If I’m to Be Honest…

The launch of A Duke by Any Other Name is behind me, and if I’m to be honest, I’m relieved. I love Nathaniel and Althea’s story (prodigal pigs!), in fact I love the whole Rogues to Riches series, but in the lead-up to a release, I’m generally on social media more.

Guess where, exactly, I do not want to be these days?

Because I refuse to remain signed in to Facebook, I get to my author page by logging in, and then I’m presented with my “home” feed. Sometimes, I do pretty well at going straight to my page, posting on my page, and not commenting or liking or otherwise going down rabbit holes. Other times, especially as evening approaches, (I NEVER do social media in the morning), I am more easily distracted by what FB wants me to see.

And what FB wants me to see lately is a lot of anxiety, foolishness, judgment, and trolling. If I surf the news sites, it’s more of same, and those sites host a lot of “paid content,” that is pure tripe. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and when I’m overwhelmed, I’m more easily manipulated away from the person I want to be.

Emotions can be contagious. We know that. Conformity is contagious, anxiety and calm are contagious, happiness is really contagious. And I want to be the sort of person who’s contributing the calm, happy, funny vibes–and feeling those vibes–especially in the midst of uproar. So I did as this article suggests, and inoculated myself against the trolls and tripe by writing down who exactly I want to be in these trying times. This is what showed up on the page:

Even in the midst of chaos I want to be constructive, good-humored, patient, and resilient. I want to have a smile for everybody, and I want to be generous with my resources. Above all, I want to be kind and sensible, and unimpressed with fear-mongering and divisiveness. I want to see and celebrate the silver linings, and have compassion for those struggling with darkness of any kind.

Just writing that out (I wrote it on paper) left me feeling more like a Jedi knight, and less like somebody who has been putting off a shower all day–and what day is this again? I feel less helpless–I can smile with my voice and my eyes even when I’m wearing my mask–and I can donate to the Author’s Guild for Giving Tuesday Now. I have control over me, and from there I can make my micro-contributions to the bigger solutions.

So how do you protect yourself from getting frayed? Who do you want to be in these dratted interesting times? For three commenters, I’ll donate $50 to the charity of your choice.


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33 comments on “If I’m to Be Honest…

  1. Oh, I LOVE that you’re donating to a charity for this one. You’re so awesome, Grace.
    Yep, I am trying to stay off social media. I had a much stricter limit on how much social media I could consume before the pandemic, but I have relaxed it a lot during these trying times, and I know it is contributing to my stress levels. I am trying to dial it back down again.
    I try to get outside as much as possible. I try to meditate every day and exercise every day, and also to cut myself and loved ones around me some slack (harder than it sounds!)
    Who I want to be in these times is someone who is calm and nonreactive. Someone who does the right thing and encourages others to do it too. And someone who helps those around me

    • “Somebody who does the right thing.” That’s a mouthful right there, Make. I will remember that line when my more verbose meanderings have flown from my head.
      I’m outside more lately too, because we’re past our frost date and I can play in the yard for flower-gardening purposes. How lucky am I, though, to have a huge yard to play in?

  2. I seem to be spending more time on u tube than I have ever done before.I have got to know the rubbish negative stuff and discovered some real gems out there,so dump the rubbish and enjoy interesting people share their talents with you.Whether it be cooking,turning a bus into a home or mud larking.One of my favourites is the old Asian lady singing and playing the guitar with her little dog on her lap.All different types of music can also be found from around the world.Mankind at its best.The world has opened up in a nice way sharing all these gifts.Something for everyone .I’ve just finished your latest book and enjoyed it very much.Thank you.I’m so thrilled Ash will have his book soon.He better not mess it up !!!.Love can be a fickle thing at first.We have lots of stories to look forward to in the coming year.Take care.

    • I find myself watching dance on YouTube–just a clip here and there, but it’s so cheering. The world is full of talented, generous people (and Christoper Walken reading, “Where the Wild Things Are!”

  3. I have made choices in the past few weeks that have eliminated “pandemic stress.” I watch Governor Baker’s noon pandemic update & catch the weather update and then I turn the TV OFF. Have limited my time on Facebook and avoided those who are posting political comments.

    I am baking and making dinners for my family. I am enjoying kneading bread, stirring up a batch of brownies because I have more time….am not commuting 2 hours a day. I am keeping in touch with my brother and sister and friends because I have the time to text or pick up the phone.

    I am reading this past week…I wasn’t able to focus before…and now I am enjoying a great book. I think the pandemic has provided me with a much needed break from the work and commute grind. I enjoy the work from home option and have a schedule now. Rose is my assistant and she sleeps while I research and type.

    The stay at home mandate has provided me with the opportunity to Make choices, to simplify my life and focus on my family, friends and corgis. I think it’s offered me a peek into retirement as well.
    And I am enjoying baking bread…and brownies.

