Dear #Firestarter:

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Does that mean uncertain times call for uncertain measures?

It isn’t Friday, which is when I usually send out my Friday Fuel: Inspiration for Firestarters newsletter, but I felt the urge to write for many reasons.

Like many of you, I’m in disbelief about what is unfolding around us. When I think about some of our country’s hardest periods, from world wars to the Great Depression or the Spanish flu outbreak, I never expected that *I* would live through one of those moments. *This* is one of those times.

At the same time, I’ve spoken to so many people this week who are already facing hard changes in life: worried about layoffs at their company, going through a divorce, or with a loved one who is critically ill. Life feels like a whirlwind even without COVID-19.

Your body might feel tense, your head might ache and your heart could feel like it is going to explode. It’s like a never-ending episode of Friday the 13th where around every corner, there is something scary.  By the way, is it a coincidence that this last Friday fell on the 13th and everything started to hit the fan in the US? Once again, I digress…

While we cannot control what lies ahead, and quite honestly, not even what will happen in the next five minutes, there are things that can help get us through some of those times when we just don’t know what to do.

When #sofagate occurred, it felt like my entire life was spinning out of control. All of a sudden, I didn’t know when I could return to work, if my head would function the same and if my spirit would return. No less than three people told me that their personalities went dark after a concussion, and their stories were jarring. The idea of not being able to see possibilities in units of unicorns, glitter or skittles freaked me out. There were a handful of things that helped me get my swagger back. And many of those things apply to uncertain times.

I’ll share three here in the hopes that they might help you, too:

  1. Deep breaths: If you feel anxious, pause and take three deep breaths, then do it again. Deep breathing is scientifically proven to reduce stress and help with anxiety. I’m no doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so this article from WebMD might help convince you. I’ve started the practice of breathing with intention, and it’s really helped me. For the first time in a decade, my body feels relaxed at times. It wasn’t until I started to breathe in this manner that I realized that more often than not, I was really tense.

  2. Focus on the positive: There’s at least one bright spot each day. It might not feel like it, but there is one thing you can be happy about and celebrate. It could be just waking up and dancing in the shower or the fact that you have hot food to eat. There is one thing that you can have a clap fest over. Think about it, and clap for a couple of seconds to celebrate. Here is another medical article, this one focused on how to stop negative thoughts and another on how to generate positive thoughts. Let’s be real: if you aren’t walking around with a pocket-full of sunshine it might be hard to think of happy things. Either way, I get you.

  3. Reconnect: During times of uncertainty, we usually have more downtime than we are used to. Use it to reconnect. Perhaps it is reconnecting with yourself through journal writing. You could choose to reconnect with nature and take walks or hikes. I’m using the time to call people I haven’t spoken to in quite some time. Yes, I’m working on my missed call list from the past year! You might even want to reconnect with your spouse or kids at home. We often get so busy that the people who lack an emotional tie to us live under the same roof. You can fix that at this very moment.

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that I am from Louisiana. There’s this thing we call Lagniappe, which is Cajun or Creole French for “something extra.” With that in mind, I wanted to throw in a little Lagniappe for you:

  1. Show empathy and kindness: It’s stating the obvious to say let’s be kind and show empathy, but right now it’s the greatest superpower that we have. If you have to cancel a flight, start by thanking the person on the other end of the phone for working that day. Ask the cashier at the grocer how their day is going. They’re likely to be frightened to be working where they come in contact with so many people or tired from working overtime. And if someone seems cranky, extend grace. You don’t know if they have a loved one waiting for a test to see if they are healthy or if their loved one just got laid off from a restaurant.

  2. Wash your hands and stay home: We are all in this together and we must flatten the curve. So do me a favor, and wash your hands! This is the one obligation we have to each other and something that can we can control.

And, #Firestarter, I hope you are hanging in there. Like you, I am unsure what lies ahead and it can feel scary at times. With faith and fortitude, this will also pass. Like those who came before us, we will survive because we are resilient in body and mind.

While I am working from home and staying away from airports, I’ll spend my nights tackling my LAST CLASS of graduate school and writing more. I hope to bring you a couple of unscheduled “Friday Fuel: Inspiration for Firestarters” over the next couple of weeks. Writing to you brings me joy, and right now I’ll take an extra helping of joy as often as I can.

PS. If there is something you’d like for me to consider writing about, hit reply and let me know. I’ll be reading all of your replies and looking for inspiration because you fuel me each day.

With Faith & Fortitude,

Friday Fuel is a newsletter for #Firestarters who are building movements for social good and within themselves. Join the #MovementMakerTribe and sign up for this monthly inspirational letter today.

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