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Why this grandmother's advice went viral and is so very needed right now

Grandmother offers advice for living through difficult times.

There’s no shortage of advice for getting through difficult times. Unfortunately, most of that advice is either painfully unrealistic or reeks of toxic positivity. Solid advice that is both helpful and comforting is hard to come by, which is why this advice is going viral for all the right reasons.

The advice comes from Elena Mikhalkova—or rather her Mikhalkova’s grandmother—and it goes like this:



My grandmother once gave me a tip:

In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.

Do what you have to do, but little by little.

Don't think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.

Wash the dishes.

Remove the dust.

Write a letter.

Make a soup.

You see?

You are advancing step by step.

Take a step and stop.

Rest a little.

Praise yourself.

Take another step.

Then another.

You won't notice, but your steps will grow more and more.

And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.

Can we all just pause for a minute to take a deep breath and maybe wipe the tears from our eyes? Because I don’t know about you, but this advice is just what I’ve needed to read almost every day lately.

I suspect I’m not alone in this either because Mikhalkova’s advice is being shared all over the internet.


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With COVID-19 raging again and many of us (dare I say, all of us?) struggling with one thing or another, this quote hits. Unlike the clichéd “one foot in front of another” advice that can seem both demeaning and overwhelming, this advice offers concrete steps to take.

Wash the dishes. Make soup. Rest, and praise yourself.

These are things I can do. Well, maybe not soup, per se. But cookies. I can make cookies. And maybe you can make soup. Or knit a scarf. Or sweep the kitchen floor. This is enough.

What this advice taps into that other tidbits lose sight of is that when we’re in the midst of a calamity, even the most simple and everyday tasks are more difficult. Making lunch can seem monumental and the mere thought of doing virtual school for another few weeks can make us take to our beds, sobbing in the fetal position. Advice to “look on the bright side” can be patronizing and counterproductive. This advice does none of those things but, instead, acknowledges that even a small step matters. It doesn’t dismiss the pain, but recognizes that even thinking about the future can be painful and that progress sometimes looks like making it through the day without crying

This advice also goes beyond the “sun will come out tomorrow” reminders and acknowledges that things might not be better tomorrow or the day after that. It will take time for wounds to heal and difficult times to pass, but we need not passively wait for this time to come. We can make soup, rest and be kind to ourselves.

In the early days of the pandemic, I remember feeling like there was so much more I should be doing with all this extra “at home” time. Yet I found even the most basic tasks to be more difficult. In turn, I felt guilty for not being more productive. But what I’ve learned—or rather amlearning—is that allostatic load and decision fatigue are very real. Productivity looks different on different days, and sometimes being patient with ourselves is the most productive thing we can do.

Mikhalkova’s advice taps into a mantra that I often recite when I’m struggling: Just do one good thing. Unload the dishwasher. Return an email. Fold the laundry. Hug my kids. Then do the next good thing. Eventually these things add up. Time passes and small steps turn into something bigger.

What I love most about Mikhalkova’s advice—and what is easy to forget in difficult times—is the reminder to praise ourselves along the way. Because sometimes that pat on the back we need the most is our own.


Christine Organ is a writer who lives in the Chicago area with her husband, two sons, and rescue dog. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

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It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

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