notes from The Great Pause


For many of us, these past few months have been a virtual whirlwind of change, confusion, worry, introspection and, well, sitting on the couch.



we’ve stayed in …


It all started, of course, with the previously unheard-of struggle to find toilet paper and then morphed into lockdowns of varying intensity and duration. If you’re lucky enough to have a job that wasn’t deemed “essential” and that could be done outside your traditional workplace, you probably worked from home for at least a while. Perhaps, like me, you’re still working from home.


All the while reading social-media memes ranging from “Don’t feel compelled to do anything but rest and survive,” to “You’d be foolish not to use this time to write the next Great American Novel or learn to bake the perfect loaf of sourdough bread!”


The experience has certainly prompted some intense soul searching: How do we want to spend our time in what may well be an entirely new normal? What sort of work and hobbies and free-time activities will we want — and will we be able to have — going forward? How do we want “normal” to look and feel?


And whether you were doing nothing but, well, nothing in April and May; or planting a garden and reading stacks of books in your sudden “free” time; or walking into the next room to go to work and only coming out again 8, 9, even 10 hours later … the days all started to blend together and suddenly entire months had gone by.



& witnessed massive upheaval …


And then, in the midst of The Great Pause, along came a massive, entirely necessary upheaval. Protests against police brutality and social injustice that began two months ago are, in many areas, still continuing. And calls to hear — and truly listen to — voices of color finally started to drown out those who would prefer to ignore or silence them.


As I’m sure you have, I’ve been doing a lot thinking over the past few months. And I believe that two seemingly opposite ideas — staying inside vs. participating in massive change — are calling us to live more quietly, more intentionally, more gently … and, at the same time, to truly see and be more supportive of our neighbors than we ever have before.




be sure to keep going …


Let’s not squander the recent changes we’ve already witnessed in ourselves and others.


Continue to read and garden. Keep going on walks and sitting outside in the evenings and saying hello to neighbors from the sidewalk.



… and support your neighbors


And in support of your own local community: If you haven’t been doing these three things already, consider making these small but important changes to your routine as well…


1) Support local businesses whenever you can. Buy gift cards if you’re not yet feeling up to a full-fledged shopping trip; or order carry-out from your local restaurants if they’re not at full seating capacity or if you don’t yet want to eat inside.

2) If you shop online, look for and buy from small, local businesses (whether local to you or not) that have added — or switched to — online ordering.

3) Seek out and support small businesses — especially Black-owned shops and restaurants — that you might not have known about last year or even as recently as March or April.


As a start, here’s a list of nearly 100 local Black-owned bookstores across the country, most of which are taking online orders for books.



& think about how you want to live


Whenever and however you’re able, I hope you’ll find ways to reach out while staying in.


And be sure to indulge in the quiet so you can create a bit of space and time to contemplate what you want your new normal to be.


Want to Read & Relax your way to feeling Calmer & Happier?

Subscribe to our occasional Read. Purr. newsletter and,
as a free thank-you gift, we’ll send you a copy of our exclusive
guide to the Four Bookish, Cat-Inspired Steps to Feeling Calmer & Happier.

Welcome to the online home of The Novel Cat, where reading, relaxing, and snuggling with cats are a way of life. I’m Jennifer, and I help former and aspiring readers maximize life’s simple pleasures — like the joy of savoring a good book — by helping them create quiet spaces (both mental and physical) inspired by the habits of cats, who are masters at finding joy in life’s small details.

“The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”

W. Somerset Maugham

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”


“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”

Marcel Proust

“Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace.”

Helene Hanff

“What a happy woman I am, living in a garden, with books … birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them!”

Elizabeth von Arnim

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”

Neil Gaiman

“The art of reading is … an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us; when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind.”

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

“When I … looked round at the familiar bookshelves, and could hear no sounds but sounds of peace, and knew that here I might read or dream or idle exactly as I chose with never a creature to disturb me, how grateful I felt to the kindly Fate that has brought me here and given me a heart to understand my own blessedness.”

Elizabeth von Arnim