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Thoughts by Myself #16 - Fear is Normal

Reduce Fear, but Don't Eliminate it. Last night, watching the Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber) on TV, I got caught up in the magic of the show. At the end, I felt sad watching so many actors on stage in the Albert Hall in London, and the hall filled with people. I wondered would I would ever get to go to an auditorium, a ballpark, or a stadium without fear of catching a deadly disease. I know this is petty and small, but I felt sad. Many people are suffering far worse situations than not being able to go to a show or a concert or even see your kids in a school play. People are suffering from job loss, illness, even domestic violence. But going to a show was a bit of relief from the

Thoughts by Myself #15 - Generosity

Everyone Deserves the Benefit-of-the-Doubt - Including Yourself. It is tough not to be judgmental these days. When Mary and I go walking in the park, we appreciate our fellow walkers who move off to the side, giving us proper social distancing. We provide a lot of space to those who seem oblivious to giving up space and distance. It's hard not to feel judgment and blame. I get testy with the people I live with, my wife and daughter. Ruminating about everything we can’t do, it’s so easy to react to petty annoyances, making things more significant than they are. Then I feel remorse and regret. "Why did I say that?" It's hard not to feel judgment and blame. Perhaps I need to give everyone, incl

Thoughts by Myself #14 - We Are Not Powerless

We Are All First Responders. I think about how life changed for us after 9/11. Now metal detectors and security checks are common. Last summer, before we could get into Grant Park in Chicago for a concert (Grant Park is like Central Park in New York), we had to pass through metal detectors and security checked our bags. We fear the invisible terrorist outside of us. I think about the future. Will we get stopped at every entrance by someone who wields a thermometer to check our temps? Will we judge "believers" from "nonbelievers" by what we wear—face-covering or no face-covering? We fear the invisible “terrorist” inside us. Many of us feel powerless, looking for someone to blame. “You closed

Thoughts by Myself #13–Outrage

I’ve Overdosed on Outrage, Anger, and Resentment. I overdosed on outrage today. In headlines in the news and in comments on social media, everyone seems outraged. Not concerned. Not wanting to offer another opinion. Not looking for common ground or shared interests. Everything I read about is how someone believes that someone else is perpetrating a high crime that needs to be stamped out, wiped-out, and extinguished. Curiosity seems to have faded into a distant memory. There is no interest in learning another point of view. No. It is you are on my side and share my opinion, or you need to be executed - perhaps a firing squad or a slow, painful death. Outrage feels as big a pandemic as the C-

Thoughts by Myself #12 – Human Connection

We miss being with each other. Yesterday I walked to the Library. I knew it was closed, but I wanted to find out how long it would take me to walk downtown from my house. It is 1.36 miles and took 31minutes and 27 seconds. I enjoyed seeing traffic and other people out and about. I stopped for a moment to watch ironworkers perched on the top of steel I-Beams, scrambling around like squirrels, building the new health education center at St. Rita's Hospital. I have to admit that I am getting tired of Zoom meetings. We Zoom with our kids in Chicago. I just finished a Zoom Board meeting and a Zoom conference call. For the past month, electronic meetings are the only way we can keep in touch. I’m

Thoughts by Myself # 11 - Appreciation

Shopping isn't so much fun anymore. I used to enjoy grocery shopping. I like to see what’s in the stores, browsing for something I didn't know I even wanted, and finding it is something I can't live without! Now shopping has become an epidemiological nightmare and an ethical dilemma. I should only go shopping once a week at the most, maybe even every two weeks to limit exposing myself and my fellow shoppers. I see anything entering the house as some kind of foreign invader that needs to be sprayed down, wiped off, or fumigated. How long do I need to quarantine it in the garage? Going into the stores, you can feel the anxiety. People are wearing elaborate face coverings, plastic gloves, and t

