Five days remain of the year 2020. Easily I can rattle off all of the terrible things this year has brought to the world and to each of us personally. I don’t have to waste words listing them…we all know. It takes a little more thought to bring into focus the good things this year has provided. With each dark cloud that rained down despair, anxiety, fear, fatigue, hate and uncertainty, I was able to seek out the silver linings of hope, kindness, empathy, courage, resilience, strength, rejuvenation and love. Certainly 2020 has been a rollercoaster of all those emotions and then some. As the year winds down we are quick to put this year behind us and start afresh in 2021. Yet, I argue we shouldn’t be in a hurry to close the books on this endless year, lest we forget the lessons it has taught us or me at least. I am ready to enter 2021 full of the wisdom I gleaned in 2020 and full of hope for a better future.
And so I will take a moment now to give thanks for a few of those specials moments, insights and lessons learned in 2020.
- People are inventive, creative and adaptable. When the pandemic threatened to cancel my daughter’s high school graduation, the school regrouped and came up with a drive-in graduation ceremony. We were able to watch her receive her hard-earned diploma and keep everyone safe during the pandemic. Large get togethers disappeared, but Zoom calls allowed us to stay connected and be together virtually. In some cases I saw people and chatted with people more this year than in years past. Conferences and meetings have gone online as well. I’ve had the opportunity to meet new people and learn without leaving my house. In the past, a lunch and learn in Toledo would have been difficult, requiring me to take PTO. With everything virtual I was able to participate. I hope when we return back to in-person get togethers, the virtual component doesn’t disappear with it.
- Kindness and selflessness does exist. Most people in my community are taking the recommendations to wear masks, practice good hand-hygiene and physically distance as much as possible seriously. Our church went to virtual services without being mandated to do so. My youngest daughter’s school made adjustments to the school schedule and classrooms to allow her to go back to school in person with no major outbreaks. When I go to the store or a local restaurant to pick up groceries and take out, people are wearing masks. We are protecting each other at the same time we are supporting our local businesses and economy.
- A flicker of hope for change in how we treat others unlike ourselves has ignited. Now more than ever white people have become aware of the tragedies of systemic racism and are speaking out against it along side people of color. Doing the work of self-reflection, admitting our own biases and extending our privilege to others are small steps towards undoing centuries of harm. We voted in a new administration to the White House, whom I am hopeful will begin the process of healing our nation. I am inspired and feel called to work toward equity for all. This past year I completed the Rise Advocates course with Diana Patton. I’ve begun to use the power of story and find my voice to continue advocating for others. Recently, I was selected to be part of the leadership team for my new parent company’s employee resource group for ethnic diversity. I admit I am scared I will say the wrong thing, that people with think I’m an imposter or don’t belong, but I am committed to listening, speaking when needed and to show up and allow myself to be uncomfortable.
- Self-care is good. We’ve all been forced to slow down this past year. Our schedules were cleared for us. During this time, I’ve come to appreciate the joy of putting in the last piece of the puzzle, winning a game of Sorry! (and always losing at Dutch Blitz), floating on a raft in the sunshine and listening to music (can you believe two new Taylor Swift albums this year?!? Yes, I am a Swiftie. Thank you 2020). I enjoyed long walks and meaningful conversations with my daughters and my boyfriend (correction, my fiancé). I know when I’m feeling down and just want to stay in bed, that getting up, moving, deep breathing and journaling will clear my mind and make me feel better. Reviewing my manifesto and reminding myself of what’s important to me, starts my day off in a positive direction. I want to take the positive vibe with me into 2021.
- Finally, love is everything. I wouldn’t be where I am at this particular moment without the love and support of my family and friends. 2020 has taught me to not take them for granted. I am grateful and blessed. Two days ago, Jamey, the love of my life (for real!) and I got engaged. The outpouring of love and congratulations that our family and friends poured on us upon hearing our good news was overwhelming. We were both surprised (although we shouldn’t have been as we both have wonderful, loving family and friends, who want us to be happy – we are!). The warmth of that makes me smile even as I type these words. I look forward to the future and making a life time of memories together.
I hope that you too are able to take away something positive from 2020 to bring with you to the new year. I’d love to hear about your silver linings from 2020 and your new intentions for 2021. Share your thoughts in the comments. Wishing you all a 2021 filled with love and gratitude.