CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 9) — The Cure

We’re all suffering through this pandemic. Everyone is affected by it, directly or indirectly. Where can we go to rescue our health — mental and physical — and our sanity?

Spoiler alert: it’s not in your house or on your screen!

Take a moment and think back to the years before Covid. When was the last time you couldn’t wait for something, because you were excited like a little kid? You couldn’t focus or sleep because your mind was racing in anticipation? Your feelings bounced between elation, fear and curiosity as you waited for the big day to come? 

Last week, I ascended the six fixed ropes that go 1,000 vertical feet up El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park. At the top of these lines is Heart Ledge, named for the huge heart-shaped formation above it. This ledge is about 1/3 of the way up, and I work my way up there every year to celebrate the day I climbed El Cap with my son — all 3,000+ feet of it — in 2017.

All year it taunts me: Will I be able to reach The Heart this year? Do I still have sufficient arm/shoulder strength? (I’m almost 70.) Can I still jam my toes against the rock all the way up, or has the surgery made them too stiff, too tender? Will fear take root in my mind, or will I be able to block that out just long enough?

While anticipation makes my mind race and my stomach butterflies flutter, it also offers an important reminder: I’m alive and doing things that excite me and take me outside my comfort zone. My outdoor challenges may keep me up at night, but they also keep my body strong, my mind clear and my spirit light.

Society loves to tell us what we can and can’t do. And when it comes to outdoor recreation, the qualifying list feels endless. We’re either too big, too small, too uninformed, too uncoordinated…the list goes on. And for those of us above the age of 60, the doubt in our ability to explore nature feels even more profound. Instead, we’re pushed toward drugs as a means to feel better and sleep better, and screens as a way to distract and entertain ourselves.

Growing old is the only process that’s inevitable for all of us — if we’re lucky. And the only say we have in that process (again, if we’re lucky) is how we’ll age.

When I was 5, I followed the big boys up the trees and onto garage rooves in a quest for adventure. A lifetime later, despite piles of articles that tell me I can’t develop muscle at my age, I remind myself of what I’ve always known to be true: age doesn’t matter. I started rock climbing when I was almost 60. Now, 70 is around the corner. 

Nature is the best healer. She doesn’t demand anything extreme; just a walk in a green park can have immense beneficial effects on our health, both physical and emotional.

If we turn off the screen, we’re more likely to hear nature beckon. If we leave the drugs in the bottle and go outside to enjoy nature’s peace, colors and calm, we might just forget why we were reaching for that bottle in the first place. 

Obviously, genetics plays a role and pharmaceuticals have their place; if a debilitating disease requires drugs, clearly that’s needed. But if all the drug advertisements on TV have convinced you that you need something to feel okay, I encourage you to consider that what you need might instead just be waiting for you outside. 

You never know who you might meet…

I climbed El Capitan at 66. I take no drugs at all, at almost 70. While that’s unusual these days, I believe it doesn’t have to be. Nature knows how to heal you, she knows what you need. A walk or an easy jog can lift your spirits like no drug can. Sunshine can warm and soothe like no drink or supplement can. It’s all there. And it’s all free. 

Now, while our whole planet is being tested by a pandemic, is the best time for us to return to our mother, Nature. She knows what we need — and she offers it freely. 

It’s time to take her up on it.

Stubbornness — Tenacity? — Knows No Age: CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 8)

How many pull-ups can you do? Chin-ups?

A few days ago I mentioned to a friend, a man a decade younger than me, that in all my 6 decades of life I’ve never been able to do a single pull-up or chin-up. All my life, my body and mind have not been able to even imagine lifting the whole weight of my body just by my arms.

His raised eyebrows and guarded response let me know very clearly how odd he found that. I guess the ability to lift your body weight from a dead hang on your arms is normal for most people.

For me, it’s always been completely inconceivable.

 

So in March, when the country shut down for Covid, I went online and ordered a pull-up bar, the kind that just hangs from a doorjamb, held there by its own weight and the weight you add to it. If I was going to be stuck in my house for who-knows-how-long anyway, I might as well get something productive done.

I’ve been a language teacher for 44 years. I raised two kids. I know about baby steps. You can learn anything if you break it down into baby steps. So I used a little white plastic step, the kind kids stand on when they’re too small to reach the sink — “baby step” indeed — and started just lowering myself, to the floor. ‘Negative pull-ups’, as it were. Down only.

