Announcing Guelph’s Official Bird…

The Black-Capped Chickadee has been chosen as Guelph’s official bird. Honorable mentions go to Chimney Swift and Green Heron.

A bold, inquisitive bird, the Black-Capped Chickadee can adapt to almost any environment and may even feed from friendly “human” hands. Small and short-billed with a black cap and throat, the chickadee communicates with its flock-mates using fifteen different calls. The best known is the chickadee-dee-dee that gives the bird its name.

The Black-Capped Chickadee is also the provincial bird of New Brunswick and state bird of Massachusetts and Maine.

Here are ten more interesting facts:

1. Chickadees usually mate for life.

2. These birds build nests in holes, mainly dead trees or rotten branches.

3. The females lay six to eight white eggs, marked with reddish-brown spots. Eggs are incubated for 12 to 13 days, until they hatch. Chicks grow quickly and fledge in 14 to 18 days.

4. Their wing beats are about 27 times per second. In comparison, a hummingbird’s wing beats are 80 beats per second.

5. The chickadee possesses excellent spatial memory. During the warmer months, it hides seeds and other foods in different spots. The bird can remember the hiding places a month after catching the food.

6. These birds observe and adapt the food-finding behavior of successful flock-mates. Unproductive activity is ignored.

7. On cold winter nights, the chickadees can reduce their body temperatures by as much as 12 degrees Celsius (from their normal temperature of 42 degrees Celsius) to conserve energy.

8. A frequent visitor to bird feeders, the chickadee is a ravenous eater, especially just before dusk. It can gain as much as ten percent of its body weight each day.

9. Research has shown that the survival rate of chickadees doubles when they have access to feeders during cold weather. In the winter, these birds require twenty times more food than they do in the summer.

10. Their favorite foods: sunflower seeds, suet, and coconut.

Deciding to Follow-Through

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

On Fridays, I receive Hope Clark’s newsletter, Funds for Writers. Here’s a thought-provoking essay from a recent email:

Steven Pressfield (the author of The War of Art) speaks about the difficulty of pushing through and reaching THE END of whatever you are writing. It could be a poetry chapbook. It could be a memoir. It could be fiction of any genre or any word count. It could be a how-to on cabinetmaking or a children’s picture book. A lot of writers struggle with perfecting an effort and reaching THE END.

Why? Because that is the point where you let others read it . . . and get feedback. That is when you submit for publication . . . and get feedback. The feedback is the thrill and the agony of writing, and sometimes we feel safer just saying we’re still writing it, because that is the world in which we feel safest.

What are we afraid of?

-Being told it’s just okay. Or worse, that it’s bad, but frankly, once we hear it’s okay the meaning is the same.

-Prematurely releasing your darling in the world. But who’s to say when it’s premature?

-Learning after all that time invested that we really do not know what we are doing. It’s called being a phony.

Look across social media. When an author talks about typing THE END, or submitting to the publisher, or having a release date, a lot of the public admire first and foremost the fact that the author got to that point. You think it. I think it. Everyone thinks it.

There’s a reason that authors continually get asked the questions: “What is your work regimen?” and “Where do you get your ideas?” Successful freelancers get asked similar questions. The basic underlying question is “How do you make it all the way through . . . then do it again?”

It’s magic. It’s a genetic gift. It’s a unique upbringing.

No, it’s deciding to follow-through. And nothing on this earth gets in your way in doing this but you.

Sign up to receive Hope Clark’s newsletter here.

Blurb Blitz: Big Shot

I’m happy to welcome author Kirsten Weiss. Today, Kirsten shares her new release, Big Shot.

Blurb

Small Town. Big Murder.

The number one secret to my success as a bodyguard? Staying under the radar. But when a wildly public disaster and a dead client blew up my career and reputation, it turned my perfect, solo life upside down.

I thought my tiny hometown of Nowhere would be the ideal out-of-the-way refuge to wait out the media storm.

It wasn’t.

My little brother had moved into a treehouse. The obscure mountain town had decided to attract tourists with the world’s largest collection of big things… Yes, Nowhere now has the world’s largest pizza cutter. And lawn flamingo. And ball of yarn…

And then I stumbled over a dead body.

