Revisiting Values and Priorities in Challenging Times

Values

Please give yourself approximately 30 minutes for the values portion of this exercise.

Please print out the pages from the Personal Values Card Sort and use scissors to cut out the cards.

Place the three category cards in a horizontal row on a table: “Not Important to Me,” “Important to Me,” and “Very Important to Me.”

Try to be aware of both doing the exercise and observing yourself do it.

Sort all the cards into piles beneath each category. Take the cards you have sorted into the “Very Important to Me” pile and pick your top 10. Then rank order them. Then pick your top 3.

Staying aware of values and priorities

Please consider answers to these questions:

  1. What were your top 3 values?
  2. What did you become aware of during the values exercise?
  3. What insights did you gain from doing the values exercise?

Priorities

Please give yourself approximately 30 minutes for the priorities portion of this exercise.

Part 1.

Please take out a piece of paper or a pad of paper.

Using your own definition of the term “priorities,” please take 5 minutes to simply list any and all priorities that come to you, in any order, in any form, in any area on the piece of paper. It’s okay if you cry and it’s okay if you don’t feel finished in 5 minutes. You can noodle over this later and add items as they occur to you. For now, just give this exploration 5 minutes.

Part 2.

In times of uncertainty, people wish for certainty. If you could have certain answers to 3 questions, and you think the answers to these questions would help you with your priorities, what would those 3 questions be? Please write these questions at the bottom of your list or on a fresh page.

Part 3.

Using your own definition of the term “crucial,” when you look at your page of priorities, what is the crucial priority?

Part 4.

Please print out this priorities worksheet or sketch a copy on a piece of paper.
The handout is Steven Covey’s “four quadrant” model with the addition of “crucial” by Mike Vardy. The columns, left to right, are “Urgent” and “Not Urgent.” The rows, top to bottom, are ” Important” and “Not Important.“ In the center is a box labeled “Crucial.“

Please write your crucial priority in the center box. Based on your assessment of their urgency and importance, please add your priorities into the quadrants around the crucial priority.

Part 5.

Rank order the priorities in each quadrant, putting a “1” by the most important in that quadrant, and”2″ by the next most important, and so on.

Please consider answers to these questions:

  1. In addition to your crucial priority, what were your top 3 priorities in rank order?
  2. What did you become aware of during the priorities exercise?
  3. In what ways did your “certainty questions” or your view of them change?
  4. What insights did you gain from doing the priorities exercise?

Values + Priorities

When I feel lost and scattered and uncertain about what’s going on, who I am, or what I am doing, I can revisit my values, the top three of which are _______,_______, and _______.

My values remind me of my power.

Then I can become aware of my priorities. Among my priorities, I can decide what’s crucial, urgent, and important – and what’s not crucial and not urgent and not important.

My crucial priority is _______.

I can rank order my remaining priorities.  After my crucial priority, the top 3 remaining priorities that are urgent and important to me, in rank order are: _______, _______, and _______.

Awareness of my priorities gives me direction.

The photo accompanying this post shows paleontologist Matheus Denezine’s system for keeping his values and priorities foremost.

I can keep my values and priorities before me – in whatever system I devise – to power and guide me through challenging moments, days, weeks, and times.

. . . . .

Awareness of priorities and values is a skill taught through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a form of cognitive behavior therapy invented by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.

Of possible further interest

Addressing Unmet Needs During Social Distancing

Adeptly Shifting Priorities in Uncertain Times

What Still Makes Sense and What No Longer Fits

This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.

Mandarin Chinese Conversation Group Forming

If you are a beginning student of Mandarin Chinese and would like to practice speaking with other beginners, you are invited to join an online conversation group.

The group will meet weekly on Mondays from 6:00 to 7:00 PM EDT via Zoom beginning on Monday, August 10, 2020.

Liu4 - six

The group is free. In one hour, each of up to 6 members will have approximately 10 minutes of speaking time. I, Anne Giles – also a beginner – will serve as a facilitator. An instructor will not be present.

To simulate a language immersion experience via Zoom, only Mandarin Chinese will be spoken during the first 50 minutes of each session. During the last 10 minutes, we will use English to check in with each other on how we are doing and to discuss logistics for the next session.

