Lessons of 2020

Well, here we are…at the end of December 2020. Looking back on beginning this year I remember feeling full of hope. My family spent the New Year at our favorite place – the beach! This was the year I turn 40, my daughters begin middle school and 2020 just sounded like a good year with so many possibilities. And you know what? All of that happened in spite of 2020 being 2020.

I turned 40. I had my Mardi Gras-style birthday celebration, fully equipped with a night out with my husband, a family dinner, a night out with my girlfriends and even a weekend girls trip. I got to laugh with and hug my people. I love to celebrate birthdays and mine specifically because birthdays signify time spent living. We are not promised time. We don’t have a set amount owed to us, so it only makes sense to celebrate when we have time to spend.  I got to celebrate in all the ways I love right before our world went on lockdown. Those special memories with my family and friends helped me find peace during the times of isolation.

My daughters did begin middle school. Their middle school is currently located in their bedrooms, however begin they did. While I solidified my lack of teaching skills and highlighted my lack of patience when it comes to middle school math, my girls have been challenged in ways they never were before. I’ve been quoted many times making a statement that sounded something like this, “I will never homeschool my kids – not in a million years.”

Though during this crazy year, these girls have learned to manage time and a daily schedule better than some adults. They learned that feeling anxious and depressed are part of living life. They have learned that life is not joyful 24/7 and while their pain and frustration is real, there is always someone else struggling too. And being human also means helping out someone else, maybe not even someone you know. Your actions affect others and that means something. It’s critical to listen to other people’s perspective to open your eyes to their experience, because other people’s experience matters. Just because it’s not your experience doesn’t mean it’s not important.

While 2020 feels like a total shit-show-dumpster-fire (which seems very valid), the lessons I have learned (some willingly and some forced) have changed my landscape, my outlook and in my opinion, our future as humans.

It is our responsibility to actively speak out when we see injustice.

Even our darkest days appear light to someone else.

Asking for help is a requirement for survival, not just an option.

Never say never, ever. (See homeschool statement above).

The purpose of conversation is learning, not agreement.

Perspective is an individual lens that does not require correction. The goals is to add more lenses to your collection.

I have judged other people this year (yes – I wrote it). Maybe you voted different from me, made school choices I didn’t agree with and didn’t find Schitts Creek as funny as I did. The difference in 2020-me and Years-Previous-Me, is I did not remain in my black robe with gavel in hand. My good sense reminded me that other people feel as passionately about their perspectives as I do mine. They feel as right about their opinion, as I do mine. And, while I still disagree on many things, I have an opportunity to learn about their truth and maybe add lenses to my perspective.

I once met a woman who had never been loved before. She endorsed feeling love from a force of a fist and the steel of a blade. I explained, that is not love. She asked me about her dad, explaining he did the same, “could he not love me either?”

I told the woman, “they did not love you, not because you aren’t worthy, but because they did not know how to love.”

She asked me then, “what does it feel like to be loved?”

I replied, “safe.”

“Does love ever hurt?”

“No, never. It never hurts.”

Her lens gave me a new perspective and grew my gratitude for the simple fact that I know love feels safe and it never hurts. I am grateful for that brave woman for changing me and how I see the world around me. And maybe never is useful in defining some things like love.

So as I wave goodbye to this year of firsts, nevers and can’ts, I do so with gratitude. I am grateful for the lessons and experiences throughout this year. Given a choice in the matter, I would have said “no thank you” and kept going with my plan for 2020 including all the concerts I had tickets for (and how I miss live music so very much). However, I did not have control over 2020 only how I dealt with what 2020 handed out.

I am grateful for all the healthcare workers, environmental staff at medical facilities, teachers, social workers, restaurant workers, delivery folks, police, firefighters, and everyone who continued on and kept life going while others stayed safe at home. I see you. I know you and I am thankful.

I send peace and love to those grieving a loss this year. I do know the feeling of loss highlighted during the holidays. Please know you are not alone.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a New Year full of gratitude, peace, health, concerts, in-person school and hugs!

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