Daily Bulletin Silver Linings -- 2020 COVID19 Pandemic

3/24 -We’re introducing a new section of the Daily Bulletin. With all the new changes we are facing today, FHS would like to remind you to smile. This section will be devoted to the silver linings we receive each and every day. As poet Herman Hesse once said, “I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” We can make a difference in the world by reminding each other to smile, laugh, and to count your blessings. If you have a silver lining to your day, and you would like to share it, feel free to email Mrs. Wood at mwood@tustin.k12.ca.us, and she will add it to the Bulletin.  The first silver lining to the pandemic is the obvious extra time we all have. This is a blessing. Use it! Einstein, the genius of space and time, said, “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” Have fun being creative and being safer at home, and share it here. “See” you soon!

3/25 - I was realizing this morning as I leisurely woke up, I haven’t heard an alarm waking me up since Friday the 13th. How appropriate the last alarm I heard waking me up was on Friday the 13th! That was 11 days ago! I haven’t woken up to an alarm in 11 days! That got me thinking about the word, “alarm.” Even though I knew what the word meant, I looked it up in the dictionary, just to be sure. As a noun, it means, “an anxious awareness of danger.” As a verb, it means, “cause (someone) to feel frightened, disturbed, or in danger.” The synonyms aren’t any more uplifting, including words like, “fear, anxiety, apprehension, trepidation, nervousness, and unease.” I could go on, but I think you get what I mean. Reading these definitions and synonyms literally gave me an “Aha!” moment. Today’s silver lining is this: Perhaps there are happier people in the world because they are not waking up anxiously, starting the first moments of their day in fear, anxiety, or apprehension. Their day is not started with a hint of danger. Instead, it is started with a sense of leisure, a sense of calm, a sense of peace. What is it that we all want in the world? The biggest wish of all? We all wish for peace. Today, and the last 11 days, I’ve started my day in peace. I’d like to think there is a little more peace going on all over the world. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me, and you, and the quietness of our alarms. That’s the silver lining of the day. 

3/26 - My son brought to my attention the fact that several people across the nation have spontaneously become foster parents to shelter animals. Many animal shelters have had to temporarily close their doors as we all make our way through social distancing. The heroes who care for the animals at these shelters were at a loss, until the goodness of their neighbors came to the rescue. Many people have now become temporary pet owners. This got me thinking about the blessings and the benefits of having a pet. Studies have shown being a pet owner has many health benefits including decreased cholesterol, blood sugar, and feelings of loneliness. This caught my attention. When you have a pet, you feel less alone. This makes absolute sense. What I’ve always marveled at is the unconditional love my dog, Minerva, shows me every day. She’s happy to see me when I wake up, when I walk through the front door, even if I yawn her tail wags! And my cats, sure… They have their own way of showing unconditional love, conditionally, but it’s there. Even as I type, my cat Severus is curled up on my lap. Each time I stop to figure out what my next sentence will be, I find myself gently stroking his fur, and he purrs his appreciation. That wonderful, vibrating, comforting purr cats share with us, it seems, whenever we need it the most. Did you know scientists believe a cat’s purr can actually help mend bones and ligaments due to the frequency their purr emits? Cats do this without even thinking! My other cat, Albus, obligingly reminds me to feed him and make sure his needs are met, reminding me it’s important to think outside of myself. Taking care of another gives me such a feeling of pride, even if, for now, it’s a cat. Another thing I noticed happening on the internet lately are the videos and gifs people are posting on social media of the fun they’re having being home with their pets. Dogs are helping with safer at home workouts. Cats are keeping home office set-ups company by strategically positioning themselves between their person and the laptop screen. This unconditional love is something we humans are learning, gently and comfortingly, every day through our pets. We are receiving extra lessons with the recent additional exposure to our furry teachers.  What a silver lining this will be when we are able to venture closer than 6 ft. to each other again, to remember to care for our fellow humans in the way our furry friends are teaching us now. To learn to love unconditionally, that is the silver lining of the day.

3/27 - Last night, while watching the news, I saw a story about a patient who had been in the Cleveland Clinic recovering from the coronavirus. He was better, and he was going to be released from the hospital. Before he left, he wrote a long note of thanks to his doctors and nurses who cared for him. One sentence of his note spoke volumes to me. He said, “Today I leave this ICU a changed person.” What a kind thing to say. What a beautiful random act of kindness. We know the medical professionals are on the front line right now, but this note, these words, I’m sure have made so many of them feel that what they are doing is absolutely worth it and very much appreciated. Human beings are very good with their random acts of kindness. We all enjoy partaking in a random act of kindness. There was another story about a couple of YouTubers named Justin Stuart and Andrew Scites. They have a YouTube program called MoreJStu, and they do funny things. A few months ago, they purchased $5,000 worth of toilet paper to use in one of their antics. When the frenzy for finding TP started across the nation, they remembered their warehouseful and passed it out to all the worried customers who needed it. Who knew that free TP would be so appreciated! These two guys didn’t even think about it. They randomly acted and spread kindness. Another story really touched my heart. When professional runner Rebecca Mehra was leaving a grocery store about a week ago, she heard a voice calling frantically from a car window. When she approached, she saw an elderly couple almost in tears, afraid to venture into the store. They needed groceries and had made a list and had a $100 bill. Rebecca didn’t hesitate. She just acted. She bought their groceries, and, while in the store, noticed other customers showing kindness to each other. We live in a world with so many good people. Doctors, nurses, patients, YouTubers, professional runners… We come from all walks of life, yet we share a very big instinct: The desire to be kind. We are born with it. It’s an innate quality we all share, and we are able to randomly tap into it. It is times like we are experiencing today when we are faced with the unknown that our instinct becomes a bit of a super-power. We become heroes for each other, showing kindness at the most random moments. And it’s in those moments we see the silver lining. We, human beings, are the silver lining.

3/30 - Guilty. Ever since starting to work from home, my t.v. has been on a whole lot more. But, I’m not watching the news. I get enough of that the first half hour of my day and the last half hour of my day. And, I think you’ve probably figured out already that I’m a good news kind of person. There’s not a whole lot of that going around lately, but there has been something recently that keeps catching my eye. First, it was a good news story about a neighborhood just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, where Mr. Rogers used to live. All the people in the neighborhood, while keeping their required 6 ft. distance, sang, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Mr. Rogers’ theme song! And, you know what? Everybody was smiling! There was another story that I saw that I thought was pretty cute. DJ D-Nice has been having a virtual dance party every night on his Instagram. Last week, Michelle Obama joined the party! D-Nice was so excited to have the former First Lady “in the house,” he played a special song to dance to just for her. Over the weekend, I saw a couple different stories about a couple different orchestras playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony—all together, but still apart in their separate homes, and it was beautiful. I like these kinds of stories in the news, but in between the news during my day, I have my t.v. on channel 849. What’s on channel 849? Soft rock. I listen to soft rock all day. I hear music like Styx from the ‘70’s (Babe I’m leavin…), Cyndi Lauper from the ‘80’s (Show me your true colors…), ‘90’s boy bands like N’Sync, and great new artists today like Post Malone, Lewis Capaldi, and Shawn Mendes. You know what? I’m in a good mood all day long! Music has the power to do this, to make you happy! Heck, music has the power to do a lot! We celebrate with music, we praise, we cry, we dance. Just last Friday, Mr. Coulter emailed me a great music video, telling me, “I will neither confirm nor deny that something like this may or may not have happened during my ‘Prep Period’ in my ‘classroom’ at home.” He had sent me a YouTube video of the dance scene from the movie, The Breakfast Club. The song was called, “We Are Not Alone” by Karla DeVito. All of you who have Mr. Coulter, you lucky ducks! That’s my kind of teacher! Speaking of teachers, have you ever seen Mrs. Dehn not smiling? I think she has music flowing through her veins! Beautiful music, too! I love when the Choir Students come through the office during the holidays and sing carols.  Or when an office staff member has a birthday, and they are serenaded by the most beautiful rendition of the birthday song ever heard. Ms. Lara and her Drama Students just finished up the musical, Grease, with so many great songs! Who can forget Mr. Hershberger singing, “Teen Angel?” I don’t think he’s stopped smiling yet! Even our Head Custodian at FHS right now, Jay Ruiz, spreads joy by giving music he makes as gifts. He writes, records, sings, and shares this joy with others. Music soothes. Music mends. Music is magical. Music is a universal language, transcending all boundaries and touching lives and hearts of people worldwide. Today’s silver lining is the gift of music. The joy that music brings, the ability music has to help us through our days, the way music brings us together, that is the silver lining of today.

 3/31 - I think my silver linings are resonating with some people. I’m humbled, and pleased, because I enjoy making people smile. Mrs. Dale and Mrs. McDermott have emailed me, Mr. Coulter, too. My mom has posted a couple of them on her Facebook page. That’s what moms do… Mr. Hershberger tagged me on Facebook in a silver lining of his own. He told me, “During a week of working from home, I’ve learned a new way to cook eggs, made some great brunch food from scratch, and cooked yummy stuffed bell peppers, also from scratch: I’m becoming a home cook!” I started thinking about moms and food… And I realized Mr. Hershberger was on to something! Humans like food, no ifs, ands, or buts. In our earliest moments of life, our mom introduces us to our first warm, full-belly feeling of nourishment. As we grow and thrive, most of our meals are rarely eaten alone. We equate food with socializing. We equate food with love, in fact. Even in our social distancing way of life, we can’t help but share our food with others. Mr. Hershberger shared pictures of his meals after Mrs. Fosse pressed him for proof. Let me tell you, Mr. Hershberger is a good cook! He shared that with me, Mrs. Goth also commented, and before you know it, we were virtually brought together over food. I’m guilty, too. I love food! I love cooking food, sharing food, and posting food pictures on Facebook. The other day, I made a Niçoise salad for the first time. I don’t know how to pronounce it, but I took a picture, posted it, and proudly tagged Ms. Stein! She told me it’s one of her favorite salads! We yearn to be together when we share a meal. We hear words like, “Let’s do lunch!” If you think about it, the first meal probably had at least a couple humans involved. One had to hunt it, the other had to keep the fire burning, right? Well, maybe. We don’t really know, but based on our habits today, we can assume that “breaking bread” probably involved two or more people. And where there are two or more people breaking bread together, there is love. So, today, on “Take-out Tuesday,” the love of food is the silver lining.

4/1 - Have you received a phone call from a staff member from FHS? If you haven’t you will be! We’re trying to touch base with all our students and/or parents to make sure the new distance learning format is working well. I’ve called a bunch of you already. So far, most of you are doing great! I’m really enjoying talking to you or your parent. Everyone has been so friendly! This social distancing way of life is tough, but have you noticed how friendly people are lately? I certainly have, especially today. We can’t be close, but we’re definitely talking to strangers! How odd, but good. The other day, I was backing out of my driveway -- I know, safer at home, but I had a doctor’s appointment. I know, I know, telemed… But it was a physical therapy appointment. It was essential that I had to be physically there. Anyway, as I was backing out of my driveway, there was a teenager jogging. Actually, she had stopped to wait for me to back out. I don’t know this teenager, and I was surprised to see her not looking down at her phone. We’re all guilty of that, but she wasn’t even holding a phone. She was smiling and she waved to me. In fact, have you noticed how many people have waved at you lately, or how many you’ve waved to? More than normal, right? It’s like we’ve all swallowed a friendly pill. We’re not friends, most of us. We’re strangers, but we’ve become quite friendly. We’re aware of each other’s circumstances, and we respond in the same way we’d like to be responded to. It’s a brotherly/sisterly type of love reaction. I read a story about a gentleman who had a bunch of extra books just lying around. Good titles, too, from authors like John Grisham and Steven King. He took his extra books, put them in a box, and left them out for the passing neighbors and strangers, people he’s been waving too from afar. He thought we’re all cooped up so he might as well share! What an outstandingly friendly thing to do! I’m happy to say, the phone calls I’ve made to students so far have been positive. Most of you are adapting well to the new distance learning format. What I have really enjoyed is the friendly connection I’ve had with the students or parents I’ve spoken with. We really don’t know each other, but our conversations have been nothing but friendly. I even got to be a part of the exciting news of one of our seniors making his decision as to which college he’ll be attending next year! What an amazingly friendly moment that I got to be a part of. I’m feeling very blessed at this moment, witnessing people being friendly with each other lately. How to be friendly with total strangers, I think that’s my silver lining for today. 

