When I last saw one of my smart, loving, mommy friends…one of those grandmothers they speak of who rise up to save the world…she spoke of a video that’s inspired her:Continue reading
Reflections on a Pandemic Rainbow
Oil Painting from March 2020 Entitled “Pandemic Rainbow”
While I give it my best to be the adult and hopefully a halfway decent parent, often it is my children who end up guiding and grounding me.
One example of this was mid-March 2020. We were far enough in to know that COVID was serious, but it was still a largely inconceivable looming horror that had hardly begun to hit home. I had followed the story since before the disease cancelled Lunar New Year celebrations abroad, so I was not quite as surprised as some seemed to be. Still, I am pretty sure I was in shock.
Honestly, I think I might still be in shock.
At that time, though, my brain still wanted to treat COVID as a theoretical construct, not something…real. I had yet to have a case reach the outskirts of my personal orbit, let alone see a dear one pass or begin to experience the painful details of how everything would go. I was already thinking of collateral concerns that for so many were already more pressing than the disease but, for me, it was all processing like a computer with too many programs running, a computer with not just a mind, but a heart that was overwhelmed as well…and I know I was among the luckier ones…
The first case was confirmed on Long Island by March 5th. A week later, in what felt like a watershed moment, the NBA suspended its season right at the tipoff of a Jazz/Thunders game while at the same time Tom Hanks told the world he was sick. The next day a “temporary” school closing was announced, followed promptly by the shutdown of just about everything.
Teachers, parents and children turned on a dime to transform education as offices also emptied into homes. Overnight, Zoom went from being a cool app someone had suggested we play with, to the platform that would host most human encounters for the next two years.
In true apocalyptic fashion, folks that couldn’t stay home were suddenly being called heroes. This was an honor some immediately warned was less than empty and that others are actively praying we will more substantially appreciate to this day. Given the scarcity of tests and plethora of potential symptoms, it was fairly impossible to tell whether one had hay fever or might kill grandma.
This was just a sliver of the world’s hardships, with some facing suffering far worse than others. Already, we were realizing there wasn’t even sufficient protective gear for nurses. Hoarding was a concern. We were in it deep. There was hardly any toilet paper. Coming together as a nation seemed sadly and painfully less likely than ever, but at least folks were washing their hands.
With hardly any discussion it suddenly became perfectly legal to get take-out cocktails. Fellow Gen Xers were filling my Facebook newsfeed the way many of my friends do when things are stressful, scary and beyond our control: One part public service announcement, two parts “how y’all doin’ out there?” and three parts bad jokes as we collectively decided this was all way too serious not to laugh. It all seemed terribly surreal, especially when paired with the emergence of Tiger King, the unbelievable, utterly meme-able Netflix documentary about an ill-fated private zookeeper. We didn’t watch it here, but we couldn’t miss it either. Somehow, it seemed to fit.
Me? I was doing what I generally do in times of crisis, shunting aside feelings and endeavoring to be useful, going into overdrive to keep things moving and to share news of so many wonderful folks I saw giving it their best to be of service…teachers, human service providers, scientists and so many folks who sew or learned to sew just for the occasion. Grateful for so many artists and librarians rising to a quarantined call, I was also warmed by the concept of “Rainbows across Nassau and Suffolk Counties,” which were largely drawn by children and starting to appear everywhere.
I thought it would be nice to publish one. I asked my youngest, who had just turned 12, “Would you please draw me a rainbow for my newsletter?”
My daughter is a born artist. It’s just who she is. At this particular time in life, she was also (hopefully) at a height of adolescent prickliness toward her mother. Perhaps, this time at least, it was well deserved. She gave me a drawing she wouldn’t have been satisfied with when she was three.
“I’m not using this.”
“Well, I’m not putting your name on it.”
So…I used it. Without her name. She was fine with that.
A few days later, I was up late working. It was sometime after midnight when she emerged from her room, came to my desk and thrust her arm forward.
“You want my rainbow? Here’s my rainbow!”
