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Despair, anger, or action

Winter here in northern New England is long and cold, with short days too often grey. Sunday night sleet driven by  howling winds pounded the house, leaving a layer of ice on everything.

We are all facing a northern New England winter – long, cold, dark, with far too little sunlight. 

Which leaves each of us with a choice – we can rail against nature, furious that our lives are disrupted, mad at the world. We can scream at each other, curse each other, denigrate and demean, as if this is going to solve anything or be in any way remotely helpful.

Or, we can succumb to lethargy, going through the motions in survival mode, making no difference, taking no responsibility, endlessly waiting for…something.

Or, we can make that something happen.

We can do something positive, something helpful, something neighborly, something kind. Like…

Get takeout, and tip way too much.

Add a few extra things to your shopping list and drop them off at the local food pantry.

Shop for an elderly neighbor, get their mail, shovel their driveway.

Smile at everyone you see – not to worry, they’ll see it in your eyes.

Buy $5 gift cards from local merchants and give them to teachers, aides, neighbors.

Be extra patient.



22 thoughts on “Despair, anger, or action”

  1. Great message on how being positive can change everyone’s perspective, thanks for sharing!

      1. As Mike enjoys winter in sunny Florida :) I like the tone and the message, pay it forward –

  2. Agree with Mike….. This should improve everyone’s spirits given the craziness of 2020! I plan on dropping donations off this weekend.

  3. Great message Joe- that same Sunday storm which sustained hurricane force winds for hours and generated huge waves destroyed several of my neighbors houses here along the lake Erie Shoreline south of Buffalo. The devastation was extensive and will take months to clean up, Here is to all who came out to help yesterday and in the days and months to come.

    Gratitude, service and optimism are all force multiplyers.. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Hey Steve – thanks for the note. So sorry to hear about your neighbors’ homes.

      Needed reminder that someone always has worse problems than we do.

      Be well – Joe

  4. Great message, Joe. We get take-away at least once a week and tip obscenely. I will adopt the $5 gift card idea as well. We’re lucky and should share that good fortune with those who are still working to keep our lives and communities as “normal” as possible. Please stay safe and stay well.

    1. Peter – you were the inspiration for the post – the work you do with Big Brothers is wonderful and a great example.

      be well – Joe

  5. Thanks Joe. This is an uplifting message to start the season. I’m looking forward to the crisp, fresh air and stark beauty of the New England winter!

  6. Yes, it’s all about perspective. My family has made the decision to stay put, so this year for the first time I will spend Thanksgiving in sunny Ft. Lauderdale with my dog, Spencer. Instead of sitting at home I will be helping a church feed the homeless (social distance of course) Yes I will miss the grandkids but its about being thankful, that is more important.

  7. Joe, this is such a timely reminder that we can all do more to spread the love that others need so much!
    Thank you for this special post.

  8. Joe,
    Great message. But I hope your recommendations are not seasonal. I hope we can all do those things all year. And if the gray winter is getting monotonous, take a ride to Polly’s for the best pancakes in the world and enjoy the beauty of a New England winter.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and all of your readers.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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