Stay grounded while digesting news: Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

I’ve been taking a break from participating in world news lately. It’s time to go back.

I have a strong desire to reinvest and reconnect to learn what is happening in this country and internationally. But as a recent article in the New York Times put it, “How do you follow the news without despairing?”

Here is my plan. I am listening to the ideas described by an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (Jenny Taitz) who offers suggestions about “keeping yourself grounded.” His techniques are centered around “mindfulness”. It has several.

I chose to do this first: “Label my feelings.”

Here’s an example: Cable TV and the print media portray an atmosphere of “gun violence, war, and political division.” If I see or read something and think very specifically about how it makes me feel, I’m more likely to integrate what’s most important to know and I’m less likely to get stuck in an anxious, negative reaction.

As an illustration, I recently saw a photo spread depicting wounded and displaced Ukrainian families. I had a range of reactions from extreme sadness to disbelief. But when I told myself to “tag the prevailing sentiment.” It was anger.

Of course, this is a negative feeling and not a safe place to stay emotionally for too long, but I think it will be a spur to action. Not sure which action yet, doing it step by step as well.

You can “feel” something but not let it overwhelm you. Does that make sense?

Another approach to mindfulness expands on this premise. He reminds us to “practice different kinds of empathy.” The approach is sometimes referred to as “perspective taking.” Try to “understand the world from another’s point of view in the moment, rather than being absorbed in their emotions.”

I am exploring other ideas that may improve my ability to deal with the doomsday sense that is often presented in breaking news and front page headlines. This idea comes from the recently appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. Her name is Ada Limon. There’s usually an accent above the “o” in his name, so if you’re reading my column out loud, you might want to say “Li-Moan.”

To my mind, this woman seems an unlikely candidate for such a prestigious position. But she is very impressive.

Limon is a young marketing executive who left the corporate world to “immerse himself in poetry” and the possibilities it offers to provide sustenance to people in these “tough times.” She lives in California with her husband, a pug named Lily Bean and “an exceptionally old cat named Olive.” If you’re just starting to explore podcasts as a way to expand your horizons, she hosts a poetry podcast called “The Slowdown.”

His work offers possibilities. Consider this excerpt from Limon’s poem “Dead Stars.”

“Look, we are not spectacular things. We’ve come this far, we’ve survived so much. What if we decide to survive longer? Love stronger? What if we stood up with our synapses and our flesh and said, No.”

Sharon Johnson is a retired educator who lives in Portland with her dog, Lucille Ball. Contact her at

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