 4/2 -“For the good of the community…” I heard those words at one point or another on the news last night. It was probably in reference to social distancing or being safer at home. I wasn’t paying full attention. But, the word, “community” stuck in my head. I like that word. It’s a friendly word, don’t you think? At least for me, it’s a positive word. I looked it up in the dictionary. I know what it means, but I like to look up words just to be sure of their exact meaning. “Community” is a noun, and it means “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common,” or “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” It feels good to belong to a community. It feels like you’re making a difference. What’s fascinating, and fantastic, really, is that one person can belong to several communities. The city you live in is a community. The neighborhood you live in is a community. The street you live on, the school you attend, the clubs you’re involved in on campus, all of these are communities. There’s large communities, and small communities, all sharing “a feeling of fellowship with others.” What I really have been enjoying lately are the new communities popping up, almost without our even knowing it! There’s the rock-star community, which would be the doctors, nurses, all the medical professionals keeping the world as healthy as they are able. There’s the media and news people community doing what they can to keep us informed—sometimes going a little too overboard in my honest opinion. I feel like I’ve become part of a community that looks for the good, constantly. My ears perk up when I hear something that will make me laugh, or cry happy tears. FHS is an amazing community, especially lately. We’re all in this together, aren’t we? The new distance learning format has brought together students and teachers alike, having “a particular characteristic in common.” All of us in the FHS community are sharing “common attitudes, interests, and goals.” It’s a good thing. We’re here for each other, even though we are apart. We understand, and because of that, we can support each other. Belonging to a community makes you feel secure. It gives you a feeling of safety, and it even gives you something to look forward to. Most of the time, belonging to a community helps the world become a better place, and isn’t that what we all want? Being a part of a community, making the world a better place, that is the silver lining of today.

 4/3 - Have you heard? I’m sure you have. Governor Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond have announced that all California schools will remain closed to students through the end of the 2019-20 school year. Safer at home and distance learning will continue for all of us. We all have mixed feelings about this, don’t we? I’ve been calling on some of you, making sure you’re doing okay with distance learning. For the most part, you’re all good. But, some of you, the Senior Knights, well, you have a little bit of a different story. Distance learning is going fine, but what about Prom? What about the last Senior Munch? What about yearbooks and all the fun you’ve earned for your Senior Year, dedicating the last 13 years of your life to this moment? What about graduation? It’s a rite of passage! What about the Seniors? Where’s the silver lining? This has been on my mind the last couple days. It must be on many people’s minds, because a parent emailed me a story about a teacher named Chris Dier who wrote an open letter to high school seniors around the world asking these same questions. It was impeccably written. If you’re interested, you can find the letter here. Reading this open letter from Mr. Dier echoed some of my own thoughts. There is not one FHS staff member who does not share your sadness. Even though everything is halted for the moment, this is still your year. To quote Mr. Dier, “There is no pandemic strong enough to silence you or dent the passion of your generation. Keep your head up and keep fighting. Our country needs you because you provide hope for our future.” You, our beloved FHS Senior Knights, you will take the knowledge you’ve gained outside of distance learning, the knowledge of pandemics and viruses and face masks and toilet paper, and you will change the mistakes we’ve made into a stronger, better, smarter future. You will be my future. My senior years will benefit from your Senior Year. You, FHS Senior Knights, all of you, every single one of you, YOU are the silver lining of today.

 4/6 - My husband told me I should write a silver lining about movies. Then, Ms. Stein emailed me about an April Fool’s tradition she and Mr. Hershberger were able to post on YouTube. Mrs. Dale emailed me about bonding with one of her students over Taylor Swift’s documentary called, “Miss Americana” streaming on Netflix. She also told me how she and her students decided over a video chat that every Friday they’re going to do something goofy and share a photo each week. What a great time to have a pandemic! Really! I graduated in 1986. I can’t imagine being quarantined anytime in the ‘80s! I think we would have had so much more of a problem in the ‘80s, because we would have been bored! We wouldn’t have been able to stay safer at home. Now, because of digital media, we really can do anything, safer at home! If we want to watch movies all day, we can! There was only 7 channels on my t.v. growing up, and each one had commercials. Pay t.v. didn’t come into most living rooms until the late ‘80s, and most of the time, it came with a huge satellite dish set-up in the backyard. When cable t.v. finally took off, it was still very limited compared to what we have today. Today, especially now with all the extra time we have in our homes, digital media has become a hero. If you wanted, you could learn something new by watching a YouTube video. You could visit the Louvre Museum in Paris. You could participate in a garage band concert by connecting through Zoom. I’ve had a staff meeting in my dining room, and I was the only one in my dining room. But, the rest of the office staff were in attendance, because we connected through Google. I’m really embracing this safer at home idea. I like it. I’m going to watch “Miss Americana” this week, and I’m also having another office staff meeting today. Maybe later, I’ll go to the Getty Museum, virtually. I love Vincent Van Gogh, and his painting called, “Irises” is there. Have you seen it? You can, thanks to digital media. Check it out, and while you’re at it, look up a “how-to paint like Van Gogh” on YouTube, and listen to a Ted Talk about the famous painter, or any painter, because you can! Digital media--that is the silver lining for today.

 4/8 - Yesterday is history. The future is a mystery. But, today? You guessed it. It’s a gift, so we call it the present. You probably have heard this quote, or something like it, in the movie, “Kung Fu Panda.” I first read this quote from the cartoonist, Bil Keane. He wrote and illustrated a comic called, “The Family Circus.” When I was a kid, I was an avid comic reader. I absolutely loved them. Monday through Saturday, the comics came in the daily newspaper, and they were in black and white. But on Sunday, the comics were in COLOR! Because I have a lot of brothers and sisters, one of my favorite comics was, “The Family Circus.” I can remember reading the black and white versions all week long.  They were usually just one “cell” – that’s what we called them, way before Excel or GoogleDocs. But, on Sunday, it was a strip of cells, sometimes as long as eight or ten. I looked forward to this comic strip every week. The comics lifted my spirits and made me laugh, no matter what was happening in my world. I remember some of the comics would actually continue, day to day, like a soap opera, and then they would come to a conclusion in color on Sunday. I feel like this anticipation, this feeling of looking forward to something, is somewhat happening in my life today. I’m not reading the comics like I used to. Not that I don’t want to. If I have access to a newspaper, I will still hunt through the pages to find the comics. They’re still there, like a good friend. But, today, especially with writing a silver lining every day, I find myself really paying attention and looking forward to the color and the mystery of the future. Aren’t we all? Living in the present is absolutely a gift. I appreciate the present, and I respect what happened yesterday, what is now history. But it’s the future that excites me. I’m looking forward to the silver linings that have yet to show. I’m watching for the color, the excitement, the end of the strip and how the story will end. Enjoy today. It is a gift. But, never stop looking for the color or the mystery of the future. Anticipate a happy ending and look forward to it. That is the silver lining for today. 

 4/9 - Tuesday night, I was out in my front yard looking for the Pink Super Moon. Did you see it? Me either. Too many clouds, but they all literally had a silver lining! I love the moon. I guess I’m fascinated by it, and I don’t think I’m alone. Humankind has always had a sort of fascination with the moon. Through history, it’s been revered by early cultures and given different names: to the Egyptians it was Thoth, to the Greeks, Artemis, and to the Hindus, Chandra. It’s been the basis for many early calendars. It’s been blamed for lunacy, or turning people into werewolves. The thing that I like about the moon is its dependability. I like dependability. I like being able to trust something or someone, to be able to depend on them. It takes a degree of stress away from my day, and we all have a little more stress than usual going on in our lives today. Anything dependable makes my world a better place. The moon is dependable. How many times have we visited the moon? I believe humankind has visited the moon six times. How many times has the moon visited us? Every. Single. Day. Like the sun coming every day, the moon comes every night. But, unlike the sun, it changes. The waxing and waning of the moon is part of its charm. Sometimes, we don’t see it, yet we know it’s there. Other times, like Tuesday night, the moon turns on its charm and becomes something super, just to be a little closer to us. I started to personify the moon thinking about this, believing that the great shining orb is teaching us a lesson every day, if we paid close enough attention. The moon has a lot to offer. She (in my world, the moon is a she) brightens our world when it is too dark. She creeps along through the night, watching over us, and then going to sleep when the sun is ready to take over. Some days, she shines so bright, we almost feel her warmth. And, special times, she comes just a little closer to us, maybe just the right time, when she knows we need her the most. She’s probably the most dependable part of our days. We should strive to be like the moon, I think. We should shine our light, somedays shining brighter and drawing closer to those we love when they need us. We should be dependable, even when we can’t see each other; we should make sure others know we are still there. The moon and her lessons of dependability is my silver lining for today.

 4/10 - I’ve been walking on the trails near my home, in between the rainstorms, the last couple days. I was out just before sunset on Wednesday night, and I was awed by the gorgeous sky. This happens a lot. I’m a sucker for a beautiful sunset, and the clouds really help. There’s always a silver lining behind the clouds. I always look for it. While admiring the sky and feeling overwhelmed, I remembered hearing a little thing on the news about Los Angeles having the cleanest air in the world right now. What? I had to do a little research on that one. The more accurate information, as reported by CNN, was that the scientists at IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company which also monitors pollution levels in cities around the globe, reported LA saw some of the cleanest air of any major city in the world. That’s amazing! Breathe deeply. Fill your lungs with that clean air! We know it’s not going to last, unfortunately, but it may not be as bad as it has been in the past. With all this quarantining and working from home, I keep thinking the world as a whole is going to change. We’re going to learn so much during our isolation, and it will be the scientists who teach us. They’re the ones hypothesizing, taking notes, making measurements, watching outcomes and documenting everything. Scientists are also prognosticators, because they see the facts and predict outcomes. Sometimes spot-on accurate, other times, they learn from their mistakes and teach us as they go. At times, it isn’t what we want to hear, but it’s what we need to know. The scientists are always trying to make our lives happier with their research and studies. I was never much of a science student, but I sure appreciate science. Did you know it was a scientist/physician named Ignaz Semmelweis who put two-and-two together and discovered hand washing would save lives? That was in 1846! A much more well-known scientist today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a physician and an immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, proposed we never shake hands again. It’s probably a good idea! He would know! If you think about it, it’s the scientists who have bravely gone where others of us have not dared to go: deep into diseases to find cures. It’s the scientists who help us make sense of the confusion around us. It’s the scientists who help us to understand nature and light and energy and medicine and silver linings around clouds. I appreciate scientists. I admire them, for helping me understand my world and encouraging me to be happy in it. Shout out to FHS Science teachers, for they are the ones planting the seeds for the future scientists! The magic of science and the bravery of scientists, that is my silver lining for today.