All the evidence points to my brother being the bad guy. I may have been out of his life for a while—okay, five years—but I know he’s no killer. Can I clear my brother before he becomes Nowhere’s next Big Fatality?

A fast-paced and funny cozy mystery series, buy Big Shot now to take advantage of the special pre-order price of 99 cents.

Murder mystery game included in the back of the book!

Excerpt

My low heel caught on something, and I stumbled backward.

Normally, this wouldn’t have been an issue. I was fairly light on my feet. But a howling mass of gray fur flew around the corner of the building at the same moment. I threw up my hands to protect myself and thudded into something hard and muscular.

Powerful arms wrapped around my chest. And since my hands were protecting my face, the arms grabbed a very sensitive spot. Two sensitive spots, actually.

“Watch it,” a masculine voice rumbled.

I jerked away, and he released me. Embarrassed and indignant, I whirled and glared into a pair of green eyes full of mirth.

My gaze moved upward to his dark, curling hair. For the first time since the accident, I felt like I was in the real world. He was real.

He was also at least six-foot-two, because he was four inches taller than me. He looked like the Greek god of war—not the Ares from the marble statues, the one from that old TV show, Xena, Warrior Princess (my secret hero). The effect was in no way diminished by his white t-shirt and jeans stained at the knees.

“There are easier ways to get to know me,” he said.

Buy Links

Kindle | Apple Books | Nook | Google Play | Kobo

NOTE: The book will be on sale for $0.99 during the tour.

Author Bio and Links

Kirsten Weiss writes laugh-out-loud, page-turning mysteries. Her heroines aren’t perfect, but they’re smart, they struggle, and they succeed. Kirsten writes in a house high on a hill in the Colorado woods and occasionally ventures out for wine and chocolate. Or for a visit to the local pie shop.

Kirsten is best known for her Wits’ End, Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, and Tea & Tarot cozy mystery books. So if you like funny, action-packed mysteries with complicated heroines, just turn the page…

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Giveaway

Kirsten Weiss will be awarding a $10 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

In addition to the Rafflecopter, the author is running a pre-order promotion on her website.

Follow Kirsten on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Honoring Female Inventors

May is National Inventors Month, a month set aside to recognize the curiosity and imagination of people who innovate and create.

Today and for the next two Fridays, I will be highlighting innovative women who have imagined, developed, tested, and perfected their creations.

Jeanne Villepreux-Power (1794 – 1871)

The French naturalist started her scientific studies on the island of Sicily. While studying the paper nautilus (an unusual octopus that spends its life drifting the oceans near the surface), Jeanne Villepreux-Power decided to test a popular hypothesis. It was believed that the nautilus took its shell from another organism. She created the first glass aquarium to observe the nautilus in controlled conditions and proved that it made its own shell. She also designed a glass apparatus within a cage for studying shallow water creatures and a cage-like aquarium that could be raised and lowered to different depths.

Margaret E. Knight (1828 – 1914)

A Maine resident, 30-year-old Margaret Knight built a machine that folded and glued paper to create a flat-bottomed paper bag. When the paper bags became popular, a man stole the idea. In court, he argued that a woman “could not possibly understand the mechanical complexities.” Knight won her case and went on to invent over 100 different machines. She patented 20 of them, including a rotary engine, a shoe-cutting machine, and a window frame with a sash.

Josephine Cochrane (1839 – 1913)

After servants chipped her heirloom dishes, American inventor Josephine Cochrane invented a mechanical dishwasher that held dishes securely in a rack. At the same time, the pressure of a water sprayer cleaned them. In 1883, her husband died and left her with substantial debt. Determined to pay off her debts, Cochrane obtained a patent in 1886 and began marketing her dishwasher to hotels. In those days, women did not cross hotel lobbies alone. She later commented, “I thought I should faint at every step, but I didn’t—and I got an $800 order as my reward.” In 1893, her dishwasher was exhibited at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In 1915, her company was bought by Kitchen Aid.

