Dear Readers,

January. Fuck. I have sat down numerous times to write a letter that attempts to pull together the themes of this month, while also allowing some room for hope, but I have to be honest: I have no more clarity now than I did at the onset of 2022. The pandemic continues to rage on, and life is chaotic, stressful, and cold. At this very moment, an estimated 2000 truckers are driving across Canada to park themselves outside of Parliament Hill and demand “freedom”. Online, people are turning to Wordle, a daily word game, for comfort. Wordle is 2022’s version of pandemic bread-making and the proof that humans look for joy wherever we can find it.

Indeed we continue to live through a time that is stranger than fiction. And even though we’re still stuck in our bubbles, with our social lives on pause, life feels noisier than ever. But inspiration still abounds.

Normally a new year feels like a bright new chapter, full of possibilities. But this year is different. While we shared some stories about making life changes—like taking steps towards financial recovery, and our interview with the wise and wonderful Serena Ryder about her decision to stop drinking—we focused our attention towards an area that we’ve seldom covered in the past: healthcare. 

Our hospitals are in crisis, and while Shedoesthecity typically lives within arts and culture, we shifted our attention this month to share stories from Ontario nurses who are desperate to have their experiences heard. The interviews we’ve published, as told to writer Alex Mlynek, are shocking and heartbreaking. 

Burnout is something we’ve all been dealing with since March 2020, but what our frontline health workers are living with is constant trauma. “I’ve heard colleagues say they feel like they’re dead inside when they’re at work,” says Carrie Donaldson, who has worked in an emergency department in Durham since last June. Faiza Tahalil, an ICU nurse in Peel Region, shares that, “during the pandemic, nursing is not a job — it’s a war. It’s a constant battle every single day; a battle of not only taking care of very sick individuals, but also a battle of seeing what our leaders have done to us.” 

Illustration by Dani Crosby

Wanting to do more to support our nurses (93% of whom are women, btw) we partnered with The Rebel Mama and Moms At Work to put pressure on our government officials to change Bill 124, which has prevented nurses from receiving an adequate pay raise (meanwhile Stephen Lecce has received a 10.2% salary bump). It’s sickening. 

Another important conversation about trauma we had was with award-winning journalist Anna Maria Tremonti. For over 40 years, she’s kept quiet about the intimate partner violence she experienced in her first marriage. In the new podcast Welcome to Paradise, launching next month, Anna Maria examines this painful chapter in detail with her therapist Farzana Doctor, and courageously shares how it has impacted both her personal and professional life.

Secrets, shame and gender-based violence are also explored in our latest New Voices essay: Writer Aqleema Anwar introduces us to trauma imposter syndrome; when we feel like our trauma is not bad enough, or distort the truth and minimize the impact of an experience, or even blame ourselves for the wrongdoing of another. It’s not something we’d given much consideration to before, but is relatable. 

While we continue to process the collective struggle we are all experiencing in the pandemic, many of us are also taking steps to do our own healing work. It’s no wonder escapism is on everyone’s minds. And so while we devoted a lot of space in January to sharing stories about survival, and paths to recovery, we also made sure to provide ideas on how to find relief. 

In our interview with Vancouver Director Monika Mitchell (Virgin River, Firefly Lane), we discuss the various ways people find escape. She also dishes about working with Alyssa Milano in the new Netflix film Brazen, based on the bestselling novel Brazen Virtue by Nora Roberts. It was a fun conversation, and a welcomed distraction from COVID news.

Yes, January has been a slog. But through the muck, there are moments of joy. Be it a great film, a page-turning novel, a sweet bird you watch while sipping your morning coffee, or a loving text from a friend. These are the little things that pull us through. Look for them, and hold them close. Keep moving forward.

With love,