10 things 2020 taught me

Something I do every year around New Years’ is sit down and reflect on what the last 12 months taught me. It is fair to say that 2020 was a year unlike any other. I love to think back on what I learned, who I became, and the lessons learned each year. And let me tell you friends, a lot of lessons came out of this past year.

I’m always excited about the beginning of a new year. Even though it’s just another day, I feel like it’s a chance to think about what I want to accomplish over the next year (and usually I have a brand new planner I can’t wait to set up 😉 ).

Now, like you, when I sat down and thought about what I wanted for 2020, I had no idea that the world was going to turn upside down. Luckily for me, most of the goals I was hoping to accomplish were possible with or without a global pandemic.

2020 Goals Recap:

  • Fill out “one list a day” book every day
  • Walk 2020 miles
  • All actions should reflect word of the year: Cultivate. Cultivate what truly matters. Family first.
  • Mail birthday cards each month.
  • Stay on top of the laundry & dishes
  • Save money. Pay off debt. Get new appliances.
  • Pack lunch at least two days a week.
  • Print photos every month
  • Read one professional development book each quarter

Looking back on those goals – sure, some of them didn’t pan out. Some of them I did really well, and others were so-so. Some of them actually became easier due to the pandemic (betcha didn’t see that coming 😉 ). I mean, when the schools shut down and I had to start working from home a few days a week, or when we all started to question if we should really be going out to eat – it made it a lot easier to get on board with eating lunch from home. But, you see, I didn’t just get through 2020 trying to crush my goals, I learned a lot I didn’t plan on learning too. I have ten lessons I want to share with you today.

Lesson #1:

I remember around mid-March when the news started to really focus on COVID, the schools were shutting down, and businesses were being forced to shut their doors. I remember initially being more afraid of seeing the bare grocery stores wondering if we were going to be able to find food or toilet paper – than I was of the virus itself. Heck, I was more worried about people losing their jobs – and even my own job, than I was of the actual virus. Then, I remember walking into the store and seeing so many people wearing masks for the first time. It became so real to me. It felt like I was watching a movie, and it was hard to believe it was real life. It was scary. I was afraid. I was worried. It was unknown.

I started watching so many videos on social media, seeing so much negativity, so much doom and gloom, and it started making me feel really anxious. I realized then- that it wasn’t COVID making me feel this way, it was my thinking about it. It was then that I realized I had to control my own narrative. (Don’t get me wrong, this came in waves … and frankly, still does. It is much easier said than done.) It’s a lesson I knew, but 2020 gave me an opportunity to practice it on a whole different level. It’s why I had to stop watching the news. There was a certain point where I realized that it was just evoking so much stress and anxiety. I knew the facts at that point. I didn’t need someone to tell me how to feel about the facts. I learned how important it is to be mindful about who you follow on social media and who you engage in conversation with. Controlling the narrative that I want to tell is so much easier when I am surrounded by people that have a similar narrative themselves. It doesn’t mean you don’t take something seriously, it just means you are not going to allow it to consume you, and I think that is extremely important.

Lesson #2:

The art of slowing down. Whether or not we liked it, Mother Nature sent us a message in 2020 that couldn’t be ignored. She demanded all of us to slow the hell down. Before the pandemic, it was a running joke in our house that we never had a weekend without plans. There was always something to do, somewhere to be, and someone to see. 2020 changed that. Suddenly, we were staying home. We suddenly had these “extra” hours to spend as a family. You know, I would always tell myself to savor every moment with my son because pretty soon he won’t think I’m very cool and he’s going to grow up so fast… but if we are being honest, life was flying by us. Then the pandemic hit, and suddenly I found us spending our weeknights reading books together and playing Uno (I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many rounds of Uno we have played at this point), and our weekends filled with movies, Legos, chalk drawings, board games, dancing, paint by numbers, long walks, and cooking. Our family tradition of going to Gaslight each year became sitting in our living room watching virtual shows instead. We found ways to enjoy the art of slowing down. ❤️

Lesson #3:

