Story Submitted by Elyse Mulholland

At first I really had a hard time with this quarantine but I’m slowly getting used to it. I’ve mostly been doing my school work which can be quite a lot at sometimes but I’m trying to keep myself active and motivated. I miss my school a lot which is something I never thought I’d say but the hardest part definitely has been not being able to see my friends. It’s been about a month since I’ve seen most of them and it’s especially hard when you’ve had your birthday and you are unable to celebrate with your friends and family. I’ve been talking to everyone and keeping in touch as much as I can and trying to keep a positive attitude during this really hard time and praying that it is over soon. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy tries to find the good in this bad situation.

Story Submitted by Alyssa Salgado

Right now during this time of quarantine and the Coronavirus, I will admit I am having a rough time. Right now I am a junior in high school and we just found out that the rest of the school year is canceled and we will be continuing with online schooling. It’s not something that I’m used to and now I need to get used to it. One thing that I don’t like about school being canceled is not being able to see my friends as often as I used to. I try to keep in touch with as many as I can whether it’s texting them or facetiming. I’m very much a social butterfly, I love talking to people, going out places but I can’t really do much of that anymore in this period of time. The only person I can talk to face to face is my mom, I love her but I’m going crazy cooped up in here and she is too.

Story Submitted by Jordyn Koche

In these trying and uncertain times, small businesses have taken a big hit, many forced to fire or furlough employees or even halt normal operations altogether. These businesses that are hugely impacted range from hotels, salons, restaurants, medical, and more. Small businesses are the heart of many cities in our country and across the globe — especially here in Tampa Bay.

We have started a foundation, the “COVID Relief Foundation of Tampa Bay,” with the goal of supporting local small businesses. COVID Relief Foundation of Tampa Bay, Inc. is a Florida nonprofit corporation in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status. We will be taking applications from business owners and screening possible fund recipients to ensure they will be putting the money back into their businesses (rehiring and/or keeping employees).

Through our partnership with the Ciccio Restaurant Group we are currently giving away approximately 800 meals per week to local fire stations, police stations, hospitals, and all Ciccio Restaurant Group employees both furloughed and currently working.

This project was founded and is run by two high school Juniors, Jordyn Koche and Robbie Herzig (students at NH boarding school Phillips Exeter Academy), with the tremendous support of the Lanza Foundation and the Ciccio Restaurant Group.

The current situation of many of our neighbors is unprecedented. Please help us support them so we can keep local businesses at the center of our incredible community.

Story Submitted by Pegotty Cooper

I am looking through a magazine and find an ad for life coach training. Wow, would that be a great job – doing what I naturally do and getting paid for doing it? I wonder…naaah – get real Pegotty – that might be for others but not for you. While I have a job that pays pretty well, I really feel like it is the wrong job for me. I keep going back to this idea of being a coach – like it is calling to me. So, I go through that training course and imagine that I could be that coach that others come to because I can help them discover their unique strengths. What was I thinking! Here I am a big dreamer but scared to death to find out that I am just a big failure!And then the unthinkable happens. I am laid off from my job!Well, now you don’t have an excuse, Pegotty! Its time to focus on your dream of being a sought-after coach. Maybe tomorrow I will do something. “Maybe Tomorrow” is the same song I sing every day for months. I play with applying for other jobs but I don’t REALLY want a job. I want to be a coach. I keep hanging out with coaches and hope that some of their coaching magic will rub off on me. But I don’t really have both feet in. I am feeding my fears more than I am feeding my dreams, I don’t really believe I could become a sought-after coach that others would hire. I find non-profits where I can volunteer my coaching services AND I keep applying for any job I can get. Then one day I receive an email forwarded to me from a friend – Did anyone want to go to a convention for association executives and offer coaching sessions? Like a whack on the side of the head, I say Wait – that’s mine! I own that! You see I had spent 15 years as an association executive before I moved to Florida and I loved being around those people. BUT it had never occurred to me to go back to what I did before and reconnect to those people who were MY people. My TRIBE! At that convention, I was the only coach there, and I coached seven people each day for two days. I was so juiced at the end of each day. I knew this was the right thing for me. That was 2004. This year I am attending that same convention for the 16th year in a row. Association executives line up to get a coaching session with me and I have built a viable coaching practice coaching people that I love to be with. Once I got both feet in and believed I could do it, I stayed focused on feeding my dream, not my fears. I AM a sought-after coach! And It would have been so easy to give up too soon on my dream!

