Hope and Grace

hope
/hōp/
noun
      1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
      2. a feeling of trust.


grace
/ɡrās/
noun
      1. simple elegance or refinement of movement.
      2. courteous goodwill.

Dear Village Doctor Family, Community, and those in need of reassurance, support and light: The Village Doctor team has been working hard on this website as a resource for you, our public, and I am proud of them, and this effort. But in doing so, in immersing ourselves day after day in the science, the global scene, our trusted institution’s recommendations and our medical recommendations (based on a combined almost 80 years of clinical experience), it is clear that we needed something more. So I offer up this page I’ve titled “Hope and Grace,” with the intent to lift your heart and broaden your spirit. Let us recognize the beauty in the human experience, even in this painful time we are experiencing. Find some escape, or perhaps even inspiration, in this collection of works and perspectives gathered from around the world. Maybe even joy.  Please contact me directly if you have come across something that has lifted your heart today. Dr. Eric Weiss

                                      

Hope 

“If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?”
  • Playing For Change (PFC) is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music, born from the shared belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. PFC is  proud to share with you “Ripple”, this Song Around The World in honor of the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary. As Jerry Garcia said, “Let there be songs to fill the air…”

  • Bring Me Little Water, Silvy by Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly). Arranged for voices with body percussion by Moira Smiley Body Percussion Sequence by Evie Ladin Shot by Seamus Egan Edited by Ben Guzman. Huddie Ledbetter, (1888–1949) wrote Bring Me Little Water, Silvy, and recorded it with Anne Graham in 1950 for Folkways Records. Many artists since then have played, arranged and recorded this beloved song. Read more at Ordinary Women Doing Theological Things. Listen to another wonderful version here.

  • Love! Written by my friend, and Stanford Emergency Physician Ben Lundquist, with proceeds going to “Get Us PPE”,  I Love You When You’re Close and When You’re Far Away is worth a read.  This rhyming children’s book highlights the importance of staying safe during a global pandemic and understanding that love transcends all circumstances—even distance. Find it here on Amazon. Congrats, Ben!


  • “Who is your friend? My friend’s name is Litchy” (writes my friend, Danyelle Kelly). “I find that at this place my feet are the same as the dirt on the ground, as if they are linked and intertwined.My spirit soars at a special rock in front of the waterfall where I feel the divine completely present and all linking as one. Here at this friend’s place all is one. I feel loved, scared, nourished and surprised”. 


    “This is a response to a stimulus from a group that I am part of where I was asked to provide a photo of a place which is very special to me among special places. One place from where I deeply connect, draw strength and feel deep belonging. I was asked to write two – three sentences about my relationship with this place and introduce this place by name as your friend. If you were asked to do this what place would you write about? What place do you deeply connect, draw strength and feel deep belonging?”

    Read more about Litchfield National Park (Northern Territory, Australia) here.

  • Graduates! Congratulations to the Class of 2020. John Krasinski highlights SOME GOOD NEWS around the world (including weather from Ryan Reynolds) and sends the class of 2020 off with advice from Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Malala Yousafzai, and Jon Stewart. And thank you Samuel L. Jackson for the SGN dramatic re-enactment!

  • Enjoy The official music video of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo’s “Pata Pata”, a fresh take on Miriam Makeba’s 1967 hit song. Once called the “world’s most defiantly joyful song”, “Pata Pata” has been re-recorded by Kidjo to spread information about COVID-19, with a focus on hundreds of millions of people in remote communities around the world.
  • A Letter from the Pandemic: “Am I enough? Is the cold shadow I cast across you and your loved ones enough? Only you…can choose to be the cure to the deeper sickness”.  Watch this powerful video from the Global Wildlife Conservation asking about the future we now have the opportunity to choose for ourselves. #extinctionendshere
  • Enjoy some great videos from Joan Baez, Jerry Rice, Steve Young and other local celebrities to reinforce how we can still help each other out while we all stay at home. Thank you to San Mateo County Strong for building this website to allow people from San Mateo County and beyond to join the County’s relief effort and make directed donations that will specifically benefit San Mateo County residents, small businesses and non-profits.
  • David Mathews’ new song, “Singing From The Window”
  • Himalayas visible for the first time in decades as pollution levels drop!
  • Science brightening our path forward
  • Balcony Spirit: Hope in the Face of Coronavirus – in pictures
  • Singing Doctors on the Front Lines
“Seeing spring unfolding before me. These Tom turkeys strutting their stuff and last night, lying in bed with the great horned owls that have lived and hunted and raised a couple of chicks for nine years, courting again . The male and female hoot gently for hours, at different pitches, and last night they were on the roof just above my head. We come and go and the turkeys and owls keep on.” (A Village Doctor patient, April 10, 2020)

