Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem

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My 2021 and 2022 Reading Lists

Before I get into my 2021 and 2022 reading lists, let me make a couple of confessions:

  1. I’m sorry for my long absence. Like many of you, I’ve struggled during the pandemic to just keep up with life. It’s been so busy and draining that, as much as I wanted to write, I didn’t. And I decided not to make myself feel guilty for it.
  2. I didn’t read much in 2021 and 2022. I was just too emotionally spent. If you’ve followed this blog long, you know that most of my reading is on the topics of self improvement and business, not as much fiction. And I just didn’t have the emotional capacity or desire to dig into much of anything like that.

Instead, the one piece of media that did keep me entertained steadily throughout the pandemic (until recently) was The West Wing Weekly podcast. I was a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing TV show, and this podcast is total wish fulfillment. It features cast and crew from the show was well as many other special guests, and it is clear that the team behind this show all loved and respected each other—and had a lot of fun making it. Plus, the hosts are Josh Malina, who played Will Bailey on the show, and Hrishikesh Hirway, a friend of Josh’s and West Wing fanatic. They are so funny together and have great rapport. It was an excellent podcast and a bright spot during such trying times. I highly recommend it!

Okay, back to books!

As mentioned, it’s a short list! To be honest, it’s even shorter than I thought, ha!

What about you? What did you read and would recommend?


Need more reading suggestions?

2020 Reading List

2019 Reading List

2018 Reading List

2017 Reading List

2016 Reading List

2015 Reading List

2014 Reading List

2013 Reading List

2012 Reading List

2011 Reading List


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2021 Budget-Friendly Travel Resources

After 18 months at home, who else is ready to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!?!?!

Travel is so incredibly important to me, and it has been extremely difficult on my mental health to stay home during the pandemic. In fact, I’ve been so tired of staring at my apartment that I literally started taking items down off the walls and selling them at my local consignment shop, ha!

But I’m vaccinated and ready to hit the road, the rails, and the friendly skies—anywhere that’ll have me!

However, as a someone who is self-employed, I also need to be mindful of my spending and make every dollar count. So, I’m always on the lookout for a deal, especially when it comes to travel.

If you know what it’s like to yearn for the open road but have all the feelings about your finances, I’ve got you covered.

Here are a few of my favorite budget-friendly travel resources:

  • Chase Sapphire: This is BY FAR the best travel card out there, and that’s not just my opinion but the opinion of many travel pros. The awesome thing about Chase Ultimate Reward points is they can be used for all kinds of travel and entertainment deals, not just flights or hotels. Additionally, when you redeem through their site, your points have up to 25% greater value. And the offer right now is fantastic, so don’t miss it!
  • TrustedHousesitters: Like pets? If so, you can stay in someone’s home for free and watch their pets while they’re away. I’ve done this a few times for both staycations and cross-country adventures, and I look forward to a global sit at some point.
  • TravelZoo: They have an awesome newsletter each Wednesday that will send you the top 20 travel deals from your destination. There are some incredible deals, and this is where I found the travel company I used to go to England, Ireland, and Scotland.
  • Travel Pirates: Another great weekly newsletter with a sense of humor to consider, and they also have trip flight and destination giveaways a couple of times each year.
  • Secret Flying: There are some unbelievable flight deals on this website, and they also post “error fares” which are mistakes the airlines make. If you’re interested in error fares, I suggest getting Twitter notifications so that you can find out about them immediately and take advantage of them quickly before the airline corrects them. This is how I got my $250 airfare to Barcelona—that I bought it in just 10 minutes!

There are, of course, many other wonderful travel tools out there, but if I could only share a few with you, these are at the top of my list.

By the way, if you have multiple travel reward programs to track, I recommend using AwardWallet to keep all the details and points handy and be able to update them at once. I have 19 different accounts including airlines, hotels, rental cars, and Amtrak and this makes it easy to see everything at once.

I hope I’ve inspired you to get out there as soon as you feel safe. There are certainly deals to be had!

Happy travels!


My 2020 Reading List


Whew—what a year! Who else is ready to show 2020 the door?

Despite the pandemic, racial injustice, natural disasters, and presidential election, you and I made it through the last 12 months. Not only that, you probably found some bright spots along the way, too.

