Year of Action - 2019, Year of Rhythm - 2020, Year of Healing - 2021?

“If The Candy Factory community has taught me anything over the past year, it’s that as long as we support each other, truly support each other, we will be okay, we will heal, and we’ll do it together, and that’s what is important. “
~ Anne

Each year I pick a word that I want to focus on throughout the year. It helps direct my work and intentions, and goals. 2019 was the year of Action, and boy, was it! 

2020 was to be our year of Rhythm. We were to spend the year celebrating our tenth anniversary while getting back into a groove after a few years in flux. 

Little could anyone imagine what we were in for and how the year of Rhythm would be turned upside down, twisted, and made into the year of chaos. 

2020 had started strong for The Candy Factory. I took members to lunch each Wednesday to learn about their needs and how The Candy Factory could play a role in their success. Jelly Bellies, our child care facility for members, opened and had a growing roster. Our team was growing as well, and we had just hired a new team member to help us with this growth. Our coworking community was humming. We had just rolled out new workshops and events, our new Studios space was full, and coworking in Lancaster felt so good. 

I could see an excellent year unfolding for our coworking family, and then… say it with me, COVID! 

We all know how this story goes.

We had to suddenly close our doors, and our community shifted. Like most, we pivoted. We hosted virtual events, and we started a go-fund-me to help other businesses in our community. We did the best we could to keep the community engaged and in June we re-opened our doors to a new world, one of masks, distance, sanitation, and limited in-person interaction. Like most businesses, we got PPP and loans (that equal debt), we reworked our programs, business, habits, and lives. 

Our coworking family rose to the occasion and showed us what being part of a larger community means. We supported each other, protected each other, and when needed, consoled each other. Many of our members continued to support us even during the lockdown. It was great to see how much our coworking community meant to them. As do I, they believe that we are an essential part of the Lancaster landscape and would exist even without space. While this was helpful and heartwarming, it didn’t make this year any less hard, but thankfully it has made it more bearable. The community became even more critical as we all shared in this weird experience that tested us personally and professionally.  

Have there been silver linings? Of course. Time with our loved ones is at the top of the list. This year has given some time to reflect, time to take care of one’s self, time to pause for the first time in years, time to be thankful for all one has, and time to give back. But if we are all honest, this year has been hard, really hard.

I have no doubt learned a lot and while a little beat up, I’m optimistic about my next steps. 

But you might ask, Anne, how does healing fit into all of this?

Well, my friends, it’s simple. 2021 must be the year of healing. It has to be. While I have no doubt there will be a renaissance once we are over the worst of this, I do feel we must do the following first. 

We must heal our communities, our bodies, our families, our hearts, and our minds. We must heal our small businesses because they matter. We must focus on healing, but we must never forget what we have learned over the past year. I will let the healed scars remind me that while much is out of my control, so much is in my control.

Our lives aren’t supposed to be normal, and there isn’t such a thing as normal. Even in good years, life is scary and fucked up. It’s a mess, It’s challenging, and it can be very unpleasant. What stays true is our need to be with others, our need for community, our need for friendship, our need for interaction, our need for care, our need to be able to heal and help others around us heal. 

But how do we heal?

Well, I’m still working on it, but I believe it starts with listening, conversations, and relationships. Opening up one’s mind to new things and ideas.

This includes: 

Asking questions, 

Stepping back,

Pausing before speaking, 

Reducing social media use, 

Saying you’re sorry, 

Supporting each other,

Giving back, 

Paying it forward, 

Educating ourselves, 

Embracing differences, 

Seeing each other as humans who don’t have all the answers,

Stop to breathe and smell the roses. 

As we venture into the unknown of 2021, we must focus on healing but not get discouraged if we don’t fully heal. No doubt, we’ll be a little disheveled at the end of all of this, but no worries, that is to be expected. 

If The Candy Factory community has taught me anything over the past year, it’s that as long as we support each other, truly support each other, we will be okay, we will heal, and we’ll do it together, and that’s what is important. 

~ Anne