A Cup of Coffee with Author Robert DeFinis

May 2020 – I found another author that I want to bring to your attention. He just published his first book. I became interested immediately, as his book presents an idea that I think many parents and teachers have had to deal with since the crisis of the pandemic caused by the Coronavirus has affected everyone, everywhere: how to tell our younger kids about the situation that’s going on in our communities, in the world.

The thought of dealing with the health crisis that COVID-19 has caused brings many of us adults to feel stress and anxiety. With having to stay safe, not being able to visit family, towns in lockdown, kids not able to go to school, and many of us working from home or losing jobs, it brings a lot of worrying to most of us. I wrote a post about living with anxiety, read here https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/04/05/living-with-anxiety/.

If you are a parent or a teacher, and you are worried, imagine the kids that understand enough of what’s happening around them. They start to worry too. You must find a way to address children’s concerns about this situation. They notice what’s going on around them. They rely on us adults to explain to them what’s happening. We, as adults, have to answer their questions in a way that doesn’t cause stress. We have to be cautious so that our children don’t worry too much.

Author Dr. Robert DeFinis with his kids

Meet Dr. Robert DeFinis, author of “How to Defeat the Icky, Filthy, Creepy, Slimy CORONA MONSTER!“. He started playing games with his kids, and looking for the right way to answer all of their questions. That’s when he came up with the concept for his book.

The book cover!

Dr. DeFinis received his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Development and a Masters in Education while acquiring several certifications in Sports and Performance Psychology. He recently launched his web page and is working in self-publishing his stories. He created RDF Books in 2020, and he has been writing children’s books about how to deal with contemporary issues.

He is the Men’s and Women’s Head Soccer Coach at Cecil College in Maryland. He is also a Mental Performance Consultant, creator of Total Optimal Performance Solutions (TOPS), and host of Rising to the TOP Podcast. Here’s our conversation:

The name of my blog is Full of Coffee, so first question: do you like coffee? If so, how do you like it?

  • Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. Interestingly, I just started drinking coffee during this whole pandemic. Before, I might have had a cup of coffee after dinner once in a blue moon. However, now I’m actually selecting different brands and trying new ones each day. At the moment I’m going through a bag of French vanilla. I don’t take cream with my coffee, but I like two packets of sugar. For some reason I never finish the whole cup either. I’m a coffee rookie, what can I say. 

Interesting indeed! I drink coffee since I was a child (family upbringing, a Puerto Rican thing). I’m always curious if others like coffee and how they like it. French vanilla is a great option (I love French vanilla flavor). Where did you grow up? Do you have any siblings?

  • I grew up outside of Philadelphia, in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Great little blue color town where my four siblings (three sisters and one brother) still live. We also have some really terrific schools in the area.

Did your childhood have any influence in your interest in reading or writing?

  • For me, I had difficulty reading at a young age. It prevented me from really enjoying books. That changed however around fifth grade. Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume and Jerry Spinelli were some of my early favorite authors. I think I could still recite verbatim most of the works in “Where the Sidewalk Ends”.

When did you decide to give professional writing a try? Did it affect your personal life, your profession? 

  • Writing has been something that I’ve always enjoyed. The personal side… the expressive side, is the fun side of writing. When I entered my doctorate program, the academic side took over and that can be draining. After my dissertation, I felt like I didn’t want to read or write anything, so I took a break. Worked on other projects, and more recently started to revisit my writing goals once again. 
  • Some of my writing projects intertwine with my professional and personal passions. I work in education, have my own business, and coach. I keep a very active schedule and decided long ago to pursue all that life has to offer. I think many people negotiate internally with what they will and won’t pursue. I choose to pursue it all.

Oh, I understand the draining feeling. When I completed my Master’s Degree, I thought I’ve had it with writing, so many papers and essays I had to write. But then, I started missing it. I recently decided to give professional writing a try. I love reading and I’ve been loving the writing process. And I agree with you: I think everyone should pursue all that life has to offer, or at least find one thing that produces inspiration and go for it. Now, tell me about your first published book! And you also have started your own publishing adventure (self-publishing)! How has that experience been?

  • Yes, the Corona Monster is my first published book. I was working on two others, and then the pandemic hit. After a few days of playing around with some rhymes with my son and daughter, I decided to put something to paper. It was fun! That’s when you do your best work. When you aren’t trying to appease others and you’re just having a good time making your own children laugh, think, and take action!
  • The nature and timelines of the book required self publishing. I wanted to get the message out to educators, parents, and children quickly. Having complete control in doing so was important. There were a few bumps and bruises, but then it took off and had over 10,000 downloads in the first three weeks. I get requests everyday for it to be recorded, read aloud, shared, and distributed to groups from all over the world. Just recently, a college student from Spain asked to translate it into Spanish and Portuguese for children in their community. I don’t say no, and I offer it to anyone wanting to support the central theme – assisting children with understanding their role in COVID-19.
Dr DeFinis with his kids

Any other future project you want to tell us about?

