"For being alone, I don't really feel lonesome," Rosie Flores said over the phone in late April from the Austin home where she’s sheltering by herself. "You know, I've been here for about six weeks and I realized that I have the power to be a creative soul. So I should use my time to make stuff, you know, whether it be food or crafts.
"I think that I need to, you know, look for the time to make myself feel better."
The acclaimed 69-year-old singer-songwriter has been taking piano lessons and yoga classes online, getting her financial books in order and making progress on the book she’s writing.
"I'm taking the time to learn how to cook food," she said. With a busy schedule, making her own meals was never a priority in her pre-pandemic life.
"I'm a girl who likes to go out, grab a bite to eat, you know, before a gig," she said.
Now, making healthier meals at home, "I seem to have more energy and I've actually even lost a little bit of weight," she said.
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To keep her positive light burning bright she starts each day with a "happy dance."
"I'm the girl that gets up in the morning and puts on some music," she said. "I do a few little moves called the happy dance. So I can, you know, loosen my bones and get everything moving."
Flores is resolutely upbeat despite the fact that the pandemic has been financially devastating for her.
"Every single one of my tour dates has been canceled," she said. With no idea how she was going to pay her bills she was forced to reach out to friends to help float her through the first month of the pandemic.
"Before I figured out that I could livestream and generate some cash flow, I was really scared," she said.
Her friends from L.A. entertainment company Mule Kick Productions set up the weekly livestream each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and it has been "carrying me along," she said.
With just three songs interspersed with colorful stories from a life spent in the music industry, the weekly concerts are short, but Flores has found them to be a delightful way to engage with her fans.
"I'm having so much fun doing it and gaining a great little following doing it," she said. "I don't think I'm ever going to quit."
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Flores is no stranger to discovering silver linings in bleak times. Back in 1984, she had a new album coming out and a tour in the works when she broke her wrist and found herself sidelined and facing a costly operation.
"All of a sudden, I had no work. I couldn't play the guitar," she said.
But the community rallied and came to her aid. The nonprofit Musicares helped pay for her surgery. Friends and fellow musicians around the country threw benefit concerts including one at Antone’s in Austin that raised $4,000.
"At that point in my life, I realized what I did was important," she said. "Before that, I was kind of like, ‘Oh, nobody really cares that much about my music and, you know, I have never hit the big time,’ but then it's like no, all these people, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely, Jimmy Dale, Marcia Ball all these people came to my rescue and performed this benefit for me."
"From that point I realized that I'm supposed to feel like I count," she said.
It was a life lesson she carries to this day.
"Don't ever feel like you don't count," she said.
As she was recovering from the surgery, she moved back in with her mother and father to recuperate. It was time she would come to cherish. Her beloved father, a former postal worker who had made monthly payments to bankroll a whole line of gear for her girl band when she was 16, became ill shortly afterward and within six months he died.
"I thank the Lord for breaking my arm," she said. "I (got to spend) all that amazing time speaking with my father about books and listening to his advice and talking music with him. And my mom, too.
"That was a valuable lesson, you know. You don't have to break your arm to spend more time with your family. You need to remember that the people that are close to you are there and you need to not be so self centered about your own career and just remember to spend more time with people you love."
She also came to the realization that "we're here to support each other," she said.
"You're not in this all by yourself. And that brings me great joy and happiness," she said.
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Like all of us, Flores said the sadness in the world wears on her at times.
"When I start getting really sad, I think the thing that really helps me is if I reach out to someone and give them a call, you know, or send them a note ... do something kind for somebody else, and then that makes me feel better," she said.
She’s started sharing her tip money from the livestreams with her band members and family when she can.
"I've got to pay my bills. Then if I have some leftover I need to share that," she said. "(It) makes me feel good and kind of helps brighten my day."
It also helps to look at the big picture.
"The earth needs a break," she said. "Cleaner air is the silver lining and cleaner waters are the silver lining of putting everything on a big hold. ... It made us realize that we can save the earth."
The hard part, she said, is hoping "we can get back to work. We can open the clubs and restaurants and stores and that people can start feeling normal again."
She believes it will happen eventually, although it might take longer than we would like.
"We will get through this. Yeah, I'm absolutely sure. I know it. I know it so sure in my heart," she said.
Flores said she prays every day to help keep herself centered.
"We have to find the joy and keep the faith," she said.
It also helps to practice gratitude, she said.
"We have to be very gracious to our health care workers that are on the front lines. We have to be grateful to them and send them prayers of hope and safety. And to all the people that are in prisons and to all the people in the world that don't have the richness that the Americans have," she said.
If you’re lucky enough to be sheltering at home, "get up in the morning, put on some good music (and) do the happy dance," she said.
"And like Jerry Lee Lewis said, ‘Shake it baby, shake it,’" she said.
"Physically and mentally, take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. And that's it. It's pretty simple. That's, that's what I do. And that's my advice."