Stef Wood
A year in reflection.

This time last year is was when S#!T really started to hit the fan. Stores ran out of toilet paper and it was the first time in my life where fruits and vegetables were not stocked on the shelves. This year I lost two jobs, two grandparents and was rejected from a master's program which I desperately wanted to be accepted to. It was an awakening experience to say the least. How is it that in the midst of such calamity, many of us were able to reflect, and reinvent so much so that it sent us hurling towards our purpose? Many of us started a business perhaps out of sheer desperation, or because we finally had the time to sit down and put together a business plan. It allowed us to seriously reflect about where we are in life. There is something to be said about getting quiet and slowing down in order to change your life trajectory. After returning to undergrad to figure out how to become accepted into my program, there were 4 months of extremely hardcore studying, a coffee dependency and two rounds of anti-anxiety prescriptions, I am pleased to announce that I am starting a master's program in May to study as a psychotherapist.

I just want to reflect on what this time has taught us.

1) Strengthening our bonds. Even though we have not been allowed to gather, the pandemic has shown us how resilient and creative we are as humans. Think about the drive by birthday celebrations and drive by hospital appreciations. We used technology to our advantage to take meetings, yoga classes and the arts online. When I look back on this year I remember pulling back from the rat race with more time and space to reinvent. I was able to highlight my creative potential and to recognize that regardless of how grateful I was to be working in the wellness industry, it was a dead end. I was stuck. This was only revealed to me when I got quiet. I remember nights where all you could hear was silence. There was no distant traffic with lockdown in place. I also remember playing Jack Box remotely and laughing with friends and family until I couldn't breath. In the midst of family drama and grief, I remember having one of the best afternoons with family after my grandmother's funeral. The phone calls and video chats with those who I love have been the most profound and meaningful.

2) Tradition and celebration are at the core of our being. Pandemic did not halt celebration. We reinvented it. Whether it was celebrating the holidays through a screen or visiting an elderly person through the window of their care home we figured it out. We are social beings and the pandemic brought attention to how important celebration, tradition and living in group mentality is.  

3) Humans are so intuitive. I believe humanity is good at its core. We make bad decisions and are selfish, anxious, depressed and miserable because we have lost sight of our essence. This is what has veered us off the path of "metta" which is the Buddhist term for loving kindness. How many good deeds were happening throughout this year because somehow, we caught wind that the world's vibrations were low. Instinctively whether you believe in the power of energy or not, people were out paying for other people's coffee in the drive through or fairy ninja-ing each others houses. It is because intuitively humans are drawn to social cohesion, empathy, compassion and solidarity.

4) Getting quiet in order to reinvent. If you told me this time last year that the Universe had big plans for me and over the next year I would experience some serious shifts which included not working as a yoga teacher, I would drag you to rehab myself as there would be no other explanation for your absurdity. In one year my path has changed so immensely. If I were told a year ago that I was about to start my masters in psychotherapy, I would have doubled over in fits of laughter. No way did I ever plan to get a master's degree.  It would have only taken a plague *clears throat* to knock me out of the very happy position I was in. It took peeling back the layers of the onion to reveal why I was not living up to my potential. We have all sorts of excuses. "I work 7 days a week. I don't have time to go back to school." "I can't afford to continue education." "I am too old. Either I start a family or go to school, I can't have both." We tell ourselves these fascinating stories that prevent us from doing things that are hard. They simply are not true.

We seem to be experts as we head into our third lockdown. While this year came with it's share of challenges, I am so grateful for the experiences and a clean slate.

Final notes:

People who are our leaders don't have a clue what they are doing and like us, are hurling through space along for the ride that we call life. I will leave that there.

People like conspiracy theories. I will also leave that there.

Photograph taken at the Beatles ashram in Riskikesh India.

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