Responding to

“Our greatest strength lies in the gentleness and tenderness of our heart.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci testified last week that he was "cautiously optimistic" an effective COVID-19 vaccine will be available sometime by late 2020 or early 2021.

That's good news. But it also means that we're going to be masking up and physically distancing for a while longer. And, although a vaccine may become available by early 2021, it will be some time before everyone has access .

So how do we manage in the meantime? The author Bruce Feiler , who writes about "life quakes" and whose book, Life is in the Transitions , was mentioned in last week's update, observes that people work through significant disruptions in their lives in three phases: “the long goodbye;” “the messy middle;” and “the new beginning.”

In the long goodbye , the overwhelming emotions typically include fear, sadness, shame, and sometimes anger. "These days, a lot of us turn to social media and post long, intense expressions of what’s going on in our life and how we feel about it," Feiler notes. But not everyone is willing to post their innermost thoughts on social media.

Sharing what's going on, however, helps others know what you're dealing with. Often the information will prompt others to respond with kindness, encouragement, and even support. This is what helps us move through the next phase, the messy middle. Unfortunately, the messy middle has no predetermined time span and it's the stage we’re in now. It's also when we do some of the most important emotional work. During the messy middle, we develop new habits, norms and skills. These are what will help pave our way toward a new beginning , when the first tinge of normalcy begins to appear. The new beginning is when we say to ourselves, "That's how I used to do things. This is how I do them now."

The messy middle is also a time when we need to be as kind to our bodies and our minds as we can. Getting enough sleep, maintaining an exercise and physical activity regimen and eating wisely are some of the things we can do to help meet our need for a little "self-care," as this article from Everyday Health suggests.
Not everyone is easily willing to talk about what's going on, though, and sometimes we need to offer them a little encouragement. But only if we're willing to really listen to what they have to say. In a perfect world, when we check in with someone, especially someone who’s struggling, we’d have our conversation in a calm, private setting without cell phones or other risks of interruption. Maybe we'd talk over lunch or drinks after work.

The pandemic, however, means that we can't always follow these "old" rules. But we can still create an atmosphere and the right mind-set within ourselves to allow the other person to feel a bit more comfortable opening up when they need support the most. Looking for signs of distress, asking non-judgmental and open ended questions, and avoiding problem-solving are all things that can help another person open up and talk about how they're really doing.

A client's recent comment reminded me that each of us is having our own experience with the pandemic and that those experiences can run the full range. “Paradoxically, it’s an okay time for me. Everyone is anxious and depressed so now people are entering my world, how it has always been for me. I don’t have to worry about it in the way they do. I just want people to put on your thinking caps! Show some intelligence and show some restraint! Stay safe. Keep smiling. No one will KNOW behind the mask but we will FEEL it.

It may be a while before we can safely venture out of our homes without face masks and hug our friends without fear of infection. In the meantime, we can still take care of ourselves and others. We may not be able to shorten the "messy middle," but we can make it as useful and thoughtful as possible.

 To each of you and the entire Kitchen Angels family, thank you.

In gratitude,
Thank you for your vigilance. We want you to stay safe, healthy and informed.
If you want to return to volunteering . . .

. . . please first ask yourself if you are willing to adhere to our required risk-mitigating protocols throughout all parts of your day, and not just while at Kitchen Angels.

In particular: 
  • Am I able to work a full shift wearing a face mask?
  • Can I hear well enough from six-feet away if the other person is speaking through a face mask?
  • Am I willing to work a different shift than the one I previously worked?
  • Can I commit to showing up to my shift on-time and without canceling at the last minute?
  • Can I adapt to a new environment and new routine?
  • Can I reliably communicate with the Volunteer Coordinator?
  • Do I feel safe being back in the public sphere?

If you answer "NO" to any of these questions, you're not ready to return. If you're not sure, check with Lauren.