It’s the little things

We all know the pandemic has negatively affected our lives in a variety of ways, and that it has disproportionately harmed some more than others. But hidden within the chaos and confusion that is the year 2020, there are a small handful of silver linings that make this “new normal” just a little more bearable.

Take masks, for example — as the cold weather begins to consume Montreal, wearing them has become less and less of a chore. We no longer have to soil our scarves with runny noses, since our trusty mandatory-masks do us the favour of keeping our lips and noses warm, while also protecting against the transmission of our least favourite virus.

Speaking of transmission, without having to commute to campus for class, there’s fewer reasons to ride the germ incubator — ie. the bus, metro or shuttle — anymore. Even when life was normal, it’s hard to say that taking the bus was ever the best part of the day. And now, for the lucky ones who don’t need to ride as much, it’s just a warm memory.

And speaking of warmth, wearing warm, comfy pajama bottoms to class seems like something we would’ve killed for before the pandemic. Now, it’s a way of life. No more social expectation to look “together” and cohesive. We all know we’re in the same boat. If that means wearing your cozy Harvard sweater, your Spongebob socks or your Roots sweatpants from your pre-adolescence, we get it.

It’s the little things.

If one thing is true, it’s that there’s plenty of time to spend alone now, and with that comes a lot of loneliness and sameness. But at the same time, these open Friday nights with nothing to do have given us the time and space to practice self-care and self-discovery. Maybe that means doing a weekly bath ritual, or having private karaoke nights or even beating your high score in Mario Kart. Whatever it is that helps you be you, do it. The biggest pandemic perk? Having the time to get to know yourself.


Feature photo by Alex Hutchins


Fighting isolation on Valentine’s Day, one rose at a time

**Full disclosure: I fell in love with this story. 

On Valentine’s Day, Concordia Alumnus Timothy Thomas and his team from Home Care Assistance Montreal, partnered with Wish of a Lifetime, in an attempt to decrease isolation, if only for one day.

“Seniors’ isolation is huge,” said Thomas. “A lot of people we have come across have lost a spouse, maybe their kids don’t visit as often and they are feeling down at these times of the year. But it doesn’t take much; a rose, a smile and a hug.”

The team delivered more than 700 roses at three different home care facilities in Montreal; Le Cambridge, Sélection Vista and Chateau Westmount.

While this was the first year the franchise expanded the event to Canada, Home Care Assistance partnered with Wish of a Lifetime for the fourth year in a row. The latter Colorado-based non-profit organization is similar to Children’s Wish, but provides experiences fulfilling the dreams of underprivileged seniors.

“What we are here to do today, with Cupid Crew and Wish of a Lifetime, is to really give back to our clients and seniors communities,” said Thomas.

For Thomas, Home Care Assistance Montreal is a family business. Back in 2007, after his family struggled with finding a caregiver for his grandmother, his father saw an opportunity to offer home care services. He came across Home Care Assistance, a business based out of the United States, with about 90 locations across North America, and decided to buy the rights in Quebec.

In 2014, Wish of a Lifetime created Cupid Crew, which quickly became a national movement in the United States. This year, the event spanned over 500 cities, with the goal of delivering 50,000 roses nationwide. The idea behind the movement was to empower volunteers to deliver roses to seniors, spread love and raise awareness on Feb. 14 of the array of complications that can affect the quality of life for seniors.

“The Cupid Crew initiative from Wish of a Lifetime was showcased to our company at our annual conference in Miami last year,” said Thomas. “We loved the idea, it’s a teambuilding activity for our staff as well. A lot of our employees don’t get the chance to be out there in the field, where our clients and services meet and where we make great impact in the life of seniors.”

The feeling of loneliness and isolation has been widely reported among elders. Numerous studies show a direct connection between loneliness, heart disease and dementia, which can result in shorter lifespans for seniors.  An estimated 1.4 million seniors in Canada—25 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women—reported feelings of loneliness. The Canadian government defines a person from the age of 65 onwards as a senior. If one remains healthy, this could mean a good 20 more years of feeling alone.

Yet, home care centres can also be a place for love and friendship, as the event was trying to highlight. “Even if it’s on a general holiday, it connects [seniors] to each other with the roses,” said Vanessa Cannizzaro, the human resource coordinator for Home Care Assistance Montreal. “It’s something that brings them closer to the people around, and us closer to them.”

Indeed, Sélection Vista resident Bertha Van Frank believes she was lucky to find 94-year-old Claire Eidanger. “I was really shy and she was the first one to say hi to me when I moved here, and we became friends. We are celebrating Valentine’s Day together,” said the 88-year-old senior, as they both smiled, holding onto their roses.

Valentine’s Day might be perceived as a marketing holiday, as Thomas also pointed out, but this was ultimately an opportunity to make an impact on seniors’ lives.

