Almost one year ago, while I meditating on what I needed to do for 2020, the message was clear: Do a better job asking for help.
I had spent the previous two years working much, taking a total of maybe two weeks off and I needed to change that.
A short while later, COVID-19 hit and it was 12-14 hour days during the week and eight hours on a day on the weekends. I didn't mind it. I have a strong work ethic and what we do as journalists is so important. I told the staff before we were dispersed that our role was to help the public through the pandemic.
Then I was laid off and asked to leave my apartment at the newspaper.
I've documented the struggles and successes since then, with some humor thrown in as that's my coping mechanism. (Friends' response reading this: Duh!)
This has been a great year for learning opportunities and much of the knowledge I took in, I knew intellectually. But experiencing the learning opportunities has made it all more real.
Here are some of my lessons:
-- Ask for help.
-- Accept it gladly and humbly.
-- Oftentimes, giving is as much about the feelings of the donor as the recipient.
-- Daytime TV sucks.
-- It is better to be warm than cold.
-- Know thyself. (That's the epigram over the Temple of Apollo at Delphi -- so I stole that one.) No one else can define you so long as you're being true to yourself.
-- Tell jokes. Even stupid ones. It releases endorphins in the brain, making it cheaper than beer -- even Natural Light.
-- People are more important than stuff. Find the good in everyone and enjoy that.
-- Stuff is utterly useless. I've lived for nearly two years with my stuff in storage and the only thing I missed was my copy of "Trout Fishing in America," by Richard Brautigan. So I bought another copy.
-- Feed yourself with great writing, poetry, art, beauty and decent pot roast. (Uptown Cafe, I'm writing about you.)
-- Move inexorably forward. You're life might be a shit show today but keep moving folks -- there's nothing to see here.
-- It's OK to have down days, even down weeks. That allows for recovery time. But set an alarm and get up when it's time.
-- Enjoy sleep and showers when you don't have to rush off somewhere -- like work.
-- Wear a mask, not because the government told you but because it's respectful of others. It's not like you ignore stop signs because the government told you. It's because if you did, someone might die.
-- Work on your empathy. However bad you might have it, assuredly someone has it worse.
-- Stop. Smell flowers. Watch butterflies play. Listen to street musicians.
-- Watch the Green Bay Packers this Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
-- Don't get caught up in the BS of the day. Remember that our average of 80 years on this planet pales in comparison to how long it's been around. Around Bloomington, the limestone for which we're famous took about 450 million years to form what we now know.
-- You know what? Turn off that TV and take a walk. There will always be another episode of "Forensic Files" when you return home.
-- And, oh yes, read www.thehomelesseditor.com, if for no other reason to feed my fragile ego.
Happy New Year and have a precious long weekend.
Peace and a new beginning unto all of you my brothers and sisters.