastructure. Hence “flatten the curve.” Sure, it’s disrupting everyday life, and being stuck at home with bored, overactive children is no fun. But it beats the alternative. Panic. Chaos. We all need to act responsibly for the greater good. 

So … stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay calm and soldier on. And don’t forget to laugh.


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