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day four, and our patience is wearing thin


Ok, so now it’s day four of this blog series and day six of my family’s decision to “Shelter in Place.” Can hardly wait to make it one whole week: that’s pretty much all I’ve got on my calendar for tomorrow. LOL.

This cartoon by Clay Jones, from The Week pretty much sums up family relations across the country.  (Unless you’ve got kids at home. We’ve got a Millennial in the house too, and he’s been known to reply to our wise comments with an eye-roll and mumbled, “OK Boomer.”  The nerve!)

Patience tested during quarantine

To make this state of anxiety more palatable, here’s a fine quote reminding us of how long it takes for humans to find enlightenment, or that is, freedom from ignorance:

“I continue to think that this task requires work on our limits, that is, a patient labor giving form to our impatience for liberty.”*

A patient labor may make patience less laborious.  It’s worth a try.


see you tomorrow.


*Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” in Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth: Essential Works of Foucault 1954–84, trans. Catherine Porter, ed. Paul Rabinow,  (New York: The New Press, 1997), 319.

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patience, grasshopper

Like me, you may feel frazzled some days by 9:38 am. Already today I have discovered a fraudulent charge to my VISA card and had it, albeit grudgingly, expunged by an employee of Chase, and I’ve been told that “all agents” of the Social Security Administration are too busy to explain why I no longer exist, despite working since age 15.

OK, first world problems. I know.

Still, I hate that such petty annoyances have the power to raise my pulse rate and darken my mood. So to calm myself down and help you, dear readers, here’s a little quote from a useful article and some photos from out my window at a pretty scene on Elliott Bay to help remind us of the fleeting nature of … well, everything.

This is from “Smarter Living,” a feature of the New York Times on p. 3. It’s from an article by Anna Goldfarb called “How to be a more patient person”:

“Patience, the ability to keep calm in the face of disappointment, distress or suffering, is worth cultivating. The virtue is associated with a variety of positive health outcomes, such as reducing depression and other negative emotions. If you find yourself getting exasperated often, here are ways to keep those impulses in check.”

She lists three: Number one is “Interrupt the cycle and evaluate the risk” which has great examples: “For example: If standing in a long line drives you crazy, an appropriate mantra might be, ‘I’m in no rush at the moment.’ The idea is to take a step back […] It will soon pass, and, in all likelihood, you’ll forget it ever happened.”

The other two tips are: 2) “Reframe the experience and connect to a larger story.” Which at first glance, may seem almost identical to number 1, except Goldfarb’s example makes things personal and thus powerful: “Take, for example, someone irritated by a nitpicky co-worker. Instead of dwelling on your irritation, you could think about the times you’ve been the one who has frustrated others. ‘Give grace to others’.”

3) “Train, don’t try.” This one incited me to write this blog post. Sometimes if you write down the words, and go public about it, it sticks. (And you feel guilty when you fall short of the ideal). “It’s important to do it habitually,” the researchers say.

Before signing off, here are three positive things that have happened already today:

  1. The scene out my window created a beautiful image for these thoughts. If you read the images, you’ll see the ferry first seemed to sneak up behind the big ship, then passed behind it, and moved smoothly beyond it, out of reach.  Yet as the Zen master would remind us, “it is not gone.” It is merely out of sight, which is irrelevant to the Universe.  Our tiny beings and limited perceptions allow us to know so little. (In this case the ferry’s off to the West, chugging along the route to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island. )
  2. While researching the feature called “Smarter Living” for this post, I discovered an article that echoes my frustration with the Social Security Administration. I’ll try again tomorrow.
  3. A new order just arrived!  Someone requested a “Frankenstein Patchwork Pillow” (model 3, “Happy, happy creature”), bringing the production forces (me) into full swing at Honey Girl Books and Gifts. Thank you, Amaya and Elena, for your orders. It is a delight to create something beautiful for you!

