Beth Anderson

Beth Anderson

I’d like to share the opening lyrics of the song “John Ed Hammet” by Peter and Lou Berryman. The song follows John Ed Hammet through one misfortune after another that fails to dampen his spirit for life. His attitude of gratitude persists under various difficult circumstances.

“John Ed Hammet felt good about everything / Nothing he had done had gone wrong that day / Sun wasn’t shining but for John it was a blessing / ‘Cause he really liked the weather when the sky was grey.”

The song makes me laugh, but I think it is also a lesson that never gets old. Things don’t always go the way we think they should, but that doesn’t mean we have to give in to anger or despair. Cultivating strength, hope, and new ideas can fortify us for difficult times.

This week was a bit depressing in the political news with the Minnesota Legislature still fighting over the COVID relief bonuses for essential workers and at the federal level, the U.S. Senate once again failed to allow discussion of a voting rights bill.

Then we have October, which is both Breast Cancer Awareness month and Domestic Violence Awareness month. Couple that with the distinct possibility that women’s access to abortion is likely to lose federal protection and the fact that, despite the Equal Rights Amendment having been ratified by 38 states, it has still not been amended to our constitution — as a woman, you might be feeling a distinct lack of agency.

Then we have the changing season to colder, shorter days and we are looking at another winter of restrictions on gatherings. The hope is it won’t be as bad as last year as we are 70% vaccinated in Minnesota, but there will be some more vulnerable citizens who will limit their indoor gatherings to avoid transmission of COVID-19 and whatever variant is surging at the moment. The carefree pre-COVID gatherings appear to be a thing of the past.

So, what is one to do? Sit around and moan and mope? Attractive as that might seem for about a day and a half, it is neither productive nor sustainable. One must also look at the bright side of human ingenuity and activism. One must be inspired. And if one is not feeling inspired, one must take good care of self, mind and body, in order to live life fully on another day.

Seeking out day-brighteners can be very helpful in maintaining that attitude of gratitude.

This time of year, you don’t have to go far to see the bounty of the harvest. My trip to the Savage Farmer’s Market on Sunday never fails to bring a smile to my face, and fresh vegetables to my table. I can vouch that the Sweet Tango apples are spectacular this year. The last day for the Savage Farmers Market is tomorrow, you should go and partake in the last of the local harvest, you’ll be glad you did.

Another annual delight is the glorious fall colors and weather. We have had an exceptionally warm fall with many sunny days. The trees have been beautiful and for anyone who saw last week’s full moon, you know how powerful spending a bit of time in the natural world can be.

Then there are the rituals of the season, a bit of fall decorating, some pumpkin carving and the beginning of the fall/holiday cooking season. When was the last time you roasted pumpkin seeds or made caramel apples? What is your go-to soup or stew for this season?

Another day brightener can be a little exercise. Exercise will often help with both body and mind health, boosting mood along with toning muscles. Building your strength with a little hiking, or walking, or old an Richard Simmons videos will fortify your efforts at inspiration. There is no reason you can’t occasionally have spa day at home.

For inspiration, try reading, anything from fiction to technical journals. I recently read in the Viking Magazine that a company called Norwegian Salmon has installed ATM machines in Singapore that dispense salmon. You can get smoked salmon or sushi-grade salmon for your dinner right out of the vending machine. How this ended up in Singapore, I don’t know.

A couple months later, I read in Ms. Magazine about the American Society of Emergency Contraception working with campus activists to provide over-the-counter emergency contraception in vending machines. That way students would have access to emergency contraception even when the student health center was closed and without having to ask a pharmacist for the medication.

There are two new ideas right there, vending machine inspiration.

With so much discord on the airwaves, it’s important to take a step back and remember we have more in common than we do differences. Not everything has to be a fight. Cultivating the sunny disposition, being inspired by nature, or learning a new idea can help us cope with the hair-on-fire messages we get every day.

Today, per John Ed Hammet, “I’m happier than I’ve ever been because whatever I’ve attempted has turned out right.”

Beth Anderson is a Savage resident and a Community Voices contributor.