How easy it is to take the little things for granted. I have always prided myself on my ability to enjoy simple pleasures in life. But 2020 showed me, just how much I took for granted. Suddenly, we couldn’t go to concerts, hockey games, or monster truck shows. We couldn’t sit with a bunch of strangers with a shared interest and laugh until we cried. We couldn’t cheer on our favorites so loud we almost lost our voices. We couldn’t go out dancing, or even sit inside of a movie theatre. Gosh, we couldn’t even drop our kids off at school. We couldn’t go to a school basketball game, watch our kids perform in a school play, or share in the excitement with our kids after they got all of their friend’s yearbook signatures. Suddenly, drum lessons and school classes were taking place over Zoom. It became harder to smile at a stranger while wearing a mask, We couldn’t hug someone to say hello, some of the people closest to me were having trouble finding baby diapers and formula, and others were standing outside of windows in 115 degree weather in order to visit their grandparents in nursing homes.

When my son was young, I struggled to get by. I didn’t have government assistance and worked hard for my $12 an hour to provide for both of us. I was used to buying the bare minimum and usually less-preferred brands at the grocery store. As I have continued to work hard over the years, it was a good feeling to be able to go to the store and sometimes buy a brand a little more expensive, or maybe a food we didn’t need – but we would like to have. Well, it was crazy to think a pandemic could dictate something I was naive enough to think only finances could dictate. Suddenly, we couldn’t buy the frozen orange chicken Cameron loves, we couldn’t find bread, milk, or soup. Paper products and cleaning supplies? Forget it. Those became a luxury. I remember finally getting my hands on a 4 pack of toilet paper and taking a photo of it as though I just found a pot of gold.

It still makes me sad when I go to work and spend time with my staff like we used to. It’s all about masks, social distancing, and contact tracing. It’s about limiting exposures and only spending time together when absolutely necessary. It makes me so sad. I have always known I was a social person, but 2020 showed me just how much socializing contributes to my overall happiness. It’s been a hard adjustment. I miss our team building games, and I miss family gatherings. I miss going to someone’s house without having to worry. Worry about getting someone sick, about getting sick, and even just simply being judged by others for getting together with people outside of our immediate household. I have learned a lot about the true meaning behind the little things and I have learned to appreciate each and every one of them.

I read this somewhere and thought it was perfectly fitting.

“Whatever makes up your list of little things to appreciate more, let’s all promise to never take these things for granted again. Maybe, in 2021, we will pinky swear to that promise over a bonfire built from our stockpile of facemasks and hoarded toilet paper and lit by the alcohol from discarded bottles of hand sanitizer.”

Lesson #4:

Sing “Happy Birthday” (two times!) to ensure proper hand washing. I can’t be the only one who didn’t know this .. right? 😉

Lesson #5:

How to break the nasty habit of touching your face. Tell yourself enough times there is a deadly virus going around, and before you know it, you’ve kicked the habit. Pretty much cold turkey.

Lesson #6:

New technology. I learned how to conduct video interviews (and how to use Zoom in general..) how to screen share using Microsoft Teams, how to create training modules complete with my voice narrating and screen recordings, and last but certainly not least, how to teach a 13-year-old to create, edit, and upload PDF files. (I also learned just how cool it can be to use food delivery apps to send food to one of your closest friends in another state who just had a new baby. Thank you doordash! <3 )

Lesson #7:

Science. The seventh lesson I learned is actually a combination of several lessons I learned helping Cameron with his science experiments. You can check them out here.

Lesson #8:

Small businesses will step up when the government or supply chain can’t. At the time of the pandemic starting, I worked for a local company who’s owner (my boss at the time) donated to another business that had to shut down so that they could make masks for hospitals and help keep their employees paid during tough times.

Lesson #9:

Distilleries can make alcohol for your hands and not just your mouth. Thanks Thunder Canyon Brewery for making boozy hand sanitizer for first responders, health care workers and also us general humans.

Lesson #10:

The final lesson I learned is that we all have something to contribute. All of the new videos and tutorials that popped up online were fantastic. Most of these were made by people just like me. Just some 30 something year old who shared their talents digitally. They reminded me I have something to contribute and inspired me to try to take my blog a little more seriously as we head into 2021. If I can inspire just one person, then I have accomplished what I came here to do. <3

What did you learn in 2020? I would love to hear about it! 🙂

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