10 Ways to Shine Your Light in Dark Times

By Allan Weisbard L.C.S.W.


Since 1963, autumn has been a difficult time for me. Two months shy of my 13th birthday I lost my younger brother to cancer, then shortly afterwards, President Kennedy was assassinated.

During this dark time somehow my family, and the country made it through. In the Jewish tradition, I remember lighting a candle for someone who’s passed to help us navigate the darkness.

That year deepened me emotionally and laid the groundwork to my becoming a therapist. Now, as I remember these events of 57 years ago, I realize that’s where I developed my long-standing interest in resilience. We all need adaptability as we patiently make our way through this long, dark winter.

When darkness looms shine your light. I am a train enthusiast, many times I walked through abandoned train tunnels aided only by my flashlight. I’d journey into the heart of the darkness, although it frightened me, I was compelled to turn off the light for just a moment. As soon as I turned the light back on, I had a sense of relief, and easily saw my way to the light at the end of the tunnel.

All of us struggle with darkness, when we make our light shine bright we can dispel the shadows. Here are 10 tips to help you SHINE YOUR LIGHT, even when it feels like you’re in a long, dark tunnel.

Cultivate Healthy Optimism

This perspective can be as simple as remembering to tell yourself, “I will get through this.” To strengthen my resolve, I remember “This too shall pass” as well as the Serenity Prayer.

Clearly Communicate Your Boundaries

Realizing our COVID precautions are not just for ourselves, but a sign of love and respect for family, friends, and community, makes it easier to be firm in our limits. The coronavirus doesn’t own us, we have control over our actions and the risks we choose to take.

Remember Kindness Goes a Long Way

Many of us in our community are having a difficult time financially and emotionally. Are there ways in which you can give to others? A powerful practice is to be kind to somebody every day. Remember to thank those who have done something special for you.

Be Grateful and Appreciative

When I feel down, I find things for which to be thankful. I consider how much more terrifying the 1918 flu must have been for our ancestors. With modern medicine and technology, there is no better time to be living through a pandemic. We have a vaccine on the horizon, video conferencing, movies, and online ordering at our fingertips.

See the Silver Linings

How have you benefited from the new and unexpected perspectives that ‘sheltering in place’ has brought to your life? It’s easy to concentrate on what we have lost. I know that I have gained a more leisurely lifestyle with more time to explore new interests. I have been using a music app that will help me (hopefully) improve my singing. What have you gained? (No weight jokes please).

Challenge Your Pessimistic Thinking

Replace negative, self-limiting thoughts with positive self-talk. Focus on what went right instead of what went wrong. What are some of the changes the pandemic has brought to your life that you appreciate? Find something that can bring you joy each day. Appreciate fresh air, foliage, clouds etc.:

Maintain a Sense of Awe

A sense of awe is valuable for getting through hard times. A walk in the woods, gardening or watching nature-oriented shows is soothing. A recent study showed that those who participate in walks actively seeking out moments of awe, increase their positive emotions and decrease distress.

Maintain Social Connection While Physical Distancing

Many people have re-connected with friends and relatives utilizing zoom. A continued sense of social bonds is a key to happiness. Is there someone you can reach out to?

Curate Your Exposure to the News and Social Media

Find some good news, it’s out there! Share with others the optimistic stories you have found. Feel free to take a news sabbatical. Read news articles from different sections of the paper such as science, health, or book reviews.

Imagine Positive, Joyful Outcomes

Make a positive Post-Pandemic Plan for yourself. I have travel in mind, but I am truly looking forward to visiting friends and family, without worrying about COVID. What are some of the activities you are looking forward to? Inside the word emergency is the root word emerge. How do you want to emerge differently from this crisis/opportunity?

I encourage you to choose a couple of ideas from this list and give them a try. I’m optimistic that when you do, it will strengthen your resilience. If you are still having trouble getting your light to shine, reach out to a friend or a professional for help.

Allan Weisbard is a licensed clinical social worker who counsels his patients to reduce stress while increasing their resilience. Check out his website at www.HealthyOptimism.com to read tips on how to become more resilient.

More Co-op News

January Change for Good Recipient: Rogue Valley Mentoring

Since 2005, Rogue Valley Mentoring (formerly the Rose Circle Mentoring Network) has trained over 500 adults who have mentored over 2,000 youth in our valley; letting young people know that they are not alone. A caring and compassionate ear shows them that they matter, and they they are experts of their own experience.

Rogue Valley Mentoring Circle

Shopping Safely & Efficiently


As coronavirus cases increase in Jackson County, the Co-op is taking extra precautions to protect shoppers and employees. 

