July 15, 2020No Comments

10 Things that Kept Me [Relatively] Sane in Isolation

In preparation for my vacation to North Carolina, I spent 14 days in isolation. If you plan on traveling, odds are there will be a recommended quarantine on one end or the other. So, for those of you looking down the barrel of fourteen days of making friends with the inanimate objects in your apartment, here are ten things that can help keep you [relatively] sane. 

Rituals

It’s vital to give yourself stuff to look forward to. On Mondays, I have therapy (praise be). Tuesdays, an anti-racism class through Brownicity. Wednesdays are for virtual community group (bible study). Thursdays are the days of a million calls. Friday, virtual movie night with my pals from grad school. Saturdays, deep cleaning and puzzlin. Sundays church. It’s like giving yourself somewhere to go without actually going anywhere. I also sprinkled in check-in calls with friends and friends offered to deliver various treats to my door so we could say hi from a distance. Figure out what you look forward to and pick a day that thing can happen each week. 

Full Focus Planner

I am aggressively Type A, so this quarterly planner has been a God-send. It’s helped me focus and pull out of my frantic “I -must-do-everything-now” mindset. It orients goals for the quarter, week, and day to help you keep your long term goals in mind as you plan your days and weeks. Heads up, there are tutorials that teach you how to use this. Like 45 minutes worth. You better believe I watched every second and took notes. The advice I got from my pastor when I got my first Full Focus Planner: “Don’t worry about filling every page. Just start where it’s helpful and build from there.” 

One Minute Pause

This app by John Eldredge helped with my workday boundaries. I chose to deal with the emotional difficulties of fourteen days by myself like the Enneagram 3 that I am. I worked. So, to help keep a healthier perspective on my work and my worth, I started implementing one minute pauses, courtesy of this app. It’s one minute of guided prayer and soothing music to help reorient your focus toward God. If you’re a control freak (like me) who likes to bury yourself in work (also like me), adding in pauses will be a game changer. 

These Pens

My sister got me one of these pens for Christmas and I almost immediately used all the ink. They’re awesome. Nice and inky, extra fine point, fun colors, and a good amount of resistance on the page. Fellow writers, if you know, you know. 

The Next Right Thing

There is nothing I don’t love about this podcast. It’s short (8-12 minutes). Emily P. Freeman’s voice is calming AF. It’s thoughtful and gently challenging. It’s the deep breath I need every Tuesday. The premise of the podcast is to help adults make decisions, but she explores so much more! It's not just me, btw. The podcast has 3,700+ reviews and its rating is still five stars. Get you some EPF in your life.  

The Blue Book

I am stoked this is for real published now. Back when I got mine, you had to know someone who knew someone who could get you a copy. This daily devotional has been with me since college, and it’s been fun to pick up again. Each week focuses on a specific topic and takes you through an opening prayer, a Psalm, a Scripture passage, supplemental reading, and focused reflection and prayer time. In these days of self-determined structure and no social outings, I’ll take structure anywhere I can get it.

For those interested in a practice outside the Evangelical framework, I love The Book of Common Prayer. It has prayer for everything, liturgy for worship, and Psalms. 

Back Massager

Now that I’m not walking around outside, posture and movement are a constant struggle. This heated massager is saving my life (aka my back) from the stiffness of sitting at my desk and lounging on my sofa. Mine requires an outlet, but the product makes up for the inconvenience.

Puzzles

I initially started doing puzzles in quarantine as a relaxing alternative to staring at my phone. But, I am excessively competitive and have no one to compete with. Except Ramon, the metal, decorative deer head that hangs on my wall, but he doesn’t like puzzles. The puzzles became a way to compete with myself. How quickly can I put this one together? I have tried various strategies for organizing the pieces from the chaos of the box. Because nothing says fun like organization and time pressure.  

I'm very picky about my puzzles. I prefer 1000 pieces, and there needs to be a decent amount or color variation in the picture, or I'm likely to rage quit. The linked puzzle isn't one I've tried, but my mom sent me a similar one of the Harry Potter book covers, and it was a lot of fun.

Making a Big Deal

As absolutely nothing was happening to me during the day, and I couldn’t have any true adventures, I started a daily series on my Instagram stories called “Isolation Adventure.” If I got mail, or a friend dropped something off, or I got oat milk instead of ice cream in my grocery delivery, that was an adventure. Another fun way to do this is to make a big deal about things that you ordinarily wouldn’t notice. Make your bed? Clean your oven? Cook dinner? Finish a season of a new show? Pat yourself on the back and tell the world. 

Books

Y’all knew it was coming. Books are a lifeline when access to the outside world is limited. I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks each evening (Jim Dale is simply the best). I’ve also been making my way through The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby, Head in the Clouds, Feet on the Ground by Ryan Romeo, Called to Business by Dallas Willard, and Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Maybe you want to learn something new, or get lost in a magical world. Books can take you there. 

Above all, remember that it is temporary. Keep your eyes on the horizon. And get as many steps as you can. I believe in you.

April 30, 2020No Comments

7 Questions to Keep Things Interesting When Talking to Yourself

Tired of running through the same tired questions and scenarios with yourself? Looking to spice things up in the self-conversation department? 

We’ve all been there. Sure, you’re interesting and charming, but without anyone else to help steer the conversation, you always end up rehashing that argument you lost five years ago.

Or over-thinking that time in grade school the principal thought you were laughing at her, but really you were laughing at something your friend said making fun of your principal, and when your principal confronted you about it, you didn’t know what to say.

Or the time you said you knew how to pin a boutonniere (which you did know at one point), but when you realized you were 17 the last time you did it and might have forgotten some key elements and everyone was watching you and waiting for you to finish, you panicked and left a substantial amount of the pin poking out of the dude’s lapel all but guaranteeing it will impale him or someone else. 

If you’re like me, you’re ready for some fresh material. So, here are seven conversation starters to take talking to yourself to the next level.

What is my favorite song/movie/book? 

This one might seem like a surface level question, but mayhaps it’s been a while since you thought about it. For example, I chose my favorite book senior year of high school. But reflecting upon it now, I could not tell you why it holds that spot. I remember loving it, but I haven’t picked the thing up in 10+ years. I don’t even have a copy of it in my current dwelling. Mayhaps that is an indication that ‘tis time to look past the reflex answer and come up with another one. 

How long has that mark on the wall been there? 

