Reflections on a Pandemic Rainbow

Oil Painting - Pandemic Rainbow, March 2020

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.”

“Use it.”

“Well, I’m not putting your name on it.”

”Fine.”

So…I used it. Without her name. She was fine with that.

A child's drawing of a rainbow

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.

“Me, too.”

Oil Paintins, "Earth Day" April 2020

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.

Girls Inc. of Long Island: Strong. Smart. Bold.

Kaylin St. Victor, "Girl of the Year" with Girls Inc Executive Director Renee Flagler

It was a privilege to witness Girl’s Inc of Long Island produce their Annual Gala. As an organizational wonk and a human being, I instantly fell in love with these strong, smart, empowering women, the folks they draw into their fold, and their skilled passion for the girls it is their job to nurture.

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Local John C. Maxwell Partner Supports Leadership Through Crisis

Image Provided by Deb Ingino

We are leadership and personal development geeks. We love steeping ourselves in folks who value service and who rally the world to give it their best to put their best foot forward.

One such soul is John C. Maxwell. He’s basically a preacher who found his true higher calling as a secular Leadership Development guru. Having followed him on some level since 2008, we find his definition of leadership as influence and of a leader’s purpose as being to serve others, as well as his knack for asking excellent questions deeply fortifying.

Last week, John hosted a series of Livestreams called “Leading Through Crisis: Virtual Leadership Summit”

He also offers daily inspirations; A Minute with Maxwell.

It’s kind of like a “Church of Leadership as Service,” He’s humbling, inspirational and a good storyteller. It helps.

From the Global Message to Local Support…

Honestly, though, we wouldn’t have realized those events were happening if it weren’t for our friend, John C. Maxwell partner, Deb Ingino. Deb didn’t introduce us to Maxwell, and honestly we’ve learned more from her deep experience independent of that affiliation, but we knew we’d found a kindred spirit the first time she mentioned his name.

Deb is now offering her own mastermind session:

Long Island Leading Through Crisis – An Online Leadership Roundtable

We hope you can join Deb Ingino and other business leaders as we learn to become better leaders together and face the challenges of today,

When: 4-5:30pm Monday April 6th through Thursday April 9th

To Register: Go to the Eventbrite Page

This is not a selling event for Deb, this is a serving event from her to the Long Island community. Therefore there is no cost and it is considered a “private” event. Please register so she can email you the online connection link, the phone number access option and your participant guide.

Main Street News is a Must-Read: What’s Open, How Folks Are Doing, What You Can Do.

THIS IS IMPORTANT. Vision Long Island, one of our region’s strongest advocates for Main Street is now releasing daily issues of their new Main Street News. as it endeavors to keep up with events as they unfold. Check out their website. Follow their Facebook.

It’s a sobering, comprehensive review of important, information that includes a range of local initiatives, resources and ways you can help.

There’s news about what’s open, how folks are doing and whatever they can find to help folks weather the storm.

So go there and get informed. In general, some updated ideas that have seemed good to us include:

  1. Find your favorite local businesses on social media. Call them on the phone See what they’re doing. Buy their stuff.
  2. Buy Gift Certificates. Consider simply sending a donation to your favorite local business
  3. Restaurants are closed, but many can still do takeout/delivery. This article, which seems very well resourced, helped us feel informed and a lot safer about doing that!
  4. Realize many of these places care about their own health, your health and the community more than most ever realized. Know that many local shops are going out of their way to safely keep on keeping on — Much of Main Street — not just the eateries — are now offering curbside service and even delivery. Look up their website/social media. Even if they aren’t advertising it, call them to inquire!
  5. Special events are hugely important for organizations. Had an event cancelled? Send a donation! You can check our newsletter archives to find 100s of great local organizations
  6. Strongly consider supporting policy proposals that directly support individuals, small businesses and local governments. While they are going out of their way to come up with creative means of keeping going, there is only so much they can do,
  7. Just be kind — Especially to the cashiers, service providers and others working through this. Just. Be. Kind.

Now: Get Counted! The Census is SO Important!

This is the bottom line! TEN YEARS of federal funding and other investment will be determined by this count! Image provided by the Health & Welfare Council of LI

You can do this from home really easily!!!

The 2020 Census affects how much federal dollars our region will receive for the next decade. We’re going to keep on linking to this feature because it is SOOOOO IMPORTANT to ALL OF US that we get an accurate Census count.

These numbers matter, especially to children, the region’s most vulnerable, and to everyone who wants to make sure we get an appropriate FEMA allocation!

Long Island already pays a lot more in taxes to the Federal Government than it gets back. Undercounts make that worse!!! Plus, this impacts all sorts of planning, at all levels.

PLEASE SHARE THIS, Especially with folks who reach folks in traditionally undercounted demographics..

On the Human Services Front

A lovely piece from Firefly Kate Sydney’s Compassion Collection

One of the many folks on the Human Services front that we’ve long appreciated is Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family & Children’s Association in Nassau County. He suggest that this press update from NYS Senator Kaplan is a good resource for those who care and/or need services during this challenging time, be they senior services, hunger, housing, healthcare, domestic violence, drug addiction, or legal services.

We were heartened to hear that caring LIers crashed the LI Cares website trying to make donations. Still, food banks are facing significant challenges, especially with everyone rushing the grocery stores!

They are running an “Essential Drive in Response to COVID-19 School Closures, which you may donate to here. You can check out their Facebook Page for information on what they’re doing to serve our most vulnerable, including mobile food pantries!

From The INN: What You Can Do to Help Right Now

Housing Help has been offering info on legislative and other matters that impact housing and more

Mental Health: We don’t know where this “Waves of Wellness” is based, save Facebook, but it’s been helpful

For Veterans: One of the better sources of information we’ve come across aimed directly at vets is Patchogue VFW Commander Dave Roger’s personal Facebook Page. We are grateful for his service.

For Seniors: Stop and Shop will be open exclusively to folks over 60 from 6-7:30am starting Thursday. This lets them get there when it’s the least touched and the best stocked. We are grateful.

The Kids are Home — Now What???

The Kids are Here! by Katheryn Laible

We are grateful schools are working to provide digital education on the fly, and wish everyone the best in figuring that out. We are also grateful that they are endeavoring mightily to keep those who count on them fed.

Meanwhile, the kids are home, we really shouldn’t be taking them around other people and we need good ways to keep everyone thoughtfully enriched:

Here’s a great roundup of resources from Huntington NOW

Entertainkidsonadime.com offers 100 Activities to do at home with Kids

Funinfirst.com offers Free Online Resources for Learning at Home

Some wonderful Mrs. Fahrney offers 30 Virtual Field Trips with Links

AdventuresinFamilyHood.com has 20 Virtual Field Trips to Take with Your Kids

NESCA (Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents) had guidance on Making the most of school-closures

Meanwhile, freecodecamp.org has 450 Ivy League Courses You Can Take for Free.

Here are even more ideas from the New York Times