4/13 - I’ve had a few people ask me how I am able to continue to find silver linings. I have to admit, it is a little difficult at times. I guess I just think a while about different things. I’m a problem solver by nature. If I come to a problem, I immediately start trying to figure out a solution. Most of the time, the solution is a happy ending, or maybe, the silver lining. Anyway, after writing about Dr. Tony Fauci last week and how he thinks we should never shake hands again, I can’t stop wondering how we will greet each other in the future. I was joking with my mom about this, saying that maybe the handshake will disappear, but a new greeting will take its place. After all, it is rude not to greet someone. Sure, when we are close with each other or related, we never just shake hands. We hug. But, if we don’t really know each other, we can’t hug. Well, we could, but that would make Dr. Fauci shake his head even more, I think. Instead, there will be something else, and we will have to give it a new name. I suggested to my mom maybe we will have the “COVID Curtsy.” Can you just picture that? World leaders approaching each other and giving a gentle curtsy in greeting would be funny to see. Or, maybe it could be called the “Be Well Bow.” Some people may not be as balanced on their feet as others. It takes some finesse to have a comfortable curtsy for some, but most can bow. Don’t you think? Maybe Mister Spock was onto something when he held up his hand with parted fingers and said, “Live long and prosper.” I know there will be something, because, even I am thinking about foregoing the handshake these days. If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught me, and it’s something I already knew, but now it’s made it more real, is how fast germs spread. Trying to think of what the new greeting will be and how fast germs spread made me think of something else. I started thinking about how fast new words and phrases are brought to our vocabularies. All of you Knights at FHS have used the words, “I Googled it” most of your lives. I looked up when Google, the search engine, first came to be. It was September 1998. Before that, the word “Google” wasn’t even in the dictionary. As far as I can tell, it derived from the word “googol” which is the large number 1 followed by 100 zeros.  “Google” is a variant of the word “googol,” and it was chosen to suggest the search engine would provide a large quantity of information. “Google” has been part of our vocabulary for 22 years, and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon, unlike the word “handshake,” which might be a word of the past this time next year. So, here’s looking forward to the new greeting and what it will be called! I’m hoping for the curtsy, just because I think it would be fun, but I’ll settle for the bow. Whatever it is, be well, stay healthy, live long, and prosper! That is my silver lining for today. 

 4/14 - I think I’ve mentioned that I have a lot of brothers and sisters. It’s been a pretty fun thing, over the years, for me to tell someone I have a lot of brothers and sisters, then watch their face when I tell them just how many. Or, the times when I’ve spoken about my sister or my brother and what they did or said, just to have the person hearing my words respond in shock over how active, intelligent, funny, or talented my sister or my brother is. In actuality, I’m usually talking about more than one of my sisters or my brothers, not just one of them. I do come from an active, intelligent, funny, and talented family.  A few of us enjoy the art of creative writing. Yours truly being one sibling with that distinction. Some of us play instruments, others draw or paint. One of my brothers was a genius at math. How’s this possible? Well, here’s the thing: I have five sisters and five brothers. Yep! I’m one of 11 children. I wish I could see your face right now, but I can imagine it. Last Friday, the nation celebrated Siblings Day. This is a wonderful day to celebrate, especially now, when so many of us are forced to spend extra time with our siblings. I’m not physically spending more time with any of my siblings at this point, but the pandemic has been an excuse for me to reach out to a few of them a little more often. I love my siblings. They’re part of who I am and helped create the person I’ve become. But, now that I’m an adult, I’ve realized that I’ve developed a similar feeling of family, or feeling of siblings, with the fellow ladies I share the FHS office with. I call them my “Office Sisters.” We connect almost daily in a group text, touching base and checking on each other. Like real siblings growing up under one roof, we laugh and cry together. We sometimes make each other a little crazy, but before the pandemic, we saw each other nearly daily, so we miss each other now that we are separated. I think it’s one of the many gifts that life gives, finding people to love as if they are family, and for them to love you the same. We need each other, human beings, whether we’re born with a lot of people already waiting for you to join their team when your parents bring you home, or those we meet when we venture into the world on our own. We find a family. We find others we can connect and relate with on a daily basis. We find people we consider as close as a sibling. And these people, the ones you encounter day to day, whether they are related by blood or by bond, they continue to shape you, to build you up and to support you. They share with you the joys and the sadness of life. This is the gift of being a sibling, whether by blood or by life’s choosing. So, today, my silver lining is for my siblings, the ones I grew up with, and the ones I’ve grown to love. Happy Siblings Day—something we can probably celebrate every day!

 4/16 - Do you ever watch the show called, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” It’s so fun. The comedians are quick witted. Nothing is rehearsed; it’s all ad-lib. One of the skits they do is where the comedians pair-off in twos and are supposed to carry on a conversation that is compiled completely with questions. They’re also given a prop to work with, so the questions can come a little easier. It’s a word game, so it piques my attention. I wonder if they could do the same type of skit, but instead of asking questions, have a conversation composed with nothing but clichés. Clichés are probably older than dirt, but they never get old for me. When used correctly, I believe with every fiber of my being that a good cliché can add so much fun to a paragraph or a story. I know that a lot of teachers may frown on the use of the cliché; after all, the cliché is essentially a shortcut to what is meant to be made understood. Shortcuts are convenient; they’re the easy way out. We can thank one very well-known writer who we can trust beyond words for the contribution to our cliché vocabulary. As luck would have it, Shakespeare himself coined many of the clichés we still use today. Good ol’ Bill himself once wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit” (Hamlet). But, when you’re expected to write a mature and cohesive paper, you really should take the bull by the horns and write the whole nine yards. For what it’s worth, your teacher will respect and appreciate what you write. You will be a force to be reckoned with. All kidding aside, it is quite fun to use a cliché in your speech or writing. I remember the first time I heard a cliché. I was maybe about five years old, and I heard someone say, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” I didn’t understand what that meant. Who would at five? And, I didn’t act on it right away, but I must have thought about it for a while, because I remember going into my backyard and peeking through a knot in the wooden fence separating my yard from my neighbor’s yard. My next-door neighbor had a pool in their backyard, concrete all around it, while my yard was full of green grass and fruit trees. Eventually, I figured out what that cliché meant, and I liked it. Even though I didn’t understand its meaning completely when I was five, I thought I had it pretty good. That cliché may have been the beginning of my enjoyment of the written word. I’ve loved a good cliché ever since. My dad used to say, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Those words always made me feel better. It taught me not to worry about something I can’t take care of at the moment, which is what we need to do during these days of pandemic. We should take one day at a time and enjoy the moment. The art of the cliché is my silver lining for today.

 4/17 - I’ve had two people tell me I should write a silver lining about nature, my mom and one of my office sisters, Mrs. Duran. It has been beautiful lately. Have you noticed? We had rain for days, but now it’s feeling more like typical spring weather. The air is so clean, and the sky is so blue. Unfortunately, the weather forecaster is saying more rain is on the way. Well, the forecast says “chance of rain,” and we know what that means in Southern California. It might be cloudy, and maybe a sprinkle, but the sun will be out again before we know it. This is what Mrs. Duran suggested I write about, the changing weather. Mrs. Duran, like the rest of us, has been taking advantage of the extra time we all have and has been doing a lot of walking. She’s a beautiful soul, Mrs. Duran. Because she’s moved by the joy and the awe that nature often brings, she has been sharing with all of us, her office sisters, pictures and videos of her walks. She reflected with me on the similarities of the changing weather and what is currently happening in all of our lives lately. Every day, we learn something new with the pandemic, the economy, and politics. Sometimes, it’s hectic and unpredictable. My mom, she lives in the Central Valley of California, and there’s a ponding basin behind her home that encourages wildlife, birds mostly, and most of them, geese. She loves when the geese come. Geese mate for life, and she has enjoyed watching the same geese come home to the ponding basin year after year. It’s consistent, dependable. Her reflection was one of how, when everything around us may be ever-changing, nature is consistent. And, that’s true. Nature offers a sense of stability, of dependability, of security. I’m a huge nature fan, trying to get out there and enjoy it as much as possible. I enjoy plants and growing my own. I have two vegetable gardens in my backyard and hundreds of flowers all over my yard. Nothing really has any rhyme or reason, I just love planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. My reflections of nature often turn towards the magnificence of seeds. Did you know the majestically giant redwoods start from a seed that is only ⅛ in. long? I just planted broccoli in my garden yesterday. A broccoli plant will grow at least 3 ft. tall, and will spread its fan-like leaves at least 3 ft. wide, yet it starts with a seed smaller than a coffee grain. The faith of that tiny seed to grow into something as beautiful and regal as a redwood, or as something nutritious so that we can eat it to satisfy our hunger is something not to be grasped at. The silver lining today, I think, is to remember nature. When we are in doubt, if life seems ever-changing, we just need to keep faith, even just a little bit of faith, and know that, with enough time, the consistency and the stability of our lives will return.

4/20 - Wait. What day is today? Monday? Did we just have a weekend? Boy, how is it that I don’t resent Mondays anymore? Is it because of the pandemic? Is it because all my days are blending together as one? Is every day a Friday? Nooo… Monday still comes with responsibilities. I’m still working from home, teachers are still teaching, students are still distance learning. There’s still more work Monday through Friday than Saturday and Sunday. It is convenient, though, that I can do some of my work on Saturday, if I chose, or even, say, Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives. Ooops. No, I have not been watching daytime t.v. Remember, I already told you what’s on my t.v. during the day, channel 849, Soft Rock. But, the days of our lives have been on my mind lately, because they do sort of blend together for me. I think they’re doing the same for others. More than once, I’ve heard someone say, “Wait. What day is today?” It’s nice that the days are blending, to a degree. Perhaps it means that we have adjusted to the extra time. Perhaps we are filling in the gaps, finding things to do, finding things to keep our minds occupied, and finding ways to stay happy. I know that’s what is happening for me. At the same time, I don’t want to lose my respect for when Monday comes around. I don’t want to resent it, but I want it to remind me of the freshness of the day. Monday is a day for beginnings. There’s newness about Monday, a chance to start over. Monday also gives you the opportunity to set a goal for later in the week. When you set a goal, especially an attainable goal, there’s a feeling of satisfaction you get, a feeling of, “I got this” or “I can do this.” If you set a goal, for say, Wednesday, and you attain that goal, your Wednesday feels so empowering! You probably smile more on Wednesday, and you probably get more done, all because you accomplished what you set out to do on Monday. Let’s talk about Wednesday now, not to step over Tuesday. Tuesdays are great days. I had my first child on a Tuesday. That was huge! I became a mom! But, Wednesdays are good days, too. Did you know that people are more receptive to requests made of them on Wednesdays? There’s just something relaxing about Wednesdays. We’re halfway through the week, just a couple more days before the wonderful weekend again. Thursday and Friday fall in line so easily after Wednesday. There’s more spring to our step on Thursday, and by the time Friday comes around, we’re all smiles again. With each weekday practically behind us, we’re looking forward to the freedom of Saturday and Sunday once more. The days of our lives may be blending together, just a little. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a new thing. That new thing is the silver lining for today, Monday, the first day of the week full of future silver linings. 

 4/21 - I’m letting my hair grow. What about you? I mean, unless you live with a stylist or a barber, or you’re brave and you trust someone you’re sharing your safer-at-home space with a pair of scissors, or maybe you yourself are the brave one, we really don’t have a choice, do we? So far, so good with my hair. I’m actually curious to see how long my hair will get between now and the next time I answer the phone with my familiar, “Foothill High School, this is Melissa. How can I help you?” Today, for now, how I want to help you is by allowing you to come to terms with your Corona Hair and your Covid Couture. It’s okay. Going to school every day in your jammies is fine. Maybe dress up a little if you are having a video conference. Change your shirt and brush your hair, after all, unless you get up from where you’re sitting, nobody can see your jammies. Isn’t it nice, how comfortable we’ve become? It’s acceptable to have a longer hairstyle, maybe darker roots or lighter roots, whatever the case may be. It’s okay. It’s acceptable. Another thing that’s really fashionable is a face mask. You literally can go out in public wearing a baseball hat, a face mask, a t-shirt, and sweat pants and nobody would question your fashion sense. I like the face mask designs coming out. There are some really pretty ones with flowers or soft colors. I saw one with a rainbow of dogs across the front. People are being very creative when they make their masks at home. My mom made a really cute face mask for a friend. She added a pair of big red lips on it. There are the ones that mean business, solid and dark. The rock-stars in the medical fields wear those ones, as they should. Those face masks command respect, and the doctors, nurses,  and medical First Responders definitely deserve our respect. Anyway, you can probably find one that suits your taste, whatever your taste may be. I’m thinking this pandemic is going to stretch its virus-y little hands into our future fashion. Maybe the future fashion design ideas will reflect our new, more relaxed day-to-day life with a hint of the discipline we’re learning being safer-at-home and healthy. Maybe our future hairstyles will take less time, as we become more and more comfortable with the extra time we have right now not having to keep up the hairstyle we had pre-pandemic. Will we want to go back to the up-keep of a certain hairstyle? Well, okay, I’m sure there will be a lot of people who will hug their stylist or barber once this is all over. But, for now, embrace the silver lining (literally for some of us) and enjoy being more comfortable. 

