Flowers for Isolation

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca

The week started out so well.

Or maybe I should say last week ended well. This week was a nightmare.

Last Saturday my SO and I got the first of our AstraZeneca COVID vaccines! What a relief that was– the first bit of light at the end of a long, long tunnel. I had very mild side effects that didn’t last long. He didn’t have any side effects. We’re looking forward to our second doses.

I think it was Monday that I found out my entire family had either tested positive for COVID, or was exposed to it. Let me tell you, it’s a special kind of feeling of isolation to hear that nearly all the people you care about in the world have contracted or might contract a deadly and debilitating illness. I don’t recommend it. And my family aren’t covidiots, by any means; it was a real shock to hear the news.

But speaking of the people you care about in the world, on Wednesday my SO was hit with a non-COVID health issue. Because those haven’t taken a pause during the pandemic. And we then discovered the fun of trying to get medical care during a lockdown (he managed to connect with a doctor and avoid a trip to the ER, thankfully).

So, things have been stressful lately. In light of that I decided to share some pictures I’ve taken of spring flowers, because flowers make me feel better. If you’ve also had a rough week, maybe they’ll make you feel better too…

Cherry Blossoms

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca

Magnolia

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca

Daffodils

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Photo by Maria Tyutina on Pexels.com (I didn’t take this one but I’m using it because my photos are too disorganized for me to find all the daffodil photos I did take!)

What makes you feel better when things haven’t been going your way? Share in the comments.

Studies have shown that books fight stress. Download some stress relief today:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords (all formats), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords (all formats), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords (all formats), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Stay safe and happy May 1st,

Aspasía S. Bissas

3 Good Reasons to Read Fiction, According to Science

3 Good Reasons to Read Fiction, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Daniela Constantini on Pexels.com

There’s something magical about reading fiction. A story is basically just a series of symbols arranged in a particular order on a page (or screen). And yet, your mind translates those symbols into images, events, and people that feel real. It puts you into the minds of characters and lets you see through their eyes. You hold your breath when they’re in danger, you cringe sympathetically when they’ve done something awkward. Reading fiction puts you in another world and brings that world to life. I can’t think of anything more truly magical than that.

But it isn’t only magic. Science is finding all kinds of ways that reading fiction in particular can benefit you. Here are three:

Reading fiction relieves stress: Reading is enjoyable– it makes you feel good and forces you to take a break from regular life. While reading helps you forget your problems, it can also help you understand them and cope with them better. And reading fiction has been found to relieve stress more than other relaxing forms of media, like music or TV.

Reading fiction helps with cognitive and social skills: Reading challenges your brain. Among other things, it teaches new perspectives and viewpoints. As you read about other people and places, you learn to empathize, to understand different points of view, and to get along in diverse situations. In essence, reading fiction trains you for the real world.

Reading fiction can help you live longer: Studies have shown that reading helps prevent cognitive decline, which is associated with decreased life expectancy. Aside from that, according to at least one study (see “Further Reading”), people who read more fiction live longer, on average.

Bonus: Because reading fiction can mimic what we feel during real-life interactions with other people, it’s been found to satisfy the need for human connection. If lockdowns and distancing have been getting to you, reading a good book can help you through it.

3 Good Reasons to Read Fiction, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Quote by Doris Lessing: There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.

Reading fiction makes you happier and less stressed, teaches you about the world and other people, helps you feel more connected, improves your mind, and can even help you live longer. What more could you ask?

Want to get all those benefits of reading fiction right now? Download my books….

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Further Reading:

Why Getting Lost in a Book Is so Good for You

Even mild cognitive impairment appears to substantially increase risk for death

Bookworms versus nerds: Exposure to fiction versus non-fiction, divergent associations with social ability, and the simulation of fictional social worlds

9 Ways Reading Makes Us Happier and More Creative

Does Reading Fiction Make Us Better People?

The Real World Benefits of Reading Fiction

7 Benefits of Reading Literary Fiction You May Not Know

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

10 Things I Learned in 2020

10 Things I Learned in 2020, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, 2020, 2021, new year, restrospective, learning, lessons, moving forward
Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Finally– the year that we all wish had never happened is over! If you were lucky enough not to suffer the full brunt of 2020, you’re still probably feeling that the entire year was a waste. And in so many ways, it was– wasted time, wasted opportunities. It’s been frustrating, to say the least. The one thing 2020 did offer us, though, was a chance for introspection and reflection. I’m sure we’re all coming out of this a little wiser than we were at this time last year. Here’s what I learned in 2020…

1. People Are Awful

Call me naive, but I always believed that in a disaster, people would pull together and help one another. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. But the first thing that 2020 taught me is that some people are truly selfish. They scream about their rights or pretend they don’t understand what’s happening, while blithely spreading a deadly and debilitating disease wherever they go. I don’t think I’m the only one whose faith in humanity took a hit in 2020.

2. People Are Awesome

Luckily, most people aren’t selfish twits, and many are truly amazing. Those in the medical and care fields working around the clock to help the sick and dying. Those who have kept working under trying and dangerous circumstances so that supply chains aren’t disrupted and the rest of us can still eat and get the things we need. Those who stay home, even when they really, really, really want to get out of the house. Leaders who are actually leading and keeping people as safe as possible. Thanks to all of you ♥

3. How to Be Resourceful

When some things were in short supply or unavailable last year, I found ways to manage, either by making do or doing without. If I couldn’t get help when I needed it, I worked around it or figured out how to do it myself. Going forward, I’ll be embracing more of an attitude of resourcefulness, because you never know when you won’t have a choice about it.

