You need one…

March 27, 2021

A quote that I saved from the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago seemed worthy of comment this morning – “Call it a clan; call it a network; call it a tribe; call it a family.  Whatever you call it, you need one.”  (Jane Howard)

Very few people are true loners, independent of the need to be around others. I suppose that some whom we might call hermits fit into that small group. There are a few individuals, whom we call mountain men, who seem to relish being out in the wilderness alone, but if you ask them, they never feel alone because they commune with nature so closely that they feel “nature’s family” all around them.

For most of us, however, Howard’s quote rings true. We need to be with other people and not just be around them but interact with them – to give and to receive attention and love in return. It is important to acknowledge others and be acknowledged in return. If one goes for some time without seeing and interacting with others a panicky sense of loneliness can set in. Have you ever had that temporary feeling like you were the last person left on earth?

I have a hard time even imagining what it must be like for those in nursing homes who have endured a year of being cut off physically from anyone other than the staff – no visits from loved ones or friends. Things like Facetime calls can provide a little relief, but I’m sure they would tell you it’s not the same as an in person hug or smile and conversation.

Back in my college days I spent a few the summers living in the frat house as sort of a summer caretaker. It was a big, old house that usually has 30-40 people in it; l however, in those summer months I was alone in the house. I would, on occasion, experience that strong feeling of being alone in the house and the town (college towns can get quite empty during the summer months, too). At those times I would walk to the nearby drug store and just spend some time “shopping”, just so that I could see other people. Have you ever had similar experiences?

One of the negative side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for many has been the increased sense of isolation that they feel because their “work families” have been taken away. The relationships that we have and the roles that we play at work provide a big part of our identities and support our sense of not being alone. We need that and the pandemic has taken that away for most. We still get work done from home, but for most the “water cooler” social time is gone, replaced (if at all) by Zoom time.

I recall a Zoom call that I was on not too ling ago where the question of what the impact has been of the need to stay home instead of going to work came up. My answer that was quickly agreed to by most on the call was that I had a sense of disconnect. Disconnect from the job and the people. That feeling of disconnect was and is disturbing. Certainly, I still had my home life and, in fact, the pandemic probably caused that part of my identity to take on even more meaning. What I didn’t have was “my place” in the work environment and the day-to-day relationships which that used to entail. Those things had been disconnected by the pandemic.

All of this is leading up to saying that it is very important for us as humans to be around and interact with other humans – to have the families, tribes, groups, whatever we call them. Even going to the grocery store can help us feel engaged with others – we are all part of the “mask wearers” tribe (or at least most are). Perhaps you joined the tribe in the early days who were the “seekers of toilet paper”. There has been for some time now the “survivors” group among those who had COVID, and among them the “long haulers” subgroup. Now we have the “vaccinated” and those still awaiting their shots as groups that we can identify with. And, as much as it “wastes” time on Zoom calls, the social interactions that are a part of every call are important opportunities for us to re-establish relationships with fellow “Zoomies”.

So, keep reaching out in any way that you can to others and establishing little networks, tribes and groups, because you need them. We keep hearing that “we will get through this together”. Yes, we will, in the many little tribes and groups that make up the “We” these days.

Have a great weekend and say “Hi” to the lady in aisle 8 at the grocery store – a fellow member of the mask wearers tribe.


November 7, 2020

I’ve been trying for some time to put my finger on how to describe the feelings that I have about the current state of things in the world and in my life. The word “disconnected” keeps popping up and I think it is perfect to describe that feeling. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everyone’s world upside down and for all of us it has led to disconnects. Disconnects from our normal work world. Disconnects from our normal social world. In addition, disconnects from our normal religious world.

Many have been sent home to work, cutting us off from the normal interactions that we have at work and from the sense if identity that comes from those interactions. The normal conference room meetings, hallway conversations and day-to-day job activities in the workplace provide a big part of the framework that we see as our identity. We may still perform most of the same job activities, but doing so over a Zoom link does not bring with it the same since of identity. The fact that we don’t even have to get up and get ready to go to work adds to the loss of identity. Where is that person in the nice suit or business casual outfit and who is this slob still in pajamas at 10 AM in the morning?

As a Realtor and an outside sales person, I have noticed how disconnected I have felt, while I was unable to call on clients in person. Sure, I could still send emails and text messages and make phone calls, but there has been very few face-to-face sales calls. It has become much too easy for regular clients to just back off making their normal buys, when we were not meeting in person. How disconnected have you become from your “normal” work environment?

Socially, not being able to get together or even to go out to eat in a restaurant was certainly disconnecting during the time we were all in the lock-down by State mandates. Even now, eating in a restaurant is not anywhere near the social event that it used to be; plus, we are now advised to not even gather in groups around the Holiday table. The social fabric of our lives has been rendered and we have withdrawn into our nuclear family groups. How disconnected socially has your life become?

On the religious front, my church, like many others, has not met regularly in person since March. My church had one social event this summer (an ice cream social)  and has held two drive-in church services, with mixed results, in terms of attendance. The age of our congregation (probably averages 70+) and the guidance of our Synod Bishop continue to dictate caution and not holding in-person services. I produce and post videos of our church services each week and we have been fortunate to have the continued support of our musical staff to provide music for those services, yet it is not the same. Most of the church related groups – the book club, the knitting club and the women’s group  have continue to meet and that helps keep those bonds intact. The Pastor holds a “coffee hour” via Zoom each Sunday at about the time that services would normally be over and that helps some; but, for many there is a growing sense of disconnect. How has your religious life been impacted by the pandemic?

I think the important thing is to acknowledge these disconnects and to take positive action to overcome them, rather than letting them drag you down into depression. Things are not going to be the same for quite a while, if ever; so we need to adjust to the “new normal” and find ways to reconnect at work, socially and in our religious lives.

Our work life identity may have switched from our office or cubicle to the little box down and to the left on the Zoom screen, but we are still responsible for the important aspect of the business that we were hired for and we need to feel good about dong that job. Maybe it’s time to force ourselves to get up, get showered and put on all of our “work” clothes; even if it is just for a Zoom meeting – no more “waist-up” dressing.

 Maybe it’s time to venture out to a restaurant or to go shopping at the mall (just remember your mask). Maybe you can sit down and call those people that you’ve been missing and have a nice, long conversation with them. I’m sure that they have been feeling lonely, too.

Or, maybe it’s time to watch a church service video and sing along with the music. The video’s that I post on our YouTube Channel – –  have the words posted for each song, so that the viewer can sing along. I invite you to try this week’s service at –

 I won’t tell you that you shouldn’t feel somewhat disconnected, that’s just how things are for a while; however, you can take positive steps to reconnect and to feel more like a part of the new normal. I’d even suggest that you buy a mask with a smiley face on it, just to start some conversations and to give yourself a smile when you look in the mirror or see yourself in your little Zoom box. When someone on the Zoom call asks you, why you are wearing a mask on the Zoom call, tell them that you heard about computer viruses and didn’t want to catch one. That may get a laugh and a conversation started. In fact, this picture from the internet is the perfect virus mask for that.

The key is that you do something about feeling disconnected. Reconnections won’t just happen, you have to make them happen. Get up. Get showered. Get dressed and get reconnected!