    • I forget who told me this, but a friend warned me that as I quit the day job, I would do some natural pruning of my social activities. The people I might meet for lunch on a work-related basis, the former acquaintance who popped up twice a year because they didn’t want to eat dinner alone as they passed through town… I might cut them loose, and I wasn’t to worry about it.
      I think a lot of us have, as you indicate, done some pruning, and found it overdue. I know what you mean about the politics… the divisiveness was bad before, and now when we’re all climbing the walls, seems like we just can’t be civil for very long. Brownies and bread are a much better use of the your time (and they make the house smell wonderful).

  4. I too, am glad you are giving to charity this week. They all need it now more than ever. Stay safe and happy everyone.

    • I am so lucky to be among the fewer than three out of ten people who CAN work from home, and to have a product for sale that is still moving in these highly stressful times. The publishing industry generally is getting spanked along with everybody else (print books sitting on shelves nobody is walking past, paper the printers usually buy from China nowhere to be purchased…)
      But for now, I can still buy groceries, and a lot of people can’t say that.

  5. We are news junkies in my house. We tend to watch certain news cable networks USUALLY. Now, I will only watch the PBS News Hour and the local news (gotta hear about the weather and what our governor says) ONCE A DAY. Any more and I’ve fried. I stay logged in to Facebook to administer my chamber choir’s Facebook page. I tried to login and logout daily as you do but it made we too anxious, even what my friends posted did. My BFF from High School has been posting pix of her dinner creations and recipes (her Mom was a Home Ec teacher and RDB truly is gifted in the kitchen)and I make sure I see what she’s up to and that makes me happy. Plus, if I ask her, she’ll DM the recipe!

    Today, we are gardening and I plan to use our lovely patio, with lovely potted flowers to de-stress in the coming days and weeks. I bought some adult coloring books and colored pencils and…..I feel GOOD when I’m doing that……and will feel WONDERFUL when I color on the patio. DH and I said yesterday…we did some work yesterday too….the yard and garden have never looked better!

    I am about halfway through “A Duke by Any Other Name” and enjoying it. I especially love Althea perhaps for a silly reason; one of my singer’s names is ALTHEA (she’s 85) and I really miss her. Reading about your Althea comforts me for some reason…..it’s an unusual name and reading it helps me keep her close in my thoughts. Spoke with her on Thursday and, other than missing her cleaning lady, Althea is doing fine.

    Stay safe and well, Grace!

    • If this pandemic had to hit, at least it’s hitting when I can go in the yard and make flower magic. In Maryland the garden shops are essential–probably because growing food is essential–but I know in other states that’s not the case.
      My yard is also looking pretty spruce flower-wise. Just have to get the danged mowing crew here more often!

  6. Doing viniyoga to help me breathe deeply, focusing on the present and what I’m doing only that day, reading and listening to audiobooks, trying to grab quiet alone time without children, and enjoying the change of season all help stay centered-ish. I want to be an anchor to my kids as they struggle with these challenges (I have no idea what they will remember about this time in the years to come) and I want to give what I can for others to be able to keep their heads above water and be safe.

    • I have such compassion for the parents trying to either work from home, or handle the stress of the missing paycheck, while also managing children. I figure for some families it’s a wonderful time to come together, but for most, it will be a stressful time to be mom. Hugs to you, and just keep breathing… This too shall eventually pass.

    • Could be a while, but hibernation does have a lot of appeal, doesn’t it? Sweet dreams… (Annie Lennox and the Eurhythmics)

  7. I spent time better off reading on Facebook last night. Other than seeing my great-niece’s graduation-related photos posted, it was a colossal waste of time.

    People post lots of what I will kindly call misinformation. Sometimes I do post a factual article in response, but that also reminds me of an old quote from George Bernard Shaw:

    “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

    If you pick this comment, please pick your favorite charity.

    • Also wanted to mention again how much I enjoyed “A Duke by Any Other Name” – and am still enjoying through the second read. Most of these characters could walk off the page.

      • Thanks, Pam. Some books are just a joy to write, and some are joy to write and also fun. I knew from the first page (pigs!) that I was going to have fun with Althea and Nathaniel.

    • Oh, lordy… seems the longer this goes on, the stranger the social media posts. Way back in mediator school they told us you never change a mind by talking unless you first spend an awful lot of time listening. Social media is just not a place where people do much listening, or so it seem. I’ll join in choosing a good book over the rabble rousing.

  8. Reading is always my way to relax. There are days where I totally avoid Facebook and any posts on Twitter that aren’t cute critter or gorgeous scenery photos. To be honest most days I don’t go on FB until later at night and then only to hit a few pages and wish some friends happy birthday. I refuse to get drawn into the nasty posts and comments and have unfollowed many of my ‘friends’ who do nothing but belittle others and complain.

    I want to be the calm, postive person who remembers to call and/or text family, friends, and neighbors before going to the store to see if they need me to grab anything for them when I am there.

    I am about 60% into A DUKE BY ANY OTHER NAME and absolutly loving it! Thanks Grace!

