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What have 365 days of COVID-19 taught you?

The one-year anniversary of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is upon us, and for many, it has been a time of reflection
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As we approach the one year anniversary of COVID-19, we at CollingwoodToday find ourselves reflecting on what the last year has meant for us personally.

It has been a whirlwind year, filled with many uncertainties and ups and downs.

And whether it was self-imposed, government-mandated, or a combination of both, we've all experienced some form of lockdown or isolation over the last 365 days. For many of us, this has caused anxiety and isolation like we've never experienced before.

However, throughout the darkness, the criticism of politics, dwelling on what is wrong, and frustrations with ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding the virus, many have changed their perspective on what really matters in life.

And, with a little hope, maybe some of the lessons we've learned during COVID-19, we will carry on with us post-pandemic, making us a better and more united society.

So CollingwoodToday wants to know, what life lessons have learned over the last year? Email your lessons to [email protected], we'll be posting them next week. We welcome photos too!

We asked some of our staff that very question. Here's what they had to say:

Don't take anything for granted, especially public toilets

"I've learned you should never take access to a public bathroom for granted.

In the early days of the pandemic, while everything was closed, press conferences were still taking place in person. 

There were a few days where I would have morning and afternoon events but discovered, alas, no public bathrooms were open anywhere, and I'd have to hold it until there was an opportunity for me to race home.

One time a gas station attendant took pity on me and let me use his (closed) bathroom and for that, I'll be forever grateful.

I've also learned that the more scared people are, the more they lash out at each other, especially on social media.

I learned that the majority of people do have a desire to help others. The outpouring of support between neighbours has taken me aback on many occasions throughout the past year, and there has been no shortage of stories to share.

Lastly, my home-cooking skills have vastly improved over the last 365 days."

- Jessica Owen, Reporter

Mom was right, you don't know what someone else is going through

"For me, the pandemic has reinforced an old adage that my mother always used to say … be kind because you have no idea what someone else is going through. 

In 2020 the world turned upside down and it became apparent that we are all struggling. Struggling with the loss, struggling not to kill our family members after endless hours of togetherness, and struggling to keep our heads above water (whether it be financially or with our mental health). It has never been more vital to be considerate and kind to one another.  

The pandemic has also taught me how to move through and sit with grief; how to be still in a world that is anything but; and how to cope with being homesick. 

Above all else, the pandemic has given me a new appreciation for all the small things that I so foolishly took for granted in the pre-COVID world – my health, a supportive partner, a steady income and a safe and warm home."

- Jennifer Golletz, Reporter

Positivity is powerful

"It’s crazy to think that almost an entire year has passed since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. So much has happened, yet so little at the same time. It has definitely made me appreciate the simple joy of putting something on my calendar. 

This past year has seen so much loss, so much hurt and so much uncertainty, but it has also seen so much good. And it has been extremely heartwarming – humbling even – to realize just how resilient we really are. Even on the darkest days, we helped lift each other up. Even when things were the most uncertain, we were making noise on the streets night after night, sending postcards to senior centres and flowers to friends, supporting local businesses in every way possible, and coming up with new collaborations, new innovations and new ways to laugh.

Even apart, the pandemic brought us together. And even when it was so much easier to be negative, we chose to be positive. They say your outlook on life plays a large role in how you see adverse situations, and if this past year is any indicator, it has shown me that a positive outlook really can go a long, long way."

- Maddie Johnson, Freelance Reporter

Laughing really is a good medicine

"I felt like I might drown in the seriousness and tragedy this year has brought, and not even just because of the pandemic. 

Remember in The Neverending Story when Atreyu gets stuck in the Swamp of Sadness? I was sad, and mad, and tired. Taking a break from the news cycle wasn't really an option. 

But there would be these moments where my dad would text me a meme with a pun he knew I'd laugh about, or a cat video he couldn't stop watching. My brother and his girlfriend would video call and we would play a ridiculously long game of charades. My other brother would text me a story about my hilarious 6-year-old niece creating some mad science experiment or bragging about how she held her breath underwater for 11 seconds in the bathtub. 

When I laughed about those silly things, or because I was having so much fun trying to get my husband to guess (without speaking) that I was pretending to be Shrek, I could feel relief. It was like surfacing and drawing in this wonderful breath of fresh air while the sun warmed my face. 

To quote the one and only Dick Van Dyke (as Bert) 'I love to laugh.'"

– Erika Engel, Community editor and reporter

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Riley Barsanti, Community Cares team

About the Author: Riley Barsanti, Community Cares team

Riley is a Communications Specialist and member of the Village Media Cares Team, whose mission is to create meaningful, long-lasting and positive change in the communities we serve.
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