Grace

  • From basketball to breakdancing
    Don’t expect typical ballet in Hong Kong Ballet’s 40th season film. The artists of the classical ballet company dance through a basketball court to the tune of Ravel’s Boléro, before the shot cuts to city views filmed in Hong Kong. Dressed in neon and pastel colours, the dancers’ movements are sharp and bold. Enjoy! 
  • Moments of Grace

    Please enjoy listening to this lovely piece by one of our Friends of TVD, titled appropriately enough, “Moments of Grace”. Read more about KC and her work at the Compassion Institute here. Thank you, again, KC!

  • Compassion Institute Guided Meditations

    More from KC: Free 45 minute guided meditations and interactive discussions around how to reduce stress or anxiety and improve human connection and purposeful action in a time of COVID-19.  Led by Thupten Jinpa every Friday.  People can register to participate here or just watch on Facebook LiveStream here.

  • Breathwork as Service  “I asked Spirit often, “How can I be of service to others while utilizing my skills and staying true to who I am?” The message came through that these unprecedented circumstances could invite creative, new ways of supporting others. I felt a calling to share the practice of breathwork. Breathwork, or conscious, controlled breathing, is something that could be accessible to anyone, anywhere”.  Kate Coffey is certified in Advanced Spiritual Psychology and Integrative Body Psychotherapy. Learn more at The Truth in Beauty. Read more at Women Doing Theology.

  • What is Your Essence?
    Time. This has been both a friend and foe during this Pandemic. Consider using your time to explore, “What is your essence?”, “What are your obstacles?”, “What do you need to heal to transcend your obstacles?”, a piece by Yajaira (Yaya) Morales.

  • ‘Here in Spirit’: An Oral History of Faith Amid the Pandemic

Two weeks ago, I was traversing India on my way back to the United States. ‘The’ virus was just gaining steam. It was still ‘out there’ not ‘in here.’ I stopped briefly in Udaipur, Rajasthan (north India) to experience Holi. One of the most popular annual festivals in India, Holi is the triumph of Good over Evil. The detailed description in the Vedas and Puranas depicts an entangled legend of good and evil in the kingdom of demon king Hiranuyakashyap. After the conquest over Evil, the play of the exuberant spirit is seen in the colorful tossing of colored powder onto one another. Children comb the streets looking for willing suspects, non locals are always good, as well as family and friends. In some villages, the play continues for days.
   How interesting that this festival would occur just as the virus was globally exploding. Just as Evil was taking the stage. There is always a response to Evil. How forceful and in what timing? Much has been communicated in the last days as to what might have been missed in the early stages, false communications and omissions in information. It is always true that when we scramble to abate fear we miss truths and markers.
   Now the question becomes how to handle what is here. What is our response? What is our willingness? What is our responsibility?
   This is both a global and an individual challenge. One can not help but to feel the ache for communities across the world, in our own backyard and in our own homes. I see this as a pulsating circle emanating from the center of me. I am responsible to take care of myself so that I can take care of those around me and then those further away from me. I am responsible to be as informed as possible without lingering on fearful outcomes. To be discerning and sensitive. It is possible for me to reach out daily to several friends and family members and check in. It is absolutely possible for me to have patience with my family and friends who are ‘sheltering in place’ with me. It is helpful to remember and remind others that ‘we’ve got this.” We have the intelligence and wherewithal to support one another and find conscious solutions.
   Each of us brings something to the table. Find your contribution and step into it. Nothing is insignificant. There are no small miracles. Every word and deed offered consciously contributes to the healing of the whole.
   By the way, I did not know this young girl with me in the photograph. She came to me with pink powder, took my face in her overflowing hands and blessed me on Holi. I could not help but to sweep her up and hug her, for in that moment she was the world at play and the triumph of Good over Evil.

By Nirmala Devi Maa

Moving Words

From my good friend, Jamis McNiven: “After shutting down Buck’s Restaurant my wife Margaret and I got down to the serious business of home defense from our redoubt in the Santa Cruz Mountains by making a half dozen stuffed dummies out of our old clothes from the 70s (‘look out, you vicious hoards, we have hippies on guard!’) and lashed them to the parapets of the hastily erected stockade, armed them with wooden muskets, posted the “Danger—rabid dogs with stainless steel teeth” signs (much to the pups amusement as they lolled about drooling and snoring on the couches) and battened down for the eventual zombie apocalypse

We then inventoried our 21 bags of flour and wondered whose job it was to pick up the yeast. In reality we are off the grid as we have been for 43 years. I realized I have been predicting the apocalypse for decades and thank god I’m finally right. Please send me likes. And so, I launch Pacific Voyages which is a series of vignettes about mostly obscure islands of the Pacific which populate this ocean most abundantly. So just sit back and take a break from the end of the world and travel with me to the ends of the world…

Thank you, Brad Pitt, for your shout out to Dr. Fauci, but also impressively to healthcare workers, near and far. Enjoy: Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci Cold Open – SNL (April 25, 2020).