I looked at it, a ragged, shaken assault of color. Marks that looked like tiger swipes tore through it. Other areas were marred by splotches of brown as though dirt and other…stuff…had been hurled at it. Smears of white evoked flashes of terror…and…contagion….
I was stricken to see my heart laid bare on her canvas. Her heart laid bare on her canvas?
“I’ve never used oils before,” she said, her voice sweet and childlike as she considered her work. Funny how they switch back and forth so suddenly at that age, “I’m really pleased with how I got this wash along the edges…”
She’d always been all about the process, even when she was three…
I looked her in the eye. She looked back. Words went unspoken. Feelings, however, I think, transmitted. She retreated to the room that would become her fortress, her cocoon for the next several months.
The painting remained beside me, saying more than either she or I had words for. It got me to pause. It got me to think. It forced me to allow the weight of the situation to settle, to allow her the space she needed to process, to be a bit more mindful with her and all I encountered.
The work was soon followed by a similarly abstract piece entitled “Earth Day.”
“I sure hope we get it together.” was all she said.
Prints of “Pandemic Rainbow” (top of article) and “Earth Day” (immediately above) are available at The Firefly Artists in Northport. While she’s not nearly as attached to them as I am, the originals are not for sale. I am grateful to the galley for hosting these pieces, and for everyone who gives it their best to make the best of things and guide others to see the light. It matters more than we know. Thank you.
Spencer’s Picks: Overcoming Pandemic Fatigue; Art, Science & Suggested Solutions; The Happiness of a Dog
Photo of Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. Photo by Katheryn Laible
As usual, when he’s not scrying into the mysteries of metals at the atomic level, or pondering puzzles of more efficient means of tapping energy, Dr. Thomas is bringing some light into our life. Here are a few of the things he’s brought to our attention:
Now that we’re about a month into the college semester with social distancing and remote learning, a lot of people I know are feeling a bit of a drag. You are not alone: Lonliness at Pandemic U: 14 tips for college students and their parents
Along similar themes, but more for everyone:: Your Surge Capacity is Depleted. This is Why You Feel Awful (and a couple good things you can do about it)
One thing that’s helpful is — to help! Here is a heartwarming and inspiring story from one of my very favorite professors from back in my undergrad time at Stony Brook. Bente Videbaek is an amazing person who has been working hard to make sure people have masks Facebook Page: “Humans of Mather Hospital”
When you feel a bit grounded and ready to stare some of the bigger challenges facing humanity in the face: Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. One of the speakers, Dr. Rose Mutiso, is a friend of mine – we were graduate students together. She’s the incredible CEO of the Mawazo Institute, which supports women scientists and leaders throughout East Africa. She has also spoken at TED and written in Scientific American about the challenges that people in Africa face building digital and clean-energy infrastructure.
One for the Coltrane fans out there: The most feared song in jazz, explained. It’s not too hard for a layman to follow this breakdown of “Giant Steps,” even as it’s still among the most challenging things a musician may face
Finally, no big point here, but a bit of joy for you since we could all use it: The happiness of this dog after they put prostheses on
Spencer Thomas received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. After some time at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, we are DELIGHTED to welcome him back to Long Island as a researcher at Stony Brook University. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. For a time, Spencer studied metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant. We’re still endeavoring to understand what he’s doing now well enough to explain it so simply.
Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.
Synchronicity Picks: Two Ways of Knowing, Life Is Beautiful, Grow for Good
We’ve been thinking a lot about science and spirituality lately, and how we wish those who resonate with our hearts wouldn’t so often trouble our minds with claims of or against science that just aren’t so. In turn, we wish those who like to stick to science would remember that there’s a lot we don’t fully understand,…Reiki may seem pseudosciency, but there’s legitimate science behind the healing power of touch.
It’s a challenging subject…and we are grateful to both the scientists and spiritual guides we know who help us at least begin to understand their views and clarify what our own thoughts are…
This is beautiful and touches right on that! Two Way of Knowing: Robin Wall Kimmerer On Scientific And Native American Views Of The Natural World by Leath Tonino in The Sun
As for science…as we scoured the Internet trying to better understand the science regarding masks…we stumbled across this article from Jeremy Howard, a U. of San Francisco data scientist who, together with 18 other scientists recently completed a review of available research on the subject.