 4/22 - I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of things that cause this feeling.  So, of course, I started to wonder, how can we take fear and find a silver lining. I know a lot of people, including myself, will turn to their faith when they become fearful. Everyone has faith in something, be it religion, humankind, running, singing, gardening, yoga; we usually have faith in something that will help us feel empowered and able to face our days. What happens when you lose your faith? I think that’s when fear takes hold. Some people may become anxious, some sad or despondent. Their fear has become so great, they need help. They’re not strong enough to overpower their fear. I watch a TV show called “CBS Sunday Morning.” It’s a silver linings-type show. There was a piece a couple weeks ago that touched on fear, but the story was actually about being a good leader. This brings to mind the phrase, “fearless leader.” There’s a correlation between fear and leadership.  I’ve never known a fearless leader. Leadership comes with fear, and all good leaders have it. It’s actually good to feel fear, as long as it doesn’t replace faith. Fear, with faith, breeds good leadership. But, how do good leaders deal with fear? Nelson Mandela, an amazing leader filled with faith, but faced with fears most of his adult life, said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” So, how do we triumph over fear? It seems like fear is everywhere lately. But, is it? If you look closely, you will see how we triumph over fear. Mr. Rogers knew. He said, “Look for the helpers.” When we see fear in others our instinct is to help. We step up, and we help. I think most people are born with this innate quality of wanting to help. Some people, like First Responders or Fire Fighters have an extra helping of this quality. Others of us, it just happens, and we don’t really know we’re helping because it’s so natural. We can’t stop ourselves. We pass out groceries to hungry families lined up in cars; we organize fundraisers for charities; we bring joy to closed-in seniors by walking horses to their windows; we join our voices and our instruments with others in various locations and post videos of beautiful music so people at home can enjoy and smile, and maybe sing along; and, finally, we offer words of prayer and warm thoughts for those who ask. When we see another’s fear, we become leaders. With whatever faith we have, we are strengthened and able to help those with fearful thoughts and feelings. We, too, may be fearful, but our faith enables us to overpower fear so that we can help those who have lost their faith, and it becomes a domino effect.  We help so that others can help. We are all helpers, which makes us all leaders. I think this is the silver lining. Without really knowing it, sometimes, we faithfully overpower our fear so that we can help someone who may be having trouble overpowering theirs. In doing so, we strengthen each other; we faithfully build each other up so that together we can lead each other towards better days. So, keep the faith and have no fear! Or, have some, because really, it’s making you a better human. That’s the silver lining!

 4/23 - I think I’m experiencing writer’s block. Uh oh. It’s making me feel very impatient. Or, maybe it’s everything else happening in the world that is making me feel impatient, because I don’t really think I would run out of words. Just ask my husband and my two sons who are home from college and distance learning. All they hear from me is blah, blah, blah silver linings blah, blah, blah. I think I’m probably trying their patience. I’m lucky to live with such great people who indulge me like they do. We fit together, being safer-at-home, like a little jigsaw puzzle. Watching the news, have you noticed how impatient people are becoming? There’s protesting in the streets because people want to go back to work. People need to go back to work. They’re not fitting in their individual jigsaw puzzles very well. The President would like to open the economy. Some states’ governors are on board. Some are too afraid. The scientists are all saying the same thing: Not yet, be patient. They’re meticulous, those scientists. I think they can see the future sometimes, how all the pieces fit together and just when and where to add a new piece. How will the pieces fit together? That’s the biggest question. My office sister, Mrs. Duran, planted the seed for today’s silver lining about jigsaw puzzle pieces and patience. She doesn’t know it, but she’s a silver lining just being who she is. She shared with me that she has ordered and is waiting for a jigsaw puzzle. She thought it would help her with her concentration and build her patience, plus, it serves as an attainable goal that will give her joy in the end. She mentioned how she’s waiting and added, “…if I ever receive it...” innocently revealing her need to practice patience. The puzzle will come, in due time, and she knows it, but it’s the waiting that is difficult. Mrs. Duran went on to reflect how she’s viewing the world today as if it were a jigsaw puzzle. I really enjoyed this sentiment she shared with me. It is very beautiful, so I wanted, in my humble way, to convey and share her thoughts with you. There are approximately 7.6 billion humans in the world. There are approximately 331 million humans in the U.S., and approximately 40 million in California. If you think of all those people as pieces in a puzzle, that’s a pretty big puzzle, but we all have a place and we all fit somewhere. This virus has made so many of us impatient, which is understood. It’s tough, especially living in beautiful Southern California in the springtime, to have to stay home. It’s worrisome not knowing when it will be safe to venture out and go back to work. But, we are all part of this World Puzzle, as Mrs. Duran called it. All the pieces will come together and fit perfectly, but it takes time and patience.  It takes time to put each piece back in its proper place. We are truly all in this together and, we will, piece by piece, fit together again. This is the attainable goal across the world. With concentration, some determination, but especially patience, all the pieces will come together. We just need to wait. The silver lining is if we can be patient, we will have joy in the end.

 4/24 - I have learned so many new words and acronyms because of this pandemic. Ashamedly, I actually looked up the word “pandemic” when I first heard it way back in…February? Maybe March. Anyway, since then, we’ve learned the words “novel coronavirus,” whose acronym is “COVID-19.” The “CO” is for “Corona,” “VI” for virus, “D” for disease, and the “19” indicates it started in 2019. I also learned that there’s more than one type of coronavirus, because of the “19” tagged at the end. Wow! There’s also a big word we’ve been hearing a lot of, hydroxychloroquine, used to treat malaria usually, but some think it might help combat the virus. The jury is still out on that one. We’re all getting such an education, all by distance learning! The one acronym I really enjoyed learning is “PPE,” or “Personal Protective Equipment.” Turns out, this equipment is like gold dust. We all need a type of PPE, face masks mostly. There are approximately 331 million humans in the U.S., but there is not enough PPE for all of us. What do we do? There is an answer, and it is genius. Actually, the answer is ingenuity, but both words are close in meaning. Here, in America, we are problem solvers.  When we need to fix something, we figure out how. I’m sure people in other areas of the world are problem solvers, too, because most humans are similar at their core. But, I’m going to focus on Americans. Face masks, both the cloth type and the plastic shield type, are as important to humans right now as Captain America’s vibranium and iron alloy shield is to him. But, not everybody owns a face mask. I definitely didn’t own a face mask of any kind in February and March. Immediately, practically overnight, people figured out how to make face masks, cloth and plastic. Once that started, how-to videos were posted, and now we can either make our own or purchase online as many face masks we could hope for, staying safer-at-home. I learned how to make the cloth type face mask, and now I have 12. The rock-stars on the frontline, the First Responders, doctors, and nurses, need the plastic shield type of face mask. Hospitals across the nation simply did not have enough to go around. What did we genius Americans do? We figured it out and used our 3D printers to make as many as we could. There are students and teachers all over the U.S. volunteering their time and pumping out plastic 3D printed face shields, sometimes 1/hr., and they are donating them and shipping them to needy hospitals all over the nation. One of the volunteers helping make the plastic shields is a Retired Air Force engineer named John Grant. He designed his own version of the face shield, attaching overhead projector sheets from school classrooms to 3D-printed headbands. In an interview, he recalled advice from a college professor on problem solving and said, "Just remember, the experiment can always be solved with the materials in the room. And anytime I’ve come up with a problem that seems unsolvable, I’ll say that to myself and somehow find a way to get it done." What an inspiration. It is words like these that keep me motivated and make me proud to be American. The silver lining today is American ingenuity. Let’s celebrate it, let’s honor it, and let’s be a part of it.

4/27 – When I was in 6th grade, my teacher, Mrs. McNeese, had the class keep a journal. We were given a prompt once a week, and we were required to write a paragraph focusing on the prompt. I remember only one prompt. It was a typical prompt a 6th grade teacher would pose to her students: What do you think your life will be link in 10 years, and in 20 years? Being 12, I first had to do the math. I smile now remembering the journal entry. I know I remember it, because my teacher used that particular journal entry to talk about with my mom at the parent/teacher conference. What I wrote was something to the effect of how I didn’t know what I would be doing in 10 or 20 years because I liked to focus on one day at a time. I wrote something about how quick life can change, especially if you plan too far. My teacher told my mom that my paragraph was very mature for my age. That means a lot when you’re 12. It’s probably why I still remember it. Now, as an adult, I realize that the paragraph I wrote when I was 12 is what we call today as “living in the moment” or “mindfulness.” I am someone who lives in the moment. I always have been for as long as I can remember. These are qualities I really did not recognize until I became an adult. It’s just who I’ve always been. I am sure it is part of my personality, but as I’ve gotten older, I feel like I am practicing living in the moment more and more. I enjoy living in the moment, because moments change so fast. What exactly is living in the moment or mindfulness? Well, more or less, it just means paying attention to what is happening right now. I’ve realized, though, as much as I thought I was practicing mindfulness, I don’t think it is possible to live in the moment every single moment of every single day these days. There’s a lot on our plates lately. We have a lot to think about. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never have had to purposefully keep 6 feet away from another person. I’ve never had to remember my facemask before leaving my house. I’ve never had to wipe down my car when I’ve come back home, and then make sure I wash my hands before touching anything else in my house. That’s a lot to remember! But, I suppose it’s still being mindful. I don’t want to bring any chance of getting my family sick by accidentally bringing the virus home with me. I’m thinking of each and every moment, one moment at a time, every single day. I’m thinking of each action I must take, what I must put into practice, so that I keep my loved ones healthy. In a sense, mindfulness is a practice of thinking of others. This is something we are all doing now, or at least trying to do, and when you practice it often enough, it becomes a habit. It isn’t difficult; it’s simply and ultimately an act of kindness. During this pandemic, I’ve seen so many acts of kindness; after all, we humans are natural helpers. But, living in the moment also entails not worrying about what we can’t control. There’s so much ahead of us yet. Do you remember how the news changed daily when we first learned about the virus? Some days, it seemed we woke up to learn one thing, only to learn something else by the time we went to sleep. But, we must stay mindful. We must not let ourselves worry about what’s to come. We must keep thinking of each other and keep automatically performing acts of kindness. It is living in the moment that we see the silver lining. This, too, will change, and we will be ready, at that moment and not before.

 4/28—We all know how important it is to stay physically healthy. We also know it’s just as important to be mentally healthy. I’ve been thinking about this for a little while, ever since we’ve started practicing being safer-at-home, wondering how we can keep being physically and mentally well. Even spiritually, it’s difficult, because we’re not allowed to gather together to worship. I did a little reading about just how important being socially connected is. One study I read showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. Social connectedness, in contrast, generates positive feedback of social, emotional and physical well-being. Dr. Dana Avey, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner, Certified Holistic Life Coach, and Distance Credentialed Counselor, said, “Overall, having a social network of friends with whom one can spend time is noted to have significant mental health benefits, particularly as evidenced by experiencing an improved mood, both when in the company of others but also in the aftermath of the time spent socializing.” After doing my research, I received a really nice email from a parent named Julie Saputo. She offered me some of the silver linings she’s been seeing. I’m so happy that others are seeing silver linings. They really are all around us. Mrs. Saputo’s silver linings seemed to easily answer the thoughts I had. She told me that she’s noticed and has enjoyed how, because of the pandemic, neighborhoods are brimming with people, and it’s true! I’ve seen more neighbors in my neighborhood; even some I didn’t even know were neighbors! Parents are outside playing with their kids, more dogs are meeting other dogs as their owners safely pass. Mrs. Saputo compared it to a 1950’s era feel, to a slower time. It’s always nice to slow down, to smell the roses, to say hello as you pass another human. It’s easier to think and to smile. Or, maybe some of us have sped up a little, as Mrs. Saputo also mentioned how nice it is that people have been exercising more. They’re taking advantage of the extra time to run, ride bikes, walk, all within a safe 6 ft. distance of passers-by, of course. Lastly, we’ve been given a gift of time to spend with friends and family. It feels like an early Christmas present, as we’re gathering like we do during the holidays, yet it’s all safer-at-home. We FaceTime, we Zoom, we GoogleMeet, we are even able to worship by live-streaming a service. People are having dinners together without even leaving their homes. We’ve created long group-text chains. We’re connecting without threatening each other’s health. We’re talking, catching up, sharing stories, recipes, laughs. We need each other. It’s like we can’t let go. That is the silver lining. We find a way to keep each other and ourselves healthy by learning new ways and embracing them.

