Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, April 24

Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, April 24, 2020

My challenge for you – for the last week was to:

  1. Think about how your boundaries are helping you! Are there places in your experience where you should set firmer boundaries, are there places in your experience where maybe a wall has been built where picket fence would do?  Take a little time to reflect on you the boundaries you have in your life.
    Fences really do make good neighbors.

I really tried to institute some meaningful boundaries in my experience.  Not to build walls, but to put create those edges and lines that I shouldn’t cross.  I’d love to say that I crushed this one – but that wouldn’t be the truth… I’d say – I made a start.

  1. Exercise 1 random act of kindness – you can do more if you like.

Exercising the random acts of kindness is a little tougher than usual – given my current – physical distancing piece… I am sure you are finding the same thing if you are working from home.  I’ve been doing what I can – I think the biggest piece I have been trying to keep in mind is that “I really don’t know what the other persons experience is like.”  I have tried really hard to keep in mind that – well, that I have no idea what my “contacts” are going through.  I know what my experience is – but I really have no idea of the struggles that they might be facing.

  1. Be intentionally grateful! Tell one person that you are grateful for having them in your life, write down one thing during the week – more if you’d like – that you are grateful for, and reflect a little on what another’s experience might be like – perhaps someone less fortunate – to help you with perspective.

I am finding that my gratitude work is really really important in my life right now.  I need to be looking for the things in my life that bring me some joy, help to connect me to the world around me and maybe most importantly – lend perspective and help me to see that I am indeed more fortunate than a great many.

This week – my sharing is going to be about HOPE… mostly.


Now – I know that I have previously shared that I don’t rely on hope as a strategy, and that’s a truth.  Hope needs to be there – I suppose its my faith that tomorrow is going to come.  I need hope right now in my experience, in my life.  There’s so very many terrible, dreadful, incredible things going on – happening – turning – in the world around me that I need hope that tomorrow is still going to come.

My favorite auntie passed away a couple of weeks ago… in her home… alone – self isolated.  She was in her mid 70’s… too young to die anyway…  She died ALONE.  The details are thin – my family isn’t close at all and well, I got a call the evening that it happended and that was pretty much it… a couple of days later, I looked for her obituary online – and there it was – it looked, read and felt as if it had been written by a stranger… and all that ‘stuff’ around my aunties passing bothered me.  I know my aunt well enough that her faith kept her safe along the way and I know that she missed her husband who had passed years before.  My aunt used to like drinking Black Russians – and she especially like the way my uncle made them for her…  so – I teased with my wife and my kids that “Elli died sometime during the night, had a nice lunch and chat with St. Peter around noon and was dancing and drinking a Black Russian with her Bruno by the early evening – he’d have had one ready for her….” And that’s how I told myself that even though she died alone – in this strange social time – that things will be ok… and that somehow made me feel a little more hopeful.

I’ve been struggling hard – really hard keeping myself out from my forest lately… the past month has been brutal for me… I shared a little while ago that my sleep is messed up, I am feeling far more anxious than I should be and my ability to focus is taking a big hit… I’ve talked to my professional supports and I am looking out for myself – it just feels like the “dark” of that forest is pulling me harder and harder… and I work harder and harder to make sure that I have and am using the tools I need to stay safe if I do end up in the woods again…  It’s those tools for me – its having the tools and knowing how they work for me that help me feel and stay hopeful.  It’s the tool that connects me to my primary care physician that is – “if you get into deeper water or if things get worse – call me… I’m here”, it’s the piece that my model plays in my wellness – the recognition that its ok that I’m not invincible and that I need a little help staying well.  It’s the part of my experience where friends and colleagues that sincerely care for me – remind me that I am not in all this alone and that I can ask for help if I need it… so this is a piece of my experience that is HOPE for me…

I learned the other day that a recent student lost a younger sibling to suicide I was – well – let me just say that I was ‘emptied’.  There is no tragedy like that.  My heartfelt sympathy flows out to this young person and their family.  I “get” the pain and anguish that leads a person to consider ending their own life.  I’ve been there… I’ve been on the edge of that darkest of spaces.  No-one will ever know the real truth for what happened in this young person’s case.  Never – and that’s a sadness that is perhaps worse than the loss itself…  My hope for my student and for their family is that the love for and memories for their lost love one will help carry them through this terrible time.  My hope is that their tomorrow will be less painful than their today was, and that tomorrows tomorrow will be less painful yet.  My hope is that their journey through their tragedy will be filled with more love, peace and acceptance every day.

I’ve been working from home on “pandemic physical distancing” for over a month now.  Not a bunch has changed… The world is still a crazy place – excruciating tragedies like the shootings in Nova Scotia are taking place, there are still wars all over the place… folks are facing layoffs and work reductions in already challenging times…  It seems that the challenges to our society only continue to mount… or maybe they’re the same and I am only seeming to see them more because there is less to distract me.  Maybe the worlds even a crazier place… I hope, hope that the leaders of the world get their collective shit together and start leaving their political/power agendas aside, and start thinking about humanity.  There is hope for this… it’s faint.. but its there.  Its there.  Hope a strategy… well – here we go… that hope isn’t going to get me far that way… I need to be the change I want to see in the world.  I have to use my voice to demand change.  I have hope that we’ll all get through this pandemic business.  Like the sun rising tomorrow morning in the East – scientists will develop a vaccine for this virus, herd immunity will also increase through those that have been exposed and have recovered.  It’s going to take time and sacrifice – but I have hope that I/we am/are going to get through this together.  That hope comes with the responsibilities of physical distancing, proper sanitary precautions for sure – but it also comes with a responsibility for kindness, acceptance, understanding and love.


My challenge for you this week is:

  1. Seek an answer to the question – What is hope for you?
  2. Be kind. Be intentionally kind.
  3. Tell three people that you are connected to that they are important people in your life.. That you love them and that you are grateful for having them in your life.

So that’s it – I challenge you.

One thought on “Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, April 24

  1. Hi Kevin,
    You are courageous and candid and compassionate.
    I wish all leaders embodied these character traits; the world would be a better place. And I’d add HUMILITY to that list.
    I know that the social distancing (quite an oxymoronic expression!) while teaching a trade on line is very difficult, for both the students and YOU. So don’t be too hard on yourself. We all can do only what we can do, as trite as this may sound.
    Take care and have a more tranquil weekend.

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