10 Things I Learned in 2020, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, 2020, 2021, new year, restrospective, learning, lessons, moving forward, aspasiasbissas.com, bread, baking, baking bread, making bread, cooking
Photo by Vaibhav Jadhav on Pexels.com

4. I’m More Competent than I Think

Having to be more resourceful, having to endure difficult circumstances, having to rely on myself more than I ever have– all of this has shown me that I can do more than I  thought possible. I need to remember this lesson.

5. Clarity

This past year has given me time to figure out what I’d like my life to look like going forward. I might not be able to do all of it, but I know what to work towards and what to let fall away. Having a clear direction is something I didn’t realize I needed.

6. There’s No Limit to Learning

When I decided to take French (and later Greek) lessons using an app, I approached them with a bit of trepidation. Learning a language is easy in childhood, but not so much in adulthood (at least, that’s the popular opinion). Maybe it helped that I already had a start in both languages (eventually I hope to try learning a language I don’t know anything about). The lessons have been fantastic, not only because I’m learning a lot, but also for my mental health. They keep me busy with something that’s actually useful. If there’s anything you’ve been wanting to learn, I highly recommend going for it.

7. Introverts Need People Too

I’m about as introverted as they come, which has been helpful in getting through lockdowns and avoiding crowded places. But even I miss people. I miss my family and friends, and I miss the places people gather, especially museums, coffee shops, the zoo, the mall (memories of a misspent youth), and just generally seeing people without worrying about whether they’re merely clearing their throat or are hacking up deadly germs. For someone who used to dream of the hermit life, actually living it has shown me that I need to socialize sometimes. Who knew?

8. Keep a distance

I don’t mean physical distance, which I’ve also learned to do and is important for other reasons. I’m talking about a mental/emotional distance. I’ve learned not to rely on external factors because they aren’t reliable. I don’t know if this is cynical, or if it’s something everyone else already knew and I’m just late in figuring out, but I’ve had some major disappointments this last year, and I’d like to avoid more of the same in future.

9. I Have Value

It turns out there are a lot of people in the world who can’t wait to tell you how little you matter (a lot of them are the same people I mentioned in my first point). They’re wrong. I have value just by existing, and so do you. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

10. There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel

…even if it’s faint and sometimes flickers.

10 Things I Learned in 2020, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, 2020, 2021, new year, restrospective, learning, lessons, moving forward, aspasiasbissas.com, light at the end of the tunnel
Photo by Johannes Rapprich on Pexels.com

What did you  learn in 2020? Share in the comments…

Looking to start 2021 with a good read? I’ve got you covered…

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

More Awesome Literary Embroideries

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, needlepoint, embroidery, books, bookish, reading, literary, crafts, free patterns, patterns, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

One of the things that’s been getting me through the long months of COVID isolation has been needlepoint (you can read my thoughts about my favourite craft here). Books are, of course, one of the other things. I doubt I’ve ever been so grateful to be an introvert. I’m not sure whether needle crafts have been catching on during this awful time, like baking and gardening have, but stitching is an excellent way to calm your mind while making something lasting. Another great aspect of needlepoint is that it lends itself to any subject matter. Anything from simple quotes to intricate scenes can be rendered with needle and thread, and you can really get creative with it. No surprise I’m partial to bookish designs, so I decided to share some links to patterns. If you’re already a stitcher, I hope you’ll find something you like. If you’ve never stitched before, maybe you’ll be inspired to give it a try (you don’t even need to be isolating!) Which pattern is your favourite? Share in the comments…

Perhaps this sentiment isn’t as relatable under current circumstances, but you can’t deny that Austen has a point. Free pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, jane austen, quote, quotes, home

 

Louisa May Alcott gets the credit for this somewhat negative take on book lovers. I wouldn’t change a thing, even if my brain is turned. Pattern.

 

I have a fondness for fairy tales, and Sleeping Beauty was always one of my favourites. Fairy tales tend to have an appealing aesthetic, as well– perfect for needlepoint. Have fun with this free pattern.

 

From fairy tales to something a little more adult. Cross-stitch (curse-stitch?) for when you’re really f@#*!%g into books 😉 Pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, read a fucking book, subversive cross stitch

 

A sweeter sentiment we can all get behind. Pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, books sweet books, etsy, pattern download

 

Throw out those old scraps of paper and make yourself a bookmark worthy of keeping your place. Free pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, bookmark, bookmarks, read books, free pattern

Free pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, hands off my book, bookmark, bookmarks, free pattern

 

I love this design because in one simple image it cleverly expresses my entire reality: books are my world. Pattern.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, books are my world, etsy, pattern download

 

When you need to let people know the movie didn’t quite cut it. You can even stitch it three different ways. Pattern 1.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, the book was better, etsy, pattern download

Pattern 2.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, the book was better, etsy, pattern dowload

Pattern 3.

More Awesome Literary Embroidery, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, cross stitch, crossstitch, patterns, free patterns, books, reading, bookish, literary, aspasiasbissas.com, the book was better, etsy, pattern download

 

Lastly, if you’re looking for more inspiration and patterns, check out these online archives of vintage embroidery books:

Embroidery

Cross-Stitch

Needlepoint

Need a break from embroidery? Download my books!

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas