It’s the season for making New Year’s resolutions that are likely to involve eating healthier, saving money, or reading more. For the most part, the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping many of Guam residents’ good-for-you goals for 2021.
For April Ignacio, the most important resolution for 2021 is “pushing harder to land a full-time job” after losing her old job at a restaurant when the coronavirus pandemic nearly emptied Tumon of tourists.
“This part-time job is not going to cut it with all the bills I have and no Pandemic Unemployment Assistance,” she said.
Besides finding a new job, she also aims to “maybe lose 20 pounds,” she said.
For Sgt. Paul Tapao, spokesman for the Guam Police Department, it’s about “becoming better than yesterday.”
“To try and always stay positive and motivated. To become a better listener and practice patience,” he said.
That also means spreading “more kindness and thoughtfulness and to continue practicing humility,” the longtime police officer said.
Sinajana Mayor Robert Hofmann’s New Year’s resolutions are about “exercising regularly, planting more trees and reading more.”
Hofmann, 43, said he also looks forward to beginning his new term alongside Vice Mayor Rudy Iriarte, as they roll out projects and programs for the youth, the elderly and others to help “enhance their quality of life.”
Weighing in on life
“Achieving balance” is Guam Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson Nic Rupley’s ultimate goal for 2021.
“I want to be more cognizant of the various aspects of my life that are within my control so that I don’t feel that my heart or mind are being pulled too hard in any direction. For the better part of the last 40 years, I’ve had difficulty to remain calm, grounded, clear-headed and motivated,” he said.
Rupley said he often spends so much time being self-reflective that he misses out on the experience of living and, by extension, inadvertently allowing his professional, personal and family relationships to suffer in the process.
While others gained weight in 2020 following the stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders, Rupley managed to keep the weight off.
“I’ve struggled with weight issues for most of my adult life,” he said.
In 2019, he lost 117 pounds.
He’s thankful for the support of close friends and family as he managed to keep his weight “despite being a stress eater, and contending with the stress associated with the pandemic response through Guam EPA, the Joint Information Center and the Department of Public Health and Social Services,” he said.
Uncertain times bring clarity
Cherishing her family more is Grace A. Santiago’s biggest resolution for 2021, given the uncertainties that 2020 brought to so many.
This is followed by promising to save more, making sure there’s health insurance for everyone in the family, and investing a portion of her economic impact payment in her online clothing business.
“Family time is important. Treasure every moment with your loved ones,” Santiago said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next. A lot of healthy people died in this pandemic.”
Her advice to those who have been getting pandemic assistance is to try to save or invest some of it to prepare for the uncertainties that 2021 may bring.
Making it happen
“My resolution is simple: to have a happy new year. The execution is the tricky part,” according to Hannah Cho, special projects coordinator at the Guam Department of Labor.
In her innate desire to help others, she often forgets about taking care of herself, so she’s resolved to try to change that and find a healthy balance.
“Working for the Guam Department of Labor throughout this pandemic has been truly rewarding but has stretched me a bit thin. I haven’t allowed myself much time for self-care,” she said.
Her department has been administering the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and other federal programs that have helped some 27,000 pandemic-displaced workers receive $503 million in aid, as well as find jobs for others under the National Dislocated Worker Grant program.
“I’m truly blessed to have a career where I get to do what I love – help people,” she said. “But I also must keep my own health in mind.”
The whole concept of putting on one’s oxygen mask first – a reminder at every plane ride or emergency response training – seems to go against everything she was taught growing up, even though it makes perfect sense, she said.
“We can’t assist others if we don’t have a balance of well-being in our own lives. And as we look toward the new year and the second round of the COVID-19 relief package, I’ll have to remind myself to also pay attention to my health and happiness,” Cho said.
Focusing on family
Sen. Régine Biscoe Lee said her personal resolution is to focus on balance and consistency, a challenge for many during the pandemic.
“This year has highlighted the value of our health, to be fit both physically and emotionally, and I think 2021 is a perfect time to focus on wraparound wellness for myself and my family,” Lee said.
Krystal Paco-San Agustin, the governor’s director of communications, said in 2021, she wants to continue staying active, keeping positive and pursuing more musical projects.
“The pandemic forced me to slow down and pare down. It taught me to appreciate quiet moments with my husband, with our dogs in the yard. It reminded me not to take for granted my physical and mental health,” she said.
In 2021, she also wants to start looking into doctorate programs and save money so she and her husband “can be homeowners in the near future.”
There are also those who don’t necessarily start or change something when the new year rolls in, and Julius Sotomayor, an educator, is one of them.
“Because I feel like we can start anytime of the year, whatever it is that we want to start or change,” he said.