  • I feel like I’m always in a project. Yes, I actually have two other books in different stages. The first is called Lady P’s First Day. It tells the story of a very independent little girl on her first day of Kindergarten. I had it almost finished, but now I’m revisiting it because there might be another way to tell the story based on everything that is happening.
Lady P’s First Day, to be released later in 2020
  • The other project is due out next year, in 2021. It’s called Dexter and Dalton Play Baseball. It’s the first in a four part series that will introduce children to the fun, and challenges, of trying a new sport. 
Dexter and Dalton Play Baseball, to be released in 2021

I cannot wait for these projects to be released. I think that both are very interesting topics. To find out more about Dr. DeFinis and his projects, visit and contact him on his web page www.drdefinis.com; find him on Twitter https://twitter.com/DeFinis @DeFinis or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DeFinis.

I asked Dr. DeFinis if he had any special offer, and he kindly announced that he is offering a free copy for teachers! Visit the website https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1015010 (you’ll have to create login name and password). Use Free Coupon Code: BN37K

The book is also available on Amazon here https://amzn.to/2ZcpkZV.

I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s a great deal for me to get to know all of these amazing writers. Getting to know other writers helps me find my own inspiration and create my own process.

I’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing, I’ll keep dreaming! Thanks for reading. Until the next one! It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en español, vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/05/18/una-tacita-de-cafe-con-el-autor-robert-definis/.

Thoughts on Health Alert: COVID-19 Coronavirus Global Outbreak

March 2020 – Since I started writing this blog, I rarely put the date first. But at this moment, I want to keep this date as a reminder of what a big impact this health situation has caused all around the world. In March of the year 2020, the coronavirus has turned into a global threat as its outbreak is affecting the lives of so many people in so many countries all over the world.

Image of the COVID-19/Coronavirus
from Center for Disease Control

Now, I’m no expert or professional on health related topics. For those of you who don’t know me, I do have a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Psychology and a Master’s Degree of Education in School Counseling. I’ve worked in a healthcare/hospital system in Florida for 13 years. This still doesn’t make me an expert, but I wanted to do this research and share my thoughts and findings.

I wrote this post in an effort to gather information about the topic, and explore what can we do as individuals to stay safe and prevent seemingly non-ending spread of this life-threatening virus. I used information available on the Internet. Please visit the websites for the Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, and the World Health Organization https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 to stay informed.

The first known case was reported in China in November of 2019. The virus is believed to have been transmitted from an animal, but at the moment, is only transmitted person to person. Authorities have not been able to identify effectively the source of the virus. On January 2020, China reported the first death associated with the virus, and their reported cases had increased to 238. At that time, 3 other countries reported their first cases: Thailand (2), Japan (1), and Korea (1). Travel restrictions to China were imposed and the World Health Organization declared the situation a public health emergency of international concerns.

In February, cases outside of Asia started surfacing: France, then Iran, and then Italy. Italy had a major outbreak, when cases reported went from 5 to 150 and authorities had to start putting towns in lock-down, closing schools and canceling events. At this moment, Italy is confronting a major crisis, trying to deal with the high volume of sick people and also the high volume of those who have died.

Image from World Health Organization

By the end of February, the first case in America was reported in Brazil, then in the United States. Other regions of Europe started reporting cases of people affected by the virus: Ireland and Wales, Germany, England, Switzerland, Estonia and Lithuania.

At this moment, in March 2020, only a few countries have not reported cases. In the United States, there are cases reported in each of the 50 states. As the number of cases increase, so those the number of deaths related to coronavirus.

Why is this virus such a big concern? Because it’s spreading faster and further than what authorities and health professionals expected. Since it’s a new virus, there is no vaccine or medication specific to fight it. Symptoms delay to show up, so you can be in contact to a person with the virus who has no symptoms yet and is not aware that they’re spreading the virus.

The coronavirus is spreading from person to person. Since the symptoms are taking time to show up, people who don’t know are carrying the virus keep passing it to the next person. Something I’ve learned while working for a healthcare system: viruses spread in 3 ways.

  • Airborne – a person carrying a virus sneezes, or coughs, and the virus stays in the air;
  • Droplets – a person carrying a virus sneezes, coughs, shares a drink or a bite of food. Saliva carrying the virus would spread to the other person;
  • Contact – a person carrying the virus touches ANYTHING, another person touches it, and you know what happens. Virus is spread that easily. And, depending on what kind of material it is, is the time that the virus stays ready to go to the next person.

