Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing.
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Creative Director WEforum
Biggest lesson I learned from 2020?
COVID-19 determined everything. I have not seen my children in over a year. Consequently, I spent more concentrated time with them over Zoom and had to pay attention to them more deeply, both emotionally and educationally. I could not be distracted. In many ways this year has brought us closer together as a family.
I was also closer, in some ways, to dear old friends. I was forced to keep in touch with them, to make sure they were okay and doing well. It forced me to reach out to all the people in my life over the years, which was a really good thing.
The one superpower I drew on to help me through some of the tough times?
Creativity, appreciation for nature, love for my dogs, and patience. I enjoyed nature, wandering with my dogs, watching the wildlife along the river. It allowed me to cultivate patience with myself and others.
What am I most thankful for?
My family and my dogs, and that I, along with my family and friends, are all still healthy.
What am I looking forward to in 2021?
Hugging my children and grandchildren again and traveling.
Barb Goldfarb, Creative Director WEforum; Founder, Design Logic Inc.; Member ASID; Co-Founder, Two Rivers Antiques Show and Garden Tour
WEforum Wellness Ambassador Chair
2020. This past year has clarified for me that hindsight truly is 20/20 (pun intended!). It was to be the year of clarity and focus; or so we thought. In the first few months of the calendar year, we all joked about how our vision would improve – how it would be a magical new year, and new decade. It was filled with hopes and dreams, opportunity and excitement. We now see the year 2020 clearly, from the lens of what we have done and not done, who we have loved and lost and how we share and hold onto our precious time. We can observe from the position of what lies in the past, what we know now and what we want our future to be. For many of us, this pandemic has forced us to stay in the present, which is a modern test of patience and perseverance.
The present moment is about time. It is obvious to me now that the only thing truly constant is that I also have no control over the passage of time.
So then, how should we spend our precious time? I think when you come to a place where you truly recognize the gift of the present (pun intended again!), you shift your thinking. You think about what truly matters. As a mom, I have focused on taking time and tending to the needs of my family. I have spent quality time with my immediate friends and relations and continue to work at creating stronger bonds and memories. Now, at the new year, as I refocus my attention on my life and the first circle of my being. I look to body, mind and spirit enrichment. Interestingly enough, I now find the most challenging aspect of my being is my spirit, and the loss of connection I feel to community and worship. In these times it can even be a challenge to maintain my faith in all things in mankind. Recognizing and acknowledging that truth, for me in 2020, has been eye opening.
For 2021, I am trying to live more simply, connect with and love others more deeply; and find a passionate purpose. I am trying to find joy in the simple tasks and the mundane moments, like gazing into a friend’s eyes knowing how they feel without having to speak. To embrace the feeling of the fresh ocean air in my lungs when I take my dog for a walk so I can clear my head. To enjoy the joyous sounds of laughter emanating from the 5 men (some still boys) I live with, in that raucous fraternity I call home. I continue to seek out these personal connections and I strive to find purpose every day in my personal life, and the ever-changing present mission.
The big question I keep asking myself as 2020 comes to an end and 2021 begins: what will emerge as the precious and indelible lessons from this experience?
In geology we see how tremendous duress leads not to destruction, but to the creation of the strongest (and most beautiful) material on earth. When carbon atoms bond over time with pressure and temperature …. diamonds will form. Humans are more complex than the basic elements. We embody very unique human qualities, like aptitude, empathy and love. These are the qualities that have energized and motivated me over the course of the past ten months.
It is our human capacity to think, to empathize and to love that compels me to BELIEVE. I believe things will get better and that we will unify. I believe that we will rise above, together, in a place where the challenges of today will produce a brighter tomorrow. I believe that purpose and connection are truly the only things that matter; our time is limited, and nothing can be taken for granted. We must live in the here and now, and even if we are neither famous nor infamous, we can leave behind a ripple of loving energy that truly makes a difference in our time.
Jen Borenius, WEforum Wellness Ambassador Chair; WiseUp and StepUp Co-Chair; Founder SoulShine Studios, We are SURE
Education Program Coordinator, WEforum
Dear WeForum Community,
As we head into 2021, I encourage you to not allow life’s many speed bumps to derail you. Be gentle with yourself. Move forward and plan, always in the hope for a purpose that will fulfill you in ways you may have never expected.
This past October, I received a phone call from my friend Carolyn DeSena, asking if I would like to get involved with WEforum, which she had founded back in 2015. I had previously shown an interest in WeForum, so when she told me that WeForum would be partnering with SteamPark to create health and wellness video content for a diverse group of third to eighth grade STEM girls, I did not hesitate to sign on. During COVID, these young women had switched from in-person classroom instruction to learning from home, and it was like my heart opened up again and my personal passion for serving the community intersected with my professional credentials.
My own life became derailed a little over a year ago, which at the time was very disconcerting; but now I appreciate it as a tremendous opportunity. In hindsight, by the time the pandemic hit, I felt as if I had already developed a bit more resilience.
As a young professional, I earned a master’s degree in Exercise Science, coached multiple sports, published a research study on high school female athletes, and taught Health and Physical Education until the birth of my second child. When I became a young mother, I also made time to serve my community and our local schools.
But when my 3 children were all finally in school, I began to ask myself whether I should return to teaching. In the spring of 2019, I had returned to my old school district on a part-time basis thinking, “Well of course, this must be the plan!” Soon after I applied for a full-time position, but they ultimately chose another candidate. This kind of disappointment was unchartered territory for me. To put it simply, everything had always gone my way personally and professionally, so If you knew me, you would know how devastating this rejection felt. Everything on social media is so pitch perfect in its presentation. It is exhausting to think we always need to measure up to that perfection and see anything less as defeat. I didn’t know what to do with this new reality.
Whenever we face adversity in life, we have two choices; we can wallow around in self-pity or move forward. I kept telling others that there must be another plan for me but, in reality, I was still working on believing that in my own heart. It would not be until March 2020 that clarity set in. This past year has allowed me to embrace the opportunity that WEforum, with their SteamPark partnership, is developing.
Perhaps it was a gift that I didn’t get that job, as it has allowed me to be front and center of my children’s remote learning this year …. and as a teacher myself, I can promise you that even a master’s degree does not prepare you for teaching your own children! I won’t even tell you about the day, last April, when my 4-year-old cut off a solid chunk of my hair while I was helping my seven-year-old write his topic sentences for a school assignment! I am so thankful for my children’s teachers, who have pivoted to a virtual learning platform with virtually no preparation or warning. It can’t be an easy time for teachers, having to pivot to online teaching while homeschooling their own children these days.
With eyes on 2021, my focus is to always be kind and gentle. Recently, I spent a Zoom morning with the inspiring young SteamPark STEM students and their teachers. Their enthusiasm during the virtual class was contagious! It is awesome when our videos reach them and I can see them dancing, boxing, meditating, and learning in a meaningful way about their health and well-being. They’re even writing poems and one student wrote a rap song about the planets. The success of this program speaks to what SteamPark and WEforum are doing and all they stand for.
Before the pandemic, as a culture, we were becoming just a little bit hardened. Generosity and service toward others…that is what we need to see as important. And that is what WEforum is all about … generosity and the spirit of service intertwined with the gift of health and wellness. If we can return to that….being truly caring and focusing on health and wellness as a basic right for all … we will all be in a better place.
Christine Eberhard, Education Program Coordinator, WEforum