Why living well is the best way to honor those we have lost.
Each day when I wake up and turn on the news, I’m reminded of the horrendous death toll caused by the pandemic. It’s a tragedy on a scale hard to imagine. I’ve lost friends, colleagues and loved ones just like most other Americans. As the pandemic is far from over, I continue to pray for those who have been taken by the virus and hope the vaccine will mitigate future death and misery.
As dark as the COVID cloud may be, the irony is that the pandemic has also had a silver lining. You may wonder how that could be possible!?
At the outset of the pandemic, I resolved myself to use my time “sheltering in place” and in isolation as productively as possible. I watched as many relentlessly posted depressing and often obnoxious messages on social media and/or complained about having nothing to do. This behavior only reinforced the fear-mongering of the main stream media and accomplished nothing.
In contrast, I decided to focus on gratitude, spending more time with family and helping others. If any of the 500,000 Americans taken so far could come back for even one day, I’m confident they would be grateful and focus on family, loved ones and enjoying themselves. Not embracing anger, fear and obnoxious judgmental behavior on social media.
Here’s the silver lining in my life resulting from the dark cloud of COVID
- Having had the opportunity to work virtually, I spent much more time with my family. Rather than rushed visits, I was able to spend many days at a time and enjoyed more meaningful conversations and activities. Most importantly, my Mom is 91 years-old. Each hour I get to spend with her is a gift. I’ve embraced this gift made possible by the pandemic.
- Pre-COVID, my nephew Benjamin was always too busy with high school during the week and as a referee at soccer games on weekends to really spend time with me. We usually connected with each other briefly at family dinners or celebrations. At the outset of the pandemic, he expressed an interest in hiking, one of my passions. Since last April, we’ve hiked in New York, Connecticut, Massachusettes and Vermont. This past week, to celebrate his 18th birthday, I took Ben to the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed a five-day hike and camping along the Grand View trail at the bottom of the Canyon. It was an epic adventure he’ll remember all his life! During the hike, we spent hours discussing his interests, passions and goals for the future. You cannot put a price tag on that type of bonding!
- To help others in New York City struggling with their mental health due to the pandemic, I along with a small group of others, most notably Ben Green and Esther Yang, formed Sober Active NYC. We offered free workouts in Central Park. We then merged with Scott Strode and The Phoenix, the largest sober active group in the nation, to form The Phoenix NYC. Now, New Yorkers can enjoy all kinds of free programming, but more importantly, be part of a community of supportive people who truly care about others. Go to www.the phoenix.com or @thephoenixnyc on Facebook to participate.
- Financially, I set goals to pay down my mortgage. Since travel wasn’t possible and so many businesses were closed, it seemed like an opportunity to focus on work and get my finances in order. I was able to pay down my mortgage and just refinanced. Although it was often hard to focus on work given the tragedy unfolding all around me, I recognized that succumbing to fear and endlessly watching the news or surfing on social media would get me nowhere. Now, as we hopefully emerge from the pandemic, I am in a much better financial place. This will enable me to dedicate more time to my passion projects like Spiritual Adrenaline, The Phoenix NYC and service to others.
Being anxious, depressed and living in fear would not have made the last year and one-month better for me or anyone else. In fact, it would have made it worse. Just like all of you, I struggled to maintain focus, avoid acting out with food or other substances as coping mechanisms and was challenged to remain positive and optimistic that things would be better in the future. It was a struggle each and every day but I stuck to it! I took it one day at a time and utilized coping tools I developed over the last ten years.
Many of the tools I utilized to not only survive, but to thrive, during the pandemic are included in my book Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plan to Strengthen & Nurture Your Recovery. It’s available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. For lots of free ideas on how you can thrive, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.com.
Every morning when I wake up, I focus on gratitude for being alive. I cherish each day as a gift! I endeavor to do the best I can to improve my life and help others. I truly believe that living well is the best way to honor the memory of those we have lost!