Welcome to 2021. Usually, it’s March that blows in like a lion and out like a lamb. This year it started in January.

While taking a restful month off to recalibrate, we were jarred back to reality starting January 6th with the attack on the U.S. Capitol. A nation gripped in a pandemic now watched chaos unfold in Washington DC. We know the coronavirus is highly transmittable. Anger is also infectious, easily passed through social media. It can lead to peaceful protests or dangerous mobs.

The rush of wind that swept through the nation on January 20 wasn’t an Alberta Clipper from Canada. It was giant collective exhale following the Presidential inauguration. Hopefully, 2021 will see us reduce the rate of coronavirus  through vaccinations and calm the fear and anger circulating the nation. Herd immunity is the buzzword, both from disease and destructive behavior.

We all need to take a deep breath and exhale. It’s especially important when people push your emotion buttons to exhale and pause before responding. The slow release of breath can melt the tension and allow you time to gather your thoughts and choose your words carefully before saying something you cannot retract.

We are now in the Deep South where masks seem to be optional in some places. I wear two; others wear none. We wear deodorant to mask our body odor, sunscreen to avoid skin cancer, sunglasses to protect our eyes and shoes to cover our feet. But wearing a face mask to protect you and those around you from a contagious disease is intrusive to some. Not wearing a mask is inconsiderate and irresponsible in my opinion.

At the checkout counter at the drugstore. I thanked the clerk for wearing a face mask. The unmasked man behind me barked, “We all were fine until outsiders brought in the disease.” Rather than saying anything to spark a contagion confrontation, I exhaled deeply and walked out the door with my package. Why waste my energy on that person?

I asked a simple travel question to a group of industry professionals in an online chat room and was verbally attacked about my decision to live and work on the road (we sold our house, bought an SUV, and are checking out warmer destinations to relocate). Words included: “what a f-kg idiot,” “stupid and irresponsible,” and “inconsiderate and entitled.” Now, none of these people knew me or my full story, but they spat out their attacks anyway.  Stunned, I took a deep breath and a long exhale to steady my thoughts rather than blast back. Why stir a toxic pot?

I think about people lying in hospitals on ventilators helping them breathe. What would they say to the angry people if they could speak?  Would they even waste a breath on them knowing they will not listen?

Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Slowly. Give it a try a few times and see how you feel. And, let’s focus on the moments that take our breath away with hope and joy rather than fear and anger.

I took this photo on St. John, USVI in January 2021.