Here Comes Another Year, but Not a New Year: How to Make Yours Happy

As the holiday season winds down and 2021 exhales its last breath, we look ahead to 2022. With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 exploding across the entire United States and many other countries, however, 2022 doesn’t feel like progress or offer a whole lot of happiness. It’s another year, but not a new year. The imprints of 2020 and 2021 cling like droplets on our masks—invisible when we ignore them, debilitating when they invade. How are you protecting your body and nourishing your spirit? As we reflect—yet again—on the upheaval in our daily lives, the relentless cycles of loss, and the uncertainty for tomorrow, can’t we also seek the flickering flame deep within our solar plexus? [...]

2021-12-31T08:53:08-05:00December 31st, 2021|Categories: 2022, COVID-19, Pandemic, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |

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 [...]

As the Seasons Change, So Must We

Photo by author So, how was your summer? Did you get away from your routines and responsibilities and do something you enjoy? Or were you happy to stay home and catch up on projects that felt good after they were finished, if not necessarily enjoyable in the process? Perhaps some of each.   Alas, the iconic Minnesota State Fair end-of-summer-get-together started this week, meteorological summer ends August 31, and kids are getting ready to go back to school and college. Well, some kids, at some schools, in some states. With all the pandemic uncertainty of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, who knows what rules schools will institute (and parents will concur with) over the next [...]

Making Sense of Chaos: How our Brain and Immune System Respond to COVID-19 and Stress

Socrates contemplating, By Anastasios71 on Shutterstock COVID-19 and emotional stress trigger inflammatory immune responses. And then our brain changes. It does matter what we think and how we process events in our life. What has your month been like? Were you able to focus on something important to you or do something fun and energizing? Did you accomplish what you intended to this month? My May 1 calendar note read, “Make sense of chaos.” I don’t remember what was going on astrologically to trigger this directive, but this was the month’s message for me. I set out with intention. A year ago in May, we lived in a peak of uncertainty with rising COVID-19 [...]

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, [...]

Why Some People Won’t Get Vaccinated and How to Fix That – Guest Post by Brennan R. White

Today’s guest post is by Podcaster Brennan R. White @Explainthenews. To listen to the podcast, go to Podcasts - Explain The News. Vaccine hesitancy, istock photo With COVID-19 vaccination rates falling for the first time, and supply beginning to outpace demand in the United States, the quest for herd immunity is getting more difficult. Twenty percent of the country is reportedly hesitant—but potentially willing—to get vaccinated. What are their reservations, and what will help them overcome their hesitancy? As of today, 54 percent of adults in the United States have received at least one vaccine dose, and 37 percent are fully vaccinated. Recent polling suggests that just 60 percent want to get vaccinated, so [...]

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: , , , , |
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