Light moments, funny moments, poignant moments, and heartfelt moments gave us the motivation and capacity to keep moving forward. And I’ve always found that some of those feel-good moments include books.

Whether you used books to retreat from the world or shed light on it, it’s amazing what a few hundred pages can do for your life.

Here are a few books that made my 2020 a little bit better:

Also . . .

My self-care routine this year largely consisted of a weekly trip to the Starbucks drive-through and listening to The West Wing Weekly. If you were a fan of the TV series, then you’ll love this homage podcast!

Here are some of my other favorite podcasts:

Need more reading suggestions?

2019 Reading List

2018 Reading List

2017 Reading List

2016 Reading List

2015 Reading List

2014 Reading List

2013 Reading List

2012 Reading List

2011 Reading List

Short on time, too? Try Blinkist, which recaps popular books in 10 minutes!

Happy reading (and listening)! And here’s to a better 2021!


Tips and Info From My Friend with Coronavirus

Tips and Info From My Friend with CoronavirusEven at the rate things are progressing, I hope and pray that you are lucky enough to not know someone with the coronavirus. Sadly, that’s not the case for me.

On March 21st, I found out that my friend from high school is currently battling it. And she’s been sharing information, advice, and tips over the last couple of days because she wants everyone to be informed. I’m not giving her name, as requested, but she wants us all to hear relevant information, and also understand the seriousness of the situation (if you don’t already).

I know many of us have underlying health issues, including me, so consider this our PSA to keep you all well and healthy. 🙂

Here are a few things you might not be hearing as often that we wanted to make you aware of. These are her first-hand experiences, and what the doctors have told her. Keep in mind that she is 43-years-old with no underlying health issues. And she and her family were already staying indoors for five days or so when she started exhibiting symptoms.

I know some of you are still out running errands and doing things as normal, but please take every precaution and follow the advice to stay indoors. And, of course, listen to your health care professionals and information from the CDC.

Also, if you’re looking for some more positive things to see/do, I put together a previous post for making the most of the coronavirus at home.

Please take care! (And sent good thoughts and prayers to my friend, others who are battling this virus, and those that are keeping us safe and well-stocked!)

March 21st is day five of COVID-19 for her, and she’s still unsure of how she got it. Her family is active, but she already homeschooled her kids, so she wasn’t in a traditional office/group environment.

– My first sign of symptoms was that I took a deep breath and noticed a little gunk on deep inhalation. I felt fine and chalked it up to allergies. A few hours later, I had the tiniest fever of 99.6. I went to bed, woke up next day, and felt much better. Thought it was odd, but no big deal. A few hours later, it hit like a ton of bricks. It’s a crazy virus, because I’ll feel like garbage for hours with 103+ temp, aches, chills, headache, and sore throat from the constant cough. (You constantly hear about a dry cough, but mine has a bit of gunk. The doctor said it’s not unheard of, especially if you have allergies, or things have really started to settle.) Then, it will magically resolve, and I’ll feel really good, but a few aches. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was okay to leave isolation. Then it’s back again. I can absolutely see how this spreads so easily now.

– The doctor reiterated to everyone in our house: Do not leave your house. Do not have anyone go shopping unless supplies have dwindled. Put a note on the front door that says you are not taking visitors. Do not treat this like the regular flu. (Tips for handling groceries and takeout

– The coronavirus is nasty, but I’ll recover. The lungs are already inflamed before you even realize it—possibly for weeks. Hot tea and honey does help.

– The virus lives on surfaces up to 9 days—including mail! If you get packages, open them outside and leave the trash. If you put the mail in the freezer, as some people are promoting, you risk it contaminating everything in there until it dies off. After touching anything that has come inside the house, immediately clean your hands. And if someone you are close to needs supplies and are unable to go out (and you have some to spare), drop them at the front door, call them, and leave. (More on packages/mail.)

– If you go outside, pick a pair of shoes—these are now your outside shoes. Keep them outside of the house (garage or backseat of car, if it’s not used for kids or food). When you come inside, change clothes immediately, and take a shower. Toss your worn clothes directly into the washer or laundry basket. (Don’t forget to disinfect things like laundry baskets, too.)