Story Submitted by Kathryn Manz

I’ve traveled for as long as I can remember. When the lands of my dreams and stories in my books awakened my restless soul, I set out on a quest. I really want to find a quiet corner of the world, disconnect from all this and reconnect to this planet. Just be….That’s my direction. To simply exist without all the pressures of mainstream life. I seriously am tired. Like most of us crazy minds! I’d love to drift and sail around the country and through the world. Although I sometimes despair alone, it’s usually when I am my best!

Story Submitted by Judy G

So let me tell you about my crazy ass dog. I swear. 3 days ago I decided to groom him. Cut his hair. It was getting really long. It is getting hot and I just knew this would help him. It was a very calm groom and he cooperated nicely. It took about an hour, but I took a few breaks to cool off the clippers and to let him relax. So, what could be crazy about that, you ask? For the last 3 days, 3 frickin days, he would not come out of his kennel. I had to force him out. And then, he would not eat or drink. 3 days, 3 frickin days of this shit. I did some research and saw that most dogs cannot go more than 3 days without water. So, as I watched him lay around, completely listless, I figured he had decided to kill himself. Had I done that bad of a haircut? I wasn’t sure what to do. I was figuring I would have to take him to the vet tomorrow. But what would I tell the Vet? My dog hasn’t eaten or drank since I gave him a bad haircut? I decided to keep him outside tonight for at least 30 minutes. It was still pretty hot and I was hoping he would get thirsty. He laid down in the grass and ignored me. This is usual behavior. Sometimes he potties and sometimes he holds it for 24 to 36 hours. When we went back into the house, he walked over to his food and water, looked at me and watched me for about 2 minutes. Then he slowly walked up to his bowl and began eating. Then he drank the whole bowl of water. He smugly walked away and laid himself right down in front of me and promptly went to sleep. He is a little shit! Maybe quarantine is making us all a little crazy.

Story Submitted by Ziigwen Mixemong

My dad, Negonquote, is my superhero. My dad’s story is very different than mine. While his parents loved him and each of his siblings, their trauma was too deep and too ugly to leave behind in one generation. Dad was put in an Indian Day School where he learned nothing but violence and self-loathing. What makes my dad so amazing is not that he came away from that unscathed, it’s that he didn’t. Negonquote’s story is still too painful to tell in full but it left him turning to alcoholism and drug abuse for relief. My dad’s story should have ended here, but, somehow, it didn’t. Negonquote picked himself up and went to AA. The program saved his life by teaching him how to live drug and alcohol-free. To heal, he had to go back and reclaim his identity and ceremony. My dad, who was taught to beat and abuse those around him, has never raised a hand at me. My dad, who was completely reliant on alcohol for any relief, has been clean and sober for 36 years. My dad, who should be dead right now, still tucks me in every night. As remarkable as my father is, the Creator knew it was going to take two to raise an agent of chaos, such as myself. Enter my mother, Wabanoongakikwe. My mother’s spirit name loosely translates to the woman who comes from that far off land that is first touched by the Sun. And like her spirit name, she is powerful and beautiful. My mom didn’t receive the gift of her spirit name until much later in life. But, my mom grew up not knowing who she was. Wabanoongakikwe was raised in a completely colonized household. There was no talk of her Indigenous ancestry and she was left with a giant hole in the centre of her sense of identity. I am so privileged that one day, my mom became strong enough to start learning and asking questions. She knew that she was native, but what did that mean. Who did that make her? While driving by every day for months, she saw a sign at a local friendship centre calling out for volunteers for a powwow. My mom stewed. Was she Indian enough to help? Would they even want her if she knew nothing about who she was? It literally took her months to find the courage to call and see if she was allowed to go to that place. I can’t begin to imagine what that felt like. I am glad to say that one of the faces that welcomed her through that friendship centre door was my father. Of course, they fell in love and soon enough, I came into the world. I am the product of a perfect Urban Indigenous love story. I mean, my parents met at a Friendship Centre, how much more Nish can you get?

