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Spontaneous Overflow Reflecting in Tranquility

The Official Blog of Michael Schoenhofer, Executive Director

Change Your Mind

It’s Amazing What You’ll See


In September, Mary and I took a camping trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We pitched our tent at a remote campground near Lake Superior. During the week, it rained, a gale-force wind almost blew us out of our tent, and most of the nights, the temperature dipped into the low 40s.


We can become so absorbed in the bad news, which seems everywhere, like scary figures lurking in the shadows – fear, worry, and anger — that we do not notice the small glimmers of hope and acts of kindness and care. In the days before COVID, we could find some relief by going to a movie, a football game, a concert, or getting together with family and close friends. But for most of us, those gatherings and events are just too dangerous, especially if a loved one or friend suffers from a chronic disease or is immune-compromised. So, we stew in our own sour thoughts of anxiousness, worry, and fear. And this stew has consequences that can lead to emotional disturbances.


After we got back, it wasn't long before the old doom and gloom filled our thoughts like the smell of sewer gas. We fretted and worried about COVID and the upcoming elections. One evening, Mary announced, “Instead of thinking about all the bad things we hear and read about, I am going to focus on all the great things we’ve done this year.”

We named the things we’d done:

  • Long walks on Lake Superior,

  • Hiking in Sleeping Bear Dunes,

  • Swimming in Lake Michigan.

The memories inspired us to explore our own metro parks. We drove to the brand new Haver Ridge Metropark, which we had all to ourselves. We hiked the trails, discovered a well-tended grave, and enjoyed the warm weather and rich autumnal hues.


In an article in AARP, Alan Alda (Hawkeye in M*A*S*H) asks an unusual question – “What is the best thing that has happened to you during this time?” Here are a few things from my list besides camping trips:

  1. My daughter, Kara, and I drove to Fort Wayne and bought ukuleles. I’ve never played a stringed instrument. We love playing together so much that we are threatening my daughter, Stephanie, who is getting married in December, with a ukulele rendition of Octopus’s Garden. She plans to have security available to check anyone carrying a small stringed instrument.

  2. Playing the Uke together with Kara might never have happened had it not been for the pandemic which sent her home to Lima from Chicago.

  3. I am in better shape now than what I was a year and a half ago when I retired. I have fewer aches, I’m 25 pounds lighter.

  4. My wife formed a zoom knitting group, and she meets with the knitting ladies, who range in age from their 20s to their 60s.

  5. My niece had a baby.


We can become so absorbed in the bad news, which seems everywhere, like scary figures lurking in the shadows – fear, worry, and anger — that we do not notice the small glimmers of hope and acts of kindness and care. In the days before COVID, we could find some relief by going to a movie, a football game, a concert, or getting together with family and close friends.


But for most of us, those gatherings and events are just too dangerous, especially if a loved one or friend suffers from a chronic disease or is immune-compromised. So, we stew in our own sour thoughts of anxiousness, worry, and fear. And this stew has consequences that can lead to emotional disturbances.


To survive and thrive in this new reality, we will have to change the way we do things. I am discovering how much there is to see and do in State Parks, County Parks, and National Parks, all of which are near to home. I am discovering the joy of learning how to play music, even at my age. I realize how important family and friends are and how not to take anyone for granted. I am discovering how important it is to focus more on what I am grateful for.

So, what is the best thing that has happened to you during this time?


Share your answers with a friend, a loved one, or your journal. Leave a comment on the We Care People Facebook page. Why not take a moment to write a letter (like a real snail mail letter) to someone dear to you, an old friend or classmate you haven't connected with, and tell them? I’ll bet you’ll be surprised.

Who knows, maybe I'll see you out in the campgrounds or hiking one of the trails in our metro parks. Perhaps you'll hear me playing the Uke. Just listen for a guy trying to sing, “Octopus’s Garden.”


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