2021 in review: BEYOND THE BUBBLE

While it’s smart to hang out with people you know & trust during the plague, there’s peril in the familiar — a risk of becoming inward-facing. 

Flammarion engraving by an unknown artist, used as a metaphor for either scientific or mystical quests for knowledge.

I like to take photographs. Would you yell out loud if I thank the plague for some of my favourite moments in 2021?


For the first time ever, I noticed hummingbirds in my backyard; brazen coyotes digging in my garden beds; a curious fox kit stepping out of its den in an inner-city park. 

You can say it’s a dry cold, but another character building prairie winter closes out this year, nevertheless. Birds puff up their feathers to protect against deep freeze. Wild horses on the snowy ranges of southern Alberta put their heads down against the cold.

Only months ago, there was the smoke-filled haze of summer forest fires and heat beyond polite description.

Elk herds found refuge in the stillness of the Athabasca River. 

Slowing down to take it all in, I found unspeakable beauty in the repeated patterns of things I had overlooked.

Mathematicians speak of fractals (structures created by the recursive application of a rule) to explain what caught my eye. Discerning these never-ending riffs in Nature makes it easier to recognize repetition in less tangible, more abstract things—like our history, the economy, monetary policy and political choices. 


I learned how to cook different (very good) during the first year of the plague, and acquired grooming rituals (not so good) I never would have imagined as a preferred hairstyle a year earlier. This year was different too: I got into the practice of starting the day with a drum—taking down a buffalo-hide drum gifted to me by a wise Elder, to say a prayer for others.

Time got fuzzy. Each day seemed to take on greater import. I find myself pausing more, to acknowledge the sunrise and dusk and beyond into the twilight.

Going inside a church to pray with a congregation still feels uncomfortable and I reach out for communion in other ways—visiting a white buffalo calf raised by a Blackfoot family in Siksika; participating in ceremonies hosted at the McDougall Mission Church in Morley, Alberta; striding in prayer-filled silence on long walks in Nature.  



Yes. I learned the importance of playfulness, and not taking oneself too seriously (more on this in a moment).

Sure it feels like we are living in an asteroid belt some days. The not-fully-embraced climate talks in Glasgow didn’t bring much of a smile; political hardball with China wasn’t fun; trade protectionism with America…and on and on the list goes.

And I have to add, writing a book—and then working with others to figure out how to print and distribute this new book in the midst of upended supply chains—could have been a nightmare. (Great news- you can now pre-order!)

To counter this all, I intentionally decided that more playfulness was needed. I have a good sense of humour—why hide it?

Those of you who follow my Instagram feed may have noticed this letting down of the professional “guardrails” to allow for more whimsy and fun. Fellow blogger, Don Hill, has taught me how to cast aside the dinosaur ways of thinking that constrain my ability to laugh at myself. 


I love my bubble of friends and family. Together, we’ve celebrated new births and new relationships and new puppies (cuter than cute, I might add!), even my husband’s retirement. Together, we’ve also borne great grief, illness and anguish. The pinnacle has been watching our nearly two-year old granddaughter flourish, learning to walk and run, even chatter in full sentences. 

It’s tempting to stay close to home base—to this place where we are assured of caring and consistency. And yet, to grow, it’s equally essential that we have the courage and curiosity required to transcend our own worldviews (ways of seeing the world), even to be the instigator of outreach beyond our bubbles.

Exposing ourselves to alternative worldviews doesn’t necessarily come easy. Yet, in the midst of wave after wave of a continuously morphing and still virulent virus, it’s quite exhilarating knowing that it’s possible to stretch ourselves Beyond the Bubble

Don Hill and I look forward to an exciting year ahead, with you!

3 thoughts on “2021 in review: BEYOND THE BUBBLE

  1. All great as per usual Donna! Thank you for pulling out the stops on humour during these dull days of “cold snap” in Alberta. Love your artful, colourful, and whimsical photos. Looking forward to the release of your recent book. Not sure about any certainty Alberta will ever reach its carbon reduction goals… but I do know it is possible with the right people at the helm… let’s hope, or command hope, or …”be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Cheers Donna.

  2. Wonderful photographs. Thank you Donna for bringing delight and humour to the beginning of 2022. Both are so important in tumultuous times.

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