Image: A rollercoaster. Photo by Pedro Velasco on Unsplash.
As we gradually wrap up 2021 and celebrate the holidays, I’ve been taking stock of the past year. The good, the bad and the ugly. The holiday is both very different and much the same this year; we now have vaccines, but with the emergence of an even more contagious variant, we must continue to take extra good care as we gather with loved ones—not an easy thing to do, as we were all hoping to have more of a sense of normalcy by now. As of this writing, public officials haven’t said to stay home, but they are recommending reducing contacts—so, it’s hard to tell if my siblings, their partners, my nephews and I will be able to get together for our annual Boxing Day feast this year.
Personally, it’s been a year of extreme ups and downs. On the down side: struggling with health issues (both mine and my cat’s); a close long-term friendship was severed; navigating a particularly slow work period this Fall (making the extra expenses of cat health and laptop repair all the more stressful); and having to agree to disagree with my parents’ decision to resume their snowbird travels to Arizona, which has high case counts and low vaccine uptake. Witnessing the rollercoaster ride of this fourth wave (are we now in a fifth wave?), with government hesitation and inaction, and aggressive and violent citizen actions, have made an already challenging situation even more difficult for those who are doing all they can to keep themselves, their loved ones and health care system safe. And our already overworked, worn-out health care workers being subjected to aggressive and demoralizing protests—and even threats—not to mention salary increase issues.
On the upside: I got to workshop and perform in the digital production of Erin Jones’ new play Time Limits Dropped on Easter Sunday (Toronto Fringe and Calgary Fringe); and did voice-over tour guide narration for some ArtworxTO 2021 subway and neighbourhood art tours. The film adaptation of Catherine Hernandez’s novel Scarborough, produced by Compy Films (which I have a small part in) ran at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF); it was first runner-up for the People’s Choice Award, received an honorable mention from the jury for the Best Canadian Film award, named the winner of the Changemaker Award, and included in TIFF’s annual year-end Canada’s Top Ten list for 2021. I was invited by my friend Valerie Gow to participate in Mindfulness Without Borders’ Mindfulness Ambassador Program (MAP) workshop; Valerie facilitated the first half for her certification practicum, then offered the second half as a fully certified facilitator. And I learned how to give insulin shots to a cat. Communities and public health units are bringing information and vaccines to where people are. And holiday food and toy drives are operating at full force in the face of great need. People are opening their hearts and minds—and accomplishing amazing things!
Despite the challenges of the past year, I have a lot to be grateful for. I have a supportive and loving network of family, chosen family and friends/colleagues. I was able to get vaccinated in a timely manner, including the flu shot; and my COVID-19 booster is booked and within walking distance for early in the New Year (still on the hunt for an earlier shot). Even with the recent freelance work downtime, I haven’t struggled with housing or food insecurity. I’ve used the lag time between work projects as time to read, make art, reorganize my storage spaces, sort through clothing and items I no longer use for donation—and take some physical and emotional R&R. And watch a lot of Netflix. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed letting my mind drift as I look out the window. Watching the clouds float by, the rain pelting down, the snow wafting through the air or the wind rustling the trees is a very peaceful, even meditative, exercise. And it’s a particularly lovely pastime when I have a soft, warm, purring cat stretched out across my chest.
Lately, I’ve been pondering my theme song for 2022. I was a bit late choosing one this year, so wanted to get on it sooner. I think I’ve got one now—stay tuned for my post in the New Year.
I hope that, whatever highs and lows you and your loved ones have weathered this past year, you’ve been able to find resilience and hope, and space for celebration. Have a happy and safe holiday!