This is an opportunity to put to use all of those true crime documentaries and detective shows you’ve been watching. Describe the color and texture, recall moments of banging into other walls to try to jog your memory. Look at old pictures to determine when the mark started showing up in them. Feel free to make a crime board on which to list your evidence and deductions. 

How often should I clean my vacuum?

This classic philosophical quandary can provide you with hours of stimulating debate. Is it reasonable to be expected to clean the thing that cleans? Isn’t that, like, its job? How is it, exactly, that that much hair has fallen from my head and gotten wrapped around the twirly part? The avenues of discussion are truly endless on this one. 

Should I rearrange my furniture again?

There is nothing quite like a three dimensional game of Tetris to liven up a conversation. Sure, you meticulously planned the optimal layout for your furniture given the minute nature of your apartment and its oddly shaped walls. But you know, maybe you were wrong, maybe the couch will fit against that wall. 

Which instrument should I learn? 

You have a guitar sitting in its case gathering dust, but you know, you never truly connected with it on a spiritual level. Yes, that was the problem. Maybe now is the time to invest in a cello. You could pick that up with a couple of YouTube videos. Or perhaps the harp, with all its regal majesty and soothing arpeggios. You could serenade your neighbors through the walls. They’d love that. Where does one even get a harp? Wait, harps cost how much??

Should I start a podcast?

I mean, your friend Brittany has one, and she’s not even that interesting, so it can’t be that hard. You’ve always thought it would be fun. What would it be about? The lifecycle of the mark on your wall? Your journey as a harp prodigy? You could honestly talk about anything to avoid the quiet stillness of your isolation. *googles “best podcast microphone”*

Should I cut my hair?

Look, you can learn anything on YouTube these days, and everyone is posting their derpy self-cut hair. Map out the pros and cons, watch a couple of how-to videos and shout questions in your computer’s general direction. 

Though we are socially distant, it doesn’t mean we have to spend our isolation in utter silence, staring into the void.

If nothing else, why not use these as a warm up before your next Zoom call so you remember how to put sentences together?

Stay strong; stay well. 

April 28, 2020No Comments

An Ode to What I Left at My Office

Sitting at my table in the living room/office/kitchen, I count the weeks since this quarantine started. Six, going on seven. I find myself pining for the office for which I pay rent, and all the things in it and all the things around it. 

As I sit in the minute nook of my apartment that has temporarily replaced this creative haven, I recall the things I left behind, convinced this situation would resolve itself in a matter of weeks, not months. I didn’t think I needed to bring it all with me; I grabbed only the essentials as if dashing for a life raft. 

And so, this is my ode to you, the items (and humans) I left at my co-working space. 

To my external hard drive, which satiates the angst of the increasing day count since backing up my laptop. Though the quarantine has only lasted 42 days, daily does my laptop note that it has been 93, 94, 95 days and counting since it was backed up. 

To my 4’x6’ rug that has never been vacuumed. I miss your color splotches and the random strands of fallen hair that form into balls for me to discover and discard. You always knew how to keep me humble. 

To the pile of books I swear I’ll finish one day, staring at me judgmentally from my gold and glass bookcase. Your bookmarks peek from where they’re nestled, reminding me of a task unfinished. I’ll circle back to you at some point.  

To the pile of books I used to quote directly instead of paraphrasing. You contain wisdom that I have definitely read but only partially remember. Oh, to be able to pull you from where you sit and flip through your pages, glance at highlighted and underlined sentences, until, at last, I find the one I was looking for.

To the pile of books I swear I’ll start one day, bought on impulse to support the author or to indulge a momentary intellectual rabbit hole upon which I stumbled three months ago. I’ll get to you eventually. 

To my Study Bible, filled with snippets of commentary and context that help me feel like I’m not guessing at the meaning of certain passages. It was a comfort to know that, if pressed, I could point the blame for any controversial interpretations in your direction with a shrug. 

To my 32oz Yeti. How you kept my water cold and my thirst quenched. I regret leaving you at the mercy of whatever bacteria is festering in the last of the water contained in your depths, because I neglected to wash you before my abrupt departure. 

To my desk chair, which rolls and swivels and raises and lowers. The chair I rely on now was not made for marathon sitting sessions, even with the recommended adjustments. As the sages have said, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” 

To my office slippies that have a hard sole. Though I have home slippies, you were always an indication that it was time to work. Now I am in a perpetual state of lounging, and for this I only have your absence to blame. Nothing else. Just the office slippies. 

To the woman down the hall with the impossibly loud laugh. I miss being annoyed by this disruption multiple times in a day. You always kept me on my toes. And, by measuring my level of irritation, I could gauge when I was due for a break. 

To the one guy on my floor whose name I know. I miss our random conversations, which were entertaining and enriching, but also pulled me out of my head. You made me feel social and friendly without the undue pressure of meeting anyone else.  

To the kombucha on tap which made me feel healthy. You never revealed how much sugar you contained, and for this, I was grateful. 

To the bathroom I didn’t have to clean with seemingly unlimited toilet paper. The journey to your stalls was filled with steps and turns, a welcome respite from staring at my computer. You satiated my fitbit’s hourly demand for movement. 

To the scribbled quotes and verses taped to the wall and littering my desk. You made my office look like something out of A Beautiful Mind, which made me feel smart and important.  

To the glass walls with nary a bit of sound absorption. You gave me the illusion of coworkers and companions. Hearing and being heard, we all pretended not to hear each other. I learned much about your life and office drama without ever learning what you actually do. 

Soon, dear co-working space and even dearer glass box office, we will be reunited. Perhaps I will commemorate the moment by reciting an inspirational speech from one of the LOTR movies. But until then, we must make do with what we have and dream of the glorious day when we shall be together once more. 

April 14, 2020No Comments

Should I Be Creating Right Now?

Yesterday, I hit my quarantine threshold. I've been doing everything that a good quarantiner should--creating routine and sticking to it, making time to move, connecting with my people. Even so, the indefinitude and my lack of control caught up with me. As if on cue, the pervasive rain of the day broke and the sky cleared. I frantically threw on my shoes, a flannel, and my mask, and escaped to the park.

I walked the four avenue blocks, desperately wanting to take off my mask so I could breathe in air that wasn't my own. I snuck a gulp of the cool, fresh breeze, grateful it lacked the smell of urine that is quintessential New York.

I entered the park at my usual spot, just north of the Met, and was immediately greeted by a whiff of spring. The trees, missing the memo that the city was on lockdown, bloomed. Their defiance was so strong, I smelled it through my mask. In that moment, all of my frenetic, swirling thoughts stilled and I remembered that buds and leaves operate on their own schedule.

Spring happened without anyone telling it to. The empty branches were filled in their own time regardless of what was happening just a few blocks away.

Four weeks ago, I, and many of my fellow singles, found myself facing a new reality-living alone without a sense of when I’d be able to regularly resume meeting with other humans in three dimensions. When was the next time I would receive something as simple as a hug from a friend? Where the parents I knew still had overfilled lives, mine was empty. And I was faced with the reality that I was responsible for filling it.

Like the textbook performer and achiever I am, work was the obvious solution. Not just because I needed the distraction, but because problem solving is caffeine to my brain. All of a sudden, we were all faced with a new set of obstacles and unnavigated areas of stuckness.

Staring down the barrel of a nationwide shut down that has meant unemployment, anxiety, and a paradigm shift for so many, not to mention the actual life and death risk placed onto essential workers, the stakes felt too high to play it safe creatively. I wrote and I started an IGTV series and I strategized. But I also assessed what I already had in the works and stayed the course in those. In considering how to add value, I thought about both creative pivots and consistency. 

But most of all, I filled my time with purposeful work because it’s what I needed to keep the emptiness from overtaking me. I knew myself well enough to recognize how much my mental health depended on creating as much structure as possible, and also leaning into the creative problem solving part of my brain. 

Many of my creative friends, married and single, did not receive the upheaval the same way. They gave themselves time and space to grieve. Deep feelers that they are, they needed to first acknowledge and honor those feelings. 

Creative community has a way of bringing together the thinkers, the feelers, and the doers. As one of those groups continued to meet virtually, I noticed the pervasiveness of a word. 

Should

And as someone who was driven to create in this time of crisis, my questions were Should I not be writing publicly right now? Should I stop? But for many of my friends, it was Should I be writing right now? Should I be doing more? 

Whatever our situation, we were looking at each other and wondering if their way of coping and adjusting meant that mine was wrong. 

Under the best of circumstances, the struggle to stay in our own lane is challenging. When our nerves are on edge and everything feels extra insecure? Dial that up to eleven. 

As creatives, our job is to communicate and express, to entertain and evoke, to encourage and challenge. And the beauty is that we each have our own way of doing that.

Those of us who are action-oriented thrive when there are problems for which we can offer solutions. Those of us who are more deliberative thrive when they give themselves margin to absorb and notice and think. Those of us who are feelers ground us and refuse to gloss over what is hard in favor of what is ideal. Each has their strengths and pitfalls, and each has their own way of using their orientation to create beautiful and useful work. 

As we enter week five of quarantine, mayhaps some of the adrenaline is wearing off. Mayhaps you’ve picked up a few tools and learned what you need (and even what your audience needs). Given the nature of pandemics, normalcy can shift in a moment. But as the newness wears off you might be left with the guilt and pressure of should. What if we were free to consider a different option altogether?

Maybe now isn’t the time to produce, but to plant. 

All of what I have produced in the last four weeks was already in the works, or was wisdom I cultivated through nearly three decades of tumultuous life experience and two decades of living with anxiety. The fruit you are seeing didn’t just happen, it was the result of seeds that were planted months and years ago, and countless small steps and moments of healing. And it came to fruition in its own time.

Just because I’m producing blogs and posts and a new website doesn’t mean you’re behind or missing out. Consider the words of Psalm 126: 5-6, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”  

Maybe right now is the time for journaling and keeping up with your day job (or looking for a new day job). Mayhaps getting creative and casting vision is what your soul needs right now. We are all speculators at this point, exploring what is possible based on the variables available to us. Part of the beauty of being part of a body (ie the body of Christ aka the church, or being part of a creative community, or a friend group etc.) is that we all get to learn from each other. 

We need the doers and the thinkers and the feelers. We need the “right now” and the “not yet.” We need the pushing forward and the pulling back. We need the reaping and the sowing.  

As for me? I’m both reaping in joy and sowing in tears right now. It’s part of the job, balancing present and long term. I recently received the advice to be the most MaryB. I can be, and MaryB. is a relentless doer, but also an eager learner. Because of the seeds that were planted, I get to steward those gifts in an outward facing way, while also being mindful of the ultimate vision God has given me for this creative work that has not bloomed yet.

Our work is to plant the seed, to nurture it, but it is not in our power to make it grow at a specific time. Today, if you find yourself caught up in a web of should, consider where you are and remember that God is present in this moment. Whether we are creating publicly or God is germinating something within us that hasn't reached its time, should will only distract us from the good work that's happening now.

April 7, 20202 Comments

How to Read a “How To” Blog without Losing Your Mind

There are over 512 million blogs on the interwebs right now. That translates into an average of 5.8 million new blog posts each day.

Holy. What. 

Many of those 512 million+ bloggers are vying for your attention. Including me. You might have noticed an uptick in content like “How to be productive in quarantine,” or “5 ways to stay in shape in quarantine,” or “How to look sexy while wearing your mask.” 

If you’re like me, you probably clicked, thinking, What the hey, they probably contain some helpful insight. But after setting up ambitious plans to write the next King Lear while simultaneously becoming a master chef and wellness guru, mayhaps you’ve arrived at, If one more blogger tells me to put on real pants, I am going to lose my ever living mind

You might get the nagging suspicion that you’re somehow failing at this quarantine thing. If some blogger in Portland can do everything on her “how to” blog post while preparing locally sourced, nutritious meals every day and learning to paint pieces of fruit, what can’t you? 

As one of those 512 million+ bloggers, I would like to give you a peek behind the curtain, and some tips on how to take what’s helpful and let the rest go.  

Bloggers are human

Anybody with a little time and $12 to buy a domain can start a blog. That’s not to say that most are not well-meaning and credible, it’s just to put things into perspective. We may very well have valuable information to share that will be legitimately helpful. But, it’s important to keep in mind that bloggers are human. 

None of us have lived through a global pandemic in the age of information. So even if we have general tips on working from home or being productive right now, there’s a lot we’re still figuring out as well. There has always been noise and competing advice, it’s just things are so nuts now it’s all getting ramped up to an eleven. Many of these bloggers could be thinking, THIS IS MY MOMENT, but what they also mean is, Dear God, please don’t leave me alone with my thoughts and fears

It is possible for a blogger to share information that is both helpful and not helpful. It’s possible that, because you’re different people, their methods of coping will not line up with yours. That blogger may very well be doing all of the things they list on their how to, but I would hazard a guess that they are not. Any tips shared, even if they are from personal experience, paint a picture of what is ideal. 

If you feel tempted to compare yourself to a blogger based on the image they project in a how-to, take a moment to notice that. Remind yourself that you have a choice in where you direct your thought patterns. If it helps, gently acknowledge that that blogger’s poop stinks just like yours. They may have more experience in a particular area, and some of the information might be helpful. Just because they’ve come up with an ideal way of living based on their experience and written about it on the interwebs does not mean they are actually doing all of those things perfectly all the time and all at once. 

Give yourself the grace to try what might be helpful and leave the rest. 

“How to” phrasing is what gets you in the door

A huge reason for writing “how to” blogs is a little thing called SEO. There are 512 million+ blogs out there. How do we get ours into the hands of the people we are writing for? Search Engine Optimization. Writing blogs with titles that are “searchable” makes it easier for the Googs to pull our blog up when you search for a specific question. 

Think about how you look for information on the internet. You take your question and either type it exactly into the search engine, or you write in a few keywords to get you started. You aren’t necessarily looking for a literary blog exploring the nature of friendship. You’re typing “How to make friends in a new city” and clicking on the first or second thing that pops up. 

Making that exact phrase the title of a blog on friendship is how I get you in the door. Once you’re in and if you find the piece useful, if you jive with my tone and style, if the content convinces you that you are the reader my blog was designed for, then you’re more inclined to click around and see what else I’ve got going on. Marketing says that you are looking at my website and asking “What’s in it for me?” I need to be able to answer that question on every page, and if you aren’t my person, then you’ll move on. 

Another question I think about as a blogger is what will make my ideal reader stop scrolling on social media and click on a blog I’ve written. If you are a potential new reader, a title like “Friendship and Growth in New York” will likely blend into the noise of your feed. But a title that promises to solve a real life problem you have in 5 steps? That’s what you’ll actually click on. That’s what I click on, too. 

When I first started learning about marketing, I thought it sounded manipulative. But the thing is, the blogger may truly have a solution to a real problem. But if they don’t do the work to write at least a handful of pieces that are “searchable,” you will never find them. 

When I share a piece of information, it’s because I think it adds value to my readers’ lives. It’s not so much about getting a bunch of random people to look at my blog, it’s about giving the right reader a real solution to a real problem. It’s about serving a specific person by giving them something that I’ve learned or a method I’ve come up with in exchange for their time or money. The “how to” blog is a way to connect that information with the people who are searching for it. 

I can’t say that all bloggers write from that exact perspective, but that’s the one I use. 

You don’t have to do everything

I remember the moment this idea connected with my reality. It was something that my therapist said after I returned from a writer’s conference in a state of paralyzing anxiety. As with many conferences, they take several months’ worth of information, cram it into 2 days, and send you on your merry way. 

The thought that constantly bounced around my panicked brain from sun up to sun down at that conference? I can’t do this

I took the frantic thought and laid it before my therapist. And, in true Dr. Therapist fashion, he helped me distill it down to the base assumption, revealing that assumption to be founded on faulty information. 

The main speakers had each been writers for 1-2 decades, and were sharing all of the best practices they’d accumulated in that time. I received that information with the belief that they were suggesting that I should be able to implement all of their advice immediately and perfectly. And, since I had the information, if I missed anything or messed up, it was my fault and I was a failure for not being able to keep track of all the bits of advice they offered. Even if I were to choose one of the 87 next steps, I felt that there was a “right” one, I just didn’t have quite enough information to know which it was. 

My conditioning and disposition assumed that all of it was on me and that I absolutely had to do everything they said perfectly and immediately. I did not account for the fact that we are different humans, that they have decades in the industry on me, and that they did, in fact, have help. 

Human beings are limited. We cannot and should not do everything, particularly when it comes to taking advice from another limited human being. When you read a how-to blog, remember that the method that the blogger is describing took time to develop. They took small steps in their everyday lives until those things became habitual. 

Start where it’s helpful and build from there. 

There might be a better way to process feelings and information

Instead of googling every question that comes to mind, mayhaps start with reflection. If we’re searching for “How to stay sane in quarantine,” what are we really looking for? “How to” blogs are really great for giving us practical steps to implement. But they’re also great for giving us behaviors to mimic that distract us from the deeper problem. When we type that question into Google, or click on the social media post the blogger made, what are we expecting? No matter how good the advice is, the blogger might not be able to address any underlying motivations we’re bringing into the piece. 

Notice the impulse that drives you to click on that article. Is it discomfort with boredom or stillness? Is it an attempt to avoid the overwhelming uncertainty we are all collectively experiencing? The answers to these questions are not good or bad, they’re just information that can help with the choices you make. There’s a place for distraction, but layering activity on top of feelings we don’t want to feel does not make them go away. 

If you notice yourself obsessively Googling or scrolling through social media, that might be an invitation to take those feelings to God in prayer, and then to talk them through with a trusted friend or counselor. 

Focus on “what is” over “what should be” 

Ahh the tantalizing “should.” Seems like it would be a great motivator, all those things you should do and should care about. Turns out it only adds pressure that keeps us spinning our wheels. The only thing “should” ever creates is guilt, and that is the way to burn out, shame, and frustration. There is, of course, nothing wrong with having a goal or an ideal to work towards. But “should” is different. 

A few months after I started seeing my current therapist, I finally got real about experiencing feelings like anger, sadness, and emotional pain. They had, of course, always been there. But I didn’t feel I had a right to them, so I ignored and minimized and guilted--all an enormous feat of mental gymnastics to avoid how deeply they ran. Once I got honest with him (and myself), that impulse was still there. I would say things like “I shouldn’t be angry,” or “it’s not a big deal, I don’t know why I’m sad.” 

His near constant refrain in those days was this: “We can’t get to where you want to go if we’re starting at where you think you should be. We have to start where you actually are.” 

If you’re scared, name it. If you’re angry, say it out loud. If you’re sad, write it down. Covering the feelings up is not the answer. We have to move through them. Best to do this with God and then with a trusted friend or counselor. 

When you’re reading one of these “how to” blogs, and you notice yourself starting to get that squirmy feeling, take a beat. What are you assuming about the piece? The writer? Yourself? The situation you’re in? 

