4 Ways Not to Waste Your Quarantine

Hard times tend to bring out the best or the worst in people. This is because hard times force people to make decisions, whether that is positive change, negative habits, or pathetic stagnation.

Some double down on their predilection for politics. They post online about their favorite politician or against their hated politician, trying to score political points for their side. As I write, my governor and our president are currently in a spat. Such fighting helps no one during a crisis, and I would love both groups to stop the Twitter barbs and get to work. It’s been said that it takes two to tango. It also takes two to tangle.

So really, what can be done about this virus? For most of us, all we can do is sit in quarantine in our houses. Others of us go to work, helping at the hospital, police department, or grocery store. What all of us can do is use this to change in positive ways. It would be a shame if you leave your quarantine the same person that you were when you entered it.

Accordingly, I am going to list 4 things that you can do to use this time wisely.

#1 Choose something productive to do for others.

The lazy person claims, “There is a lion outside! If I go outside, I might be killed!” (Prov. 22:13-NLT)

Some folks use any disruption as an excuse. “Oh well,” some say, “I guess I’ll sit and watch Netflix.” Others might say, “Well, I can’t work. I guess I’ll play video games until 4 o’clock in the morning.” While TV and video games have their time and place, they should not occupy your whole life.

What can you do for others? Do you have a skill that others need? Some of you are skilled at sewing. Can you make masks for folks who are working in health care? I work at a local hospital, and I am very thankful for those who have donated masks.

If you are not good at sewing, perhaps you can help in other ways. Perhaps you are not an at-risk age/health group. Could you help someone who is—maybe get them groceries, or run errands? Maybe you can share beautiful music. I know that I have been comforted by the outpouring of music over social media. Other than the people who are still promoting politics 24/7, I have been amazed at the love and care people are showing to each other online. Let’s do even more.

#2 Find some time to create.

Do you have a book you’ve always wanted to write? Then write it! Write that book, compose that song, knit that blanket, construct that puzzle. There are few things more fulfilling than creating.

#3 Get some exercise.

I’ve seen too many memes about people gaining weight during this shut-in. You have more time, why not add a 30 minute exercise routine or go outside for a walk? The one bright side to a lot of my gigs being cancelled is that I’ve been able to work out more consistently. There are soooooo many resources online for this. Don’t waste all of your time.

#4 Find a way to personally grow.

Lastly, use this time as an opportunity for growth. Start learning a new language. Take up a hobby. Learn a new skill. Create a method to grow spiritually. Whatever it is you want to be better at, take some of this time to concentrate on it. To paraphrase a song, “If you want to change the world, start with the man in the mirror.”

“Physician, heal thyself” (Lk. 4:23-KJV)

A few of you might ask me if I’m doing these things. All I can tell you is that I’m trying. I’m learning Spanish, working out consistently, going to the hospital and helping out there. Could I do better? Short answer: Yes. One of the reasons I’m writing this post is to remind myself of these principles. So I ask you, what are you doing with your time?

Here’s A Sweet Video of the Martial Arts Used in My Book!

Folks who know me know that I am a martial arts enthusiast. I trained with my parents who are both black belts in Taekwondo. I’ve expanded from there—Wrestling, Jiujitsu, Judo, Jeet Kune Do, Historical European Martial Arts, etc. A few years ago, I fell in love with Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). As you can surmise, FMA is a catch-all term for martial arts from the Philippines. Unlike most martial arts where you start with empty-hand techniques, in FMA you begin training with weapons (sticks, knives, etc.). There are a ton of different styles. So far I’ve studied Modern Arnis, Doce Pares with Eric Smith, and Armas-Kali with T. Kent Nelson. I’ve tried to do these wonderful styles justice in my book, The Giftless Chronicles: The Vampire Conspiracy. Here’s a video demonstrating some of them. I’ll take the blame for any bad form that you see. Any sweet moves come from my wonderful teachers. Not all the martial arts represented in the book are shown in this video. This video shows TKD and FMA. Enjoy!

My Weekly Workout Schedule

Last week, I laid out why I like Beachbody workout programs. And no, I am not a Beachbody coach, nor are they paying me to say this. There are programs that I like and ones that I don’t, and ones that I use more often than others. My method, however, does follow a certain madness.

In order to lay out for you what I do, I first wish to explain to you my typical weekly workout plan. I do three muscle workouts, two cardio workouts, and one yoga workout. I also do two to three 10-15 minute ab workouts per week. I find that this method enables me to stay in shape. This is not a hard and fast plan for everyone. A female relative of mine does a similar program, but instead does three cardios and two muscles, and that works for her. As I said in the last post, the best plan is the one you do consistently.

