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Roycemore is a school that is filled with students from many different races, ethnic groups and religious backgrounds. Some of our students and their families are about to begin their commemoration of the Jewish High Holidays, beginning with Rosh Hashanah, known as the Jewish New Year this Friday at sundown. While I am not of the Jewish faith, I appreciate that a focus of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur includes celebrating the year that just ended and being introspective about the year ahead. Today I read a reference to the season of high holidays being a “time for an epic journey for the soul.” I found that captivating– perhaps something we might all benefit from.

Certainly this time of COVID has tested us in ways most of us have never been tested. We have powered through the challenges striving to problem solve and create plans for a pandemic for which are hopeful the end might be near, but we are uncertain as to when that might be. In many cases the tools we have called upon to solve challenges in the past are woefully inadequate to the challenges we face today. And our children are watching us. They are watching how we choose to respond; looking for reassurance, resilience and support to help them cope with a world that has become wildly unpredictable.

I believe our greatest tool at this moment are our minds. Our minds provide us with the capacity for introspection and to connect with our soul to spread positive energy. Our minds provide us with the ability to choose where to place our attention and to engage our body in positive action. I believe we could all benefit from a “pause” to take our own epic journey in the days ahead. Here are five ideas to consider:

Gratitude: Make it a commitment to end each day with gratitude for something or someone that made a difference in your day. When we are focused on gratitude it improves our mental, physical and emotional well-being.

Positive Action/ Expression: How might I consciously do or say something positive or uplifting for a person or community that I care about over the next two weeks?

Connection: Who might you reach out to by phone or zoom “just because”…. To let them know you were thinking about them and just needed to pause and tell them they were on your mind.

Joy: Name five things that bring you joy and commit to ensuring you have brought at least two of them into your life in the next two weeks.

Future Focus: Make a plan for the top 3-5 things you will do, and 3-5 people you will see as soon as it is safe, that you haven’t been able to do or see during this pandemic. Plan it out in detail. What new or different aspects might there be to this plan that wouldn’t have been the case pre-pandemic? Make it special and celebratory and create an image board–maybe on a poster or on Pinterest. This could be a great way to focus on the opportunities for the future rather than the sadness of what’s currently missing in your life.

COVID-19 has been devastating to so many in our country and around the world. While there is much about it that lies out of our control, what we have the most control over is how we choose to think and act during exceedingly stressful and difficult times. The added benefit is that it will serve as a powerful role model for our children as well as lifting others up along our path. By embracing gratitude, positive action/expression, connection, joy, and a focus toward the future, we have the opportunity to experience an epic journey that will uplift our soul.