Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Rebecca Stephans

Rebecca Stephans felt like she was about to turn a corner. A resident of Portland’s Munjoy Hill, she had just settled her mother in a senior community and watched her start friendships. And after years as a private contractor, Stephans was close to landing a job that would give her greater financial security.

Now the longtime yoga instructor is navigating unemployment, trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage without using savings, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

But Stephans, 60, is also hopeful that the world will take stock of the pandemic, and that once it’s over there will be greater conservation and a newfound compassion for one another.

“I’m like a typical Mainer, I do several things. I officiate weddings; those have been postponed. All my yoga classes were canceled. I also work in family mediation. That has been shut down. I teach classes at Whole Heart Yoga on Forest Avenue – one is a seated chair class for people who can’t get down on the floor. That’s an online class now. Everything is frozen right now. But honestly, I can’t tell you how many times … I’ve wondered where the rent would come from. It’s always worked out. I’m pretty resourceful.

“Another complication is my mother and I were sharing a home for several years and she recently made the difficult decision of going to an independent living community. She moved in February and was starting to make connections, but now is sequestered. That’s been heartbreaking.


“But the thing that really moves me is when I read about other people, people who are incarcerated and homeless. I think about them every single day, and I cultivate a practice of gratitude and awareness that I’m privileged. I have a home and my health. So many people don’t. If we can learn some things from this and create a global shift so that all the people who die from it will have not died in vain, maybe we can honor them by changing. That is one of my hopes.

“I heard something the Maine CDC director said: that we get to decide what kind of experience we have with this and where this arc is going to go. We control that.

“Now there are fewer airplanes in the sky, fewer cars on the road, people are not shopping in excess. I’m hoping there will be more collaboration, more understanding, and a greater willingness to sacrifice for the common good. I’ve been watching human beings for 60 years. I have seen very unexpected things happen in both directions – moving toward goodness and darkness. Some people are using this as an opportunity to do greater kindness.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at virus@pressherald.com

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