Mary Anderson (1866 – 1953)

An Alabama resident, real estate developer and rancher, Mary Anderson visited New York City in 1902. When she rode in a trolley car, she noticed the driver had to open the panes of the front window to see through falling sleet. Back in Alabama, she set to work on a solution. Her device used a lever inside the vehicle to control a rubber blade on the windshield. Despite its effectiveness, car manufacturers dismissed Anderson’s invention. One Canadian firm commented, “We do not consider it to be of such commercial value as would warrant its sale.” In 1922, Cadillac became the first manufacturer to include a windshield wiper on all its vehicles. Soon afterward, wipers became standard equipment.

Sarah Breedlove (1867 – 1919)

While working as a laundress, Sarah Breedlove observed that many black women struggled with hair loss and scalp diseases. The reasons: a lack of indoor plumbing and harsh ingredients in hair products. She developed her own life of hair care products specifically designed for African American hair. Hoping to evoke Parisian luxury, she branded the products with her new identity of Madam C. J. Walker. Later, she set up a college to train “hair culturists,” creating employment opportunities for thousands of African American women. Breedlove became the first female self-made millionaire in the United States.

Virtual Book Tour: My Dearest Miss Fairfax

I’m happy to welcome author Jeanette Watts. Today, Jeanette shares ten important rules about dancing and her new release, My Dearest Miss Fairfax.

Here’s Jeanette!

I am a dance teacher. I teach belly dance, and swing, and tango, and foxtrot, and waltz, and polka, and any number of other historical dances. I started a French Cancan troupe and ran it for 20 years (it is now under the direction of one of the dancers from the troupe, and still going strong!). I adore moving to music, and I adore the process of teaching people to dance. It’s a beautiful, powerful process of self-discovery that everyone goes through when they learn to dance.

Every single one of my books has some dance references snuck in them. Which was really fun for my current book, “My Dearest Miss Fairfax,” because Jane Austen’s “Emma” spends a lot of time and attention to scenes that talk about all the decision-making that goes into throwing a ball. I laughed with recognition as I was re-reading the discussion about where to put the food, and will the hall be big enough, and where do we put the music, and who will be able to come/did we give the people on the invite list sufficient notice? I have those same conversations, all the time.

So, here is my contribution:

10 Important Rules About Dancing

1. Unless you really like performing, you can ignore all that “Dancing with the Stars” nonsense. Dancing is for everyone. It is something you do WITH people, not AT them.

2. The whole point of dancing is to create moments of meaningful contact with other people. It has been said over and over again: “no one cares if you dance well. Just get up and dance.” It’s true. Better to get up and try than to sit there like a lump and refuse to participate. It is actually spelled out in dance manuals in the early 1800s, “If you are not inclined to dance, don’t come to the party.” (Notice how that contrasts with Mr. Darcy’s behavior at the ball where we first see him! He is in violation of the social code of the time, and Lizzie’s indignation is more than just her injured vanity.)

3. Stop agonizing over mistakes. Dancing is done in the moment. The music goes on, so the mistakes are almost immediately part of the past, not the present. When something goes wrong, shake it off with a smile or a laugh and let it go. (Unlike Mr. Collins, who makes his dancing worse by constantly apologizing for the last mistake – which contributes to him making another one!)

4. A smile for your partner is worth more than you can imagine. If you are a beginner, there is nothing wrong with admitting to your partner that you are new at this, and a smile makes partners much more charitable to you than a frown. If you have been dancing a long time, remember what it was like to be a beginner who needed some reassurance. Go out of your way to make new dancers feel welcome: they will become your favorite dance partners soon, if they keep coming back. They won’t come back if you scare them away with a frown.

5. If you are going to a dance (English Country Dance for Jane Austen-era dances), try to get to the class ahead of time. If you are a beginner, you will feel much more comfortable having a preview of the material. If you are not a beginner, it is a kindness to go to the class anyway. Beginners learn faster with more experience points on the dance floor. And even for experienced dancers, it can be good to learn what the local dialect is. (Yes, dances have local dialects!)

6. Wear appropriate shoes. This is for safety as well as comfort. The wrong shoes get in your way while trying to dance, and it is easy to injure yourself while trying to dance in a pair of gym shoes. If your foot stops but your knee or ankle doesn’t, it’s not going to go well. Dance shoes slide along the floor as you push your foot along it. But you also don’t want something too slippery. Sliding so much that you are out of control is a great way to slip and fall and injure yourself in a different way.