– If you are having breathing issues, do not diffuse essential oils or do anything that puts more particles into the air (even hair spray). The slightest thing you breathe in can worsen your already irritated lungs. If someone in your house has it, they should also follow this rule for you. Run a humidifier with plain water only.

– If someone is coughing a lot or struggling to breathe, making them talk worsens the issue. If you need to check on them, text so they don’t have to use their voice.

– KP note: It’s March 21st (Day 5 of COVID-19 for her) and her breathing is improving a little bit. She said when it’s bad, it’s a struggle just to breathe. Under normal circumstances, she said she’d be in a hospital. They do have her on some medications, though. She also said days 5-7 are when it either gets better or worse, so she’s right at that point and feeling a little better than yesterday, but as noted above, it can change fast. She’ll be isolated for at least 10-14 days.

March 22nd (Day 6): She’s right on the expected timeline, and is having definite improvements. The steroids and inhaler make it hard to sleep, so she’s been up since early hours, but only one major coughing fit! Other small coughing fits at times, but she looks and sounds WAY better. (Day 4 was the worst.) She’s getting lots of questions, but a common one is how to isolate someone in the house. So, I’m putting her instructions below that she wrote to her dad. You’ll see that she always maintains a great attitude and sense of humor.

March 23rd (Day 7): She had a shallow, constant, dry cough all day, which still made it hard to talk. Her fever was better, but it was still a hard mental day because her symptoms cleared up for a few hours and then came back. But she is getting some of her strength back, as well as her sense of taste. She said sometimes it’s hard to focus or think because of all the coughing, which is the lack of oxygen to the brain. And, weirdly, she’s noticed more gray hair!

March 24th (Day 8): Cough is still there. Not terribly deep, but gunky and fairly constant. Otherwise, she’s feeling pretty good, like day four of the regular flu, she thinks. Not a ton of energy, but she’s getting by. And today is her last day of two of the meds. The Tamiflu and one of the steroid cough meds are for five days only, but she has another cough med for 10 days, and then an inhaler as long as she needs it. She’s hoping to get an X-ray in a few months to see if there is any permanent damage to her lungs, and she would need to retain an inhaler. (KP note: By the way, at this point, I feel like I’m writing the captain’s log statements from Star Trek. 🙂 )

March 27th (Day 11): A slow, uphill climb, but she’s still improving. The meds make her loopy, but she’s okay with it! She’s heard new information about the virus “shedding,” meaning even when you start feeling better, the virus can shed off of you and infect others. This is why the two-week isolation is super important, and for this reason, she’s considering a 20-day isolation, to ensure that no one in her family will get it. (more here and here)

March 28th (Day 12): She feels better! Still the tiniest bit of a productive cough, but she woke up this morning feeling good! Today marks day 12 of this mess. She said it feels like 50, but that’s okay. She’ll actually be extending her in-room isolation to 20 days as new studies have shown that patients continue to “shed” the virus for longer than previously thought. She also said thank goodness for her puppy cam downstairs, so that she can feel a bit like part of the house and watch the kids run around. (Her sense of taste as returned as well, though she’s still not really hungry.)

April 2nd (Day 17): She’s feeling much better, but the cough won’t go away. And she still gets a little short of breath at times. So, she’s obviously still self-isolating until she’s certain she won’t pass this on to her family or anyone else.

April 7th (Day 22): She’s still improving! She has the tiniest bit of cough here and there, so she’s giving it a few more days to help ensure that she’s not contagious to her family. Fingers crossed she’ll be able to leave her room soon!

April 10th (Day 25): Good news—she feels almost 100% better! Still some lingering lung disfunction, but nothing awful. She’s thinking that she’ll leave isolation on Sunday. That will have given any residual cooties a few extra days off, according to her. 😉

April 12th (Day 27): SHE’S OUT!!! After feeling really good for over a week, minus a bit of a slight cough that’s probably permanent from lung damage, she finally rejoined the rest of the house tonight! She’s still using the inhaler as needed, but that’s less and less. She gave it a few extra days, so that any potential virus in there with her had time to die. Then, she bleached and steam cleaned her room within an inch of its life!

She said it was surreal coming out of that room after 27 days. The silver lining in all of this is that now she should have immunity, so she can go get groceries and be around her family without exposing them to the virus. 

