I’ve got this quarantine/social distancing thing down. During the course of half a century, from massive hurricane fall-outs during childhood, to family illness, death and, oh yes, having my life yanked on an unplanned course eighteen-and-a-half years ago, I have developed the ability to adapt to major life disruption.

Though my children are young adults now and I work from home, I feel positioned to respond to this current life interruption by placing it at arms’ length. I view every jarring life event as an opportunity as a shift in energy that invites personal, civic and economic growth in areas we have only dreamed of, or have not made the space in our lives to consider alternatives. So here is the space folks. The universe is calling. Regardless of the level of hygiene I can employ or how few fingerprints I can rub up against, I cannot control the existence of this pathogen nor its course. However, the circumstance is not hopeless, I can control how I choose to respond. I could not hope for my husband to rise from the ashes and walk through the door, but I could continue to rise, keeping the door open for new experiences. One moment at a time.

I choose to cherish the time I have with the people who I’m with. I choose to support my community with service and kindness by not pointing my lens on personal losses. Anger and blame are self-armoring emotions that are counterproductive to community health. I choose mindfulness in heart-centered spirituality, trusting in the unassailable ebb and flow of life forces, by not yoking myself to fear. I choose to embrace the present by accepting the necessary changes I am given.

Growing up on Fire Island, I learned to escape the undertow by moving parallel to the shore. Don’t fight the current, you can’t swim back to the shores of the past. You’re sure to drown. In this day, I’ll take a deep breath, swim out of the current that’s pulling me into the deep, and allow the surf to carry me home.

In difficult times, there can be no normal to grasp onto, the journey is dynamic. At each bend in the road, I am changed. I just am. This is resilience. When bad things happen, recognition of my individual experience is a huge component to recovery. Yet, resilience can be community-wide as well, as has been my continuous experience as a 9/11 widow. In all of the environmental and human-made disasters throughout time, people have endured inconceivable hardship. Trust that everything works by design. Keep your head from being too invested in the future, it not real-time. Today is yesterday’s future and tomorrow’s past. Just like that, it goes fast. Your alive!

How do I maintain a positive outlook in the face of tragedy with dignity? Limit TV and social media crisis aggrandizement, it’s easy to get sucked away. I choose to exercise, walk the dog, to feel the air and sun on my skin. In Vermont this is a big deal. It’s also fun to give a wave to the neighbors, I rarely see, who are out in the middle of the day doing the same. I calm my mind by practicing stillness through meditation for twenty minutes. I can recognize when I’m getting close to my stress limits, and if I slip up, my kids will recognize for me and call me out on it. Personal favorite stress-relievers; crafting, ancestry, cooking, playing, listening to music, dancing in the kitchen, reading and writing.

Today I baked a beautiful loaf of Irish bread. I’ll slice along the margins and swaddle four wedges in green wrap. One for my children, one for the young woman who walks my dog, and one each for my friends in need. Perhaps I’ll bake another, tomorrow.

© Deborah Garcia 2020

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