7. There are lots of kinds of dancing in the world. Again, “Dancing with the Stars” and Arthur Murray studios don’t even begin to touch on the great, wide dance universe. Irish dancing means you get to dance to that fabulous bouncy Irish music, with minimal physical contact with other dancers, just shaking hands. Salsa dancing, and bachata, and Brazilian Zouk, and blues has a lot more physical contact. The last two are kind of like very, very fancy prom dancing. Give your partner a hug (who doesn’t want to go hug people after two years of quarantine!), now stay there and do some dancing. Scottish and English Country dancing, and their American cousin, contradance (the dances from Jane Austen’s books) are figured dances. Some footwork required, but less complicated than Irish dancing. The focus is on the figures. A line of couples go through the figures of the dance, and you dance with several people in the course of one dance. Each dance is a new configuration of usually 4-6 figures. Then you find a new partner, form new lines, and start a new dance.

8. Leading and following are two mechanical parts of a whole, not a judgement. Our modern world is a weird place. I have heard and read many a biased commentary upon leading and following. Generally, the idea is that following is a subservient role. This prejudice is often embraced as truth, and I’m sorry, that’s a completely ignorant attitude. No one says a musician is subservient because they are following the conductor.

There are simply two skill sets in partner dancing. The lead makes suggestions, the follow interprets them. Historically, the expectation was that men lead and women follow. But watch an episode of American Bandstand in the 1950s: there are plenty of girls dancing together. One of them is leading, one is following. They can even decide to trade roles in the middle of the dance. (One of my lovely dance friends from Massachusetts and I will trade roles back and forth many times over the course of one dance! It’s heaps of fun. Of course, it helps that he and I are both perfectly comfortable with both leading and following – we’ve both been dance teachers for a long time.)

Following is not in the least a passive skill set. You don’t just hang on and let your partner drive. You have to have a good frame, good footwork, and think quickly. Every small gesture might be a signal to lead a move. It is like playing defense in basketball. You are anticipating signals and body language and comparing what information you have available against all the dance vocabulary in your head, and making a decision upon how you intend to respond. You are doing this every 6 or 8 beats of music.

Leading means listening to the music, listening to your partner’s responses, and also checking the list in your head of all known dance vocabulary and selecting which ones fit the occasion. But just because you’re driving the car right now doesn’t mean that you are master and commander and your partner’s only job is to obey. You are making suggestions, not orders, and you are constantly adapting to this partner’s responsiveness. Dance is a PARTNERship.

9. Be courteous. This can take all kinds of forms. Don’t talk while the teacher is trying to teach. The person you are talking to probably wants to hear what the teacher is saying. If you are swing dancing, don’t do aerials in a crowded room. Save that kind of showing off for performances. No one will be impressed with you when someone gets hurt. Watch for “wallflowers.” I don’t care what gender role you are following; even if you are at a Vintage dance dressed in a hoopskirt and trying to be historically accurate with ball cards (which were not used yet in the Regency era), if someone has sat out two dances, go over and ask for a dance. Or send your spouse/significant other over to go ask that person for a dance. As a Vintage dancer myself, I like to use the phrase, “Are you sitting out on purpose, or would you care for a dance partner?” because I am living in a world full of gentlemen who will dance with me, even if their feet hurt and what they REALLY want to do is sit this dance out. I like to give them an “out” if they want it. It’s part of being courteous.

10.All dance communities are not the same. There are great dance communities full of wonderful, people, who are great playmates, and your life will be richer for having them in your world. But I have seen many, many toxic dance groups. I have watched dance teachers insult their students, tear down their egos, and then slowly give a little bit of praise now and then, making their students eager for those little nuggets of approval. Those students can pay a fortune in dance lessons, just to earn those little bits of praise that eventually rebuild their ego. It’s horrifying. I always warn my dance students to watch out for those kinds of groups and teachers. You don’t need to take that kind of abuse. It’s NOT you, it’s them. Walk away. Find someplace else to go dancing.

