2020, the year of clear vision. It was the year when so many things that had fallen off our collective radar suddenly came into sharp view. When the curtains were pulled back, and we were able to see things as they really are, for better or for worse.
Last year changed so many things, for so many people, that we'll be telling the stories for generations to come. But while they're still fresh, I've dedicated an entire season to helping people share their transformative tales of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is just a sampling of what's to come.
2:20 - Rihanna Basore (@selftrustfund): A transformative year
18:50 - Adela Scotland (@Infinite_adela): Justice for CAPE
6:40 - Simon Stephen (@intorcida): Surviving corporate stress
7:35 - Olivia Meighan (@The_Irish_Survival_Podcast): Start a podcast!
8:10 - Colleen Mitchell (@Inspiredforward): Speak out
9:50 - Utkarsh Saraswat (@sillysworldpodcast): The gift of down-time
10:40 - Sierra Melcher (@integralwomenmentoring): The gift of limitations
12:40 - Pierce Duncan (@pierceduncandotnet): The gift of not being in control
13:40 - Rachel LeWitt: (@w3tbl4nk3t): The spread of symbolic ideas
14:00 - Katy Grainger (@katygrainger): The gift of purpose
15:00 - Theresa Francomacaro (whystoryworks.com): The power of story
16:35 - Lowry Olafson (powersongs.ca): The power of song
18:20 - Kristen Joy (@voluptuouslife): Planting a seed
20:25 - Carol Graham: Never, ever give up hope
Adrienne MacIain 0:00
I've always loved that expression: 2020 hindsight. As in: it's hard to see the shape of a story while you're in it, but boy howdy do those edges get crystal clear in the rearview mirror. That, in many ways, is why we tell stories: to help make sense of what happened, the why of it. But this year, 2020 hindsight took on a whole new meaning. Because the year 2020 changed everything, for everyone around the world. For a brief, surreal moment in time, everything just... stopped. [pause] And we were all cursed and blessed simultaneously with this unprecedented opportunity to take a long, hard look at the life we found ourselves literally locked into, and to decide where we really want to go from here. We floundered, we flourished, we suffered and grieved, and we healed and we celebrated. Life handed us an expired a jar of olives and we made ourselves a quarantini. The stories you'll hear this season are kind of like a quarantini recipe book. We all found our own unique twist on how to survive and thrive in this new not-so-normal. But they all have one essential ingredient in common: hope. I'll let the storytellers take it from here.
Hey, everyone, welcome to the that's allowed podcast. Here we are for season four! Woo-hoo! I think finally we're starting to get enough distance on the year 2020 that we can start looking at what were the biggest obstacles we overcame and what were the greatest gifts that we received specifically from that unprecedented year.
Rhianna Basore 1:58
For me 2020 was a transformative year I started the beginning of 2020. Coming off the high of directing my first show, it was a huge success. We had a blast, the audience response was amazing. We toured it all around the United States. And in fact, we're able to headline the Marfa Fringe in Marfa, Texas, which was a highlight of my career. But the thing I was the most excited about was that we had been invited to present it in Iceland in Reykjavik being the good money coach that I am. I got all my financial ducks in a row. I had it all scheduled out a beautiful Scandinavian pad little artists knock right across from volcanic hot springs. It was walkable to our venue, I could not wait. And then COVID happened. And Americans were uninvited from the island of iceland for understandable reasons. But for me, it was the thing I had pinned all of my 2020 dreams on was this opportunity to perform to see my show be performed in Iceland. Yeah. And I don't really believe that things can't be turned into gold. So I put my dream hat on. And I said, Well, what if we could make it into a movie?
