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The inside and out of a pandemic.

Hi! I realize it's been a while since I have posted here. I wanted to share what I have been up to since my last post.

March 2020 I embarked on a road trip to Winnipeg to start a new contract. On the way there, the air waves were filled with the beginning of COVID19. The message essentially was - go home, lock up your mothers, fathers, daughters and sons and stay away from virtually everything and everyone. I started my job in the health care sector in a data group that week, and by the end of the week, I packed up and returned to my home city to work, along with the rest of the world.

We know more about COVID19 than we did that day. Some 16.5 months later, I am still working in the Manitoba health care sector as part of health care transformation project. We are all still working from home, online. But it's OK. Because they company that I work for has exceptional adaptability and change management skills. That what we do after all. We lead transformations and help people manage and lead change.

Something curious happened to our collective psyche during COVID. We became afraid as every morning, afternoon and night, the airwaves were filled with the number of COVID cases, the number of recoveries, how many people were in ICU and how many people had died, and what age ranges.

There were reports of outbreak sites where COVID cases were contracted, followed by contact tracing and isolation. The data told the story of how we were collectively managing the pandemic and it gave insight as to what we needed to do to get back to life.

At first I thought I would be home for two weeks. So when I got home, I continued my search for apartments in Winnipeg. I was excited about the prospect of living and working in another city. But two weeks became four weeks, and four weeks became four months, and here we are, 16 months later and still working from home.

Our province released a reopen plan based on vaccinations. And this month, all restrictions were lifted. It's a little concerning, but I can't help but notice that the level of joy has increased. Are we starting to feel safe again? Some of us are. Some are not. The news media still updates us on the number of cases, recoveries, and deaths, and the data tells the story of a recovery. The line is going in the right direction, with fewer cases, more recoveries, and fewer deaths. The variants are the new worry now.

The next story that we will begin to understand is the impact of the past 16 months on our mental and physical health as well as the health of our economy.

At the outside of the pandemic, liquor boards were allowed to say open, but fitness and health facilities were not??? It seemed arbitrary to me. So I asked a Minister in our provincial government, and she responded that if Liquor Boards were closed, chaos would ensue. An interesting perspective, I thought.

In fact, all things good and nurturing were slammed shut by the government, and big box stores were allowed to stay open. Toilet paper was a hot commodity, something I will never understand. And flour . . . apparently we were baking bread? Hand sanitizer, soap and cleaners were hot as well.

Eventually we were able to resume some of the healthy activities in life, with masks and social distancing, which was great. But even though we were not technically locked down, we were locked out. The messaging was still stay home, stay safe.

In our city, businesses have disappeared from the landscape as people were told to stay home and go nowhere, and we're not talking about it. Maybe we don't know the full impact yet, but as a business owner of a shoe store in a time when people stopped walking or getting dressed for that matter, I can appreciate the pain in leading a business through COVID, and having to make the decision to close a business.

What have we learned from this? That health and wellness and a positive state of mind, and community are all connected, that good data and good thinking go hand in hand, and that we have an opportunity to come back from this better than the way we went in.

Some thoughts to emerge from the pandemic.

  1. Take time every day to practice wellness.

  2. Eat well.

  3. Sleep well.

  4. Play with your children.

  5. Tell the people you love that you love them.

  6. Practice compassion.

  7. Shop at small businesses.

  8. Get dressed every day.

Lynn Armstrong, entrepreneur is the founder of Lynear Thinking, and owner of Regina's best (and now only) shoe store in Regina, ZOE Shoes + Objects.

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