– KP note: As of April 13th, I know four people in three states with the virus, one of which is “stable, but critical” condition. The one with the most serious issues developed pneumonia as a result of the virus, and had that for two weeks before it triggered a heart attack, resulting in emergency surgery. All are showing signs of improvement, which, I hope and pray continues. I know recovery won’t be an outcome for many, but so grateful the people I know are okay for now.

And I asked my friend for any additional words of advice outside of what she gave to her friends on social media and those that I’ve chronicled here. Here’s what she said:

“My only other advice is that everyone should journal in one form or another.   Looking back, there is so much I had already forgotten. We’re making history, and research scientists are already missing out on so much info due to lack of testing. Leave something for future generations.”

Great advice! Keep doing your part, everyone!


“This is an email I wrote to my dad. They are lucky enough to have mine and my sister’s old bedrooms and bathroom, so they might have more space than you. Or if you have small children, clearly this would not fully apply either, but if you can manage, these are our methods that we are putting into practice.

I have many medical professional friends who might add something that I’ve left out because they are awesome. I’m too lazy to type it out, so it is a cut and paste. Here you go:

Hello, Daddy! You get this because, if mom gets sick, well, you’re turning into Suzy Homemaker. It will probably be closer to an Amelia Bedelia situation, though. If you don’t get that reference you should read more children’s literature or just ask Mom.

We’re calling present time DEFCON 4. Since you are currently in DEFCON 4, you might consider going ahead and using separate bedrooms. This doesn’t entail any lock downs or anything, but just an extra layer of security. After TWO WEEKS is up (since the last person left the house), then you can move back down to DEFCON 3. No more crazy hand washing like you’re a raccoon with a handful of ice cream. Hurray.


If one of you even thinks you are getting it, immediately use separate bedrooms. It’s so nice that you have the space and two bathrooms to do this. In fact, go ahead and get a couple of changes of clothes for both of you, towels, extra toothbrushes, and stock the other room now. If you have a humidifier, go ahead and get it ready so it’s easy. Water only!

If you aren’t already separated, then the bedroom door gets closed. No hugs, no kisses, no lingering. The well person goes to the laundry room, clothes straight in, and use the clean bathroom to shower. Lots of soap, and change into clean clothes. Set up a tv tray OUTSIDE the sick door. Do your best to wipe down commonly used surfaces. No vacuuming. This puts crap in the air.

You will not see each other for two weeks. The sick person is not allowed out for midnight snacking or drinks, so go ahead and put some crackers or whatever, toilet paper, bottled water, etc., on their table. All meals will be on paper products that will be thrown away. You can give them a box of plastic forks to toss as they go or regular silverware but then they will be washing it in the bathroom sink and that is now their fork for the duration.


They will have a trash bag in their room, and all the trash stays in there for the full two weeks. Same for laundry. Do not touch it. NOTHING LEAVES THAT ROOM. Did I mention that?

That door is to stay closed 24/14. (Two weeks, not one. No, not even if they feel better. They are still shedding cooties like a dog with fleas.) The only exception to that rule is when patient zero (not you) opens that door to retrieve meals. You can holler and let them know it’s there (or knock if they are mostly deaf and/or listening to the TV at levels to make the neighbors deaf). Make sure you are well clear of the door (minimum 6 feet). If sicko cannot contain themselves and must speak, then they need to back up 6 feet into the room and cover their mouth. That keeps their funk from spraying into the safe zone.

Talking makes the cough worse, so texting is best. If you need to get each other’s attention and the coughing one isn’t answering, the door can be knocked on loudly from your own side. No peaking your head in to check unless you think they might be in distress. You best have a mask on if you do that, though. No going in still. The floor on the other side is lava.

Any books, crafts, laptops, phones that go into hazmat area now live there for the next two weeks. So if there is something you really need out of there, go ahead and get it ready now. Make sure it all gets extra cleaned when you’re doing the big clean. This counts double for your phone.

You are now a positive house in the most negative way possible. Congratulations on winning the Suck Contest. No opening doors for visitors (NOT THAT YOU WERE DOING THAT ANYWAYS, RIGHT!?). Put a sign up that says you are infected. I would say that would keep everyone away, but there are some truly idiotic people out there. Bless their hearts.

