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Dear World, Pt. II

Region IV-W
May 7, 2020 Kenton L. Olliff Fort Hays State University

As we continue to progress down the road of this COVID-19 pandemic it is important that we work to remain positive.  As I stated in my last letter, there is always something to be positive about in life.  Here are a few thoughts: 

Begin or add to an existing “gratitude journal.”  You may have heard about gratitude journals.  Now is a great time to start one.  Write down a few things each day that you are grateful for in your life.  After a couple weeks or a month you can go back and read the journal to remind yourself of your gratefulness.  This can be especially healing when we get caught up in all the events that surround us and may seem to be closing in on our lives.   

Work daily to remain positive.  When you wake up try to begin each day spending time focusing on positive thoughts.  Take a few moments to be thankful for the blessings you have in your life.  At times those blessings may have to be as simple as things you take for granted each day.  In times like this that may seem difficult to do, but let’s just try it for a few days and see if it helps! Beginning your day with gratitude sets the tone for the rest of your day.

Remember to smile.  It’s hard to feel bad when we smile.  I’m a big believer that the simple things in life are important.  So often we overlook those small things because we are looking for something big.  I am spending my “stay at home” time with my 86 year old mother and I’m constantly learning from her.  She delights in watching the birds and deer surround her bird feeders.  Oh, how she loves her red bird!  It’s the simple and little things folks.  Perhaps all of this is teaching us to return to focusing on and noticing the beauty that surrounds us each day!  The beauty that we sometimes do not notice as we live our often too busy lives.  Just a thought.

Live day to day, but keep the future in mind.  Take things one day at a time.  Many have heard about mindfulness.  While definitions can differ, in its simplest form mindfulness is living in the present.  It means focusing on the here and now.  Whether we know it or not, we practice this each day.  When we sit down to eat a meal, we focus on the meal.  When we watch a movie, we focus on the movie.  Living in the present can keep us from dwelling on the past and worrying about the future.  A good way to begin is to put away your phone. Many of us are guilty of scrolling through social media while watching TV or eating, and it tends to pull our minds in many different directions, stagnating that mindfulness.  It can be helpful.  There are several mindfulness strategies you can find on line, and I encourage you to seek those.  One of the most basic that I enjoy is to just “be still and breathe.”  Again, very simple, but also effective.

Stay connected.  We need to stay connected.  There are several ways we can stay connected with each other without being physically present.  Take advantage of technology, and do not isolate yourselves.  Sometimes when we think about staying connected we forget about other connections.  Be sure to stay connected to your faith and or spirituality.  While this should be important all the time, it’s easy to forget about when we are trying to figure out how to maneuver all that is happening now.  Also stay connected to whatever is meaningful to you in your life!  Do not forget about these things.  

Finally, remember what works for you to take care of yourself.  Sometimes when we struggle we forget what has worked for us in the past to get through stressful times.  I encourage you to write down those things you remember that have helped you in the past.  When you begin to feel anxious and stressed, look at what you have written and begin to implement some of those skills.  Please, always remember that what works for someone else, may not work for you.  Everyone has their own techniques.  The example I always use is that gardening would not work for me!  That would create more stress.  However, for some, gardening creates peace.  Again, keep it simple.

Keep moving on folks and remember that this too shall pass.  I do believe that great things will come from all of this.  Great writing, great art works, great relationships, great medical technology, great leaders, people finding inner strengths they didn’t know they had, etc.  Feel free to add to the list.  Seek the opportunities that come from a crisis.  Be well and take good care of yourselves.

Be well.