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What I Learned in 2020: Kirra Rankin

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As one of humanity’s most trying years comes to an end, we take a moment to reflect.

Canberrans have fared through devastating bushfires, suffocating smoke, destructive hail and a global pandemic in 2020. So undoubtedly, we’ve learned some things.

Today, Exercise Physiologist, business owner and mum of three Kirra Rankin reflects on the year that was.

Kirra Rankin

Owner of Capital Hydrotherapy and HerCanberra columnist

So much change has happened to our world in 2020—good and bad.

As I’m a born optimist, I’ll focus on the positive. A born introverted-extroverted optimist (80% introverted, 20% extroverted and I’ll get to this realisation in a moment. It took me a global pandemic to realise it wasn’t 20/80)!

But I’m going rogue first. As I write this “What have I learnt in 2020 article” as my brother is suffering from the dreaded COVID-19—in a developing country, with a poor hospital system, and no family to help. It’s not all rainbows.

However (here comes the optimist on her rainbow unicorn!), once he’s better, he’ll appreciate the small things in life.

He’ll appreciate sitting up on his own, being able to walk to the fridge without suffering from lactic acid overload, and he’ll be able to walk his dog outside in the fresh air without assistance. Sounds like a dream to a fit young 37-year-old, world-travelling entrepreneur.

These simple lifestyle pleasures are similar to what we all bring with us, crawling into 2021.

  • Time appreciation
  • Space and fresh air
  • True valued friendships
  • Freedom to be who we want to be.

What you went through in 2020? 

I’ve proudly owned Capital Hydrotherapy for nine years—it was my first “baby”. It’s a fantastic mess, being a mum in business. Fantastic one moment, a mess the next.

I put so many dedicated hours and so much love into building the business, so you can imagine how I felt when the doors were forced to close back when the entire country shut down (mostly).

I felt like I had been fired—I had four minutes to quickly pack up all my pool equipment and get out of the facility. We were forced to close for four and a half months. That’s a LONG time for someone with 15 staff, and three little kids (one being an eight-month old!).

As soon as we were forced to close, I went into protection mode.

Protecting my team, and keeping our community informed, educated and supported.  We quickly pivoted into Telehealth, online group classes, Zoom professional development sessions, free YouTube exercise programs, regular LIVE Facebook movement sessions, writing weekly HerCanberra articles to keep Canberra active and healthy, many radio talk back chats about self-care, home-office work station set up tips, wellness and movement motivation chats and we started ‘Her Workout’ on IGTV, every week with HerCanberra.

I was so proud of our team and the way they embraced the change.

I was thankful that I had that four and a half months with my kids. My two and four year old at the time learnt how to ride bikes, learnt about courage, and overcoming adversity, learnt how to plant trees and support the local takeaway on Pizza Friday! How good is the slow lane?

I was breastfeeding at the time, so it was wonderful not to have to pump, and get mastitis. What a win!

While my business was shut for four and half months, I never once thought “poor me”.

I was on my rainbow unicorn for four and a half months. I thought about my team, and our community. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely depleted now that we’re back to normal at the clinic and hydrotherapy pool—now that I can step back for a moment, I’m addressing this “post traumatic let’s-not-deal-with-how-we-really-feel” situation.

What did you learn?

I’ve certainly used 2020 as a chance to imagine, create and make a better lifestyle for my family and work-family.

I’ve realised how much we DON’T need. I’ve never been into buying “things”; I don’t have many clothes and I don’t rely on external stuff to make me happy. A pandemic really highlighted this for me.

It’s wonderful how a pandemic allows you to step back and assess what needs to stay, and what needs to go! I’m the master of saying “no” now. Which is a great skill to find in my 40s!

I learnt that I love having minimal social commitments—did this pandemic turned me into more of an introvert? Maybe. I hope so—I like it here! 80% introvert, 20% extrovert. I thrive in both if I get the balance right. Maybe I’ll shift into 70/30 next year…see how my energy goes.

I’ve learnt that a big whiteboard is my friend—her name is Betty, and she keeps me accountable, motivated and in-check.

Every day during the pandemic I had a list of 7-10 things I had to achieve (wellness, family and business). I’ve continued on this daily habit, and I love it.

I’ve also learnt that staying motivated, positive and organised in a pandemic, and taking 15 team members along for the ride, while having three young kids, and finishing off a new build is freaking exhausting.

So exhausting, that I’ve actually taken a month off work to restore my energy. I’m deep into week two, and I feel 15% better. I love a staycation, and wellness retreat at home in my very own bed.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

I’m looking forward to getting the balance right in 2021. We’ve had so much growth in the clinic the past three months, I need to have energy to give to my team. But not so much energy, that I’ve got none left for myself.

I’m looking forward to a slower life. Appreciating the simple lifestyle pleasures is me in 2021. I like it here.

Feature image: Tim Bean Photography

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