Wading Through the Both/And Together

As we've navigated our way through this pandemic there has been a lot of ‘both/and.’

Hello and Happy Fall,

Honestly, I am really a spring and summer person, and I have learned to take inspiration from all you fall and winter lovers. I do appreciate the beautiful fall colors, crisp SUNNY days, crunching leaves, a good storm, and the reflection space this time of year encourages.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am the Program Operations Manager here at PIHC and Manager of our newer NW Providence Caregiver Equity and Well-being Initiative. I started here at PIHC soon after the Institute was launched in 2015 and enjoyed creating and building out many of the PIHC programs you might be familiar with – LiveWellLocal.org, Community Outreach, Edge of Amazing Annual Conference, and Community Health &Well-being Monitor™.

I am thrilled to now be managing our program team in these efforts, working alongside an amazing group of women on existing and new initiatives. Prior to coming to the Institute, I spent almost 25 years in public health; many of those at Snohomish Health District in HIV & STD work, spanning the years before the rise of antivirals and up until a few years after PrEP became part of routine HIV preventative care.

So, besides doing cool stuff here at PIHC and with you all. I love to be outdoors and enjoy hiking, exploring/traveling, being on or near water, playing tennis with the fam or anyone, gardening, shopping at small shops and Philz Coffee.

I get so much joy from being a mom and could easily be hanging out doing creative projects, at home or with community (at least part-time 😊 ). OOOOH right, I am hanging out at home, only I am on MS Teams all day! MS Teams or not, I am very grateful to be here at PIHC, expanding and broadening the conversation of well-being. My kids are now both seniors. I have a senior in college and a senior in high school. This is such a poignant time of ‘lasts’, made all that more intense with these ‘gap’ pandemic year(s). I am not looking forward to being an ‘empty nester’, and I hear it might not be so bad.

These past 18 months as we’ve navigated our way through this pandemic, and continue to, there has been a lot of ‘both/and.’ I am reminded of the litmus lozenges referenced in the children’s book Because of Winn Dixie. They are a magical sweet candy with a secret ingredient, a touch of sadness, bringing home the idea that it is impossible to separate happiness and sadness from each other. And, of course the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang, the concept of dualism, each giving rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

For me, this duality of life is not as easily ignored these days or reserved for a significant life event. I feel it closer to the surface, hanging out regularly, taking up space in my reserves. A space between grief/loss/suffering and gratitude/acceptance/joy. It’s a space that is a bit raw, uncomfortable, takes more grace and awareness to navigate (sometimes more than I have). It is as real as it gets, begging me to lean in, grow in compassion – not the least towards myself – and fully honor, appreciate, and maybe even celebrate the ‘both/and’. Also, recognizing that this takes time and space to do well.

As I appreciate, reflect, and embody this time of year, I am looking to find time and space to savor some magical sweet candy, with a touch of sadness – and celebrate, reach out, and create joy. I hope you can too.

Edge of Amazing 2021 Health and Well-being Monitor Results

As you watch the 6th Annual Health and Well-being Monitor report below, you will continue to find themes of duality. You will find that your work has made a difference, more people are getting the help they need with basic needs and there remain critical pockets of need. Our capacity is stretched, it has been a tough lift, and efforts in access, awareness, and de-stigmatization of mental health are showing some improvements. When it comes to overall well-being we are doing better and we are still below our highest well-being levels reported 5 years ago – we have bounced back from the cliff dive last year, just a bit, finding strength in collective efforts.


Jessica Burt

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