A guide to relaxing while Rome is burning
Stephanie Hayes | Election Day is almost here, and it’s time to find some inner peace.
This could be you.
This could be you. [ Tampa Bay Times (2015) ]
Published Oct. 29, 2020

Shh. There, there.

Listen to the gentle caw of a distant gull. Smell this lavender sachet. Close your eyes. Wait, open them, so you can read. At least half… maybe a little… you need to see the words... right. Yes, that’s good.

Election Day is Tuesday, a butterfly’s blink, an angel’s breath, a flea’s hop away. Americans have been whipsawed by the pace of this ordeal for, oh,1,000 years. We don’t know what’s going to happen. The outcome may involve several foghorns and a getaway watercraft. Until then, heed these words.

At this hour, you do not require one more text or celebrity Instagram post reminding you to vote. You do not need anyone to press the word “VOTE” into a waffle fry or change the lyrics of Love Boat to Love Vo… no.

You, engaged citizen, are tired. You watched the last presidential debate out of duty, but your muscles felt sore, as if you’d been doing CrossFit for 11 months. Maybe you remarked, “Wow, that was toned down and calm,” because the bar for calm has fallen so very low. It’s the last peg in limbo at a party where everyone has had too many Harvey Wallbangers.

You watched the Senate confirm a Supreme Court justice a week before the election, saw the news about a governor’s attempted kidnapping, tried to keep track of which elected officials have COVID-19, studied every political poll, then read every article about how those polls are probably wrong. You Googled “is Mercury in retrograde?” and learned that the answer is yes, and that it leaves retrograde on... Election Day.

Quiet, now. Here, have some peppermint tea.

In the final days of this election cycle, let us commit to healing breaths, to taking things one moment at a time. If you are an undecided voter, I am so sorry you have been stranded on a deserted island and hope you reacclimate to society in due time.

Let’s assume you have done all you can. You read. You had nuanced conversations. You campaigned or donated if compelled. You cast your ballot, not just for a president, but for local offices and issues. You talked to a neighborhood child about voting.

It’s time to rest. Apply these cucumber slices to your eyes. I mean, after... you still have to keep them open.

No, no, my love. Don’t nail 16 flags to your truck and drive on people’s lawns. Resist the urge to get any tattoos. Not this week.

Did you hear there’s water on the moon? Sports are good right now. Perhaps a novel. Hey, is that Halloween candy? Take a walk. How about baking a pie? Pies are delicious.

You know what’s even better than pie? Boundaries. Letting go of things you can’t control and redirecting that energy to things you can. To the people in front of you.

There is no requirement in the Constitution (yet) to refresh Twitter every 45 seconds. So when you can, if you can, close down the glow. Pet a warm animal. Just find an animal, any animal. Sleep an extra 10 minutes, or pretend to sleep, so everyone leaves you alone.

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share thoughts, feelings and funny business with you every Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

This concludes our session. Feel free to stay in the suite as long as you’d like with this heated shoulder wrap and think about how to move through the next few days. There’s mineral water on the way out. That will be $89.50.

Related: 10 shorebirds that don't care about the election
Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

Get Stephanie’s newsletter

For weekly bonus content and a look inside columns by Stephanie Hayes, sign up for the Stephinitely newsletter. Get it free at

Tampa Bay Times elections coverage

SIGN UP FOR ELECTION TEXT MESSAGES: Get voting information, news updates and ask political editor Steve Contorno questions about the candidates and issues, directly through your phone.

VOTER GUIDE: Access the Tampa Bay Times' Know Your Candidates guide at

HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT VOTING IN FLORIDA? WE HAVE THE ANSWERS: We’ve compiled information on early voting locations, rules for voting by mail and more.

AMENDMENTS: State constitutional amendments on the 2020 ballot, explained.

FELONY CONVICTION? Here are Florida’s rules for registering to vote.

MAIL-IN BALLOTS: So you want to vote by mail in Florida? Here’s what you need to know.

WHY A FLORIDA CITY’S BLACK VOTERS BEAT NATIONAL AVERAGES: Turnout is 10 percent over the national average. That’s been true for generations. The story of Chester James Sr. helps explain why.

POSTAL SERVICE CONCERNS: What’s going on with the U.S. Postal Service and should Florida be worried?

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the elections in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription. Or click here to make a donation to the Tampa Bay Times Journalism Fund.