Start where you are. Start with what is helpful. And leave the rest for another day… or never.

April 2, 2020No Comments

Live from New York, It’s Quarantine Life!

I’ve worn real pants once in the past ten days. That day, Saturday, I slept in. But once I rose I moved through my new routine--morning ablutions, prayer and reflection, workout, shower, breakfast (ok, lunch), work. It’s the same as my old routine, just all occurring  in the 450 square feet I call home, and now also called “gym,” “office,” and “commute.”

This space, already so many things at once, has now become everything. 

The previous night, a friend and neighbor texted to say she was leaving suddenly to go stay with her family in Ohio. Looking for a place to off-load the groceries she’d just purchased and the eight plants she calls by gendered pronouns, she asked if I would be able to help. I said yes to the groceries. As for the plants, I baldly stated that if she left her plants with me they would almost certainly be dead by the time she returned. 

She dropped off more groceries than I could possibly eat and the eight plants that I would absolutely kill. All the essentials were there--eggs, bread, milk--but also an assortment of fresh veggies and eight individually packaged yogurts. I texted five friends I knew had chosen to remain in the neighborhood to see if they needed any of the items I wouldn't eat.

Two of my closest friends, who recently got married, started showing symptoms, the first two weeks ago today and the second one week ago. They were relying on delivery for everything, and their groceries wouldn’t arrive for four more days. 

I pulled on a pair of jeans, and placed many of the items so generously lavished upon me into a paper bag. After carefully stacking yogurt, eggs, bread, bananas, and a package of spinach, I stepped out into the misting rain. One needed a prescription, which I agreed to pick up. 

A third friend had accepted my offer of supplies and met me out front of the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Shop, its interior dark and door locked. I placed the bag on a dry patch of sidewalk, then backed away so she could pick it up. We walked together for five blocks on opposite edges of the sidewalk, occasionally dodging other pedestrians.

The negotiation of space is infuriating on this island at the best of times. Now, there is a tinge of anxiety layered in when one approaches a space narrowed by scaffolding or a dirt patch intended for trees and foliage. The pause and brief eye contact, the gesture allowing one to go first, has become commonplace, where formerly the more aggressive walker would simply speed up, daring the other pedestrian to a silent game of chicken. Now, only the most hardened New Yorkers opt for this method. The rest of us choose deference in the face of a potentially contaminating interaction.

After a few blocks, my friend and I went our separate ways. I noticed the sounds of birds chirping in the absence of constant traffic. I supposed the birds had always been there, their voices buried beneath the din of horns, engines, and sirens. 

I walked into CVS and stood on the yellow paper that had been taped to the floor to indicate appropriate spacing in the pharmacy line. The space above the counter was draped in clear plastic and a folding table acted as a barrier to prevent me from getting too close to the pharmacy tech. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to pick up my friend’s prescription, so I pretended to be her. This became complicated when he did not see the medicine in the system and began asking questions. Have you ever gotten a prescription filled here, and, Is it under a different name, followed by, Is this the correct address? 

Ambivalent as to whether to persist in my small con or come clean, I said that I’d figure it out and come back, thanked him, and left. 

I took the elevator up to the appropriate floor, walked down the hall, set the groceries at the door, knocked, then quickly moved to the end of the hallway. I texted them a short message, “Clear,” and they emerged into the doorway. 

I’d seen their faces on a screen several times, but experiencing them in three dimensions, albeit at a distance of twelve feet, tears filled my eyes. We gave updates, as many updates as one has when spending every moment indoors. Exchanging bits of news, saying what we’d heard from friends and family, passing familiar banter back and forth, I felt the warmth of hearing their voices undistorted by a computer microphone.

I felt the tug to stand in that hallway in the presence of these two humans for the rest of the day. But they needed rest and I needed to finish my errands. After a series of air hugs, I pulled myself away and walked back out into the mist.

I wandered back to my apartment, taking my time. Though the uninviting weather made any errand less essential, delivery workers zoomed up and down the streets with their insulated bags and motorized bikes. There was a line of brave souls outside Whole Foods, awaiting their turn inside. Signs had been posted in the window stating limits on how many pieces of certain items were allowed per trip. Eight frozen meals, 4 packs of toilet paper, etc. The line spread itself down the block, people leaving more distance than my last trip past only four days prior. 

I walked into my apartment, dropping everything at the door, removing my shoes, then stepping into my bathroom to wash my hands. I internally mapped out the rest of my day as I scrubbed, filling the emptiness of my time with tasks and recreation. I spent the rest of the day cleaning my baseboards and vacuum, composing a jingle for my Instagram TV series, and FaceTiming friends. I cooked dinner and cleaned the dishes immediately after eating, a ritual I found an excuse to avoid in normal life. 

I settled onto my couch, the absence of another physical presence filled with Restaurants on the Edge, my latest Netflix show. I nervously pondered the next day--Sunday, my day of rest, considering what feelings might pop up in the place of structured tasks and achievement. 

I pushed the thought from my mind as I watched the team make over a tiki-themed restaurant on a small Canadian island. Three specialists, a designer, a chef, and a business expert, help Coconut Joe’s return from the brink of collapse. I teared up with the owner, a man who had done everything for himself and taken care of everyone else for his whole life, a man who had, at last, been taken care of. 

Turning off the TV, I brushed my teeth and got into bed, two plants precariously placed on the window ledge and a voluminous aloe plant atop my dresser. After reading for a bit, I turned off my light and counted my breaths as I listened to the absence of noise from outside. Alone with my thoughts, I wondered what the next day would bring. But I returned to my breath.

1 in, 2 out, 3 in, 4 out…

My fridge was stocked, my body was working, my friends were within reach. It was enough certainty to settle my mind and lull me, at last, to sleep.

April 1, 2020No Comments

The One Thing You Need When Working from Home

Never have I ever wanted to clean my grout more than when procrastinating work. Sitting at the 29”x29” Ikea table in my living room/kitchen, facing a deadline of my own design, I had a thought. Not one soul will notice if I don’t finish this essay

That’s when the negotiation began. I reminded myself that it is important to keep the promises I make to myself, and that I set up that deadline for a reason. Well, I told myself, the grout isn’t going to clean itself. I replied that this reasoning was a fancy way of avoiding the mental speed bump that arises whenever I sit down to write. 

My brain went back and forth a few more times until I made my choice. I cleaned the grout. 

