Stay Sane, My Friends


August 2020 Issue
by Sharon Baker    Painted Rocks by Missy Gentile

Growing up, everyone in my family was unhealthy,
unhappy and deranged.
Go ahead, laugh. But it’s true.
So thanks to our global pandemic, I’m again wrestling
with the
same issues that plagued me as a kid: loneliness; anxiety; confusion; panic attacks
and eating at 4:30 a.m. Usually, I sneak into the
kitchen for yogurt and bananas,
instead of Dunkin’ Donuts.
Well, maybe just one little chocolate glazed.

My heart goes out to anyone sick in a hospital, fighting for their lives.
And to all the doctors and nurses risking their lives to save others.
I’m blessed that my problems aren’t serious.

So here’s a lighthearted list of tips
for anyone restless and bored:

My comedic husband, Kenny, begins every morning with “the funny of the day.” Here’s this morning’s joke: “There will be a Weight Watchers meeting Monday evening at 7 p.m. Please enter through the Wide Double Doors.”

Ha Ha. And yes, I’ve put on four pounds. But it helps to laugh, yes?

Then there’s my always sunny artist friend Missy Gentile. When her art classes were cancelled, she launched a new business called “Be Well.” She finds and paints river rocks with encouraging statements like “Do Small Things with Great Love,” “Trust the Timing of Your Life,” and my favorite, “Keep your Attitude in the Altitude.” Her day glow pink, turquoise and lime rocks decorate every room and keep me smiling.

Other friends who uplift me are author Carole Longmeyer and artist Caroline Carpenter, gal pals living in Beaufort, SC.  Every Friday, we meet on a gorgeous riverfront bluff, and relax six feet apart in beach chairs. We sip cocktails, share positive happenings from our week and eat homemade sandwiches. I bring brownies, Carole brings red velvet cake and Caroline bakes pecan pie. (This is why I’ve gained those four pounds.)

Our “Fabulous Friends Friday” is my only social occasion, and the highlight of my week. But two upbeat hilarious friends are better than 50 “downer” buddies, so find your Optimist Tribe! If you can’t meet in person, of course there is Facetime and Zoom.

Having killed hundreds of flowers, I have never considered myself a gardener. But Kenny dragged me to a country garden center, where we looked like bank robbers in our masks and rubber gloves.
Next thing I knew, the back seat overflowed with magenta hibiscus, white Mandevilla and the most adorable yellow Gerbera daisies. Now I’m mother to needy flowers that beg for expensive fertilizer, gallons of water and endless pruning. But what else am I doing?

Our exquisite flowers attract cardinals, blue birds, emerald hummingbirds, monarch butterflies and double winged dragonflies. I ‘ve become quite addicted to my garden, and you might too.
The other place I steal away is to the beach. Twenty minutes from my front door, is the soothing Atlantic Ocean. Last Sunday we watched busy toddlers building ornate sandcastles, willowy teens sporting scant bikinis, and a grandma flying an orange long tailed kite next to a squadron of pelicans. Mesmerizing. Hope you’ll discover Mother Nature near you, too.

Too much idle time during the day gave me the courage to throw away a bad one-act play and revise it into a two-act comedy called “Birthday Party at the Dalai Lama’s Palace.” I’m submitting this play via all the playwriting websites. I also wrote a 10-minute play about teenagers addicted to social media, because I’m addicted to social media. And a radio play about two women who find healing at the beach, because that’s my healing place, too. This play is called “And Now for Some Good News from Pollyanna” because well, you know, my nickname is Pollyanna.

I’ve found a new best friend: YouTube. I can watch documentaries on everything from where to dive with manta rays to how to paint like Matisse.

I’m also practicing self-care: giving myself bad manicures and blow-drying my Diana Ross curls into a strange, grey-rooted hairdo. And just because it’s 2 p.m., can’t I luxuriate in a lavender bath? Some days I throw on a bit of eyeliner and lip-gloss so I don’t scare myself in the mirror.

Yesterday, I tried on my favorite lace cocktail dress, added pearls, and sparkly pink flip-flops. As I waltzed into the living room, Kenny asked: “Well, pretty lady, just where do you think you’re going?”
 “Over to Dunkin’ Donuts,” I flirted. “ Picking up one little chocolate glazed.”

“Bring two,” he smiled. Stay sane, my Friends.

Sharon Baker is an award winning travel journalist, having published five travel guides and more than 300 personal essays on global adventures under the name

Sharon Spence Lieb. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Town & Country, The Denver Post and Thai Airways Magazine. Now remarried Sharon and her husband live in Bluffton, SC, where she crafts stage plays for audiences worldwide. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.