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Hello, dear readers, it’s me, Miss Ruth! Everybody’s Auntie. 🙋 You know, that nice, older lady who always has a kind word for everyone. Yes, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. 😊 In fact, I think I may have business cards printed up someday:


Miss Ruth

Everybody’s Auntie

  • Gratitude is my Gig
  • Thankfulness is my Thing
  • Niceness is my Niche

Available anytime you need an encouraging word and a virtual punch on the arm.✌

P.S. Please don’t slouch, and don’t forget your vitamins.


With everything going on in the world these days, now, more than ever, we need to lift each other up. This is a unique time in the history of the world, in that we’re all going through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis together. There isn’t anyone who hasn’t been affected by it. 

It’s also given us all some insight into what life is like for those not customarily blessed with abundance. Being unable to get the basics for our families, such as toilet paper, food and medicine, is an object lesson.

Having gone through it as one, perhaps once it’s over, we can remember these trying times and allow empathy and compassion to deepen and take root in our hearts. 

Now, allow me to shore you up with some kindly-auntie affirmations:

A setback is a set-up for a come-back!

It’s always darkest before the dawn!

Zombies are really just misunderstood!

Oh. Sorry about that last one. That one may not actually qualify as an uplifting cliche. It may just be influenced by my quarantine movie binge-list.  

Anyway! Do what you can to stay safe, and keep in mind that everyone is doing their best in this time of crisis. When it’s all said and done, God willing, the family of man may come out of this closer than ever.

close up photo of water lily flowerIn these days of social distancing and self-quarantine, it’s a good time to shore each other up — virtually, of course — and offer the human nutrients of encouragement and inspiration. We can’t see each other in person, but we can still check in. So, how are you?

For those of you who are sick at home with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), our prayers are with you. For the rest of us, hearing about states shutting down and shoppers fighting over toilet paper, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed right now. 

I could tell you not to get stressed, but that doesn’t even seem reasonable. What I will offer is this suggestion: Gather all the facts you can from reputable sources. Do all your due diligence, then take your mind off everything virulent and volatile. That includes viruses, of course, but also people who are trying to amp you up, make you anxious, or otherwise just get on your nerves.

This is a good time to protect all that is precious to you, and remember: The order to shelter in place extends to your soul. Do all the things you can to stay sheltered in a place of peace. Take your mind off the catastrophe as a whole and focus on one thing at a time.

Remind yourself that you’re doing everything you can at this moment. You’re safe at home. Everything is okay where you are. Let it be okay. Don’t go back and check the stats every ten minutes. How many cases are there in my town today? What’s the latest terrifying news? 

Step away from the stress. Sit down and decompress. All will be well and life will go on. We’ll get through this together, and before you know it, the “new normal” will just be “normal” again. 

brown wooden ship's wheelWhat happens if one day God decides to process all the paperwork on your prayers and suddenly, you’re sitting on top of a big pile of money? You look out at the driveway and see that there are suddenly several new cars! In the backyard, there’s an in-ground pool and a sculptured-stone fire pit. You notice a small chalet in the corner of the yard. You ask, Is that the place where we store the gold-plated rider mower? No, you’re told. That’s the servants’ quarters!

Okay, you need to sit down and take a breath. What happens now? 

Once you get the resources you’ve been asking for, sure, there will be more money, but also more drama to deal with. More tasks to keep track of. More appliances in need of repair. More bureaucracy to navigate. More taxes to pay. 

Dealing with problems, lack of money, and doing without is ground-floor training for the good times. This is the time to develop a system by which you get important tasks done. To learn how to stay on budget. To prioritize what is screaming for attention and what is really just a squeaky door hinge.

If you hadn’t gone through the boot camp of making do and scraping by, you might never know how to manage abundance when it comes. Challenges aren’t punishment or penance. Trials aren’t tests, but training. So with that wherewithal-workout under your belt, when your ship comes in, you’ll already be wearing your captain’s hat, ready to take the wheel. 

don't give up. You are not alone, you matter signage on metal fence

A setback is a set-up for a comeback!

It’s always darkest before the dawn!

You’ve got this! 