4/29 -- A couple weeks ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci was being interviewed on a Sunday morning news program. It was just Dr. Fauci and the interviewer. The President wasn’t there; there were no other politicians or scientists. I didn't pay close attention to the interview, but I did hear one question. The interviewer told Dr. Fauci that there’s talk about a movie being made about the pandemic. He asked Dr. Fauci whom he would like to play him in the movie. Dr. Fauci actually smiled and chuckled a little. I think this might have been the first time I have seen Dr. Fauci smile. Smiling looked good on him! Who do you think he named in his answer? It was Brad Pitt, of course! Then, just last weekend, on Saturday Night Live, there was a spoof done of Dr. Fauci reporting on the pandemic. Who do you think played Dr. Fauci? It was Brad Pitt, of course! And, he was good! Well, I thought so, and I thought of Dr. Fauci smiling and chuckling. I am enjoying the jokes I have seen and heard lately. I love the funny videos people are making. I love that a lot of us are able to make light of a very heavy situation, and then bring that light into others’ worlds, making us smile and laugh. It’s good to laugh. Researchers at the University of Maryland have linked laughter to the healthy function of blood vessels - something that can lower your chance of a heart attack. Laughter also boosts heart rate and the production of certain antibodies, which strengthens our immune system. Laughing—what a great way to stay healthy! Just remember to also wash your hands. Most humans will laugh 17 times a day. But what’s funny (lol) is that we don’t choose to laugh. Even if we’ve paid to watch live comedy, we’re actually taking a gamble. If we laugh at a joke during the show, it’s involuntary, based on how our brain processes what we see and hear. It’s very difficult to pretend to laugh. If you try it, you might make someone else laugh. It just doesn’t sound genuine. We laugh because something triggered our frontal lobe, which is responsible for our emotional responses. The left side is responsible for interpreting the words and structure of something funny, and the right side determines whether or not it is funny. When we smile or laugh, 15 facial muscles contract, changing our expressions. There is even scientific evidence to suggest that laughter is contagious. We are more likely to laugh if somebody else is already laughing. I smiled when I saw Dr. Fauci smile. Lastly, laughter is a social activity, underlining conversations intended to be warm and inclusive. Without laughter, our world would be a lot less friendly and we may feel unsafe. So, to end this silver lining, let me tell you a joke that I heard. Every disaster movie starts with the government ignoring a scientist.  

 4/30 – Unprecedented. Have you heard this word lately? I have. I feel like I’m hearing it over and over again. It’s a good word. I like it. I know what it means, but I looked it up to be sure. I like to know the precise meaning of words when I’m using them in a silver lining. They have to fit. Unprecedented, according to dictionary.com, is an adjective meaning, “without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled.” This is a positive word, even though it feels like it's being used in a negative way every time I hear it. Well, maybe not negative, but it brings a sense of gloom and doom when I hear it being used. I want to think about all the positives of this word. After all, new experiences are good, most of the time. We have to have new experiences in life to learn and continue moving forward. Otherwise, we can easily get stuck in a rut. Birthday parties, for example, or any other celebration like anniversaries or baby showers, all these moments that we usually gather and share a space together are still being celebrated in an unprecedented manner. They’re being celebrated more like a parade. Who doesn’t love a parade? Cars full of friends and loved ones driving pass, honking horns, waving, smiling. It’s a lot of fun to watch. I've enjoyed it, anyway. It gets us out of our houses for a little bit, makes us smile and connect with others, all while keeping at a safe distance in order to keep each other healthy. If you happen to be in a neighborhood celebrating someone, you could easily join the parade! What fun to celebrate another human, one you might not even know! It’s unprecedented fun, not gloomy at all. I marvel at how ingenious we humans are, almost in quiet defiance of the bigger picture, to continue to build each other up. We just can’t help it. We’re drawn to each other. Nothing stops us from moving forward and having new experiences. It makes us happy, and we love being happy. It keeps us hopeful and thinking positively. Not that we aren't feeling other feelings. We are experiencing frustration and impatience at times. But I think the underlying feeling we strive for is unprecedented happiness, hope, and positive feelings. Here’s something else unprecedented: As of today, I have written 26 silver linings. I’ve never done that before! Thanks to being safer-at-home, I have done something I have never done before and have enjoyed doing it so much. Today’s silver lining is a challenge. Try to do something unprecedented today. Do something that makes you happy, and feel free to share it with me. I’d love to hear about it!

 5/1 – My son walked into the kitchen a couple days ago and said, “How is it that March took three years to end, and April took three days?" Isn't it so true? Here we are, the first day of May. What happened to April? Here’s my theory: Relativity. Yep! Einstein was onto something when he was talking about time and relativity, wasn’t he? So much was coming at us so fast in March, it felt like each day might’ve been several days by the end of the 24 hrs. Then, here came April. We were in a whole new routine. We had a lot to think about, a lot to learn, and we had a whole lot more time. Once the new routine fell into place, there was still extra time. How did you fill it? Hopefully, you did fill it. If you did, that’s why April went so fast. You know what Einstein did when he was overcome with time and didn’t know how to fill it? He had hobbies! I know one thing he loved was playing his violin. Einstein wasn’t constantly finding answers to the universe. He had distractions that gave him a break. He loved to laugh, and he had a wry sense of humor. He knew that all work and no play made him dull and no fun to be around, like it would do for anyone. So, Einstein had many hobbies. Besides playing his violin, he loved sailing, hiking, and bike riding. He loved children, too, and would often play with the kids he’d pass on his way walking to work. He didn’t confine himself to looking for answers to the universe. He also looked for moments of joy. So, how did you fill up the extra time you had in April? I bet you had or developed a hobby. Maybe you have or are developing a few hobbies. I have a handful of hobbies. I love reading, gardening, walking, painting. I never have enough time to do all of my hobbies, so I sort of take turns. The important thing is to have a hobby. There are things we have to do, and then there are things we want to do. Sometimes, the things we have to do can cause stress. Having a hobby lets you take a break from the stress, lets your mind relax a little, and allows a feeling of joy overcome you. Hobbies help you find patience and help develop mindfulness. When you are focused on something you are really enjoying, you’re completely focused on it, living joyfully in that moment. Afterward, you are usually in a better frame of mind to tackle the things you have to do, like looking for the answers to the universe. We all need joyful distractions while we are being safer-at-home. It helps fill in the frustration of the extra time. If none of this makes sense to you, and April seemed just as long as March, try something new. Find something you like to do vs. something you have to do. That will be your silver lining and your new hobby!

  5/4 – A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Jedi Master Yoda, using his Jedi Master wisdom, taught us mindfulness and pandemic exercises. If we all paid attention when he said, "You must unlearn what you have learned,” staying safer-at-home would not only be easier, but we would accept it. What he was telling us is that as creatures of habit, we tend to love our routines and our go-to methods. But sometimes, we have to shake up our process—and even unlearn our process—to succeed. Yoda would undoubtedly follow up with his famous, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” He would want us to really make an effort to stay safer-at-home, thinking of not just ourselves, but of others we may affect in our world. Yoda would understand how worried or frustrated we would be. He would gently remind us, "Named must be your fear before banish it you can." He was telling us it’s okay to be upset, perhaps to be afraid, but our negative emotions become less of an ominous force and a challenge we can tackle when we face them and know what they are. Once we know what is making us upset, what our fears are, let’s not forget Yoda’s most important message of all, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." And we all know where suffering leads. The Dark Side. Let’s not go there. We need to own our fears, not let them own us. If they own us, we are held back by them. When we are upset, how can we be helpful to those around us? How can we make our own galaxy a better place? Our fears owning us can impact those around us, and we want to bring light, not darkness into the world. We are The Force, and Yoda knew it. If we don’t know it, as Yoda said, “That is why you fail." We have to believe in ourselves—and our abilities—in order to persevere and succeed. Without faith in this knowledge, we can only go so far. Yoda knew it wouldn’t always be easy. Sometimes, we would fail. He told us it would be okay when he said, "The greatest teacher, failure is." We learn from our mistakes—plain and simple. At the end of the lesson Yoda taught, he tells us, "Pass on what you have learned." We have learned so many new habits and behaviors during this pandemic. It is our responsibility to share this wisdom with future generations. Yoda didn’t say this, but I’m sure he would agree with the sentiment, “Wash your hands you must.” Using this wisdom, you will enjoy your Silver Lining. May the 4th Be With You.

 5/5 – Over the weekend, there were a lot of people who wanted to visit the beach. A lot of people were upset because they were told they shouldn’t visit the beach. It’s so difficult for us in beautiful, sunny Southern California to stay safe-at-home. The sunshine begs for us to come out and play, and the big blue pond right in our backyards doesn’t help whatsoever. We’re pretty blessed. I love going to the beach. I love watching the waves crashing on the shore. I especially love the way sand warmed by the sun lulls me into such a relaxed feeling. I love walking in the sand. I love watching the surfers. I love watching the seagulls flying. The ocean has an almost hypnotic way of pulling us to it. But, I also love being healthy. I’m not quite ready to go to the beach, as much as I really want to. I’m not quite ready to venture far from home. I’m paying close attention to the scientists and what they are telling us. Just like a lot of us, I realize the economy needs to re-open. I know people want and need to get back to work. I realize how difficult it is all over the US. We need to re-open. We also need to stay healthy. I’m not convinced it’s time yet, at least not all at once. I was thinking about this while I was pruning roses in my garden. Since we were told to stay safer-at-home, spring has really taken off in my yard. There are a lot of blooming roses. I was noticing how fast a rose would bloom and open in the sunshine when the day heats up vs. how a rose will take it’s time to bloom if you trim it and enjoy it inside your home. The rose is actually safer-at-home, in your home, blooming and becoming beautiful, than if left on the bush in the sunshine. It lasts longer for you to enjoy, opening slowly, one petal at a time. I couldn’t get this correlation of a rose opening too quickly and the economy opening too quickly out of my head. I started thinking about nature and time, and of course that made me think of one of my favorite scientists, Einstein. I wonder what he would’ve thought about all this quarantine business. I looked for a good quote about nature from Einstein, and instead I found one from one of his colleagues, John Archibald Wheeler, who was a theoretical physicist. He said,  “Time is nature's way to keep everything from happening all at once.” If we take our cues from nature, that will be our silver lining. We need to open slowly and not get heated up, so that we will last longer. We need to stay safer-at-home, just a little while longer, staying healthy and beautiful, just like a rose.  Our petals can’t open at once. We need time to bloom, one petal at a time, so that we can stay healthy. We need to stay safer-at-home until it becomes our time to bloom. After all, the big blue pond isn’t going anywhere.

