• HDT Team

Finding Wonder in the Small Things: A Social Distancing Blog, Part 2

Things are different. It’s okay to feel different. If you need help, the National Alliance on Mental Health is a great resource and can help put you on a path back to feeling more like yourself. 

Nowadays, it is so easy to just get caught up in the big picture. Practicing safe protocols and doing what you can to “flatten the curve” has probably taken over a large section of your day. To be safe, we need to keep abreast of health protocols and guidelines. It’s just smart to do that. However, it’s really easy to get wrapped up in the stress.

The fear and the unknown can feel real.

So, the purpose of this article is to help remind you to take the time to focus on the something “close to home”, the something “small”.

The something “small” can be something that brings you joy. It can be the silver lining. It can be the touchstone that helps bring you to center, away from the fear and unknown.

One thing we do during our weekly virtual meetings is help bring everything to center. One of the techniques we practiced is the Awareness of the Five Senses.


This is a guided meditation script that helps to bring mindfulness to your five senses and I’ve found it helps to bring you to the here and now. It’s good for when you’re feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable and can really center you.

Once you’re centered, you should be able to get a grasp of the little things that make your day.

Here’s what our crew has been doing to help center themselves.

Shop Engineer Simon (Hunt Utilities Group), from over in the Mani shop, shared with me that he’s taking more time with his kids (as they’re home for school), going for bike rides and walks in the forest. He’s even been able to get a few board games in with them.

Dave snapped this pic on one of the nicer days


Food Production Coordinator Dave (HDT-Pine River) has been working with his hands in this time, which is to say he’s still been wrist deep in seedlings and raised beds. He has been able to get out and paddle around in his kayak, though.

Program Specialist Nora (HDT-Driftless Region)

While my life has certainly changed in the past few weeks, I can’t help but feel that some of my changes are less drastic than they have been for many others.  While I can’t see family outside of the house, visit with friends, play at the dog park, go to the yoga studio, or favor any of our local restaurants, my day to day routine is largely the same. I started working mostly from home two and a half years ago and I am fortunate to still be doing so now! I don’t have kids (unless you count my parents, who are sheltering in place with me 😉) and normally in my free time, I spend as much time wandering around in nature as I possibly can – and I’m still allowed to do that! 

The big change for me has been learning to share my love of nature and what I find out there with the rest of the world in new ways. Normally, I host a variety of environmental education programs for kids and adults. In the absence of public programs, we’ve had to get a little bit creative in how to do this. While I can’t bring kids out in nature, I certainly can share my time in nature with families and empower them with the knowledge they need to seek their own adventures. It’s made me aware that even as a deep lover of nature, I’ve come to take some of the things I see daily for granted, which is something I never thought I’d be guilty of! This is from a girl who gets excited to find animal poop on a trail! But, it’s true. My parents will animatedly call me over – waving their arms, voices octaves higher, and eyebrows hiding in their hair line –  to excitedly show me the birds in the front yard – robins, cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, juncos, etc. It took me a while to remember that I used to get this excited about those “common” birds in my yard, and somehow, as they grew to be part of my daily routine, they lost some of that excitement. 

By throwing myself into work that aims at getting people to appreciate the little things in nature, to explore out their front door, and to admire the beauty in the world around them, I’ve reignited my passion for the “common” things in nature. I’ve slowed down my walks on the trail I’ve traveled hundreds of times to re-examine the things I used to notice when I first started walking there – the tiny vole holes that fill the grasses, the intricate patterns of the dried plants left from last year, the early strawberry leaves popping out of the ground, the sounds of the frogs returning, the impressive girth of some of the largest trees, and the “common” animals as they go about their daily tasks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still constantly searching for the “uncommon” nature sightings, but in the meantime, I’ve remembered to be grateful for the beauty in the things we see daily, and I’m reveling in the opportunity to share it all with you!

Marketing Coordinator Colin (HDT-Pine River)

What have I focused on during our isolation time?

Food. Well, that is to say, food and my kids.

The days are long…


We’ve tried to stick to a schedule with the distance learning, which has been…difficult at times. However, we try to not let work and schoolwork dictate the day. In the end, I have to keep reminding myself, that kids are also little people. They *gasp* have their own emotions and feelings. And they just might feel overwhelmed, just like any other adult.

So, we also goof off with gusto.

We hike the trails outside our home. Our dog hasn’t been walked this much in his entire life. We play video games and watch movies and build indoor forts; anything to help remember that we can still live and love, even while on the verge of feeling overwhelmed.

We cook fantastic tasting meals, but we also know when we’re licked. We’ve utilized many local merchants delivery and curbside pick-up options. There are so many local businesses that desperately need the help and my family is eager to help.

These are simple ways to focus on the small things. As Nora just explained, finding the wonder in the common things is key. We are going through uncommon times, which can lead to a reframing of the norm. So, keying back to the things that have brought us stability and balance not only allows us to continue on in the new norm, but it also helps to ground us in our values.

If you are having trouble finding your footing, there are tools to help. Locally, in the Brainerd Lakes Area, a group has formed on Facebook called BLA Community Ties. Members are encouraged to express needs which are usually met within a few hours. It’s a really helpful outlet.

Let us know how you’re finding the new times. What are your tools? Who is your community? Share with us so we can spread the love.

Remember, that we are in this together.

#covid #GetOutside #MentalHealth