Point of View: Intention as a means to pay it forward

A few days ago I received a phone call with news that a high school friend living in South Dakota died due to COVID-19. These stories are decreasing for now, thankfully, yet we still have a long way to go before we can feel safe in this community, this country and globally.

The collegiate definition of intention reads: 1) what one intends to do or bring about, 2) a determination to act in a certain way: resolve, 3) concept, especially a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge .

A year ago when this state locked down, headed by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, health professionals statewide decided to take responsibility with intention to save lives and educate people how to stay safe. Using the Quick Facts Dashboard designed by a high school student last year, (nCoV2019.live, if you want easy to read facts updated daily), Alaska reports 54,282 cases, 280 deaths (the only state lower is Vermont), 1,584,548 tests given and 192 vaccines in development. These are world wide data. Our health professionals’ intention became fact. As the vaccines roll out, we can be encouraged and grateful to all who have participated to lessen suffering.

The pandemic and political rancor this past election cycle resulting in the recent riot at the U.S .Capitol and subsequent impeachment hearings, leaves us all exhausted. Daily positivity requires intention even when one cannot feel upbeat regarding ones’ immediate experience.

David H. Song, M.D., a plastic surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center, says it takes 12 facial muscles to smile and 11 to frown, not accounting for energy consumed in the rest of the facial musculature. Other research states more muscles to frown than smile. Research reports smiling lifts the sense of sadness. We are wired to facial expressions and mirror expressions around us. The song “Put on a Happy Face” does that for us when we listen to the words and upbeat music.

Smiling is not just good for the community in which the sad sack or grouch lives, i.e. Sesame Street, it’s also beneficial to the person grinning and happy. One of my younger siblings played a game. She would say, “Let’s laugh,” and begin to laugh heartily as if she heard a joke. She would ratchet her laughter from a giggle to a full on belly laugh and before long everyone around her was laughing for no reason other than she started the laughter and changed the mood around her.

Facial expressions contribute to a feeling, not merely signal what one feels. As social beings, we impact the world around us. If we smile even when we don’t feel like it, our mood will elevate despite ourselves. Likewise, looking dour or grouchy brings on a sense of not much liking the world that day. Being conscious of our intention to spread good will and happiness during these difficult times may change the day dramatically for all of us.

When the Covid Brief broadcasts each Thursday morning on KBBI, the team’s report not only informs but lifts this community with information and a sense that we work together to beat this virus and make progress to opening Homer back to normalcy. The vaccination clinics’ positive reports, news in the paper, word on the street and personal accounts reinforce the intention of this community working toward this goal.

Let’s all do our part: mask to protect ourselves and others, socially distance from others, get vaccinated, wash hands often, smile even when we may not feel like it and go forward with intention to spread love.

Flo Larson is a Homer Foundation Trustee. The monthly Pay it Forward column is sponsored by the Homer Foundation, a community foundation promoting local philanthropy since 1991. To learn more, visit www.homerfoundation.org and like them on Facebook.

Nonprofit Needs

Hospice of Homer is running low on equipment. Please return any items you are not currently using. They are also looking for barrier cream, anti-itch cream, heavy male guards, heavy bladder pads, Ingrid brand 1-prong ice gripper cane tips, blank greeting cards (preferably scenes of Alaska), glider tips for walkers, wheelchairs, transfer chairs, walkers (two wheeled) and a microwave. Contact Holly at director@hospiceofhomer.org.

Haven House is looking for bottled water, reusable cloth or paper bags. Contact maggie@havenhousealaska.org.

The Homer Community Food Pantry would appreciate small jars (approximately 16 ounces) of creamy peanut butter. Contact Dennis at homerfoodpantry@gmail.com.

The R.E.C. Room is looking for sitting chairs, accent chairs, bean bag chairs, art supplies (charcoal pencils, sketchpads, watercolor sets), tablets or Ipads with cases, and organizing totes. Contact Sierra at recroom@kbfpc.org.

Homer Hockey Association is looking for a snowblower. Contact Heidi at info.kevinbellarena@gmail.com.