Day 10. A do-cathlon.

Ten ideas for a successful tenth day in captivity. No pressure to try any or all on any given day – this is just some entertainment for mind, body and soul. A lot of things we do will tick several of these boxes!

Do something for someone else.

Do you have a friend who’s alone in isolation? Could your partner or kid or parent, your community or school or workmates use a pick-me-up of some sort? What one small step can you take for someone else today?

I’m feeding the neighborhood cats, but it’s gonna get tricky pretty soon because the store is out of cat food. But for now, it makes me feel a lot better.

Something for yourself.

Do something for yourself. This could be reading a novel, listening to a song/album, watching a show, making and eating something you love, or giving yourself a facial or a pedicure.

It’s a joke among women how all the magazines and companies tell you to do something nice for yourself – with one of their Products! But the thing about doing something for yourself, the one thing to always remember, is to ask yourself if YOU want to do it. If not, what do you want to do?

Something edible.

OF COURSE. You have to eat, make it good! The Washington Post has a great article (h/t to Hillary!) on why, scientifically, cooking is an excellent distraction. It uses enough parts of your brain but also – in my case – diverts my panic response to less threatening dangers, like the degree to which my cookies get browned.

We had leftovers for lunch but we’re going to do Ramon’s favorite dinner tonight – fried eggs with potatoes. First we’ll peel and chop and boil the potatoes so they’re already well on the way to tender. Then we’ll fry them in Tunisian olive oil – mmmmm – y’all may already be eating it, since it gets sent to other countries in bulk and relabeled as Italian or Spanish. Tunisia has several varieties.

When the potatoes are all crispy outside and tender inside, that’s actually when I call Ramon into the kitchen. He’s great at getting the eggs done just right – a bit of runny egg white and very runny yolks for him, only yolks runny for me. We use two sauté pans.

Something artistic.

I’ve never been an adult coloring book person, but I’m trying one now. Just printed it off the internet for free. There are mandalas and kaleidoscopes aplenty, landscapes, still lifes, whatever. The New York Times has done one you can color online – I have yet to try it but it looks fun!

But of course you could also do something musical, theatrical, with homemade clay, make a geodesic dome in your living room from triangles of cardboard and duct tape, or teach yourself improvisational jazz on a kazoo. Maybe your artistic expression is calmer, quieter, like writing a few words of a poem that’s been in your head, or dancing to music you picked up from a movie. This site is offering a free daily writing course – super simple, just writing prompts each day, and a place to upload your work for others to see and comment upon, if you want to.

You can also see other people being artistic – like Socially Distant Fest on Facebook (WHOA!) or all the museums you can check out online or listen to Sir Patrick Stewart reading a Shakespeare sonnet every day via Twitter.

Something you’ve been putting off.

Mine’s taxes today – I’m getting all the paperwork together. Hey, my tax preparer’s gotta eat, doesn’t he? I got halfway through this about a month and a half ago – as I do every year, right when the 1099s start coming in – and then I just let it lie fallow till the deadlines start looming. Not a good year for that – today, I’m getting my tax ducks in a row. Or maybe tomorrow. Somehow it got late on me!

Something new to you.

Have you always wanted to do magic tricks? Or understand tides? Take a break from learning amateur epidemiology with whatever strikes your fancy. Lord knows there’s a YouTuber who has devoted time and effort to making videos for whatever oddity you’re interested in. Wikipedia is amazing for learning the basics about something.

When I went to Bangladesh in February I read their most basic entries on history and on George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh back in the 70s. I learned that, prior to colonization, Bangladesh was a conduit point for produce from around the entire South Asian region – because of its abundant waterways – and therefore it was the wealthiest country in the area. They were some of the busiest shipbuilders in the world. Yes, I learned something. But more important, I challenged the tiny, limited, media-fed image I’d had in my head. This had the effect of making me more open to learning while I was there, because I was no longer just confirming my small-minded stereotype.

Something physical.

People keep saying this and it gets to be (for me) something I dread, even though I LIKE exercise of many types. What I have to remind myself is, it doesn’t have to be two hours with Yoga Master Zensay or whatever – it can be that rigorous cleaning you’re doing around the house, or practicing setting a volleyball, or dancing like various yard implements (sprinkler, lawn mower, rototiller). It could be chasing your dog or cat around (so they get exercise too!) or lip-synching to music that has a history of melodramatic, acrobatic or rhythmic displays – I’m thinking Mick Jagger, Kiss, Tower of Power, Earth Wind and Fire, Justin Timberlake, or any punk or headbanger or boy band ever.

We’ve been going out every couple of days for a walk, studiously avoiding the few other humans out there, with Ramon like a golden retriever running back and forth and getting twice the steps I do.

Sex = also good.

Something social.

I’m planning a drop-in party via the HouseParty App (download free!) on Friday. Times look like this:

I’ll be online from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tunisia time.

I propose everyone make something fun (beverage or food) to have while we meet online and jabber at each other. I’m going to dress up, too. I hope you all show!

Something spiritual.

This is harder for me because I don’t come from any kind of organized spiritual tradition in the family. But I can do the bits and pieces I know – like a prayer, or a meditation, or read something inspirational out loud. Probably others here will have better suggestions – or some that are more recognizably spiritual anyway – and I’d love to hear them. Comment here or in Facebook or Twitter – but do engage. I’d love to hear how it works for you.

Something to release tension and worry.

The goal of everything here is to have this effect, at least in part. Distracting yourself and those you love from fretting about the bad news is absolutely critical. You could take it a step further and do primal yells, or meditate (10% Happier has a free YouTube meditation/podcast every day now), or take up shadow boxing or something physical that feels like you’re beating stuff back and off you. Jumping rope is another one that’s got that intensity. Loud music helps me like a mental power wash – but to avoid bugging the neighbors I do it with headphones.

The rule of 10

There is absolutely no rule of ten or any other number. You, me, we’re all trailblazers living this strange new life, and we’re figuring out what works for ourselves and our loved ones. Remember to be grateful for the option to think about how best to spend their time during this insanity – when you’ve got roof, clothes, food, internet, other people. If you can, spread it around. (No, not the virus, the good fortune!)

Featured image courtesy of Krissia Cruz on

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