Goodbye 2022-Welcome 2023!

With  New Year’s Day now a week behind us, the noisemakers are put away, the parties over, ( if they existed) and all have expressed best wishes to friends and family that 2023 be a year of health,  happiness, and reclaimed prosperity.  So it seemed rather ironic and bad timing that a family member would test positive for COVID on the first day of the New Year. Alas, COVID is still skulking around, looking for its next victim to spoil the optimism that we might put COVID behind us. Or at least have more normalcy in our lives than in the past how many years.

Most of us just want to forget about COVID-19 and it’s variants, and we will as we eventually create a new normal. However,  for those who have lost loved ones to COVID, it will forever be etched in their minds and hearts.  For those of us who have lived through it, if anything we have learned from COVID-19,  it is that we need to be more prepared for such an unexpected and serious health incident in the future. 

Although many people do not know what polio is, it occurred during many of our lifetimes. And those of us who survived it well remember the devastation it caused. But it has been forgotten by many and young people have not been told about it. Which would have been an appropriate time, especially as we experienced this pandemic. We know there will be other epidemics in the future, and need to be better prepared. We need to learn from the past.

A Texan, by the name of Paul Alexander, at age six, was paralyzed from the neck down due to contracting polio and has been warning doctors that polio is going to return. Paul has done amazing things despite spending much of his life in an iron lung. For his inspiring story, look online under the title The Man in the Iron Lung, written for The Guardian by Linda Rodriguez Mc Robbie

My novel Grounded and Activity book tells the story of polio and one of the children is also in an Iron long, but he recovers.  Although Paul’s, story involves a period of time when he was less dependent on the iron lung, sadly,  he now is again living in an iron lung. We need to heed his warning and remember the past to be prepared for the future.


Having the Gift of Gratitude

Recently,  a sample of a new newspaper called The Epoch Times was dropped off in our neighbourhood.  In it are featured a number of articles on health issues including the Pandemic, one article entitled  COVID Policy Missteps-What Can We Learn?

I have yet to read all the articles, but one in particular, caught my eye in the back section under Mind &Body entitled, The Profound Health Benefits of being Grateful. The article talks about how gratitude changes your brain and boosts your general health and well-being. I was particularly interested in the section on how gratitude could help you sleep not just better but also longer by having more positive and less negative presleep thoughts. This, according to a study in the  Journal of Psychosomatic Research. This makes sense.  It might mean something so simple as listening to the noon or 6 o’clock news if possible rather than the late-night news or choosing not to read that scary book at bedtime.

Personally, I believe having gratitude can also be a matter of deciding to be positive and appreciative not just for the so-called big things, but also the small things, ( which would often be pretty big if we didn’t have them eg. clean water to drink and bathe in,  or having good health) Things we often take for granted until we lose them. I also think this attitude of being thankful is something we should be teaching our children from a young age. Beginning with something as simple as saying, “Thank you.” 

In my workbook which accompanies my novel, Grounded, I  created a section on Gratitude.  Although the novel is about polio,  of course, one was thankful if they did not contact it or were able to recover from it, similar to the feelings we have had towards  COVID these last years during the pandemic. But I wanted the children to think about gratitude as something to consider every day, not just realize how we should have had more appreciation for something we value until we lose it. The discussions questions and activities are listed below.

What is gratitude? What does it mean to be grateful? How can you show gratitude?

How does being grateful or having gratitude change your personality and how others react to you?

Look for ways to be grateful at home, at school, outdoors, looking after your pet, spending time with a senior etc.

Keep a journal for 7 days. Each day, write down one thing you are grateful for and explain why.

Being grateful is a choice. It is something you decide/ choose to be even though it is not easy.

Did you ever choose to be thankful when you really felt like being grumpy instead? Explain.

In my activity book, there are many other good activities to talk about, not just in a classroom setting but over the dinner table or in a round table social setting eg. Try one of these.

The only way to make a friend is to be one. Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A dream without action is just a dream. Shirley Hartung

My workbook is available both with and without the novel Grounded  Go to .

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