I ‘knew’ at the outset that what I was attempting was impossible. After all, I’d tried, off and on, all my life. And everything I’ve read on the subject tells me you can’t develop muscle at my age. As a senior.

Stubbornness, however, has no age.

On March 20, I lowered myself off that little white step. I was amazed how much it hurt, each time! My elbow! My shoulder! The skin on my fingers! My abdomen! I forced myself to do it 3 times.

The next day I again lowered myself 3 times. So much pain! Such unsteadiness & wobbling!

Each day, a repeat. After a few days I added one more to each session. After a few more days, two more. On March 27, I lowered myself — slowly, resting after each try — 12 times! I knew I’d reached my peak.

I’d gone from nothing, never, to being able to lower my whole body weight 12 TIMES! (With pauses in between.) My gut feeling was that I’d never get beyond that. But stubbornness knows no bounds.

On May 4, as I stepped up onto the little white step, it occurred to me that I should at least try, once, in the other direction… I didn’t exactly pull myself up, it was a combination of a tiny jump propelled by my foot on the step, and catching my weight to then lower it. Wobbling. Straining. Gasping.

I call them “jumping pull-ups”…and I did 3 of them.

All of Sacramento probably heard the joyful shouts!

On July 3, I didn’t jump. I just raised myself, wobbling and straining, from the white step up to the bar, chin level, and back down. I stopped after the first one, to rub my painful elbow, but mostly to convince myself I’d really done it.

I call those “half-raises,” since I was still starting from the little white step, almost halfway up. Arms almost right-angled. But the direction — up — is the incredible part.

Today, in August, I did 12 full raises.

Everything I’ve ever read says that you can’t develop muscle at my age. So what’s going on?

The media doesn’t know you. Or me. They sell. They try their darnedest to convince you that you need what they sell. But they don’t know you. Somewhere, there must be researchers who know that you can, indeed, develop muscle as you age. But they don’t get the big bucks for advertising.

Whatever you want to do — push-ups, pull-ups, marathons, rock climbing — no one can tell you it’s impossible…except your own head. If you believe the hype that says you can’t, then you can’t. If you believe you can, then you can. Simple. Your choice.

All my life I heard that women are weaker than men in upper-body strength. Fewer, smaller muscles, weaker joints. Girls can’t do pull-ups. A few half-hearted attempts during my life convinced me of that lie.

Ha! The truth is out! Every day now, I go down the hallway and do the impossible — a set of pull-ups and chin-ups. Yesterday’s session consisted of 12, and I did 2 sessions. 24! A year ago, I never would have believed it.

Age is relative. Gullibility is relative. Tenacity is not.

No matter how old you are: Believe you can — it’s much more fun!

 

4th of July, at the Lake

The Lake. For weeks, the grown-ups around me talked about ‘going to the Lake’ for the 4th of July. I was growing up in New York City, with hundreds of years of history, with amazing fireworks for the 4th, with the whole world at our fingertips. But sometimes, for the 4th, we’d leave it all behind and go to “the cottage at the lake.”

Aunt Pauline’s lakeside house, “the cottage,” was a rambling, two-story white wooden house with an enormous porch that always offered cool shade, even on the hottest of 4ths. She was my mother’s aunt, my great-aunt, but in our Polish-American family, all older relatives or friends were addressed as Aunt or Uncle, a sign of respect and hierarchy.

So I had four Aunt Helens, four Aunt Wandas, and four Uncle Joes (some bona-fides, some greats-, some not related at all). When the big black phone rang at home and someone shouted, “It’s Aunt Helen,” everyone shouted back, “Aunt Helen who?!”

Penn Lake had fish, and a small dock for a little white rowboat. The whole lake and all the cottages around it were surrounded by a thick, dense, sweet-smelling dark green security blanket of trees. What mysteries lay under that impenetrable canopy that stretched as far as we could see? What creatures lived deep in that forest?

Lake Tahoe, where we sometimes go now for the 4th, at 6,200 feet up in the Sierra Nevada, is also surrounded by trees…but only conifers, or mostly. You can see through them. The ground is bare, pale beige, littered here and there with an occasional red-barked manzanita shrub or stubby gray-green sage. Empty, except for the sharp, prickly needles on the ground ready to stab.

