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  • Josh Goller

Reframing Attitude in Times of Challenge

It seems like forever ago that our community began responding to the COVID public health crisis. Businesses, including ours, have faced significant disruptions to their usual operations. Social gatherings have been curtailed. Schools and churches, institutions of community that help connect people together, have reduced their in-person offerings or moved entirely to a virtual environment. The usual summer travels of families have instead been met with orders to quarantine. Things relaxed for us in Umatilla County for a while. We even reached Phase 2 of reopening until a few weeks back being relegated back to baseline status, the proverbial “Phase Zero.”

Given all of this, it would be completely understandable if you were feeling a little down. Trust me, I get it! But perhaps we could all benefit by looking at our present circumstances through a little bit different lens.

This thought has been percolating for me for a little while now:

What if instead of seeing this as a time of challenge, we instead looked for the opportunities to be found in our current circumstances?

I recently recorded a video welcoming new teachers and staff to the Hermiston School District on behalf of the school board. In that video, I wanted to let staff know that we were support of them even in the midst of the most unusual start to a school year any of them have likely ever encountered. I suggested that while the task ahead of teaching students virtually will be a significant challenge, it also comes with opportunities. Teachers can experiment and try new things to help them reach students. Students that might be extremely introverted might find new ways to connect with material and engage with their teachers in ways that help them feel more confident and less likely to feel judgement from their peers. Are these times going to be difficult? Certainly. Are there some positives that might be gained? Absolutely! Let’s look for those.

I think this type of reframing our perceptions can be applicable beyond the educational setting and is a healthy practice to employ. As I consider the past few months, it would be easy to dwell on the negatives, but I would be missing out on some pretty positive things that have happened! During our time at home, we’ve had a chance to draw closer together as a family. We’ve started a new family routine of getting out for a walk together through our neighborhood nearly every night. We’ve eaten more meals at the dinner table over the past six months than ever before.

Professionally, it’s been very strange having such a quiet office. During our first Stay-at-Home order in March, I closed the office and worked primarily from home. This time around, the office has been closed to the public and support staff are working from home, but I’ve been trying to maintain the routine of coming into the office for nearly full workdays during this time. It helps me to separate my work life from my home life. It’s hard to make the switch between home and office when they inhabit the same physical space. I’ve missed meeting with clients in the office. I’ve missed the office banter we often take part in. Right now, the only sounds I have are the clicking of computer keys, some distant road noise, and the sound of cool air pouring out through the air vent (a great feeling in the expected 100 degree-plus heat today, for sure!). Again, it would be easy to dwell on these negatives. But there are certainly positives!

I have had a chance to catch up on Medicare certifications that each year can be hard to squeeze into the schedule. They’re time consuming and are required every year. This year, there is finally enough time to ensure they are completed before open enrollment kicks off in October without having to scramble. We’ve been able to make a significant partnership agreement that I’m looking forward to sharing details on in the weeks ahead. And I’ve had a chance to revamp my office space. I’ve been in this particular office for nearly 4 years. The color scheme in the office was a two-toned mustard yellow and wine combination that I have long wanted to change. Last night, Rachel and the kids and I came in and got the first coat of paint applied to give the office a much-needed refresh. While it’s not done, it is so much better now! These things would not have happened had the office been fully opened for the public.

Cheap labor: they work for Blizzards from Dairy Queen!

In this time of uncertainty and challenge, it is altogether too easy to get bogged down by the emotional weight of all the things we cannot do. I feel that from time to time, too. But let’s commit ourselves for looking for those bright patches even in the midst of what might feel like dark times. We might just surprise ourselves by how much we still can do, even in spite of our circumstances!

Take care of yourselves and stay healthy!

Josh Goller

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