We’re Still Here! 2021 – Contest Winner

Corina Zalace, Niceville, Florida

Adapt! You must adapt! It is something I had to learn over the past 71 years since contracting polio at the age of two. I became a master at adapting, usually enjoying the challenge. Then the Covid pandemic hit, and my very active lifestyle came to a screeching halt. I had been confined to a wheelchair since 1986 because of my childhood polio, but that had never stopped me from being out and about, driving my lift-equipped van with hand controls everywhere there were roads – and some places where there were just dirt trails.

But no more. My classes closed, and I had to give up my college studies to become a licensed art therapist. I was teaching art to adults and children. That had to stop. Covid definitely put a damper on my life.


So, I had to go back – back to adapting to new situations. Spending hours at home away from friends and other people was challenging. My brain went back into adapting mode again. I began talking more on the phone with family and friends, which always brought joy to my heart. Yet, that did not fill all the time I had to spend at home.

I still had so much free time at home. I had to do something. First, I saw my stacks of books around the house, waiting to be read. So, I began reading, and read until I had finished them all over the course of the next year. I also love to puzzle. And I love working on my art. To be able to draw and paint became a huge emotional release for me. My biggest advantage every day was that I had married my best friend. We spent hours every day helping each other with our projects, planning new ones, reading together or just enjoying each other’s company. As for exercise, taking my service dog out and pushing my wheelchair outside in the fresh air boosted my spirits. Yes, it was a challenging time, but I am so grateful how polio in my early years taught me to enjoy being an adaptable and flexible person.