Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

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Guest Writer: Janice Russell

Top Working From Home Survival Tips for Parents of Babies and Toddlers

When the pandemic first hit the nation in early 2020, many had to adjust to working from home. For parents of babies and young children, there was a huge adjustment to work habits and the daily routine. Working from home when you have babies or toddlers with you takes some finesse and creative planning. Courtesy of Help for Healing, here is how remote working parents can survive working from home with young ones at home.

Design a Distraction-Free Workspace

Start by focusing on your workspace. If you work from home, you need a dedicated office space in your dwelling that is free of distractions. Ideally, you should choose a room in your home that doesn’t get a lot of traffic, such as a guest room or a den. Stock your office space with work supplies, good lighting, your computer equipment, and a phone.

You may even consider fitting out a dedicated space like the basement or a section of the garage or even building on. If so, be sure to keep track of the improvements as they can actually increase your home’s value; you’ll want to have all the documentation to show as proof of the upgrades.

Stick to a Schedule

The next tip for juggling children’s needs and your work responsibilities is to create a family schedule. Kids thrive on routines, and young babies and toddlers often function better if mealtimes, naps, and playtimes are consistent every day. Working parents can also get more done and reduce their stress with a set schedule during the week.  

Delegate Work Responsibilities It’s also okay to offload some of your work duties to a freelancer if possible. You can partner with a virtual assistant to take care of routine administrative tasks, such as

making phone calls, scheduling appointments, and responding to emails. Use a freelance job board to find virtual assistant services and check out reviews, potential costs, and timeframes.

Get Help From Friends and Family

Next, recruit friends and family members to come over and help when you’re starting to feel stretched too thin. Some of your family or friends may have decided to leave their jobs during the pandemic, opening up their schedules to help.   

Plan Quiet Time for Your Kids

When you’re responsible for baby duty and have a big deadline, you can also try planning quiet, independent activities for your little ones. Independent play requires some preplanning and setup, but it may reward you with a few minutes of uninterrupted work time.

Relax Some of the Rules

Families balancing their personal lives with their work lives may also want to relax some of their standard household rules. Don’t feel guilty about giving your young kids a little extra screen time so you can get things done.  

Get Out of the House

Spending long hours at home without a break from being a parent or an employee can take a toll. Working parents should also aim to spend an hour or two outside, away from the house, each day. Take a walk around the neighborhood, go to the park or take a hike and appreciate nature every day to decompress.

Practice Self-Care 

Finally, Psychology Today notes that it’s vital for working parents to practice plenty of self-care when they’re struggling with the demands of jobs and children. Parents should have a solid sleep routine and maintain a healthy diet. They should also add exercise to their day to keep up with their fitness. Practices such as yoga, meditation and journal writing are also healthy habits.

Surviving remote work while parenting babies and toddlers takes some grit and determination. Use these tips to help you work at home successfully while maintaining a loving relationship with your young children.

“Janice Russell believes the only way to survive parenthood is to find the humor in it. She created Parenting Disasters so that parents would have a go-to resource whenever they needed a laugh, but also to show parents they aren’t alone.”

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More From Daniel Sherwin

Caregivers Must Take Care of Themselves, Too

Photo credit: Pexels

Caregiving is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs you can have. Taking care of a family member who needs it is important and demanding work. But many caregivers have a hard time taking care of themselves in the process. Your self-care is as important as your care for your charge. After all, if you’re not there, you won’t be able to care for someone else.

More than 39 million Americans provide unpaid care to family members and loved ones. Most of them have little to no help from family members, meaning they take on the role alone. This can leave them feeling isolated and alone, and it can cause a higher mortality rate. A caregiving spouse has a 63 percent higher likelihood of dying than other people in the same age group.

When we are caring for someone else, we are less likely to care for ourselves. We skip doctor’s appointments, forego exercise and eat on the run. That means our health fades, taking our independence along with it. But practicing a little self-care can go a long way in making our lives longer and more enjoyable.

Here are some ways to get a little extra self-care into our lives.

1. Get more sleep. We know that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The constant worry can get in the way of your sleep, leaving you tired and grouchy the next day. You may even have to go to a full-time job the next day, adding to your tiredness. Try to get to bed a little earlier each night. Even if you have to wake up early, you’ll appreciate that extra 30 minutes of sleep you got in the evening.

2. Eat better. Take some time to think about the way you are eating. How can it get better? Would it help to plan your meals on Sunday for the following week? Could you do some cooking on Sunday and portion out meals for the week? Can you try to get an extra vegetable in each meal, or snack on fruit instead of candy? Even if you’re only able to make one small change, it can help you feel better.

