2020 Reflections

2020, you bitch. I have a few things to say to you. So listen up. You brought pain and despair to so many. To this house alone, we’ve seen unimaginable illness and talked cancer, missed so many hugs, and shed many tears. You were also one of my greatest teachers. The biggest lesson: I. Won’t. Back. Down.

This time last year, as I reflected on 2019, I set my intention for the next 365 days and chose my word for 2020: Brave. Inspired by my sweet Rhea who lost her battle with cancer in 2019, my sole focus was to go all-in, play full-out, commit to doing things where I couldn’t predict the outcome —because it’s not brave if you know how it’s going to end. 

I had no idea just how relevant and critical this mantra would be for the year to come. 

My intention for 2020 was to have a very deliberate focus on doing anything, and everything, with a relentless, steadfast belief that the direction we were headed, and the message of reconnection we were spreading, was exactly where I needed to be, and what the world needed from me. 

I have never been more sure of that now.

2020 began with infinite promise and excitement. Our team had plans for some of the biggest in-person reconnection revolution events we’ve hosted to date, and I was scheduled to be on the road multiple times each month, booked for speaking engagements all across this great continent of ours. It seemed however, that the universe had a different journey intended for us all. 

On March 5, 2020, Alberta reported its first case of Covid19. As cases steadily increased, 10 days later a province wide shutdown was enforced. People were consumed with fear and anxiety of the unknown, overwhelmed by loss of routine and new responsibilities, and feeling more disconnected than ever.

A month later, on April 18, 2020, our country was shaken and devastated by the deadly and tragic mass shooting in Nova Scotia. Lives were lost, the stark awareness of first responder sacrifices were again so in my mind, hearts were broken, and we were reminded just how fragile this whole dance really is.

As governments began to roll out their Covid19 relaunch strategies, and people were figuring out their new normal, on May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His death ignited a wave of global protest referred to as the Black Lives Matter movement. A necessary, overdue reminder (especially to those of us most privileged) that if we don’t raise connection to those marginalized all around us, all lives can’t matter. 

Never in my life could I have imagined how much bravery 2020 would require from us or just how relevant a reconnection revolution would become. These past 365 days have been hard, emotionally exhausting, and at times tragic. And then it happens. The shift into what the fuck is all this supposed to mean. And I remember, there is always, in all ways my friends, magic in the mess. Although I’ve doubted it in a few fleeting moments, I remain steadfast in these truths:  We are wired to do hard things. We can do those things so much easier when we stay connected. 

Jody’s Favourite Moments of 2020

March 8, 2020—International Women’s Day Event, Camrose, AB

Our first (and last) in-person event of 2020 was an incredible success. Four hundred and fifty glorious women with vision, hopes and lofty dreams, gathered in Camrose, Alberta to celebrate women’s achievements, inspire action for equality, and raise awareness against bias. This day was the spark for an explosion of ideas.   

Not-Today-Corona Connection Daily Lives

No one had a script for how to navigate Covid19 (closures, isolation, loss of routine, relationships) so we thought, “fuck it”, let’s make it up as we go along, together. In March, as we were all in isolation, I had no idea if people would tune in daily or be interested in what I had to say, but it was the greatest excuse to lock myself in my office. Alone. And it has been magic.

On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2020, I did our first Corona Connection Live: Anxiety Sets In, Just Breathe https://fb.watch/2rKn3avTEs/

I continued checking in daily, as often as I could, and have been Live with this community a total of 174 times. This unplanned daily date with some of the finest souls on the planet has been one of the greatest . You give me a reason to get out of bed each morning, and it fills my heart to read your comments and notes about how much joy it brings even on the darkest days. 

Here are a few of my faves:

Corona Connection Boxes 1.0, 2.0, 3.0

Corrrona Connection Boxes was the dream of our marketing rockstar, Stacey Rosehill, to keep this community connected with each other. These packages were filled with incredible items from local vendors, some from our shop, and sent with love to the people you love. We were blown away by the response to the first round of boxes, so we did it two more times!

A total of 4500 boxes were sent to friends, coworkers, family, long lost loves, and $10,000 was donated to local charities. None of this magic could have happened without the support of the community, and we are so grateful. Because of you, we were able to gift our local foodbank, the Rotary Club of Olds, Olds Boys and Girls Club, Smiles Through Lindsay, the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, and the Christmas Angels, some much-need financial support. #NotTodayCorona

Grief & Loss Seminar with Jeremy Allen 

With so much loss experienced on so many levels, we knew we needed to check in on people’s hearts and simply name it. I couldn’t think of a better person to help me navigate this conversation than my friend, funeral director and creator of Deathed.ca, Jeremy Allen.

Together, we created a three hour virtual seminar dedicated to grief and loss. On May 16, 2020, 2000 people joined us virtually and we talked hard things. It was incredible. And not surprisingly, there was a whole lot of love and joy sprinkled in too. 

How To Stay Connected to Kids These Days: Online Course

Deep breath. Brave, you say? Jumping in with the whole heart when you have no fucking net? I decided to step into a brand new, exciting and vulnerable space in May, 2020 and invest in my first ever online course. I had dreamed of putting together an online course for years, but timing was never right. And then the pandemic hit, and the timing was just right.

The big motivation was to figure out how I could bring what I had been talking about on stages in the past few years into people’s quarantined living rooms? So much of our speaking calendar ground to a halt and I needed to just talk it out. Kids These Days was written straight from my heart, full of messages that I am confident will change a life. So, I talked to myself, alone in my office, and made a little course. It can serve to enrich the heart work that is woven into the words on every page of Kids These Days, or just be a place to land anytime you need some reconnection. Perfect for a listen on a slow day, or to gather 500 of your staff for a PD session. I am so proud of this project and I hope it serves you well. 

