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National Guard troops are seen behind shields as they clear a street from protestors outside the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
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Susanna Schrobsdorff writes the It’s Not Just You newsletter on Substack

A version of this article appeared in this week’s It’s Not Just You newsletter. SUBSCRIBE HERE to have It’s Not Just You delivered to your inbox every Sunday.

🌞 Well hello! I’m so glad you’re here. This week: Some thoughts on the Capitol tragedy, tips for having the COVID safety talk with a new roommate, plus a few comfort creatures.


January 6th was a national trainwreck, a day of multiple tragedies. It was impossible to look away. And the images from the Capitol were indelible: a Confederate flag defiling the halls of Congress, laughing men with Nazi references on their shirts, a noose erected by a mob chanting about execution.

I spent a lot of time sifting through the fury and fear online looking for some clue about what we’re supposed to do now. And, by now, I mean this week and next week because thinking about anything beyond that is just too overwhelming.

The answer to that question for me was in a picture of Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey kneeling on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda, picking up trash left by the rioters. He was fixing one small thing that was in his power to fix at that moment, and he was doing it with such love and care. “I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” Kim told NBC. “It’s a room that I love so much — it’s the heart of the Capitol, literally the heart of this country. It pained me so much to see it in this kind of condition.”

Cleaning up is more than bagging debris. It’s an accounting of what’s been damaged and lost. And that’ll take longer. What ails us runs deep. The other images I couldn’t forget were of workers wheeling carts of crushed furniture down Capitol hallways–many of them Black and brown men tasked with repairing the damage done to the body politic by white supremacists.

But maybe the lesson here is not to try and tackle the whole giant terrible conundrum of how we fix a broken country. Not at once anyway. And not today. For now, maybe we just look at what’s right in front of us. Find one small thing you can fix, find a sliver of the world that you can tend.

Doing something tangible, no matter how small, might be the best remedy for feeling anxious and powerless — a casserole delivered, a donation to the diaper bank for moms, a call made to someone you know is lonely.

To that end, I was thinking of taking a bag and gloves to the park tomorrow so I can pick up some of the litter I see when I’m walking the dog. There will be more trash the next day, no doubt. But I love that park, and caring for it is a balm for this sad week.

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And! Watch the trailer for The Check-In, a new video chat with me and comedian and artist Lisa Beasley. Find The Check-In most Sundays on our Instagram channels: @susannaschrobs and @lisabexperience


💌 A Pandemic Pen Pal Finder Launched in the Spring of 2020 to connect people during the crisis, #Penpalooza now has thousands of members in dozens of countries and is a bright spot for those feeling isolated.

⛑️ How Can I Get My Roommate to Take the Pandemic Seriously? TIME’s COVID-19 advice column offers guidance for a college student headed back to school for the new semester as she prepares to have ‘the talk’ with her roommates about pandemic safety.

This riveting memoir came out in July, but the stories of healing in The Beauty in Breaking, by emergency department physician Michele Harper are deeply resonant now, particularly this passage:


Here’s your weekly reminder that creating a community of generosity elevates us all.


Fourteen years ago, Patricia (Patty) Franchi Flaherty, a 9-year ovarian cancer survivor founded Ovations for the Cure, a non-profit that supports women battling late-stage ovarian cancer by providing meals, housekeeping, transportation, and other important services while they face the toughest battle of their lives.

Patty spent the last two years of her life creating this support community. And while she did not survive this unrelenting disease, her best friend, Susan Patterson (pictured above) has continued this work ever since.

Ovations for the Cure is funded annually by events so when COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were put in place, Susan was forced to cancel their fundraisers. She worried for all the women depended on the organization’s assistance. At the time, the Ovations for the Cure had just enough resources to continue services for roughly two weeks. After that, many of these women would be battling late-stage cancer during a pandemic without the organization’s support.

At the behest of a friend, and as final hail Mary, Susan reached out to Pandemic of Love for help. As fate would have it, the person who read Susan’s request was a Pandemic of Love volunteer in South Florida named Julia (pictured below), whose mother had lost her battle to ovarian cancer less than a year earlier.

Julia felt that somehow her mother led her to Susan’s Pandemic of Love request. And Susan believed her friend Patty had somehow orchestrated the connection.

This feeling of divine intervention inspired Julia to find matches for the more than 20 women being served by Ovations for the Cure. She connected them directly with donors who gifted more than $12,000 in less than two weeks. For Julia and Susan, this network of care includes not just each other, but the loved ones they’ve each lost and this growing community of women helping each other through the storm.

This story is courtesy of Shelly Tygielski, founder of Pandemic of Love, a grassroots organization that matches those who want to become donors or volunteers directly with those who’ve asked for help with essential needs. Visit Pandemic of Love to give or apply for assistance.


Meet NELLIE looking out over her world submitted by ADRIENNE, and NACHO the Birman cat submitted by CRISTINA from Broadlands, VA. (Send your comfort animal photos, suggestions, or comments to

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