The Chinese-only portion of the session will make for confusion, awkwardness, and long pauses. Since only beginning speakers will be present without an instructor, we’ll use the protocol below to help us along. Group members are invited to offer each other good humor and generosity of spirit.

Ideally, group participants are interested in taking the HSK exams. As of this writing (August 4, 2020), the group’s conversation will be limited to the vocabulary and grammar tested on the HSK 1 exam. (Feel free to find online sources of this information. I am not an expert and cannot recommend any one particular list.)

Participants are expected to have their cameras and microphones on during the entire session. To protect the identity, confidentiality, privacy, and safety of all, please take no screenshots and make no recordings of any kind, of anyone, or of anything during the session.

Group Protocol

  1. Arrive on time.
  2. Speak only Mandarin Chinese for the first 50 minutes of the session.
  3. Interrupt no one.
  4. Correct no one.
  5. Observe silence during the expected, needed, and to-be-respected long pauses necessary for group members to formulate their thoughts.
  6. Limit yourself to one minute of silence to think. If you can’t speak in one minute, simply say:
    “Apologies. Next person, please.”
    抱歉,请下一个人
    Bao4 qian4, qing3 xia4 yi1 ge4 ren2
  7. Balance speaking and listening. Strive to make sure all who care to speak have had equal time.
  8. Use chat for synergy! In the chat, post questions and comments, in both Chinese and English. Any members can post answers and ideas and we can all learn and grow together.
  9. Ask each group member the questions provided by the facilitator at the beginning of the session.
  10. During the last 10 minutes of the session when English is spoken, be ready to ask questions, express concerns, and to type into the chat suggestions for conversational questions for next session.

The facilitator:

  1. opens the Zoom room and welcome participants.
  2. maintains the Chinese-only protocol. If a member speaks a language other than Chinese, the facilitator will say:
    “Please speak Chinese.”
    请说中文
    Qing3 shuo1 zhong1 wen2
    OR
    “Please use the chat.”
    请使用聊天框
    Qing3 shi3 yong4 liao2 tian1 kuang1
  3. maintains the “one-minute-to-think” rule. If a participant has exceeded one minute to think, the facilitator will say:
    “Next person, thanks. (Next position, thanks.)”
    下一位,谢谢
    Xia4 yi2 wei4, xie4 xie
  4. provides opening questions to begin the conversation and/or provide an image for asking and answering questions via screen share.
  5. In the unlikely event of a problem, the facilitator uninvites a member or closes the meeting.

I don’t know what the interest level will be. People from all over the world are welcome. I’m hoping we will be in breakout rooms of about 6 people each.

If you’re interested in participating, please fill out my contact form. Please ask any questions you might have. Once I hear from you, I will email you the Zoom link.

For the first session, we will take turns answering these questions.

How are you?
Ni3 hao3?

What is your name?
Ni3 jiao4 shen2 me ming2 zi4?

(What is your family name?)
(Ni3 xing4 shen2 me?)

Where do you live?
Ni3 zhu4 zai4 na3 li3?

You are from what country?
Ni3 shi4 na3 guo3 ren2?

Since my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese is currently limited to talking about cooked rice (mi3 fan4) and my four cats (remembering to say si4 zhi1 mao1 instead of si4 ge mao1), I can imagine we will reach a point where we are looking wide-eyed at each other from our Zoom windows, speechless. I will laugh with delight, think we are being very brave, and hope you will, too.

I am grateful to italki instructor Depeng for allowing me to consult with him about the formation of this group and for help with translation.

(The accompanying image is a photograph of my attempt to use my watercolors to paint a lucky number and remind myself that 六 liu4 means “six” even though the character has five strokes. My house guest, a visiting scholar from Brazil who has been to China, asked about the difference between liu4 and ren2 and that’s why one 人 is painted, too.)

Here are phrases that may be helpful to use while we are in the group. Here’s my word bank listing the words I know so far.

With any questions or concerns, please do contact me.

Last updated 8/10/20

An Online Course for Addressing Substance Use Concerns

Humans have used substances for over 12,000 years in ways that are meaningful to them. Between 70-80% of people who use drugs do so without issue. In the U.S., an estimated 1 in 10 who use drugs develops a substance use disorder, also termed “addiction,” usually predicated by trauma and/or mental illness. Although chronic cases exist, most people with substance use concerns recover on their own without treatment.