5/6 --I want to ask you a question. Do you remember what happened on August 13, 2019? Think hard. It isn’t a trick question, I promise. I have another question. Do you know what is going to happen on May 28, 2020? I bet you know the answer to my second question before you remember the answer to my first. Right about now, you know the answer to my first question. The answer is that August 13, 2019 was the first day of this school year. Do you remember the first day of school? Do you remember how you were sort of excited, but sort of nervous? You were probably happy to see your friends, but unsure about your new classes. You probably knew some of your teachers already, but some of them you didn’t. The first day of school never really counts, does it? It’s a day full of learning, but not the real stuff just yet. Most times, even the homework on the first day of school doesn’t take too long to complete. But, the first day of school is the end of one thing and the beginning of another. It’s a little like standing at one end of a tunnel and looking toward the opposite side. Could you see the light at the end of the school year tunnel back then? What is going to happen on May 28, 2020? It’s the last day of school! I bet you knew way back on August 13 what May 28 was going to be. You probably could see the light at the end of the school year tunnel. It was dim, but it was there. Now, that light is so bright, you can almost feel the heat. But, we’re not there yet. We still have 15 more days. I like that saying, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” It’s a hopeful saying. It lets us know that everything is going to be o.k. Do you know why there’s a light at the end of a tunnel? It’s so that you can see your way out. But, I like to think of it a little differently. I think there’s a light at the end of the school year tunnel to shine on everything you have accomplished during the year. This year, in particular, has been spectacular. I don’t ever remember a school year like it. We need that light at the end of this school year tunnel. We didn’t know it, but we needed it when we started way back on August 13th, and we definitely need it for May 28th. Everything has a beginning and an ending. As this school year is coming to an end, there’s something else that will begin for all of us. Sometimes, when we start something new, we need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We need the hope that there will be an end. Other times, we don’t need the light because we don’t want it to end, whatever it is. We want to hold onto the feeling, hold onto the message, and hold onto the moment for as long as we can. But, I think, as we are holding on, we are actually at the end of the tunnel, we just don’t know it. The fact that we want to hold on means that we see so clearly what it is we’re holding, as if we were standing at the end of the tunnel right under the light. When we reach May 28th, stand and hold on for a while longer under the light. Hold onto the moment for as long as you can, because it won’t come back. Yes, this year has been different, but different isn’t always bad. Enjoy the light at the end of the tunnel for as long as you can. Perhaps the light is actually the silver lining.

 5/7—It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. Mother’s Day is on Sunday. Father’s Day is in June. Valentine’s Day is in February. Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Easter, Thanksgiving…The 4th of July.  I could name all of the important holidays. But, have you noticed? They all have just one day. Teachers get a week! As they should! From our first day in kindergarten all the way through to the day we begin our adult life journey, it was a teacher who cheered us on and helped to guide us. Because of what they do, they’ve heard a lot of stories, the first being the one about the dog who ate homework. They’ve helped us write some of the stories. They’ve taught us algebraic expressions, what igneous rock is, how to read iambic pentameter, speak another language, and who landed on Plymouth Rock and the moon. They’ve seen the bad and the good. They’ve rolled their eyes and shaken their heads. They’ve gone home loaded down with bags of papers to grade, and then came back the next day. They’ve celebrated with us. They’ve cried with us. They’ve held our hands, both figuratively and sometimes literally. They are like guardian angels helping us and reminding us that we can, we will, and they will help. A good teacher never gives up. Their heart drives them to teach us. They want to make the world a better place by reaching out to younger generations and teaching them what they know. It’s important to them. When we struggle and it feels like we’re up against a wall, they find another way around that wall and teach that way to us. They don’t give up. They teach, and when we understand the lesson and can apply it, it’s like we have given them a cherished gift. When we’ve been graced by one of these guardian angels, we never forget them. For me, it was my 9th grade English teacher, Mr. Rittman. He was close to retirement, but he still was able to keep my attention and get me excited about the books he introduced and the grammar he taught and just how to write a perfect sentence. Mr. Rittman was my creative writing silver lining. He made English exciting for me. He made it fun, as all good teachers are able to do. This week is especially important during these days of pandemic. Not one of your teachers has ever had to teach in such new and creative ways. All of them had to become flexible quickly. They had to shift their routines, learn new ways, and still excite you to learn. None of them had it easy, but none of them gave up. They accepted the challenge, and they stepped up to the task, all because they want you to learn. You are their reason. So, take the time for them this week. Remember your teachers. Remember that they’re doing this for you. They remember you. Believe me, they do. I’ve seen it first hand. I love all the teachers at FHS, and I miss every single one of them. They are the silver lining of FHS. Happy Teacher Appreciation week, my teacher friends! Thank you for being so awesome! Once May 28 comes around, I hope your silver lining is the restful summer you so deserve!

 5/8 – If you haven’t noticed already, when I start to write a silver lining, oftentimes I start with a question. I’ve caught myself doing that a lot. It’s a great way to start a paragraph. It catches the reader’s attention and immediately gets their brain working. When we hear a question asked, or we read a question, especially an easy one, most of us can’t help but either already know the answer or start thinking of the answer. Unless it’s trigonometry or calculus, if I hear a question, I start thinking of an answer. (Sorry math teachers. We need you; just not all of us understand you.) So, here’s my question: Have you learned what propaganda is yet? I looked it up, to be sure. Dictionary.com defines propaganda as, “information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.” The saving grace in that definition for me and this silver lining is the part that says, “information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help…” I want to stop at the word, “help.” Something has caught my attention lately when I watch t.v. Believe it or not, it’s the commercials. Most of the time these days we fast-forward through the commercials, but lately, I’ve actually stopped to watch them. All of the commercials are full of positive messages! All of them are geared toward helping each other, appreciating each other, and reminding each other that we are all in this together. Then, they go on to promote and sell whatever it is they’re selling. It’s the beginning part of the commercial, the hook that grabs your attention that I love. It’s so positive! It’s a type of propaganda, but a good type. We carry with us those little positive propaganda seeds the commercials are planting in our brains, and we spread them wherever we go. If the commercial has done a really good job, then we’re picking up curbside pizza in a half hour or we’re buying a sofa online. This sort of propaganda makes me feel the tenacity of we humans. Tenacity is another good word that I think definitely applies to our state of minds lately. I looked it up, too. Tenacity comes from tenacious, which means, “holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold.”  We won’t let go of each other. We know that things are going to be better. We will keep safer-at-home and slowly venture forth to find each other when the time is right. We will wear our facemasks, wash our hands, keep a safe distance, and we will help each other through the process. We are tenacious humans. We stick to what is right, and we help each other. We are each other’s silver linings.

 5/11—I always try to write my silver lining a day in advance. So, today, it’s Mother’s Day as I write this. Mother’s Day is one of those dynamic days that, no matter who you are or where you are, you can celebrate it. Mothers come in all shapes, sizes, religions, beliefs, ethnicities, genders, adopted, and biological. Somehow or another, by someone or another, you have been mothered, and that mothering has left a memory. Someday, you will tell the story of how you were mothered to someone in your future, and you will smile. Then, that someone will carry that memory with them and think of it when they experience something similar to it. They may forget your memory story until they have experienced the memory you shared with them in their own lives. Eventually, they will pass their memory along, almost like a tradition. This happens all the time, this memory making business. We are storytellers, we humans, and our stories most often come from good memories we’ve collected over the years. I love sitting with someone a little more experienced in age than I am and listening to his or her stories. It gives the person joy as they re-live and re-tell their memories. I love watching the joy, feeling the joy, laughing along with them, and learning from them. Memories have a way of infecting us with joy. Have you noticed that? We can’t help but smile together when we are re-telling a story, a memory of something that happened to us at one point in time. My husband has told me the same story of how he got a scar on his leg from when he was a kid and was the tail-end of playing crack the whip in his front yard so many times. He was literally whipped off the end of the tail and fell against the concrete scalloped edging of a garden, and it split his skin leaving a nice gash.  At the time, he probably cried about it, but today, his scar is something of a war-wound, and he smiles when he re-tells the story. I’ve heard it a thousand times, and he smiles still when he re-tells it, making me smile because the story gives him so much joy. We will remember these days of keeping safer-at-home and washing our hands, keeping our distance and wearing our facemasks, but I don’t think we will remember the frustration of the COVID-19 infection. We will remember being infected with joy. We will remember the laughter and the connections we made remotely. We will talk about the shows we were able to watch, the exercises we began, the remote graduation we attended with the President and Mrs. Obama. These are the memories we will come away with, and we will tell each other and re-tell them when new faces enter our lives. We will keep the joy of the occasion alive, and infect future generations with it. That’s what we humans do. We love joy. We love making memories. We love telling stories. We love silver linings.

 5/12—Let’s talk about cats and sleeping. Since being safer-at-home, it’s become so real to me how much my two cats, Albus and Severus, sleep. I am not kidding you; those two sleep 26 hours a day. But, you know what? They’re very happy. They will be 11 years old this summer, but they still act like they’re teenagers, when they are awake that is, and that’s usually after they’ve had a good meal. That’s pretty normal. I’m happy after a good meal, too, and then I start to get sleepy. I started thinking about sleep after being safer-at-home with my cats and watching their catnaps all day. I was curious what their 11 human years would correlate to in cat years. As it turns out, my two little guys are senior cat citizens! Their 11 of my human years is 60 in cat years for them. No wonder they sleep so much! But, still, they’re in really good shape! Their weight is good. They have good appetites. They still chase strings and play with each other. They want to cuddle all the time. They’re pretty smart, except when it’s 5:30 a.m. and one of them decides it’s time to play speed racer kitty on my bed. So, I guess that also means they have a sense of humor. Hm. Not so funny at 5:30 a.m. But, they still make me smile. I like this about them. It made me wonder if sleep is some sort of secret key to a happier way of life, and that led me to this silver lining! What I learned was that, yes, sleep is good. We all know that. It’s nothing new. But, think about how much sleep you’re getting and when you are getting it. These two factors are important. In doing my research, I learned that we humans belong to a minority group called monophasic sleepers. This means that we have two distinct periods of our days when we are awake and when we are asleep. But, it’s not been proven that this is actually a natural way of managing our sleep patterns. In fact, 85% of mammals are polyphasic sleepers, meaning they take naps throughout the day. Years ago, I worked with Dr. David J. Baylink, Distinguished Professor of Medicine specializing in Osteoporosis Research. I was his secretary. Dr. Baylink, in my honest opinion, was a genius. He was also very happy, in great shape, and had a wicked sense of humor. When I worked with Dr. Baylink, he was about the same age as my cats, 60. One of my many responsibilities with Dr. Baylink was to make sure he had time on his calendar every day for a nap. I remembered that while writing this silver lining. I dug a little deeper into the internet, and I learned that many geniuses believed in napping, one being my favorite scientist, Einstein. But, there are many others including Salvador Dali, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Aristotle. All of these intelligent and gifted people, artists, scientists, leaders, and thinkers, all firmly believed in polyphasic sleeping. More and more, I’m thinking there’s something about not just getting enough sleep at night, but taking naps, at least one nap, every day. I think naps make better humans, or at least help us humans tap into our inherent gifts of genius and happiness. So, while you have the time, and while you’re practicing being safer-at-home, take a nap! Maybe you will dream about silver linings!

 5/13—I can safely say, at least it seems to me, that we, as in the world over, are feeling nostalgic. I saw two little pieces of good news today, and both of them involved hugging. Besides the people you are staying safer-at-home with, I bet there hasn’t been too many other people you have been able to give a good old-fashioned hug to. I’m so thankful for the other humans (my family) I share my roof with and can hug on a daily basis, but I do miss the other humans out there who I would sometimes share a hug with. I miss my office sisters and my teacher friends. I miss my friends I see at church. I miss hugging hellos and hugging goodbyes. Hugging is healing. Hugging builds our confidence, makes us feel secure, and ultimately, it makes us feel loved. Hugging is one of those necessities we humans are blessed to need, so we have invented new ways to hug. We long to keep the feeling a hug gives us close in each other’s minds, so we adapt. I’ve seen a lot of people giving air-hugs, which I think is really sweet. We have invented air hugs to get by, and they work. Somehow, just the motion of wrapping our arms around air awakens our imagination and tricks our brain into thinking we’re feeling that warmth a hug gives. We really are genius in our ways of tricking the curve balls life throws at us. They’re nothing compared to the curve we make with our arms when we wrap them, even in an imaginary way, around each other. I’ve also seen people hugging trees. I’ve been known to do that a time or two, and I don’t need a virus to encourage me. It’s the hugging, the wrapping of my arms around something or someone I love. It’s a nostalgic feeling we long to feel. The two pieces of good news I saw about hugging were almost identical in the thought behind them. The first was a grown man who went to visit his mom for Mother’s Day, but he couldn’t get close to her because we’re supposed to practice social distancing. Well, that’s not so easy on Mother’s Day. Still, he was being a good son. His mom was sitting outside in a lawn chair near her garage, and the man was at the other end of the driveway. He had brought her gifts, and properly set them down far away from her. Then, he proceeded to unwrap a large, clear plastic bag that he put over his head and draped it over his whole body. He said to his mom, “Come here and give me a hug!” You know what happened? His mom ran to her son and hugged him so tight. I think it would be classified as a bear hug. Then, in true mom fashion, she worried that he wasn’t going to be able to breathe under the plastic. He assured her he was fine. After their hug and some tears, the man’s dad had to get in a hug for himself. It was the happiest moment for all three of these people. The second story was similar. It was about a young girl who invented a type of plastic shield with built in plastic arms that could be draped down from a door frame. Separated by plastic and using the arms, one person could hug another. We have become nostalgic, the world over, for the positive, silver lining feeling that a hug gives, but we haven’t forgotten the feeling. We’re just practicing and finding ways around the restrictions for when we can share the real thing in person. So, practice a lot while you’re being safer-at-home, because I think there’s going to be a whole lot of hugging going on in our future!