Adrienne MacIain 3:18
Adela Scotland 3:21
My 2020 nightmare was not just a nightmare that I experienced, but it was a nightmare experienced by thousands of students, in particular in the Caribbean region. So what happened was that we have our own examinations council here. So, how America will have SATs and England has A-levels, this is kind of similar to the British system, in that we have the Caribbean Examination Council called CXC. And with that you write two exams, either C-Fac, and that basically signifies that you have completed secondary school, and then CAPE, which is what I wrote, which is what you would write to get into college and stuff, the writing CAPE would make you eligible to apply to any Caribbean university or any British university and some Canadian and U.S. universities. Right, so it's basically like your SATs. Because of the pandemic, you know, we would have expected our Council to follow suit to three or four countries that we quote, unquote "model" our model off of, like Britain where they use the projected grades, you know, but they did not do that. What they did was they modified the exam paper so that it would only be a multiple choice and our school based assessment, so we had to go out in the height of the pandemic here to write our examination. And in some territories, like Brazil, because students had COVID--sorry, not Brazil, I mean Belize. In some territories like Belize, some students had COVID-19, and they did not indicate that to the teacher or their principals. So they went to do the exam, and then the COVID-19 cases in Belize just skyrocketed, because now students were getting it. So, essentially, our multiple choice questions are repeated. So once you do a couple papers, you have a fair chance of getting in the 90s. Right?
Adrienne MacIain 5:34
So basically, they give you the same or a similar test year after year, is what you're saying?
Adela Scotland 5:40
Yeah, they do. So from the get go, you know, it was like, how is this going to be an accurate gauge of our ability or competency in the subject? And to this day, we don't know what it was that they did, how they marked it, how grades were allocated or anything, but when results came out, it was just an epic disaster, all across the border.
Adrienne MacIain 6:08
Simon Stephen 6:10
My belief is that was there is an increased awareness of mental health conditions, and particularly suicide, which, you know, the rates are on a huge increase. Coming from a corporate background and being involved in that high intensity, high stress environment, I don't think enough is being done to address what I would call corporate stress. When I look back on it now, now I can see it. Now I can see what was happening. But when you're in it, when you're deep down in that illusion of what the corporate world defines success as, you simply don't see it creeping up on you. And it led to me getting to a point where I cracked open the window of a 10th floor hotel room in London and was about to throw myself out. And it felt like it came from nowhere.
Adrienne MacIain 7:02
Olivia Meighan 7:05
Hi, my name is Olivia Meighan and I make the Irish Survival Podcast. On my podcast, I review and talk about survival kits. The reason I made my podcast is because during lockdown, I got really bored and decided to make a podcast using my knowledge of survival and technology. And during lockdown, I actually developed so many skills, including coding, web design, podcasting, blogging, and I've actually started doing loads of courses in marketing, which I think is a definite future for me, because I am only 13...
Adrienne MacIain 7:41
Colleen Mitchell 7:45
The greatest gift that I got from 2020 was basically stepping out of my fear of being a public speaker and into that whole world, after a lifetime of absolutely hating it. So, if you knew me in college, then you would have seen how how awful it will I was at it, and how much I hated it. I would look at TED Talk speakers, and like professional speakers and keynote speakers and be like, they look really comfortable doing that. I want to be able to do that. And so there was this moment when I was driving home from work in July of 2019. It's a 12 minute drive, so not very long. And I'd just gotten so fed up that I decided on that drive home that I was going to offer to present at our next big company conference. Over the next couple months, I spent, like 50 plus hours writing the speech, practicing the speech, rewriting the speech, memorizing it, rehearsing it. So by the time I actually gave this speech in February of 2020, people didn't realize that I was not a natural speaker. I spent all this prep time not even considering what would happen after I was actually saying the last words and walking off the stage. No thought whatsoever given to that. And so, at the end of this speech that I gave was applause, and then our Vice President of safety--it was our safety conference--he walked up and he said, 'I didn't know we had another keynote speaker here tonight.'
Adrienne MacIain 9:13
Utkarsh Saraswat 9:16
For most of the people, when the pandemic started when the lockdown happened, people kind of panicked after a couple of weeks because they were like, well, we do not have anything new to do, and there's so much time on our hands. For me, it was actually quite the opposite. Like, I really welcomed the lockdown. I really welcomed everything being stagnant for a while because everything had happened so quickly for the last couple of years and it was constantly going downwards. So when everything stopped, I had the chance to side afresh. I was accorded the time to just think about what went wrong, how to make it right, and how to progress from there on.
Adrienne MacIain 10:03
The pandemic hits. How does that affect you and your message?
Sierra Melcher 10:11
My first thought is that it was such an incredibly beneficial incubator. I didn't have to deal--couldn't deal with the outside world. I am a single mother, so all of a sudden I had a four, then five, and then six year old, at home, 24/7. And a lot of the things that I was doing with my time and my energy fell away so easily, because they weren't priorities anymore. Or the priorities were so clearly different, that I was just like, Oh, I don't have to do any of that. And I was fortunate enough to have my mother nearby. And so I carved out three hours a day, and that was my work life. And what I wanted to create in that really condensed amount of time, I think I was more productive because of the sort of, the container, the imposed container and the the realization that so much of my energy had been flitted away on stuff that wasn't essentially important to me. I thought it was. When you have like, eight hours a day, you're like, well, I gotta do something, right? But I sort of went lean on what I did. And my first solo book came out two weeks after Columbia went into full lockdown. And I was recording my audio book on the day before, and sort of the weekend in between, was when Columbia just went [locking sound]. I was halfway through recording the book. And I was like, I don't know if there's gonna be another day, am I gonna be allowed out of the house to finish this book?
Adrienne MacIain 12:04
Pierce Duncan 12:07
I was seeing my therapist, and then COVID hit, and we decided to talk on the phone. And within seconds of talking to him, he was like, 'You seem like you're doing great.' And I'm like, 'As a matter of fact, I am!' I had this, this realization on the phone with him that I sounded good. I was weaning off my medication, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. And all my--I was working two jobs, one after another, like my entire day was taken up, you know. And it's like, I felt this relief. And I think it was because everything was out of my control. All of a sudden, I had no control over it. All of a sudden, it was just like, the rug was just swept out from under me, and it's like: this is what you got right now. And I was like, ecstatic about it. I really was! And like, it freed me, it really freed me all of a sudden. So the greatest gift was not being in control anymore. Not feeling like I was in control.
Adrienne MacIain 13:00
Rachel Lewitt 13:04
The virus itself was spreading, and the information was spreading to. And one of the things that I pay attention to in my line of work is symbolism. To me, the mask is kind of the symbol in and of itself of how ideas about the virus were spreading over time.
Adrienne MacIain 13:23
You are at the top of a mountain that you just climbed up the side of. And I want you to just feel that and look down at where you've been, and realize you pulled yourself up this mountain. And just tell me what this view looks like up here.
Katy Grainger 13:46
First of all, I'm not alone. I have a lot of people surrounding me. I have my family and my friends, but I also have all the other people who are as passionate as I am about this, and the people globally who are fighting for sepsis awareness and trying to get the word out. And we're up on that mountain together, and we are celebrating, and I just, my heart is full and I just feel I feel like I've met my life's purpose. I feel like I have accomplished this just incredible, incredible goal. I feel very whole. And it feels amazing. I love this place. I'd like to stay here.
Adrienne MacIain 14:23
As you're lying there, something unexpectedly delightful happens. What is it?
Theresa Francomacaro 14:34
My husband shows up! I'm like oh, look at you! So nice of you to join us. And we kiss and we share some food, and we toast and... yeah.
Adrienne MacIain 14:51
He tells you some wonderful news that you just weren't expecting to hear.
Theresa Francomacaro 14:56
Oh God, he tells me how much he loves me. And how much he supports my business, and how proud he is... I'm gonna cry. And how grateful he is that we're in it together. You know, we've been together 25 years. I met him on a sailboat when I came out to Seattle on vacation, and I never left. I quit my job over the phone. And, you know, we're still together 25 years later with two kids ages 18 and 21. But it hasn't been easy. It has not been easy. This past year, especially has been tough. It's hard to work with your spouse and live with them and run the businesses and stay in in the present moment and not be consumed by fear. Look at you getting me all vulnerable! Does this happen all the time?