The most important thing that matters is finding a dance community that meets YOUR needs. If you want to perform, find dance groups that perform. If you don’t want people watching you dance, you don’t need to be on a stage. If you go to a swing dance, or an English Country dance, no one is watching you dance. Everyone is busy dancing. The people sitting on the side? They are wishing they were on the dance floor but they don’t have a partner. If you are competitive, studio ballroom and Irish dancing has a lot of competitions. If you are NOT competitive (that’s me. I do not acknowledge that anyone out there has the right to judge dancing. Get off your butt and dance, jerk!), there is a ton of dancing that’s done for fun, not levels and medals.

Blurb

How much would you gamble for true love? Jane Fairfax dreaded her future as a governess. But genteel solitude seemed her fate. Then handsome, charming, rich Frank Churchill asked to marry her – IF his rich aunt agreed. If their secret engagement was discovered, Jane would be ruined. Frank seemed worth the risk; but the stakes got higher when the aunt refused her consent!

Excerpt

Mr. Churchill caught the end of one of the long ribbons from her bonnet, which were flying madly in the strong breeze. He toyed with it for a long while, then looked up into her eyes. “Do you believe in love at first sight?” he asked.

“No, I don’t suppose I do,” Jane answered. Her heart started beating harder. That was a lie. Maybe her breath was catching in her throat because she was lying: she fell in love with him the moment she saw him, rescuing the poor store clerk. Or maybe it was because he was standing so close to her, just on the other end of her bonnet ribbon. She felt her cheeks growing warm, and tried to talk herself out of blushing. He was not standing any closer to her than when they danced together, or sat on the same bench at the pianoforte. Why should it fluster her that he was wrapping the end of her bonnet ribbon around his fingers like that?

“Neither did I.” He tied a knot into the very end of the ribbon, then caught the other flying ribbon, and did the same to its end. “I thought love requires mutual respect and understanding, and complementary temperaments that can only be discovered with a judicious application of time and conversation.”

Jane hid her trembling hands inside her muff. She wished there was a way to hide the fact that she was trembling all over. “I understood you from the first moment I saw you,” she admitted, her voice little more than a whisper.

Author Bio and Links

Jeanette Watts has written three Jane Austen-inspired novels, two other works of historical fiction, stage melodramas, television commercials, and humorous essays for Kindle Vella.

When she is not writing, she is either dancing, sewing, or walking around in costume at a Renaissance festival talking in a funny accent and offering to find new ladies’ maids for everyone she finds in fashionably-ripped jeans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon

Giveaway

Jeanette Watts will be awarding a crazy quilt tea cosy to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Jeanette on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Prioritize Your Peace

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A long-time fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to reading their emails and blog posts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent email:

1. Prioritize your peace today. Some people will never understand, and it’s not your job to teach or change them. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying. Remember, learning to let go of certain expectations and detach from certain people, are two of the great paths to inner peace.

2. If you worry too much about what might be, or what might have been, you will miss what is. Truly, worrying is a misuse of your incredible present potential. So do your best to focus mindfully on what’s in front of you today. Allow yourself to grow from what you’re living through.

3. Breathe deep. Be present. Every day is a series of a million tiny miracles. Do your best to see them. Remind yourself that clarity comes with letting go of what you assume your journey is supposed to be like right now, and sincerely appreciating it for everything that it is.

4. As you inch forward, remind yourself, it’s far better to be exhausted from tiny bits of progress, than it is to be tired of doing nothing. Every step counts. Just keep doing your best, and don’t force what’s not yet supposed to fit into your life. When it’s meant to be, it will be…

The bottom line is, a mind well-trained with thoughts like these is one step ahead of the inevitable negativity life challenges us with. And we all need practice—lots and lots of practice. Because truly, the biggest and most complex obstacle we have to personally overcome on a daily basis is our own mind. Let that sink in. You aren’t responsible for everything that happens, but you ARE responsible for gradually and consistently undoing the self-defeating thinking patterns these undesirable experiences create.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.

10 Interesting Facts About My Protagonist – Chloe McIntyre

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Linda Bradley. Today, Linda shares ten interesting facts about the protagonist of her new release, Unbranded.

1. At the age of seven, Chloe McIntyre first appeared in my debut novel, Maggie’s Way. Chloe was a supporting character with a mission to make friends. She was also a supporting character in Maggie’s Fork in the Road, Maggie’s Montana, and A Montana Bound Christmas. In my new release—Unbranded, Chloe has grown into a determined young woman and is the star.