Gratitude Journal

Our first ever gratitude journal! I can’t tell you how excited I was to put this out into the world. This idea was created by my Marti after a day of dreaming at a conference we all attended, and her idea sparked brilliance. In a massive group effort, we all fed our ideas to our Two Hot Soups design team and they took all that magic and made the mother of gratitude journals. We’re so proud of our sold-out first effort – and version 2.0 is coming in early 2021!!! 

Hello, Hero: Online Course

After I kind of figured out the online course world, Hello Hero was born out of necessity, quite honestly, after the death of Cst. Heidi Stevenson reminded me that we do a shitty job of  supporting our first responders and their families. See, first responders have always had my heart. I have intended to write a book, create a resource, connect more to the big shooters and the little shooters. And there just wasn’t time. After a couple of PTSD lives, again, I thought fuck it, there will be no time to make this perfect, let’s just do it. So again, in my office alone, I just talked to myself for a few discussions about the impact of frontline trauma on those who serve, and those who love them, and what we might be able to do about it. It’s time we sink into hard things. If you are a first responder (police, fire, military, EMS, prison guard, 911 operator, tow truck driver, nurse, physician) or if you love one of these sweet souls, I’d love you to see it. 

Virtual RELIT

And then, as I watched educators question their worth all over the planet, we knew we couldn’t forego RELIT – we needed a way to do this third annual gathering. On August 22, 2020, we had 3200 people join us for a full day of virtual fun and learning. Our incredible lineup of guest speakers provided life-changing content. It was our first time hosting a virtual conference, and my first time sharing the stage at an event that we put on. And oh friends, we left fucking exhausted and fucking exilerated. And an idea for 2021 was born.

Teachers These Days

My second book! After writing and receiving feedback for Kids These Days, it was apparent that many educators wanted specific information and strategies on what to do IN the classroom. Given that I have never taught in a K-12 classroom, I knew I needed to partner with one of the best educators I know, Laurie McIntosh. Laurie brings so much wisdom and experience, and breathes life into these pages, along with the many other educators who contributed real life stories to this book. Teachers These Days is the in the trenches magic for those of you doing the holy work of education, on the ground. Stay tuned for the launch in early 2021! 

STAYLit 2021

After three years of hosting a growing RELIT event to help educators step into the classroom every year and #BringYourBrave, we decided we needed another check-in to help these holy souls STAYLit and step into 2021 #BraverTogether. Our first ever STAYLit event on January 30, 2021, will remind all of us (educators, parents, communities) that we are #BraverTogether. The intent of STAYLit is to connect educators and communities all around the world in an effort to create a brave movement of connection and inspiration across this globe. In this time of great disconnect, we will all meet virtually, and bring all the inspiration, hope, and strategies you will need to STAYLit in our communities and in our classrooms as we launch into 2021 #BraverTogether. 

Check out a few of our guest speakers

Stepping into 2021 

So what’s the plan? Oh friends. As I write these words today, I can barely sit in this chair. We are just getting started. First—here’s the grand goal— our word for 2021. It is time, dear ones, to not only be brave, but 2021 is going to require us to be even braver. Now, stick with me. I  know you’re tired. I know there’s not much left. And that’s exactly why we need you. And each other. 

Braver: a special kind of brave you find in your darkest, hardest moments, where you go all in with your whole, tired heart, when you can’t predict the outcome. 

I want to acknowledge your hurt, your pain, the tired hearts you’re dragging into 2021. We must hold space for that, first. Then, and only then, can we bring into awareness that the heightened state of arousal that this planet saw in 2020 means we will have so much to hold for 2021. With a vaccine on the horizon, we may remove the stress of Covid19, but the stress RESPONSE from a global pandemic and hard, necessary conversations about trauma and systemic oppression, will begin. This, dear ones, will require us to be braver. Why, you ask? Because the payoff will be great. We need connection. We need calm. We need a belief that we are #BraverTogether. It’s time to take all of this sacrifice and turn it into significant change. And then I found these words:

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama

Are you with me? 

We are not going back to normal, my friends. Normal wasn’t nearly good enough. We are heading forward into so much better. For the Carrington Company, here’s our big commitment to launching all the things in 2021 for this community that’s been so good to us. We will be braver and so much better for you:

  1. The launch of a four-part event series. We will always leave one day of connection prepping for the next – so save these days and know that they will come every year for as long as we are able to serve:
    • STAYLIT: January 30, 2021—for everyone who has a relationship
    • TOGETHER: May 8, 2021—for women and those who empower them
    • RELIT: August 21, 2021—for educators everywhere as they head back in
    • HELLO HERO: November 5, 2021—for first responders and their supporters

Each of these days are filled with the best speakers who know, live, and breathe experience in trauma and relationships, and most importantly, connection. 

  1. The launch of an online training course for mental health professionals in K-12 education in February 2021. If we look after the big people our babies will be amazing. If you know anyone who serves the mental health of kids and families, I cannot wait to show you the heart and soul we poured into this project. It might be the thing I am most proud of to date. 
  1. The launch of Teachers These Days—set for Summer 2021.

Our goal will be to serve with a commitment to connecting those who have suffered because of systemic oppression, marginalization, and the debilitating experiences that come from mental illness. We are your safe harbour. We will partner with and support the Canadian Mental Health Association and Mamas For Mamas, among so many others to give back. You feed our souls, make us want to work harder, and be better. We are just getting started. Look out 2021, we are coming for you, together, braver than ever. 

Xo

Jody and this incredible team.