5/14 –The countdown has started! There’s only 10 more days of school!! Did you start your countdown before today? Maybe you did. I don’t blame you if you did. This year has been quite the different sort of year. But, most normal school years, I start the countdown when there’s only 10 days to go. Of course, today, that gave me inspiration for a silver lining! I started thinking about the number 10. There’s something special about it, don’t you think? When we’re born, our mom and dad will count our fingers and toes to be sure there’s 10. It’s a big celebration when we turn 10 years old. It’s a double-digit birthday! We learn to round-up to the nearest tenth right about the same time we turn 10 years old. Pythagoras and his followers considered 10 the most sacred number, as 10 = 1+2+3+4, which represented existence (1), creation (2), life (3) and the four elements, earth, air, fire and water (4). There are 10 vowels in the Korean alphabet. Many faiths follow the 10 Commandments. Basketball hoops are 10 ft. off the floor of the court. There’s a lot about the number 10 that matters to most of us, if not all of us. Now, with our new practices of social distancing, the good news is we are starting to be allowed to be around each other again! They say that small groups of 10 can gather. That’s exciting! It’s a beginning! I’m thinking, 10 people in a group now, but maybe in 10 more months, we can have 10x10! Why is it that we hold the number 10 so important? Some believe it is because of the number of fingers we have on our hands. Had we been created with only 4 fingers, it would probably be a longer period of time we would have to wait before we could be in larger group gatherings again. Everything we frame around the number 10 would be framed around the number 4 instead. It would be natural for us, as natural as we think in terms of 10, to think in terms of 4. Sure, smaller group gatherings are helpful in slowing the virus from spreading, but if we continue to practice social distancing, wear our facemasks, wash our hands with our 10 fingers, and stay home if we do not feel well, groups of 10 bring us together sooner. That’s what we want. We want to be together. Some people believe the number 10 also represents love, and many of us believe it’s love that makes the world go ‘round. So, let’s find the silver lining in the number 10. Let’s look forward to the time when 10 or so of us can get together, maybe clasp our 10 fingers together with each other, and say, “I love you.” We will spread the love, slowly, carefully, but hopefully, 10 people at a time.

5/15—I was listening to Mariah Carey’s song called, “Hero.” Do you know this song? It’s quite beautiful. I do the same thing with songs that I do with words. If I like the way a song sounds, I will look up the lyrics so I can be sure of what the song is saying. I like to be sure. I’m not alone in wanting to know the lyrics to songs. I think a lot of people want to know the lyrics to songs. We like to sing along, right? Why not? We humans like to make a joyful noise, and singing is doing that. It makes us happy, and there’s nothing wrong with being happy! The song got me thinking about the word, “hero” and who heroes are. Right now, the heroes are definitely all the essential workers in our lives. A hero is essential, meaning, we can’t do without this person. We know who the obvious essential workers are. They’re the First Responders, the Doctors and Nurses. They’re the employees at every single grocery store. They’re the restaurant employees, some of who are now making food and bringing it to the elderly who can’t and shouldn’t leave their homes. It’s the delivery truck drivers, bringing items we’ve ordered to our homes so that we can stay safer in them. Thinking of essential people reminds me of that question, “If you could choose 5 people to have dinner with, who would they be?” First off, I’d rather pick 10 people, because 10 is a dynamic number acceptable with social distancing. Second, how would I choose? The people at my table would be people I would feel are essential. People I think I could not do without. Of course, that would be my family. I’d also pick my favorite scientist, Einstein. I’d probably ask Dr. Tony Fauci just because it would be fun to see him interact with Dr. Einstein. I’d really love to meet St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. These are famous people, known for their minds and charity. What about the heroes and the essential people I don’t know about? The people who come from all walks of life, all over the world? We’re blessed to be walking with heroes every day, keeping a safe 6 ft distance and wearing our face masks, of course. Anyway, I looked up the lyrics to Mariah Carey’s “Hero” song. The song is a song of hope. It builds us up when we listen to the lyrics, telling us, “And then a hero comes along / With the strength to carry on / And you cast your fears aside / And you know you can survive / So when you feel like hope is gone / Look inside you and be strong / And you'll finally see the truth / That a hero lies in you.” What? Mariah Carey’s song is saying we are all heroes. We all have the strength in us to be essential to someone in this world. As we near the end of the 2019/2020 school year, and we are still so unsure of what the future holds, remember, we are in this together. We are essential to each other. We are all heroes, and that is the silver lining!

 5/18—I like my facemask. I think it adds character. Mine is homemade. I can sew on the fly when I need to, and that’s kind of what happened. We all had to invest in a facemask on the fly, didn’t we? Mine isn’t super-cute. It’s just a solid turquoise color, very amateurishly made, but it works. I made ten facemasks about a month ago, five turquoise and 5 black, and following the instructions I heard on a portion of the news, they’re a double-layer of material. What I heard is if you held your facemask up to the light, but you couldn’t see too much light coming through, it would mean that virusy little germs couldn’t get through, either, both coming in or out, whatever the case may be. When I was making my masks, the first time I tried one on, I felt different. It was like I was in a spotlight and everybody was looking at me. I felt conspicuous, and that was in my own home! I really didn’t want to wear it outside. How was that going to feel like? But, then I did wear it outside. Slowly, every time I had to leave my home, I started noticing that everyone was wearing a facemask. I also noticed that the wording for facemask was changing. Many locations are not calling it a “facemask,” but rather a “face covering.” Either wording works, really. As long as it works, right? But, here’s the thing. Neither name is accurate. These pieces of cloth or disposable, filtered paper linings are not covering our faces. They are covering our noses and our mouths. I guess there are too many words calling them a nose-mouth mask or a nose-mouth covering. How about a new acronym? We’re using a lot of acronyms lately. Instead of using PPE for this portion of the personal protective equipment, we could call it a NMC. It’s shorter, uses less words, and it pinpoints exactly what it covers. It doesn’t cover our whole face. It doesn’t cover our eyes, thank goodness. I’ve been noticing people’s eyes because of their NMCs covering the rest of their face. Have you? When we humans speak to each other, we don’t just use our voices. We use our eyes with the rest of our face. Our expressions on our faces are often part of the conversation. Now, half of our expression is covered, so our focus when we are speaking to each other is on what is still available to see—our eyes—and I like this. We’re actually looking into each other’s eyes more often. For some, this may be uncomfortable. Eye contact comes with a lot of responsibility. The philosopher, Cicero is quoted as saying, “Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi,” which translates into, “The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter.” Shakespeare had his own spin saying, “The eyes are the mirror to the soul.” That’s pretty deep. Lately, we’re having more opportunities to connect with each other in a deeper way. In doing my research, I read an online article from BBC Future that pointed out, “… meeting someone’s gaze almost immediately engages a raft of brain processes, as we make sense of the fact that we are dealing with the mind of another person who is currently looking at us. In consequence, we become more conscious of that other person’s agency, that they have a mind and perspective of their own – and, in turn, this makes us more self-conscious.” Which, I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing. As we become more and more aware of each other by looking into each other’s eyes, we are learning how sensitive we humans are. We are learning new ways to be attentive and to do what we do best, to help each other through what lies ahead. I look forward to seeing you and your new facemask or NMC. I look forward to seeing you in a new way, because it’s in the new way that we will see the silver lining.

5/19—Every morning when I wake up, I immediately start thinking about what I would like to accomplish during the day. I make a mental to-do list. I always have so much I’d like to get done or get started doing. I’m someone who loves staying busy, and I’m quite capable of working on more than one project at a time. In the circus of life, I would be one of the jugglers because I am good at it. But, what if I drop a ball? Show’s over, right? So, what I find myself doing is making a mental list of what I want to get done THAT day. After all, there are only so many balls a person can juggle. Usually, keeping three balls flying isn’t too difficult, but if I try to juggle six, well… I suppose it’s not impossible, but it is much more difficult than juggling just three. Juggling is like making a to-do list. I like making a to-do list. It keeps me focused, similar to the focus a juggler would have. I Googled information about making to-do lists, because I had a feeling there was a silver lining about them. As it turns out, to-do lists have been part of civilization and cultures for a while. I read an online article written by Belle Beth Cooper. She wrote something that summed up my feeling of the silver lining in making a to-do list. She wrote, “We pack all the madness and ambiguity of life into a structured form of writing. In short making lists is a great way to increase our overall happiness and feel less overwhelmed.” Isn’t overall happiness and feeling less overwhelmed something we are all looking for lately? But, there’s an art to a good to-do list. The list needs to be prioritized, meaning, what is at the top of your list is what you should do first. If your list has longer than three things to-do, it’s the top three that matter the most. More than three to-dos it becomes more difficult to juggle your day. But, we humans are good at prioritizing. We humans plan, and we get things done. Those of us who appreciate to-do lists share the habit with other humans like Benjamin Franklin, Johnny Cash, Winston Churchill, Martha Stewart, Magic Johnson, and Barack Obama. We come from all walks of life including inventors, leaders, athletes, decorators, foodies, women and men. Right now, a priority in our world a lot of to-do list makers are doing is finding a coronavirus vaccine. I know this will happen. I know this is on the top of so many scientists’ to-do lists. I have a feeling that it is the top three to-dos on many lists. It may even be the next three to-dos because it is so important to accomplish. So, what about the to-dos past the top three on the to-do lists? We know that what we don’t finish today, we can look forward to finishing tomorrow. To-do lists help us manage our lives and make us feel empowered. With our to-do list, we are more able to tackle any task presented to us. The task of finding a coronavirus vaccine at the top of all the different to-do lists is today's silver lining!

 5/20—Nine weeks ago I asked our Principal, Ms. England, if I could introduce a new section to the Daily Bulletin called, “The Silver Linings Section.” The world and our lives as we knew them were rapidly changing at that point. As creatures of habit, these changes were difficult for many of us humans. Change is always difficult, especially unexpected or unplanned.  I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I asked Ms. England if I could introduce the new section. I just knew a lot of us would need to see the silver lining of every day. I took a leap of faith, hoping the idea I had would be what I was hoping to give. Have you ever done that, taken a leap of faith? I bet you have, especially during the past nine weeks. Today, we’re all a little more comfortable with working from home, distance teaching, and distance learning. Maybe “comfortable” is not quite the correct word, but we have accepted it. When we were faced with the restriction of being safer-at-home nine weeks ago, we all took a leap of faith, trusting the scientists and the politicians making decisions for us. We were expected to leave our comfortable path of routine, take a leap of faith, and believe we could work from home, teach from a distance, and learn from a distance. I looked up the phrase, “leap of faith” to be sure of it’s meaning. According to Collins online dictionary, in American English it means, "an act or instance of accepting or trusting in something that cannot readily be seen or proved.” Prior to nine weeks ago, none of us had any idea what distance learning would entail. But, it’s happened, and now we’re almost done! We humans have a lot of faith. We put it into several areas of our lives. There’s the obvious religious faith, but it’s not only there. We have faith in where we invest our time, who we invest our time with, and how we spend the time we have. Ultimately, we humans have faith in each other. I wanted to learn the benefits of trusting the motives behind taking a leap of faith, so I did some research and educated myself. What I learned is that sometimes, taking a leap of faith is a very good idea. Oftentimes, you learn something about yourself you didn’t know you were capable of. This makes you a better version of yourself, and that could open up a whole new world of possibilities. When I look at what is happening in the world today, we humans, all of us, are taking leaps of faith every day. We’re pushing ourselves to find how we can live in this new way, safer-at-home. Many of us are doing things we’ve never done before. We’re writing, we’re cooking, and we’re re-inventing ourselves--to a degree--and changing the world for the better. Change can be scary, but it’s the leap of faith in embracing the unknown that will show us the silver lining.

