The new Chocolate Mint Snowfall has nothing to do with the contents of my post. It is just so very pretty and so darn delicious – and available now!

I was once  interested in being a hospice volunteer. Although it is still something I would like to do, in the category of really knowing ourselves, I really know that up until now – and for the foreseeable future- I am better off to give back to society in other ways.
I would like to be a person who could comfort others as they die, but I am not – or at least, not yet.
Anyway, at the time, I took the training course for the Calgary Hospice Society, and it was excellent. One of the best exercises involved drawing a checkerboard of  nine squares.
The instructor told us to write one item in each box that really mattered to us. It could be “spouse”, “children”, “wardrobe”, “career”, “travel”…. whatever was most important to our happiness and contentment.
The class happily did this.
Then, the instructor said that we had just been diagnosed with an illness that meant we had some restrictions on our life and so could we please X off one item, because we’d have to give that up. Whichever important item was, well, least important.
I won’t take you through the whole exercise but we were all in tears by the end of it because of course the point is that as we reach the end of our lives, we often are required to let go, let go, let go, until around us at the very end is only who or what we consider essential.
If you know me and are starting to think, maybe I should call 911 in Toronto and just have them check in on Jean, no, don’t worry – all is well and I am fine, even happy. It is simply that as the pandemic goes on and the months go by, it is interesting to watch my changing feelings about losses.
The closure of one store back in January because of a week-long water main break was a catastrophe.
The pandemic closure in March was a further blow but we knew – or thought we knew – that we’d get through it and reopen all or most of the 5 stores.
In May, the dawning of the realization that only one store could survive and open in June was hard but somehow less painful.
And now the loss on Friday afternoon of our ability to even sell to walk in customers in the one store we have left was, well, a cause for celebration.
Don’t get me wrong.
I think we have passed through what makes sense in terms of lockdown.
I think it is entirely unacceptable to have Walmart and Dollarama open and the small independent retailers restricted to curbside pickup and delivery.
But months of just trying to survive make you appreciate the smallest things, and at least we didn’t have to lay off the whole team yet again.
Small mercies.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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