With a focus on mental health, the PRA team wanted to share their personal experience with COVID-19 – the ups, downs and in-betweens.
Finding Positivity in my New Normal
Paola Ashton, Vice President, PR Associates
Spring Break 2020 was scheduled to be surf and sand riddled with the glorious scents of a tourist’s paradise: Hawaii. Then the pandemic we heard rumblings about for a few months had taken a significant turn, unlike the previous SARS virus, which meant no travel, period. The next few days were spent cancelling flights and the hotel with amazing customer service teams trying to head the demand, but not able to control the influx resulting in eight hours on hold as the norm. I thought I was handling everything quite well until the reality set in of having to tell my teenage sons, who were looking forward to this trip with friends, that it was cancelled. I was left feeling their disappointment through veiled understanding. After this initial sadness came the quarantine and all that defined it.
Realizing the severity of COVID-19, we quickly engaged in discussions, and still do, about all the people that were affected in such a horrible way because of this pandemic, as they faced or dealt with death, job loss, food insecurity, and abuse. To be part of the helpers that are so needed when times like this strike our world, our family joined Share the Goods, a platform for Canadians to help other Canadians by providing groceries. We were able to help a young family in need, and this made the anxiety of what I was feeling take on a bit of ease.
Fortunately, working from home was the norm for our firm and we excelled at it, already incorporating Zoom and adding the addition of the online platform, Slack. However, I still had to adapt and step up to alternatives as the luxury of coffee and in person connection was now no longer, and digital conversations had to suffice. Never mind if you are a new employee – hello, that’s me.
What did this pandemic teach me? It taught me to focus on opportunities and blessings and feel gratitude. The puppy my boys have always wanted but felt we could never justify having as my husband and I both worked full time, is being welcomed into our home on May 18th. He has no name yet, but he is so loved already, and a rising excitement has been brewing in our house.
Yes, I still feel times of sadness, anxiety and worry about the unknown, but I try to remain present and appreciate the lessons entrenched in this craziness. Thank goodness my sons are in high school and can manage their schoolwork on their own; huge kudos to those parents working and homeschooling. They’ve made the impossible, possible. We all have. Through this, I hope my boys have witnessed the power of resilience from our amazing front line workers as this is what they have shown me every day-albeit some laziness has also been thrown in the mix. This has taught me patience without losing sight of what we need to be accountable for. I am grateful for the support that has been extended from my work life, virtually surrounded by such amazing, talented and kind people. When a vaccine is introduced and we can ease our minds a bit, I hope we don’t lose sight of why we slowed down, took a different path and emerged a stronger version of our world, our families and ourselves. No denying though, I am truly looking forward to going out for a much needed patio drink at White Rock beach.