To all you impatient people: Hang in there, everybody, and know that you are not alone. But try to get a handle, ok?  🙂




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presence + patience = connection


Isn’t it funny how we dread the things that can actually bring clarity and joy? Two weeks ago, I spent much of my time in dread and anxiety. I worried that Grammy’s death would pitch my husband into a bottomless depression. I feared leaving my new home for the trip to New Jersey, and suspending “Write YOUR Story” for two weeks, thinking that Honey Girl would grow gaunt and nervous by being caged in a kennel or that the writing workshop kids would find better things to do with their time, or that the new people I’ve met would delete me from their lives… What I found upon my return, however, is the opposite!



The frank expression of joy I saw on the faces of my fellow T’ai chi students last night upon entering the Seattle Kung Fu Club made my heart sing! The cozy complicity with the “Write YOUR Story” kids at the library on Wednesday evening also filled me with happiness. Instead of indifference, their major concern was, “Where were you?” and “Why were you late?” The way the entire staff of the Washington Beauty School perked up when I walked in the door for a hair appointment (“Our favorite client!”), and the photo that arrived in my in-box of a client’s grandchild looking pleased with her HGBG “Frankenstein Patchwork Pillow”: all of these small incidents drove home the feeling of belonging here, and being appreciated. Oh, and Honey Girl had so much fun with the dogs at the in-home “kennel” where she stayed, that she seems even happier than before! (She’s also grown a bit plump in the haunches, actually. Hardly a case of post-traumatic kennel stress.)

This transition has been a bumpy ride and I’ll admit that in late October I reversed my view on pharmaceuticals a bit, and got back on that tiny (10 mg) dose of the anti-depressant that helped me survive my parents’ death and the last years of work at Notre Dame. But that has been a reality-check too, and I do not regret it. Sometimes nerves need a helping hand to stay on a more even keel, for a while…

My message is this:  it is possible to re-invent yourself and be happy again in a completely different context, if you follow this formula:  presence + patience = connection.  And from connection comes that deep-seated feeling of happiness, of belonging, of being home.

It’s as simple as that. We are social beings. We need to be around people; our presence helps each other. We cannot make happiness arise without being there. We cannot predict how they will help us, we have to believe, and see what happens later….

For a deeper understanding of these lessons, here are some good quotes from writers over the ages:

  1. On presence

a) From Epictetus (circa 55–135 CE): “What is really your own? The use you make of the ideas, resources, and opportunities that come your way. Do you have books? Read them. Learn from them. Apply their wisdom. … Do you have a good idea? Follow up and follow through on it. Make the most of what you’ve got, what is actually yours.”  (The Art of Living, 12-13).

b) From Eckhart Tolle (1948–): “Try this for a couple of weeks and see how it changes your reality: Whatever you think people are withholding from you–praise, appreciation, assistance, loving care, and so on–give it to them. … Then, soon after you start giving, you will start receiving. You cannot receive what you don’t give. …  Ask yourself often: ‘What can I give here; how can I be of service to this person, this situation?'” (A New Earth, 191-192).

2. On patience

a) From Epictetus: “There is a great relief in being morally consistent: The soul relaxes, and we can thus efficiently move forward in our endeavors. […] The secret is not to get stuck there dithering or wringing your hands, but to move forward by resolving to heal yourself. Philosophy asks us to move into courage.”  (The Art of Living, 82-83)

b) From Eckhart Tolle: “When you yield internally, when you surrender, a new dimension of consciousness opens up. If action is possible or necessary, your action will be in alignment with the whole and supported by creative intelligence, the unconditioned consciousness which in a state of inner openness you become one with. Circumstances and people then become helpful, cooperative. Coincidences happen. If no action is possible, you rest in the peace and inner stillness that come with surrender.”  (Tolle, A New Earth, 58).

3. On connection

From E.M. Forster (1879-1970): “Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect.”  (Howard’s End, chap. 22)


The book cover you see above (The Rockin’ Radiated Rocks!) is the latest production of “Write YOUR Story”: a free writing workshop for kids age 8-12, that is now enrolling for Winter/Spring 2019!

The “Frankenstein Patchwork Pillow” is Model 3, “Happy, happy creature!”: available now via Honey Girl Books and Gifts.