3. Exercise. Another task that might seem impossible, exercise is one of those things we put off when we’re busy. Try to get out for a walk daily. Even if you can only go for 15 minutes at a time, it will add up. Can you put your loved one in a wheelchair and walk around the block or through a mall? Can you ask for help from a family member while you take a break? Can you get some in-home support from a nurse or other qualified caregiver? Even if you need to stay indoors, there are several different exercises you can do at home, including step and strength exercises that don’t require any special equipment. 

4. Practice self-care. Many people overlook the importance of self-care. Instead of being indulgent, self-care is simply about addressing things that are happening in your life and protecting your overall well-being. This could be anything from taking a half-hour to read a book you’re interested in or hiring someone to handle a task that requires too much of your time and energy at the moment. Don’t have the energy to mow the lawn? Look into lawn care services that can keep everything looking good until you’re ready to tackle it on your own.

5. Get support. Look for a caregiver support group in your community. Meeting with other caregivers who are in similar situations will help give you some perspective about your life. It will help you connect with people who know what you’re going through, and it will help you find needed resources through recommendations from friends. Also, look into working with a professional Darcy Thiel who can help you prepare for everything that caregiving entails.

Just remember that your life matters, too. Speak up for yourself, and ask for help when you need it. Spend some quality time with your loved one because this is the time to make a connection. Later, you’ll look back on this time as a special part of your life.

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Guest Writer Daniel Sherwin

Budget-Friendly Strategies for Planning the Ultimate Couple’s Adventure

Are you feeling some serious wanderlust but concerned you don’t have the funds for the adventure you crave? When you and your beloved are working toward healing and want to seal the deal with an epic adventure, you don’t want money worries to spoil the fun.

Here, Help for Healing shares some tips on how to plan a trip you’ll never forget, without big bills you’d wish you could forget.

Pick Your Passion

Deciding on your priorities is a great starting point for ensuring your adventure is all you’re dreaming about. Some travelers love an edgy activity exploring Mayan Ruins through the day and a cozy bed at night, while others want to enjoy the journey the most. Maybe the idea of exotic cuisine in Thailand flips your switch. Think about what the two of you are most passionate about and let it guide your choices, making that your financial priority as well as your calling.

Another idea is to pick one event and splurge on it, making it the centerpoint of your trip. Do you dream of floating through the air? Whether it’s hot air ballooning or skydiving, focus on that as a highlight, and then use cost-savings strategies for the essentials.

The Open Road

When adventure is the name of the game, sometimes exploring the open road in England is an ideal solution. As Conde Nast Traveler explains, there are amazing routes in Ireland and the UK, from the Wild Atlantic Way to the Applecross Circular.

If you’re going cross-country in the US, consider renting your wheels to save wear and tear on your own car. Big car hire agencies like Enterprise have a wide selection of vehicles, and you can save when you join their rewards program. What’s more, you can use coupons to dig into even bigger savings. That money you save can go toward your other priorities and amp up the fun!

If you’re heading overseas, don’t let the flight drain your bank account. Set a price alert, change your airport choice or opt for a redeye. Chances are you’ll snag something cheap, especially if you’re willing to fly at an off-peak time.

A Starlit Sky

If you and your partner love the idea of roughing it, camping might be your ideal adventure getaway. SkyAboveUs notes there are free camping opportunities throughout the world, if you just know where to find them! From rest stops to parking lots, public parks to hostels, you can find a place to spend the night and savor the starlit sky.

Gear-wise, consider borrowing or renting your camping paraphernalia, or purchase gently used equipment from thrift shops, or through auction and used goods websites like eBay.

Savories and Sweets

Food can chew up a large portion of your travel budget. In fact, according to The Clumsy Traveler, it’s easy for meals to eat up the largest portion of your funds! Thankfully, there are lots of ways to avoid overspending on dining.

One key strategy is to make some of your own meals. If local flavors are your heart’s desire, aim for just one meal out per day, and DIY the rest. Sometimes breakfast is included in your accommodations as well, such as when you stay at a major hotel chain, some hostels, or in an inn. Of course, if you’re camping you should plan on meals over an open fire; just be diligent about how you store your groceries.

Lastly, don’t rule out all-in-one vacations. For instance, a working dude ranch can be an adventure of a lifetime, and it’s all your meals, accommodations, and activities rolled into a single package. Just shop around for affordable options, and you’ll be making memories, City Slicker-style!

