August is new January

August is not the month I typically associate with a new beginning

In fact, it is exactly the opposite sentiments I relate: vacation, barbecue, sundresses, watermelon…In other words, the expression, “dog days of summer” perfectly sums up my attitude towards the month, August.

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It is also the month with negative anticipations such as summer is going to end or the back to work (or in the pandemic era, back to Work From Home mode). Not to mention the worst dreaded anticipation for all Canadians face – winter is coming – also starts in August. 

However this year’s August has been a different one for me, and I suspect it would be the case for many others. There were many restrictions since the pandemic last year which I am getting used to (masks) and even like (non-crowded buses and subways).

As I reflect back on how our life changed due to the pandemic and how it would continue to make more changes in the future, I am aware of the newfound wisdom at this particular time: why August is new January.

Two vaccinations completed

As all of us on the planet know we have been living with the new set of rules for the last year and a half; social distancing, mask everywhere, zoom meetings….

Most of these things we did not even have names for in the past. (I guess we knew what the masks were, but we would have looked at people funny if we see them with a mask in public settings.)

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On the other hand, putting on masks before going out became the most natural thing we all got used to.  

While getting used to all these new conventions, I have mixed feelings about “our old life”; hoping for those days to be back while acknowledging that those days would not be quite the same as we had known in the past.

With these muddled views, I put my arm out to receive the second vaccination in one early July day afternoon. With the second shot, I felt protected… even if was all in my head.

I had completed what I had to do to increase the chance of protection from the virus; my work was done! Or at least until the new set of rules, requirements, vaccinations appear.

Even with ever-changing news about delta variants and their powerful impacts or the potential need for additional vaccinations in the future, I do feel safer…

Having completed the second vaccination five weeks ago, It feels like a clean slate; like the brand new calendar, I get in January or the back to school special advertisement in September. In my case, my love of getting back-to-school deals at local stationery stores would be the closest to the feeling I can describe.

I will hold on to these fuzzy, happy and optimistic views until the government of Canada tells me otherwise 🙂

Unsuccessful outcomes in my work

There were many career goals I planned this year.

Some worked out, many did not, and a few I am still waiting to hear about the results.  

Most recently, getting a rejection email for my teaching application I submitted back in early June has been one of those unsuccessful outcomes. 

Trying to get over the rejection as I scream“why not me” while hugging the ice cream tub did not make the situation better. (ok, a little bit) However, receiving the reviews on my application from one of the kind professors who interviewed me did.  

Learning about the preference of seniority ( people who are currently teaching at school) over new people like me ( less teaching experience) made sense even if I didn’t like the criteria.

With this helpful information, I stopped looking for inadequacies in my submission materials-qualifications, mistakes…anything to do with ME. 

I was not the cause of this failure!

I did not contribute to this rejection, failure, defeat….it was not about me.  

Without the information from the kind professor, I would not have gained the wisdom to assess the outcome accurately. No matter how much I want to control the outcomes, there are some things that I simply cannot even do with the best preparation or amount of effort I put in. 

It was easier to let go of the results once I knew the story.  

In the interest of preventing myself from these less than stellar outcomes (my new description of describing rejection, failure, defeat…anything I don’t want) and also gaining weight, I have to accept that there are things I simply cannot control (actually many things).  

Being a coach is a lot easier than being an athlete

I am sure there would be many upsetting coaches out there hearing about this theory, but let me explain.

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Although I have been “somewhat” a regular workout person before the pandemic, the level and consistency of my routines shot up during this lockdown period. Seeing the consistency and also the weight loss, I volunteered to become a personal trainer to my sister who has been struggling with lack of exercise: work commutes, not enough time, being tired…pretty much all the excuses I know too well.  

At this point, I should share my level of athletic qualifications: absolutely none. Other than daily running practice with some weight training routines over the years, I have zero experience coaching someone else with their workouts.

However, with my can-do attitude, I figured it could not be that hard. I thought pushing someone else to exercise has to be easier than myself working out 🙂 Screaming at my sister while we both run at the same time seems a pretty easy thing to do…

However, that easy task became something unexpected entirely.

During one of the more difficult runs and we both facing the “I can’t run anymore” moments, I uttered (since I could not scream) the words; you can do this. With that, we both kept at it and finished the run. 

Not only I had to be accountable to my sister, but I was also being the same to myself. Hearing “you can do it” or “ a few more seconds” mantras at those difficult moments made all the difference in finishing the laps we set ought to do.  

Helping someone else get over their difficult moments did not just make me feel better; it made me do better. 

Final Thought

Arriving in August 2021 has been a significant moment for all of us; to reflect and question the past and more importantly, plan for the future.

This particular moment feels like a new beginning – like the first day in January or the first day back at school/ work after Labor Day in September – from the long struggles we went through.

Although no one could have planned or foreseen the biggest interruption we faced, I dare say the experience has not been all that bad 🙂

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