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It’s been a rough year so far. We could all use a little bracing wisdom from the ever-winsome Miss P.

Dear Pious Petunia: How do I cope?

Miss P: I’ve been receiving many letters of late whose plaintive pleas boil down to that very question. Thank you for summing up the general mood so concisely. What with a cacophony of conflict and chaos in Washington, the looming gloom of global climate cataclysm, the tragic nexus of tax season and Lent…. Dear me. Apparently a symptom of my own severe stress is a lingering allowance for alliteration. Well. We all must find ways to cope, healthy ones if possible. Unfortunately, in more extreme states of mind it can be difficult to determine whether one’s methods lead to mental calm, malaise, or madness. Hence, Miss P has assembled this little rubric. Try to lean toward the life-giving, won’t you? Self-care is good stewardship.


H   healthy
?    questionable
!    consider seeking professional help
U   underutilized but promising strategy

Hweeding, browsing seed catalogs, repotting houseplants
?chopping down a perfectly healthy tree on your property
!using resulting wood to burn down the neighbor’s garage
Urereading The Bonfire of the Vanities


Hrunning, hiking, biking, ab crunches
?coaching your child’s middle school basketball game
!signing up for the Dopey Challenge
Uwhacking a crash dummy with a single stick


Hattending worship services, volunteering at church
?watching worship services on YouTube
!plotting a denominational schism
Ucomposing hymn tunes for the banjolele


HMatthew 6:25-34
?Psalm 58
!Revelation 16
UEzekiel 4:1-8


Hcleaning and organizing kitchen cupboards
?taking a toothbrush to the bathroom grout
!arranging all household furnishings alphabetically
Usetting up a tent and retreating to the backyard


Ha bottle of wine with dinner
?a bottle of wine for dinner
!subscribing to
Utaking up craft brewing


Hnapping, sleeping in on Saturdays
?becoming nocturnal
!rereading the Twilight novels
Uhanging upside down


Hpetting the dog, walking the dog, talking to the dog
?brushing the dog’s teeth
!sleeping in the dog’s bed
Uriding in the car while sticking your head out the window


Hjournaling, prayer, meditation
?binge-watching the murder mystery series Elementary
!binge-watching The Apprentice
UBob Ross paint-along party