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Marsh column: We’re all in same storm, not same vessel

Something on social media that I saw the other day struck me as so true — not just during the COVID-19 pandemic but life period.

With the new year right around the corner I feel this is a good time to reflect, regroup and refuel for 2021. I think the hardest part for me during this pandemic is the hate and unkindness that creeped to the surface.

My experience in past years, and in my lifetime (I truly can count my blessings) is when something bad happened people came together. Remember after 9/11? The next day every house had an American flag hanging outside?

This pandemic has not only disrupted our lives, but it has also separated families and friends due to different beliefs and experiences.

The quote I saw the other day says that we all are in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. Some are on a luxury yacht, some are on sailboats, some in a canoe and some are flat out drowning.

We all experience this pandemic differently and of course that’s the same with life in general. In most situations I try to put myself in other people’s shoes and try to understand where they are coming from. Of course, I don’t know, but at least I can try to understand. To lift myself up, I look at what’s happening and then I look at what is positive in that situation. And we are not in the same boat; this is my life’s “vessel.”

The YMCA and other fitness facilities were closed — thank goodness we have virtual abilities to stay connected. I can’t see my family in person — so happy there is FaceTime, Skype and others. A stay-at-home order was put in place — thankful I have a house, and plenty of food and water. We have to wear a facemask — at least most places are open. Only small gatherings allowed — I truly get to visit with each one of them.

My parents experienced WWII as children and over the years I would hear stories from them where my mouth would drop to the floor when I heard what they went through. I remember (but was not really impacted by) the Cold War, I remember the Northern Ireland conflict. I absolutely know lots more things were going on but again, they did not immediately impact me.

Now another read, research someone who was born in 1900 and all the things they have experienced and were impacted by. We all go through storms, but we all are in different vessels. I don’t know which vessel is yours and sometimes on the outside it looks like it’s a luxury yacht yet on the inside you are drowning.

So for the New Year, let’s challenge ourselves to the following new year’s resolutions: be kind, be respectful, be honest, take responsibility (by the way these are the four core values of the YMCA.)

Start or continue to  exercise, eat healthy and wholesome, share (whether it’s food, money, your talents, or time).

Forgive/don’t hold a grudge (from the song Humble and Kind from Tim McGraw) “bitterness keeps you from flying.”

Think before you speak/react. I try to live by Thumper’s rule from the movie Bambi: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say (or post) anything at all.”

Health comes in so many forms, but I believe balance between the mind, body and the spirit are essential for healthy living. So, when planning for 2021 stay “humble and kind.”

Check out Tim McGraw’s song and truly listen to the words. I have confidence that love and kindness can spread as deep and durable as COVID-19 but we have to be intentional.

Ester H. Marsh is Health & Fitness Director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA and yes, an optimist.

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