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  • Writer's pictureAnat Ishai

Fear is contagious, but so is courage.

We got so used to isolating with our household that it became uncomfortable, awkward and even frightening to allow anyone into our homes. At first we were doing the righteous thing and keeping everyone safe, we were protecting our own, each other and ultimately the world. That was the pledge the world took together....we committed to isolation to save ourselves from each other.

Social distancing became the new world order, but what really transpired was social isolation. It is human nature to have ritual gatherings, to offer an embrace, a firm handshake, a high five or a pat on the back. We saw different forms of connection by way of an elbow touch, a bow, a toe tap, a zoom, skype or facetime call. But all of that was not enough. Human contact was missing.

We are told at an early age to be fearful of many things, some of those fears make sense and protected our well being, others were folk tales and superstitions. But we never experienced the kind of restrictions and constraints that were placed on us this past year. There were moments in the last 12 months that I felt my children's childhood including their education, social and emotional development were being robbed from them, and I felt helpless. Here I was with a problem and very few tools to fix it for them. I found myself being fearful of sending them to school for risk exposure. I held my breath every time the school called or an email was sent to me from principal. I was apprehensive about outdoor play gatherings and was in intense negotiations with my teen about mask wearing. I stopped initiating outdoor playdates for my toddler because that age group has no concept of boundaries and distancing.

It was a slippery slope when we stopped seeing family members, and close friends. When our support system was no longer available to support us, we only had ourselves to turn to. At some point we must ask ourselves, are we so fearful of dying that we've stopped living? Fear is an incredibly powerful tool. We must learn to become inquisitive inquisitive once more, we must challenge our own thinking. I found myself leaning into another kind of contagion. I wanted to infect myself with bravery and by being vulnerable and brave in my life, maybe I could help someone else give themselves permission to do the same.

Being brave meant I was going to take a risk even though I was scared. It meant that I would try something new, reinvent myself, share my inner thoughts with the world and put myself our there. I would take all the necessary safety precautions and exhale and give it up to G-d when sending my kids to school, or entering a grocery store. I attended a wedding and was reminded that there is still life. I began to move the fog away enough to remind myself that the sun is always shining even when the sky is dark.

We are still in a state of self preservation, and we are not communicating and seeing each other nearly enough to really know who needs help or support. But pushing yourself past your comfort zone and living your best life given your personal circumstances is being brave. It's not giving up, it's finding the loop holes that serve you, it's being unapologetic for taking what you need to thrive, it's being your own best friend and advocate. Because when you show up for you, and you help yourself be whole inspire your fellow man, woman, friend or foe to do the same. Being brave is infectious and the world needs you to spread your courage,

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