December 31

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Ruminations on 2020 and the pandemic

By Tracey Arial

December 31, 2020


At the beginning of 2020, I vowed to greet people with “bonjour/hi” as often as possible and continue cutting my use of greenhouse gases.

The first was easy. Bonjour hi works really well to politely highlight bilingualism. I even use it on my website.

With the second, well the pandemic meant that everyone on earth cut their production of greenhouse gases thanks to a global crisis.

There are many ways to deal with a crisis. In 2020, we all discovered how well we handle uncertainty and stress.

How we all learned to deal with a crisis in 2020

This was a tough year whether we kept our jobs, helped others keep theirs, or kept trying to create them. Some of us kept working in essential services. Others used the time to create works of art. Some people couldn’t work and struggled instead to find ways to occupy their minds and bodies in ways that helped others.

For myself, I did not stay consistent with my blog posts, podcasts or give-aways, but I did keep them active.

Here are three of my favourite podcast interviews:

2020: A Year of Change

If I learned anything in 2020, it’s that everyone copes with things I know nothing about.

I discovered the beauty of grace. Giving others the grace of assuming they had good intentions, even when they reacted badly. I really appreciated the many opportunities to receive the support of others through so many challenges. So many of us sat on the verge of falling apart and yet, few people actually did.

This is a year when we can all congratulate each other.

Feeling Grateful for Adventure and Health

I feel so lucky.

My trips to a Mexican beach in January, to see the Lumineers in Toronto in March and our romantic spa weekend in Quebec in April seem like eras in a different lifetime.

Most of this year consisted of long walks in local parks, bike rides along the Verdun waterfront and last weekend’s adventure looking at the Christmas lights downtown and visiting an outdoor gallery in the Gay Village. It was a reminder that local travel can open up adventure, beauty and a look at a culture beyond my own just as much as any other trip when you have the attitude.

It was a good lesson to have now. As I get older, it will be possible to keep having adventures if I keep remembering to regularly travel outside my comfort zone.

Connecting to Others Virtually

From a work point of view, as someone who runs markets and writes, I was busier than ever in 2020. I attended several virtual business conference and meetups via Zoom, Go-to-Webinar, Facebook, Google Meets, Slack and Discord.

As online meeting tools became essential for business in 2020, they opened up possibilities for personal connection too. Some of the times I remember best were playing Fibbage online with my sisters, their husbands and our good friends.

These events allowed me to connect to distant family and friends.

They were almost as pleasant as playing games in a tent outside in the backyard with my husband and my two adult children and picnicking outside with colleagues and friends.

In fact, my friend Diana led me to read a fascinating story about researchers studying happiness. The quote I liked best came from University of British Columbia in Vancouver psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn.

“I think a potential upside of the pandemic is that it may renew our capacity to enjoy some of the pleasurable, little experiences that many of us, prior to COVID-19, probably took for granted.”

Global Awakenings

In addition to struggling to reset our culture with new pandemic mask and distancing styles, we also faced tragedies.

The deaths of George Floyd Jr. in May created a global Black Lives Matter movement that I hope will continue to resonate in the coming year.

Then in October, we all witnessed nurses insult Joyce Echaquan, an indigenous woman suffering in a Quebec hospital. I can only hope that her film and subsequent death triggers an Indigenous Lives Matter movement here in Canada.

Add her death to the loss of important global thinkers, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Richard Gwyn and Canadian legends who died and it’s clear that the world is a little less wonderful than it used to be. I think we’ll all miss journalists Allan Fotheringham and Christie Blatchford, games host Alex Trebek, blues legend Salome Bey, skier Rhona Wurtele, Rush drummer Neil Peart and politicians John Turner and John Crosbie.

Personal Growth

This year also marked a decade since my mom died. To commemorate her memory, I participated in the Great Cycle Challenge, which got me exercising a lot in August.

Another first this year—participating in Nanowrimo, the national novel writers month. I attempted to write 50,000 words in a novel. Only wrote half that, but the experience was a good one and will be repeated in 2021.

During this global pandemic, I learned more than ever how important it is to eat seasonally, live locally, stay involved in your community, be kind and say sorry.

I became even more unapologetically Canadian.

Tracey Arial

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