Written by Carolyn Kulik, published in The Charlotte News.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Here we are in a spectacularly beautiful place; spring is coming; the weather is getting warmer and the days longer. We can get out to walk. How lucky to be right here, right now, and not on a cruise ship desperately looking for a place to dock.
Just on time, four of the violets in my kitchen window are starting to bloom. The largest plant, with dark green, wavy leaves, has nearly two dozen flowers already open to the size of dollar coins—in an almost fuschia shade—with frilly, ruffled petals. And the best thing is that it will be in bloom for a while.
As you probably know, the Senior Center will be closed through April 30 and the situation will be revisited then. It is definite that May will follow April, but at this point, it is hard to say what, exactly, will be happening that month at the Senior Center. It is much easier to say that right now things are still in flux when it comes to transitioning classes to virtual Zoom formats. A few classes have already made the switch along with their current students. The best thing is to keep checking the website for updates: CharlotteSeniorCenterVT.org. When any new Zoom courses are posted, there will be a new email address to respond to. Stayed tuned.
In the interim, it seemed like a good time to get some advice and direction from Jill Abilock, who started teaching a course in Mindfulness at Senior Center last year, and is a certified Mindfulness instructor. Utilizing mindfulness skills can help change how you experience things, even though the outer circumstances stay the same.
In order to practice Mindfulness, Jill starts with two basic pieces of advice:
1) When you feel overwhelmed with concern or anxiety, take a moment to refocus your attention on your circumstance at the moment. Where are you? Notice that you are in a place that is relatively safe and relatively comfortable. Feel the ground under your feet. Coming back to where you are at the moment will stop you from projecting yourself into some imagined future.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
~ Mr. Rogers
2) If you are feeling angry or frightened at the current circumstances, practice gratitude. (Impossible? It’s easier than you think.) Start by stating aloud, or to yourself, the very thing—or person—that you are most grateful for, right now. Once you have done that (easy!), then add three or four more people or things that you are grateful to have in your life. But don’t stop here. Continue naming things that are smaller: your delicious breakfast, that wonderful avocado you just ate, the sun shining in your room, your cat. (Not really that hard.)
Start your day with this gratitude practice. Maybe with your first cup of coffee or tea. Make a list if you wish. Try Post-Its on your refrigerator or kitchen cabinets or your bathroom mirror. Basically, whenever you feel pulled into fear or anger, use this practice to get on a more balanced footing.
This goes along with the old half-full, half-empty-glass example. It’s the same glass, it’s just how you regard it that makes all the difference. Neither description denies that the glass is not completely full.
The Senior Center’s mission is to serve those 50 and up. Residents from other communities are always welcome. There are no membership fees. Usually we are open from 9-4 on Mondays through Fridays.
Feel free to leave a message on the Center number: 425-6345; voicemail will be checked.
Be careful. Stay well. But mostly, be kind.
Charlotte Senior Center