Standing at Water’s Edge – Again

  Shutterstock by Jayakumar As the Omicron coronavirus variant precipitously surfaces in South Africa, Hong Kong, Europe, and the Middle East, our global collective once again finds ourselves standing at water’s edge and wondering where the heck the horizon ends and the living begins. As my memoir, Standing at Water’s Edge, launches out into the world this week, I am reminded of how derailed we can feel by the uncertainty and loss of control as we face yet another new and potentially virulent variant. This recurrent narrative isn’t a sci-fi story; it’s yet another reminder to face our fears, let go of our expectations, and pay attention to the moment. But how? It starts [...]

What books are you reading this month? How do you choose?

Photo by author   October is National Book Month, and NaNoWriMo starts November 1. I thought it was just me who had books on my mind. October's Hot New Releases   Have you read any new fall book releases? So many highly anticipated books, including Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land and Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway. Both books follow the authors’ award-winning success of All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr, 2014) and one of my all-time favorites, A Gentleman in Moscow (Towles, 2016). All the Light We Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, spent almost four years on The New York Times Bestseller List, and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Netflix is [...]

Standing at Water’s Edge: Reflecting on the Past, Paying Attention to the Present

Years after my son completed treatment for leukemia, I stood at the ocean shore as dusk descended with unexpected swiftness. Blackness blanketed the bay, and I felt the same fear and isolation I'd experienced that first fretful night in the hospital. I peered into the darkness, expecting the horizon to orient me, searching for the line demarcating sky and water, insight and perspective, when suddenly the waves surged up over my knees, throwing me off balance. In my determined effort to find a beacon, I'd forgotten to pay attention to the moment. (adapted, Standing at Water's Edge: A Cancer Nurse, Her Four-Year-Old Son and the Shifting Tides of Leukemia). It's easy to get wrapped up in [...]

When Life Interferes with Expectations

Photo by Anoir Chafik on Unsplash When life interferes with expectations, reflect and regroup, and then put one foot in front of the other with purpose and direction. Trust that you will find your way. Expectations After almost four months of not walking outside, I spontaneously slip out of my sheepskin-lined slippers and into my tennis shoes, grab a windbreaker and my house key, and confidently walk out the door. As I carefully step up onto the parkway trail across the street from my house, I take a deep breath and inhale the damp spring air. The trees bordering the spring-fed pond are just starting to bud; polka dots of green splatter the barren, [...]

Regrets: What To Do When We Have Them

istockphoto by stereohype “Have no regrets” my friend murmured after I shared my angst over decisions I faced as my father approached death. That was a decade ago, and I’ve been mulling over regrets ever since. Is it even possible to live life without the remorseful “I can’t believe I did/said that” torment we inflict upon ourselves? And how do we move on from this all-too-human self-criticism? I revisited regret this week. For my writing class, we were to write a scene in which a character does something despicable and then rationalizes his actions. I take my homework seriously—even after all these years—and I contemplated the assignment all week. Despicable is such a strong [...]

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My: Overcoming Distractions and Fears

Shutterstock by Francey, Wizard of Oz Yellow Brick Road in a Dark and Spooky Forest In the 1939 classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Tin Man, and Scarecrow confront their fears in the dark and scary forest as they travel along the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. Witches and wild animals—and all sorts of imagined risks—lurk in the darkness. Lion jumps out and reminds them they need courage, along with a brain and a heart. Together, arms linked, they set off on the path to reach their individual goals. Were you missing any of these essential comrades on your journey through 2020? Did you make informed decisions, connect to your [...]

2021-01-18T11:06:16-05:00January 18th, 2021|Categories: 2021, Health, Psychology, Resilience, Survival|Tags: , , , , |

A Season of Hope

Unsplash by Jaanus Jagomagi The United Kingdom began vaccinating for coronavirus this week as the United States and Canada approved emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and prepared to protect healthcare workers and vulnerable adults in long-term care settings. It took monumental effort to develop and produce a vaccine and conduct Phase I, II, and III clinical trials in less than a year. There is hope for a safer tomorrow. And here in the Northern Hemisphere, we look to the skies for the aurora borealis and anticipate the winter solstice with its subtle yet convincing reversal to longer and lighter days. Even the planets get in the game, with Jupiter and Saturn aligning close [...]

2020-12-13T11:51:50-05:00December 13th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19, Hope, Resilience|Tags: , , , , |

Is your head listening to your heart? Think from other dimensions

Shutterstock by Peshkova My twin died six years ago this week. His death was sudden, unexpected, a surprise to us all. He thought he had our paternal grandparents’ genes—Grandpa died after a stroke at 97 and Grandma (92) died suddenly four months later, after telling us grandkids that she couldn’t live without Grandpa. No one really thought about our maternal gene pool; both of those grandparents died before we were born. It’s natural to cling to what we know and what we want to believe. We create our own reality in our mind. Our head often ignores or overrides what our heart tries to tell us. Closing our mind closes off our heart. Despite [...]

Keeping Perspective in a Changing World

Sculpture of girl's face evoking past and present, familiar and unfamiliar. Mark Manders, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN This week, the world surpassed 33 million cases of COVID-19 and 1 million deaths, with 7 million cases and 205,000 deaths in the United States. With just over 4 percent of the world’s population, the U.S has almost 21 percent of the global cases of COVID-19. How do we make sense of all these numbers? One million deaths are hard to comprehend and impossible to relate to, unless, I imagine, you’ve been on the frontline caring for thousands who take their last breath on your shift. As a data person and researcher, I’ve been watching the [...]

2020-10-01T18:40:19-04:00September 30th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19, Resilience|Tags: , , , , |

Getting Through the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons from Our Ancestors

Sand sculpture of Bubonic plague. Bouke Atema. istock.com How do we get through the COVID-19 pandemic? Lately, I’ve been compelled to read stories about how others have survived something. The circumstances are less important to me than how they got through—how they responded to and managed unexpected and uncontrollable adversity. Did survivors of other pandemics, wars, or adverse childhood experiences rise to the occasion with strength and resilience to do what needed to be done, or did they retreat to a familiar comfort zone to calm their fears and anxieties or rely on others to help them get through? How did they deal with the chaos and uncertainty? Fear is a human condition, and [...]

2020-08-29T23:02:45-04:00August 29th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19, Resilience, Stress, Survival|Tags: , , , , |
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