2021: One Heck of a Year
Today ends one heck of a year. I started out feeling low in January. It was a familiar, but unwelcome feeling. As with many of you, the days felt long, but the weeks and months were short. Before I knew it I was leaving a job that no longer fulfilled me, I moved in with Kevin, and was completing an online class I had started in May.
The second half of the year and especially the last two months have been filled with anticipation and excitement. Kevin asked me to marry him on October 11, 2021 and we wed on December 17, 2021. Navigating work and wedding planning did have its up and downs, but we wouldn't have had it any other way. Early on in our relationship I told him I didn't want an engagement ring and he obliged. We wanted a small wedding of just family and a few friends (luckily we could make this happen - even with COVID restrictions). It was small and intimate and perfect.
We had selected a few passages to be read and reflected on during the ceremony and to be honest I had forgotten what they were until Chet, our pastor, read them aloud.
"I have found the one whom my soul loves." Song of Solomon 3:4 (unsure which version) and
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
There was an audible agreement among our family and friends as Chet read these and meditated on what they meant for our lives. To me this affirmed the love they see between us and it was a symbol of their blessing as our relationship deepens.
These passages make perfect sense when I think about my past. If you have followed my journey at any point, you will know I had given up on love a long time ago. I did not feel worthy and when I sought it, it was not there for me. I had to start believing I was worthy and he had to take a risk for the chance of finding something so special as our love. Our souls were waiting for each other.
We were fortunate to have my nephew, Liam, read for us as well. Although this passage is often used at weddings and can feel inauthentic at times, it really fits who we are as a couple.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. 6 It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8 Love will last forever... 13 There are three things that will endure‑‑faith, hope, and love‑‑and the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:4-8, 13 (NLT).
Two weeks into our marriage we have a lot to be thankful for and so much to look forward to. We close out 2021 full of love after spending time with family and friends. And although I cherish these memories dearly, I remember a time when the Christmas season was hard to bear.
It may be hard for you to bear right now.
I hold you in my heart, you who may be struggling to find joy in the little things, you who is full of despair as I often was, you who lost a loved one this year. I hold you in my heart.
We hit a milestone today. In a year that no one could have predicted (beside perhaps epidemiologists and other infectious diseases experts), we have been forced to live through a collective trauma.
Not in my lifetime, or those of my friends, have we dealt with such despair. We have not personally lived through a war, famine, global pandemic - such as the 1918 flu pandemic, or the like. We only know what it may have been like, through the stories we have been told in history class or accounts from grandparents. We truly can not relate to such distant memories.
Coping with such a fundamental shift in our lives has left some of us numb, hopeful for a new “normal”, tired, scared, or wishing to go back to the old “normal”. What was thought, by some, to be a short disruption to our daily lives, turned out to be a long period of:
The last few months have been the hardest for me. I often feel SAD during this time of year. But for the first time in a long time I felt depression stirring inside. I pushed the feeling down, equating it to nothing more than a few bad days. But days turned into weeks. Sleep was becoming harder and harder to come by. There was no denying it anymore. Although I had been coping rather well (by my standards) through the first 10 months, my mind was now telling my body, something is not right. I wonder if it’s “typical” situational depression or if it’s tied to the pandemic on a deeper level. Do our bodies truly know it has been a year. Are our bodies saying, "no more". No more pretending to be OK, and no more doing things on our own and not asking for help. I hope to explore these questions when I talk with my therapist next week.
After living through this trauma for one year; the one thing I know, is that empathy, patience, and kindness for oneself leads to empathy, patience, and kindness towards others. And we need that more than ever as we head into another year of uncertainty.
P.S. This year showed us that collaboration is possible. The scientific community worked tirelessly to make a vaccine. Canada has now approved four vaccines (in less than one year of the WHO declaring the COVID-19 pandemic). The fastest vaccine ever made previous to this was by a man named Maurice Hilleman. In four years Hilleman developed the mumps vaccine.