Research-Backed Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Substance Use

In this context, I am delighted to announce the acceptance by Udemy of our course “Research-Backed Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Substance Use.” In tandem with medical care, people can learn skills to self-administer counseling for substance use concerns.

I use the term “our” because this labor of love was co-created by me, clients, and community members. I scoured the research for what helps people with substance use concerns. Clients and community members field-tested exercises based on those findings. Since substance use is moralized, stigmatized, and criminalized, I can’t publicly thank the hundreds of people who contributed to creating this course. But I profoundly thank them for their bravery and leadership.

I can openly thank neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz, author of New York Times bestseller Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, for consulting on the course’s content. And I can openly thank Sanjay Kishore, M.D., who reviewed the content on requesting medical care.

Important: This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.

The current climate of tolerance of use of some drugs – caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol – and intolerance of use of other drugs – marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin, for example, currently of interest to the media – leaves people who use drugs subject to moral, economic, and criminal, abstinence-only “treatment.”

Research is clear, however, on the skills and tools that help people reduce or end substance use. (If you are mandated to abstinence, this guide provides an overview of helpful skills.) This hour-long course offers research-informed lectures, assessments, and exercises for people who wish to learn more about evidence-based treatment for substance use concerns, beginning with medical care.

I recorded the videos over two days at my home using my laptop’s camera. I wondered if a cat might wander though the screen but not this time.

I welcome your reviews and feedback. I welcome your contributions to this course being as helpful as possible.

I am so gratified that Udemy accepted our course. Since I am only licensed to offer counseling services in Virginia, this is a way for anyone, anywhere to access what research suggests is helpful. Here are the resources linked to from the course.

I wish you the very best. If I can be of service in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.

“I was in hell,” she said. “And I made a vow: when I get out, I’m going to come back and get others out of here.”
– Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), quoted in the New York Times and expanded upon in her 2020 memoir, Building a Life Worth Living

This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.

If You Have Begun to Drink and Use More Than You Wish

People use substances for reasons that are meaningful to them.

Researchers have found that people primarily use caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs for very human reasons: to feel good, to feel better, to do better, and to connect with others. Humans have done this for over 12,000 years.

If overuse has become a concern, these findings suggest logical questions to ask.

  1. For which of these reasons do I use substances?
  2. In what ways do I not feel good, have not been able to feel better, believe I’m not doing well enough, or lack sufficient connection with others?
  3. In addition to substances, what else might I discover to help myself feel good, feel better, do better, and feel connected?

To help people humanely, effectively, and efficiently answer these questions, I offer a 6-session, online counseling protocol. I am licensed to provide counseling services to residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia only.

Due to financial hardships caused by the pandemic and predictions that substance use problems will increase, I am currently accepting pay-what-you-can services. I will ask you the optimum fee for you up to the standard rate of $125 per individual session and $45 per group session.

I specialize in using research-informed methods to help people reduce or eliminate use of substances that have become problematic for them. They may have received a substance use disorder diagnosis, also termed “addiction.” I am a licensed professional counselor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, have training and expertise in addiction treatment research, track outcomes, and have personal experience in achieving remission from alcohol use disorder.

I deliberately offer self-pay counseling services to protect the immediate and long-term privacy of clients. Self-pay services are discrete, eliminate the need for notifying third parties, and prevent the presence of a permanent, stigmatizing substance use diagnosis in one’s health record. Here is more about why I do not accept health insurance.

Clients receive private, expert, in-place help. Although acute situations may require residential treatment, this protocol attempts to prevent the financial hardships of “rehab” and its sometimes-devastating 70% or higher return-to-use rates.

If you are a Virginia resident and are interested in this protocol, please feel free to contact me. If you would like to get started, please fill in our contact form. I will use your email address to send you registration information through our HIPAA-compliant electronic health record, SimplePractice.

I would welcome the opportunity to work with you. Please do email, phone, or text me with any questions you may have.

. . . . .

Here are answers to questions you may have.

How can 6 sessions possibly be sufficient to help a person with alcohol and other drug problems?

The research is clear on what helps people reduce or eliminate substance use. Medical care comes first. After receiving the stabilizing care that medical expertise can offer, individuals can efficiently learn and apply a sequenced set of specific skills to help themselves with substance use. These skills assist with symptoms of mental and physical illnesses that may also be present.