Create a Savings Plan

Once you determine the where and when, it’s time to start saving for your big vacation. Set a total to save for, and be conservative; you never know how much costs will fluctuate. Then start looking for ways to save. A great first step is automatic savings, which you can do through your bank. Set up an amount to automatically deposit whenever you get paid. Next, revisit your household budget, and look for ways to cut costs. Do you use your streaming service? Can you find a better mobile plan? Every little bit helps when you’re saving for the ultimate vacation.

Create an Emergency Plan

When you’ve scrimped and saved for the ultimate vacation, the last thing you want is an emergency dashing your plans, especially if you’re traveling abroad. High-stress situations can be trying for couples who are still mending, so take some extra precautions. Make sure your budget includes travel insurance, which will come in handy if you happen to break your arm hiking in Ireland or have a canceled flight in Canada. You’ll also want to make extra copies of your passports. You can buy a handful of traveler’s checks or pull $100 from the ATM, but have emergency cash available if you lose your wallet in Tulum. Know that your family can also quickly send you money through a transfer service like Remitly, which can deliver cash to more than 40,000 locations in minutes.

When you and your soulmate have your hearts set on adventure, don’t let your budget hold you back. Decide where your priorities are and go from there. It’ll be an epic getaway you’ll reflect on for years to come!

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How to Teach Children to Practice Self-Care

Self-care is an important factor in mental health. A 2018 study by Aetna showed that over one-third of people had goals for stress reduction or mental health. Teaching your kids self-care activities gives them better coping strategies to support mental health.

Crank up the Tunes

Listening to music can have psychological benefits. It can help you relax, feel energized, deal with stress, and simply feel happier. Cranking up your kids’ favorite songs, whether you sit and listen or dance along with them, is an easy form of self-care you can do anytime. 

Get Creative

Creating art is a method of expressing yourself. It’s a way kids can get out feelings of sadness or anger. Plus, it has a sensory element. Try having them mold clay or finger paint and display the artwork to give your kids a sense of pride. Visiting West Seneca’s Burchfield Nature & Art Center can spark creativity.

Move Your Body

Does your little one get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day? Some kids are naturally active, while others prefer screen time overworking up a sweat. Help your kids get a boost of endorphins to feel happier by staying active as a family. Play at the splash pad at Veterans Park Aquatics Complex, skate at the West Seneca ice rink, or have a dance party.

Meditate and Breathe

Sitting still to meditate might be challenging for young kids, but having kids meditate can help them tune into their feelings to control stress before it leads to a tantrum. Kids’ guided meditation videos on YouTube offer a guide. Teach your kids to take slow, deep breaths, especially when they’re feeling anxious or upset.

Show the Importance of Gratitude

It’s easy to get stuck on things that go wrong. A regular family gratitude practice refocuses the attention on the good. Each night, have each family member tell about something they’re grateful for. Kids can also write or draw in a gratitude journal daily.

Make a Calm-Down Box

If your child has trouble with strong emotions, make a calm-down box with little toys and sensory objects that can help. Examples include pinwheels, fidget toys, snow globes, stress balls, and putty. Manipulating those objects can help defuse a situation so you can talk about their feelings calmly.


Taking care of others can be a powerful self-care activity. It takes the focus off yourself and makes you feel good about helping. Find simple family volunteer opportunities, such as stocking the West Seneca Community Food Pantry monthly.

Model Self-Care

The effects of stress include poor focus, emotional outbursts, fatigue, and social withdrawal. Starting a self-care routine can reduce those effects while setting a good example for your kids.

If you’re a business owner and don’t feel you have time for self-care, making small changes can help. Zenbusiness recommends these methods:

  • Outsource tasks or delegate to your team.
  • Reduce workplace distractions to get more done.
  • Spend your most alert time, usually in the morning, on larger, more pressing tasks.
  • Set boundaries to improve work-life balance.

Teach Self-Care

Starting with a self-care routine from a young age teaches your kids to put their health and well-being first. If you or your kids need more support, explore options for individual, couple, and family counseling at Help for Healing in West Seneca.

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Reverend Alden

I’ve been watching Little House on the Prairie nightly. I don’t remember it being so intense, but almost every episode is loaded. The books were written in the 1800’s, the television show was produced in the 70’s, and most of the topics are completely relevant in 2021.