In Pennsylvania, at Penn Lake, all the different types of big-leaf deciduous trees earnestly guarded all their secrets of unbridled life. Under the trees, smaller greenery hid everything. You never saw bare earth. When you did see a patch, here or there, or a trail, it was black, fertile, soft. I could hike barefoot. In California, I have to wear boots and long pants. Nature, here, is fierce, harsh. Unforgiving.

The pot they cooked the corn in, at Aunt Pauline’s, was almost as tall as me. The fire was already burning when we’d get there. Shouts of “Don’t get too close!” echoed throughout the day (there were lots of kids running around).

Grown-ups all sat in webbed or wooden lawn chairs scattered around the endless lawn that sloped gently down to the lake. Most of the conversation was in Polish, since most of the older generation had come from Poland. Their ‘children’ — our parents — spoke with their elders in Polish, but with us, the kids, in English. It was the perfect mix for a little girl who loved to learn languages.

I didn’t learn the term ‘wainscoting’ until I was an adult, but all of Aunt Pauline’s house had it. The line of molding across the top of it was level with my nose. The lower part was thin vertical white slats, and the kids would drive the grown-ups crazy as we dragged our nails along the wall as we walked, “click – click – click.”

“Go outside and play!” was the only remedy they knew for that.

The ‘old people’ in our world seemed to have one main antidote for stress: the glider. Every porch we visited in Pennsylvania had a glider swing. Usually it had puffy cushions that smelled of fresh air and old canvas or some other home-sewn fabric (no plastics or polyester yet), and of grandparents, or great-aunts or uncles. At the Lake, the glider was wooden, with two cushioned bench seats facing each other. Two solutions in one: the soporific, restful motion, and a friend to share it with across from you. The glider at Penn Lake was always in use.

Sometimes, someone brought an accordion. My mother always wound up strapping it on, usually as the sun was dipping down behind the lake. All the grown-ups knew all the old Polish songs. Those from my parents’ generation knew all the songs about coming back from the war, or waiting for those who did. Or not coming back. We kids just ran around playing tag or ball, nibbling an ear of fresh corn or another hot dog or a wedge of watermelon, or just eluding capture by some adult.

What a bucolic picture they made…and yet, everyone there had lost someone to World War II. No one talked about it. Barely five years had elapsed since the whole word was gripped in unimaginable frenzy. No one ever talked about it.

As night fell at the lake, there was always a large, fragrant bosom to curl up on, a lap to sit on as we held our flaming marshmallow or last ear of corn dripping with butter. How we were loved, we post-world-war children! How secure they made our new world!

At least for the 4th of July.

CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 7)

It’s true, what they say: Old habits die hard.

Old habits…like going to work, school, church. Hugging our kids. Seeing friends. Helping a neighbor or our parents.

So much of life is habit. In the daily humdrum of your life, do you ever take time to stop and think about why you do things the way you do them? Do you remember the last time you allowed yourself that luxury (if ever)?

So, here’s something that CoVid might be teaching us: maybe that’s not a luxury, at all. Maybe it’s what we need to survive, sane.

For the last few weeks, we’ve all been struggling to give up all our old habits, in order to survive, and to allow others to survive. And we’ve been doing an outstanding job, most of us, sheltering in place — even if that place is a tiny apartment on the 17th floor.

Some of us, however, are prisoners of our habits. The surfers who got arrested as they came out of the water. The climbers who can’t stay off the rocks, even if it means crowding out the tiny, out-of-the-way towns whose hospitals and responders can’t handle extra emergency situations. The congregants in the church where 40 people wound up with the virus after they refused to hold digital services.

Habits. We cling to them, like to a lifeline.

Changing a habit requires a lot of thought. Even harder, though, than thinking about it, is deciding to do something about that status quo. Have you ever tried to stop smoking? Eating chocolate? Having dessert? Drinking your favorite specialty coffee, which you know is filled with sugars and Greek and Latin ingredients that are terrible for your body?

Nature hasn’t given up her habits. Ours, though, can be dangerous.

Change is hard. Habits are comfortable. How far out of our comfort zone are we willing to go?

Anyone who has raised a child knows the value of routine. Predictable routine helps us make sense of life. Right now, though, in the midst of this pandemic, we are living, as the KUSC website puts it,

“…in a consistently unpredictable world.”

If you can embrace change, can envision stretching to fit a new comfort zone, you probably won’t have trouble re-structuring your life around CoVid’s demands. But if you’re habit-driven, like many of us, if you find comfort in your ‘old standby’ routines, this pandemic is going to demand things of you that your psyche will fight hard against.

So, ask yourself this: Why do you do things a certain way? Could you do them differently? Would that mess with your head…more than the virus is already doing?

Educators know, for example, that online classes are not as effective as having a real, live teacher and colleagues in the same room. But that’s dangerous now. So we compromise. We embrace a less-effective system that’s safer.

We can all do the same. We can embrace change, structure our lives in ways we’d never thought of. Buy our groceries on line. Get our exercise and stay fit in our own neighborhood. Hug our long-distance kids in our minds, while we sleep, but talk to them only by phone. Visit them digitally.

We can. While we wait. And hope.

Our old habits are in a fight for their life.

So are we.

CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 6)

Two & a half years ago, I fought my way up the face of El Capitan. All 3,000-ish feet of it. And I mean fought. This year, this month, during the onslaught of a virus humans have never before encountered, the bravest, scariest thing I’ve done is go to the supermarket.

Getting ready for that expedition was very much like preparing to go up El Cap:

Special gloves. Check.

Homemade mask. Check.

Plastic liner for the car, where the possibly contaminated bags will sit. Check.

Special area in the garage to unpack the possibly contaminated items. Check.

Spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels to wipe down packaged items. Check.

Sink empty to accommodate the fresh veggies & fruit, to be washed with special soap. Check.

Receptacle for the used gloves and paper towels. Check.

Not as physically demanding as El Cap, but mentally, just as exhausting. Because the risks are the same.

I know that not everyone who gets the corona virus dies from it. Just as I know that most climbers go home at night, or sleep safely in their portaledge, and live to climb again the next day. But I also know the small percentage of those who don’t. Those who leave the hospital in a body bag.

Doctors treating this illness under third-world conditions in the U.S. are making videos to say good-bye to their little kids, for when they ultimately contract it and succumb.

Those who mourn, have to do so alone. No funerals. Kids can’t say good-bye to their grandparents.

The U.S. knew about this virus in January. It didn’t need to get this bad. January! We could have been ready. There’s no good reason for us to have to fight it without adequate protection, supplies, equipment, medicine. That’s the part that hurts the most. We’re better than that.

Or at least, we used to be.

CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 5)

Are you a procrastinator? I’m not, and I’ve struggled to understand the phenomenon, each time in my life that I’ve had to deal with people who are. But I’m beginning to understand it a little better these days….

For 13 years, marathons, half’s and lots of other races have been part of my life. I’ve run from many of life’s disasters, and it has helped keep me sane — much like my piano has done all my life. And I trained hard, for months, to scale El Capitan. Definitely no procrastinating.

Right now, while we all stay home to flatten the curve of this Corona virus, there’s lots of available time. We should all be getting out there every day.

And yet…

I’ve gone running only 3 times since last week. Not much, not long. I know exercise is necessary, especially now. I know I always feel much better all day when I’ve gone for a run. And still I can’t talk myself into changing my clothes and getting out the door…

I think a pandemic is just too much for me to process. It will end; we know that. People will continue. Not all of them. But most. I know the history of other epidemics and pandemics — I lived through the tail end of the polio epidemic with a polio victim, my mother. I know the numbers. But that doesn’t seem to make it any easier to absorb.

How are you absorbing it all?

I watch (online) in amazement as a friend builds a climbing gym in his basement. Another trains daily for a foreign marathon. What energizes them every day, that I’m missing? Is he not watching the news? Has she not seen images of the rows and rows of caskets lined up awaiting cremation? How does one turn that off and just get on with life, with enthusiasm?

Tinges of energy do sneak into my daily life, here and there. I go running (not often enough), and enjoy the spring flowers and flocks of turkeys. I go walking…but while I walk, I wish I were walking to my favorite coffee shop to meet friends or to work, instead of just my CoVid home-to-home loop.

Most evenings, I sit at my piano, at least a little, and some beautiful music does happen…but instead of the consolation it usually brings me, now it just makes me sadder. The world I lived in while I learned all that music no longer exists. And may never be back. At least, not like it was before.

As I said in my last blog, I hate good-byes.

But I have to believe that after all the sudden, final good-byes are done, vigor and color will return to my life. To our lives.

In the meantime, storms and tornados are raging across the midwest. Hospital ships sail into New York Harbor. Life goes on.

But not for everyone.

CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 4)

I’ve always hated good-byes. Saying good-bye hurts. No matter the reason for the departure, that word signifies an ending, and endings are always hard.

We’ve been forced to say good-bye to our pre-virus lifestyle, whatever that was. Whether we and our families are directly affected by this virus, confronting death or illness, or we’re just staying home, healthy and impatient, our lives are definitely changed.

What to do? What not to do?

Advice abounds, online, in newspapers (does anyone out there get a real newspaper?), on the radio, TV, all the media. We’re bombarded with it…which seems right, since this is a war.

Confusion seems to be winning. Today from the internet:

“Sleeping badly while social distancing?” (Spoiler: I’m sleeping like a baby.)
“Is going to the beach OK?” (Spoiler: it’s not.)
“Economic devastation.” At least they’ll get my taxes.

Today’s worst stopped me in my reading tracks:

“Funerals go online.”

The article (from CNN) called this an “unthinkable new normal.” What will be the rest of our ‘new normal,’ I can’t help but wonder. This isn’t going to be over tomorrow. We’ll have lots of time to slide slowly, our heels dug in, toward our new normal.

And the best news I’ve heard (for the worst reason) in a long time:

“Satellite images show less pollution as corona virus shuts down public places.”

Yes! The canals of Venice have fish in them again! Dolphins are coming closer to the coast of Italy. Our rivers are cleaner. The planet is healing. All it took was for the planet’s deadliest virus — humans — to go away for a while.

Will we learn from that, going forward. Or will we slip back into our destructive, polluting ways?

Our choice.

CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 3)

Taxes are done. The world might be falling apart, but the government will get my money on April 15 (or at least will know it’s coming). I’m doing my bit to jumpstart the economy again, once this virus is history. Is there consolation in that tiny bit of normalcy?

I put away all the tax stuff and walked from my office, at the far end of the house, down the long hallway toward the kitchen, where I’d left my cell phone. As I approached, I heard its faint music, above the music from the radio.

My heart stirred! I quickened my pace. Broke into a run. Someone was calling! Calling me! For a minute, maybe a few, I wouldn’t be alone.

Being alone is our new normal, at least for a while. Shelter in place. Self-quarantine. Safe distance. 6 feet. 2 meters. No gatherings of more than 2 people.

I’ve lived alone for a long time. I’m single, I travel a lot, and most of my friends are at a distance. My kids live 600 miles away, my brother & cousins even farther. It’s a big world. I know alone. I do it well.

This is different.

Normally, when it’s business as usual, I get lots of calls every day. Book business. Cold calls. Requests for money, in one form or other. Occasionally, one of my kids, or a friend. I don’t run for any of them. So why did my pulse, and my pace, quicken when I heard my phone this afternoon?

This kind of alone is different. We all feel it. This one implies that it might be forever, maybe not for us, but for some of us. And that things will be different, after.

And we all have to make our peace with that.

My piano has gotten lots of use this week! As have my running shoes and the hang-board in the garage.

And my keyboard!

Imagination can be a terrible thing! Before I started climbing, I used to wonder what my son was up to, ‘out there,’ when he went on a climbing expedition somewhere in the world. What was his world like? What kind of risks was he taking? But doing it myself has calmed that overactive beast in my head. Knowing helps. Knowing keeps the fear at bay. But right now, we don’t know. That’s the hard part. We don’t know.

What have you been doing to cope? What gets you through living at home? Not being able to hug your kids, who are far away? Who are you hunkering down with? What tips can you share about how to tame the worry beast, the fear, the imagination.

Sharing, here, is almost like being together. And together, we’ll do just fine.

(Please share this site with anyone you know who might need or want to share with us, or us with them.)

CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 2)

Five doctors in Italy have died from CoVid 19, the Corona virus. Five doctors. The people we need the most, right now.

Tonight I played the piano. Really played. Attentive to every nuance, every note, each phrase, the placement of my fingers, the feel of each key. The way I used to. Today, I needed it. To block out virus, and politics, danger and desperation. Everything. At the last note of each piece — mostly Chopin and Mendelssohn this evening — I waited, remembering.

When you, Stasia and Alex, would go to bed, usually on a school night — can it really be that many years ago? — I would play the piano. The only time of day that was mine. The only time of any day when I could do something that just spoke to me, only to me, in the language I so needed to hear.

And at the end of each piece, as the last note or chord lingered, reminding us of what had just transpired, if the music had also spoken to you, Stasia, out of the darkened hallway I would hear a tiny, timid voice:

“Encore?"

Our favorite word, sculpted from the sudden silence. Your favorite, because I always gave you what you wanted, “encore.” More. And mine, because music is a story that I gave to you both, my story, from my soul to yours, and your one perfect word said all that I needed to hear.

I hope that, after this tenuous, tumultuous time of pandemic and uncertainty, life always gives you ‘encore.’

CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part I)

I’ve been struggling to write something new here for weeks. Nothing sounded right, nothing struck the right note. Today, I finally figured out why.

As my son puts it in the latest news about the Honnold Foundation, “I’ve been struggling to write anything that doesn’t sound inconsequential in the face of a global pandemic.”

He’s right: we are inconsequential. Humans could disappear from the planet and the planet would keep on turning. It doesn’t need us. The converse is not true.

Have you been struggling to stay calm? To not break into tears at surprising moments during your day? To force yourself not to think about next month, or three months from now?

You’re not alone.

A little over a week ago, I put the finishing touches on my plans for the climbing trip of a lifetime — two and a half weeks, guides, partners, lodging, in some of the most beautiful climbing destinations in the western US. I’d tried for 10 years to make it happen, and finally, this year, it all came together.

And the Corona virus — CoVid 19 — made it all fall apart.

So I’m home instead, ‘sheltering in place’ as everyone should be doing, doing my best to flatten out the curve of this growing pandemic. Before it kills even more of us. Instead of climbing at the gym or on a crag in the Sierra, I walk my neighborhood. I run (or rather, I jog & walk; my new foot doesn’t like running yet). This is my new climbing gym:

This new life of mine, sequestered at home, alone, is not much different from my life of the past year. Fourteen months ago, my foot was taken apart and put back together, a massive surgery involving the sawing of several bones, fusing of bones, pins, plates, screws. Lots of horrible insults to the natural body.

For 4 months post-op, I was prisoner of my house, limited to what I could do while holding handlebars (knee scooter) or crutches. You can’t hold or carry anything that way. Couldn’t cook. If I managed to heat something in the microwave, I couldn’t carry it to the table. I was always hungry.

The books I’d stockpiled to read during recovery sat there, mocking my drug-addled brain. Couldn’t read, or email, or concentrate on anything screen-like. (Each time I tried to wean myself off the drugs, I discovered why I needed them!) My kids live 600 miles away. And apparently my local ‘friends’ were all waiting to hear from me on FB. One friend came, twice, and cooked me a meal. Those 2 days, I ate well, and gratefully.

I thought that this current ‘sheltering in place’ would be similar. I was wrong.

No matter how grim, hard or lonely my recovery from surgery was, I knew it would end. I’d be back on my feet, able once again to cook. To do laundry. To shop, read, check my e-mail or FB messages. To take out the garbage. By myself.

We don’t know how this pandemic is going to end. Or when. Or how many people will not live to see the end of it. It’s hard to not let those thoughts take over our minds, as we run through the empty streets or drive past stores that have nothing to sell.

When I was little, I used to laugh at my mother, who always wore white gloves when we left the house to go ‘into the city’ (from Queens into Manhattan, via the subway). I thought it was silly. She hated to touch the railings, the token machines, anything in the train cars. She’d had polio, as a child during that epidemic; she knew what we should all have been afraid of.

And now, here we are again. I don’t laugh about germs anymore. I wear my own gloves.

But our particular adaptability, as humans, is to rise above. To control those thoughts, and be happy anyway. So I’ll leave you with some of the happy things I saw on my run today, only 2 blocks from my house. I hope they bring a smile, and beat down the worrisome thoughts that seem to grow every time we turn on the TV or call up the news. And if that doesn’t work, just turn it all off and go outside and take a walk — guaranteed to lift your spirits.