It seemed really helpful. Then, we dug deeper to figure out what we were reading. This is how we discovered, The Conversation which felt refreshingly broadly and intelligently resourced… Then we read their about statement…Sounds good to us!!!
On the spiritual side, we appreciate Ambassadors of Wellness: The SOUL-U-TION Revolution Donna Martini shares her sweet, wise “Mantra Mouse,” and invites all so inclined to meditate and pray with her.
Did you know there’s a church of Rock n Roll that has long been happening for decades every Sunday morning on WBAB 102.3? You don’t have to be a Catholic to appreciate Religion and Rock hosted by Msgr Jim Vlaun
Attitude adjustments help. Katie has often said she is not, in fact, an optimist. but so often delightfully surprised by human beings giving it their best anyway, that she’s decided to support them. This recent NPR piece is making her think a little bit differently about that: Optimism: Is it a Personality Trait, Or Could People Possibly Learn It?
This was interesting: “Nick Hanauer: How Do We Begin To Reinvent Capitalism?” This is part IV in the TED Radio Hour exploration of reinvention. It features a billionaire entrepreneur who believes today’s stark inequality is a product of decades of bad economic theory. He’s still a strong proponent of capitalism, he just thinks we’ve got to start looking at it differently…
We are pleased to see Jed Morey has created something new: a Grow for Good Podcast which “introduces listeners to business leaders who have grown their companies by doing good things.”
We’re in for all the good we can get, anywhere we can find it!
Finally, here’s a great to start your week: Life is Beautiful. It’s author Hugh Hollowell is into “creating a compelling vision of a better world,” as “a writer, a farmer, a pastor, and a foster parent who loves cats” and does some consulting. Released on Mondays, this is an offering of five beautiful things to start your week.
“Because the world is beautiful, but sometimes it’s hard to notice it.”
Sending Our Love in a Letter…
“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” ~Phyllis Theroux
Truthfully, ever since Sandy we have had a special fondness for the mailman. At that time, we weren’t sure how ANYTHING could EVER get down a road blocked on both sides with trees. STILL the US Mail came, exceeding expectations of the old credo, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Still, we must admit it: Holiday time is overwhelming. We struggle to send traditional cards. We just about gave up this year.
Then, an amazing local artist made us realize we were letting something really valuable go. We are committed to starting earlier next year.
Now, even more, we are remembering the deep joy of the U. S. Postal service — How special is it that we can send our handwritten love just by putting a stickered envelope in the box outside our door?
Ordering online, we remember the beauty and meaning of stamps. We’re thinking of adding to old collections!
as our children send cards of love and little treats
dear friends mail us beautiful, handmade masks
care packages come from a Mom
and beautiful, locally crafted cards fly home.
Feed Your Soul
While we STRONGLY RECOMMEND erring on the side of science in terms of understanding how disease spreads and what we have good evidence heals, we also know a great many who (while also following Dr’s orders) find healing and overcoming a deeply personal experience that is greatly strengthened by their faith.
We have also long agreed with Dale Carnegie that prayer is much more psychologically useful than worry and — when there’s nothing else we can do — remains better than doing nothing.
Many houses of worship are closing. While we haven’t yet found a comprehensive guide to what’s now available, we have seen many of our faithful friends posting information about services that are occurring online. We encourage you to contact your own community. We will share what we come across.
We see that Donna Martini has been offering her own “Mighy Mantras” on Facebook as her contribution to helping folks find some spiritual solace.
Additionally this local “Moonful Mama” has been offering some global healing meditations as well as a little of her own Momma’s spirit regarding how we might all find opportunity in times of crisis.
While she probably wouldn’t call herself a faith healer, we do find Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings deeply soothing to our souls. Here is her Meditation on Thich Nhat Hanh’s, “How To Love” a lesson on how to grow our hearts.
For our own part, we pray that – now and always – humanity endeavors toward truth and love, best we may humbly discern our way forward, fueled by faith, dexterity and strength, with gratitude for every blessing we may count, especially to those who keep hope alive.
