Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: Movement, Turning Points and Resources

Things are happening.  There is motion, process and (hopefully) progress… 

As a friend of mine in Brooklyn described…..”you know it’s different when, whether you are intending to go to a protest that day or not and you are walking the streets, you are very likely to be swept up in a swell of people heading to that day’s meeting point.”

With all this motion and a potential turning point for our country, I put together a few resources that I have been digesting for you to check out.

Please share any resources that you are finding helpful with me as well.  

1. A remarkable interview with Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be An Antiracist) on Brene Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us:

2. “Mixed-race people, who make up nearly a quarter of Hawaii’s population of 1.4 million, serve as a kind of jamming mechanism for people’s race radar” 
(thank you to Downing, who passed this along)
This remarkable sentence is found in this fascinating article:

3. Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man – Emmanuel Acho 

4. An article from Shannon O’Shea: Creating a New Social Contract for a Healthy, Just and Sustainable World 

Sincerely,
Ben

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P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: Challenge Results

Look what we did together!

Thanks to you, a total of at least $2000.00 will be going to Catholic Charities of Brooklyn & Queens, which is doing the hard, frontline work of making thousands of meals every day for people who are in need of help during this epidemic. 

Thank you to Diego, Alyssa, Fariba, Allyson, Patty, Greg, Todd, Cindy, Melody, Glen, Kimberly, Carrie, Ben, Ken, Stephanie, & Jeff for completing the challenge. 

And an additional thank you to Anonymous, Alyssa, Donnaldson, Stephanie L & Stephanie M & Fariba for donating alongside of us!

Sincerely,
Ben

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P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: There is only Process

“The heartbeat of anti-racism is confession, is admission, is acknowledgement, is the willingness to be vulnerable, is the willingness to identify the times in which we are being racist.” – Ibram X. Kendi 

Learning through engagement.

My goal in writing the last email was to increase our collective empathy. I received several responses pointing out factual errors about what happened to George Floyd that were included in the message.  Thank you to those who took the time to engage.   I have since taken a couple of days to consider the implications of these errors in order to respond appropriately.  

In my last email, I attempted to get all of us to imagine being in Mr. Floyd’s situation and to consider times that we may have “bent the rules” and were not punished with force that ended our lives, as happened to Mr. Floyd.  

However, in truth, there is no evidence that Mr. Floyd intended to “bend the rules” by using a counterfeit bill, or that there even was a counterfeit $20 bill presented at Cup Foods.  We don’t know any of that.  The misstatements made in the prior email obscured the message I was intending to convey, and unintentionally dishonored the life and memory of Mr. Floyd.  For that I am genuinely sorry.

In my last email I stated that “the particular and overwhelming circumstances of this moment have created a potent opportunity and we must not let it pass.” That is the truth.

This is a moment for all of us to learn, to grow, and to be counted.  There is no such thing as perfection in nature and there is no such thing as a perfect response.  There is only process.  I believe that the best way to serve the process is to be honest and vulnerable and contrite when appropriate. 

This email is my attempt to engage with my own process of learning.  My hope is that what I take from this experience is real, actual growth to check my own assumptions in the future and to be a part of the change that needs to happen in this world.

With humility and sincerity,
Ben

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P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: $20 and Housekeeping

Twenty dollars. It all started over twenty dollars.

George Floyd wanted to buy something at a local deli and didn’t have the money for it. 

So he used a counterfeit $20 bill.

George Floyd was ultimately killed because of this.  He was a man who had travelled from Houston to Minneapolis to find work and recently lost his job because of COVID-19.  Mr. Floyd did not have enough money to meet his needs, so he bent the rules in an attempt to do so.

Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, I ask you to think about times that you have bent the rules when you needed to, and think about George Floyd. 

Our power as human beings derives from our capacity to love, listen and empathize with each other. The particular and overwhelming circumstances of this moment have created a potent opportunity and we must not let it pass.  Our government and thus, we, are failing our fellow citizens by not meeting their needs, whether those needs are for money, food, or dignity.  It is long past time for all of us to be counted and make changes to our country.  If we don’t, we risk more death, more destruction and more despair. 

Now, onto housekeeping:

Housekeeping Item #1: The May Fitness Challenge

It’s June!  Which means that our May Challenge is over.  I have already started to get emails from some of you who took up the Challenge.  Great job.  I’m so pleased that you used this opportunity to be active (and given me an excuse to give to charity).  Please send me proof that you did your steps or closed your rings for May and I will send a follow up email to all of you later this week. 

Housekeeping Item #2: Changing Up the Newsletter

As we have rolled into summer and many people are starting to re-start their lives it feels like a natural moment for me to make a change from daily to weekly newsletters. I can’t tell you what it has meant to me to be a daily part of this time with you. I have been buoyed both by supporting you and by feeling supported as a result of your warm responses. 

I will send another email later this week about the results from our May challenge and then starting next week I will begin sending out a weekly newsletter on Tuesday.

