Columnists

April 12th, 2021

What I learned on the Mount Misery Trail

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It was one of those perfect winter days, cold and clear with the bluest of blue skies above six inches of blindingly white snow that blanketed the frozen pond, the trail through the pines and the meadow below. The trail skirted the base of a small hill, Mount Misery, which gives its name to this reservation where Thoreau used to amble on excursions from his cabin at Walden Pond. My wife and I were ambling in his footsteps, enjoying the beauty of nature and taking photos to inspire her landscape paintings. If ever there was a time and place to [More]

March 21st, 2021

Dispatch from the COVID-19 vaccine scheduling front

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Dateline: February 25, 2021, the little room at the top of the stairs. The little room at the top of the stairs is quiet now. The extra chair where my wife sat with her Ipad is back in the bedroom where it belongs, our insurance cards are tucked safely into our wallets, and my Twitter feed with real-time updates on vaccine availability is silent. The smoke has cleared and so have our heads. I am back here six hours after a four-hour battle this morning with various websites where I attempted and ultimately succeeded in scheduling an appointment for my [More]

February 9th, 2021

Dear Mister President

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Dear President Biden: First of all, let me congratulate you on your inauguration as our nation’s 46th president. Eighty-one million of your fellow citizens expressed their solidarity with you on election day. That leaves 74 million voters on the other side of what has become a great divide in American politics and culture. Your goal of unifying our country is monumental, but from what I know of your character, so are your sincerity and resolve. I am writing to express my support and to offer some insights from psychological science that may be of help. As a retired clinical psychologist, [More]

January 12th, 2021

What we learned from 2020

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It is January again and time to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one with hope for better days ahead. We do this every year, and no matter what has gone before, we hope that something better is waiting just out of sight on the second or third page of our new calendar, getting ready to give us a nice surprise. Given what 2020 brought us, we’ll be happy with any improvement. The year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020: divisive politics as never before seen in our lifetime, and racial injustice on a grand scale, brought [More]

December 7th, 2020

Giving thanks for the joy of a perfect morning

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Sometimes in the morning when I have the house to myself, I leave it behind and set out for a walk in the woods. It’s a short drive to a wide dusty space just off the road where a trail leads through the pines and curves around the lakeshore to a solitary picnic table. In autumn, the fallen pine needles cushion your steps and muffle the sound of your passing. Here and there between the trees, a beached kayak awaits its owner, and, if you arrive early enough, you might get here before the anglers come for the perch and [More]

November 6th, 2020

The way we live now

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The dump or recycling center has long been a hub of social and civic engagement in the town where I have lived for the past 42 years. Recycling bins for every kind of material earn the town hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and candidates for public office are often on hand to woo voters to the ranks of their supporters. Autumn brings mountains of leaves, the remnants of New England foliage that nature’s alchemy turns into dark, rich topsoil, free for the taking in spring. And every season gives us more books than we can read in a [More]

October 7th, 2020

You’re Not Alone: Pandemic Fatigue is Real

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

Pandemic fatigue is creeping into more and more of our lives. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world, it’s getting harder and harder to continue on in our normal lives. With colder weather coming, the summer respite and spending good amounts of time outdoors is coming to an end. This is going to be a very challenging season for mental health. Too many people are still ignoring the fundamental science-based protections – such as simply wearing a mask when away from home – that will help reduce overall rates of the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. [More]

October 6th, 2020

Learning from life’s important places

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The places where we live, work, or simply pass through on our life’s journey become part of who we are. Crucibles of growth and backdrops of memory, they are always with us, long after we have moved on to yet another place. The important places remain to instruct, entertain, and inspire confidence that, in a world of uncertainty and change, we learn on the way and arrive better prepared for whatever the next place holds in store. The Boston area, my home since graduate school, has taught me well, and some of its early lessons come on the first day [More]

September 10th, 2020

A good day out

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

One of our favorite ways to relieve the boredom of pandemic isolation is to take a drive. Most days, almost anywhere will do. A trip to the grocery store or a run to the town dump with our trash, recyclables, and yard waste neatly sorted makes for a satisfying change of scenery, but for a real break, we take to the open road. The Sunday paper gave us a plan for what looked like a fun day trip to Newport, and we earmarked Thursday for our adventure. The week passed in its usual round of daily chores and relaxing diversions [More]

August 18th, 2020

Running on comet time

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

There’s nothing like the appearance of a bright comet to remind us that beautiful surprises are always possible no matter what else is happening in the world. I had seen four of these celestial visitors over the years, Comets West, Halley, Hyakutake, and Hale-Bopp, and this summer of the corona virus brought the fifth, Comet NEOWISE. In the past four months, NEOWISE increased in brightness as it made its closest approach to the sun and then began to dim as it swung around to the other side and started its return journey to the outer edge of the solar system. [More]

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