Reflection: In response to last month’s Pause ezine, one of my readers reminded me (and rightly so) that all is not easy-peasy wine and roses for everyone in the midst of this pandemic. Those with frontline responsibilities, those trying to juggle working from home along with childcare, and those facing financial hardship are struggling and exhausted. I get it.
I’ve been thinking more about how we can ease the burdens of those around us by reaching out to connect with kindness and support.
Action: Here are a few actions I’ve noted and/or experienced that might spark ideas for you.
Lend a hand with the kids. Harried parents can use help – even at a distance – engaging with the youngsters so mom and dad are free to finish up a work project or start cooking dinner. I’ve been using the Caribu app to connect with my 4 and 7 year old grandsons. It allows us to see each other while reading stories, playing simple games, or co-doodling on a drawing.
Catch up on colleagues’ lives beyond work. There’s a tendency to think of workplace zoom meetings as needing to be ‘all business, all efficiency, all the time’. However, in the ‘old normal’ workplace, there would be time for informal chats about life in general. Try booking a zoom coffee break, lunch or 5:00pm wine date with a colleague with the express intent of getting caught up on each other’s lives outside of work. A bit of genuine empathy can help ease the burden.
Meet briefly outdoors in person. Face time and zoom conversations are good. But sometimes you just need to see a real (as my friend says non-digitized) face. Connecting in person at a safe distance for a conversation, a coffee, or a walk can lift the spirits of all involved.
Lend an ear, and if requested, wise counsel. Be a safe place for others to share their fears and concerns. Inquire and listen. Feed back what you hear. Sometimes people just need to talk something out to find their way to what will work for them. Many families are swamped in uncertainty about whether back to school, home school, or online school will be best for their children. It’s a tough call.
Create and gift things useful. My mom has been sewing masks throughout the pandemic and handing them off to her daughters, granddaughters and great-grandkids, too. Where possible, she has been personalizing them. A Rider fan gets a football mask. The masks for two young great grandsons feature toy trucks.
Share the bounty. September is harvest season for a lot of vegetables. A big pot of borscht yields meals to share with those who live alone. The calla lilies in our garden have been heavy producers, and I’ve been sharing bouquets with family and neighbors.
Express your care in any way you can. There’s much to be said for tiny expressions of care. A card in the mail. A link to a helpful article. The online purchase of a book delivered directly to a friend’s mailbox.
The extra bonus is that caring for others lifts your spirits, too. Stay well, my friends, and keep looking out for each other.
PS – If you’re finding yourself on the more needy end of the equation these days, try reaching out to those less encumbered and asking them to lend a hand. They may not know how much you need some help.
Quotes Of The Week: Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. – Seneca
Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. – Samuel Johnson
If today you can’t be anything else to anybody, you can be the passing stranger who nodded hello. – Robert Brault
Kindness is spreading sunshine into other people’s lives regardless of the weather. – RAKtivist
Resources Of The Week: I’ve got lots of resources for you to dip into this week.
Here’s a helpful article by Paul White on How To Support & Encourage Employees Newly Working From Home.
A handful of helpful tips from Rebecca Salazar on Being Kinder To Yourself During Trying Times.
Karyn Hall offers a few thoughts on The Importance Of Kindness.
Published by Harvard Medical School, Melissa Brodrick’s reflections on The Heart & Science of Kindness.
Readers Write: Readers had a lot to say in response to the last Pause message, Pandemic Delivers The Goods. Here is a sampling of responses – all giving further food for thought.
CW writes: Many of us are now trying to care for children 24- 7 AND also work full time (from home where the children are). Especially us single moms. I think there are many who’d love a breath or a moment of solitude to be able to spend extra time doing all of those neglected projects or beautifying our spaces. But the reality for many is that they are completely exhausted. There are so many extra demands, and so few community supports.
RS writes: My family has also looked for the positive changes that came our way. While the pandemic is devastating indeed, it provided a chance to pause, rethink what truly matters, and reset our priorities. My husband and I love taking our evening walks and saying hello to neighbors (from a distance).
JH writes: No doubt about it: this summer differs a great deal from last summer. An unexpected upside for me is I have given myself permission to spend less time traveling to see family. My body and mind have benefited from a greater degree of rootedness. Thank you again for enhancing my life with your midsummer musings.
V writes: It is true the time we spend reflecting on not being so busy is great, but I have received even more pleasure writing small notes to persons who I know are absolutely shut in and living in personal care homes. Individuals have called and/or written me back. They’re so surprised that someone other than family might remember them and care to write a note. It is easy to jot down a few notes about various topics of general interest. The blessings came back to me. I challenge your readers to make paper contact (not e-mail). The elderly love something in hand to read!
Art News: I’ve been enjoying a few plein air painting experiences through the summer. It’s great to be outdoors, and easy to distance so I can safely enjoy the companionship of other artists.
Inviting Garden Corner was created on a sunny July day and spotlights a welcoming corner of Jean’s Courtyard Garden.