January 1, 2021

A new year, more gifts

Scrolling through the internet today, I saw lots of celebrations about the end of 2020 and the beginning 2021, with new hope on the horizon. No doubt about it. 2020 was challenging and life changing. We are all different now than we were a year ago. We have seen both the best of humans and the worst. But like Mr. Rogers said: Look for the helpers. They are who have kept me going.

We have learned so many new words over the past year. Oxford Languages couldn’t choose just one word of the year for of this unprecedented year. Too many changes and new words, everything from “pandemic”, of course, to “Blursday” and “doomscrolling”, as well as “Covidiots”, “super-spreader”, and “Black Lives Matter”. The year started off with “impeachment”. Our language will never be the same.

The truth is we still have lots of work to do before the pandemic is over. The vaccines bring promise, as does a new administration that is committed to actually controlling the pandemic, rather than dismiss it. But we all are tired and yearn for some normal times. I must confess that I have had a harder time lately controlling my anger at the doubters and the haters. I find the selfishness of so many maddening. I understand that they are most likely influenced and “brainwashed” by the media they imbibe, but the carelessness and anger they spew is heartbreaking. The hatred and the threats they have shown to people who are just trying to help is shocking to me. I am not sure how we will return to a kinder world. We will all have to work together to help with this. In the meantime we must survive our pandemic fatigue and maintain our safety.

We can try the advice from UW about coping with pandemic fatigue both at work and at home. Keeping connected to community is essential, as is practicing gratitude. Remember that taking care of yourself is helpful so that you will have more for others. There should be no guilt in self-care. There are other ways to improve well-being. Self-compassion being one and another is remembering to pay attention to the journey and not just the destination. We have been given so many gifts, we forget to notice them.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is one of my inspirations over the past year. She wrote a book called “Braiding Sweetgrass” that weaves together botany and indigenous knowledge. She has done it again with this essay in Emergence Magazine, a long but healing read. She helps me realize the earth is full of gifts, which we can learn to recognize. We often ignore them, but can learn how to accept them. This particular story is about Amelanchier or serviceberry and its generosity. Amelanchier alnifolia, also known as Saskatoon, make more than enough berries to share with animals and humans. This is a lesson in generosity and gift giving, which results in gratitude and reciprocity. We all need more of both. I now plan to plant an Amelanchier in our back yard for Jamie and me, and our local birds and squirrels. We need more gifts to share.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and share more.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.