Love you. Try not to go crazy. What a story this will be in 20 years when we’ve all had therapy.”

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Ideas for Making the Best of the Coronavirus at Home

Making the Best of the Coronavirus at HomeThere’s no shortage of information online about COVID-19 right now, and frankly, most of it is scary. It’s stressful and anxiety-inducing. Many of us are secluded and on edge.

BUT, in the midst of it, there are people helping, showing kindness, and inspiring others. I think those are the people we should be filling our screens with.

I never tire of this Mister Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

So, as we all practice “social distancing” for the next few weeks (at least), I wanted to highlight some helpers, as well as ways that can help you cope—because they’ve helped me.

 >> Update 3/21: Tips and Info From My Friend with Coronavirus <<


Stress, anxiety, and uncertainty are often a result of us feeling out-of-control. And, while we ultimately have little control in our lives anyway, this will help give you back a sense of control during these crazy times.



Practicing mindfulness is hard to do, especially if it’s new to you, but it helps keep you in the present. It’s not about what has happened (past) or what might happen (future), but what is actually going on in the space you inhabit at this moment, and what you can experience in your five senses right now.

  • Calm meditation app
  • Abide Christian meditation app
  • My friend, Jerome Lubbe, is giving away free, daily videos from his course, the NeuroTheology of Self-Care.
  • There are lots of meditation and yoga exercises on YouTube.



Even if you don’t necessarily feel anxious, these suggestions can still improve your day.

  • Start a gratitude journal. I’ve been writing down three things every evening that I’m grateful for over the last few months, and find it helpful.
  • Use essential oils. They smell good, and have healing properties. (I use doTerra.)
  • Light a candle. This can lighten the mood for many of us.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. It may seem more difficult at times, but you’ll act more rationally when rested.
  • Listen to classical music. I was reminded of this one recently, so I turned on an Amazon Music classical music station, and almost immediately felt better.
  • Exercise indoors or outdoors. Get outside and get that Vitamin D! Or stay inside and try something new.
  • Get back to your hobbies. This can be a good way to fill your day, and keep your hands busy.
  • Stay connected. If you feel lonely or overwhelmed, reach out to someone else.
  • Read your Bible or the Jesus Calling app, and share your favorite verses with others.
  • Focus on hope. My friend, Jen Gordon, created the Hope Deck to keep scripture front-of-mind for people every day of the year. It’s also a great gift!
  • I’ll say it again, clean! Having a clean and serene environment can go a long way in making you feel more at ease.
  • Host a one-minute dance party! I have friends that do this regularly, but it certainly can’t hurt now! Blast your favorite music and get your groove on.
  • Curl up with a weighted blanket. Many of us love the “hug” feeling that comes with one of these blankets. (Here’s mine.)
  • Take a personal or business retreat. If you have the time, why not, right? This is a terrific time to do some planning.
  • Get a short-term pet! Some animal shelters are closing temporarily, so they’re looking for people to care for animals during the crisis.
  • Send a card. Make someone else smile, and yourself, too! Hallmark is giving away free cards!



I’m currently lamenting that my ticket to “Hamilton” will likely be canceled next month, but just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t find any culture.



I love a good “end of the world” show as much as anyone, but especially if you are someone who is easily affected by them, lay off for now. Watch something light-hearted or that will make you smile.

  • Morning Boost – TODAY Show does these segments where they just show vides that make you happy. There was a sweet one today where a woman in Spain turns 80, and her neighbors left a cake outsider her door and sang happy birthday from their windows.
  • Atlanta on the Cheap – Even if you aren’t in ATL like me, so many things are happening online right now, and this is a great resource for events. I also think it’s cool that the zoo is doing a “Safari from Home” for kids!
  • Virtual story hour for kids from popular authors is a really cool way to entertain kids.
  • Many streaming services are pitching in as well, for your viewing pleasure. For example, Disney+ released Frozen 2 early. Netflix, Hulu, and Prime are getting in on the action, too, so check your device!
  • Jimmy Fallon has been hosting at home versions of The Tonight Show on YouTube!
  • Travel Pirates has put together the “9 National Parks You Can Virtually Tour from Your Couch”
  • Many churches already offered their services through online streaming or audio, and lots more have started doing it this month as well. If you don’t belong to a church family, ask a friend what they recommend. This is a great time to turn to your faith.
  • Audible is providing free stories for kids since they’re are out of school. (Including the first Harry Potter book!)
  • There are also oodles of live web cams to keep you entertained, distracted, or calm. How about puppies or pandas?
  • Consider a Kindle Unlimited subscription to catch up on all those books you’ve wanted to read.
  • Rosetta Stone is giving students three months of free access.
  • Follow #COVIDkindness on social media for positive news and outcomes!



