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It’s such simple advice. You perform the act naturally, without any active thought of drawing air into your lungs. And yet it’s also the thing we so often forget how to do.

During this time of social isolation and an uncertain economy, one voice has rang out above all the others for me, Hilary Johnson. Not a day goes by that my social media feeds don’t ring out with the voice of the leader of Hatch Tribe. Whether she’s providing advice, resources, or just reminding us to breathe, she’s become a force for calm in my life.

She always has been honestly.

There’s an ease to Hilary, a way about her that makes it feel as if everything will be okay. It’s been a part of her presence as long as I’ve known her, and it doesn’t fade with distance. It’s not arrogance, not a haughty defiance of history’s progress. No, this is something more natural. It is Hilary, admitting that things could get very bad, but that she can, and will survive them.

I reached out to Hilary for two reasons. First, it’s been some time since we’ve been able to connect, and there is a part of my heart that longs to see and hear my friend, to know she’s okay. But also because I believe people need to know about this incredible woman, to be reminded to breathe.

Hilary and I connect on a beautiful morning via the miracle of video conferencing. Both of us hold mugs of coffee, sitting in our respective work places, hers bright and open, mine darker, more secluded. We each focus in our own ways.

We talk about how our lives have changed, often for the better. For Hilary, this time when the world slowed down has changed how her day is run. Now the walks can happen whenever, the balcony at her home beckons her to the afternoon sun, and the things still get done when they get done. She doesn’t worry about what she can’t control, doesn’t worry about control much at all actually.

In an uncertain time, Hilary just looks at the things she can do, and does them. Her videos to Hatch Tribe and its followers, the opening of the doors to more and more women, the compiling and organizing of resources for other business owners (even a mention of this blog as a way to connect with someone) all flow from this place of doing. Hilary will make the world a better place.

I’ve known that since we first met.

This is the core of leadership, this drive to do, to make the world better in the little ways you can. It’s at the core of this woman I know. That’s why so many look to her, why so many are lucky to have her in their lives. I know that things can bring all of us down, but hearing Hilary talk about how we will survive this and move on makes me wonder if anything can actually topple this woman.

It’s the ultimate irony of human existence that strength and calm like hers isn’t just an innate gift, it comes from weathering storms and from breaking in those same winds

Still, there is an almost otherworldly calm and joy to my friend. We fall into a familiar rhythm of smiles and laughter, of jokes in all their wild variety, in sharing a moment of life, a few stories, and a calm place. I breathe a little easier for the rest of the day honestly.

I’ve always admired the ease with which Hilary carries the weight of her world. I’m not foolish enough to believe that she doesn’t feel fear, or that tears have never touched her eyes. But still I marvel. How at ease my friend is in this time of fear, finding a calm center to the storm. One day, probably many years from now, I will look back at my friend and remember her like this. Not as a fearless statue, not as a raging force of defiance, but as a peaceful warrior, taking a breath and standing amidst the storm.

We end out time together. There are things to do, places for both of us to be, callings for us to answer.

For the rest of the day I remember to breathe. In the afternoon, when I feel the inkling to take a random walk, I step out the door and into the sunlight. As my feet hit the ground, legs carrying me forward, sun shinning, I think of my friend, of how the world has changed, and how some things have not.

I breathe.

Social distance and the isolation that accompanies it can be hard for many, especially when you combine it with the stress of our current situation. Please, reach out and connect with people. Share your stories and your time. Use the technology available to stay close to people.

If you want to be a part of this project and share some time and stories with others, or if you just need to connect with someone, reach out to me here.

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