I don’t know about you, but the last five months have been—shall we say, a bit challenging for me. Like you, I am getting through it. I can hardly believe it’s almost September! And how many of us will be very happy to see 2020 end??

The impact of COVID19 hasn’t just been on people’s health and wellness. Multiple challenges abound for many as job losses and racial strife continue and now recently, classroom education is being argued, debated, and politicized.

Lots of folks, too, are having feelings they’ve never had before, including depression. Experts predict that the U.S. and many other countries will be faced with a mental health pandemic that will probably continue for years to come. Historically, increases in rates of severe mental illnesses have often followed in the aftermath of national crises.

So, at least in the ‘big picture’ there might be little to celebrate, but despite the many tragedies in 2020, there is still room to acknowledge and share a few positive results of the pandemic. Hard to believe, but those silver linings are out there.

My hope is that this intentionally lighthearted August issue of The Flame will bring a teeny bit of gratitude into your consciousness.

– Betty

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We are only halfway through 2020 and it might be the worst year in recent memory. We are in the grips of a worldwide pandemic and we are living in a country upended by a fight for racial equality.

It may not feel like a moment to see any silver linings, but the very definition of a silver lining is a sign of hope or a positive aspect in an otherwise negative situation. I’d say the pandemic qualifies as a negative situation so let’s try.

This is not at all meant to minimize the harsh reality of an incredibly difficult year. But while this year seems especially hard, I’d like to think that there have been, and still are, silver linings. Out of the coronavirus has come creativity. Out of quarantine comes bonus time with your family. Out of activism comes changes for the better. Consider these ‘positives’ from 2020.

  • Drive-in movie theaters made a comeback.
  • Drive-in concerts are a thing now (which is great news for those missing live music, or those who don’t like crowds anyway).
  • Puzzles and board games became cool again and offered a much-needed break from our computer screens. There are even games you can play over Zoom!
    After delaying their annual migration to wetlands in the Mumbai (India) Metropolitan Region, flamingos flocked to the city in large numbers. (See photo above).
  • The Bombay Natural History Society, which estimated that their numbers in MMR are 25% more than last year, said that lower human activity has created ideal conditions for foraging in wetlands near the bordering cities. These areas, which otherwise see a lot of construction work and movement of people, are quieter thus attracting the exotic pink flamingo!
  • For the first time, the Wisconsin Humane Society ran out of dogs and cats to adopt as people “looking for love” during the pandemic cleaned them out. Before the coronavirus outbreak, around one-quarter of animals at the shelters were housed with foster families until they were adopted. Now, it’s 75%.
  • The gift of time. The pandemic bestowed the gift of time for everyone. There was time that you might never have had to de-clutter your home, spend more time with your family, learn a new skill, do things you love, or reflect on your own goals and progress.
  • Appreciation for front-line workers. Whether it was grocery store workers, food service workers, healthcare workers, lots of people expressed their gratitude for these folks going to work when others had to stay home.
  • And think of all the kids and adults who have (finally) learned how to properly wash their hands! Good hygiene habits will always be a good lesson to learn and with any luck, will last a lifetime. Pressing elevator buttons with our elbows, washing our hands, sneezing into our elbows, throwing out tissues, and disinfecting our living spaces on a regular basis may have become the ‘new normal.’ Your mother will be proud!
  • And finally, be grateful that YOU–little old you—can contribute to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. One person can make a difference by adhering to social distance guidelines and wearing a face mask.