To ensure social distancing in the store, the number of persons allowed in the store at once has been reduced to 50% capacity. Understandably, this may lead to a short wait outside of the store, but please be assured the line moves quickly.

In order to keep the wait as short as possible, here are a few steps you can take to help out:

Masks Required for All In-Store Shoppers

To protect the health of Co-op staff and shoppers, all shoppers and other visitors on Ashland Food Co-op property must wear face coverings over mouth and nose except when dining in an approved area. As of November 11, 2020, face shields will not be permitted unless worn with a mask. 

From the Board: Co-ops Look in the Mirror

By Annie Hoy, Board Secretary and Chair of Owner Engagement Committee

Food Co-ops around the nation proudly display signage saying EVERYONE WELCOME. Or they use the slogan, “Anyone can shop. Anyone can join.” But are food co-ops, and other cooperative businesses, walking the walk? 

November/December GM Update: Overcoming Challenges

It’s probably already cliche to say “it’s been one heck of a year.” There have been challenges a-plenty for all of us, whether we’re working or shopping at the Co-op - but I’m so proud of how all of us have persevered. 

End of year wrap-up on Strategic Energy Management at the Co-op

Hi there. I hope this finds you well. It’s me, Nina Friedman, Strategic Energy Management (SEM) intern for the Ashland Food Co-op. The global and local crises have only devolved into further chaos since we last spoke. As we sit with the reality of coworkers, neighbors, and friends who’ve lost their homes and businesses to the recent fires, and thousands more across the nation losing their loved ones to COVID-19, I imagine many are feeling frozen and powerless to help those that are suffering.

SNAP in the Co-op Kitchen and Thanksgiving

Use your SNAP EBT benefits for all Co-op Kitchen items through November 20th, 2020!

Recognizing the difficulties in food preparation for families who lost their homes in the local wildfires, the State of Oregon has expanded SNAP benefits to be used for hot foods, like made-to-order and hot bar meals from the Co-op Kitchen, through November 20.

And starting on November 16, you can get an early taste of Thanksgiving as the Co-op Kitchen hot bar rolls out the full Thanksgiving spread. 

Black Lives Matter

We acknowledge that the Ashland Food Co-op has not had a culture where all employees and community members felt safe sharing their experiences of discrimination in our store. We apologize for this. We are on a learning journey. We have reached out for help, and are listening to our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) employees and owners who want to be part of the positive change we seek.

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Vendors & businesses donating to relief efforts

From day one of the Almeda Fires, the Co-op team wanted to help the community. They reached out to vendors across the region and country to ask for their help with products, supplies and food to get to the fire victims.

And that help came through in big ways, getting nutritious food to displaced families, home supplies in high demand, and wellness and food for first responders and firefighters. Thank you for supporting these businesses as thanks for their help in our community's relief efforts.

October news at the Co-op

October is typically Co-op month, to highlight how differently cooperatives do business. But instead of talking about the 7 Cooperative Principles, or the ownership benefits of being part of the Co-op, we only need to look at the past four weeks to see what being a cooperative really means.

As part of the co-op family, you've helped the entire community immensely. 

Support Co-op staff to rebuild

The Ashland Food Co-op is dedicated to helping our community and our staff rebuild after the Almeda Fires in early September. 

For immediate support, the Co-op gave $1,000 to staff who lost their homes in the fires, as well as $250 for food and other household needs for anyone displaced due to a level 3 evacuation order.

We are thankful for the connection that so many of you have to our staff - you depend on us for recommendations, special requests, and quality customer service; and we depend on you for smiles, kindness, and interactions that brighten our day. 

Smoke Safety

There are some straight-forward and helpful ways to look out for your health when smoke is in the Rogue Valley. Here are a few suggestions:

Smoke Safety Tips

10 Things to Do in Ashland (When It's Smoky)

Ashland is a paradise for the outdoors - but sometimes Mother Nature has different plans for us.

When smoke from wildfires becomes an issue, there are still plenty of great activities to enjoy around our wonderful town. Check out this list for some inspiration!

Change for Good in September: Southern Oregon Land Conservancy

For the month of September, Ashland Food Co-op shoppers can round up at the register to support Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. Since 1973, SOLC has been working on multiple fronts to improve land quality and conservation for humans and nature alike. Check out some of the projects below that SOLC has been working on recently. And mark your calendar for Saturday, October 24, as SOLC hosts an Open Lands Day hike and tour on the Rogue River Preserve.