Reflection on Winter + Spring 2020

Winter 2020 has been very different for many of us and I wanted to take a few moments to share my own reflections with you all and how I have recognized the Therapeutic Recreation profession to be increasingly important. Winter 2020 changed for me on January 25, 2020. The day the City of St. John’s lifted its State of Emergency (SOE – due to copious amounts of snow), I was doing what I did throughout the SOE – Cross-Country Skiing and loving it! I was rapidly descending a steep hill when I lost control, landed on my side, quickly flipped to the other side, and broke my left wrist. I knew it was broken immediately, and I was afraid to look inside my snow-covered mitten. I gingerly made my way back up the hill and fortunately my son had skied to meet me. We painstakingly made our way back 2.5 kilometers to our house, met part-way by my husband and youngest son. A trip to the hospital followed and what we knew was confirmed. Despite best efforts surgery could not be avoided and it took place February 13, 2020. Any Valentine’s Day plans were for naught… So, 2020 was one of the best winters ever for skiing and I was missing out.

I work in the field of Therapeutic Recreation and one of the conversations I often have with clients revolves around the question “What brings you Joy?” Besides my Christian faith, which is my foundation for Joy, I started to ask myself that question. I loved to ski- outdoors; run – outdoors, hike – outdoors. During February I wasn’t up for any of these activities. But I thought I can still go outdoors – breathe the fresh air, admire my children’s creations in the snow and appreciate the sun when it was shining. I also started doing jigsaw puzzles with my children and we had fun together. Even though we were used to doing physical activities together, working on a puzzle became the new norm, and it brought a whole new sense of enjoyment.

April is now here; my wrist is healing well and I’ve been back running for over a month. It has been great to put on those running shoes and start pounding the pavement again. But… Covid 19 has taken over and Spring 2020 has become even more different than Winter 2020. Everything has stopped; basketball, rugby, hockey, winter-ball, church, school, university, sport trips to Fortune and Florida… no one is going anywhere. My four children, as well as children all over the world, have been significantly affected by this turn of events. I remember the night the NBA basketball game was stopped mid-stream. I went to sleep wondering why but never imagined this! No NHL, NBA, MLB, World Curling, and the list could go on and on. The excitement of live sporting events is something for which we’ll have to wait. My son enjoys the replays of the Blue Jays… me – not so much. I definitely don’t want to watch the Leafs and Bruins from 2013 and 2017. Yeah, I’ve been a Leaf fan since 1980 and I’m not reliving that history.

So, lots has been written about what to do during the Pandemic – clean out a closet or a box (I tried and decided I’d keep the things in there because I wanted each and every one of them!), bake bread, learn an instrument, paint a window, call a neighbor… and I’m not going to add to that list. But, in the midst of this I’ve realized our profession, Therapeutic Recreation, is something that can help many
people get through this unprecedented time in history. Not just people inside the hospital, which is where I am working during this Pandemic, but also people in their own homes. Find something that brings you joy and do it. It doesn’t have to be creative or earth-shattering. Look for something that you can enjoy, and for a brief moment focus on something other than the difficult news of the day.

I know there will come a day when life will return to a more normal pattern. When that happens, I hope that I will not take for granted all the freedom and luxuries that we enjoy in Canada. There are so many opportunities to learn, grow, improve a skill, visit a neighbor, walk with a friend, or share a meal together. Today, I’d love to be doing any of those things. I’d even love to be standing in a freezing cold ice-rink watching my 13-year old chasing a puck! I’m telling myself I’ll never complain again!! As a profession, and as individuals, I think we will grow through this challenging time. But right now, we are in the midst of it and we need to use our skills we’ve learned through Therapeutic Recreation to tackle what faces us today.

Anne Mack
CTRA Atlantic Director

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