Peace and well-wishes to all.
Support Local Business & Community Groups
This is a really tough time to be a small business or a not-for-profit organization. While everyone is rightly encouraged to stay home and keep their hands off the world, bills are still coming due and people are wondering what’s going to happen to their income.
When you see one of your most go-getting survivors of a friend seeking donations for her employer, you have to stop and think — What are we going to do for our people here?
Vision Long Island is one of our region’s strongest advocates for Main Street. They have just released their first Main Street News offering a great guide to what people can do in terms of personal initiative, resources and advocacy.
Another strong advocate for local business that has been posting good stuff on their facebook page is the Long Island Business Council.
In general, some ideas that have seemed good to us include:
Networking Can and Should Continue!
We thought this article from our friend Robbie Samuels was really helpful:
9 Ways to Network During a Pandemic
“Due to an abundance of caution, we’re canceling our event.”
All over the world, event organizers have had to make the difficult decision to send this message.
According to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, 76% of people surveyed said that networking was a top driver for why they chose to attend a live event.
How do we keep networking if live events are being canceled, postponed, or becoming virtual events?”
Read Robbie’s Suggestions here
Online Virtual Meeting Tools
We’ve also been thinking about how to meet remotely, and what services might be helpful. Our friend, Deb Ingino brought Zoom to our attention, which was also recently recommended by a dear friend Kathy Kuthy.
Thanks to Pilar Moya, we learned that Google is making their premium version of Hangouts Meet free until July 1st. She also led us to be reminded about Skype Meanwhile, our kids have having a lot of their own meetings on Facebook Messenger.
Of course, the phone still works, too. 🙂
PARTING WAYS doesn’t mean you can’t keep it together
Divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences of a person’s life, impacting every member of the family. We are thankful for this guest submission that talks about the author’s professional passion for helping people find a better way to part company.
Life is full of changes. Some of them voluntary, some- not so much. So, here you find yourself…the decision to divorce has been made either by you, for you or together which is the best-case scenario. We have all heard horrendous war stories, we all know people who have experienced this nightmare or about to… breathe! You have options. And it’s called Collaborative Divorce. The fact that most people have never heard of this method of divorce is one reason we have generations of families who witness the unhealthy, adversarial litigation and very often continue this cycle in their own lives.
Most people have heard of mediation, however, with a mediator, there can be no legal advice and the lawyer who is mediating cannot advocate for either party. Collaborative divorce is a voluntary process that couples enter into with a signed participation agreement that they are agreeing not to litigate. Couples enter into the Collaborative process thereby eliminating the threat of Court and committing to align their interests to work out the structure of their family, finances, property and any other assets they have created during their marriage.
The Collaborative divorce process provides support for the couple so they take the lead in decision making, through respectful communication, with the assistance of the appropriate professionals, in a private, pressure free setting. The team of professionals include an attorney for each spouse, a mental health professional and a financial advisor.
In the context of Collaborative divorce, the couple commit to finding a mutually beneficial solution as their highest priorities. The concepts of “winning or revenge” and “retribution” have no place in the collaborative process. The hope of having a positive future co-parenting (if relevant) is often a primary motivation for entering this process. This results in the creation of a new bi-nuclear family built upon a foundation of respect, incorporating a creative and realistic distribution of assets and a new way to live apart and divorced in harmony.
When couples who are getting divorced, find solutions that serve both parties, healing begins, successful co-parenting takes place and children can grow up to be emotionally secure and healthy adults. Families benefit from the collaborative process, and engaging in a communicative and understanding process sometimes results in healthy reconciliation. Society as a whole reaps the benefits of this process, because people can divorce with dignity and respect, children learn how to have difficult conversations with positive outcomes and the process makes us whole, individually and as a family.
Collaborative Divorce needs to be the new norm and most people have never heard of it. Please help us and tell everyone you know who may be getting divorced, about this option. The only option that will help to sustain the nuclear families of the future. For more information, please visit us at adrlawny.com.
Last month, we shared items we found on Gratitude and Kindness. Now, we touch on acts that naturally follow: Giving and Hope.Continue reading