Thank you, Connor, for sharing your big feelings. All, please read this thoughtful poem from one of The Village Doctor’s 3rd graders…

Here’s to the kids who were supposed to get their braces off after two long years, and now have to wait a few more months.
Here’s to the kids who couldn’t wait to get their driver’s license, and now they check daily to see when the DMV will open.
Here’s to the kids who are wondering if there will be any sort of graduation ceremony culminating 13 years of school, or if they will get to attend freshman orientation over the summer at their selected college–or if there will even be a fall semester.
Here’s to the kids who are wondering if they will miss their first time as a camp counselor or employee at the Froyo stand or the internship they worked so hard to get.
Here’s to the kids who were hoping to get their first kiss at the prom.
Here’s to the kids who dreamed of going to States in track or lacrosse or baseball or show choir. 
Here’s to the kids who wanted to put themselves out there and try something new this spring. 
Here’s to the kids who worked hard all year to come back from an injury.
Here’s to the kids who found their tribe in the band or orchestra or drama department and now feel lost without their people.
Here’s to the shy boy who was working up the courage to ask the new girl out for a movie. 
Here’s to the lonely girl who was just starting to make friends in her art class.
Here’s to the kids who have studied all year for their SATs and now sit anxiously wanting to get it over and done with.
Here’s to the kids who have worked hard all year to build up their GPA and now are unsure if their grades count.
And here’s to the kids who miss school because it was their safe place, where they were fed, where someone showed they were valued and loved.
Here’s to the kids whose lives are forever changed, forever branded with the mark of a virus that they do not fear but impacts them greatly.
We talk about big events like proms and graduations and college tours, but it’s not the big things they are missing. It’s the moments woven into these milestones, the imprints of these rites of passage.
We won’t know the long-term damage this will have on our kids for years, so let’s lift them up while we can.
Their grief is real, even if it seems small to us.
Their sadness is justified.
Their lives are changed.
May we remember their perspective is small and their feelings are big.
We can’t give you back the moments, the experience, the time, but we can acknowledge it hurts.
Here’s to the kids.

By Whitney Fleming, Playdates on Fridays




What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now, 
on trying to make the world
different than it is. 
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

http://www.lynnungar.com 3/11/20

 

Imagine with me for a moment-
don’t worry, I’m not saying it’s real.
Imagine, if you can, that there has been
not a calamity, but a great awakening.
Pretend, just for a moment,
that we all so loved our threatened earth
that we stopped going on cruises,
limited international flights,
worked on cherishing the places
where we already are.
In this pretty fantasy, everyone who possibly can
stops commuting. Spends the extra time
with their kids or pets or garden.
We have the revelation that everyone
needs healthcare, sick leave, steady work.
It occurs to us that healthcare workers
are heroes. Also teachers.
Not to mention artists of all kinds
who teach us resilience and joy.
Imagine, if you will,
that we turned to our neighbors
in mutual aid, trading eggs for milk,
checking in on those who are elderly
or alone. Imagine that each of us
felt suddenly called to wonder
In this moment, what does the world
need from me? What are my gifts?
Yes, I know it’s just a fantasy.
The world could never change
so radically overnight.
But imagine.

http://www.lynnungar.com 3/20/20

I am on a deadline. I wish I could write something new about how we might best come through this terrifying patch of time. But I decided to re-post a slightly rewritten piece from a few years ago. Maybe there is something in it that will help break the trance of fear a lot of us are feeling. 

Where do we start?
We breathe, confused and stunned, pray, stick together.
Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe…
(continue reading) 

by Anne Lamott

“It was just a post on Facebook. I don’t know that I even considered it a poem,” said Kitty O’Meara. “You know, it was just a way of offering some comfort to my friends and myself.”

Watch this rendition on YouTube: And the people stayed home

      In the Time of Pandemic

      And the people stayed home. 

      And they read books, and listened, and rested,
      and exercised, and made art, and played games,
      and learned new ways of being, and were still.

      And they listened more deeply. Some meditated,
      some prayed, some danced. 

