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A Message from the SAM National Chaplain

Monday, April 13, 2020   (1 Comments)
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Rev. Michael Douglass

National Chaplain,  The Society of American Magicians

Greetings, Compeers! We are in challenging times…I don’t need to enumerate the nature of the social, economic, cultural, physical, and emotional consequences of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to offer thirteen solid ways to “…Prevail and Grow During a Crisis,” written by Dr. Gayle Scroggs, a new friend I’ve met (electronically!). A trusted mentor and colleague of mine, a fellow pastor, and a veteran therapist Dr. Michael Wright, introduced me these valuable principles from Dr. Scroggs. So, I offer them to you as options to think about with me as we journey through the capricious wake of COVID-19.

As Compeers, we come from diverse doctrinal and theological streams, and we have a plethora of worldviews represented in our Society. The principles below are “non-sectarian!”

That said, if you have concerns to share with a listening ear (in confidence to the extent of clergy privilege laws), and/or if you would like to pray together, these are the quiet benefits of having a National Chaplain available to you, if desired. Normally, this all happens in the background, but with the tension of the effects of Coronavirus seeping into our lives, I believe it’s important to simply make you aware of my willingness to listen, and to respond appropriately.

For “night-owls,” I voluntarily provide a 30-minute late-night group video or phone-in prayer time on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. Pacific, and some other pro-bono resources as well. If you would like that connection information, or a listening ear, or prayer, please email me at and I will be happy to contact you as we journey through these challenging times together!

With hundreds of Compeers in our Society, I’ll do my best to answer you personally in a timely manner.

In the meantime, may I offer “13 Ways to Prevail and Grow During a Crisis,” by Dr. Gayle Scroggs for your consideration?

Best magical wishes and blessings,

Rev. Michael Douglass

National Chaplain

Society of American Magicians


13 Ways to Prevail and Grow During a Crisis

(used by permission from the author)

Dr. Gayle Scroggs, Ph.D, P.C.C.


1. Own your feelings--don’t let them own you. Fear and anxiety are normal responses in times of uncertainty and threat. Instead of ruminating or running from negative emotions and thoughts triggered by events, take a mindful pause. Breathe deeply as you name your feelings, thoughts, and bodily states. Write them down—then put them in a drawer instead of dwelling on them. Now pivot to constructive action and watch how your mood catches up with you.

2. Rely on trustworthy sources for news and recommendations.
Avoid consuming or spreading social media disinformation. Check credible sources* as needed. Create safety for yourself and others by following best practices. Follow official updates on how the crisis will affect your work and life.

3. Nurture your body. Stay “SANE” by managing your Sleep, Attitude, Nutrition, and Exercise. Get seven or more hours of sleep and vigorous activity daily to keep a strong body and mind. Take solo walks. Explore free Internet resources for exercise, yoga, and more. Use curiosity to experiment with new recipes to stave off boredom. These will help keep your mood up, as will the following recommendations.

4. Design your own positivity portfolio. List at least five activities you can still engage in that bring you pleasure and satisfaction to create your unique “positivity portfolio.” Some possibilities: reading, journaling, drawing, painting, making music, cooking, gardening, etc. Engaging in vigorous activity and spending time in nature also enhance mood. Avoid things that bring you down, e.g., bingeing on social media or junk food. Post your list where you will notice it when you most need it.

5. Connect with others for fun and meaning. We are an incredibly social species. Staying connected is fundamental for overall well-being. Stave off loneliness with video chats and phone calls to family, friends, and colleagues. Bring in humor and playfulness in new ways. Affirm both feelings and strengths. Acknowledge growth in resilience and newfound meaning in your conversations and journaling.

6. Go for a balanced perspective. Dealing with the coronavirus is just one aspect of life for most of us. What else deserves your attention? What you focus on grows, so train yourself to stay grounded through such practices as meditation, prayer, reflection, yoga, etc. Create your own mantra to counteract pessimism, e.g., “This too shall pass” or “We will get through this together.”

7. Be kind to others. This crisis calls us to cultivate relationship skills since we are all under stress. We will get through this better by noticing our triggers, by taking a deep breath, and remembering our common humanity. Lowering the tension might mean exercising more patience when people take longer to get back to you or forgiving sooner when people let you down or get under your skin. What better time is there to practice listening generously to others’ struggles and paying it forward than now? Notice how practicing kindness helps you feel better as it affirms your power to improve someone else’s experience even in bad times.

8. Be kind to yourself. New routines and normal emotional responses at this time are likely to impact your productivity and your energy. You deserve to treat yourself with the tenderness you would offer others in hard times. Speak to yourself as if you were a caring kindergarten teacher or kindly grandfather, perhaps using a term of endearment to address yourself. When you fall short, keep in mind that self-compassion is a better motivator than self-criticism. (Compassion is also a better motivator than criticism of others as well.)

9. Honor your deepest values and goals. Crises have a way of bringing clarity to many situations. What really matters to you now? How will you honor those values and goals? Do you need to protect time to work on your most important projects? Are there other goals you find more pressing or more doable? Be reasonable about what you can accomplish. Notice how good you feel checking items off your to-do list. When tempted to fritter time away, leverage 20 seconds of courage to get started on something your future self will thank you for. Need accountability? Set up a quiet writing
hour on Skype or Zoom with a friend. At day’s end, reflect on your wins to help rewire your brain for productivity and positivity.

10. Make a plan. Most of us will not get sick, but our minds will churn through energy imagining all the scenarios. You can create greater inner calm by writing down your plan for what you can do if you should get sick. What supplies do you need to keep on hand? Who could you call in an emergency? Do you need to consider arrangements for children or pets? Then post it where you can refer to it easily if needed. See the CDC for tips.

11. Hunt for the gold nuggets. Actively seek to highlight what goes right in the world, in your environs, and in your life. Challenge yourself to find something beautiful or admirable every day. Savor it. Take a photo or write about it. Reminisce the good times with others. Anticipate the good times to come. Enjoy the art and music gifts being offered on the Internet. Find a venue for offering your own gifts to others. Be a “benefit hunter.”

12. Leverage opportunities. The challenges are real. Choose to prevail, not just to muddle through. If you feel lost without the library or café where you used to write, draw on your curiosity and creativity to figure out how to block out noise and commotion and write anyway. As much as possible, convert obstacles into problems to be solved—then harness your inner and outer resources. Dig as deep and wide as it takes. How might you invest your time, instead of spending it? Hone an old skill or learn a new one? Catch up on a backlog of deferred tasks? Read a novel—or write yours? When this crisis is over, what will you wish you had done with this time?

13. Practice gratitude. Pause to appreciate the crisis helpers: healthcare professionals, researchers, news services, grocery clerks and stockers, goods and food suppliers, delivery persons, and public leaders. If you catch yourself spiraling down, take a moment to contemplate three blessings in your life. Fretting about not having access to what you really want? Then reflect on what you still have—then imagine life without it. Gratitude is a superpower that can stop rumination and the blues in their tracks. If you are still here, you can find something to be grateful for.

*John Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center

Dr. Gayle Scroggs (Ph.D., P.C.C.) Positive Psychology Coach
Easton, Maryland


Posted Friday, May 8, 2020

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