2020: Year in Review

This year has been unusual, but still has been quite a year for me. The COVID-19 pandemic obviously has had huge impacts worldwide, and even on me, but overall I have been tremendously lucky this year to stay safe, well, and comfortable despite such immense challenges.

Work:

I started a new role this year, as the Learning & Development Manager within US HR for Sun Life. This was back at the end of February just as the pandemic was getting very serious in North America. My new role had me shift to a primarily work-from-home situation, as my work team is located mostly near Boston and elsewhere in the US.

That was serendipitous in a few ways- as my partner also works from home primarily, we were able to sort out ways to work from home effectively alongside each other, a few weeks prior to it being a requirement for everyone, which was helpful. I was able to get the equipment and setup I needed to be comfortable and efficient.

This role is awesome and perfect for me in a lot of ways, I get the opportunity to wear many hats- do some facilitating (but not full-time facilitating, and mostly for leadership development work), consulting, coaching, DE&I work, and lots of other great things. I’ve gotten to build up a flexible, robust leadership development program, roll out innovative DE&I training and support important initiatives, and it’s been an awesome year. I even won an actual award.

Professional Development:

I’ve wrapped up four courses this year as part of my grad program, Work and Learning, Fostering Learning in Practice, Global/Local Learning, Comparative Education, and I’m now in the middle of Understanding Research. Three more courses and I’ll have finished up the program- looking forward to that next year.

So I’ve continued to work on my Masters program, but this year I also got the opportunity to pursue additional professional development in the form of a leadership coaching certification. I started my training back in May, and am just wrapping up the final phase tomorrow. I’m excited to have leveled up my coaching skills and have that to offer to my clients and to my coworkers. I’ve gotten to connect with some awesome people, some of whom I have kept in touch with after our courses have wrapped up.

I also renewed both my other certifications this year, the CTDP and the CPTD, so I’m all set on those fronts for another three years. I got to do a cool member showcase with TLDC as well- I wish I had a little more time to give to that group, they’re awesome.

I also got to do a little bit more fun video editing this year (mostly for fun work projects), so I’m learning more about how to edit video which is a fun skill.

Personal:

The kids were out of school this year for several months due to the pandemic, with some virtual schooling to support but it was definitely a challenge. We were able to set things up here in such a way that they were able to have some space to do schoolwork and play while we were still working full time.

Obviously we didn’t do any travelling this year, though we did have a masked, socially distanced trip to the zoo during the summer. We mostly spent the summer inside and in our own backyard- the playgrounds were closed for quite a while.

Despite all that, we’ve still been able to enjoy some seasonal fun here and there, apple picking and seeing fall leaves, and a drive-through holiday light show.

Because the typical rehearsal/performance season isn’t an option this year, I was able to join the Grand Philharmonic Choir again (which I hadn’t planned to do until I finished my Masters program). It has been great having a way to see friends and sing even if we can’t all exactly sing together at the same time. I have also been able to sing in a few virtual choirs this year (one still to come!)

Charitable giving:

I’ve been lucky enough this year to be able to donate more than last year (based on preliminary/back of the envelope calculations) across many organizations, particularly healthcare, arts, and community organizations. I know that so many folks have been in increasingly precarious financial positions, particularly my friends and family who rely on live performances and other work environments that have been impossible to keep open this year.

2020

All in all it has been a really good year for me. I’ve learned a lot, been through a few things, but overall, stayed safe, kept learning and growing, and was able to achieve some really good things. Looking forward to 2021!

Pandemic reflections

Things have definitely developed fairly quickly over the past few weeks. Just a month ago (on the 17th of February) we were traveling into Toronto to go to the car show, and now doing something like using public transit to attend an event attended by tens of thousands is unthinkable.

Since then, things have been slowly shifting, we went from fairly typical activities (going out for groceries and haircuts, going to the dentist, seeing friends every week, going to the gym, to none of that. I had planned to travel to Boston to visit my work team and attend some meetings, and that was cancelled as travel restrictions ramped up.

For me, the shifts were doubly interesting because I went from a job where I was going into the office every day, to one where I was working from home every day- before we had additional work from home directives. So I was ahead of the curve in that regard- we have already set up multiple workstations at home (my husband also works from home nearly 100% of the time).

It felt like things started to go away slowly, then quite quickly- I made a comment to my work team that the schools were still open after our March Break and then about an hour later we got an announcement that they were closed until April 6. I had already planned to take March Break off, so was able to spend that time with the kids, staycation-style.

Since I switched to working from home back on February 23, the transition doesn’t feel quite so dramatic, but the overall feeling of urgency and stress is not lost on me. We’re also going to have the kids home with us as we work through the next few weeks at least, so we’ll have some adjustments to make as we manage that.

Thankfully my workplace and others understand the situation everyone is in so there’s a bit more flexibility around having a kid show up on your conference call (that had happened for me a couple of times already and thankfully everyone was cool).

Overall I’m feeling grateful that I already had put in place what was needed to effectively work from home, I’m grateful my kids are old enough to manage themselves for short periods so I can focus on some things (though I still do have to intervene to get focus time here and there). I’m grateful we have service through Good Food and PCexpress to get groceries we need with minimal need for interaction. I’m grateful our house has space for us to spread out a bit and get out of each other’s ways.

There’s a lot to be nervous about but I’m feeling very grateful overall. As an introvert I’m able to get plenty of social interaction without a lot of effort using technology, which is great. I got to do a cool video chat with my regular tv-watching group this week, did a dress-up fancy party on Facebook (with everyone dressed up fancy in their own homes of course) and have more fun things planned. I’ve been able to donate to some of the fundraising efforts providing relief to those much more affected than me, and help out a few folks as well.

Back to work this week- we’ll see what the next week brings but I know I’m so lucky.