In a perfect world, I like to do muscle workouts on M/W/F, cardio workouts on T/TH, and yoga on S. I take Sundays off in order to let my body recover. Sometimes I have to change the order of things based on how my body feels and my schedule. Here is my weekly schedule without adaptation:

M-Upper Body (usually Chest & either Back, Shoulders, and/or Triceps) & Abs


W-Upper Body (usually Back, Biceps, and/or Shoulders) & Abs


F-Lower Body (leg workouts usually include all leg muscles) & Abs

S-Yoga (this is good for building core and stretching all those muscles I’ve been working)

If you have enough workouts, you can mix and match quite easily. I maintain this M-S program for three weeks before I take a recovery week. In recovery weeks, I usually do less strenuous workouts so that my body can heal from the hard work of the previous weeks. I’ll do a couple muscle workouts for the whole body, yoga of course, and  I also add one day where I do a stretching workout. It looks like this:

M-Total Body Muscle Workout


W-Total Body Muscle Workout




Lastly, I split my four-week set into three phases, which makes about 90 days. Each phase is incrementally harder so that my body gets stronger. It is a huge mistake to try to do an extremely difficult workout without building up to it. You can injure or exhaust yourself, and then you can’t continue working out. I’ve known too many people who want to do the hardest workout program first. They often quit after the first week. The best workout plan is the one you do consistently. Start with shorter, easier programs and work your way up to the harder ones.

Here is my plan that I started in January. This morning, I completed day 1 of week 9 (Phase 3). It was P90X: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps. I had to start with easier workouts in phase 1 than I usually do because I’d not been working out as consistently in the last few months of 2017. I’m hoping in the next set of 90 days I’ll be able to do some of my harder workouts.

January-March 2018 Workout Schedule-page-001


INTJ Musicians and Physical Fitness

In 2012, I moved back to MI in order to be close to family. I had worked out at a gym 2-4 times a week in NC, but I was displeased with the results. I was in better shape than other people, but I didn’t think I was getting the most bang for my buck for the amount of time it took to drive to the gym (and back), getting dressed, and working out. Surely, there had to be a better way. For myself, I found that better way shortly before I moved. Vague rumors of a dvd program by Beachbody called P90X were floating around. So I tried it on its most basic level. Somehow, I managed to finish it.

Several things about the program appealed to the INTJ in me. 1) The goal: well-rounded physical fitness. You didn’t spend all your time doing muscle workouts or running. The end goal was that you could do multiple different kinds of physical activity and not injure yourself. 2) The beautifully systematic way in which Tony Horton went about it. He split the program into 3 phases (30 days each-hence the “90” in P90X). Tony went further: the program targets every muscle group including cardio each week. 3) The results were good. I actually became much more physically fit. I recuperated quickly if I did some new activity. Durability increased. 4) The introvert in me liked that I could get up in the morning without talking to anyone, throw on a pair of shorts, and get a solid workout done in an hour: quick, effective, and relatively painless.

As an INTJ, I play the long game and try to improve systems. There were other programs that-in my opinion-had some strengths that P90X did not. I mixed one new program a year into the 90 day program to improve it and for variety:

Isanity-Shaun T is a master of cardio.

Body Beast-Sagi Kalev is a master of muscle work.

I found that I could easily hybridize these workouts into the previous program. As my work life became more hectic, I found that sometimes I had less time to work out or needed some easier workouts. I enjoyed creating my own schedules and specifically tailoring the hybrids to what I needed at the time. The following are all 30 min.

P90X3-Excellent well-rounded workout program

Insanity Max 30-Shaun T’s cardio is amazing

21Day Fix Extreme-Autumn Calabrese did an excellent well-rounded workout program

I also found that as a musician I had to adapt the schedule. I avoided doing a bicep workout the day before or on the day where I had a heavy conducting schedule. I also found that I had to be careful of overworking my forearm muscles. On the day after a concert, I had to be sensitive to how much energy I have left. Also, I highly recommend P90X3: Yoga workout the day of a concert.

Which is the best program? The best workout program is the one which you can do consistently without injury. If you consistently run but you don’t consistently do muscle workouts, then emphasize running. Some people really enjoy dance workouts. If that will motivate you to be consistent, then go for it. If you need to start with an easy or short workout program so that you don’t injure yourself, then you really should start with an easy workout program and work your way up.

Featured Image By Onurcannar (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons