By Leah Teague
During this time of crisis, many are understandably experiencing disconcert, anxiety, and/or a sense of isolation. In an effort to promote the practice of gratitude, we joined #ThankfulThursday and began posting videos of Baylor Law faculty and staff sharing what makes us grateful. As found by “positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Harvard Mental Health Letter (updated on June 5, 2019).
I kicked off our first #ThankfulThursday on April 2 by expressing gratitude for the many blessings in my life, from my personal family to my professional family – that which we call the Baylor Law family. Then a few nights later, during a restless interval in the middle of the night, I sent all our students an email. Knowing that we ask much of our students even during normal times, I wanted to share with them a sense of togetherness and an understanding of our common concerns during this unprecedented time. Here is the message I sent them:
“On Thursday, I shared what I am thankful for. Now for what keeps me up at night…
Am I doing enough? Am I enough?
I battle with these feelings often, but I share what is on my mind tonight.
Am I enough?
To my 83 year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s and other “underlying health conditions” and doesn’t understand why I can’t give her a hug. She spent her life devoted to caring for others. Whoever needed her most that day – my dad, my three siblings and I, then our kids, and, all the while, other family, friends and neighbors when we were not in need. She would lay down her life for any of us … or you, and yet now she doesn’t understand why I can’t come in and stay when I drop off food or groceries. Why none of us can. The loneliness of that disease is torturous in the best of times.
To my young grandkids who must think I have abandoned them during this time of COVID-19 quarantine. My four-year-old grandson says “Mimi, when you aren’t sick anymore, you can hold me.” He doesn’t understand I am not the one who is sick – at least I don’t think so. His brother, the six-year old, just wants to know when he can come over and spend the night again … the way they used to. And I am sure the grandkids in East Texas don’t understand why they didn’t get the box of Fruity Pebbles in the Amazon shipment received when we asked what we could send them. Unlike many of the other popular cereals, it was “available,” but at $12.95 a box? Really? Seriously! There ought to be a law … wait, there is!
To other family and friends, who are also struggling with isolation, illness, insecurities and uncertainties. How can I be there for them? I want to! If only I could. Virtual formats can’t replace sitting with someone as they cry while you hold them.
To our students who need someone to ease your anxiety…to reassure you and to help with your burdens. I wish I could be there to do something…to tell you how much we believe in you! That you are a child of God and therefore loved.
In times of uncertainty about my abilities and questioning my insecurities, I often look to others for inspiration. Here are some I found tonight on a website:
“Helen Keller: Lost her sight and hearing due to a mysterious fever when she was only 18 months old. She overcame her deafness and blindness to become a strong, educated woman who spoke about, and promoted, women’s rights.
Winston Churchill: Overcame a stuttering problem and poor performance in school to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most influential political leaders of the twentieth century. He was also known for his powerful and rousing speeches.
Wilma Rudolph: The Olympian born prematurely, the 20th of 22 children. She overcame double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio to become winner of three Gold medals in track at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games
. . .
J.K. Rowling: Born to a poor family; left a bad marriage with a young baby to live on government assistance; wrote her first Harry Potter book and was turned down by most publishers until Bloomsbury Publishing picked it up. Need I say more?
Determination, resilience, and persistence enabled all of these great people to push past their adversities and prevail. If they could do it, surely the rest of us can summon the strength and courage to do overcome our adversities!“
I know this period has been a challenge for all and for some an extremely difficult period. While we know it is temporary, that does not ease the burdens you carry now. Please know that we are here for you to help as we can. It may not offer sufficient solace now, but my many years of experience allows me to assure you that someday this difficult time you are experiencing now will allow you to better serve a client, assist a friend, comfort a loved one or help a community. And we know that as Baylor Lawyers you will do all those and more.
Hang in there. Be safe and be well.”