In a Crazy World…Gratitude & Self-Care are Key

I googled the phrase ‘world gone crazy’ to find a song I was remembering with those lyrics. As it turns out there are numerous songs with that title or something very similar! Some are recent and the videos on YouTube show photos depicting images associated with the pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, and other times where hate, destruction, and war were prevalent. I suppose the world has always had times that were crazy, but we still must keep on living.

This blog is dedicated to finding opportunities for gratitude and thankfulness despite the craziness and to performing acts of self-care despite what’s in the news. November is usually the month associated with gratitude and thankfulness since “Thanksgiving” always occurs on the 4th Thursday. This holiday is a time when we gather with family and friends to share our bounty of food and express gratitude for each other and what we have in this world. People travel near and far to do this. In fact, Thanksgiving is one of the most traveled holidays in the United States, causing traffic delays on the roads, tracks and in the skies – which can be quite stressful.

Let’s see what we can do to make mid-November and Thanksgiving a little less stressful and healthier all around. First, be grateful for the variety of foods we eat on this American holiday that are native to our country and continent. Second, limit the amount of time you take in ‘the news’ and do things that provide a little bit of an escape from our harsh reality. And third, engage in activities that help others and repair the world – in keeping with the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam.

Eat Native Foods:

Did you know that potatoes (considered a starchy vegetable) were cultivated by the Incas in South America 1,800 years ago? Potatoes with colored skins (purple, gold and red) as well as sweet potatoes are more nutritious than white potatoes. They also add pleasing color to your meal. Corn (botanically a fruit but classified as a starchy vegetable or grain) provides many vitamins and elements that the body needs in moderation. Pumpkins are seasonal to autumn and pumpkin pie is often a dish we see for Thanksgiving dessert. But don’t forget about the other kinds of squash (winter, butternut, spaghetti, acorn, etc.) that bring color and nutrients to a dish or can be made into a hearty winter soup.

Other healthy native American foods that can enhance your Thanksgiving table include cacao bean, tomatoes, and chili peppers. Cacao is the basis for chocolate which was used by the Mayans in Central America to make a bitter “drink of the Gods;” it contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Beans (black, white, red, kidney) and legumes (like as lentils and green beans) are a good sour of protein and very versatile to use in dishes. Green beans are native to South and Central America and are often found in the popular creamy casserole on Thanksgiving but they can be cooked in a heathier way (roasting, steaming, sautéing). Tomatoes, also native to South America have many vitamins, minerals and are known for the phytochemical lycopene and are versatile all year round. Finally, chili peppers (considered berries) are native to South America and cultivated in Mexico, bring taste and heat to any dish they are cooked in. The chemical they are known to provide through ingesting or topically is capsicum.

Limit news watching time and do leisure activities:

It is easy to get caught up in watching the news. It is available 24/7, after all. But it is not ideal. Whether it is first thing in the morning or in the evening after work, limit how much time you read the newspaper/news feeds, watch television, or listen to the radio/podcasts. Take a break by doing something that takes your mind off of current events – engage in a favority hobby, exercise, cook, knit, read a book, socialize with friends, take a long shower/bath, walk in nature or participate in a Pozez JCC adult program,. To find a list of upcoming programs click here: Events | Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (

Help Repair the World (perform Tikkun Olam):

In this time of gratitude and thankfulness, it is our moral obligation to help others in need. The Women’s Social Impact Group (WSIG) was created with this vision in mind. Currently, WSIG is working to combat homelessness and hunger and improve the environment with its mission of recycle, repurpose, reuse. One of our most important commitments is to the annual FACETS Hypothermia Prevention Program where we assist Bethlehem Lutheran Church each winter in hosting guests for a week; December 24-31 is our week this year. You can support this effort in a few ways:

  1. Buy raffle tickets for the Baskets of Love FUNdraiser in the J’s Lobby (through November 15)
  2. Volunteer for JCC Days during Hypothermia Prevention Week – click on the signupgenius link for opportunities to provide meals, food/snack items, gift cards, supplies and assistance: Pozez JCC: Hypothermia Prevention Week: JCC Days (
  3. Become a member of WSIG and/or the Community Impact & Engagement Department’s new Volunteer Center.

I hope you can take time out to be good to yourself this month…eat healthy (and include native foods this Thanksgiving), pursue pleasurable activities to destress, feel gratitude and thankfulness for what you do have, and give back to the community. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

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