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Olivia Rodrigo performs onstage during the Teen Vogue Summit 2021 at Goya Studios on Dec. 4, 2021 in Los Angeles.Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Editor’s note: Amplify is taking a two-week pause for the holidays. Look for us again in your inbox on January 8th.

Lara Pingue is an assistant national editor at The Globe and Mail.

When Time magazine this week named Elon Musk 2021′s Person of the Year, I shrugged. I mean sure, the world’s richest man is impressive in an obvious, I’m-launching-rockets-into-space kind of way. But who among us has woken up on, say, Dreary Pandemic Day 236 and thought, “Well, at least we’ve got Elon Musk?”

This year, like the one before it, has been hard in new and unimaginable ways. At this writing, we’re staring down yet another disrupted holiday and more shutdowns feel likely. And so I turned to my female coworkers and asked them: who are the women who have made 2021 just a little bit more tolerable? Their answers remind us that it is not the Elon Musks of the world that are pulling us through this – it’s each other (and the occasional pop star). Here’s what they shared:

“My sons’ teachers. All three are fountains of enthusiasm, creativity and love. They’ve made school as normal as possible in this abnormal year – which is why it breaks my heart to think of my sons returning to online learning because of the Omicron variant. If that’s their fate, I’ll be grateful my children have these women to guide them.” – Kelly Grant, health reporter

“Dr. Becky Kennedy, or ‘Dr. Becky’ as she is known, is a clinical psychologist and mom of three who has been a saving grace online during the last year. One of her core philosophies is we are all doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us in a particular moment. She says that even if we struggle or have a hard time on the outside, we remain good inside. On the pandemic, Dr. Becky also acknowledges a simple truth: that it is a hard time to be a kid, it’s a hard time to be an adult and it is a hard time to be an adult with kids.” – Kristy Kirkup, parliamentary reporter

“My local mom group. We all had babies during or shortly before the pandemic started and have clung to each other ever since. Whether it’s meeting for a walk in the park during lockdown, texting through the night for advice or babysitting when restrictions lifted and mom and dad desperately need a night to themselves, these eight ladies have been a lifeline.” – Melissa Stasiuk, head of programming and audience

“Like a good millennial, I listened to Olivia Rodrigo’s déjà vu, a song about heartbreak 73 times (and counting) this year. Was it an excuse for me to belt all my pandemic angst through her singalong choruses? Yes. Is it a pop banger? Also yes. Having her in my earphones made working from home – and going through another year of lockdown – feel less lonely.” – Ming Wong, art director

“Exercise is not even close to a favourite activity, but my bootcamp instructor has kept me going through the pandemic – and not just physically. In the dark days of lockdown, my instructor on Zoom was my only regular adult company. Her jumping jacks and bicep curls come with a side of questionable jokes, 1980s cultural references and her thoughts on everything from menopause (negative) to Swiss Chalet (very positive). And she is dedicated: When she threw her back out this summer, she coached us from bed.” - Marsha Lederman, arts reporter

“Big thanks to Phoebe Judge, the podcast host of Phoebe Reads a Mystery. Every day Phoebe reads a chapter (or two, if you’re lucky) from a classic mystery – think Sherlock Holmes, but also Jane Eyre, which, if you think about it, is a mystery – in that mellifluous voice we’ve all come to love on her other shows, Criminal and This is Love. I listen to a lot of podcasts, but PRaM is the first I’ve listened to for comfort, right at bedtime.” – Kasia Mychajlowycz, senior producer, The Decibel

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“This far into an unrelenting pandemic, we are deep down the rabbit hole of TV streaming services. I landed on Britbox and the escapism of Carol Klein, a punk grandma of English horticulture. Carol’s show, Life in a Cottage Garden, moves through the seasons in her Devon garden. Carol, 76, is a pixie with wild hair, shredded leather jacket and dirt-caked nails. She hauls wheelbarrows of compost, teeters on a ladder wrestling vines from a crabapple tree and expertly propagates seeds with Latin names like digitalis purpurea, her cat and scruffy terriers behind her. She’s who you want to be in a crisis: capable, self-sufficient but also optimistic, knowing everything is cyclical, even now.” – Zosia Bielski, features writer

“One thing that’s helped this year is listening to Jenn Colella sing the role of Beverley Bass in Come From Away, the musical about plane passengers stuck in Gander during 9/11. I’ve listened to the soundtrack throughout the pandemic, and singing along with Colella’s voice reminds me that even in times of fear and isolation, we can eventually make way for joy.” Menaka Raman-Wilms, host, The Decibel

Petrina Bromley, Emily Walton, Jenn Colella, Sharon Wheatley, Astrid Van Wieren and Q. Smith in Come From Away.APPLE TV+

“Crime crime crime! The MVP of winter. Lisa Jewell. Karin Slaughter. Ruth Ware. Gillian Flynn. In this long slog of a year, these women of crime were a bright spot, bringing fresh (solvable!) horrors in the form of tight, 350-page paperbacks. When there was nothing to do and nowhere to go, tagging along with Sara Linton as she solves yet another murder in small-town Georgia was just the thrill I needed.” -Jessie Willms, audience growth editor

“In this year of ups and downs, I found reprieve with Taylor Swift. At coffee dates with my girlfriends, we’d discuss how inspirational it was to see Swift reclaim control over her music. On Saturday morning drives with my daughter, we’d pop on a Swift album and sing together for 45 minutes. There was also a memorable – and rather lengthy – text message string with a pal who lives in the U.S. discussing the confidence it takes to put out a 10-minute-long song (and how we need to channel that energy in our lives). Swift’s music brought us something fun and positive to connect over that didn’t involve vaccines, masks, floods or fires.” – Angela Pacienza, executive editor

What else we’re thinking about:

Like the rest of the world (or at least, my Twitter feed) I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every cringe-y moment of Succession, the HBO dramedy that follows a filthy rich family in their quest for control of their media megacompany. And as it turns out, the golden age of television is also producing some stellar entertainment journalism: last week, The New Yorker’s profile of Jeremy Strong (who plays Kendall Roy on the show) sent the Internet into a spiral with its behind-the-scene look at an actor who is clearly consumed by the role that made him famous. (One of many delicious details: Strong actually ad-libs some of his lines, much to the annoyance of his castmates.) At Vulture, more than half a dozen articles were published in the hours after the show’s explosive finale, expertly tackling every angle (yes, Vulture tells us, we should’ve seen the final scene coming). And a shoutout to LaineyGossip.com, whose writers have done a stellar job with their weekly roundups of who’s up and who’s down in the turbulent ride of corporate survival. – L.P.

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