Abundance in a time of the Corona Virus: Is “more” better?

A good friend of mine recently invited me to join in an online course focused on understanding the concept of abundance and what it means in our lives. At first, I thought I have too many other things that needed my attention, but then I thought: What better time could there be than now?

The Cambridge dictionary defines abundance as a situation in which there is more than enough of something.  The opposite of abundance is scarcity, a concept that parents and teachers are most aware off. This awareness is prominent in our attempts to get young children to understand the concept  “more” to allow us to understand when they  want more food, wants to watch more TV or play for a longer time.

The concept is, however,  also frequently used in the context of abundant living, which relates to the meaningfulness of life. Abundance here does not only refer to the quantity or how much we have, but the meaning of  what we have in our lives.

It highlights the meaning we attach to what we have – and how this manifests in our lives by for example, observing a child smile, an act of kindness, appreciating a nice view, a flower etc.

Like so many other people around the world, I too am at home after the schools have closed to try and prevent the spread of Covit-19.  Being socially isolated, even though difficult,  is one of the most effective ways of slowing the spread of the infection. We have all heard that, read that, but still – it is really challenging. Having children at home all day and not being able to follow the typical daily routines in the household, require innovative planning  to try and keep harmony and peace in the home.

As governments urge citizens to adhere to these restrictions, I am touched, however,  by just how many people have responded to this call by diligently staying away from public places and limiting interactions with others. One can argue that they are protecting themselves, but this action also protects others.

This realization made me think about how we view the link between self and other and the importance of acknowledging how our own actions form part of a bigger collective whole. We might not always be clear of our own intentions, but the fabric of our community rest upon the principle “for the bigger good of all”.  This principle of  “for the bigger good” made me reflect on a recent interview  I watched featuring Elly Frankl, the widow of Viktor Fankl. For those who don’t know, Viktor Fankl was a psychiatrist  and founder of the logotherapy method which was based on the principle of “the will to meaning”. He is also well- known for his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” which is an account of his perceptions of life within the concentration camps. The focus of his work was the exploration of how people can attach new meaning to their existence in the concentration camps.

In this video, Elly Frank talked about their marriage and her experiences with Viktor Fankl. She talked about how he was child-like in his ability to perceive and appreciate the world around him. She expresses her surprise in the fact that such a great and intelligent man, Viktor Fankl,  would have chosen her, an uneducated woman from a very poor background, to spend his life with. And yet, they were happily married for over 52 years. She elaborates on the fullness of her life and how easy this fullness makes it to accept her approaching death.

Clearly, the concentration camps during The Holocaust was an extreme example of deprivation. However, as we are socially isolating, I can’t help wondering if there is a message in this interview for us. Perhaps this is a period of reflection that can indeed create a search for new meaning in our personal and communal life.

What do you think?

Typing with Hand-over-hand Support: Is This Really Communication?

Letter board

I recently read the article “After years with no way to communicate, Newburgh teen finds her voice.” Like so many other similar stories, this heartwarming narrative gives an account of how a young women is using supported typing to “communicate.” The mother describes how this strategy has helped her teenage daughter to communicate and find her “voice.” Her daughter points to letters on a letter board while another person (the facilitator) supports the daughter’s wrist during the process of typing.

Although it is good to read positive stories like this, it is important that we alert parents and professionals to the pitfalls involved in describing “supported or assisted typing” as a communication strategy.

Continue reading “Typing with Hand-over-hand Support: Is This Really Communication?”

Being with Another: The Basis for AAC intervention?

Two people together at sunset

I recently went back to South Africa to see my mom, who is 88. She is in a nursing facility with 24-hour care, unable to walk, and at times quite confused. During the past year she had a couple of ischemic attacks, which rendered her unable to speak for certain periods of time. Recently, however, she has regained some speech, although verbal expression remains difficult. In spite of all these factors, I looked forward to our visit.

The author with her mom and her brother
The author with her mom and her brother

I talk to my mom on the phone from New York on a daily basis. Even though interactions are difficult, we are able to maintain interaction for sometimes shorter and sometimes longer periods of time. My visits with her are less focused on content and more on celebrating the joy of being together.

When in Johannesburg, I visit her at the facility twice a day for about an hour each in the morning and afternoon, depending on how my mom and I seem to be doing at the time and on a specific day. Continue reading “Being with Another: The Basis for AAC intervention?”

Riding the Whirlwind: Human Interactions and Emotional Resonance

Whirlwinds

On a recent visit to South Africa, I realized again the importance of traveling to bring fresh perspectives as well as new insights into human interactions.

Moral Compass: Political cartoon of Nelson Mandela by Zapiro
[Source]
Truth be told, this is a difficult time politically in South Africa; and dealing with political views while visiting family can be interesting albeit quite disturbing at times. A political cartoon by Zapiro (Daily Maverick) stayed with me, as it connected to a dilemma that I encountered while visiting an elderly friend who lives on her own in Johannesburg. The cartoon depicts Nelson Mandela showing the way to go, while the current President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, is caught up in a moral whirlwind (windvane) without an escape route. The depiction of “being caught up in a whirlwind” struck me as I reflected on the situation that my 91-year-old friend finds herself in. Continue reading “Riding the Whirlwind: Human Interactions and Emotional Resonance”

A Culture of Collaboration Among Teachers, Therapists, and Parents?

Team collaboration

I often find myself amazed at how difficult it can be to get parents, teachers, and therapists to engage in conversation with each other on topics of mutual interest. I wonder whether lack of collaboration is about not having time; or whether it is a reflection of the belief that working on “my own goals” as a professional is the expected practice within schools? Continue reading “A Culture of Collaboration Among Teachers, Therapists, and Parents?”