Challenges of the Pandemic—How to Cope
Dear District 6630 fellow Rotarians and Friends:
All of us in Rotary (and beyond) have now been dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic for what seems like a very long time. The challenges, difficulties, and ramifications of the pandemic, both for our personal health and economic well-being as well as for our Clubs, have been severe and will likely continue for months.
This raises an especially important question—how do we deal with these challenges without allowing them to become overwhelming?
I was recently privileged enough to attend the Rotary Club of Rocky-River Sunrise meeting on April 29, 2020. As part of the virtual meeting, Dr. Robert (Bob) Smith, a psychologist at Metro General, spoke. Dr. Smith gave a truly inspiring talk about the concept of “Positive Psychology.” This approach to psychology is based on training your brain (something we can all do, regardless of age) to focus on the positive.
As I understand “Dr. Bob,” emotions follow thoughts. Thus, the more positive thoughts you have, the greater likelihood that your emotions will follow suit and be positive. While your life may not change, it will certainly seem much better.
Thus, the basic question becomes, what are you going to focus upon? As Dr. Bob points out, the brain changes and grows constantly. The direction in which it grows, that is which “muscles” strengthen, is based upon the “muscles” you choose to train. If all you do is look at the negative events you encounter, you are training your brain to focus on the negative.
Dr. Bob’s suggestion is while we cannot ignore problems, we also cannot afford to miss the “good stuff” that occurs all the time. It may be something as simple as a great sunrise, something your spouse, children, grandchildren, or a co-worker happened to do in the moment, or even the birds at the birdfeeder outside of your window. Many of these things come and go in an instant and may never be repeated. Thus it is extremely important to be looking for these things every day.
Dr. Bob, in a very frank set of comments, pointed out that there are only four “absolutes” in life. One is that it is in our nature to age. The second is, it is our nature to become sick as our bodies are frail. Third, it is in our nature to die. And fourth, it is in our nature that everything we care about will change and eventually go away.
Thus, the question becomes not how to avoid these immutable facts, but what we are going to do with the time in between these events? You want to train to look for balance. Enjoy your family, friends, and the things in life that make you feel good every day.
The key concept in this process is “mindfulness.” It is easy in concept, but hard to do. You need to live in the moment with no judgment. While living in the moment, use all of your senses to experience what is happening now.
In this process, you will want to avoid worrying about past events which you can no longer change or fix. Simply learn the lesson from them and move on. Further, excessive worry about the future will also divert you from living in the moment. We certainly all plan, but we need to understand that plans are just that, and we will need to actually live the events as they occur.
One way to help train your mind to focus on the good stuff is a really simple exercise. Get in the habit of writing down three good things that happened each day, and share those with someone close to you. In Dr. Bob’s experience, the first week of this undertaking can be difficult. The second week it gets a little better. The third week, you generally start to enjoy the process. By the fourth week, you have built this into your brain, and you recognize more and more good things that happen every day. This is a great way to have positive emotions built by those good thoughts.
Give it a try! Oh, and thank you to Dr. Bob and the Rotary Club of Rocky-River Sunrise!
The Immediate Future of In-Person Meetings
As all of you know, in-person club meetings, District Committee meetings, and other Rotary events are currently not permitted. I hope to be somewhat helpful to all of you by providing the most recent information I have received on when such meetings may become possible again. Of course, the situation is and will continue to be fluid and will require further updates as we move forward.
Governor DeWine’s Stay Safe Ohio Order entered April 30, 2020 extends the limitation upon public gatherings of unrelated individuals, together with social distancing requirements, through May 29, 2020. This continues the prohibition on in-person Rotary meetings in Ohio for at least that period of time.
Rotary International’s Board met virtually on April 21-24, 2020. The Board issued several important statements/instructions, including the following:
  • The health and safety of all participants in Rotary programs, meetings, and events is of paramount importance
  • No in-person meeting or event shall be mandatory for any Rotary participant who may feel uncomfortable because of the pandemic
  • All conveners and organizers of Rotary meetings are strongly encouraged to consider all health concerns in deciding whether to hold in-person meetings
  • All conveners and organizers of Rotary meetings should fully comply with all health and safety rules in effect in that location
The Board further decided that with these principles in mind, the Board adopted the following rules and guidance for Rotary activity.
  • All R.I. Board meetings shall be conducted virtually (and not in-person) for the remainder of the calendar year 2020
  • All R.I. Committee meetings shall be conducted virtually (and not in-person) for the remainder of the calendar year, 2020
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  • Governors are strongly encouraged to use virtual meetings for club visits during calendar year 2020
  • Regional leaders are strongly encouraged to use virtual meetings for training seminars and other events during calendar year 2020
As noted, updates and revisions will be forthcoming as warranted. In the interim, please continue your adherence to these rules—the protection of fellow Rotarians, friends, and neighbors continues to be important and we have and can do our part to help. Here at Buckingham, we are slowly re-opening our office and we are now all wearing masks and maintain our social distance (and some wags would say lawyers should always have worn masks) and it’s working out rather well. Hopefully all of you are encountering similar success.
Yours in Rotary Service,
John Reyes
Rotary District 6630 Governor 2019-2020

Tel: 330.258.6469