    • Glad you and some of our blog buddies are enjoying the story. I’m reading a lot these days, but I’m also getting a lot of writing done. Both are a refuge for me, and I’m not sure how’d remain functional without them. Jigsaw puzzles, I guess?

      • Love the jigsaw puzzle app on my phone. My cats eat the cardboard puzzle pieces and books.

  9. I have definitely had to alter my Facebook feed. In fact, I deleted the app from my phone so I would check it less. I have been frustrated by how the news is able to turn the good stuff into bad stuff. But I don’t want to give up on Facebook completely because it’s great to keep in touch with friends and it has also been helpful in our community to share information about available resources and helping to meet the needs of others in the community.

    I try to focus on what I can do for others and then I retreat to read a book when I have had enough of that. But I am also one of the fortunate ones able to work from home so I have stayed busy.

  10. I’ve been dealing with the extra stress by gardening and reading. See My life really hasn’t changed too much. still going in the office, added work with the disaster loan applications. My self employed husband is struggle with his real estate business.
    Oh, now I stand inline for toilet paper.
    Hope you pick my charity, The Cats on Kings Road, in Fresno, Ca. I haven’t had the extra funds to help like I used to and they had to cancel their open house fund raiser this year.

  11. I was just telling my therapist i need to be on social media less because of the politically stupid.
    I make sure to spend time outside and we are fostering kittens to have a focus and purring love.
    I want to be me during these times. I haven’t always felt that way but I’m volunteering for CASA (Court appointed special advocate)and it’s the best job in the world.
    I hope you’re well and your kitties are loving having you home all the time.

  12. I am sewing medical masks with a volunteer group, North Alabama Medical Masks. It gives me such satisfaction. Although sheltering in place with a husband with many health issues, I am blessed to have a dear friend, Judy Berry, who keeps me motivated to walk outside, masked and keeping social distance. She daily walks a labyrinth next to her church; I join her at least once a week and complete half a labyrinth. And I read marvelous books, such as your latest!

  13. I’m cloistered in our senior housing and it’s very quiet. Lots of single people and we can’t really sit around ad talk. I’ve finally finished a quilt top I started last year–a Thousand Pyramids. Not really a thousand, more like 400 triangles made of (of course) Valley of the Kings fabric. This one is for my very unglamorous bed. Next, I am starting a scrap quilt for my brother. That’s going to be about 800 pieces –good Lord, that’s more than I thought. And I’m planning a motorcycle-themed quilt for the nice man at the body shop who repaired the car and kept it while I recovered from a broken knee. He and his wife drove it here so I could use it when I could drive again. People are so good! In the meantime, I am rereading The Captive. If I had to pick a favorite of all your books this would be it.
    My charity would be the Salvation Army. They care for the truly needy without a lot of fuss and they don’t make a lot of hoo-ha about it.

  14. I’ve so been enjoying the unlimited reading time. I haven’t read this much in like forever lol. Unfortunately, I just got word that I’ll be going back to work next week. It’s probably only half my hours so I will still get a lot of reading in. Because of the virus I no longer get to babysit my grandson or visit with my mother. That’s the hardest part of all this. Donating to a charity is a wonderful thing.

  15. Through my years of living on a beautiful island especially since my Bill died, I have tried to be a good, helpful neighbor and responsible volunteer in the gallery where I show up to support local artists. Being alone in my house was going to be a very gloomy situation during this stay safe time. Instead, I have friends who show up early every morning to walk two miles around the island and another at sundown to walk another mile. We safe distance. I get to see folks early and late. Friends and a neighbor made masks for me and another friend has been delivering beautiful meals to me complete with heating directions and a menu. As we walk. people call my name and smile and wave. Friends call. I feel so blessed And yes, I am reading my eyes out!

  16. Yoga, with its focus on the immediate present moment during practice, has been helpful during this time of quarantine. My yoga studio very quickly switched to virtual classes on Zoom. It is good to see the teachers I am familiar with and several of the people that I have taken classes with over several years. Having this in my life every day makes me feel less cut off from everything. For five weeks I also had an online course to do. I was learning something new every day. The ability to go out and take walks has been helpful for not feeling cabin fever.

  17. Strangely enough I’m coming to like staying at home. I’m learning I don’t need to get out every day or every other day, once or twice a week is sufficient. I usually make Wednesday my day out as my SS check hits my account on a Wednesday and this month my VA check will also hit on Wednesday. I was never taught about handling my personal income so my credit is royally screwed up. One thing this shut down is doing is allowing me to put some money into my savings account. I have just under a grand thanks to the stimulus check I got. I’d have more but decided to replace my laptop, though I should have waited. What I didn’t know then is that there’s probably a 50/50 chance I’ll be among the homeless before this year ends and it’s through no fault of my own. Unlike others I’ve talked to I will continue to pay my rent and utilities. The money I have in savings, and any I can add from each check, will be there if and when I need it for moving.
    I had intended to use it for family birthdays and Christmas. I’m still intending to stay home as much as possible through the end of the year so I can add to the money I’ve saved. Another stimulus check would be very welcome.