Saanich mom brightens pandemic's dark days with neighbour walks
SAANICH -- Although she seems to be simply walking outside, Shannon’s actually doing some complex juggling inside in her head.
Shannon lists some of the questions she’s perpetually asking herself. “What’s next? Where are we going? What do we have to get ready to be there?”
I met the single mom after she dropped off her daughter at practice, before walking her dogs and making dinner, all the while wondering about her three jobs.
“It was always about wondering what time it was,” she says. And did you notice she said was?
The pandemic stopped most of the wondering and Shannon found herself feeling alone with nowhere to go and nobody to see.
“It was unreal,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
A few weeks later, Shannon got an unexpected invitation from her neighbours to go for a socially distant walk.
“I was so excited,” she smiles. “And when I got back from the walk I realized that’s what had been missing – just being out and with people.”
So she turned it into a routine, even adopting her neighbours' habit of wearing clip-on safety lights on their shoes.
“People would go, ‘Your shoes are so cool.’” Shannon recalls with a smile. “It really created a whole bunch of connections with complete strangers.”
Shannon began sharing her experience online and started the Facebook group "With Glowing Hearts." It’s encouraged others – from Port Renfrew to Calgary – to post pictures and videos of lighting up the night and reaching out to others.
“If you see people walking down the street with a little light on their heel, you can join them,” Shannon says, describing it as an invitation. “The difference between being connected instead of lonely is life-changing.”
The With Glowing Hearts walks have also proven to be a welcome reprieve from all that juggling.
“[When I was walking] I wasn’t worried about being at work or making dinner or any of that,” she smiles, adding it felt amazing to be worrying about her future obligations. “I was just with them, in the moment.”