To say the year of 2020 has been tough for all of us is an understatement.

I normally tend to be extremely positive, at times in a syrupy sweet, eye rolling, Pollyanna-ish kind of way.

My mantras are, “Every disappointment is a blessing in disguise,” and “God has something even better planned,” and “Well, when one door closes another door opens!”

It drives people crazy.

But the pandemic brought me down.

I was stuck abroad in a foreign country I expected to be visiting for a week or so, only to end up being there 8 long months, alone, and almost penniless (but thank you Lady Visa and Lord MasterCard).

I was absolutely terrified.

My positive vibes and energy took a hit when the fallout of this virus punched me in the gut, bringing me to my knees.

Goodbye income from travel blogging, goodbye extra cushion from Airbnb, goodbye 4 seasonal, pt jobs I love and do each year.

I was devastated.

My mood shifted quickly from positive and hopeful, and I fell into a deep depression, filled with anxiety and fear.

Finally, when the Moroccan Govt lifted the travel bans and flights resumed, I was too ashamed to even tell anybody that I could not afford the $1,600 (1-way) flight home for a ticket I normally paid $350-500 round trip for.

I cried.

For eight months, I had bounced around, from being alone in a tiny house in the desert where often it was 125 degrees Farenheight with no air conditioning, no fans, and no windows. Running water occurred once a day. And, there was no toilet. There was a small hole in the floor, common in homes in most of the small, poor villages in Morocco.

Rarely I was able to get a brief WIFI signal to be able to post online to let family and friends know I was alright.

But, I wasn’t.

Eventually, I was able to get permission a few months later to move to a luxury villa where I was given a few days to stay in exchange for a collaboration, but unexpectedly the government extended the travel ban yet another month.

From there I was able to stay with other “refugees” for a few weeks at a hotel that was not open since all hotels/ guesthouses were forced to remain closed during the ban, but this hotel was allowed to remain open in order to host doctors and nurses and other personnel who worked in the hospital taking care of covid patients.

With the help of an ex-pat from Germany who lived in Morocco, I managed to rent a tiny studio apartment with no kitchen, but it was home. I was safe temporarily where I waited a few more months until finally, the borders slowly began to open.

It was a long, hard road I had traveled, and I was exhausted. In spite of the gorgeous weather that finally was beginning to get a bit cooler, I often just wanted to stay inside and sleep.

I sunk into a deep depression, and although I love Morocco and one day may live there, I missed my dog, Lola, my apartment in NYC, and the comforts of home. I missed my family, my friends, and taking long, lilac scented bubble baths.

I missed my life.

The government finally allowed tourists who had been stuck there for months to buy flights on Royal Air Maroc. Tickets were extremely expensive, but we could leave. At least, those of us who could afford to. I was completely broke and overwhelmed even at the thought of how in the world was I going to come up with the money.

Finally, I remembered to pray. This isn’t a sermon or Bible-thumping message. I just feel like there’s a Creator stronger & more powerful than me, & when I remember that & stay positive I have been able to manifest beautiful things in a magical way.

The minute I surrendered to my Higher Power and placed the problem in the hands of the universe, amazing things began to happen.

I posted online and off, offering to work as a freelance writer (or babysitter or toilet washer, etc!) to earn $ for my flight home. Friends & strangers began “hiring” me (well, pretending to,) and even donating to a GoFundMe page my friends created since I was prideful.

Finally, I was home.

I was conflicted with so many different emotions. Fear of being thrust into the midst of the pandemic tsunami, the eye of the hurricane. Missing my family, being so close, yet unable to see them. Grateful to be home and reunited with my dog, but missing the friends I’d made in Morocco. Even missing the tiny home I’d begun to love in Marrakech, that little apartment I’d made my own, a place that kept me safe.

I fell into an even deeper depression and did not leave my apartment. I told everyone I was “quarantining” but secretly I was grateful to be able to isolate. I needed to stay inside to deal with the debilitating feelings of depression and despair. I sunk deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole of darkness.

I knew there were a few things I could do to dig myself out of that hole, and little by little, I began taking small actions.

