This year has been a year like no other, both professionally and personally.
2020 started with a new job with a brand new organisation – Health and Wellbeing Queensland – after many years working for the Department of Health. This was a daunting but exciting change and brought with it the challenges of a new workplace, new leaders, new priorities and a whole new way of working – and then with COVID 19 our focus and direction had to pivot as the organisation committed to the importance, now more than ever, of supporting Queenslanders to be healthy and well during this time.
Personally, I had to figure out how to juggle the demands of a new job and the important work we were doing with the needs of two teenage girls coping with learning from home, particularly with one going through the all-important Year 12. With the whole family working from home it was a challenge at times.
I was also so worried throughout about my family back in Ireland and actually had to dash home in March – just before Australia closed its international borders (didn’t know this was going to happen at the time). My mother has dementia and is in a care facility. She took very ill and it was touch and go. She recovered thankfully but I then had to rush back to Australia – arriving just before the airline I was flying with grounded its planes and on arrival then being required to quarantine. This was really one of the more stressful times of my life, particularly as I was travelling alone. Thank goodness for a supportive husband who didn’t mind being woken up in the early hours of the morning to help deal with a missed connection. I still worry about family in Ireland, particularly my parents, as the situation is still pretty difficult there.

What helped you overcome these challenges?

o The support of friends and family – both my work family and home family. Being able to talk through worries with someone who cares is so important.
o Getting out and walking, taking time to enjoy the sunsets at the end of busy days.
o Finding laughter and fun in the craziness – always, even outside of the craziness of 2020, if you don’t try to laugh at yourself and the crazy situations you find yourself in then the mental load and worry of it all can be hard to bear.
o Keeping contact and connections with those I love and hold dear – thank goodness for being able to connect online – whether it was Zoom drinks with friends and work colleagues on a Friday evening, WhatsApp chats with family. Being able to keep up with seeing what’s going on with everyone I connect with on social media, even though we were locked down and isolated from each other.

What “her” have you become?