Sincerely,
Ben

P.S. If you know anyone who might be interested in receiving these daily emails, feel free to add them to the mailing list.

P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: There’s No Place Like Home

There’s no place like home. But where exactly is home? 

Very early this morning, while taking my daily walk, a car slowed down, then pulled up along side of me.  The window rolled down and the man inside asked me for directions.  What surprised me more than anything was that I was actually able to help him. A few minutes later, I espied the woman who I’ve seen a few times before, walking her Doberman.  We usually wave to each other, but this morning she decided she wanted to chat.  A little later, the thought dawned on me: ‘Am I a local?’

I have lived in New York City since I was a teenager.  It is my home.  I identify with it.  I connect to it.  I feel a part of it. 

And yet, for the last 12 weeks I have been living on the side of a mountain in rural Vermont.  It makes me wonder, what is home?

Many of the people reading this may be living in new locations, under surprising conditions, perhaps with roommates that they didn’t expect, or are traveling between multiple locations trying to settle down.  What do you consider to be ‘home’?

Is it where your people are? Is it a location? Is it where you have a sense of familiarity and comfort? Is it where you can feel your whole body take a big sigh of relief? Is it Kansas?! 

Whatever your home is, I hope it is providing you with a sense of genuine safety, comfort and peace.

Sincerely,
Ben

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P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: Social Distancing Etiquette

We’re all just figuring it out.

As the guidance has gone from simple (i.e., stay home) to complex (i.e., proceed with caution), there is more confusion and division about social distancing and how to do it. 

While many people are being responsible citizens, and others are being brazenly foolish (this clip is worth watching. Listen to the audio), most of us are just trying to figure it all out.

I was recently interviewed by Linda Schmidt on Fox5NY about this topic and shared my thoughts on how to navigate this changing landscape (Spoiler Alert: Let empathy and understanding be your guide.)

Sincerely,
Ben

P.S. If you know anyone who might be interested in receiving these daily emails, feel free to add them to the mailing list.

P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: Natural Experiments

When life hands you lemons… go get drunk on Slurpees.

But seriously, while you are stuck at home, you have an unparalleled opportunity to experiment.  When you have little variety or variability you can use that to your advantage to learn about yourself.

If you want to test to see how certain foods or beverages affect you, now’s the time.  If you want to learn about the impact of going to bed earlier, go to it.  How about the impact of different forms of exercise on your sense of well-being or stress? Grab a notepad and start observing.

We are all currently part of a natural experiment in limitation and restricted movement. As we have limited our daily activities so drastically, we have at the same time, expanded our ability to observe ourselves and learn from what we see and hear. Because there are less variables, conclusions often rise to the surface more clearly.

None of us chose this natural experiment in limitations, but here we are and we may as well listen in and embrace this opportunity to solve a mystery or two. 

Sincerely,
Ben

P.S. If you know anyone who might be interested in receiving these daily emails, feel free to add them to the mailing list.

P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: Unsolicited Advice

Ready to hear it? 

Whatever your views on advice, we all experience it coming at us from time to time. I don’t know about you, but I find myself reaching out even more for advice and counsel with friends, not only to check-in, but to share takes on this week’s version of our constantly changing situation.

Kevin Kelly, one of the co-founders of Wired Magazine, turned 68 recently and offered 68 pieces of unsolicited advice. There are many, many good bits to chew on, but I picked a few as a teaser. 
For the full list, click here: https://kk.org/thetechnium/

• A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.

• Don’t trust all-purpose glue.

• Trust me: There is no “them”.

• Optimize your generosity. No one on their deathbed has ever regretted giving too much away.

• The Golden Rule will never fail you. It is the foundation of all other virtues.

Sincerely,
Ben

P.S. If you know anyone who might be interested in receiving these daily emails, feel free to add them to the mailing list.

P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: Photo Collage #2

It’s growing! 

And from the look of things, I can see you are in good company and finding inspiring ways to cope. 
Thank you for sharing these glimpses into your lives. 
Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

Sincerely,
Ben

P.S. If you know anyone who might be interested in receiving these daily emails, feel free to add them to the mailing list.

P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.

Coping with COVID-19: Daily Mental Health Tip: Good News!

Good News is out there.  We just need to know where to look.

If you have not seen any of John Krasinski’s response to our current crisis, Some Good News, I encourage you to do so. His YouTube brainchild is chock full of heartwarming reminders of how our fellow humans step up, connect up and do good work.

His reminder reminds me to remind you 🙂 to look for these stories in our own lives. The regular (and often difficult) news we digest needs to be countered with what is, after all, just as real….some good news. 

Sometimes you have to seek out the good news and sometimes you have to “be” the good news, but it is out there and we need it now more than ever! 

Sincerely,
Ben

P.S. If you know anyone who might be interested in receiving these daily emails, feel free to add them to the mailing list.

P.S. #2 We are hosting regular virtual breakfasts.  Click here if you’d like to join us.