Anyone remember the above meme from early this year? Boy were we way off!
My intent today was to write about looking forward to 2021, much like everyone and their blogging dog is doing, but am feeling a bit blue today and I’m not sure why. Maybe cuz Christmas is over, families are back in their hunker-downed homes, and what festivities and fun there were, are done. It was undoubtedly a strange Christmas for most of us…and anyone who disagrees just isn’t being honest… and all we have left to look forward to is 2021, which IMHO doesn’t look much better, at least from the get go. But if we’ve learned anything this year it’s to remain hopeful and hope-filled so I will do so.
We learned a lot this most uncertain and train-wreck of years but not all of it was negative. Yes, we couldn’t ravel, send our kids to schools, eat out, and had to wear masks everywhere, but we also learned to look inward, reconnect with others and connect in ways we never had, slow down, our homes are indeed our sanctuaries but may need some tweaking, and how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Sadly, this year we also witnessed unbearable pain and loss, unprecedented acts of violence and hate, unhealthy levels of fear and anxiety, and a disturbing lack of any hope for unity in our country but, we also helped each other, realized what really matters, and witnessed good amongst the evil…for the most part. It was, for all intents and purposes, a collective wake up call for literally the entire world and if only we could put that wake up call to bed for all eternity. If only.
For me personally, the silver linings of 2020 included slowing down and getting outdoors more. I took up tennis again and met a fabulous new friend by doing so and got closer to other women as I golfed more. I read more and I prayed more. I walked and I did yoga online and discovered a great squad of fellow yogis. I also learned I’m waaaaaay more of an introvert than I ever knew and realize now I always have been. I had no problem with #stayhome but being an introvert also means my worry radar is off the charts, which didn’t serve me well during 2020. More on that in an upcoming blog!
So what did you learn this CRAZY year? What did society as a whole learn? Here are just a few things we’ve all learned to some extent or another:
How strong our friendships are and who our real friends are. I think we would all agree with this one and I for sure can honestly say a big “amen” to it. Who reached out to you? Who did you really and truly miss?
Our homes are where our hearts are, but “hindsight 2020,” we’d make some changes to them. The entire home industry – real estate, design and décor, and remodel/construction – surprisingly boomed in 2020 as we were all forced to stay home for work, school, play and everything in between. The result? We saw our homes in a new and different light and the “open concept” so popular on HGTV maybe wasn’t the perfect pandemic answer. Designer Erin Gates writes that separate living areas, offices, kid study areas, dens, and livable and bigger outdoor living spaces are now all the rage. For nearly a year, we’ve felt the collective need for separate Zoom and study rooms as our big family rooms proved a messy eyesore in the background of online meetings and distracting for studying and homeschooling. Enter the office and study areas, answers to indefinite WFH situations, allowing kitchen and dining tables to remain just that, and convenient ways to literally and figuratively shut the door on work and school at night. “Escape” rooms are also trending as we crave a quick get away from the fam. These might be separate sitting rooms or maybe an indoor/outdoor sunroom. Whatever you discovered, find what changes you can make and make them in 2021 as it doesn’t look like a whole lot is going to change very soon.
How to press pause and savor quiet, alone time. Struggles for many, especially extroverts, over-achievers, and those who live alone, these were nonetheless much-needed new skills for many. We were forced to face our emotions, simply enjoy time and space, let go of busyness and learn that it alone does not equate to happiness or productivity, and how important resting and recharging are. And, perhaps most importantly, we learned to be happy with ourselves and accept our flaws, including those gray hairs we couldn’t get colored, those eyelash extensions we couldn’t replace, and those chipped finger and toe nails we couldn’t “pick color” for. I have not had a pedi or mani since March and I gotta tell you, I don’t miss them at all. In short, we learned to let go…let go of high expectations and perfection, old habits that were unhealthy, and anything that weighs us down. When 24-7 newscasts and social media blasts contain an incredible amount of suffering and loss, gloom and doom, lies and hypocrisy, we are forced to look inward and elsewhere for inspiration and hope.
We really can do it all. Granted, this was forced upon us as we learned to juggle working from home while homeschooling our kids but learn we did. I don’t have kids at home but I know this had to be immensely challenging for mom and dad and I salute them all. I cannot even imagine. Still, hopefully time at home allowed families to gain valuable insight in and gratitude toward each other and maybe, just maybe, we actually had a little fun at home every day. Sadly, many learned they had to give up their jobs in order to take care of the kids and homes, but hopefully along the way some of them also learned to live with less and put others first. This is a tough one.
Try new things. This might be baking bread or asking for help. The courage to try something new was all the rage early on in 2020 and unlocking new talents was the result. We were forced into our homes but out of our comfort zones and had to make the best of it.
Gratitude, but a whole new kind of gratitude. Instead of being grateful for travel and shopping, we were grateful for our health and that of family and friends as well as for front line workers in hospitals and grocery stores, and truck drivers and delivery services. We learned who and what is really essential and it wasn’t who or what we would have predicted it to be.
What about you? What did you learn? What else did we all learn in 2020 that perhaps isn’t or wasn’t so obvious?
After such a challenging and tumultuous year, it’s really hard to imagine life ever getting back to “normal” and I for one am peaking at 2021 with one eye shut as very little of what I see coming around the bend seems positive or promising. Still, I say goodbye to 2020 with both those eyes looking up and fingers crossed with hand on heart. So long 2020. It’s been real. Real strange. Real hard. Real frustrating. Real eye-opening.