5/21—I just got back from my early morning walk. Today, I walked about 3.5 miles. I feel pretty good about it. I enjoyed the coolness in the air (I started walking around 6:00 am) and the birds greeting the new sun. I love walking. It’s a great exercise, plus it gets my creative juices flowing. Today, unfortunately, with every step I took, I couldn’t think of what I should write about for today’s silver lining. But, I kept walking and enjoying the morning. Now I’m home, and almost like an answer to a prayer, I turned on the news to watch my morning 30 minutes, and the first story was about Captain Sir Thomas Moore. Do you know who he is? He’s a hero! Most people call him Captain Tom. He is a retired British Army Officer. He decided in early April that he would walk 100, 25 meter (27 yard) laps, 10 laps a day, in his garden to raise money for the charity called NHS Charities Together. His goal was to raise a thousand dollars by the time he turned 100. Captain Tom was 99 at the time he decided to do this, and he walks with the aid of a walker. He wanted to help others by taking one step after another in his garden. Now, that’s amazing! Captain Tom turned 100 years old on April 30. By the end of day on his birthday, he had raised $32.79 million! Just by putting one foot in front of the other and the desire to help make the world a better place. So many people fell in love with his effort and his desire, not only did he go above and beyond his goal in raising money for charity, he also received 150,000 birthday cards, topped the music charts being featured in the song, "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel, and just yesterday, May 20, he was knighted. He now holds two Guinness World Records for fundraising the greatest amount of money in an individual charity walk, and as the oldest person to have a number-one single on the UK charts.  We can’t forget that he also served in World War II! Captain Tom has seen and done so much, always using his two feet to get him there. When I walk every day, I do it for myself. I want to stay healthy and I enjoy the early morning. This is good, but I got to thinking about Captain Tom’s walking. We humans are good walkers; Captain Tom might be the best of the best right now. We will walk for anything, sometimes more willingly than other times. The times that we walk for each other, those are the best times. Charity walks are something we haven’t been able to engage in lately. It’s so important to practice social distancing, but I have to applaud those who are looking forward to walking for others. Captain Tom is our inspiration. He took something that a lot of us are doing more of lately due to practicing being safer-at-home, and he put it to good use for others. Let’s all look forward to the next charity walk we can join, and let’s join it. Not only will we be together again, we will also be walking for others who may need our help. Today, Captain Tom is not only our inspiration, he’s also our silver lining.

 5/21—Hey! It’s Friday!! Or, should we call it Fri-YAYYY! Plus, it’s a three-day weekend! What? Don’t shrug your shoulders about a three-day weekend. Yes, I do know you’ve been practicing being safer-at-home. I have been, too. Yes, I do know there are not too many places you can go to celebrate a three-day weekend because we’re still supposed to be practicing social distancing. But, there are a lot of places you can go to! You can go to the beach and take a good walk! You have to wear your NMC (nose-mouth covering) and you can’t lay out in the sun, but if you keep moving, you’re good! You can go to a lot of parks now and even a couple campgrounds are open. The same rules apply. Practice social distancing, wear your NMC, and no loitering or stopping to chat with people on trails. Hey! It’s better than being stuck in your house! Do you know why we’re having a three-day weekend? We are celebrating Memorial Day this weekend, on Monday to be exact. We American humans have celebrated Memorial Day since 1868. It’s a day set aside for us to honor and remember the spectacular humans who lost their lives while serving in the Armed Forces. God bless all of them. This year, Memorial Day may begin a new tradition. I have heard words like, “we are fighting a war” when scientists, doctors, and politicians refer to COVID-19. If that’s the case, we have a lot of spectacular humans on the frontline of this pandemic they are calling a war. We also have lost a lot of spectacular humans, young and old, to this same pandemic war. I think, because we should honor our frontline workers fighting for all of us, and because we should also honor all those who have bravely lost their lives in their fight, we should go outside. We should go to the beach or a park with trails. We should wear our NMC and go for a walk. We should practice social distancing and keep moving and enjoy the outdoors. We should do it for those who can’t because they are either fighting the good fight, or they have lost their lives to it. And when we go out, we need to remember them, right alongside all those other spectacular humans who lost their lives while serving in the Armed Forces. We need to think good thoughts of all of them and maybe say a prayer. We need to be thankful that we are able to celebrate for them and that we are able to celebrate because of them. When you go outside this weekend and go for a long walk at the beach or on a trail, I promise, you will see a silver lining, and it will be a Memorial Day you will never forget.

5/26—I’ve been working in my yard lately, both front and back. I have flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. Gardening takes a lot of time. I mean, you could just go buy some plants from the nursery and plug them into the ground. You could sow a perfect row of onion seeds, but if you don’t water your plants or seeds, not much will happen, right? This is something we all learned probably in kindergarten. Plants need care. They need attention. They need time, especially when the weeds start growing. That’s what I’ve been doing a lot of, pulling weeds. They’re relentless. Especially when your little onions are just starting to make their way into the world. I get frustrated with weeds, but true to my nature, I started wondering if they had a silver lining about them, so I did some research. After all, I’m a firm believer there’s a silver lining to everything. Sometimes we have to dig a little deeper and get our hands a little dirty, pardon the pun. What’s funny is weeds do have a silver lining! Weeds don’t bless you with an abundance of beautiful flowers—well some actually do. But, most don’t, and they won’t give you food you can share with your family or friends, but they have a wonderfulness of their own. First, they want to grow, and almost nothing can stop them. They can have superhero strength in vegetable fields. Many weeds actually provide nourishment to the soil the vegetables need. They also blanket the soil around fields such as lettuce, keeping the lettuce leaves from getting full of soil when watered or when rain falls. I read an online article from the Broward Palm Beach New Times that resonated with me. One part of the article read, “Bare soil is rare in nature and so is a monoculture, diversity is key. Plants (including weeds) work together and help feed each other, if you learn how they grow and how to cultivate them you can benefit from Nature's support crops in your garden.” This was my ah-ha moment for seeing my silver lining. I related the weeds in gardens to other humans in our world. As the school year is coming too quickly to a close, let’s take our cues from the gardens around us. Some of us are flowers, some are onions, and some are weeds, but we all need each other to make the world go ‘round. Diversity is the key. Finally, I came upon a quote from British Historian, Jenny Uglow, which read, “We might think we are nurturing our gardens, but of course it’s our garden that is nurturing us.” I enjoyed this quote and believed it to be quite true. Taking care of a garden, or other humans, slows us down, teaches us to watch for something new, to have patience while we wait for our plants (or our humans) to grow, change, and to share their generosities. I’m still pulling weeds away from my tiny onions just trying to make their way, but I’m patient and accepting of how relentless they are and how they will give back if I let them. They are there to remind me of the human weeds in my world, how relentless some can be, but how we need them to help other humans—the flowers or onions of the world. Weeds may very well be the silver lining in the garden of life!

 5/27—Do you know what today is? Moreover, do you know what tonight is? Tonight is the night before the last day of school! It’s like Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve but without the fanfare. It’s just as exciting, though. It’s a transition. It’s the moment before you know the rest of your life is going to change. It’s exciting, because you won’t need to go to school for at least another 12 weeks or so. I haven’t even looked at the calendar myself to be sure. The night before the last day of school is truly the best night of the whole school year. In just a matter of hours, your summer will begin. Ok, wait. I have to apologize to those of you who need to take summer school this summer. But, here’s the silver lining to that: It’s not as long as a regular school day, and usually you’re taking only one subject. But, for the rest of you, you’re on the precipice of the next chapter of your life. You’re free from whatever grade you are in. You have a moment’s peace before you move up the ranks and tackle what the next grade will throw at you. For you freshmen, that’s a relief. No longer are you at the bottom of the heap. For you sophomores, it may not seem like a big deal yet, but junior year is pretty exciting. Juniors, what can I say? You’ve earned it. Top of the heap for you! Seniors, we are so going to miss you! We know it’s not the ending you expected, but your next chapter is probably going to be the most exciting of them all. We all have something great on the horizon. We don’t always know what it is. Sometimes we plan. We have a goal in mind, and we set a course to attain it. Myself, I like small, attainable goals. I like knowing that what I want to do in my future will have to depend on the choices I make right now. Today’s choices are like stepping-stones into your future. But, do you always need to be planning? Do you always need to be thinking about what your next choice will be? Well, maybe, to a degree, but not constantly. That’s why there are days and nights like today: The night before the last day of school. Tonight, take the time to relax a little. Yes, you’ve been practicing being safer-at-home for the last ten weeks, but you’ve also had to pay attention. You’ve had homework; you’ve had to check-in with your teachers. You’ve had to think about how your choices would affect the next day. Not today. Not tonight. Tonight, just relax. Maybe catch-up on the sleep you haven’t been getting. If you must think about anything relating to school, reminisce over the past year. Think about the choices you made during this school year. Were they beneficial? Would you change anything if you could go back? Keep that in mind moving forward. Use the good and the bad to create your future. Just don’t do it tonight. Tonight, just chill. It’s time to relax, and that is the silver lining.

 5/28—How’s the old proverb go? “All things have an end…” Some people say it as, “All good things come to an end.” However it is said, all things do end. So it is with my Silver Linings Section. I’ve enjoyed writing my silver linings for the Daily Bulletin. I wanted to write them for a couple reasons. Nobody knew what was ahead of us when we were told to stay safer-at-home, work from home, and begin distance teaching and learning, but I (personally) knew that I’d never experienced anything like what we were being asked to do. I was a little shaken, and if I was, I thought others might be as well. I knew that I’d need reminding of the good found in our newly forming day-to-day routines, even though assuming I’d be hearing a lot of bad news. I thought it would be nice to remind others of the good, as well to remind others of the good we bring to each other each day. So, I decided to write for anyone who chose to read my new section and hoped to bring a smile. But I also wrote for myself so I would be reminded to smile, too. Looking for silver linings kept me busy and distracted from the negative news of each day. I was determined to be happy, to find ways of keeping my happiness. One way for proven happiness is to be grateful. After writing just a couple silver linings, I received unexpected appreciation. After I had written a few more, I received even more appreciation. A few of my teacher friends, including Mrs. Dale, Ms. Stein, Ms. McDermott, Mr. Coulter, and Mr. Hershberger, all let me know when they enjoyed something I had posted. I also heard from parents and students, including Julie Saputo, Tami Nelson, Felicia Watkins, Victoria Tomczak, Kari Doelman, Laurie Lovret, Heather Oliff, Caroline Hill, Natalie Salvatierra, and CJ May. They encouraged me with their words of appreciation and let me know how they enjoyed something I had written, which I am truly grateful for. All of my office sisters were always so kind with their praise. Mrs. Duran offered me several beautiful reflections to help with my silver linings, and Mrs. Deehan emailed me sometimes daily to tell me how she enjoyed my writing. I need to really acknowledge my immediate family. My family had to endure hearing and re-hearing each one of my silver linings. I never knew if they appreciated me reading and re-reading them, but they definitely were patient with me. My mom may have been my biggest fan. After my immediate family staying safer-at-home with me, she was the first person to read my silver linings each day. She loved everything I sent her, even posting some on her Facebook page and bragging about me to her friends. If that doesn’t build a person up, I don’t know what would. It’s amazing to get admiration from your peers and/or family. I am truly blessed, and unbelievably grateful. Lastly, I need to appreciate Ms. England, our brilliant FHS Principal, who allowed me without even questioning my motives to write a silver lining every day. All of these wonderful people, and any of you who enjoyed my attempt to keep you thinking positively, are my silver lining. I will miss writing every day, but I will never stop watching for and pointing out the silver linings we are blessed with every day. I hope you will do the same. After all, we’re all in this together.

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