Research is clear on what can be helpful

I’ve tried everything and nothing works. What is the difference between this protocol and other substance use disorder treatment?

This protocol acknowledges that people use substances for reasons that are meaningful and important to them. People have traits, circumstances, or patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving that cause problems. Substances can solve these problems. Why stop something that works?

With self-kindness and without self-judgment, people can meticulously identify the purposes substances and substance use serve and then find adequate – if not necessarily ideal – replacements for them. Logically, then, finding something else that works well enough helps people reduce or eliminate use.

One of the purposes served by substances is adjusting an inner state experienced as intolerable, whether it’s experienced as too intense or too empty. When substances are absent, distress rises. For some people, this distress can be experienced as depression, anxiety, or both. Other people experience distress as a loss of a sense of reality. It feels unbearable. Use of substances feels like mercy.

A specific set of skills – what I term “awareness skills” – assists people in using their own minds and hearts to adjust their inner experiences to an individually stable range.

Optimally, sessions are held once per week. Given that each week holds 168 hours, one hour of counseling per week is likely to be insufficient to sustain progress. Daily skills practice is expected.

Come on. This is just another “one-size-fits-all,” simplistic solution for a complex problem. How can this possibly work for all substances and all people?

The protocol is informed by research. The purpose of research is to determine what is helpful to most people, most of the time, better than other things, and better than nothing. The protocol has not been tested in a clinical trial. However, our outcome data indicates that the protocol – combined with medical care and/or medications, partner/family support, and a stable living situation – is helpful to many people who try it. Some individuals may not benefit.

Substance use and mental health challenges are conceptualized generally as 1) difficulty with emotion regulation, 2) belief-based thinking, and 3) insufficient empathy for self and others. This protocol consciously and specifically targets all these areas, thus increasing the likelihood that it will be helpful to many people with a variety of challenges.

Who might most readily benefit from this protocol?

I hope aspiring and current professionals, executives, and business leaders will be among the beneficiaries. As a highly-educated, highly-functional, working professional, I got the shock of my life when I attempted to stop drinking alcohol and could not. Research-backed treatment was nearly non-existent in 2012. Although I have been in remission from alcohol use disorder since 2012, I have a permanent diagnosis of alcohol “abuse” in my health record. Today, I hope people in similar circumstances will be able to help themselves directly and efficiently with this protocol.

In many business and professional networks, substance use is a social norm. Paradoxically, to meet societal norms, people may be mandated to produce urine drug screens negative for substances. Some people may wish to abstain and some people may wish to engage in skillful use. This protocol helps people individually decide on, and reach for, their personal treatment goals.

I offer the protocol freely on my site for anyone, anywhere, to self-administer. I am open to working with any Virginia resident who wants to become a client.

What happens after 6 sessions?

My hypothesis is that, in about 6 sessions – supplemented with independent daily practice and optional and recommended daily text support – a person can learn the basic awareness skills, get an idea of how to apply them, then have a sufficient ability with the skills to self-administer on-going care using the work they did in the first 6 sessions. As needed, they can refresh and deepen their understanding with the materials on the site.

Engaging concurrently in group sessions with other clients using the protocol can be helpful. If individuals already have counselors, continuing to engage concurrently in sessions with them can be helpful.

If individuals wish to continue in counseling, further sessions would support the applied use of skills acquired during the individualized one-on-one sessions. Beginning or continuing in group sessions can be helpful for consolidating and maintaining gains. (In my experience, attempting to begin to learn fundamental skills in group sessions is difficult and inefficient.)

In optional individual or group sessions with me or other providers, people can expand their understandings and start to apply skills in other areas, perhaps with family of origin issues, trauma, or problematic patterns of interacting in partner relationships or at work.

Why doesn’t your private practice take health insurance?

Substance use disorder counseling may be minimally reimbursed by health insurance companies, if at all. More importantly, given that substance use is stigmatized and criminalized, I urge anyone with a substance use concern or an addiction issue to self-pay if they can so no third parties – including health insurance companies – are notified. I explain further here.

Do you have a money-back guarantee?

I am open to sharing the responsibility and risk with you.

The cost for 6 individual, online sessions is $125 x 6 = $750. I am currently negotiating pay-what-you-can services. You are billed one session at a time. Cancellations in fewer than 24 hours and no-shows are billed at the full rate.