Thoughts by Myself #10 - Gratitude

It Heals Our Toxic Thoughts Another tiny friend arrives. Sketch: Schoenhofer Watching the Governor's Press conference, I learned more about the trajectory of this virus. The “surge” in the virus may not arise for another week. The length of the Coronavirus sickness can last for weeks. 50% - 70% of us will contract the virus THIS YEAR. This is sobering news. No one alive has had this experience. It’s like an extended version of Hurricane Katrina. We can see it coming. We know it will be bad. We aren't sure how bad. And the aftermath will be devastating, the recovery lengthy. And what’s even worse, it isn’t an isolated event that I can run away to some other place to escape. I find myself rumi

Thoughts by Myself #9

Anticipatory Grief—The Fearful Worry About What The Future Holds. An owl visits Calvin. Sketch: Schoenhofer Today, Mary and I volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. I looked forward to getting out of the house and doing more than take a walk. Mary sewed face masks for us and we got gloves to wear when we arrived. Four National Guardsmen were helping. I felt good that I could pitch in and help. Looking at my coworkers wearing face masks and gloves felt a little surreal. I felt grateful for the service of the four Guardsmen wearing protective gear and doing the most dangerous task of loading food boxes into cars. I can't believe I just wrote that. Who would have thought loading a

Thoughts by Myself #8

Our Collective Grief-The World is Changing. Life is changing for Calvin and friends. Sketch: Schoenhofer Life was different when I was young. I was a free-range kid. In the morning, when I took off on my bike, my mother would remind me to be back for dinner at 5:00PM. I remember practicing hiding under my desk as protection from nuclear fallout at school. I remember getting polio shots too. The world is different now. The world changed after the attacks on 9/11. Today, no one would think about going to an airport without going through security. TSA is a part of our lives. School life changed after the shootings and deaths that occurred all over the country. School Resource Officers, metal de

Thoughts by Myself #7

I Never Imagined Staying At Home Would Be So Difficult. Things are growing. Sketch Schoenhofer On the News every night, I see pictures of healthcare workers overwhelmed with patients, grocery store workers inundated with customers, and truckers who keep the flow of goods moving. There are a lot more people I never see; warehouse workers, garbage collectors, people keeping the utilities going, and many more. My wife's friends, who can sew, are busy making masks for hospitals. Other friends have small children whom they are now homeschooling. I can't sew, I’m not a healthcare worker, I don’t have a CDL license, I don’t have small children, and I am not considered “essential.” So what should

Thoughts by Myself #6

Don’t Waste This Moment—Start a Journal Figure 1 Calvin gets a visit from a bunny. As a student in Rome from 1973 to 1977, I traveled a lot. I lived in Liverpool, England for three months, visited my Bavarian cousins in Munich every holiday, and traveled around Europe. What I did not do was keep a diary. I have a few pictures and some stories, but I’ve lost most of the memories. When I lived in Africa from 1984 to 1989, the same thing happened—no diary, no journal. I did write to my mother and father every month while I was a missionary in Africa. My mother kept all of those letters, and now those experiences are a treasure. Because of her, I could write a memoir, Stumbling into Happiness.

Thoughts by Myself #5

How Will Your Children Remember This Moment? Figure 1 Calvin the Cat gets another little friend. At the Governor’s new conference, a few days ago, the Governor’s wife, Fran, gave some examples of how she is connecting with her grandchildren. Fran asked them to draw something from a story she planned to read to them over Zoom. While she read, they could show her their pictures. This kept the kids occupied during the day anticipating the moment when they could connect with Grandma and show her their art. Our children look to us for safety and protection. Remember, our attitude can make all the difference. For all of us confined to the house and out of our regular work schedule, school schedule

Thoughts by Myself #4

A Quiet Mind. A Peaceful Heart. Figure 1 Calvin gets another tiny friend. Yesterday my wife and I spent the afternoon gardening. When we saw the sun shining, we couldn’t wait to change into gardening clothes and get outside. In the garden, we discovered young garlic shoots sprouting, some parsley that was still green, and the chives reemerging. Daffodils were just beginning to bloom. I spread the 24 bags of mushroom compost I hoarded from Stock & Field on the garden beds. I always feel peaceful in the garden. We were both so happy to be outside in the warm sun that we drove to Hermon Woods Metro Park to take a walk. When we arrived, the parking lot was full. It looked like a lot of other peo

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