Disability, Reflections, Wellness

December 28, 2020

Surviving or Thriving in 2020

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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I really love looking back on a year and taking stock of all I have experienced over that time. I love to look at what I did well, and I especially enjoy digging into things that didn’t go the way I thought they would. Those experiences that many call failures or flops are where we find so many opportunities for learning. Usually the end of December is a favourite time of mine for these very reasons.

And then there’s this year.

I started out with some exciting plans. My first-ever book was already in production, and dates had been set to get out in the community and really sell it. I had developed a whole new training program to teach others to do the work that I do, and I was really excited about that! I had workshops and retreats all in the pipeline and then… well, you know what happened. Everyone knows what happened. COVID-19 shut down the whole world and everything went out the window.

While it’s true I still did publish my book, and also my first ever deck of oracle cards, this year has not met my expectations, to use a phrase from my HR days. I taught 1 workshop. I led 0 retreats. I did not launch my new program, and in fact I didn’t even attempt my previous programs.

If there’s one thing this year has taught me, it’s that adaptability is the key to staying sane while being resilient. 

This year has required so much resiliency from all of us. We made plans, and then we had to scrap them. We made new plans for a little further down the road, and then we had to scrap those, too. In our house, we missed two Sweet 16 birthday parties this year, as well as a 20-year anniversary trip to Ireland. We missed visits with the grandparents in Newfoundland, we missed camping trips with our families and friends, we missed the usual celebrations of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas with our LoveLines and our BloodLines.

We started doing social calls on Zoom, and we had a lot of porch visits. There weren’t any grand book launches, but so many books were mailed across Canada and the U.S. My decks have been used by many people on social media channels, and my family has for the most part come through this pandemic unscathed (my brother-in-law got the virus in March and still has no sense of taste or smell – but he’s alive and otherwise healthy so we are counting this as a win).

We learned the art of being present in our moments and when we didn’t know what to do with the moment we were in, we talked to our closest people about our worries and fears. We opened up a little, and we gave as much help as we were able to. And we allowed ourselves to receive much more help than we ever thought we could.

What’s difficult about this looking-back-on-2020 for me is that there isn’t really a lot of evidence that we thrived this year. You know? We managed. We got by. We coped. We survived. You know what, though? It is perfectly fine to survive. In fact, maybe we should even celebrate that! We learned that so many of the things we thought we needed to live are really just things that make being alive nice. Many of us discovered what we truly value – perhaps our local economies, maybe the people we are connected to; whatever it is, we now have access to a greater understanding of ourselves than we had just 12 short months ago. 

You know what else happened? A lot of people became very afraid… our collective mistrust of the governments and in many cases even our neighbours was clearly present this year. Some might tell you that this is sad or disillusioning; I take a different tack. You see, when our fears rear their heads, they are also telling us what we value.

Are you afraid that wearing a mask means you’re blindly following control tactics? You’re becoming aware of how much you value your independence.

Are you afraid of all the people who seem to have lost their common sense, and who are unable to support the greater good? You’re learning how much you value others and your connection to community.

Are you afraid to go out into the world, because it might mean you get sick? You’re learning how much you value your life. And the things you miss when you’re locked up in the safety of your home show you clearly what it is that makes your life worth living.

All of this self-awareness leads us to places where, as individuals we feel more stable, and when each person feels more stable in themselves, the collective on the whole – humanity as it is – will feel more stable too. 

While looking back it may make it seem that we merely survived this year, I have a feeling what we are really witnessing is our collective evolution into our next best selves. And honestly, if that’s not the way to thriving, I don’t know what is. 

Michelle Scrimgeour-Brown

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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