You, of course, can discontinue sessions at any time. At the end of the 4th session, I will ask if you would like to continue. If you decide not to continue, I will not bill you for that 4th session.

How can I increase the likelihood this protocol will be effective for me?

  1. Make a list of symptoms that cause you problems. Overuse of substances can be accompanied by trauma symptoms, neurodevelopmental disorders, and mental illnesses. Please share this list with me and disclose any diagnoses given to you, or any symptoms you have researched on your own and believe might meet criteria for a DSM-5 diagnosis. We can customize delivery of the protocol to meet your specific needs.
  2. Consult with a medical professional. Although the appointment may be via telehealth, ask a medical care professional to review your list of symptoms and this screening tool with you.
  3. Know what you want. Be clear on what you want to be able to say is true for yourself as a result of 6 weeks of counseling sessions and skills practice.
  4. Practice skills outside of sessions.

If this approach seems like a fit for you, I would welcome the opportunity to work with you. Unfortunately, I can only work directly with Virginia residents. Anyone outside of Virginia is welcome to peruse the materials listed in the dropdown menu under the Resources tab.

If I can be of any service at all, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Last updated 5/9/20

The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the positions of my colleagues, clients, family members, or friends. This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.

Optimize Within Constraints While Doing Time

In lockdown, I am finding much of what I used to turn to for solace inadequate.

  • My cohabitants are themselves first and my cohabitants second. For the sake of all of us, each of us needs to tend our own needs and wants first.
  • Others important to me are absent, stressed, and intermittently available.
  • Going places and doing things, with and without others, is off the table.
  • Conversing through videoconferencing with its amazing motion picture 2D-ness also tantalizes with its absence of 3D.
  • Exercising at home, alone, without equipment, is inherently limited. Gyms were invented for a reason.
  • Eating, while pleasurable in the moment, also invokes a sense of dread. Stress-based eating and non-eating, plus stress-based food choices, all paired with inadequate motion? I sense I’m setting my own health-related timebomb.
  • Using substances does alter my experience of lockdown. However, unskilled, repeated use and overuse can transform unconsciously into inability to limit or stop using. That form of lockdown is one I never want again in my life, however short or long. Only planned, skilled use can occur, including my use of the drug caffeine.
  • Entertaining myself with screentime has lost nearly 99% of its appeal.
  • Goal-setting and plan-making seem futile in the midst of such uncertainty, yet winging it in the short-term no longer is working.
  • Sayings like “This too shall pass” don’t account for an unprecedented “this” and are based on the unfounded belief that things will return to normal and we will get our old lives back. Social protocols have changed and so will our lives and relationships.
  • Turning to literature, whether inspirational, literary, or scientific, produces frustration. “Yes, but,” I say to all of them, “that doesn’t cover this.” Apparently the last person who really wrote about what’s going down is Samuel Pepys in 1666.

Optimizing within constraints.

If I’m going to make it through this, I’m going to have to cobble together a credo, a manifesto, and an operating manual, all in one.

I’m going to call forth wisdom from my father, my own counseling knowledge – particularly decastaphrophizing using the worst case scenario – my clients who have been incarcerated, and the founder of dialectical behavior therapy, Marsha Linehan. I’m calling forth the bravery of those who wrote for us: Anne Frank, Nina Kosterina, Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Viktor Frankl, and survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto.

I am going to optimize within constraints while doing time, based on my values and in line with my priorities, all the while knowing opposites may both be true.

Optimize within constraints.

When my father explained the concept of optimizing with constraints to me, he described himself in a hypothetical jail cell, raging at the bars that confined him. He then shifted his attention to the bars, noted the facts of their strength, and acknowledged his confinement. Then he looked around the cell and asked himself what he could do, based on his values, to maximize and optimize his progress towards achieving his objectives.

Acknowledge my worst case scenario.

To my father’s metaphor, I would add decreasing the size of the cell by six inches all around by one’s conception of the worst case scenario. As of this writing, the worst case scenario for me – my greatest fear – is that lockdown will occur indefinitely, that a life sentence in confinement will be my fate. Science predicts that is unlikely but I acknowledge and honor my greatest fear just the same.

