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Jo Becker: 'I hope you find hope and joy, even in the midst of so much upheaval and uncertainty.'

What a phenomenal year this has been for everyone. Nothing as expected. Nothing as usual. Everything in such upheaval for so many!

Personally, I'm counting my blessings:

Personal health

Last year I had more than my share of sniffles and colds, and so began to progressively focus on strengthening my system and I'm sure glad I did. So far (knock on wood), I've steered clear of illness since the pandemic hit. At the same time, I'm grateful not to have underlying high-risk factors.

Jo BeckerPersonal finances

I am a solo entrepreneur and I've also done contracted computer work for many, many years. For my business, I've conducted national webinars instead of in-person classes, although some the online education brokers I've worked with have been hit hard by the economics of the pandemic and there were fewer this year. Overall, business has been cut in half compared to last year. I also experienced a few hiccups in the spring related to contract work (some related to national economics, some not), but all has since evened out.

"Plush" is a relative term, but I can definitely say I've managed to be comfortable this year, despite outward economics. Again, I'm very thankful.

Personal exposure

I've always enjoyed the fact that all of my work can be done from home, or anywhere I have a connection, really. In that sense, I've been extremely fortunate to continue work as I have been for a very long time now — snug in PJs on Monday, perhaps dressed up for a video conference on Wednesday.

Working from my home office room in the morning, and perhaps from the comfort of an overstuffed chair in the afternoon. And always with my trusty laptop humming along with me.

And so it goes. Many weeks, I don't leave the house at all for five or six days in a row. Working by myself in this longstanding work-from-home reality has, all by itself, greatly minimized my exposure during the pandemic. Again, I'm very fortunate.

Personal traits

Reading the last paragraph may have made some squirm with cabin fever. I really feel for the social extroverts out there; months of off-and-on but mostly on recommendations to stay home and socially distance just plain sucks, as a colleague wrote the other day.

And, at the same time, I'm excited for those among us who are discovering for the first time a rich inner life within themselves, or the tranquil splendor of nature, or the joys of critter companions.

I, myself, am something of a "high-functioning" or "crossover introvert." Most of the time, I process thoughts before speaking (vs. speaking in order to think through them). And, while not a hermit, I have a fairly low social need. That said, I am also a master networker, a public speaker and I can hold my own in the socially extroverted world.

Mostly, I like the blend of both, but staying home and not getting my social groove on this year hasn't pained me in the least.

I've hunkered down quite cozily in my sweet lil' home near Highway 213. When I needed a cuddle, I snuggled up with one of the two soft, agreeable fur babies who share my home. When I needed advice or to chat, I phoned a friend. When I needed to clear my mind and breathe in some fresh air, I toddled next door to my neighbor's pasture and treated my barnyard buddies to carrots.

Personal practice

I first studied and then shared my knowledge of personal preparedness and emergency response over the past 15 years. This year, my family and I got a new chance to practice our plan when, in September, the cats and I preemptively evacuated due to fires close to home.

We met up with my parents at a small vacation condo they own in Long Beach, Washington, and enjoyed something of a "forced vacation." We watched from afar as the changing situation unfolded near each of our homes back in Oregon, and in the end, we were very grateful to have homes to return to.

Throughout the two-week ordeal, we were palpably reminded of what matters most.

By the way, let me offer here a quick but heartfelt note of personal thanks to the emergency managers, professional responders and countless volunteers in our community!

Personal perspective

An attitude of gratitude and a habit of seeking joy have served me well in this crazy year that I'm sure we're all ready to forget. Personally, I can't help but look on the bright side as my kitty companions and I count our blessings.

Well, I'm counting blessings and (sometimes, I think) they're counting their kibble treats to assure there's enough.

Not "enough" from a perspective of lack or worry, but as some idealized term that, in their furry minds, can never truly be realized. After years of serious contemplation and long conversations with my cats, I've come to realize that "some number of treats greater than they received yesterday" seems to get a passing purr.

Still, I realize so much has happened locally, nationally and globally over the last several months, and that our experiences are as unique as we are. Many have suffered greatly on so many levels.

In all ways and in all things, I hope you, dear neighbors, are safe and well!

I hope you find hope and joy, even in the midst of so much upheaval and uncertainty. I hope you're encouraged by progress made on so many fronts, and excited for the potential our futures hold. (Pollyanna is a hero of mine. Does it show? LOL!)

I hope that, even if only in some small measure, this entire end-of-year holiday season is bright and celebratory for you. And I hope 2021 ushers in an entirely new kind of new year — one with a counterbalancing wave of stability, comfort, health, equality and abundance for all.

I wonder what you, personally, are looking forward to this season, and what gives you hope for next year? Whatever it is, take care, be safe, stay well and seek your merry!

Jo Becker has been a resident of the Oregon City area since 2006. She's also a speaker and writer on a number of topics. More information can be found at

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