"Hilleman cranked out more than 40 other vaccines over the course of his career, including 8 of the 14 routinely given to children. He arguably saved more lives than any other single person." - Radiolab
A reflection as Bell Let’s Talk day approaches
My watch buzzes. It’s 5:00 am. I open my eyes, what time is it? How could it possibly be
morning already? I just fell asleep. I try to recall what kept me up last night. Was it a
weird dream, thoughts of work or coaching track (and field), regret for not cleaning the
condo like I intended over the weekend, napping too long on Sunday, or like most
nights, thoughts of self-doubt?
My body feels heavy, the weight of the day is already upon me. Should I call in sick? My
doctor once gave me a sick note after an appointment. She knew I was in no condition
to go back to work that day. And yet, it still feels like anxiety is not a justifiable reason to
I press snooze (sometimes multiple times) in hopes it will all go away. That’s how I used
to deal with depression. Nothing bad can happen when you’re sleeping. Your problems
may not go away, but you certainly don’t have to deal with them.
My watch buzzes again. It really is time to get up. I roll out of bed, grab my phone that is
charging on my nightstand and head to the bathroom to get ready for the day.
Since I don’t have a TV, my main source for news and entertainment is podcasts. I open
up the podcast app and find The Daily (The New York Times). I wonder what terrible
thing they will report on this morning. An interviewee on a different podcast I listen to,
said something to the effect of, she cannot wait for things to go back to “boring” on
Capitol Hill. I look forward to that day as well. They don’t always talk about what’s
happening in the US. In fact, it was on this very podcast (along with The Current - CBC)
that I learned of a strange new illness in Wuhan, China (A Virus’s Journey Across China
- January 30, 2020).
I often cannot focus, even when doing simple tasks like brushing my teeth. Thoughts
whirl, I try not to pay attention, I hit rewind more times than I can count. This is one
reason I have yet to take on audio books.
As my body slowly begins to wake up, I move to the kitchen to assemble my lunch and
make (stove-top) coffee to take to work. The fog has not lifted from my brain. And
believe it or not, the coffee will not help. It is a ritual that I practice on weekdays. As
much as I love the taste it does nothing for my alertness or energy.
I’m running late. I’ve checked email, Facebook, and Instagram for what, I don’t know.
It’s time to get out the door, but not before I check the condo. Since moving 5 years
ago, I’ve developed this need to ensure the patio door is locked (less so now as snow
covers my balcony) and that the stove is off. I cannot leave the condo if this is not done
(it’s worse if I’m going away on a trip). I don’t have a certain number of times I have to
check, and so I don’t know if I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder: an often- misunderstood disorder that sometimes accompanies anxiety). Once I feel comfortable that the stove is off and patio door is secure, I can finally leave for work. I listen for any sign of my neighbours. I don’t want them to see or hear me as I leave. You guessed it; I have to check to make sure the door is locked.
By the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I’ve used up all my energy on small talk and
blocking out noise (including my own internal dialogue) all while trying to do my actual
job. Before the pandemic I would rush to the Field House to resume my duties as a
coach. A passion I love, however, it too can be draining.
With track and field put on hold I’m home earlier than I typically would be. I find myself
wanting to sit on the couch and scroll rather than make supper and do other productive
things. My jaw hurts, my shoulders are sore, and my hips are tight. All tell-tale signs I’m
keeping things in and need to release. That release often comes in the form of walks,
jogs, and yoga throughout the week. I also try to eat a balanced diet to help settle my
Once I’ve had supper and cleaned the dishes (or not), I ponder starting something
productive. But first I check email, Facebook, and Instagram. After checking in with my
boyfriend, I decide to read. Its 9:30 pm and my phone buzzes to let me know it’s time to
wind-down. Already?! I just got home from work. Where has the time gone? I’m tired,
but I read a few pages. My eyes become droopy. I put the book down, get out of bed
and check to make sure the door is locked. As I lay down, I hope for a good sleep.
I have come to accept my anxiety. It no longer rules my life, contrary to the above. It
took many years of medication, therapy, and self-compassion to get to this point. Mental
illness is not something one should ever go through alone. Sharing is not only about
bringing awareness, but also about connecting to those around me in a deeper way. I
don’t always have the words to speak. I feel more comfortable writing. I hope in doing
so, you find it within you to share your story too.
I am a daughter, sister, auntie, wife and friend.