2020 …The no mud, no lotus year to not forget

As we leave 2020 behind ( a year many people would like to forget), it’s very important to take the time to reflect on the challenges we faced both personally and collectively. As an amazing guide since I spent time with her in 2018 , @laynebeachley reminds us

“ here’s the thing about challenge – it’s a powerful teacher, it propels us to find solutions to problems we never would have considered if not for adversity.”

When Covid 19 last year, Heart & Soul Story was running face to face programs in Aged Care. With our Elders being the most vulnerable to this globe sweeping pandemic, they were swiftly cut off from the outside world. A necessary move to protect their vulnerable physical health, however the effects of social isolation on their mental health comes with its own severe consequences. We certainly all felt what it was like to be cut off from our community when social isolation measures were introduced – this was far worse for those in Aged Care who were cut off from family and friends.

For every challenge in life, we must take deep breaths and look for the if there is a corresponding opportunity waiting to be uncovered – the simple Buddhist philosophy of No Mud, No Lotus – that the secret to happiness is to acknowledge and transform suffering, no to run away from it, could be the tattoo imprinted on the year 2020.

In March 2020, a part of me began to despair…. building The Seniors & Teens Empathy, Program since 2018, yet now suddenly no child under 16 would be allowed back into Aged Care for the foreseeable future ( even sill now they are not allowed back in without a current flu vaccination). We had no option but to turn virtual – Zoom & Skype like the rest of the world was doing … but with octogenarians, most of whom had never used and iPad or smartphone in their lives ???

Yup – there was a certain amount of lurking around in the mud of tech challenges …who didn’t have a Zoom this year where the sound wasn’t working or the wi fi cut out ?? … but we stumbled through and before we knew it we were successfully running STEP Virtual – conversations and laughter that were once shared in person was still happening, albeit through the marvels of modern technology.
Throughout the year we ran virtual programs with International Grammar School, Youth off the Streets The Bowen College and through a partnership with Raise Foundation with Randwick Boys & Chatswood High.

We could not have transitioned the program without the help of our amazing partners, Opal Healthcare, Bupa Australia, International Grammar School, Youth off the Streets, Raise Foundation. Also those who volunteered along the way, in particular Michelle Lee, Jane Montgomery and Briana Ranieri. It was through their incredible support we transitioned a face to face program to virtual under such challenging circumstances of 2020

Heart & Soul Story also received wonderful ongoing support from Sefa Partnerships and The Macquarie Foundation with support on a project from a team of 8 whom worked with me and delivered to their end of March deadline despite the COVid 19 having just hit.

So though we are racing at a pre 2020 speed back through 2021, in mid February already, let’s not forget the important lessons last year brought with it. May 2021 bring you peace, joy and laughter and success in your endevours … but also may the mud that you at times may have to wade through open you heart to the lesson that to truly live life involves pain – the amount of suffering you go through can be lessened by your reaction to that pain.

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