In my early days of self-employment, this scene was common. It took time for my brain to adjust its habits. Prior to this moment, my apartment was exclusively a chill zone and I had a boss who told me when to be where and what to do. Now? Those lines were all blurred. 

It took me a while to adjust and figure out what I needed when I suddenly found myself working from home, aka alone most of the time. At first, it was bliss. Then, I realized how much time I had to myself and that any structure my days may or may not have was completely on me to manufacture and uphold. 

Even now, I’ve had to make some adjustments. As I’m sure anyone who is self-employed can attest, working from home in a pandemic is different. My home is now my gym, office, recreation and relaxation area, restaurant and bar, and sleepy time area. And it’s all of 450 square feet.  

I’ve spent the first two weeks of quarantine noticing what works and what doesn’t, and the one thing you need when working from home is boundaries. This is not different from what is necessary during non-pandemic times. It is, I would say, even more important now. Dr. John Townsend, one of the authors of Boundaries, wrote on Instagram yesterday, “Our brains crave order. Set up your daily and weekly routine.” 

Part of the beauty of taking the time to set up some semblance of a routine (boundaries on your time) is that it gives your brain fewer decisions to make throughout the day. This increases your overall bandwidth and allows you to focus your energy elsewhere. Today, I’m going to walk you through a couple of boundaries that have worked really well for me. 

Don’t try to implement everything perfectly all at once (guilty). Instead, pick the area you want to start with and then go from there. Read all the way to the end to find out which one I recommend starting with.  

Set Up Boundaries

If you’re like me, your tendency might be to think I will be able to do all the things now that I’m home all the time! Unless you have an army of woodland creatures assisting you, I would like to gently pry this delusion from your hands. Two weeks in, perhaps you are coming to this realization on your own. We might have more time, but our habits and tendencies are still there. You may find that time was not the real thing keeping you from working on that big project you’ve been putting off. It was one of the first things I realized when I became self-employed.

So, to minimize distraction and maximize productivity, be a little anal with your time allocation. Know that you have the freedom to stray when you need to, but this is a really great way to begin to notice where you’re self-sabotaging and spinning your proverbial wheels. This year I started using a Full Focus Planner, and it’s been a powerful tool for helping me make meaningful progress in the most important areas of my business and life. One thing I really like? You can only set three big goals for the day (and week, and quarter). I used to over-plan and not have a clear sense of what I was working toward. Honing in on what was essential was a vital first-step in creating meaningful structure. 

Get Up

Mayhaps you are one of these mythical creatures who enjoys getting up early. A coach of mine gets up at 4am every day, like, by choice. But if you find yourself to be more of a night owl, this section is for you. Two years later this is still a struggle for me. If I’m not meeting another person at a specific time, it is very difficult for me to drag myself out of bed. 

I used to be really hard on myself about this. Ok, many days, I still am. But I’ve noticed that my brain is simply less functional in the morning versus the afternoon. So I’ve given myself permission to get my full 8 hours of sleep, but to also put in a full day of work. Most days, arriving at my office around 11 and leaving around 8 works well. Working from home? That snooze button becomes even more tempting. 

Mayhaps this is a good place to set up some accountability. If you have a roommate, you could team up and decide to both get up at a particular time. If you live alone, you could ask a friend if you could text them at a specific time to let them know you’re up. Check out these tips from a recent New York Times op-ed on becoming a morning person.

Plan time to reflect and set a timer. 

I like to start my day in prayer and journaling. I set a timer for 20 minutes, during which I read a short devotional and write out a couple things that stood out and riff off those to guide my prayer time. Once I finish that, I set a timer for 5 minutes during which I sit quietly and listen. I only recently implemented this time in my morning routine, so I gave myself permission to start small. Being still is more challenging that it sounds. When I’m working from home, I then set a timer for 15 minutes and read a non-fiction book. 

If you’re Type B, this timer thing might sound totally psycho. But I found that before I started using timers, my brain would drift aimlessly and I would inevitably end up thinking about work. Limiting my time has trained my brain to focus, and incentivized me to gently catch myself when I find my mind wandering too far afield. 

Move

Perhaps at the office you would have felt weird taking 5-10 minutes here and there to move around. Guess what? Unless your boss is spying on you via your webcam, they will not know if you do this, or if you take a full thirty minutes for lunch instead of shoveling down your food at your desk. What if you used the timer method from the previous section here? 55 minutes for working and 5 minutes to move around. That might sound bonkers to you, but just try it out. Take a moment to stretch, go for a walk around the block (or pace around your living room, I guess), and generally check in with your body. Are your shoulders tense? Are you breathing deeply? 

Maybe a 90 minute work cycle would work better for you (85 minutes of work and 5 minutes of movement). Whatever you decide, you might be surprised how this will help your productivity. Like I mentioned before, something about setting a timer helps your brain focus in. You might find that dedicating 55 minutes to a specific task helps you complete it in less time than you thought it would take. 

My voice teacher recently challenged me to alternate between my work table and a make-shift standing desk (aka my baker's rack/bar area). I mentioned that I am gradually becoming a human question mark and asked for some tips on helping with posture. A change in perspective can also help with focus. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Schedule Social Media Time

I’m still figuring out this one, to be honest. I know it’s important to moderate my social media time, but it’s so tempting to pick up my phone and scroll. A good first step is to notice when you reach for your phone, or open a particular page on your computer. Notice what impulse you’re listening to. Are you bored? Anxious? Curious? Then consider what is a reasonable limit to place. Twice a day for 15 minutes? Thrice daily for 30 minutes?

Designate chairs or areas for work

If you’re like me, you don’t have a ton of extra space. I’m now in a one bedroom, so I was able to put in a small table and chair. But I noticed that when I tried to do both my reflection time and work in that chair, I had a hard time staying on track during my reflection time. So I moved my reflection time to a different chair. It wasn’t an automatic fix (hence the timer system), but it's helped a lot. Some people have designated rooms for different things, but if you’re in a limited amount of space, start by thinking about using different seats for different things. Or even different areas of your couch. Pro tip: Never ever work in bed. Even if you only have a couch or the floor as an alternative.

Make Plans to Get Out

Before I was freelancing, I was working in a restaurant. So when I made the switch, my introverted self was all about spending all of that time alone. If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, it has a way of convincing you that humans are garbage and there is no hope for humanity. 

Once that wore off, I started to notice that it was not healthy to be in my own head that much of the time. Things got weird. It drove me to intentionally schedule time with other people and take responsibility for my social life. If you're looking for creative ways to stay sane and connect with friends virtually, check out "How to Stay Sane in Quarantine."