      Some met their shadows. And the people began
      to think differently.

      And the people healed.

      And, in the absence of people living in ignorant,
      dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways,
      the earth began to heal.

      And when the danger passed, and the people
      joined together again, they grieved their losses,
      and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
      and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
      as they had been healed.

      —Kitty O’Meara

Read more about this poem going viral here

 

 

Self Care

  • Shelter in Peace guided meditation from our friends at Stanford: Everyone Sheltering In Place is invited to join the free, weekly, guided meditation practice, Sheltering-In-PEACE, from 12:10-12:50 p.m. on Mondays through the end of May via Zoom and YouTube. This program provides evidence-based contemplative practices known to support health and well-being. The practice is based on the P.E.A.C.E. framework – Pause, Exhale, Attend, Connect, Express – created by Stanford’s Contemplation by Design program. To join via Zoom, click on this link. A livestream of the guided meditation practice will also be available here on YouTube. In response to your requests, video recordings of the weekly program will become available here.

  • Morning MeditOceans (!)

    More beautiful guided meditations from our friends at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. These are terrific, ~10 minute sessions. Enjoy some quiet with the beautiful jellyfish, kelp forests, open seas, or waves crashing upon the rocky shore. Enjoy.

  • Enjoy US National Park Hikes… from home!

    Slowly the country’s national parks will begin to slowly reopen after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, but if you don’t live near one, here are four parks you can hike virtually from the comfort of your quarantine (NOTE: Google Chrome required to run Google Earth (but worth it!) . 1) On average, 4 million people a year visit Yosemite National Park in California to see its famous granite cliffs and giant sequoia trees—but you can see those virtually from your couch. 2) Perhaps the most famous of America’s national parks, the Grand Canyon in Arizona has many of its hiking trails and best lookout points available virtually. 3) Big Bend National Park is a sprawling protected area along the border of Texas and Mexico that is home to thousands of different species of plants and animals, with a nearly five mile trail online for virtual hiking. 4) Don’t let the name scare you—California’s Death Valley has gorgeous views of the desert, winding canyon trails and even an old gold mining town.

  • Enjoy this “Ecotherapeutic Meditation” in 10 Steps

These last few weeks we all have experienced a change in our daily rhythm that we likely have never experienced in our lifetimes. With that change, there can be uncertainty, fear and sadness.  But there can be joy, goodness and strength if we look for it. The collective human spirit is powerful and harnessing your own piece of this is within your control. I’d like to share with you some things you can do today to help alleviate some of the anxiety.

First, limit your time reading and watching media coverage of the day’s events. Try to select an amount of time,  30 or 45 minutes a day and spend the rest, reading books, listening to music or talking to friends. 

Second, pick an activity that you know brings you joy and promise yourself to do it daily. It could be taking a walk, playing with your pet, dancing with your kids in the living room or cooking your mouth watering dinner. These activities release endorphins and we all need a truckload of these right now. 

Third, be kind. You’ve heard this before and I’ll say it again because it bears repeating, kindness is powerful. Doing anything else has negative consequences. Kindness and it’s close neighbor, generosity, release oxytocin and activate parts of the brain that build trust, social connectedness and warmth. It also decreases your blood pressure and can have immediate effects on your feelings of anxiety. Talk to a friend who is having a hard day, help a neighbor, share your talents- your community will welcome you. 

Fourth, build mindfulness whether or not you’ve practiced this before. Deep breathing has enormous benefits to your physical, emotional and brain health. Since many of us are at home, what a great opportunity to try some specific breathing techniques. I will share one with you here because I think it is easy to learn and portable, it can truly be done anywhere. It is called “4-7-8 breathing.”

Take a moment to find a quiet place and a comfortable position, sitting or resting with eyes closed. Place your tongue behind the ridge of your upper teeth so your mouth is slightly open. Rest, inhale for a mental count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and then exhale slowly for a count of 8. Repeat no more than 4 times. The 8 seconds it takes to exhale are the most important in this exercise. As you practice daily you will notice your heart rate comes down and your irritability will decrease. After 2 weeks you can increase the breaths to 8 a session or the frequency to two times a day.

I truly believe that we all will come through this time with new tools that we find within ourselves. Even though we are physically apart, we can emotionally lift each other up. Try watching any one of the many balcony sing- a- longs across the world. From birthdays, anniversaries and a wonderful neighborhood parade to welcome a young girl returning from her final chemotherapy. 

By Prerana Sangani, MD, MPH. Prerana is an Internist at The Village Doctor,  a mindfulness educator and a mom of 2 girls in the Bay Area.