How do you stay focused when there’s a steady stream of bad news from around the world? And what if, like now with the corona virus, the news is predicted to get worse before it gets better? If you’re like me, the art of staying focused, is of course to focus on art (or illustrations and cartoons.) But I think there are other important ways to shift focus so you don’t get derailed and anxious.

The art of staying focused…

Requires discipline. Limiting yourself to checking news updates once per day is a good place to start. Meditation is a gift especially at times like these. And, looking for and celebrating the positive is another very helpful tool.

Case in point –

Seeing the shelves at our neighborhood Whole Foods like this yesterday:

Photo of empty shelves at Whole Foods in New York City during the corona virus scare in March 2020

Was an unwelcome shock, to say the least. It also threw into stark relief the difference between our usual (privileged) veggie based, grain-free diet and having NO food at all! But even though there were many aisles that looked like the photo above, I was grateful that there was still order in the store. And, I felt like I scored a personal victory when I found the last bag of grain-free Siete chips misplaced in the (empty) toilet paper aisle.


I did have to go to 3 other stores before I found toilet paper. But I still feel fortunate since I live in a city where there are numerous grocery and health food stores all within walking distance.

Lastly, I’m grateful…

For the enforced “at home” time where I can work play at my drafting table with my cartoons and illustrations. I plan to keep washing my hands, disinfecting the doorknobs, calling my family and friends, and finding the funny around me.

Seen on the Upper West Side this morning

Ink and watercolor pencil cartoon illustration of man smoking a cigarette, by Joana Miranda

Stay safe. Be vigilant!


  1. Helen Reich says:

    Our concerts have been canceled through March 23, except for tomorrow night, we are doing a 90-minute audio-only livestream for the weekend’s ticket holders. It all feels so weird. I enjoyed staying home today, though! I absolutely cannot hoard food. I can’t think that far ahead. I have food for the next few days, and that’s kind of it. I bought a large package of toilet paper a while ago, so I think I’m fine. Wisconsin currently has 19 covid-19 cases, with two in Milwaukee County. All are associated with travel. I guess that’s one of the things not to do. Glad I didn’t really have plans!

    • Joana says:

      Hi Helen, My mom canceled her plans to travel to Europe and we cancelled our plans to travel to Ohio to take care of little Puck. Thank God for video calls so that I can see my mom and Mr. Puck daily. It’s not the same as being there in person, but I’m still grateful. Sending lots of love your way! Joana

    • Joana says:

      Yes, Ma’am. We’re all in this together. Ultimately, no one gets out alive (but hopefully our choices won’t have to be between covid or cancer!) xox -J

  2. Thanks for post. I’m finding it very hard to concentrate here in the UK. I haven’t left the flat now for almost five weeks…thanks to covid19 . You give good advice with the restriction oneself with news bulletins they are very draining…and right now I am finding myself just staring, opened mouthed at the news…very sad times. Stay safe, stay home.

    • Joana says:

      Hi Samantha,

      Thanks so much for writing! I’m glad to know that you’re safe, but I sympathize with your feeling overwhelmed. My husband and I are lucky in a way since we don’t pay for TV reception. Our TV is only for watching movies. And these days we are making sure that our TV “diet” is full of funny and uplifting shows. We’re in NYC, so we’re definitely in one of the hot spots. However, when I do go out (only for groceries or a quick occasional trip to the drug store) I’m seeing people doing their best to be upbeat. We also join in the nightly clapping from our balcony. The first few times we did it, I felt very emotional and sad – like we were clapping in desperation. Now I feel like we’re clapping for joy. Joy that we’re still around to clap and joy that we have health care workers, EMT, delivery people and grocery store workers still bravely doing their jobs. And clapping, too, for humanity – for all of us who, whether we make it or not, are ultimately just trying to do our best.

      Maybe you’ll find this blog post on the subject of news consumption helpful?

      Wishing you all the best!

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