Each year, starts out with fresh hopes and dreams. We leave one year behind with wishes of making the next one better.
After considerable training and planning, I was finally ready to begin the new year with my own mediation practice. After officially launching at the beginning of January 2020, I started doing what all new business owners do. I worked hard to continue my professional development and marketed the business for bookings. It was exciting, and I loved nothing more than meeting my old and new professional connections, drinking coffee, whilst I tell about my new venture. Rumours of a pandemic swirled around my head, but I paid no attention at the time.
In March, I started conducting a study on mediator selection process, which required interviews with lawyers, who frequently use mediators. It was not long until March break arrived. The first lockdown was announced, and life as I knew it came to a halt. As far as I am concerned, at the dawn of January 2021, I am still on March break! I always complained how short March break was and wished the days would not go by so fast, for the sake of having more time with the kids. Well… now I know, some wishes really do come true.
This year, without doubt, has been full of sadness and destruction for many. Whether you are able to recover from the damage or not, it is safe to assume, for those of us who have suffered the effects of COVID-19, or have lost a loved one because of it, the damage of 2020, will stay with us for many years to come.
Despite the upheaval, to those brave children continuing on with virtual school, to family, friends and colleagues showing resilience to the situation, has shown me just how strong humankind can be.
It has not been all doom and gloom by any stretch. The legal profession literally moved mountains and thrust one foot into the 21st Century. The fax machine will finally become history and online dispute resolution is now a thing! Surely, that is something worth celebrating. (I really hate fax machines and worst still, could never work them!)
One instrumental event in 2020 that will never be forgotten, is the reigniting of the Black Lives Matter movement. With deep sadness, the world has mourned the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and all the other victims of racialized violence. I have watched the western world divide itself, with some that hold on to their prejudices with pride, and others looking for a way to address them. This year, was waiting in the wings for me to become the advocate for change that I always longed to be. As the Law Society of Ontario continues to “address racism and discrimination in the professions”, I wanted to explore the same issues in the ADR community. I have collected data, written programs and attended various platforms to teach others on how to accept and effectively communicate with people who are different from them, and how to address sensitivities during mediation. I have even issued a monthly diversity calendar, in hopes that my readers will take note and learn something new. I know that I have learned at least one new thing every month, by virtue of researching and drafting the calendar. I have had counsel reaching out for help and advise on how to become culturally aware and even competent. Surely, this is meaningful work and worth spending a year in waiting.
Whatever your purpose has been this year, I know we have all spent it in ways that we had not imagined. I have accepted that the best part of 2021 will be much the same, and I AM READY for it! I look forward to continuing my work on issues concerning equity, diversity and inclusion and more than ever, I look forward to booking a mediation with you.
I truly wish you all a happy New Year.