Closing the door on 2020

Years ago, when I was a Correctional Officer at Kingston Penitentiary, separating the two worlds of prison and personal life was vital to maintaining mental, physical, and relationship health.

Access in and out of the massive complex was via a heavy, eight-inch-thick, steel door, that could only be unlocked by an officer working a control inside. It would close with a thunderous bang. This entry/exit point was called the North Gate.

The North Gate, Kingston Penitentiary

When I arrived, the sound would remind me that I’d entered a different world, one in which the abnormal became normal. After a shift where anything and everything did happen, the sound of that door banging shut would be my cue to leave the day’s drama behind. I’d step out onto the sidewalk where cars and cyclists sped by, and parents pushed their babies in strollers, oblivious to the walled world they passed. I had just reentered the normal.  

This post is not about prison or my past life, it’s about you and how you choose to close the door on 2020 . . . a year of abnormalities that became normal.  How do you heal from this and move on?

Unfortunately, we will all carry some scars from this past year, depending on your experience and resilience . . . everyone will be affected.  I’m not trying to be negative, just realistic, that’s just the way the human brain works.

Now for the positive . . . you can heal from this and move on. Yes, I know that the abnormal continues into 2021, but there are some signs that we are turning a corner. Vaccines are rolling out, and hopefully those who need it most will receive it soon.

So many things happen that we are not in control of, but we are gifted with the ability to control our thoughts, and if we cannot stop the obsessive ones, to seek help.

Thoughts beget emotions, which beget actions.

My father, a wise man, used to say, ”Garbage in, garbage out.” If you feed your mind bad thoughts, your emotions will follow.

So now might be a good time to think about a way to close that heavy door and move forward to a life of peace.

A few things that may help:

-develop an exercise routine and stick with it (plenty of exercise videos available, if you are confined to an apartment)

-get professional help; many clinics offer virtual meetings

-find positive distractions

-develop an attitude of gratitude; there is still good in this world and always something to be thankful for

-practice mindfulness; live in the present

-talk to a trusted friend



-use the Capture/Check/Change method for dealing with negative thoughts. This one takes some practice. It works like this: As soon as a negative thought comes, you Capture it, then Check to see its validity, finish off with Changing the thought with a positive (might I suggest the attitude of gratitude)

-seal off those bad thoughts in an airtight container. It was a heavy metal door for me, yours could be a large safe, an indestructible bubble made from Hubba Bubba gum, or a titanium box . . . whatever you choose, try to stuff all those baddies in there and seal them off.

You are not alone in all of this and it too, shall pass. There is still hope and good in this world.

I wish you  and your families all these best in this upcoming year. Stay safe!


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Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman's childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non. Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this country boy to life in the big cities. After a short stint as a private investigator, he moved into the role of Correctional Officer, working at both Millhaven Institution and Kingston Penitentiary, until it closed.

66 thoughts on “Closing the door on 2020”

  1. This is a wonderfully inspiring post, Mark, as we end one chapter and begin the next. I love your comparison. It is very fitting. And I love and embrace your advice. Positive thought brings positive action and a positive life. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. I liked how you described the separation of your two worlds by the heavy door, Mark. Great analogy for the sudden shift from before the pandemic to the new normal. Things may never get back to our previous normal, but the suggestions you’ve made will certainly give us everything we need to succeed no matter what happens. We have so much to be grateful for, and the more we practice gratitude, the more we’ll find to be grateful for. God still loves us, he hasn’t abandoned us, he has already charted our path, and he’s still and always will be in control. Nothing surprises or shocks him, and he knows everything we need. Sometimes we need a good shaking up, apparently. Great advice, beautifully written. Thank you, and Happy New Year!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! You are so right, God has this. 🙂 The sound of the door closing was a technique many of us used to survive the rigours of the job. I wish you all the best in 2021!


  3. Wonderful advice and thoughts, Mark. Thank you for sharing! Last year was awful in so many ways as we all had our own unique experiences to live and survive through. Our family had some hurdles to jump, but overall, we can’t complain when many lost loved ones, income, and others were and are alone and isolated. I hope this year brings more light to the darkness for all.
    Happy New Year, Lauren

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    1. Thank you, Lauren. 2020 was a struggle in so many ways for so many people. I am glad that your family is doing okay. I think 2021 will be a turning point. I wish you and yours all the best in the upcoming year!

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  4. Mark, this is great advise and should lead to a happy transition from the trauma of 2020 to a…hopefully…better and different 2021. Have a blessed and happy New Years Day and a healthy and peaceful new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Scars indeed, but wounds heal as long as we bandage them with salve and love. I really like your comments and suggestions here, Mark. I believe that this year tested many of us, but those who glow with hope and love — those will be the ones who make it even stronger in 2021.

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  6. Well put, Mark and great advice. I remember the saying garbage in garbage out and it really applies now. Wishing you and your family a beautiful New Year full of joy and happiness!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A wonderful post, Michael. I learned how to leave the emotion behind once leaving the counseling room to live a healthy personal life. Beautiful illustration!
    Happy New Year to you and your family! ☺️🎉

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  8. Thanks for those words of wisdom Mark. As I look back on 2020, yes there have been some tough times dealing with this pandemic but God has been good and we have been blessed with so many great times and gifts that He has provided us with. Thinking about the blessings and good things sure helps to get through the struggles, although it’s difficult at times but dealing with them in the right way helps us to rise above the tough times. God bless you, Tanya and the girls in the New Year!! Keep trusting in God’s providence and He will provide!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He always does provide and take care of us, you are right about that! I’ve seen that , and I am sure you have too, in your own life, where opportunities and solutions arise that could only come from our Heavenly Father. Thank you for stopping by today and for your kind words. I wish you and your family a blessed New Year!


  9. Your post shares a great deal of wisdom, Mark. The concept of compartmentalizing resonates with me. I ‘get it’ now about the reference you used in a past comment “abnormal became normal.”

    A great segue and a great metaphor for 2020. I love your words “…gifted with the ability to control our thoughts…”. I also see how your father passed on his wisdom to his family. Thank you for tools to manage negative thoughts and emotions. An excellent post!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Such a beautiful and uplifting post Mark! The tips for moving toward a life of peace are spot-on too! I really like the analogy of the heavy metal door closing on all that doesn’t serve us. Wishing you and yours a new year filled with health and happiness!

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  11. What a beautiful post, Mark! I love your analogy, spot on. We all need to find our way through the rubble to the Light. Happy New Year! 💗

    Liked by 3 people

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