April 2021: From Beth Fisher-Yoshida

Dear SPS Faculty,

April is a transition month for us this year. Usually, May is the transition month from spring semester to summer session. However, almost nothing in the past year has a precedent and so once again we are transitioning. It does not feel as abrupt as the sudden change we needed to make one year ago March, yet spring semester seems to be ending when it feels like it has only just begun.

Spring is a time of rejuvenation. We can see it around us as the trees are greening, flowers are blooming and we can even hear the sounds of birds if we venture outside or open our windows. Going outside seems like a novel idea after being cooped up in our homes for more than one year. We should have saved commuting time, but somehow managed to convert that into more Zoom meetings.

As we are finishing up our classes and submitting our final grades, it is a good idea to take stock of what needs new energy. This summer is longer for us and a good opportunity to refresh, revitalize and reinvigorate ourselves from the trials and tribulations of the past year and to gear up for the fall semester. What will you do that is fresh and gives you energy? And that can still keep you safe and socially distanced, while helping you be more social?

The weather is in our favor so more activities can be done outside. Seeking balance with more physical activity, mental engagement, the emotion of sheer joy, and being away from our computer screens are good things. It is a great time to do something different. Maybe learn a new language, read a book of a different genre, practice yoga, take up calligraphy, anything that will utilize different parts of your body and brain. Recent work in the neurosciences shows us that we can continue to learn and grow as adults, so let’s figure out the ways that both challenge us and give us that elated feeling children so often have of learning something new and being successful at it.

Of course, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves if our attempts do not quite reach the level of mastery we seek, but laughing is a good thing. You do not need to be happy first to laugh, because laughter itself can make you happy. It gives us so much oxygen and releases endorphins. It uses more than 15 different facial muscles and has been known to help people lose weight.

Laughter has social significance as well as it strengthens social bonds and helps people feel safer. So go out there, be social, get a workout, lose weight, and laugh.

Thank you,