Feature article (as seen in the May issue of the Neighbours of the Glebe magazine)

For so many of us there has been unparalleled change over the last year; some of it good and some of it not so good.  As a family we were only just getting our footing back after recovering from some big losses when the pandemic hit.   The passing of Mike’s father, my mother and brother all within a few short years left big holes in our hearts and palpable gaps in our lives.  And like so many others we also felt the horrible sting of confinement when our brother in law died unexpectedly in Newfoundland and we could not be there to grieve with family and to honour his life.   

We have spent much of COVID doubling down as a family.  We have kept close.  Very close.  Very scared.  We have zealously protected our family as the thought of one of us going alone into hospital is unimaginable.  

And now one year later with vaccines for all imminent, there is finally hope. And yet, our post-pandemic reality brings with it other anxieties and worries.  How can we alter the future of our planet so that it is healthier and our communities are more connected?  What will our ‘new normal’ look like?  How will we move forward as a society?  How will we recover with so much job loss, so much unemployment and so many industries decimated?   

We are all excited to live in an unmasked, hug-friendly world again but we’re all coming into it as different people now.  We’ve had a long while to take stock of our lives and to think about our ‘reset button’.  We are excited to move forward, blessed to still be here but we recognize that we have been impacted by the pandemic and we want to move forward with a new sense of purpose and intention. 

The younger generation like our daughters have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic in general and the required isolation in particular.  When the schools closed last March our daughter, Meagan, who had been working part time at the Wild Oat, was graduating from Canterbury’s fine arts program.  Sadly her grade 12 lost all of their well-deserved celebrations that would have brought closure to a formidable high school experience.  The prospect of university residence in the fall of 2020 buoyed her spirits.  But by late summer that dream was sunk when residences were closed and our deposit was returned.  

Like the parents of other university students we grappled with the weight of wondering at what cost we let the pandemic determine the mental and emotional well-being of our children. In the end we decided that Meagan needed a university experience so with mixed emotion, we rented her an apartment in downtown Montreal so that she and her good friend could have some semblance of autonomy while attending Concordia’s Fine Arts and Design program virtually.  We have no regrets and she has blossomed from this tip of the iceberg encounter with university life. 

Our daughter, Emma, in Grade 10 at Glebe Collegiate has also been impacted by the pandemic and like so many other high school students she has had to juggle her days between school online and in person.   And she’s had to become accustomed to only seeing friends either online or outdoors.  The great thing about youth though is their resilience and through it all Emma has grown and adapted.  Knowing where her strengths lay, Emma recently took on the role of Room2Breathe’s social media manager and her support and computer savvy have been a welcome addition to our growing team. 

Supporting each other became paramount for Mike and I too as we were now together day in and day out, working side by side in our home office.   While my career of 31 years was rapidly dissolving, Mike’s career became more relevant and urgent than ever before.  

With planes grounded and new legislation surrounding the closure of our nation’s borders, 

Mike’s work as a senior consultant on contract with the federal government required long hours and many virtual meetings.

On the other side of the career pendulum, my long standing career in the promotional products industry came to an abrupt halt when the schools closed and conferences, conventions, trade shows, AGM’s and golf tournaments were nixed resulting in clients cancelling orders. 

Fast forward a few months and after much soul-searching I decided to follow my passion for organizing and decluttering and started my company, Room2Breathe.  Although commencing any company during lockdown seemed perilous, it was the only option that kept calling to me so I took a leap of faith and happily have never looked back.  And certainly ‘Covid confinement’ has made many realize how much ‘stuff’ they have so that’s certainly kept us busy.

We are a family that likes to be kept busy so living in the Glebe has been an amazing experience.with the Rideau Canal close by and skating, running, walking and biking right on our doorstep.  

Mike and I were both raised in close knit neighbourhoods with Mike coming from Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and me from Montreal West and we wanted that experience for Meagan and Emma.  And certainly we’ve gotten that in spades from the schools and community center to Brown’s Inlet block parties and outstanding neighbours. 

Interestingly enough it was at the Glebe Running Room that Mike and I first met so it’s even more special for us to live in this exceptional area of Ottawa. 

There have been many dark moments during Covid but one of the bright spots has been running into friends out walking and enjoying the beauty that surrounds us in this community we now call home.  

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