The Ingalls and most of the folks in Walnut Grove are pretty great people (Mrs. Olsen and her brats excluded). They have high expectations of themselves and an extremely strong faith in God.

Sometimes though, I find myself getting pissed off at Reverend Alden. I’m pretty sensitive to Christians who preach “turn the other cheek” to the extreme. I see the results of it today. Ministers/Pastors who expect women to tolerate abuse (of any kind) from their partners for the sake of submission. It’s horrifying.

Even the college I attended in order to become a missionary has been in the news for the last few months. Allegedly, their response to students over the years who have been abused, assaulted, and raped was dismissed. Some were even told the horrifying, “What did you do to get him to do that?” type of stuff.

Makes me shudder.

But I digress. In the last episode I watched, three men (one a teen) moved into town and they were bad news. They fed a line of crap to Reverend Alden who bought it. They swindled the townspeople, but worse abused the women. Sweet Mary Ingalls got a black eye from the teen. Sweet Caroline Ingalls was approached by two of the men and inappropriately touched. You should have seen the look on Charles’ face when he found Caroline.

Unfortunately, there were two of them so he got his butt kicked but he sure gave it a try.

Reverend Alden’s sermon was on turning the other cheek when he first became aware of the grievances. When he finally realized he had been bamboozled, the next week’s sermon was jaw-dropping. He talked about people doing evil and grabbed one of those men, twisted his arm behind his back, and shoved his face into the wall. The man said they would leave by nightfall. The reverend responded with, “No, you will leave now” and he summoned all the men in the congregation to escort them out of town right then and there.

He did turn on his way out and say, “Caroline, lead the women in a hymn” which she did with a smile on her face.


Go men of God. Get the story straight and rise up as you should!

By the way, doesn’t Michael Landon have the dreamiest blue eyes?


Covid Restrictions

This blog is NOT about any controversial views of what restrictions are or are not appropriate. I have chosen to stay out of all that and will continue to. This is simply about my sporadic (and unpredictable) near panic attacks when I am suddenly hit by the state of affairs.

Why things hit me one day and not the next I have no idea. I doubt it’s important anyway.

Before this weekend, the last one I remember was a day in the fall. I made an appointment at the DMV. I pulled in to the plaza to see masked people along the entire side of the building. West Seneca was without electricity. Of course, no one could predict when it would come back on.

I surveyed the folks in line and said to the security guy, “Do you ever feel like you’re in the twilight zone?” He responded with, “Every day.” Just as he said that, two cars made a loud crash. The traffic lights were out so the cars at the lot entrance looked like they were in a maze. I got to my car after calling the police and the labored breathing started. It was too much.

This weekend, David got to play in a hockey game for the first time. Usually, this is the end of the season. This particular rink was very strict. Only one spectator per player. Neither one of us could even enter unless we were together and checked in. The part that I didn’t understand, is why only one? The other rink allows two. This facility is quite large and could have easily fit three spectators per player and still be completely socially distanced compliant. This is hard enough. Why make it harder?

The first rink I went to, every other bench was taped off. This is a usual sight for us now, right? Making sure we sit apart in whatever waiting room you are in. I sat on the back row and some masked parent comes up to the rail and says to me (twice), “You can’t sit there!” She said it louder the second time and another parent told her I was sitting exactly where I was supposed to. She understood but I got no apology. This is when problems happen- when people feel it is their duty to police other people. And they were wrong on top of it.

It has nothing to do with my rights. It’s just that some days I’m barely holding on and then someone increases my anxiety unnecessarily.

But the kicker was in the second rink that was extra strict. I went in and saw the usual blue tape on the benches and sat down. However, after sitting there for a minute, I realized I was in the wrong spot this time.

The blue tape actually showed a small seat that you were allowed to sit in. Those were the only spaces. I don’t know why, but that completely freaked me out. Is this what life is like now? Now we can’t even pick a space on a bench. The space is specified. And of course, they were more than six feet apart. You have to send hand signals to another parent.

I started texting friends the picture and I managed to avoid the panic attack. But I did have a few uncontrolled tears on my cheeks and I had to control my breathing. Later, I found a section without blue tape. I guess whoever was doing it got tired of taping.

And we all socially distanced appropriately without a square spot telling us where to put our butts. I’m grateful that David got to play, especially when he scored a goal in the first 20 seconds of the game. But I have to admit, it was lonely.



When Travel Was Allowed

A trip down memory lane. Yes, that was a pun. I can’t go to some sunny destination so I thought maybe I would remember a really amazing trip I made in 1991 with my former husband John, my parents, and my aunt. The latter three are now deceased.

