Tag: Life

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).


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. I sit at my desk every day 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 will get 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 minutes 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. 


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 of the 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 old 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 is what 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 in 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.

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. 

Here’s a cat photo for you to lighten up this post. You’re welcome! Photo © Mihaela Limberea
  • Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Check the source.
  • In fact, restrict time checking websites and social media. Check updates from the World Health Organization instead, and reliable established media for your peace of mind.
  • Follow public health advice from WHO and your local health authority. Don’t think you’re the exception. Do your part.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Avoid public gatherings and maintain social distancing: at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with your bent elbow or tissue. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Work from home if you can and remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Cancel unnecessary travel.
  • Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and a slight runny nose, until you recover. Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • Be kind and support one another.

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


Life Instructions

Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. – Mary Oliver


A Leap Of Faith

The Fear

“Aren’t you afraid?” people were asking when I left the corporate life to start a new career, a new life in fact. And I was. Afraid. Afraid of leaving everything I knew. Afraid of leaving a known, respected persona. Afraid of the unknown. Of course, I was afraid. Terrified actually. What did I think I was doing? I had a good, fun job at one of the greatest companies in the world. I was good at it. After 20+ years, I knew the culture, I knew the people, and I knew what I was doing. Expert was my middle name. I had prizes on my desk to prove it. Why would I leave all that for an uncertain career in a new field? Was that really smart?

The Turning Point

Well, it turned out it was. There seemed not to be enough hours in the day to do all the things I wanted to do: writing my Science-Fiction novels; doing research for all those SF novels; reading all the books I had bought but never had time or energy to read; traveling the world; completing those photo projects I promised myself every January I’d do, and updating my portfolio; creating a new garden (and then garden); and so on. The list of things I wanted to do seemed to grow longer and longer while I was getting more and more frustrated at work. I was working on my book on and off, taking photos during our vacations, but things moved oh, so slowly. I simply couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t stand it, but I was afraid.

Fear is normal and it has a role. It keeps us alert. What started as a survival mechanism in the savannas of our ancestors can be paralyzing in our modern society. But when that burning desire to <insert your dream here> overrides the fear, when the butterflies in your stomach are butterflies of excitement more than of fear – then you know it’s time.

The woods behind our house in Switzerland where I used to walk every day and dream about a different life. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Last year work became more and more something to be survived, while my notebooks were filling with novel outlines, inspirational quotes, and ideas for new books or photo projects. When we found the perfect house to buy, on the same island we lived before the move to Switzerland, in the same area that we loved so much – I saw this as a sign. I knew then it was time to take the plunge.

A Leap of Faith

You know that moment in the Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade movie when Indy has to jump off the edge of the cliff? You need to have faith. Jump and trust that the net will appear. What you want is on the other side of fear as a wise man (or woman) said. I’m sure it’s one of my notebooks from last year.