Avoidance of what’s bothering me, while seemingly self-merciful, heightens distress in the long-term. Approaching what is real to me – including fears that may be unfounded – even though causing distress in the short-term, is actually an act of self-kindness that increase my endurance for the long run.

Acknowledge the extents and limits of what can be accomplished while doing time.

On behalf of clients who were about to go to jail or prison, I have asked clients who have been to jail or prison to offer their guidance.

This WikiHow guide elaborates, but this is the essence of their hard-won wisdom:

  • Do you, not others.
  • Get fit.
  • Learn something new on the way to where you want to go.

Finish unfinished business.

No matter how much I wish this were not true, I need to:

  • get my affairs in order,
  • have conversations with people important to me about the location of important documents, their wishes and mine,
  • write letters of appreciation to people important to me while there’s still time,
  • acknowledge the grief I have now, and plan to grieve the loss of people important to me, given the achingly high numbers of what’s ahead for us.

Remind myself of my values and rank order them.

This Personal Values Card Sort asks me to become aware of what values are “very important to me,” “important to me,” and “not important to me,” then to rank order the values in the “very important to me” category.

Remind myself of my priorities and rank order them.

I can write my priorities on slips of paper, then arrange them on a table in categories of “right now,” “soon,” and “later.” (“Unfinished business” may need a category as well.) I can rank order my priorities in each category. Then I can, with regret, remove the slips representing priorities that are impossible to achieve in lockdown. What remains can help me decide what to do next with the time ahead.

Bravely approach opposites that are both true.

I want parents and partners and leaders to do the job of loving me, comforting me, helping me, and immediately taking over what becomes so hard for me AND I am the only adult on this job.

In lieu of parents, partners, and leaders, I wish I could find a formula to serve in their places for doing all this AND life is dynamic and complex and so must be my strategies.

I am benefiting from what being home offers AND I am losing out on what being in the world offers.

I will make decisions now that will prove both helpful and harmful AND I am consciously making the best decisions I can with all my heart, all my mind, and all the knowledge I can bring to bear on this as often as I can.

I am intermittently made insane by my cohabitants AND I am intermittently kept sane by my cohabitants.

I have too many cats to care for during a lockdown in a pandemic AND I treasure every single moment spent with every single kitty.

I am uncertain how to help others – like the man with whom I have crossed paths in my hometown for years asking me for money to buy food in the grocery store parking lot (I am haunted by the look in his eyes) – AND I am aware that it is the wolf pack that survives, not the mythological lone wolf who dies sooner rather than later, riddled with parasites, doomed to survive on carrion because he can’t bring down fresh game on his own. I must keep aware of ways to respectfully, skillfully, and effectively assist my pack.

I am afraid of what will happen to me AND right here, right now, I am safe.

I am trapped in these four walls with issues I have avoided, I may panic, AND I am free to learn skills to finally approach what has been present with me for a long time.

I am uncertain what the future holds for me, my finances, people I care about, people I don’t even know, and our world AND I am aware that I am actually used to living with uncertainty. Certainty is always an illusion because humans – however much they wish or believe otherwise – cannot predict or control what happens next.

I treasure my ability to think, the greatest gift of being human – which includes the ability to think worried, painful thoughts about the future – AND I can shift my attention to thoughts that are helpful to me right here, right now. (As Agnes Callard writes, “There’s no reason to add an additional harm to whatever evils have already taken place.”)

I am tempted to blame myself and others for a pandemic AND biology happens, species are impacted by other species, and these are occurrences without meaning.

I have loved the beings who have been in my life, the places I have lived, the possessions I have owned AND I love best and most the presence and company of my own consciousness.

Deprivation is present now. Unknown magnitudes of illness, death, loss, and grief are ahead.  These have power over me AND I have power to intend to mitigate the effect of hardships. I can use awareness skills to help me through all feelings, all thoughts, all happenings. I may hurt at times and I may struggle at times but external conditions do not define my intentions nor control my inner state.

I love my own consciousness too much to let what’s happening happen to it, too.

I dedicate this post to Jay Wiley, a former student and current resident of New York, who invited me to sing a bit of this tune for his video. May this not be the last video footage of me but, if it is, it’s the best of me. I was laughing, singing, moving in time with someone else, all for a student. I have lived a perfect, precious life.

On a lighter note, here are the outtakes.

The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the positions of my colleagues, clients, family members, or friends. This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.