WRITTEN BY: Zoe Share
As we feel the autumn crispness in the air, there are many things that feel familiar. Apple picking and pumpkin spice lattes are back on the menu, the weather feels misty and darker and pulling out sweaters and planning for hot chocolate nights brings on a sweet feeling inside. One thing is for sure, though, it’s not the normal back to school time like September’s past. The economy feels it, retailers feel it, parents feel it and kids feel it. It’s an exciting time and a scary time because there is so much unknown that is unfolding.
As I write this on the eve of the first day of school, I am intrigued, nervous and excited for young learners to go back to classrooms. I want to see kids being in school for as long as possible, as much as possible, but from time to time I feel a negative force coming in my head saying, “this isn’t going to last”. Another COVID-19 outbreak feels inevitable in many ways, but I know that in Canada, we are so lucky and we are doing so much that is right. Over and over again, I try to choose to focus on the positive. I choose to look for the gifts of seeing things from a new perspective, and to appreciate all the wonderful things we do have to enjoy, learn from and celebrate.
I find myself relying on skill sets that I had set aside when I started Schmooz. Certainly being a former kindergarten teacher has come in handy in being a leader when it comes to guided learning experiences for my staff and clients, communication, conflict management, and definitely in negotiation, but what has come out even more during this time is my educators ability to get creative when there doesn’t seem to be that much potential in front of you. So many brilliant teachers I look up to have an amazing way of creating magic with a piece of paper and a marker, and I’ve leaned into that as much as I can. I look to teachers like my friend Noa Daniel, who has channeled her brilliance into creating BOBs and The Mentoree. Creating something where there used to be nothing – teachers are the original entreprenuers.
During COVID-19, when I spent way more time with my 2 year old daughter than I had before, I found I was able to be much more creative with the toys and crafts I had in front of me. I made “busy bins” full of odds and ends that my daughter could touch, move and explore. I made pinterest boards full of art projects and new recipes, and then actually did the projects. I made a gallery wall in my home of art we created together as a family. I sang more, I danced more, I cried more. Similarly, I found opportunity and excitement in my work team and in developing my personal and professional vision. I have had a lifelong dream of being a published author, and thanks to the passion and commitment to creativity I found in my anxiety and fear during COVID, I ended up co-authoring a book called ABC Stay Home with Me, getting it published and sold in Indigo stores, and raising a lot of money for front line workers from the proceeds. I leaned into learning more about giving back, and built a new brand, called The Home Front, backed by The Upside Foundation of Canada. We learned about being the gatekeepers to charitable giving for a group of people who wanted to help, but didn’t know where to give back to.
In many ways, I feel I have rediscovered some of the best parts of myself during these times. I have been reminded about why what I do truly matters, how deep of an impact my voice can have and why I care so much about amplifying others voices through social marketing.
If I can leave you with one message this September, it is to embrace the uncertainty, to honour the learning that you are doing through these challenges and make it possible in every choice you make to allow children to continue learning and socializing. Allow yourself to continue seeing things from a new perspective and celebrate the good whenever you can. If you cannot be a helper, support the people who are helpers.