Think about what would be ideal for you and try to work towards it. We can practice social distancing without isolating ourselves from necessary human interaction. 

Have a Solid Out Time

It might feel counter-intuitive, but I think that this is the best place to start. Decide at what time you’re going to stop working and start focusing on keeping that promise to yourself. You might find it helpful to give yourself an action associated with stopping work as a signal to your brain to stop thinking about work. This has been the hardest adjustment for me, because my brain naturally wants to mull over work problems and solutions always and forever. 

You could do a stretching or yoga routine, change clothes, turn off your work area lamp and physically move yourself. If you have colleagues, let them know you will not be checking your email or answering work calls after this time. Unless you are a medical professional or governmental official, it can probably wait. If your colleagues have a problem with this, it is probably more a reflection of their own boundary issues and time management than yours. 

Everything is going to feel urgent for a while, and perhaps many of us are still in survival mode and stuck in living from a reactive place. But it’s better to mentally prepare ourselves for the possibility that we’ll be in this for quite a while. Having a solid out time that we mostly stick to will help us go the distance here. If we are able to give ourselves margin and rest (looking at all the non-essential workers like me), we can avoid burning out and build a sustainable work flow that will continue to serve us long after this pandemic has passed. 

Balance Discipline and Grace

This is not something you will master during your quarantine time. Or perhaps in your lifetime. I don’t know, maybe there are grace ninjas out there who are the epitome of shalom. But this perfectionist is not one of them. 

Setting up structure gives you an ideal to work toward. It is not, however, the end all be all determiner of whether you are winning at quarantined life or not. If you start getting worked up over all you aren’t getting done, come back to your breath. Take a beat to look back at your 3 goals for the day. Set a timer. And do one thing. Then the next.

What about you? What boundaries are you finding helpful right now? Leave a comment and let me know!

March 26, 2020No Comments

How to Stay Sane in Quarantine

Welcome to day 495 of quarantine. As it would seem that we’re going to be in this thing for a bit, we need tools to help us not lose our everliving minds. I am dedicated to your mental, emotional, and spiritual health, fellow single Christian. Binging shows on your couch might get old at some point, so I’ve come up with some other options to sprinkle into the mix. 

Here are ten ways to stay sane in quarantine. 

Game Night

If you live alone (or can’t stand your roommate), there are a couple of ways you can have a virtual game night. You can use Jackbox and whoever is hosting share their screen on Google Hangouts or Zoom. They also have an article about how to play virtually on their site. The party packs of games cost a bit of money, but it’s not bad, especially if you split the cost with a couple of friends. 

I also stumbled across this Harry Potter virtual escape room that can be played alone or in a group. I went through it by myself, and there were some challenging moments. If you want to play it as a group, I’d suggest a screen share situation in Google Hangouts. 

Zoom Movie Night

I tried multiple ways of doing a virtual movie night, and Zoom was by far the best. My friends and I couldn’t get Netflix Party to work at all, and screen sharing with Google Hangout caused audio and video lags and glitches. Zoom really is the best for this. 

If you start a screen share, just make sure you click the option to “Share Computer Audio” as well. I know Zoom cost money for meetings of more than 2 screens that last longer than 40 minutes. If you’re really not looking to shell out $15/month, either only watch it with one other computer or watch your movie in 40 minute increments. 

Move

There are a ton of ways to stay active in quarantine if it’s your thing. If it isn't, this would be a good time to look into stretching or yoga, as we are all more sedentary than usual. Even before the lockdown, I was using BeachBody on demand, which has a ton of great workout videos, a large number of which do not require equipment. If you’re not looking to pay for a subscription, check out this article with different free offerings divided by type of workout. There are some big names on there, including Barry’s Bootcamp and 305 Fitness!

Karaoke

Sometimes you just gotta belt out Celine Dion in your apartment by yourself. Search YouTube for the title of your go-to jam + karaoke, and it’s probably there.  I haven’t tried this as a group, but I would imagine the audio lag would be a big problem. 

My go-tos? Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now by Celine Dion, and Somebody to Love by Queen. What can I say, I love a good ballad. 

Spontaneous dance party

Play upbeat music as you’re cooking or cleaning and let the music take you away. Or schedule a 5 minute dance break regularly in your work day. There are a ton of awesome dance playlists on Spotify to choose from. Looking for slower grooves? Check out Kitchen Swagger. Upbeat? Try Cleaning Kit and Get Chores Done. Browse their “Mood” and “Party” categories for the music that gets you to move. 

Learn something

Entrepreneurs cannot stop doing free webinars right now. I follow a ton who are churning them out left, right, and center. But if you’re looking for something not business-related, check out “The Great Courses” on Audible, iTunes U, and Masterclass. 

Your friends also know things. Have you heard of a powerpoint party? Everyone in your crew puts together a brief powerpoint about something they know well (serious or silly), and then gives a presentation. This would be super easy to do in Google Hangouts. Choose a moderator, allow time for a Q&A, and get ready to learn. 

Laugh

There are at least 87 million comedy specials on the various streaming services right now. I’m a big fan of Trevor Noah and John Mulaney, but to each his own. You could also do a Google Hangout with friends and read dad jokes to each other while trying to maintain a straight face. If you smile, the other person gets a point. First person to 10 wins. 

Cook/Bake

When you spend most of the day sitting around staring at your computer, it’s good to get up and do something with your hands. Pinterest is riddled with amazing recipes in varying degrees of complexity. Check out YouTube for video tutorials if you want to learn a new skill, like how to poach meringue or bake a loaf of sourdough. 

Read

What’s better than a good story to take your mind off your woes? Maybe you could even host a virtual story time with your friends. I’ve been doing this on my Instagram every night, and it’s super fun. This would be a good alternative to a virtual book club (though that’s a fun option as well). Get together with the same group at the same time every day or every few days and take turns reading from the same book. 

Looking for stuff to read? I’ve put together this list of fiction and non-fiction titles. Some are on my list to read in quarantine, some I’ve already read and love. 

Listen

There are over 600,000 podcasts out right now. And the amount of ready-made playlists? Too numerous to count. I won’t even get into the number of audiobooks available at the touch of a screen. As far as podcasts go, I love Myths and Legends, Science Vs, Pass the Mic, The Next Right Thing, and The Dropout. If you’re looking for stories and conversations from single Christians on the most important things that fill their lives and the stories that have shaped them, you can also check out my podcast, “Unsuitable with MaryB. Safrit.” 