It was one of those opportunities that only come once in a lifetime for most of us. Six weeks in an RV traveling around the west. The scenery and experiences were incredible.

It started in Colorado when we went to the Garden of the Gods. We visited a great-aunt there who I had only vaguely heard of. It was beautiful. One day we drove around in the car and experienced sun, rain, and hail, all in one afternoon.

Next stop was the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It’s hard to describe but one time we were sitting on the edge and we saw a rescue helicopter. It looked like a tiny toy. Until we say that, we didn’t even have the perspective of just how massive it was.

One of my lifetime memories occurred there. As I get older, I sometimes wonder if I really remember things factually, but this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

John and I were sitting and watching the sunset. Several other families were doing the same thing. There were a few people who spoke different languages. It was eerily silent as the sun slowly went down. It was breathtaking. Someone started to sing How Great Thou Art. Everyone joined in, some in their native language. Even my atheist husband sang. It still gives me chills to remember it.

Badlands, South Dakota
Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota

The Badlands and Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota did not disappoint. Although I admit Mt. Rushmore took about five minutes to see.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming- buffalo

Yellowstone National Park, WY was incredible in its own way. Bubbling puddles of water and mud were everywhere. It was fascinating. We saw the most animal life there. There were deer, elk, coyotes, and buffalo. One buffalo slowly walked down the middle of the road oblivious to anything other than enjoying his leisurely stroll. The cars were backed up for miles in both directions.

By far though, the most memorable moment on the trip had nothing to do with scenery and everything to do with relationships. We were at a camp site and there was a small pond. Mom and I decided to venture out in a canoe. Of course, neither of us had ever been in one before.

I wish I was capable enough to post a video of it. It was classic. Dad was trying to help us with his typical impatience and disgust. You would have thought we were battling Niagara Falls and all he could do was keep yelling at us two numbskulls.

When we finally managed to move the damn thing, Mom starting screaming out of fear. It was hilarious.

Me? Well, I’m recorded asking, “So how do you oar?” And then in true Darcy Thiel form, I hit my head with an oar.

John was a smart ass but I have to say his narration behind the camera was award winning. He tried to answer my question by telling me to slap the water with the oar. Of course I did it and of course that drenched Mom. He then told Mom to hit me in the head with the oar. Now that wasn’t necessary because I had already done that.

Dad finally went from annoyance to laughing when we ran into another canoe so he had to walk all the way around the pond to get to us. Did I mention that the other canoe was just sitting at the water’s edge? It wouldn’t get out of our way.

I know things are not the same in writing, but I hope I’ve shared a smile with you.


Gift Giving

I don’t know if you have ever heard of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, but it basically says that the millions of ways we show love boil down to five basic groups. One of them is “gifts”, which I scored a big, fat zero on it when I took the test.

I feel bad for the people whose love language is gifting if they have to interact with me. Some people are truly great at it. They give thoughtful, loving gifts that are personal and meaningful. It hurts them when they are unable to express love in their language.

I keep trying slowly take gifts out of Christmas. Besides my small efforts to be a pseudo-minimalist, I am also an organizer. As I get older, clutter has gone from something I don’t like to something I get completely anxious around.

Stuff, more stuff.

Americans are consumers, big time. Buying for people becomes so hard because frankly, almost everyone of any age has more than they can possibly use or need. But a couple of things happened this year that made me happy.

It started with my friend Nina. I arrived at an appointment with her and she handed me a wrapped gift. Oh no! We don’t normally exchange. I know you aren’t supposed to feel this way, but I thought I had better run out and get her something. Let’s face it. We all feel a sense of “obligation” to reciprocate.

When I opened it, we smiled and laughed and I thought about how I wish every gift was this way. A few years ago, I gave her a dress I was “done with” and she loved it. I had recently commented on a shirt she wore and there it was wrapped up and given to me. I absolutely loved it. No money. Just thoughtfulness. It felt great!

Then my friend mailed me a package with her mom’s coloring books. She died this year so the holidays were going to be tough for my friend and her family. I love to color. Not only did her memory pay forward to me, but I also shared them with a few clients who are trying new ways of coping while they are required to be alone. The passing on to me was passed on to several others as well.

My friend told me about her adult son listening to a family member who needed a certain kind of water bottle and put it on her Christmas list. He knew his family had a couple so he picked the best one and wrapped it up for her. She loved it.

