An Athlete Feeling Stuck in a Pandemic…

Looking at this past year, we could say it has been like no other – similar to a rollercoaster with a never ending drop. With most seasons, practices and camps being cancelled due to the pandemic, some collegiate athlete have been discouraged and have lost motivation for fitness and the sport they love.

With intense training and mastery of workouts there is often a sense of euphoria where you feel like you are on top and cannot be stopped. Taking all the right measures to ensure your body is well maintained, getting stronger, faster, and mastering your craft, preparing yourself to unleash a beast in the upcoming season. However, due to the pandemic there are a few questions that have emerged; When is that next season? Are training facilities going to reopen in the fall and winter months? Is this pandemic going to end soon? Have I potentially played my last collegiate game?

Uncertainty contributes a massive factor to why some athletes are discouraged and unmotivated. At the beginning of the pandemic, fitness was trending, with gyms closed we incorporated pushup challenges and home workouts into our daily and weekly routines. With some athletes attaining the privilege to access gyms, building home gyms or simply having weights at home. The cost of gyms may not be reasonable for some athletes. The question becomes, what happens to the athletes that relied on school facilities? Acquiring access to school facilities through team training sessions and open gym hours, was essential throughout their development. Even as high school athletes, many who could not afford gym fees relied on their school facilities to help them with their progression.

Through these rough times of uncertainty, we should express ourselves, voice our concerns, talk to someone, and find support from family, friends, or even a coach. They may be experiencing the same feelings or have been in a similar situation. Remember, encouragement and motivation can go a very long way from the people around us. Sometimes we need that extra push, when we don’t have the inner strength to motivate ourselves. In kind be that friend to reach out, give hope, and give that push we may need. And to all my fellow athletes who may be facing the same trails and tribulations I was once going through myself… There will be better days.

Five Action Items to prepare for our first COVID winter

Hello everyone!

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall, meaning that the days will be getting increasingly cold and dark.

I’ve decided to compile a short list of things you can do to get ahead and prepare for wintertime in a pandemic… Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay
Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay.

The unfortunate reality is that Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has declared that the City is officially in its second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, to be coinciding with our annual flu season.

Winter is tough enough as it is without the uncertainty of COVID-19. Other than following the OPH guidelines, the pandemic may feel out of our control, but there are actions we can take now to be better prepared for when the cold weather and flu season arrives.

Here it is: five things you can do for your Future Self (the one that want to stay hunkered down at home, under the covers, binging Netflix in December). I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be watching Season 4 of The Crown than worrying about any of these things

1. Stock up on the items you’ll need and want when you’re sick.

Think about the last time you were sick – I mean really, REALLY sick. If you’re anything like me, the last thing I wanted to do was drag myself of bed, pull on layers of clothing, and head outside to pick up more cough syrup at the pharmacy. If you’re symptomatic of COVID-19, you might not even be allowed to leave your house until you receive a negative test result!

That’s why this is the perfect time to go through your medicine cabinet, pantry, and freezer to take inventory of what supplies you have and don’t have. Here are some handy things to have in stock:

  • Face masks, disinfectant wipes and/or spray, hand sanitizer, hand soap (these are critical if you live with other people!)
  • Over-the-counter medicines and supplements
  • Tissues, vapour rub, tea, sports drink powder, etc.
  • Easy-to-prepare, warm food (Such as: frozen or canned soup, chili, stew, etc.)
Image by Mojca J from Pixabay
Image by Mojca J from Pixabay.

2. Sort out any outstanding medical issues.

Unfortunately, our health care system is stressed under the best of circumstances. A second wave of COVID-19 will inevitably take up more of these critical resources. These healthcare environments may become more risky to visit if case numbers continue to rise. So, what can you do about it now?

First and foremost: get the seasonal flu shot once it becomes available. This could prevent you from getting the influenza virus, which can weaken your immune system and put you at a much greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Also, address any health issues that you have been putting off – routine or otherwise. Whether it’s getting a cavity filled, starting physiotherapy, or that ingrown toenail – the sooner you get it sorted, the more healthcare resources will be freed up down-the-line to focus on our response to the pandemic.

Image by oswaldoruiz from Pixabay
Image by oswaldoruiz from Pixabay.

3. Splurge on a few items that will make day-to-day life more comfortable.

What are some items that you don’t have now, that you wish you had in the dead of winter? It might be worth spending some $$$ on items you’ll use frequently in order to improve your quality of life over the next few months.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with:

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)/Vitamin D lamp
  • Heated seats for your car
  • Fuzzy blankets
  • Fleece pyjamas
  • High-quality socks
  • Anything that will keep you warm and cozy!

4. Set up social expectations with friends in advance.

At the time of publishing, an individual’s social bubble can have up to ten people in it. However, this can change very quickly if the situation in Ottawa gets worse.

It would be a good time to begin ascertaining your friends’ risk factors and level of comfort with regards to socialization. Every person has a different situation to be considered (some may be immunocompromised, or are a front-line worker, or have children in school, etc.).

Of course, the most important rule is to follow public health guidelines when meeting in-person. That being said, we are social beings and should seek safe opportunities to connect with others. If it is safe, are your friends interested in outdoor activities, such as snowshoeing, skating, or going for walks?

You should also plan to meet virtually, via video conferencing, whenever possible. I know that videoconferencing has lost its lustre over the past few months, but you can try and spice things up by playing games of trivia, charades, or using applications like Houseparty and Netflix Party to keep things interesting!

Image by Lynette Coulston from Pixabay
Image by Lynette Coulston from Pixabay.

5. Plan for a hobby that will fill up your free time.

It’s not a bad idea have a hobby – regardless of the season or, you know, a global pandemic. However, these particular circumstances draw attention to activities that you’d feel comfortable doing by yourself, or with members of your household.

Even if you abhor the cold, you may wish to experiment with outdoor activities, such as snowshoeing or skating, just to get out of the house. Don’t fret – if the frigid weather just isn’t for you, there are lots of different indoor activities you can try, like cooking, painting, learning a new language, etc.

Once you decide what hobby you’d like to explore, ask yourself these questions:

  • What supplies will I need?
  • Are there any preliminary skills I should refine in advance?
  • Are there any networks or relationships you should cultivate now that could be helpful later?
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

Well, there it is – my five tips to prepare for wintertime in a pandemic. Like it or not, we don’t know how things shape up over the next few months. I think it’s important to remember that no matter how much we plan in advance, our ability to adapt will be the key to making it through this bizarre chapter of our lives.

It’s not going to be easy, but at least we know that we’re all in this together!

Are there any other things you’re doing to prepare for wintertime? Leave a comment below – I’d love to expand upon this list with your suggestions!

Facebook post:Happy first day of autumn! The days are getting shorter and the air more brisk meaning that winter is just around the corner. It’s sure to be a bizarre one!

Are your curious of what steps you can take now to prepare for wintertime in a pandemic? Check out Michaela’s five tips to prepare for the months ahead.

[Embedded article in post]
Twitter post:Curious of what steps you can take now to prepare for wintertime in a pandemic? Check out these 5 tips to prepare for the months ahead: [Bit.ly link] #HelloAutumn

Managing People During the Pandemic

I have recently attended a webinar discussing the impact of COVID-19 on what it means to be an effective manager. Titled Managing Employees in Uncertain Times, the webinar was centred on a presentation by Rensia Melles. Melles is a certified Psychological Health and Safety advisor and founder of Integral Workplace Health. Her slides can be accessed here.

As a new manager with a growing team of people reporting to me, I chose to attend the event in order to learn to recognize the signs of and cope with stress, anxiety and other mental health issues linked to or made worse by the pandemic. The webinar was hosted by CharityVillage, a great career resource and knowledge hub for non-profits.

Presentation summary

Here is a brief summary Melles’s presentation. COVID-19 has had a major impact on all aspects of our lives by disrupting them, making our normal coping mechanisms unavailable, and leaving us uncertain about how the new normal is going to look like.

Stress and anxiety are a normal mental health reaction to these disruptions. In the times of the pandemic, we should know how to recognize stress symptoms in ourselves and the people reporting to us.

Screenshot from the presentation Managing Employees in Uncertain Times by Rensia Melles, August 13, 2020.

The pandemic has redefined what it means to be an effective leader. Today, effective leadership requires self-awareness, self-regulation and self-care.

My takeaways

My main takeaway from the event is that effective leadership during the pandemic and in its aftermath requires three things. First, good leaders should trust their employees or people reporting to them to do their work, even when “normal” processes or procedures are disrupted. Second, effective leaders focus on deliverables rather than counting the hours that employees spend on tasks. Finally, good leaders serve as role models for people reporting to them when it comes to self-care.

Here is a quote from the event which I thought I should remember:

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

As the event consisted of a presentation, followed by a short questions and answers session, I did not have much opportunity to interact with the presenter or other participants. I asked Melles after the presentation whether she had any tips for managers on building trust and relationships with remote teams. She outlined two guiding principles for managers in charge of remote teams in the aftermath of the pandemic: showing people that you genuinely trust them and giving them the autonomy to do their work the way they see fit.

I will definitely attend similar events in the future, particularly the professional development webinars that CharityVillage organizes for non-profits. These events are a convenient way to learn new skills and force yourself to rethink the way you do things. Besides, these events provide a great opportunity for professional networking.

Breaking Bread Through Social Media

Image source

Has your social media feed been bombarded by people baking lately?  Mine has! Everyone seems to be trying their hands at this age-old tradition, and I have to say that I am guilty of taking part in the craze myself.

Like many, we are looking for things to do while we are self-isolating during this covid-19 pandemic. From jigsaw puzzles, to baking, to even TikTok videos, we are all just trying to cope and have fun AT HOME during these uncertain times.

Baking has become so popular these last few months that it has been challenging to find some pantry staples in our grocery stores.  Ingredients like yeast and flour are like gold when you find them.  Food rationing and “fear cuisine” has not been part of our generation’s vernacular.  However, during the Great Depression and World War II this was a very common sensation as ingredients, in particular sugar and butter, were just not available (Julian, 2020).  One of the outcomes of this rationing was the creation of a chocolate cake recipe called “Wacky Cake”, it turns the most basic ingredients (i.e. flour, cocoa powder, vinegar, etc.) into a yummy dessert (Julian, 2020).

What differentiates us from those living during the Great Depression or World War II, is that we are not making wacky cake, we are making sourdough with a side of dalgona coffee it seems, and we are sharing our creations, and even our fails, on social media.  Hashtags such as #covidbaking and #covidcooking have popped up, and show a slew of tasty treats, some prettier than others.

With the craziness of what is going on around us, there definitely is something so comforting about the aroma of baked bread or cake wafting through the house, and sharing those treats (albeit virtually right now) to stay connected to those we miss and to inspire others to do the same, because sharing is caring, right?

What tasty treats provide you comfort, and have you shared them on social media during this pandemic?

Source:
Julian, S. (2020, May 05). When cooks in the Great Depression had no eggs and butter, they baked anyway – The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 30, 2020, from https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/05/05/lifestyle/when-cooks-great-depression-had-no-eggs-butter-they-baked-anyway/

Social media posts:
Twitter: Let them eat cake (or bread, or anything else I am baking during a pandemic). https://bit.ly/2XeYQWd #covidbaking #covidcooking #baking #bread #covid19

Facebook: Let them eat cake (or bread, or anything else I am baking during a pandemic). Food still unites us all during a pandemic. https://bit.ly/2XeYQWd #covidbaking #covidcooking #baking #bread #covid19

Is this realistic?

New Protocols for On-Set Productions.

As we continue our social distancing, more and more production companies are putting out protocols in place for when the film industry’s are able to start production again. Some posts have been realistic on how to achieve a safe set and still keep the integrity of the film, while others may have seen this as an opportunity to save money on crew. Lets start off with the most unrealistic method which had been circling around that certain departments will no longer be allowed on set and only the need to be crew like camera, script supervisor and producers are allowed – leaving a lot of things able to go wrong with continuity. Department’s like Hair, Costumes, Props, Makeup, Lighting, etc., need to be there in order to keep everything looking identical after each take; especially if the Director decides they want to add or takeaway a certain aspect of that scene. Let’s put this into perspective of why this wouldn’t work if these Departments weren’t there to do there job. For Example, Game of Thrones had a media frenzy when someone noticed a coffee cup in the scene and that circulated in the media for months. Another example would be Lord of the Rings when Legolas eye colour seem to change in different scenes throughout the trilogy. You have to be really looking hard to notice these tiny mishaps but they do happen since there is so much going on on set to ensure bigger errors don’t occur and take away from the story. I‘ll throw a link down of one of the many articles out there about this:

https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/g28879002/famous-tv-movie-mistakes/ 1.

l‘ll digress and continue on with what production companies are going to be putting in place to ensure the safety of their cast and crew.

Tyler Perry has come up with the plan to have a camp like atmosphere set up on his Atlanta Studio lot for cast and crew.

“This is the ideal place for this horrific situation we are in, in a sense that we can bring in the crew, test everyone, test the actors as they got there,” Perry said..

https://deadline.com/2020/04/tyler-perry-production-plan-coronavirus-atlanta-studio-1202917968/

“These houses are pristine, they are beautiful, and some of the actors and some of the crew already rent them when they are coming in from out fo town to stay there.” Perry said.

https://deadline.com/2020/04/tyler-perry-production-plan-coronavirus-atlanta-studio-1202917968/

He continues to mention how everyone would be initially tested 2 weeks prior to pre-production when coming from out of state. To being tested again when entering the lot while additionally being quarantined for 24 hours until the results come back. For crew that test negative, they will be vacated safely and will not be able to work and for the actors they will end up working around their quarantine to ensure the safety of everyone. In this article Tyler Perry doesn’t go into detail about how each department who need to be there for pre-production will work but it is all in the initial stages anyways. Meeting with other productions, agencies, union, crew and talent will all need to come together for this to be viable.

Next I’d like to talk about the UK and how they are planning on handling the safety of their team. The UK seem to be further ahead with starting productions safely in the next month or so unlike the US or Canada. In their guidelines which has been summarized by Jake Kanter from Deadline (from which I got this article from), they have an outline of how everything will be handled. This is from anywhere to having a safety rep on set to be able to shutdown production if necessary, ‘cast and crew should undergo pre-shoot health screenings and have their temperature checked twice a day’ 4., to each department should sanitize everything they touch and keep 2 meters away from each other, transportation limitation, etc., but these are all recommendations and guidelines listed.

Through a facebook group that I’m apart of about our industry, Canada hasn’t really been making statements yet about how they plan on ensuring the safety of everyone.However, as I was researching to find other countries plans, I came across an article from CBC evolving Manitoba. They are allowing productions to start at the beginning of June with the already established protocols for covid 19 of quarantining yourself for 14 days as well as social distancing yourself. But they are still working out the logistics for how it is going to work on set with the departments. Not taking into consideration the difficulty of social distancing for some departments that need to work closely together in order to get their job done. They have a lot of work to do still before they should start production up again. A quote from the gentleman who they interviewed,

“I don’t think being first is the best idea. Because if you’re first, and you get it wrong, it could mean … much more serious repercussions for the industry going forward,” said Nicolas Phillips, president of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 856.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/film-industry-covid-19-manitoba-1.5579900

I couldn’t agree more with that statement by Nicolas Phillips about being the first and on top of that not having a protocol guideline put in place is ignorant. Yet they know enough people will take the risk because they need the income and want to work again. Unfortunately I don’t really see productions running as smoothly as it did before (mind you it didn’t really before this virus) because there are so many unknown factors of how to make the day. Crews will be significantly smaller and it will take twice as long to get every department ready to shot at call time. Most of the departments already get asked to get stuff done quicker then the allotted time they were given. For example, I am a makeup artist and at the end of every day we let the 2nd AD know how much pre-call time we need based on people, how many changes in the day for a scene, if we need to apply FX, and so on, so we can be ready by call time.

As much as I am excited to get back to work, I am personally not someone who will take the risk of putting my health and my families health in danger. Then again I am also lucky with the support I have financially if needed, where other’s may not be so lucky.

Nikita J.

Other reading you may be interested in:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/georgia-sets-covid-19-protocols-film-tv-1295672

https://metro.co.uk/2020/05/15/ridiculous-social-distance-tv-film-12698995/


https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/film-industry-covid-19-manitoba-1.5579900

Hoax, Lies, and Videotape

Fighting an “Infodemic” on Social Media

Picture of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization

“We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General spoke these words on Februay 15, 2020 at the Munich Security Conference, a month prior to COVID-19 being declared a pandemic. At the time, COVID-19 was considered a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern) with China having 66,000 Coronavirus cases and only 505 cases in the rest of the world. He praised China for buying the world time to prepare but warned the international community about the looming threat to healthcare workers, access to personal protective equipment, the havoc this virus could cause on health systems and how rumours would hamper response. To counter the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, the World Health Organization turned to assistance from social media companies.

