Image Credit: Daniel Constante / Shutterstock.com
At the end of each year, the Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) team members are asked to reveal a few things that have become favorites this year. “Things” by definition as a noun are; objects, articles, items, commodities, or gadgets. So, you can see that a “thing” can cover a lot of ground. And yes, a person can be a thing, albeit a very special thing.
Oprah’s (the other quality and creative brand) List of Favorite Things suggests a menu of potential gift items for the holidays. Junction’s list, however, focuses on those “things” that have proven to add entertainment, joy, or distraction throughout the year to our team members. With 2020 being the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, any “thing” that brings joy, entertainment, or distraction from all the challenges we faced this year cannot be overstated in importance.
Just like the many millions of us who were banished to the confines of our domiciles to hide from the potential threat of contracting COVID-19, Melissa Crane, Junction’s Project Manager, turned to streaming as a first line of defense from the mundane and boring. Not that quiet moments of self-reflection and discovery of inner peace doesn’t have its place in entertainment value; it tends to be short-lived. Netflix became one of Melissa’s favorite go-to things. “More than usual, I was grateful this year to be able to escape into some of my favorite shows and movies as I learned to adjust to spending a bit more time at home than before. And who would have thought “Tiger King” would become the cultural phenomenon that it is, but here we are!”
Board games, an old-school outlet for her more competitive side, also made her list. “This year I was introduced into the world of strategic board games by a few friends,” says Melissa. “Games like Catan and Secret Hitler quickly became a favorite way to spend a quiet Friday night together with friends instead of going out. I highly recommend it!” And when it came to improving her personal venue, Melissa turned to agriculture. “I definitely fell victim to the house plants trend this year! You start with a single succulent that somebody gifts you and before you know it, your apartment is decked out with macrame hangers and greenery near every window. It’s nice having something small to care for and makes my space feel more inviting.”
For Susan Lynam, Junction’s Director of Accounts, working from home comes with added dynamics when you share a workspace with a family that includes children. “I purchased a subscription to Disney+ this year,” says Susan, “and I’m so glad I did! We’ve enjoyed many family movie nights. Although Descendants seems to be on repeat in my household, we’ve also had the opportunity to share “old” movies with our kids.” It’s always nice to find a quality medium that can be shared between generations.
As eating out inside at local restaurants became socially taboo, curbside pickup made Susan’s list of favorites. “It’s convenient, safe, and a huge time-saver. I do curbside pickup for groceries, household supplies, holiday gifts, dinners — you name it! Also, I want to give a shout-out to some of my favorite local restaurants: JoJo’s Pizza, Aroogas, and Skyline! I’m very thankful for our local restaurants and small businesses who work so hard to weather the storm.”
Alejandrina Verdaguer contributes her talents in design to Junction from the country of Spain. It’s true, the COVID-19 pandemic is an international thing so Zoom and the internet are at the top of her list of favorite things. “It was great to still be able to see our loved ones even though they were 13.000km away. And of course, I am blessed to still be able to be busy working and feeling helpful! I can’t imagine surviving a pandemic like this without the internet. It’s not to be taken for granted.” And when it came time for entertainment, Alejandrina found Quizwise, a general knowledge quiz internet site for serious trivia enthusiasts. “It’s so much fun! They have a quiz a day to help me get smarter. Super geek!” And for keeping in shape while isolated, Ale’s favorite go-to thing is Sam Fit Club’s HIIT Classes. “Samuele is a killer trainer. He taught every day throughout the lockdown. It was a great stress reliever and of course, kept us in shape.”
Julie Cropp Gareleck, CEO and Founder of Junction shares a ‘favorite thing’ with her team. “Personally, Zoom has provided a great way to stay connected to friends and family, reinventing a Happy Hour or a simple check-in. Professionally, Zoom has been a stable platform to connect with clients and team members so we can operate business as usual!” And how about Door Dash? “It’s been great for having a favorite restaurant delivered when we aren’t permitted to visit them in person, whether at the office or at home,” says Julie.
Fitness has been an important aspect of Julie’s daily routine. Mirror is the nearly invisible home gym that boasts, “All you need is two feet of wall space to turn any room into a complete home gym.” Julie’s Mirror arrived just two weeks before the COVID quarantine! “With access to great pre-recorded fitness classes to LIVE classes with an instructor, the Mirror is a great and safe alternative to going to a gym,” says Julie. “I can access my fitness content at any time from the Mirror or the app on my phone!”
Cassidy Thomas, Junction’s Marketing Coordinator, finds Peloton at the top of her list of favorites. “With gyms being closed, I joined Peloton to remain active during the quarantine. I love that it has several different class types to choose from as well as the option for outdoor or indoor running. I’ve been hooked since!” And when working from home, Canva makes the best contribution to her completing tasks. “Although Adobe will always be superior when it comes to graphic design, Canva has become a platform I use almost daily, both personally and professionally, because it’s easy to use and has features that allow me to quickly bring creative thoughts to life,” says Cassidy. And just like the rest of us, eating is necessary for sustaining life, so you may as well make it pleasurable. “Thanks to Trader Joe’s and TikTok, I’ve started trying new recipes and cooking more at home” says Cassidy. “Trader Joe’s has become my go-to grocery store because the products are always high-quality and there is always something new to try!”
For me, the Senior (not to be confused with the title) Strategist at Junction, I share an incredibly special affinity for the virtual communication platforms that allow all of us to make a personal connection with others during a time of isolation and sequester. The technologies that seem to appear anew every day and often greeted with apathy by many, still elicit a sense of “gee whiz” and “golly” from me and others from my generation who continue to be amazed at tech’s impact on our lives. The internet of things (IoT) tops my list of “things” because it delivers all other “things” that allow all of us to transcend the barriers to normalcy. Like my colleague, Alejandrina, I cannot imagine having to navigate through the challenges of 2020 without the internet.
So, what’s atop your list of favorite things?