This is truly the tip of the iceberg, and all focused on things you can do inside the walls of your apartment. What about you? How are you staying sane? Drop a comment below and let me know!

March 25, 2020No Comments

How to Serve the Vulnerable Right Now

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” -Matthew 25:40

After a week and a half of quarantine and more wide-spread testing, you might have started to settle a bit into your new reality. And now you’re wondering what you can do to help. While you are not a policy maker or the head of a hospital, you have the power to impact your neighbors, community, and friends in a positive way. 

Part of the survival instinct is to circle the proverbial horses and take care of your own. But there are ways to reach out and help in tangible ways while also following the CDC guidelines and government mandates. Many of us cannot make a vaccine or bail out our favorite small business. But there are small steps we can take to generously care for our community and the most vulnerable. 

Don’t try to do all of these at once. If you are able, start with one and then go from there. 

Stay Home

You’ve heard this over and over, but it bears repeating. If you are able, please stay home. Thomas Fuller wrote in the New York Times daily email last week, “America is a very individualistic society, built on the idea of individual rights. So this is a big test… for America--the question being: Will people in America sacrifice individual liberty for the sake of the community?” It’s a sobering question, and one I ask you to wrestle with. 

Pray

In his sermon this past Sunday, the senior pastor of my church said this:

On the one hand, there’s nothing more helpless and weak than prayer. You sit alone in a room, your body isn’t acting, in face we take our hands and place them in our lap. And all we do is speak words. There couldn’t be a more poignant symbols of human helplessness. And yet, precisely in that moment of helplessness, we’re tapping into the eternal power of God himself… It is precisely where our limitations and weakness slam into the power and the love and the grace of God.”

Abe Cho

If there was ever a time for prayer, it is now. Pray big, bold prayers of healing. Pray the Psalms. Pray God’s promises and character. Pray for your neighbors, friends and family. Pray for the incarcerated, the immunocompromised, the chronically ill, the elderly. Pray for those who are isolated. My church is offering a daily time of prayer, which you can join here, during which we read passages of Scripture, and we are led through prayers for specific places and people. 

Who do you know?

Chances are you have a friend who continues to be deeply impacted by this, as you have been. Do you know a nurse or doctor? Do you know someone in the restaurant or retail industry who has lost their job? Do you know someone who lost paid gigs? Offer to bring them a meal, or do their laundry, clean their apartment, or make a grocery run. 

Put out a Social Media Blast

If you don’t know anyone and want to help, put out a blast on social media. Ask if anyone knows anyone who is vulnerable who needs groceries. Make sure to clarify that you’re offering to make a run to the store, not free groceries. Or start a GoFundMe for groceries or money for bills for the vulnerable and distribute it or use it to buy groceries for people in need. 

Reach out to the infected

By now you probably know someone who is infected and is in quarantine for 14 days, assuming they are not hospitalized. FaceTime them, see if they need groceries, send them cookies or chicken noodle soup (being mindful of any dietary restrictions and allergies). 

Check in regularly with those who live alone

If you live alone, create a buddy system where you’re checking in with someone on a daily basis. If you don’t, think about someone who does and set an alarm in your phone that will remind you to text them at a certain time each day

Find an Organization Already Serving the Vulnerable

If you’re in the city, check out this list from Hope For New York. They keep it up to date as to ways you can safely serve, and places you can send money. If you aren’t in NYC, reach out to your pastor or a local community leader and ask who has been reaching out to them with needs.

Contribute to a Relief Fund

My church has set up a relief fund to help those most affected by COVID-19. If your church hasn’t done so, or you aren’t part of a church, google local, established organizations that have. Look for organizations that serve the homeless, the elderly, food banks, or any at risk population. 

Send flowers to a nursing home or hospital

Reach out to a local florist and see if they can send an arrangement to a local nursing home or to the hospital. You’ll help a local business that’s hurting, and you’ll bring hope and beauty to the isolated, desperate, and overworked. Most will let you include a card, on which you could write a brief message of encouragement. 

Write to the incarcerated

Those in prison are among the most vulnerable, as they live in tight quarters and have a high rate of chronic illness. You don’t have to write the next Pulitzer, just a few words of encouragement--a prayer, a verse, or message of hope. Check out organizations that already serve this population and see if they can facilitate. 


There are probably many other ways to serve, and a simple Google search will likely bring up articles and blogs with more ideas. But I hope that at the very least, this inspired you to come up with ideas of your own and challenged you to pray and stay home. Be well, y’all.

March 24, 2020No Comments

23 Verses for Fear and Anxiety

We’ve all got it to some degree--that wiggly, gnawing feeling in our guts. In the last week, I’ve noticed my own moments of upheaval and how my body is responding to them. It manifests in a frenetic energy that must be channeled or feels liable to consume me. That channeling these days has meant writing like I’m vomiting a dictionary, keeping my workout regimen, and posting on Instagram with the vigor of a twenty-something wellness influencer. It has also manifested in so. many. spreadsheets. 

You might get the picture of what one might call a profound lack of rest. I’m still figuring out my own quarantine boundaries along with the rest of y’all. Whether you’re team GET EVERYTHING DONE NOW or team brownies on the couch mindlessly watching Netflix, we’re all in need of some deeper truths to rest on. So, for all of us, I’ve curated a list of Bible verses that we can take to the bank. 

As you are figuring out what life even is right now, mayhaps try beginning each day quietly reflecting on one of these verses. Read them in context, or mayhaps you just focus on one verse per week and use it as a breath prayer. As you go through, notice the tone of your internal voice. Try reading them out loud with different inflections and intentions.

I pray that you are met in these words and you take just a little time each day to train your brain and spirit towards hope, not fear.

1 Peter 5:6-7Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Psalm 119:49-50Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
Romans 8:38-39For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Isaiah 43:2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Hebrews 11:13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Matthew 6:27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Ecclesiastes 3:1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.
Psalm 62:1-2Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Matthew 6:33-34But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Job 42:2-3“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
Philippians 4:6-7Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Job 23:10But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
Psalm 145:18-19The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
Colossians 1:19-20For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Philippians 4:19And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 1:20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
Isaiah 41:10So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 58:11The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Philippians 1:6Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

*Note: All verses are from the New International Version

Communicator. Creator. Coach.

© 2020 Mary B Safrit LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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