These are some of my favorite “pleasant platitudes,” although I prefer to call it “staying on message” even when times get tough. Sure, it may seem as if I went to the Cliché Carousel and bought some annoying affirmations in bulk today, but these corny sayings have a kernel of truth. 😉

These are the kinds of things I’d say to the people who are in my heart, but for whatever reason, not often actually in my life. They go “radio silent” or “incommunicado.” Now, mind you, I know they’ve got their reasons. I might not be able to relate to their situation, but it doesn’t make their experience any less valid.

If friends or relatives are facing challenges that they can’t put into words, it’s hard not to think they’re mad at you or (perhaps worse) don’t care about you. Still, you’ve got to consider yourself first and shore up your own soul instead of worrying about them.

Take care of you. Until they share what’s going on, encourage yourself. Keep the faith. Count your blessings. Go to your happy place.

Then when they do finally open up, you’re centered and still. That’s when you can be fully present for them. Till then, focus on the positive and stay true to you. Godspeed, dear hearts!

This morning I woke up and was so tired, I slid right back into that pocket between sleep and wakefulness. That seems to be the place where I hear sage advice from someone.  (God? My own psyche? Relatives who have passed on?) 

And this time, I heard these words:

Expect the best like a dinner guest and set it a place at the table.

Then someone (my mother? A teacher?) said to me:

What are you punishing yourself for?

And I realized it was both a mildly exasperated, head-shaking statement, as well as existential question.  

So I had to mull it over. What am I punishing myself for? What do any of us give ourselves angst over?

  • Choices you made when you had no choice.
  • Stopgap measures that turned into persistent problems.
  • Mistakes that led to doing penance in perpetuity.

Many of us feel we’re in that pocket in between what we’d envisioned life would be and life as it is actually lived. We may end up making peace with where we are and making do with what we have. But maybe “expecting the best” is the mindset that precedes its arrival. Or perhaps it’s the clarion call your blessings need to hear. 

What if they’re flying overhead right now, waiting for you to tell them where to land? If changing your mind meant changing your life, we’d all set that extra place at the table. That way, when “the best” comes knocking, it will already feel right at home.

Time, Scholarship“Gravity” would be a great name for a girl, like “Charity” or “Felicity.” And you know, Gravity used to be my friend. We could hang, she and I. But lately, she has not been kind to me. Just like Time used to be on my side. Now, he just keeps rushing past, like he doesn’t even recognize me!

To tell you the truth, my old pal Gravity has just been bringing me down. As you get older, you realize that “the tincture of time” only applies to broken hearts. Not faces, hands, and…other assets. 

But Gravity’s just doing her job, and Time is on the clock, too.⏰ They all work for Providence. Nobody can play a role for which they’re not designed. The same is true of humans; we were made to live the full spectrum of experiences, including aging. 

At least it rolls out slowly, like a grey carpet of sorts. At first, you think, “Grey? Where’s the red carpet treatment?” On second thought, you realize that grey is a great choice for a carpet. Hides the dirt. Goes with every kind of decor. It’s soothing.

So, eventually, you’re going to look older as you age. I know that’s no great newsflash, but until you experience it, you may not realize it can affect how you feel about life. 

But you’re still the same person you always were. Gravity and Time may be contractually obligated to do their jobs (as an older person, I’ve realized they must be Teamsters), but Providence is ageless, and there’s no expiration date on Grace.

On jury duty years ago, we were given a break during a case so we could stretch our legs. I went to the snack store, picked up some noshes and got in line. When it was my turn, the cashier asked, “What have you got today, ma’am?” In response, I said, “Oh, just a couple of these things,” and absent-mindedly waved toward my snacks. “I’m sorry, ma’am, you’re going to have to be more specific,” he said. “You see, I’m unsighted.”

I apologized profusely — so much so that he realized I didn’t just mean I was sorry for the flip answer. I’ll never forget his response. He said, “No need to feel sorry, ma’am. If the Good Lord had wanted me to be sighted, he would’ve given me sight. I work around it.” 

His strength of character was impressive, but so was the collective moral compass that switched on for those waiting in line. The man could tell which coins he was being given by their weight and size, but the bills all felt alike, so he had to ask what denomination he was being given. 

