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Riots, storms, disease, the economy, jobs or the lack thereof, isolation, loneliness, and mistrust are all seemingly running rampant in our world. That's why it's more important than ever to guard your spirit.

For some reason the phrase, 'It was the best of times and it was the worst of times,' comes to mind as I write this, still in disbelief about what is going on in our country. While we've gone through periods of strife before, somehow this feels different, compounded even. Our country has seen nearly non-stop rioting for the last year. But yesterday, when protestors stormed the US Capitol Building, I sat in shock, watching the images unfold on my TV. And I slowly realized that we were watching the result of what too much stress and feeling marginalized and unheard can do. At the heart of it, isn't that what protests are about? Making yourself heard? Asking, is there somebody, anybody listening?

It would be so easy to become cold, numb to the pain and distress, but that would leave us bereft of our spirit... both personally and as a country, and isn't that what makes us so unique? So great? Isn't it our differences and our hearts that make up the backbone and won't back down attitude of the American people?

Writing about guarding your spirit has been on my mind for a while. Last weekend, I spent time with a friend in prayer and meditation, a retreat of sorts. We prayed for peace, friendship, clarity, the health of our friends and family, and for prosperity and abundance.

I started the week with a pep in my step and a lighter heart, then I got the news that my sweet friend Miss Dee had passed away after a battle with COVID-19. I couldn't help but reflect on our visits together while riding our horses at Holly Hill and her quick wit. I always enjoyed our time together and will miss that mischievous twinkle in her eye.

In the midst of this, another friend is being hospitalized and poked and prodded for all of the issues he has as a result of surviving COVID. He's in the prime of his life, was fit and healthy before contracting coronavirus, and is now dealing with congestive heart failure and liver and kidney problems. It's not fair.

Today, I got the news that my friend's husband had passed this morning due to coronavirus. He was my age, a retired Marine, and a proud husband, father and grandfather and boy did he and his wife, Melanie, love Mardi Gras. Another life lost too soon. My heart is breaking for all this loss.

Is this the time to wallow in despair? No, this is the time to open your heart. Does it hurt? Sure. Is it even harder because so many of us are still basically isolated and lonely? Absolutely. But I firmly believe that this is when the cream will rise. This is when we step up, support our friends, our loved ones, and our community.

If someone has storm damage and you don't, help them to clear the debris. Heck, help them even if you were adversely affected as well. If someone suffers the loss of a loved one, due to COVID or not, lend an ear, a shoulder, bring a casserole, say a prayer. Say ten! Pray for our country and that cooler heads prevail. Celebrate our differences and sit in gratitude for all of the things we still have that are beautiful and good and true. Practice self care so you're ready and listen. Really listen and be present.

Don't become hard. Don't become cold or cruel. Open your heart, guard your spirit, and love one another... even if it's from six feet away. May God bless you and keep you.

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