Instead of “more,” what a lovely idea it is to “pass it on” instead. No extra money. No extra consumption. Just outright sharing. I think Christmas would be better across the country if this idea caught on.


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5 Pandemic Life Changes & How to Survive Them

Photo by Unsplash

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Scott

The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted everyone to a certain degree. Some people have lost much — jobs, friends, health, and loved ones. By now, we all know someone who has faced devastation in the wake of the coronavirus. Recovery is slow and hard, so I’ve put together resources to give you ideas on how to cope during the pandemic.

Virtual Learning

More and more kids are learning from home, which means more and more parents are teaching their kids. This can cause stress for your children, who will need a lot of time to adjust to this new normal — and for parents, who may not feel equipped to take on this new responsibility.

It’s important to reach out to your children’s teachers, principals, counselors, and other school leaders. They can help you manage your students’ workloads, set expectations, and even teach time management. Also, look to online resources. Many schools have Facebook groups for parents so they can support each other and connect at a time when social bonds are more important than ever.

Social Isolation

Many people are isolated from their friends and families during these strange and uncertain times. In order to help keep loved ones healthy and whole, they are sacrificing their own social needs. At times, it can feel an awful lot like grief. It can be very demoralizing and even depressing for some. Spend some quality virtual time with friends, whether FaceTiming during lunch or taking a socially distant stroll around the neighborhood.

This time of isolation can also be quite productive. Take it as an opportunity to work on organizing your house.

Remote Work

Employees are shifting to full-time telecommuting. While companies and individuals have had to adjust their workplace cultures and policies, households have also had to shift the way they live. Work-life balance is more important than ever.

The lines between your personal life and professional life will most certainly be blurred, and stress could boil over into other areas of your life. Try to keep your work isolated to one room of the house — or better yet, one with a door that closes. Make sure everyone has their own desk and computers, and private space where they can focus.

Death and Sickness

More than 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Many have recovered, while many have not. Still more are left with life-long conditions as a result of COVID-19.

Losing a loved one, especially in the circumstances around COVID, can be very traumatic. This process takes a serious toll on survivors before, during, and after a loved one’s death. Just remember you are not alone, even in these days of isolation. An end of life doula can provide the care and guidance that families need to come to terms with loss and grief, even with distance through telehealth sessions.

Health and Exercise

Few people can find the time and emotional bandwidth for health and exercise while facing a global health crisis. If that sounds familiar, pick a few small goals to work toward. Jog a few days a week or take the dog for daily walks. Sign up for an online yoga subscription to focus on strengthening the mind and body while still learning from the experts.

You can also consider ordering from a meal delivery service like Blue Apron or Sun Basket. Since grocery shopping can be a nightmare and eating outside unsafe, quarantine can be an excellent time to brush up on your healthy cooking skills.

This is a time for mourning, there is no doubt. And as we mourn and grieve our losses — from jobs to friends to family members — we need to pay attention to signs of our emotional health and well-being. If you think you may be struggling to deal with the challenges of the coronavirus, reach out to Darcy Thiel from Help for Healing you need. She specializes in grief counseling, organization, and is an End of Life Doula.



One of my all-time favorite songs to play on the piano is The Homecoming. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve played it at my piano recital, as the background music for the memorial video for my niece, and at my dear friends’ mom’s funeral.

I got to thinking about when I used to teach piano. I started doing that when I lived in Chicago. I always had a recital for my students and when the parents asked me to play once, that was when I pulled out that piece.

After I moved back to Buffalo, I started teaching again. Yep, I made my son Frankie take lessons for a couple of years. He quit after that, but he has a love for music today that is incredible. He will deny piano or any of the choirs I directed had any influence on him, but I know better.

Anyhow, I digress. One of the best memories I have was teaching my only adult student while I was in Chicago, Liz. She became so much more than a student. In fact, she became a teacher to me of more important things than piano. She became a dear friend. Her family became dear friends.

She has a wonderful heart. So wonderful, that she let me move into her home when I was stuck with nowhere to go. I stayed there for several months, never paying a penny for rent. She even let me hold the next recital in her house.

I recently re-connected with her after years of no communication. I found out she has been struggling terribly for over three years since she lost her adoring husband, the love of her life. Then last year, her only son lost his beautiful wife from brain cancer. Such suffering only comes from loving so deeply.

She is hoping to come and visit when this COVID stuff lightens up. (Will it?) I told her how much I still appreciate the selfless kindness she showed me when I was in my twenties. Say some prayers for her as she tries to heal her hurting heart.