The pep talk I needed this weekend, came from the Mayor of Pemberton

I try to maintain a healthy skepticism about politicians, because so often I’ve observed they say one thing, and then act differently, especially once they’re in power. It’s almost accepted that you’ll massage the truth in the role – at least at higher levels. I think that’s also why I appreciate the power of local and regional governments, because it’s much harder to be cavalier about telling the truth to your constituents, when they’re literally your neighbours, when you then run into them at the grocery store, you know each other’s names, and your kids go to school together. When that’s the scenario, your integrity is on the line, in ways that isn’t quite the same when you’re hiding out in Ottawa or Washington. So I’m inclined to want to lift those folk up, instead of tear them down with my healthy cynicism, because it is a massive sacrifice of time and energy and very exposing to have your integrity up for question. And they’re, in Pemberton at least, doing it for peanuts… or the smell of peanut butter. So, I have to confess that Mayor Mike Richman’s message on the weekend, shared out in the Village of Pemberton’s newsletter, really landed, and I was grateful to hear his candid acknowledgement of what it’s like to be 12 months in to what has been the biggest pandemic in a century.

Thanks to our local leaders – at the Village, the SLRD, N’quat’qua and Lil’wat Nation – for your integrity and care and huge huge amounts of effort over the past year. And thanks for this pep talk, Mike Richman. I really needed it.

I’m tired. Like many folks, I am feeling the weight of the last 12 months.

It has certainly been a long hard year and our community has stepped up throughout to support each other to stay safe, strong and positive. Truly this is an amazing place with amazing people! Throughout the pandemic I have tried to send messages about practicing kindness and compassion in community and coming from a place of non-judgement. I have also grown tired of the same message.

My thoughts today are more about being kind to ourselves. The isolation, stress and effects of the pandemic are just starting to be felt. One year out. Anxiety, depression, reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms and addictions, raw nerve endings, impatience, fatigue, lack of motivation are just some of the issues coming up. I’m pretty sure I can check all of those experiences at some point in the past 12 months. So, my message today is to be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself, the pandemic has and will continue to take a toll and it is OK if we are not feeling strong. I encourage us all to reach out to loved ones, professionals or any sort of support to help get us through the last part of this marathon and the months to come.

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around mental health services, a perception that they are not necessary or a sign of weakness. I wish this wasn’t true and encourage you to find support where available. I think it is important to recognize how we are feeling, be patient with those feelings and share them where appropriate. There are vaccines and hope on the horizon. Personally, I’m tired and anxious to gather, hug, get back to a sense of normalcy and lift the grey, heavy blanket of stress that’s been over me for the last year. It will happen and we will get there together. In the meantime, I wish you all the best,

Mike.

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