Someday, we will talk about 2020 like we’ve heard other people talk about The Great Depression. People who didn’t live through it will roll their eyes and smile politely, but you’ll “remember it like it was yesterday,” just like they all did, and it will have changed you. This year has been the toughest 10 years of my life. I mean, it sure FEELS like it’s been a decade long. Our health and sanity have been tested in 2020 and it's felt like the weight of an elephant on our chests, or maybe a constant gut punch after gut punch, and we still don’t see the end on the horizon.
And that’s EXACTLY why it’s important now, more than ever before, to focus on the good and the things that we can control instead of choose to wallow in the bad stuff that only makes us sink further down in the thick and heavy mud. I mean, it’s OKAY to be sad and mourn all we’ve lost and continue to lose each day. But we can’t LIVE there. We have to live in the light like a plant or we won’t grow. No one wants to be a crusty old brown plant because that’s just sad. So here’s some good stuff.
1. Family. If there’s anything I’ve learned in actual practice (rather than just from sappy movies and greeting cards,) it’s this .. Family is EVERYTHING. It’s true that I get annoyed with mine .. Every. Single. Day. But I love them and they are the reason I get up every day instead of bury myself further under the sheets. I’ve learned new things about them that I was always too busy to notice before. For better or worse, this is who they are, who WE are, and it’s mostly kinda amazing. I’m getting a glimpse into the future of who my sons will be and seeing firsthand how they view things in the world. I’ve had some pretty healthy (though heavy and challenging) debates with my husband and my parents and many other members of my family and am trying really HARD to see life from all sides. And that’s a good thing, even if it’s not always peaceful. We have to do the hard things and we have to live through the bitter to reach the sweet to be a better person in this difficult world. We’ve had to make some really difficult choices that we never thought we’d ever have to, and it feels impossible sometimes. But it’s how we grow and how we see the beauty at the end of the rainbow and we must journey through that storm to get there. And it’s through the worst of times that you really learn who’s going to be there no matter what. Which leads to #2.
2. Friends. This is an extension of #1 because my friends have become my family. We have all had to re-evaluate our friendships this year and figure out what is worth saving and what is not. That’s not to say we can’t have those friends who you have fun with solely when you’re at the top of your game, but it sure is nice to learn who you’d reach for from the gutter too, not to mention those who’d jump in to give you a better grip. We’ve gotten more creative with our friendships, whether it’s socially distanced happy hours across a field or a computer, the “double bubble” circle of trust, or simply a text to check in. We all have comfort levels we’ve reached with people and they are all important in their own ways. “For better or worse” is more than just something you say during your wedding vows, and it’s the “worse” that really defines things.
3. We can stop and smell the roses. One of the hardest and most refreshing things about this pandemic for me was learning to SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. I’ve been in “Go! Go! Go!” mode for years and I actually thrive on hustle and bustle when it’s something I feel passion for. But what happens is that my parents will start to worry about me, my husband will get mad at me, and my kids will cry and fight. And then I’ll crash and burn every so often too. When the pandemic hit, I went from full days of running from appointment to appointment, living out of my car while my kids were in school, and being exhausted every night to a SCREECHING halt of activity. All of my clients. School. All of the day-to-day tasks, from making lunches to running errands to writing up exercise plans.. all erased. Suddenly, I could get up and stay in my PJs ALL day because NO ONE was going to see me except my family. Everyone was home, ALL the time. Everyone was bored and content at the same time. It was a shock, and I had a really hard time with it, but it was good for me. It forced me to re-evaluate things, and to consider whether some of those things really mattered. And the world didn’t crash around me. My priorities switched, and that wasn’t such a bad thing. That being said, I STILL do too much and I still can’t sit around. But I’m a work in progress and I’m trying to learn how to say “no.”
4. We came together for our community. We all find a way together in times of tragedy or trouble. If we don’t, we should. Everyone needs a hand sometimes, even the richest or strongest or most confident. No one saw these times coming and no one ever could have. Life, so much more than it ever was, is more about giving than receiving. I really saw the kindness of strangers when our world changed. Sure, it brings out the worst in some .. There are always people who will take advantage, no matter the circumstance. But overwhelmingly, I saw more good than bad, or at least an effort to try to understand. I really truly have faith in the belief that we are trying to change the world for the better. There are growing pains. There are people who don’t like change. There are people who will fight it every step of the way. But overall, on the average, I’d say most people just want to be happy and bring joy to their world and the world for others. This holiday, I chose to buy all my gifts from local and small businesses. It feels good to do my part. That’s a gift for myself and them so it’s a win-win.
5. We are healthy .. Or alive, at least. This may sound insensitive or “wrong.” Some of us ARE sick. Some of us have lost people. Many of us have experienced great pain in many many ways. I have cried so much.. For myself, for my family, for my friends, for complete strangers even. And some of those tears are relief because I could have it so much worse. My family could too. And quite honestly, someone always have it worse. It doesn’t diminish your pain. Not in the least. But make no mistake, we are the lucky ones. We are the ones still fighting. We are the ones still breathing. We are warriors. Soldier on, and find the end of that rainbow.
Stay healthy and stay safe. Happy Holidays!!