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Nov 19, 2021

What Can You Celebrate?

While so much has changed and been taken away from us since March 2020, I’m reminded of a mantra I heard many years ago that has helped me navigate these surreal times: “Focus on the doughnut, not on the hole.”

Here we are, 20 months later, still masked up, albeit moving more freely about. We have to prove our vaccination status as entry to restaurants and theatres. But the fact that we are free to eat out and attend cultural events is such a great change from a year ago that I want to spend this post celebrating what we’ve gotten back, not what we’re still missing.

I attended my daughter-in-law’s aunt’s 67th birthday last month. We sat outside her parents’ house in NJ to celebrate this special person. Including the grandkids, there were about 15 of us sitting on patio chairs, sharing drinks and snacks, and talking. Nothing extraordinary, but the joy was palpable. Just being in other humans’ company felt intoxicatingly rare. Having been isolated and restricted for so long, what was once unremarkable now demands mentioning. To be with loved ones again is no small feat.

This year’s Thanksgiving is all the more special because we lived through not having one in 2020. What else can you say that about?

The hole has been enormous these past many months. But what does your doughnut look like these days?

While I could create an inventory of a baker’s dozen gratitudes that include family, friends, health and peace of mind, I’ll use this space to mention three enterprises I choose to celebrate, all of which came out of this unique time. In a sense, each is based on relationships, the crux of my happiness.

  1. I adore what I’m doing artistically, which is not to brag but to express my extreme delight at returning to my roots as an artist. The daily pleasure of working with color, shape and texture is so fulfilling that I find it hard to believe I existed for nearly 20 years without being hands on.
  2. I introduced Gentle Coaching Circles to my offerings and am purring over the dramatic outcomes of its members. Meanwhile, I have been exerting a softer, less boot-camp-y, approach and getting completely satisfying results.
  3. My marketing strategy for 2020, based on a colleague’s suggestion, has been to reach out and connect to one individual a week for a coffee (or more often a zoom) date. I’m up to 49 of these sessions which have included past clients, college friends, Semester-at-Sea buddies, artists I want to know better, and other friends and colleagues based as far apart as Israel and Seattle. It’s energized me and created opportunities. The most memorable and unexpected was my field trip to Wilkes Barre, PA to meet Therese Inverso who is the maven of felted wool.

The first on my list encompasses my relationship with myself; the second is about my dear client alliances, and the third includes every other contact I’ve enjoyed this year. In my writing classes I learned about a technique called the “bagel” where what you begin your piece with you end with. I’ll take the literary license to make the technique a “doughnut” today and note that I’ve come full circle (sorry!) in noticing what is heartening in my life and leaving out what’s not there.

I’d love to hear what you’re focusing on and celebrating this unique year.



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  1. Lynne Marino

    Jane – good to hear from you! This Thanksgiving we are fulfilling a bucket list item for my parents! 14 of us are meeting in Colonial Williamsburg. A real treat to be together and celebrate Thanksgiving with historical meaning.

    • Jane Pollak

      @Lynne I have always been, and continue to be, envious of your extraordinary family ties. Between your two families, you’ve covered the globe. But more important, you love each other’s company. That’s the best gift of all. Thank you for contributing this.

  2. Karen Martin

    Dear Jane,
    In May of this year, I finally got to see my first grandchild on his first birthday. My daughters live in LA and after being vaccinated, I was able to get on a plane and see them. For the first time I held my grandson in my arms. I wasn’t sure if he would be afraid. On the contrary, he melted into me and it felt so good. We smiled. A loving connection via FaceTime all this while, was nothing compared to the real thing! Contact. I was a mother’s helper for ten days, assisting my daughter in any way I could. Since they were moving from an apartment into their first house, the organizer in me culled through and rearranged her pantry. It was in a large, deep, white, six foot cabinet with shelves and doors. The cabinet was filled to the brim with formula, cans, boxes and jars, pushed back and stacked up high. I took everything out and placed it around the kitchen. The best thing about this project was the “find” – unused baby food which our little one didn’t like. We were able to donate quite a bit to families in need. And at last my daughter could see what she had on her shelves. A simple act from a Mother to a new Mother. And so pleasurable!

    • Jane Pollak

      @Karen Your beautiful comment gave me goosebumps and touched my heart. Thank you so much for contributing this experience of joyful pleasure.


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