News reports about COVID-19 bombards us every day, adding to anxiety that we may already be experiencing due to isolation. Social Media is a great tool for connecting people during this crisis, but as mentioned in a previous post, the threat of sharing misinformation can be just as dangerous.

Picture of various social media applications on a smartphone
Photo courtesy of Pexels.com/@Pixabay

Along with donating millions of dollars to health and economic relief efforts, companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, among others, are investing in the news industry and in fact-checking. The result is a crackdown to remove false or misleading information about COVID-19 on their apps. Links to false cures and hoaxes have been (or are in the process of being) blocked. Instead, platforms are providing valuable and accurate information to their customers (click on the links for more information):

  • Google users will find information on education and prevention and redirects to the local resources
  • Along with offering content from experts and support groups, Reddit has bookmarked a list of free ebooks and audiobooks for those in isolation
  • Both Microsoft and LinkedIN offer support for remote learning and working
  • YouTube is producing video health panels as part of their #StayHome campaign
  • Facebook‘s newly launched Community Help forum is for people to find or share support in their community (a grassroots neighbours-helping-neighbours initiative)

As Dr. Ghebreyesus concluded in that speech, “In our fractured and divided world, health is one of the few areas in which international cooperation offers the opportunity for countries to work together for a common cause. This is a time for facts, not fear. This is a time for rationality, not rumours. This is a time for solidarity, not stigma.

Pick a social media platform of your choice, search for the COVID-19 content posted by its staff and share this information with a friend or on your timeline. #AllinThisTogether #StayAtHome #StaySafe

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Facebook Hoax, Lies and Videotape. How @Facebook and other social media are fighting the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’. Read more at https://bit.ly/2JFT4oR

Twitter Hoax, Lies and Videotape. How @Twitter is fighting the #COVID19 ‘infodemic’. Read more at https://bit.ly/2JFT4oR #FakeNews

#CanadaPerforms

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Music can change the world.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Music can change the world…or at least our little corner of it. With a grant from Facebook Canada, the National Arts Centre (NAC) announced a fund for home-based online performances. Set up to offset monies that may be loss with cancellations and closures of bars and performance venues (due to COVID-19), this fund benefits musicians and dancers who may not be eligible for traditional Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits.

Inspired by reports from Italy of people singing each evening from their windows and balconies, organizations are banding together to share the gift of music to the world via social media. Within the first 24 hours of announcing the fund, the NAC received over 1400 applications and with additional support from the Slaight Music Foundation this #CanadaPerforms project will likely continue past the original March 31st deadline.

If you check your Facebook or Instagram feed, you’ll probably find a post from a musician that you follow or an invite to view a performance from one of your friends. Neil Diamond, who retired from touring in 2018 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, performed a modified ‘Sweet Caroline‘ (Hands…washing hands) during his home concert. Loralee McGuirl, a performer and vocal coach from Hamilton, Ontario sang ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ (by Simon and Garfunkel) with a broken jaw. Some artists, like John Wilberforce, may be trying live-streaming for the first time.

Experiment. Be creative.

Share info about the #CanadaPerforms initiative to all musicians in your contact list. Artists selected for this project will receive $1,000 and have their performances posted on the NAC Facebook page. Since its launch in April 2016, Facebook LIVE has exploded in popularity. Live content sees 3 times the engagement over traditional videos and are seen by millions of users around the world. If performers are unsure of how to set up a live stream, both Facebook and Instragram have tips posted on their websites.

Music may not solve all the world’s problems, but it may provide a pleasant diversion for a little while.

…and now back to regular programming…

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Facebook: Cdn musicians can receive $1K for online home performances courtesy @NationalArtsCentre, @Facebook and @SlaightMusic #CanadaPerforms #CanadaEnPrestation. Read more at https://bit.ly/3dn6unB

Twitter: Cdn musicians paid $1K for online performances @CanadasNAC #CanadaPerforms. More at https://bit.ly/3dn6unB