Suddenly we all had eagle eyes. You say you gave him a twenty dollar bill? Let me check on that. People were craning their necks to keep everyone else honest. It was as if a tiny Community Watch had formed spontaneously.

I think of that day when I lose faith in humanity, or when I think I’ve got it hard due to my own visual impairment, which developed later. That man soldiered on despite the hardship and got it done. And those people in line did the right thing without being asked. The truth is, the milk of human kindness hasn’t yet soured into yogurt. Just under the surface, the still, small voice is speaking loud and clear.

Where did the phrase “under the weather” come from anyway? Surely no one is over the weather. Or above it somehow. Maybe there’s a travel agency for millionaires that allows them to exist in a pocket just above the jet stream. They get to bypass any dark clouds that rain on the rest of us.

Of course, that’s not true. Anyone can find themselves “under the weather.” It coincides with that moment when you realize you’re just not yourself. Who are you then? As it turns out, a stranger with bad intentions.

That happened to me last week. I became so consumed by the negative that I forgot there are always good things to focus on. You almost want to give your sad state a name, as if it’s a location on the map: Deep Doldrums, New Jersey. Not a nice place to visit, and you surely don’t want to live there. The roads are comprised entirely of potholes and litter. There are no traffic lights. No sidewalks. No safety features of any kind. Why? It’s designed by your own mind to be a dead-end street with no off-ramp.

The answer is to figure out what’s got you down. For me, it was health issues that seem to have no resolution, along with financial concerns. It took a week to work its way out of my system, but dawn finally broke. Once I shifted my focus to the part of the situation that I can improve and gave the rest over to God, I felt more hopeful. Lori and SueBE let me know they’ve always got my back, which helped more than words can say.  An answer will come along, but in the meantime, dear readers, don’t give up. A new day is on its way.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? It’s not just all in your head. Your experience is valid. Even if no one else shows up to support you, remember to show up for yourself.

Walk out of the room where negative notions gripped you. Keep walking until you find the room you’ve designated as Home Base. A grace-place where all is well, no matter what else is going on in the world. 

Search online for deep breathing techniques and calming music videos.

Watch a live stream from a cat cafe.

Breathe in through the nose. Out through the mouth. 

Remind yourself: You’re here, not there.

Be here, where that virtual cliff’s edge isn’t. Be where the worst that could happen, hasn’t.

Be in this breath. This breath is blessed.

Do something symbolic, like stretching toward the sky, reaching for the clouds. Light a candle. Watch old sitcoms. Go to Mayberry, or even Petticoat Junction. Everything’s okay there.

Talk to your own mind. Stay here. Don’t go down that dark alley that doesn’t really exist yet. In the peaceful place of yes, you may find the antidote to that no. Shelter in place until the looming doom passes. Keep the faith: The sun will rise again.

This morning, I woke up dehydrated and in pain. The first thought that occurred to me was, “I shouldn’t feel this way every day. There must be an answer to this!”

The answer in this case was to drink water. That’s the first thing to address. Lots and lots of water. Oranges are replenishing, as well. That’s the short-term answer to feeling dehydrated. Re-hydrating may seem obvious when you’re parched, but I had to take the problems separately, and also, not take them personally. Everybody’s got troubles. 

I’ve also been feeling unmoored, like I’m not really as connected as I’d like to be. Connected to what is unclear. To God? To a social group? To resources? All of the above, perhaps. Also to a meaningful project. A sense that I’m creating and building toward a goal.

But as I sat and thought about it, I’ve already started in that direction. I’ve been following through on my commitment to healthier eating and exercise. I’ve been writing every day. Trying to learn new things. Staying in a positive frame of mind. Granted, most of my energy goes toward finding creative ways to cover all the bills that are due each month. Figuring out how to access the infusions I need for my MS that cost a small fortune. This depletes my stores of energy and concentration, but I still keep going.

You may be in a similar situation. Feeling like you’re not moving forward. But don’t give up. You’re on the right track. Sometimes, you can’t even see the train because you’re on it.

Don’t lose hope when you realize there’s still so much to off-load. You’re carrying that cargo, sure, but you’re still moving through the countryside. Don’t lose heart. You’re almost to the next station.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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