October Reflections – 2020

October 3 – An afternoon adventure well worth several days of COVID self-quarantine

My daughter and granddaughter enjoying a moment of peaceful beauty at Pattison State Park
Pattison State Park, Superior, Wisconsin
Black River











Big Manitou Falls











Interfalls Lake


Saturday – October 10, 2020

Gradually, I am learning to be grateful for the chance to experience the many thoughts, sensations, and circumstances that present themselves at any given moment. I have the opportunity to choose which ones capture my full attention. This morning, instead of descending into sadness over losses of the past (my mother died on this day ten years ago), mourning over fragile fleeting life and beauty, or obsessing over forces and behaviors I dislike but cannot change, I chose to focus on the task at hand. Preparing for online classes that only happen on alternate Saturdays. Today was one of them.

On class days, I need to take time to answer the question I ask students at the beginning of our online meeting about research.

“What did you notice today?”

Often, as I greet the morning on class days, the universe offers me something that may be of help to my students in these challenging times, while also teaching them something about research.

Greeting the morning I noticed sensations competing for attention –

The melodious songs of birds and the loud revving engine of a motorcycle,
The cool air touching my cheeks that made me want to take a deep breath, instantly stifled by the whiff of heavy toxic pollution in the air from factories that are no-longer idled as CODID restrictions have eased

I was reminded of Parker Palmer’s insight about the challenges of “standing in the tragic gap”

“By the tragic gap I mean the gap between the hard realities around us and what we know is possible — not because we wish it were so, but because we’ve seen it with our own eyes.” (Parker J. Palmer, August 21, 2013, Courage & Renewal). 

Curious, open-minded folks with common sense observe both the pleasant and unpleasant, accepting both as reality and honestly recording what they see. The added dimension for social work faculty, practitioners, and students, though, is the responsibility they carry for assessing how vulnerable populations are affected and figuring out ways to use research, knowledge, and skills to inform interventions that ameliorate harm and serve to enhance or create preventive and protective supports.

It’s not easy for me to figure out how to teach effectively using only distance technology. It’s not easy for students, either. Yet they show up on time and participate anyway, often sharing important insights and resources.

They will need a lot of creativity, skill, and tenacity to figure out how to weave meaningful local community connections in neighborhoods like the one I live in at present. Each family seems to be solidly ensconced in their own culture, house, and yard, and all seem to be increasingly avoidant of any exchanges with the those outside their fences.

Fortunately, I have family, friends, and colleagues who live relatively close, some of whom I can still sometimes hug. I have to admit, though, that I sometimes miss the old days when things seemed different, friendlier, kinder. I wonder now if old times really were kinder or whether I was simply less observant…


Mid-October – October 13, 2020

Weeks pass so quickly
with too few moments to wonder
or wander in flights of fancy
beyond the borders of constraints
created by responsibilities to others
Still on this brisk, windy sunny mid-morning
I am transported on my neighborhood walk
by the striking contrasts of color and light
accentuating sharp boundaries
between sun and shadow
trees glowing in their glorious multi-hued garb
with a few dark skeletal branches revealed
against the cerulean cloud-studded sky
There’s no time or space for photos
I merely serve as the responsible leash-holder
for my little dog as he trots merrily along
enjoying a pleasant fall day

Wishing you all a pleasant day, too!

18 thoughts on “October Reflections – 2020

    1. Dear Trace, it’s so good to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experiences. Pattison Park is truly lovely. and I’m glad to hear that you had a chance to visit special places when you were growing up. Sending love. 💜


  1. “What did you notice today seems like a major theme of my ongoing pandemic adjustment. The ability to sharpen my senses amid this trying time seems to have been a major plus in my life. These are some lovely nature pictures to practice my skill on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you sharing such delightful comments about finding ways to focus on the beauty of nature instead of fear and uncertainty, USF Man. And your focus has resulted in such lovely reflections and photos posted about your travels. 💜


  2. Hi Carol! What a great post to capture the crazy times we currently live in. In many ways I feel that we just may be more observant. And that may be because we feel isolated at times, and longing for the way things used to be. I know that I find myself out in nature more now and I do notice things. I know that I take small moments each day for gratitude. If we hold on to the moments of grace, we can make it through the rest.
    I hope you are well…I can only imagine the difficulty of teaching on-line…good luck…it will all work out.
    Hope that you are well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a gift to hear from you, Lorrie. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, lovely comments and insights about finding ways to focus on gratitude rather than loss and fear. Sending my best wishes to you! 💜


      1. Hi Carol 🙂 Thanks for bringing a smile to my heart ❤ It is nice to connect, especially during these times that appear so uncertain. The best we can do is to keep moving forward with love as our light. There are days that I get fatigued by it all, but that is when I have to get really quiet and go inside and listen for the voice of my soul. It's always there!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Andrea, it’s always a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for sharing your kind words and important insights. I have always loved greeting the morning by noticing nature. I’m grateful for the luxury and inspiration to do so now. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

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