Story Submitted by Dru Rabin

Food Truck Convoy, @mealstoneighbors – The Food Truck Convoy project serves as a vital conduit for providing meal relief in areas of St. Petersburg with populations that are transportation disadvantaged, benefit from free and reduced school meals when schools are open or find themselves in need during this community and economic crisis – while putting food truck operators and restaurant staff back to work.

Food Trucks: Anju Korean Gastrotruck, Flip’n Tasty Filipino, Hot Pursuit Catering & BBQ, Maggie on the Move, Pamz Pizza Conez, PB & Jelly Deli, Smokin’ Bowls, Smoothie Operator, Twisted Indian.

Our partners: Dru Rabin, project founder, Pastor Blake Clark and Radius Church, Keep St. Petersburg Local, The St. Pete Catalyst, The St. Petersburg Foundation, Feeding Tampa Bay, The Hangar Restaurant, and St. Pete Hospitality Group.

Story Submitted by Liane Houde

Eight months ago, Jeff and I decided to move almost 1100 miles to Boston (from GA) so that I could attend my dream graduate school and fulfill a masters degree in speech-language pathology. I started classes, he began working remotely from our small office in our 500-square-foot apartment, and life was beautiful.

A week before Leap Day, Jeff asked me to set aside one day the following weekend so we could have a “Date Day” (something we tried to do at least twice a month). It was settled that our Date Day would be Saturday, February 29th.

The day finally arrived and our plan was to visit an arboretum in a suburb of Boston not too far from our place. We jumped on the T (Boston’s subway system) and made our way to one of the most beautiful parks I’d ever seen. It was cold and windy, but the exotic trees were beautiful, and the view from the top of the hill was exquisite.
We had packed a lunch to enjoy at the arboretum, as well as a pair of binoculars to better see certain buildings of the city. Jeff handed me the binoculars and pointed out a few of his favorite buildings. I struggled to figure out exactly which buildings he was referring to, and after a few minutes took down the binoculars to ask him directly what he was talking about. I looked at him, and he was down on his knee, looking up at me.

We had been dating six years at that point, and still my initial reaction consisted of “oh my gosh! Is this real? Are you serious?!” He proceeded to tell me he loved me and asked me if I would spend “forever with him.” Of course, I said yes!
We sat down to digest what had just happened, overwhelmed, ecstatic, and full of adrenaline. He then said to me, “open the box of ThinMints,” and I did. Inside was a map of Boston circa 1770, with little colored dots indicating the locations of our apartment, a sushi restaurant in the time stamp 5:30 next to it, and the location of the Boston Symphony Orchestra venue with a timestamp of 8:00 next to it.

“Is this our schedule?!”

“Yup! I asked you to set aside a whole day. This is what we are doing today.”

Needless to say, that day, Leap Day, is now one of my favorite days.

Story Submitted by Kathryn Manz

I’ve traveled for as long as I can remember. When the lands of my dreams and stories in my books awakened my restless soul, I set out on a quest. I really want to find a quiet corner of the world, disconnect from all this and reconnect to this planet. Just be….That’s my direction. To simply exist without all the pressures of mainstream life. I seriously am tired. Like most of us crazy minds! I’d love to drift and sail around the country and through the world. Although I sometimes despair alone, it’s usually when I am my best!