It’s been a challenging two years for everyone. One of my Covid projects was to get a new laptop so I don’t freeze on Zoom. Sounds so appealingly simple doesn’t it?? Anyone who has been down this path knows that is not true. Especially if you do all the techy stuff yourself. I went through 3 computers until I found the right one. If only I had known what I wanted and if only laptops were in stock in Courtenay. That seems like my theme for the year. As part of my transfer of files were my millions of photos, so what could be more timely than a trip down memory lane of Christmas past. I said to myself that no one is interested in my family photo album.. except maybe my family and friends. But I have enough family to make this a worthwhile project.
My photo records go back to 1973 in London England where I had my first English Christmas. This Christmas dinner included I don’t remember what and three roommates, two from South Africa and one from England. Christmas in England was surprisingly low key compared to Canada. It was one of the first moments that I felt like I was living in a foreign country.
I come from a family with lots of relatives and have spent several memorable Christmas’s over the years with aunts, uncles and cousins over the years. Sadly some of my family members have passed away as has my Golden Retriever who lives on in my email address.
One of my more memorable Christmas was in 2009 with my brother in Saint John NB. You can start to see a theme here and it might be NUTCRACKERS. The costumes were provided by my brother’s friend who had come back from Asia with a lot of trinkets to resell. So my brother opened his house for a pop up store and we all got in the spirit. This was of course followed by lobster.
The dress up theme was continued at my Ottawa Christmas in 2011-2012. We had a Christmas craft moment and made Fascinators for everyone. You can see them modeled by the ladies of Ottawa Public Health and members and friends of my best friend’s family.
My Christmas travels have taken me to New York, Mexico, Phoenix, Costa Rica and Hornby Island.
This Covid version of Night Before Christmas is pretty creative. I don’t know who the author is as it came to me in an email. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. I hope that we can all get together for future Christmases.
Twas the night before Christmas, but Covid was here, So we all had to stay extra cautious this year. Our masks were all hung by the chimney with care In case Santa forgot his and needed a spare. With Covid, we couldn’t leave cookies or cake So we left Santa hand sanitizer to take. The children were sleeping, the brave little tots The ones over 5 had just had their first shots, And mom in her kerchief and me in my cap Had just settled in for a long winter’s nap. But we tossed and we turned all night in our beds As visions of variants danced in our heads. Gamma and Delta and now Omicron These Covid mutations that go on and on I thought to myself, “If this doesn’t get better, I’ll soon be familiar with every Greek letter”. Then just as I started to drift off and doze A clatter of noise from the front lawn arose. I leapt from my bed and ran straight down the stair I opened the door, and an old gent stood there. His N 95 made him look pretty weird But I knew who he was by his red suit and beard. I kept six feet away but blurted out quick ” What are you doing here, jolly Saint Nick?” Then I said, “Where’s your presents, your reindeer and sleigh ? Don’t you know that tomorrow will be Christmas Day? “. And Santa stood there looking sad in the snow As he started to tell me a long tale of woe. He said he’d been stuck at the North Pole alone All his white collar elves had been working from home, And most of the others said “Santa, don’t hire us! We can live off the CERB now, thanks to the virus”. Those left in the toyshop had little to do. With supply chain disruptions, they could make nothing new. And as for the reindeer, they’d all gone away. None of them left to pull on his sleigh. He said Dasher and Dancer were in quarantine, Prancer and Vixen refused the vaccine, Comet and Cupid were in ICU, So were Donner and Blitzen, they may not pull through. And Rudolph’s career can’t be resurrected. With his shiny red nose, they all think he’s infected. Even with his old sleigh, Santa couldn’t go far. Every border to cross needs a new PCR. Santa sighed as he told me how nice it would be If children could once again sit on his knee. He couldn’t care less if they’re naughty or nice But they’d have to show proof that they’d had their shot twice. But then the old twinkle returned to his eyes. And he said that he’d brought me a Christmas surprise. When I unwrapped the box and opened it wide, Starlight and rainbows streamed out from inside. Some letters whirled round and flew up to the sky And they spelled out a word that was 40 feet high. There first was an H, then an O, then a P, Then I saw it spelled HOPE when it added the E. “Christmas magic” said Santa, as he smiled through his beard. Then suddenly… all of the reindeer appeared. He jumped into his sleigh, and he waved me good-bye, Then he soared o’er the rooftops and into the sky. I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight “Get your vaccines my friends, Merry Christmas, good-night.” Then I went back to bed and a sweet Christmas dream Of a world when we’d finished with Covid 19.
This explains some possible factors in success/failure among Canadian provinces. Hard to statistically correlate factors with success. Nevertheless it is good to have someone capture system and structural factors the differ among provinces. Discussion of Quebec would strengthen theory.
My favourite is the Chrome Extension so you can synch your Goodreads with the library you use. I also discovered Libby is the app to download for Vancouver Public Library and Vancouver Island public library not Overdrive.
This is the third part of a series of three blogs outlining how to set up and run Zoom social meetings. The first part is how to download and set up the Zoom App, the second part is topics for discussion and the third part is how to set up a zoom discussion/support group.
The Zoom Room experience has been fun and interesting. I think we and others broke new group during COVID19. I have made a list of some of issues that may came up and how your group might tackle them. Option 1 is to set up some meeting protocols at the beginning. Option 2 is to deal with protocols as you go along. Initially too many protocols can be overwhelming, but they can help to set some expectations about behaviour and help build stability during a time of rapid social change and unpredictability.