I got a therapist who would call me weekly for half-hour sessions. I made doctor visits. I got back into the 12 step program of FA and began eating healthier meals. And I dove into this strange new social media platform called The Clubhouse and started hosting rooms. And I joined a Facebook group called Sweet Surprises where women share positive stories, support, and send each other gifts.

Since returning a few months ago, I have been slowly picking up the pieces, and when possible, even in small ways, I am constantly seeking out ways to pay it forward and to tithe regardless of how small my pockets are. I was thrilled when I learned that once a week in Sweet Surprises you can choose to participate if you like in a game where each woman surprises the woman in the list above her by buying her a surprise gift from her Amazon Wish List.

I enjoyed looking through the wish list of the woman I was directly underneath on the list, and eventually, I chose a beautiful, colorful stained glass hummingbird feeder. But then, I thought, why not send Julie, the creator of the group a gift as well? I loved picking out a gift for her so much and remembered my vow to “pay it forward”, and decided to send all 18 of the women in that group gifts from their lists.

Oh, how I loved doing that, even more than I loved receiving my gift, a gorgeous silver bag which is going to look so badass when I’m riding my crazy, covered in jewels, “bling bike” this spring!

And then, a few days later, I was stunned to receive a sexy, royal purple pencil skirt from another woman from the group! I had tried to send the extra gifts anonymously but couldn’t figure out how to, so the women knew the gifts were from me. My positive vibe was back. Not so much because of the gifts that I received from the women, but because of the gifts I was so excited to be giving.

Yesterday, I got THREE gorgeous gifts I would not have bought for myself because I’ve been struggling to dig myself out of that fear-based poverty mentality and to get back to that lovely space of attracting and manifesting abundance!

I was stunned to find not one but 3 packages in the mail.

The first was a black sling shoulder bag that my “pominatrix” (my dominatrix Pomeranian) Lola jumped into immediately and lay there quietly, looking up at me with a sigh and a contended smile of pure pleasure.

Next was a mustard yellow hat that matches perfectly a scarf I’d gotten in Morocco during another, much happier previous trip, and my mustard yellow suede kitten heel boots I’ve had a few years; sexy little boots I’m crazy about but never had anything to match with.

And finally, a pink, Lacey frilly apron to match my pink kitchen. Heaven.

I absolutely love to cook, and I recently re-joined a 12 step program for food called FA (similar to AA) and I cook, ALOT.

In the past, I had lost 120lbs in this free spiritual program. And I’m guessing I am not alone in saying I’ve been so frustrated after gaining a damn lot of weight in the past year due to the pandemic.

The sister who bought me this apron may not realize just how much having this apron means to me.

It isn’t simply a cute little thing I’ll wear to keep my clothes clean while cooking.

Wearing this apron inspired me to cook healthy dishes, motivating me to stick to my food plan, and reminding me how cute my voluptuous lil ass will be as I slowly slim down back to my goal weight of 135lbs. Look out Beyoncé, here I come!

The yellow hat reminds me to be sunny and optimistic, that spring is coming, that the sun will keep shining and the days are getting brighter.

Lola’s bag gets me motivated to get up and take a shower and get dressed and get out.

On days I’m feeling depressed and negative and filled with fear and worry, I will grab Lola and take the doggy shoulder bag and we will go outside for a walk.

Walking isn’t always easy for me or for Lola since we both have had accidents.

But when Lola can’t walk further, or when we are going into the supermarket, I don’t need to leave her outside alone; she’ll jump up into my arms and slip into her new bag and I can carry her while I shop for healthy food.

So yeah, this tough Brooklyn gangsta girl is a softie and sobs over things like this.

These women, strangers I’ve never met, have no idea just what their gifts mean to me.

But I will smile and think of them every time I’m using these special gifts which have helped me to remember who I truly am; a happy, positive, giving person who trusts in the power of manifesting!

What about you? Have you struggled during the pandemic? How are you able to overcome the obstacles you’ve been dealing with? How have you been able to stay positive and manifest the things in life you’re seeking?

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