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  • Writer's pictureJaime Pollard-Smith


Rivers do not drink their own waters; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on

itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature. You are all born to help each other. Life is good when you are happy; but much better when others are happy because of you.

So began the essay of a former student from Eritrea. I asked permission to use his words. He survived years in refugee camps in order to be reunited with his wife. I was honored he shared his story with our class. My students make me want to become a better listener. Quiet has become a place of knowing. I want for them what I want for myself— to be heard and seen.

These poetic words swirled in my mind this week. Cries and protests erupt as angry citizens come to blows over the rights of individuals, and I return to the idea that now more than ever we are so very connected as "us" rather than "me."

You are all born to help each other.

I feel an immense sense of gratitude for the people who lifted me up this past week. Friends sent words of encouragement and invited me on walks. A co-worker graciously shared plans and materials to set up a class I have never taught. Members of my CrossFit community boosted my spirits at weekly Zoom meetings. My father-in-law and his wife provided a car for us when mine left us stranded on the side of the road.

All these people are my rivers, trees, sun and flowers. The rule of nature, my student calls it. I hope I can pass this lesson on to my children. They are born helpers. Since COVID-19 we have had countless family conversations about grace— offering it to each other and ourselves. When circumstances change and there are so many unknowns, we have to look inward and really question how we want to show up for ourselves, our loved ones and fellow humans.

I am more convinced than ever that human connection is vital to our health and wellness. I want to express gratitude to everyone who has offered warmth, friendship and kindness to me and my family. I hope I can offer some tiny morsel of comfort in return.

Every tree is the forest.

We need each other.

Keep shining.



A Few of My Favorite Things Right Now...

BYOB Virtual Book Club

My friend Tracy had the incredible idea to have a book club meeting where everyone brings her own book. We grab whatever we are reading and log on ready to tell about it. As an English teacher, it sounded an awful lot like a book report assignment to me! We will be having our second meeting this week. I have already read two of the books recommended by participants last month. Grab your reader friends and give it a try.

Virtual Film Club

Our campus hosts a monthly film club meeting that has evolved into a virtual faculty film club during COVID-19. So far, we have watched and discussed “Parasite” and “Pain and Glory.” It is quick, easy and costs nothing. View the film and then set up a Zoom to discuss.

Virtual Spring Walks

I saw this idea in the NY Times and it swept me back to when my son was a baby. I schlepped him on the train for an hour out to Brooklyn to push his stroller through the crabapples. The New York Botanical Garden is featuring several beautiful spring walks for our virtual pleasure.


I have long been a fan of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd. The recent episode with Sheryl Crow was fantastic.


The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd


If you missed it, please read about the great work that Kathy Izard is doing to make Charlotte a kinder and better place. She is this month’s featured guest at J’aime La Vie.

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