Adrienne MacIain 15:50
Yeah. Yeah, pretty much all the time.
Theresa Francomacaro 15:54
That's the power story of story, my friend!
Adrienne MacIain 15:57
Lowry Olafson 16:00
You know, the shortfall with affirmations is that our brains have such good bullshit detectors that if you say 'I'm a millionaire,' while working at Walmart, then you know, 'Yeah, right, get out of here.' And so, where I've found power songs to be more useful is that they actually get you out of your head--out of that kind of red zone all thinking, worry, everything: it's all thinking stuff--and into your body. And in your body is the Blue Zone, which is you know, peace and comfort and gratitude and contentment and all of those things where if we can get ourselves out of that cycle of anxiety and fear and self doubt and all that stuff, then we can be more effective. We can stop showing up small and start showing up more fully.
Adrienne MacIain 16:49
So full disclosure, I have done this process with Lowery and it was amazing. I loved it so much. Even just the process of it was so revealing. Yes, and I will I will sing it at the end.
I am the voice that sings the truth of the heart, the dancer that lights the way. I desire and I leap, and I land in the stars, I laugh and I love and I pray. I frolic in miracles, a freedom foray. I shine like showtime, I'm ready to play.
There you go.
Kristen Joy 17:43
No one until this past weekend has ever said anything about a shirt I'm wearing. And this past weekend we went to this like amazing, like local, not local, an artist's festival outdoors, where artists come from all over and they show their most magical creations. It was so good. And I was wearing a T-shirt that said 'Runs on veggies.' So you know, not pushing anybody's buttons. And some guy walks up to me, and he's like, 'Does your shirt say runs on veggies?' And I said, 'Yeah.' And he said, 'Mine would say runs on beef.' And I was like, 'Okay, all right, here we go,' you know. And I was like, I want to be centered and, like, in a good place. And I want to be clear about what's happening, and what I share, and my intentions. And let's also say I had had a beer. So that's not a great time for me to be clear and centered and mindful, you know. So what I think is beautiful about, side note, having a meditation practice, is I feel that I'm guided and protected a lot. So I think what happened in this moment was like, you know, the powers that be, the universe, the magic, my intuition, sort of coming in and helping me to be comfortable with what I said and how I behaved. But I just said, 'It sounds like we have different values.' And he said something like, 'Well, you know, my coworker has been getting on me all the time about becoming vegetarian because he's a vegetarian.' So I was like, oh, interesting, because it's like, so now in his consciousness, he's thinking vegetarian, vegetable, so he sees my shirt. And I don't know if it's like if he's being aggressive towards me, or confrontational, but there's a good chance that a seed has been planted for him. And now I'm seed number two. But I just, it was such a beautiful experience for whatever it was, to be maybe a teacher but to also be a student, right?
Adrienne MacIain 19:47
Carol Graham 19:49
We just didn't know what we were going to do. We have to have an income, you know, you've reached that point, and then COVID hit. And of course everybody all around was beginning to really hurt and feel the crunch. But what it did for us was, we live in a peninsula where people always went to the big city to shop. But they didn't have that option anymore. And our business went through the roof! Just... it was amazing. Like, we almost felt guilty because there are so many people hurting, and yet here we are not just surviving, like we have been, but thriving. And it opened up all kinds of new avenues. And one of the biggest changes was being able to give back to all those people who had helped us those years. So COVID was a blessing in every way, not just for us, but for those around us. Never, ever give up hope! I'm not limited by how old I am, or who I am, or where I am. No limitations. And if you see yourself without limitations, you are going to achieve a lot more.
Adrienne MacIain 21:04
And friends, that is just the tip of the season four iceberg. There are so many more amazing inspirational stories to come. So please, if you haven't already, subscribe so you never miss a thing. And I'll see you guys next week for That's Aloud season four: 2020 hindsight!