Adapting to a New World

One of the fun/annoying parts of the holidays, is seeing my name show up everywhere. When I was a child, there were all sorts of not so nice jokes and mutations to a number of carols and songs that ended up with me cut up and strung around the house. And then of course there were some who liked to conveniently “drop” one of the “L”s in my name, making me all sorts of “holy” right at the “”holy-days”. I hated my name then.

Over time, I adapted to my name, even embracing the prickles and poisonous associations as a strength to this hardy little evergreen that bursts with festive red berries just as the world gets colder and darker and harsh conditions come its way.

And like the plant, I’ve learned over time to adapt to a lot of challenging scenarios in life, some of them very harsh. But a year ago, when I first landed long-term in Bermuda due to Covid, adaption and mutations took on a whole new meaning; in fact, several.

One of them was the discovery that the Holly plant has mutated into a few different strains here, beyond the traditional one, you’ll also find prickly garland Holly that is used for winter weddings and Christmas wreaths, as well as a softer “tree-like” Holly, with no prickles at all. (both featured above). Both develop their red berries in “winter” here and grow in symbiosis all over the railway trails and roadsides, as a bright and cheerful reminder of the time of year, rather than a rugged one. And every time I see them, I wonder which colonial ship or cargo boat or plane had deposited the first pollen here, producing such unusual and rapid evolutions when most of the rest of the world only sees the Holly I grew up with.

The other discovery was about myself. A year ago, we had a power outage in Bermuda (as happens in many tropical climates), and I panicked. I wasted all my battery power on WhatsApping people to see if they had power and what to do about it, feeling my stress levels rise at the sound of silence, the lack of purpose and WIFI, and fretting about missed meetings. At the end of the day, the power came back on and I hadn’t really missed anything important.

But when a similar power outage happened today, my response was completely different. I got one confirmation of the problem and went for a walk, enjoying the beautiful day and the tendrils of Holly sparkling in the sun. I knew there was no point in stressing about what I couldn’t control and would ultimately get addressed. What would be the point of joining the queue of other anxious residents calling BELCO for information and wasting my battery power?

Similarly, I found myself very naturally donning my running gear, and grabbing my shopping rucksack, N-95 mask and flip flops to walk 30 minutes along the highway to the “local” supermarket for my week of extremely expensive groceries (even by NYC standards) while greeting the drivers that honked as they drove past.

And I realized, I too had adapted very quickly to a new world, a new climate and a new way of life. A softer, slower life, where NOTHING is convenient, EVERYTHING will happen in a longer timeline than any New Yorker has patience for, and there’s no real point in sweating the small stuff, because you CAN see far enough down the road and across the water to know that there’s plenty of time and space to grow, mutate evolve and adapt in time.

As I write this, I realize, though, that most of you don’t have the luxury I do of being here, and perhaps you are stressing about the new Covid mutation that once again is spoiling your holiday travel plans with loved ones and/or ensuring extended job and health insecurity. But to you, I’ll say, I understand. It took nearly dying of stress a couple of times to know sometimes, you really do have no control. Like stress, diseases and viruses grow, spread, change, mutate and adapt faster than we do, if you give them half a chance.

So, to you, I ask that you be kind to yourself, enjoy the rare and quiet solitude, and try to adjust your focus to what you CAN do, not on what you CAN’T.

Holly Lynch is a 20+ year ESG communications veteran, board member, strategist and investor who has helped individuals and companies tackle the toughest challenges, transitions and transformations in their worlds. Having survived countless life setbacks and two rounds with terminal cancer, while seeing the country-wide collapse of the systems and safety nets for the most vulnerable in and outside our communities, she is now shifting her life and career trajectories to focus on coaching and consulting with those facing down fundamental shifts and transitions as they try to adapt to change while rebuilding their lives and businesses during these unprecedented times.

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