The authorities in the United States, as well as in other countries, had tried banning travel, closing schools, asking people to stay home, and setting curfews. Still, the cases keep increasing. On the most recent World Health Organization status report (https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200318-sitrep-58-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=20876712_2), this is the situation in numbers:

Total cases (as of March 18), which keep increasing daily:

  • Globally: 191,127 confirmed; 7807 deaths
  • Western Pacific Region: 91,845 confirmed; 3357 deaths
  • European Region: 74,760 confirmed; 3352 deaths
  • South-East Asia Region: 538 confirmed; 9 deaths
  • Eastern Mediterranean Region: 18,060 confirmed; 1010 deaths
  • Regions of the Americas: 4,979 confirmed; 68 deaths
  • African Region: 233 confirmed; 4 deaths

The situation has come now to authorities recommending (and in some areas imposing) to stay isolated, to avoid social gatherings or places where there are crowds. If you have tested positive, or have symptoms, please do stay away from others. If you’ve seen, some professional sports actors and athletes are being tested and share their prognosis of having a positive test. Sports organizations have decided to suspend the playing seasons until the situation is safer for everyone. They are also insisting we all do a self-quarantine and isolate from others to avoid spreading the virus even more.

My sister Hilda, who lives in Mostoles, Madrid, Spain, informed our family that they are in what has been called “full lock-down”. They are expected to stay inside their houses and restrict their outings. They’re allowed to go out to the pharmacy, the grocery store or the doctor’s office. But there are rules they have to abide by. In the pharmacy, they only allow one person at a time to go in and only to pick up medications. The physicians are asking people to call first, assessing the graveness of the symptoms and some are doing home visits, to avoid having people coming to hospitals where they might get exposed to the virus.

My sister in law is an Infectologist doctor who recently moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. She is already dealing with cases that have come into the hospital she works at, and there are only two doctors there that are Infectiologists. She informed us that they have to wear in full with Protective Personal Equipment (PPE): mask, full body suit cover, gloves, even shoe covers. Patients are isolated, tested and treated as they see best, since there is no vaccine or specific medication to treat the virus.

Image of person with personal protective equipment

What can we do? First, don’t panic. I’m a person who lives with anxiety. I try to not panic because I have kids. I don’t want my kids to live worrying. But I do have to talk to them and tell them what’s going on and what we need to do to stay safe. I now know that my days of repeating “DON’T TOUCH THAT”, “PUT THAT IN THE TRASH”, “WASH YOUR HANDS” have finally come to give me reason. This also makes me think of my late mother, when she used to say “You eat this, because this is what I made and all there is for dinner.” We grew up in a rural area and there were no fast food restaurants close by.

What else can we do? Be cautious. Stay safe. There are already some myths spreading that need to be clarified. Example: coronavirus cannot spread in warm or cold weather. Not true. The virus has spread through countries known for warm weather, the same as cold weather all around the world. See some of the myths here https://nypost.com/2020/03/18/every-coronavirus-myth-and-fact-you-need-to-pay-attention-to-right-now/ and also here https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters.

Symptoms are sore throat, trouble breathing, fever, tiredness. Hopefully soon, there will be testing centers set up available around everywhere. If you have any of the symptoms described or have tested positive to having the virus, the recommendation is to stay quarantined. If you know someone who have tested positive, contact the health authorities in your area to be tested.

The important thing, in my opinion, is that we need to take care of ourselves first to be able to take care of or help others. If you have the option to stay home, then please stay home. I was stressing out, because I was required to show up to work. I’ve been recently given the okay to work from home. If you’re still required to go to your workplace, be cautious. Use sanitizer, wash your hands, avoid crowds.

There are many people that still have to show up to their workplace. Please be cautious. Follow the general guidelines to stay safe. Google is promoting the World Health Organization’s “DO THE FIVE” guidelines to stop the spread of coronavirus:

  • 1 HANDS: Wash them often,
  • 2 ELBOW: Cough or sneeze into it,
  • 3 FACE: Don’t touch it,
  • 4 SPACE: Keep safe distance from others,
  • 5 HOME: Stay if you can.

If constant news feed about what’s going on turns out to be stressful, then take a break from the news. Find a distraction to calm your mind. I listen to music, read a book or watch a movie. If you live in an area that you can still go spend time outside, then go for a walk. If you feel that you need to prepare or plan, then do it. But use caution if you need to go out and get provisions.

Grocery stores here in Florida have been wonderful in setting hours to clean and sanitize, also setting limits on items that are necessities. The only downfall has been that here in Florida people are used to prepare for hurricane season, and people are taking this preparation to isolate to extremes. There is no shortage of food or items, just buy with moderation.

Until this situation is under control, until we all are safe and secure, please take care, stay safe, don’t panic, but take precautions. As I tell my kids often, these are the times we got to live in, this is the world we get to see, let’s make the best of it.

As I write this, I am getting ready to start a new adventure: I’ve finally been given the okay to work from home. I’ve been allowed to take my work computer, which has had a remote connection to our work system installed.

I now have to prepare to be at home all day with the kids, since school has been closed. I’ve already seen some moms sharing some funny stories of homeschooling and working from home. I might share some of those, and some of mine later. I’m sure my kids will make this time memorable. I will need that walk and for sure I will need that tacita de café. Salud! Please, take care and stay safe!

Para versión en Español, vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/03/22/reflexiones-sobre-la-alerta-de-salud:-brote-global-de-coronavirus-covid-19/