My year of living COVIDly

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

In Italy, where my sister Bev and her husband Marco live, the government ordered a nationwide lockdown on Monday, March 9th last year. The country’s COVID-19 count there had exploded  from under 10 cases to over 9,000 within weeks. On the same day, we here in Canada recorded our first confirmed death. Three days later, hockey-mad Canadians were stunned when the NHL cancelled the rest of its season.

Suddenly, this was really happening.        .     .   Continue reading “My year of living COVIDly”

All I want for Christmas is not in a gift box

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters 

My family tells me I’m “impossible” when it comes to picking out a gift for me. I am rarely able to offer even a single helpful hint. Instead, I plead with them most years not to buy me “more stuff”.  I don’t want stuff. One only has to visit the average yard sale to witness the inevitable future graveyard of all that stuff. Bread machines. Crimping irons. Chia pets. Any kind of candle. Aside from absolute necessities of life (like groceries or my crafting supplies!), there are few things I now need, or even want.

Well, there are things I need and want, but hardly any come from a store or in gift boxes. Here’s what I really truly want Santa to bring me this year.     .        .      Continue reading “All I want for Christmas is not in a gift box”

Pandemic decisions: Bailey’s, bubbles and bikes

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

“We humans are wired to pay attention to urgent threats, and so this global pandemic captures our attention in a way that a distant threat like climate change does not,” as the Harvard Business Review reminds us. And while my own attention was being captured in ruthless fashion this past year, I had to make a lot of decisions, both big and small – based on how COVID-19 was affecting my life.     .          .   Continue reading “Pandemic decisions: Bailey’s, bubbles and bikes”

Productive uncertainty: beyond the sourdough

sourdoughby Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

At our virtual Toastmasters meeting recently, my friend Uma presented an interesting speech about something I’d never heard of: ‘productive uncertainty’.  It’s apparently a well-known concept in education, but given all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic over the past months, it also fits what I’ve been thinking about lately.  .         .        . Continue reading “Productive uncertainty: beyond the sourdough”

“Stay home if you feel sick!” – and why we don’t do that

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

“Don’t go to work when you feel sick!   Stay home if you have symptoms!”

This sounds like plain old common sense advice when it comes from public health experts during a pandemic. Most people, however, WILL go to work sick if they don’t have employee benefits like paid sick leave. And among healthcare staff, we know that even those lucky enough to have a good benefit package will often go to work when they’re ill.  Here’s why: .     .           . Continue reading ““Stay home if you feel sick!” – and why we don’t do that”

Does our narrative identity get better with age?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  

I’m often moved by the stories my readers share with me here. Most of them start with dramatic cardiac crises, with survival, with the sudden shock of learning what it means to become a “patient”, with the skilled cardiologists who saved them or the ones who misdiagnosed them. Others share personal hardships they’ve been enduring long before their first cardiac event ever occurred. At age 10, for example, Marie sat in her bathtub one day and counted 33 bruises on her small body, all caused by vicious beatings with a wire coat hanger at the hands of both her mother and sister.* In a family defined by alcoholism, violence  and drug abuse, her siblings also suffered terribly. Two of her brothers became heroin addicts and died within months of each other.

Yet what truly struck me about Marie is that she tells her story without blame or resentment or self-pity. She points instead to what has helped her avoid her siblings’ fate. What Marie is quietly demonstrating is how she decided to create her own narrative identity.      .       .      Continue reading “Does our narrative identity get better with age?”