Posts Tagged ‘sharing’

Photo: Marcos Paulo Prado/unsplash.
A diary version of the chain letter, begun by Kyra Peralte
, comforted participants during the pandemic.

As things are gradually getting back to something resembling normal, people are taking stock of the past 14-plus months and recording how they got through them. A new kind of chain letter, first begun by Kyra Peralte, provided support to 115 strangers around the world.

Sydney Page writes at the Washington Post, “Kyra Peralte thought keeping a diary during the pandemic might help her sort out her tangled feelings. Then she decided to drop her journal in the mail and share it with a stranger.

“Peralte — a mother of two in Montclair, N.J. — started writing candidly last April about the challenges of juggling work, marriage and motherhood during a global crisis. Writing was cathartic, but Peralte, 44, wanted to know how other women were doing. Was she alone in her feelings or were other women experiencing the same overwhelming stress? She craved connection.

“So she made an unusual offer. She invited other women from near and far to fill the remaining lined pages of her black-and-white marbled composition notebook with their own pandemic tales.

‘I wanted an interaction that felt human, and it feels very human to read someone else’s writing,’ said Peralte, a children’s game designer.

“She dreamed up ‘The Traveling Diary’ — a simple notebook that would traverse the globe via snail mail, collecting handwritten stories and, ultimately, creating a community.

“A year later, seven marbled notebooks have circulated in various locations — from the United States to Australia, Canada to South Africa — and a growing group of strangers have formed an unexpected friendship as a result. So far, 115 women have signed up to participate.

“Peralte found her first contributor on a Zoom conference for entrepreneurs, during which she mentioned her diary idea. A woman from North Carolina immediately reached out and said she would like to write in the book.

“From there, Peralte wrote a Medium article, in an effort to recruit more women to get involved. Word spread, and she created a website so participants could easily add their names to the queue. Each person is allowed to keep the diary for up to three days and fill as many pages as they wish, with whatever writing or artwork they choose. Then, they are responsible for mailing it to the next person, whose address Peralte provides. …

“Amy Tingle, 52, sat down with the diary last September, in the wake of civil unrest and ongoing protests, and she decided to focus her entry on America’s racial reckoning.

“ ‘I couldn’t escape the sadness,’ said Tingle, who lives in Maine. ‘I remember being really disappointed in humanity.’ Writing in the communal diary, ‘was definitely a therapeutic thing during that time,’ she said. As an artist, she also included a collage of women, symbolizing the sense of friendship she felt with other participants. While writing her own thoughts was healing, she said, it was equally meaningful to read the words of other women who held the book before her. …

“Kirsty Nicol, 29, who lives in London, heard about the Traveling Diary through a friend. She received the journal two months ago, after it was shipped from New York City.

“ ‘It came to me at a challenging time during lockdown,’ she said. …

“Reading the entries allowed her to escape, transporting her into the lives of others and finding bits of wisdom they left. One woman from Australia had written: ‘Working with the setbacks. Not against them. Patience and gratitude. It’s a dance. Life is moving and we can stomp our feet in rejection, or we can gracefully embrace the mess, tidying as we go.’ …

“When Colleen Martin, 44, received the diary on her doorstep in Florham Park, N.J., last November, ‘I had just recently lost my brother,’ she said. … It helped her look for meaning and ‘the growth and development that occurs in terrible times.’ …

“ ‘It has really evolved into a community,’ Peralte said. She often hosts Zoom events so the women get the chance to get to know one another more, share stories they might have missed and connect more intimately. Some of the women, she said, have actually become close friends.”

More here.

Kyra Peralte, below, had the original idea to send a composition notebook with a diary entry to a stranger in April 2020, during the pandemic. “A year later,” says the Washington Post, “seven diaries have circulated, and 115 women have been part of the traveling diary.”

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Photo: RVshare
RVs4MDs is a volunteer group that has been matching altruistic recreational vehicle owners with medical workers in need of temporary housing during the pandemic.

I’m grateful to people who witness some kindness in our troubled world and let the rest of us know about it so we don’t lose all faith in humanity. To my way of thinking, it doesn’t even matter how few people are involved in the example, just that there is a kindness plant growing somewhere.

At the Boston Globe, Leila Philip wrote recently about something her neighbor signed up to do.

“The text from my neighbor had come at 5 a.m., ‘Mother passed yesterday evening.’ … My neighbor had been caring for her mother, who had dementia for many years, and for the past three weeks she had been keeping vigil, not leaving the house and living mostly on oatmeal. When I offered to make her a rhubarb crisp, she answered emphatically, ‘Yes!’

“As I pulled into her driveway, I was startled to see an enormous motor home. Even more startled when my neighbor popped out, broom in hand. Was she already planning a trip?

“ ‘You didn’t know I had this, did you?’ she said, taking the still-warm crisp. Then she explained that she’d been waiting for an opportunity to list her Coachman with RVs4MDs, a volunteer group that was matching RV owners with medical workers in need of temporary housing.

My neighbor had just lost her mother, but there she was, cleaning her expensive motor home so she could loan it to someone else whose life had been upended by COVID-19. …

“Rvs4MDs began when two women in Texas saw a concrete way to help others. Within a week of their putting up their Facebook page, hundreds of people had joined as volunteers. … They have matched 1,500 RVs with nurses, doctors, EMTs, and paramedics. …

“Said Holly Haggard, one of the founders. ‘It has brought hope to so many.’ Her cofounder, Emily Phillips, agreed, ‘We didn’t realize it when we started, but in addition to helping medical workers, we were building a community. Nobody brings their politics to the group.’ …

“Barbara Ludwig is a professor of nursing with a specialization in critical care. An Air Force veteran, she did not hesitate when the call came in April to work in a COVID-19 unit, but she had a problem: Members of her immediate family were high risk, and she feared bringing the virus home and infecting them.

“Barbara was in the middle of searching for an affordable hotel room when she learned about Rvs4MDs. She posted about her situation and Krystal Muci responded, offering to loan her 42-foot-long motor home. Within days, Krystal and her husband had not only driven their RV to Barbara’s house outside Kansas City (a three-hour drive), but had found an electrician to do the needed electrical work and complete the hookup.

“When Barbara got off shift and walked into the RV, she found a gift basket and a poster of photographs of her family that Krystal had made. …

“ ‘Knowing someone had cared enough to do this for me, it brought tears to my eyes,’ said Barbara, ‘and it allowed me to focus on taking care of patients because I knew my family was safe. In my work as a critical care nurse I am used to dealing with mortality, but the amount of loss that was happening every day … it took a toll on me that I was not prepared for.’ …

“Now that we are six months into the pandemic, the unprecedented emotional toll it has had on the mental health of caregivers and health care workers has begun to emerge. Preliminary studies in Italy show that over one-half of health care workers there suffered some form of PTSD. …

“More than 192,000 Americans are dead of COVID-19. [Meanwhile] ordinary Americans like my neighbor and the many volunteers at Rvs4MD show how we can prevail — when we remember our American tradition of lending a hand, the transformative power of kindness.”

More at the Globe, here.

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We have no idea what Wednesday will bring, but let’s do this. Let’s commit to focusing on what we once shared with that friend whose life path led him to a different decision. Let’s honor his or her life path if not the most recent destination. We’ve had different life experiences.

Let’s focus on what we both like: the funny things small children say, lazy days at the beach, imaginative Halloween costumes, the blended aromas of a Thanksgiving kitchen, Peter Pan.

There’s no need to bring Abe Lincoln into this, but well, you know: A house divided against itself cannot stand.

As I passed by on my walk last Thursday, this engraving with its old-fashioned wording spoke to me.


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