Dogs and cats stretch when awakening. They extend one leg and then another, making sure their body is ready to move easily into the day ahead. Can our furry friends teach us how to relax in our own rising? Do as they do; reach out with each arm and then with each leg until your muscles signal that they are ready to stand up and move. Your body will thank you as you start the day with more spring in your step and summer on your mind.

Earthly and bodily connections, or "eco-somatic touchstones" can anchor your soul in times of stress and change. Sprouting buds or laughing children can bring a smile to your face. Hearing birdsong or receiving good news can warm your heart. Stepping outdoors or savoring a meal can nurture your body. Gratitude may surprise you, as it wells up from simple pleasures.

Our muscles can relax into a three-minute stretch, but with the pandemic this past year, the stretch has been much longer. Too many of our neighbors have succumbed to this virus. In our country, we mourn the death of over a half-million people. Thank goodness that the vaccines are on the way to more arms.

Besides losing loved ones to death, many people have lost the continuity of work, the closeness of human touch, and the connection of singing together. Accumulated loss lowers vitality in what is called “adaptation fatigue”. While looking up and out can widen your perspective to help raise energy.

Even in the past year, we made space for creativity, community, and creation.

Artists painted murals on closed-off streets and on boarded-up businesses. Children drew pictures on sidewalks and played together in safe pods. Families and friends gathered for virtual game nights and watch parties. Poets and singers sparked our wonder. Who inspires you?

We talked and texted across the street and around the world – keeping in touch during separation. Scientists collaborated with unparalleled openness to bring us life-saving vaccines. People reached out by phone where internet service was unavailable. How can you connect?

We answered the call from our natural world to go outside - remembering that we too are part of nature. We grew food gardens and delighted in birds and butterflies. What beckons you into the outdoors?

Let’s keep welcoming creativity, connection, and creation for balance in living amid the pandemic. Such resources build resilience in individuals, families, and communities. It’s not a stretch to say, “greet the morning with a stretch”.