  • Many libraries have online options where you can read books, magazines, get audiobooks, watch movies, and more.
  • Trim can help you save money in all kinds of ways, including saving money on your telephone and cable bills, and negotiating your APR.
  • Money Saving Mom is a great resource for deals.
  • Many cell phone carriers are opening up free Wifi hotspot access at this time, and also offering free and cheap plans for low-income families. Get the full scoop on what telephone and internet providers are doing here.
  • U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage for students impacted by closings.
  • Homeowners affected by the coronavirus can get help with their mortgage payments. I’ve also heard it can be a good time to refinance mortgages due to low rates!
  • Meat can be expensive, so consider switching to more plant-based meals. They’re cheaper and often healthier!
  • Free and cheap ways to stream TV and movies.
  • Clark Howard and The Penny Hoarder put out content daily on saving money.
  • Save money on a meal prep kit, and get a comparison of the services.
  • Lots of stores are also offering great deals right now, so check out your favorites! (This includes business resources.)



I saw a friend post about this, and I thought it was a terrific idea! So many of us who own small businesses, are self-employed, and/or part of the gig economy are really freaked out right now. My business income fluctuates each month, and several of my clients are travel-related, so I’m not sure what’s in store. And I feel so terrible for low-wage hourly workers, who are at home and also don’t have child care. Let’s do our part to support each other!

  • Shop online
  • Buy services and products (lots of restaurants, for example, are still doing pick-up and delivery) – Don’t forget to leave a good tip when possible!
  • Buy gift cards for physical stores you can’t visit right now
  • Order fresh, local produce – In Atlanta, I recommend Fresh Harvest!
  • Gift services, products, and gift cards to others if you can afford to share the love with those who might need it. Brighten their day!
  • Donate money to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations if you want to support them, but don’t need anything.
  • Follow your favorite small businesses (social media and email) and share their message with others.



Obviously, because of my work, this one is important to me as well. This is a great time to let people know what you stand for!

  • If you can still afford to make donations, please do! If you can’t give, at least help spread their message.
  • The spring is prime event season, so many people are having to cancel major fundraisers, which is a huge burden. However, many nonprofits and social impact companies are also finding creative ways to host their events online or offer some sort of alternative experience.
  • If you aren’t sure how best to help, contact them and ask!
  • Have a few, spare dollars? Consider donating to Modest Needs, who is providing short-term assistance to those in need, including hourly workers.



How can you lighten the load for those at risk, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems?

  • Offer to run errands for them. I have a weak immune system, and a friend offered to do my grocery shopping—so sweet! Especially, because wait times for deliveries right can be days away, and item availability changes quickly.
  • Point them to resources. Some grocery stores in your area may offer early hours for individuals aged 60+, so let them know. There are always multiple ways to make sure they get their medications (and at a discount). And, of course, many people (affected or not) could use financial service resources. Keep your people in the loop!
  • Reach out and say hi. Some of my favorite viral videos right now are the creative ways people are reaching out or keeping in touch. Many at-risk people are already prone to isolating themselves, so let’s make sure they are less lonely.



Talk about stress-inducing! You definitely want to stay updated, but leaving news on all day long can feed your anxiety. Keep your news limited, and get it from credible sources.

  • – The official website from the CDC. I also follow them on Twitter just to see the new info at a glance.



I hope you don’t need this, but there’s no shame if you do. I’ve seen professional counselors and therapists throughout my life, and they can be incredibly helpful. Take care of yourself in every way possible.


ABOVE ALL, find ways to show kindness to others and share the good news. Nothing can boost your mood and give you a good distraction more than doing something for someone else. How can you be a helper?

What did I miss? I’ll try and update this post as we go.