“It doesn’t matter why we are doing it, it needs to be done,” said Thomas. “Yes, it’s corny at this time of year, but it’s also a time of year that is difficult for a lot of people. I think it’s worth it and it’s as good of a time as any.”


Photo courtesy of Timothy Thomas


Student Life

The art of being single: The fear of being alone

Romance is one of my favourite genres of movies — shocking, I know.

As I was watching the Netflix original The Last Summer last week, Maia Mitchell, who plays Phoebe in the movie alongside KJ Apa’s Griffin, said something that made me pause the movie and scatter for my notebook and pen: “I fear whether I’m even capable of love or if I’m just destined to observe it for the rest of my life.”

If you’re new here, hi, my name is Kayla and I have an existential crisis every few days.

This one line, which took up maybe 13 seconds of the movie, summed up my whole dilemma with finding love. You know how people, usually those a generation older than you, always tell you to slow down, to not rush things because you’re young, you have time for everything to work out, to find love? Those people stress me out because how do they know?

They don’t.

I have so many people in my life who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s and who are still alone. I have family members whose lives probably went very differently than what they planned or hoped for. Sure, they might be happy but they also might not be; they may have just adapted to what life threw at them because they had no choice other than to accept it and move on.

What does this have to do with the movie, you may ask? If you go back and comb through my previous articles, or if you know me in real life, then you know that I’ve struggled with going after what I want and just letting things happen the way they’re supposed to. I always simply chalked it up to the kind of person I am, to my drive and character — but it’s more than that.

There aren’t many things in life that I want more than to find love, to marry someone and to have a family of my own. This one line in this cheesy teen romance movie brought these two things together — seeing so many of the people in my life alone and struggling with letting go of going after the things I want. I fear not being able to experience love for myself, of being destined to only observe it from those around me.

So to those people that ask me why I’m so worried, that say I should just let things happen the way they’re meant to, that I’m young and have my whole life ahead of me — you’re wrong. Life doesn’t work out the same for everyone so bare with me while I fear never being able to be in love while I have to watch everyone else around me have what I want so badly.

Graphic by Loreanna Lastoria


How to go from being lonely to a lone wolf

Stop romanticizing social interaction and reevaluate what it means to be alone

Call it being woke, spiritual or cynical. The fact is, you read past the title, which tells me you’re likely on a different wavelength than most. Everyone else seems to see the world in technicolor. You see it in hues of grey.

Indeed, people who are most in tune with the complexities of human existence are often the loneliest. We speak half as much as we think, and even then, other people only understand a fraction of the things we say. This can make us feel like we don’t quite fit in anywhere.

But feeling lonely isn’t healthy. It can lead us to dark places. In order to escape the crevices of our own mind, we often opt for… dear Lord… a social life.

We go to parties. Get coffee with a new friend. Hookup with our latest Tinder match. After all, life is short, death is scary, and other people can help us forget all that, right? Not quite. When you’re sensitive to the world around you, loneliness can creep up whether you’re in a room full of people or in bed by yourself.

Which is why we’ve got to stop romanticizing social interaction, and start re-thinking what it means to be alone. As singer Alessia Cara melodiously puts it, lonely people often go out only to find themselves asking: “What am I doing here?” Just moments into something that’s supposed to be casual, loneliness pushes us to surrender, and we find ourselves hanging onto Sia’s metaphorical chandelier (that’s right, “Chandelier” is actually a song about feeling sad while at a party!).

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to undermine how hard it can be to be alone with your own thoughts. However, I am encouraging you to remember that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side; because it’s also sad to look into another person’s eyes, and realize you’re trying to be something you’re not. Or that you’re exhausting yourself in the process of explaining your perspective to people who don’t think like you.

Pop culture has fooled us into believing that a full social calendar is the antidote to loneliness. Not true. It all depends on who you’re with—and because most millennials have equipped their hearts with bullet-proof walls, it can be really hard to connect.

When you stop romanticizing social interaction, you realize that lousy company isn’t actually better than no company. So how can you work through loneliness on your own? First, get creative. Write, draw, go ham on an instrument. Bake a delicious treat you can indulge in later. Once you start creating worlds of your own, you’ll no longer be experiencing solitude, but privacy—a much healthier, and entirely valid way of understanding what it means to be by yourself.

Second, remember that people are generally a bit lonelier, or sadder than they appear. Nobody’s life is perfect. Don’t compare yourself to fronts, especially not those you see on social media. Often the biggest smiles hide the deepest pains.

Finally, remember that loneliness is temporary. Right now, it may seem like you’re destined to be forever alone—but as new chapters emerge in your life, so will new people. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to be a lone wolf. Use moments of privacy to explore your personality. As you delve deeper into your hobbies and interests, you’ll find your true self—the you that will attract better relationships in the future.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin

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