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I close my computer screen, but the headlines remain etched in my mind like the voices of my father and mother when they told me I had to follow their beliefs, or I would not be saved when the fire rained down from heaven When I let in the onslaught of social media and voices of worried friends and neighbors, it brings me back to a frightening time. A time when I grew up with a looming dread of Armageddon. Listening to how people talk about the pandemic has triggered these memories.

I have been a single mom for the better part of my 20-year-old son's life. And for the past 10 years of it, I have had virtually no help in raising him. I made this single mom thing work by prioritizing my son and his needs above all else. Next came the job, because, well, I had to pay the bills, and lastly came me. Always.

Back in January of this year — though it feels like a world away now — I won Miss New York USA. At that point, I was officially in the running to compete for the title of Miss USA and closer than ever to making one of my biggest dreams come true. The weeks following, I had an incredibly busy schedule. I would wake up at 6 AM and not get back to bed until 10 or 11 PM every single night, 7 days a week. Then, COVID-19 changed everything, with everything canceled and me being stuck inside my apartment, I had no choice but to adapt.

Since starting my entrepreneurship journey almost three years ago, running my own PR agency from all over the world, my weekends disappeared. I replaced brunch and lazy mornings with crafting media pitches, strategies, and research. Sure, I enjoyed my weekends and did fun things, but work was still a priority. When you are a business owner, the stakes are high, and taking a full day off (let alone two) seems wrong. There is always something more that can be done and life becomes an endless cycle of to-do lists. Then COVID-19 disrupted the world

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