Structured vs unstructured meetings: Members will have different experience with speaking out in a group or in a video format. Some people will not want to show their face and just use audio. Some people like having a set time and sequence to speak and others like a more random conversation like at a cocktail party. Try out both modes and see what the group like. The unstructured mode can generate spontaneous discussions, but quiet people may need a prompt from the group leader.
Focus Be clear about the intent of the Zoom meeting, but this can morph over time.
Security: lots of people are anxious about the possibility of being hacked. Some general discussion might be helpful about how to protect privacy on Zoom.
Behaviour: There seems to be some unwritten code of conduct on Zoom. Some of these codes of conduct are about swearing, disrespect, grandstanding, interjections, people talking over each other etc. A group leader needs to attend to these behaviours so they don’t sabotage the meeting.
Privacy/confidentiality – I have found that bonding occurs in most Zoom meetings. This includes my ESL students as well as friends and acquaintances. I have found conversations are quite deep and that people are open about self disclosure. As a result there is an assumed level of privacy, which is not often explicitly discussed in the meetings.– Decide if you mind having family, guests or others in the Zoom room. Sometimes girl talk is private! Sharing the meeting content with people outside the meeting may come up as an issue. Find a level that is acceptable to most people. If you are a blogger and want to blog about your experiences with the group, get a pre-approval from individuals if you want to refer to their blog or post pictures. One Zoomer says ” What is said in Zoom stays in Zoom”.
Time out– Feel free to take time out or leave when you need to. Give the group the heads up.
New members/visitors/guest speakers– There may be subtle groups norms in your group. Its a bit like clique in high school. One group may want to keep the same members and others may welcome new members. In this moment of COVID 19, being open to new members may be the more altruistic approach but it may be challenging for new members to get up to speed. Getting some agreement about these issues early on is wise.
Zoom fatigue:- Many people who are working at home may be too Zoomed out to participate. This might lend itself to a once a month drop-in Zoom meeting with a guest speaker that doesn’t require a high cognitive demand.
Leaders:- constant vs rotating. Once members have learned the Zoom process, they can take on some responsibility for organizing meetings and being the discussion leader. Having the same facilitator is easy but rotating facilitators builds Zoom confidence and polishes up social skills in a time of isolation. Give people a few weeks to get comfortable with the format.
Leadership skills: Having a group leader which experience with organizing and chairing meetings can be an asset. Having a chair who understands meeting dynamics is helpful too.
This is the second part of a series of three blogs outlining how to set up and run Zoom social meetings. The first part is how to download and set up the Zoom App, the second part is topics for discussion and the third part is how to set up a zoom discussion/support group.
This section is a list of topics my Zoom group has used. They were all interesting and sometimes controversial topics which added to the fun factor for me. The first 30 min of the meeting was a brief update from each person about highs and lows of the week and the group found this a very valuable part of the meeting.
“Zoom calls done right, with the right people and the right trust in place is an astounding opportunity to gain better understanding of others and most notably, better understanding of self” https://retirementreflections.com.
Did you have a desire to pursue another career, yet life moved you forward in this direction? What other career path would you have chosen knowing what you know now? Why?
What is the most useless talent you have?
What talent don’t you have that you wish you did?
Share something that has inspired you this past week. e.g.
good news story
piece of art
Recall a time that you have been politically active in a political party as a volunteer, campaign manager, candidate, or in some other capacity. Or alternatively, have you ever been an activist (e.g., participated in a march, letter writing campaign, blockade, etc.)? What motivated you to become active in a political party or a political activist? If you have never been politically active or an activist, why not?
We are now in the ninth month of Covid-related restrictions. Please share one, or several, positive impacts this experience has had on your life and/or relationships. When this is over, how will 2020 not only be a year of loss and limitations, but also one that – because of the virus – we have personally learned something, done something, or experienced something we might not have otherwise?
Baking-Do you like to bake, or are you a big believer in getting sweet treats from the bakery instead? Does Christmas inspire you to bake? Do you have an old family recipe that you turn to again and again? Has COVID inspired a new interest in baking? Do you have a recipe or baking disaster you want to share?
Select an old photo of yourself that you really like – preferably one that is at least 10 years old. Tell us the story of that photo – who were you? What was happening in your life?
Have you ever done a “gratitude practice,” and if yes, what was it and how did it work for you? Plus, what are the THREE most important things you are grateful for right now?
A colleague once told me that he didn’t believe in retirement – that it only happened when we passed away. Up until that point, we are merely ‘writing’ new chapters in our life. In that spirit, describe this current chapter you are living in right now. Where are you in this chapter – a new beginning, a middle, or an end? What 2-3 phrases best describe you in this chapter?
I have been fortunate to have had mentors. In school, work and in life. Do you have a mentor you would like to share with us? How did they mentor you? How did they change your life? It can be more than one person from the past or the present.
What do you fear about getting older?
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
Do you have a favourite childhood Christmas memory? A Christmas tradition you carry forward? A new tradition? If you do not celebrate Christmas, do you enjoy the holiday season in other ways?
What long term change, or new habit, can you see in your life as a result of this extraordinary COVID period?
What are your coping strategies during Quarantine/ LockDown/ COVID19