The Cassia Life

Ways to offset darkness during winter season ahead

The Cassia Life
By Jesse Watkins, Cassia’s own resident blogger

Are you one who tumbles into a heavy psychological funk of darkness when winter and its shorter portions of daylight set in? It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

A friend of mine who suffers from the malady treats himself through the tough season with a special lamp. Such lamps are called Happylight, Sadlight or Therapy Lamp, and are sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Walmart and elsewhere at $30 to $60.

My Mother, Pearl, born in 1905 and raised in southwest Oklahoma, would occasionally say, “I’m a little blue today.” What she needed then to counter her psychological blues was blues music or familiar church hymns, which she would sing quietly to herself as she worked through her day. 

Little wonder that my own preferred type of entertainment music is  old-fashioned blues that birthed in the deep southeast, traveled to New Orleans, Chicago and Kansas City, and finally to Minnesota. Tunes like “Deep River Blues,” “Sitting on top of the World,” and “White House Blues.”

Rev. Sarah Karber, chaplain at Cassia’s Augustana Apartments, recommends the church’s Advent ritual to help deal with the approaching season of darkness. The period of Advent (with a capital A) is the final four Sundays before Christmas and often is lifted up in church services by the lighting of candles.

Rev Karber remarks, “Advent, which begins the church year, is a helpful thing to do during the pandemic. Its focus on the coming birth of Christ, bringing hope, which may replace the gloom we’re experiencing.”  

This year, cases of SAD may be more severe, what with a world-wide, perilous and highly contagious illness, a pandemic if you will—adding to the condition. Staying home, avoiding public gatherings, wearing a mask, appear to be proven prevention of virus spread. But they also squash social encounters, live blues-lifting music, and other big-smile social encounters. 

To find relief from simply plowing through the winter blahs, Covid-19, the pandemic, it is wise when possible to divert, to escape from the lonely darkness to the bright light of hope.

Residents of Cassia’s Augustana Apartments in Minneapolis, reflect on their experiences in overcoming seasonal darkness: Patty Reynolds, a leader in resident activities, said she’ll be alone some of this holiday season. “It’s OK, however,” she said. “I’m a football nut, and there’s plenty to watch.” In the past she has worked volunteer at Ronald McDonald Houses serving Thanksgiving dinner.

John Cevette, age 72, an Augustana resident just over three years and a Parkinson’s patient 21 years reflects on his 1971-78 career period as the Colorado State Senate Chief of Staff. “It was both challenging and enjoyable.”

John also is an accomplished musician. While in high school in Appalachia he served as a church organist. Later he was chief organist a St. Thomas Aquinas.

Edward Barlow, 80, whose birthday is on Christmas Eve, served three years in the U.S. Navy on a nuclear submarine carrying 45 hydrogen bombs, “Enough to destroy the world,” he said. Later, after the Cold War, he worked in a hippy commune.

Shondel Jackson, 27, an employee at Augustana Apartments for eight years, doing a variety of jobs, now is in management of The Table Talk store. “Easter is the big day at our home,” Shondel remarked. He has two children, ages one and three. “The women do our cooking,” he notes.   

Barb Anderson, 65, a resident of Augustana just over a month, is happy so far. Her career field was data processing, and on three occasions she did the computer work at Target.

Meaningful work is part of a meaningful life and can sometimes clear an overload of emotional blues.          

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