2. Chloe can ride and wrangler better than any hired hand.

3. Chloe would rather spend her life wrangling and ranching than being married and having a family.

4. Chloe was raised by her father and her grandfather on the family’s 617 ranch. Her relationship with her mother is rocky, and they rarely see each other. Chloe is everything Montana. Her mother is pure Hollywood. The two women spend more time trying to change each other than appreciating unique differences.

5. Chloe is like the Doctor Dolittle of her grandfather’s Montana ranch. There isn’t an animal that doesn’t love her.

6. Chloe is as close to the ranch foreman, Trout as she is to her father and grandfather. Their relationship consists of lively banter, honesty, and life lessons.

7. Chloe was not a strong reader growing up, but thanks to neighbor, Maggie Abernathy, now stepmom, Chloe loves reading and has developed an interest in poetry.

8. Chloe’s desire to be independent drives her ambition.

9. Chloe does not accept coming in second very well. Her box of childhood rodeo trophies is proof.

10. Chloe’s habit of taking in strays included taking in broken people. Despite her father’s request to limit the animals, Chloe’s heart does the talking when she meets an animal with purpose.

Blurb

Threatened by the unexpected, a devoted rancher refuses to compromise her ambition or her legacy.

CHLOE MCINTYRE is determined to become the co-CEO of her grandfather’s Montana ranch, but her father isn’t ready to become partners—yet.

Jaded memories of her parents’ shotgun wedding gone wrong cloud her attraction for best friend Matt Cooper when she discovers she’s pregnant—with his baby. Chloe believes raising a child isn’t in her genes, and she doesn’t expect a marriage proposal. She keeps her condition a secret to hold her position on the ranch and continue what she does best: wrangling strays and working alongside hired hands.

After her father announces his first choice for co-CEO, a wild ride jeopardizes the pregnancy, and Chloe questions life choices. Will the cowgirl grit she has inherited from her grandmother be enough to rein in her disappointment, or will she walk away from everything that could flourish into love?

Endorsement

“Linda Bradley’s magical manipulation of words creates a symphony in the reader’s mind, building lasting impressions to savor. If you love young women with grit and determination, then this is the story for you.” – Roni Hall, author of Montana Wild and Third Man on the Left

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Author Bio and Links

Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her character-driven stories integrate humor found in everyday situations, family drama, and forever love. Her distinct voice creates memorable journeys and emotion.

Linda’s been a finalist in the Booksellers Best Contest and Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards. Linda lives in Michigan with her artist husband, sons, and rescue dog. Linda loves art, animals, and stories with hope and heart.

Website | Facebook Author Page | Book Bub | Amazon

More Artwork by Linda Bradley

Living in the Moment

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here’s a thought-provoking excerpt from Heather Havrilesky’s best-selling book, How to Be a Person in the World:

Sometimes you have to let go of your shiny imaginary creations in order to give in to the magic of the real world, which is far more glorious and full of hope than it first appears. By filling our heads with fantasy worlds, we not only start to expect too much but we also become easily bored with the real world and its very real magic. Or, we imagine that we can only exist in the real world if we fill our heads with magical distractions. We create relationships that aren’t based on real compatibilities but on the crazy mixed-up tapestries that we ourselves constructed in our overactive minds.

Rich tapestries block out the magic of real moments. Rich tapestries block out real people—love interests, but also other people who matter. Rich tapestries compromise friendships, and they block us from our career goals, and they blot out the sun.

But controlling your brain is not exactly easy. You have to train yourself to romanticize a life outside of the fantasy and create a tapestry that’s just as rich. That requires a buoyant solitude that isn’t easy to achieve.

A few things that will make your alone time more buoyant: Inspiring music. A clean space. Regular, vigorous exercise. Great books. A nice bath. A wide range of beverages in your fridge. Friendly pets. Engrossing home projects. Your setting matters! You have to put a little energy into your surroundings when you live alone.

But this is also about living in the moment, isn’t it? That something we all have to learn to do, whether we’re alone or not. That requires powering down all of the fantastical imagined things few will have one day and just soaking in this moment instead.

Source: How to Be a Person in the World by Heather Havrilesky