As the year comes to an end, I find myself full of emotions. 2020 came in like a wrecking ball, turning lives upside down, pushing us out of our comfort zone, forcing us to get innovative, and ended on a high note with decency, hope and kindness back in the White House.
My Christmas card has become legendary among those in my life. It’s full of pictures and a list of my top 10 memories of the year. I find it very grounding and humbling to think back on the moments, adventures, and memories that were impactful each year. Going along with that theme, I’ve sat down and thought through my top 10 lessons of 2020 (in no particular order).
- Recovery is important, especially in your 30s. I’m notorious for not stretching after a run, and it usually bites me in the ass at some point. This year I found myself working with a physical therapist to heal a minor injury, likely due to not stretching well enough.
- Pandemics shine a spotlight on inequalities. You had to really try to not see the poverty, health disparities, food insecurity, racism, the value of teachers, and more in this country this past year. These issues have been present for decades, but COVID put a spotlight on them. Call out those in your life when they say racist or homophobic comments. Educate yourself on white privilege, systemic racism, and more – do not ask the oppressed groups to teach you. Pay attention, take it all in, and channel that energy towards making change happen. One of the most beautiful things about America is the possibilities – this country can be one that is equitable for all, one that is full of possibilities for all. We just have to fight for it.
- Democracy is fragile. We had the largest voter turnout in a century and that is amazing. We voted out a fascist, one that I wish never got into the White House. But who you vote for is a chess move for the world you want to live in. The Biden-Harris administration will not fix everything, but they do keep the door open for the chance to do so. We need to have the enthusiasm, participation, and focus in non-election years as well in order to make a change. Hold your elected officials accountable, vote people into office that will actually fix the issues in this country, run for office yourself.
- Essential employees and art are important. I’m not just talking about healthcare, police, fire, etc. I’m talking about those working in grocery stores, the city employees who pick up the trash and recycling each week, the waiters, waitresses, and bartenders that serve you at your favorite restaurant. Support them by being polite, saying thank you, tipping well, and supporting legislation for a livable minimum wage. A staggering amount of Americans do not have a savings account, and those that do usually have less than $1000 in it. They can’t save for retirement. We live in the wealthiest country in the world – this is unacceptable. How many of you watched concerts on Facebook live, Hamilton on Disney+, or your favorite drag queen performing from their living room? You turned to art to entertain yourself during a pandemic. Support these artists, theaters, shows, and more all the time. Because the art that is entertaining to you is a lifeline for them.
- Nature is calming to me. I spent a lot of time taking my dog for walks around Columbus, paying attention to the little details in each neighborhood. I fell in love with this city all over again. Every time we set off for a walk, I felt a calmness wash over me. Listening to the sounds of nature, hearing water rush in a stream, actually seeing a different side of this city, and not having a timeframe was calming. Those walks helped my mental health and sanity tremendously during the beginning of the pandemic.
- You don’t let go of the people who had an impact on you. There’s an imprint of them, the memories, the lessons on your heart. These people shape who you are. So give yourself permission to miss them, cherish the memories, and hold onto the lessons.; even if they are someone who you don’t want back in your life.
- Authenticity is freedom. I know it can be scary to be yourself – you worry about who will and won’t accept you. But the truth is, when you are your authentic self the people who are meant to be in your life, ones that will help you grow, celebrate who you are, and provide a safe space to come into your life. That first step is scary, but with each step, it gets easier. And the journey of living an authentic life is a breathtakingly beautiful one.
- We need to normalize slowing down more. Families spent more time together – they ate dinner, had game or movie nights. Couples focused on intimacy. House projects got done. We slept 8 hours a night, read books, and took walks. People realized what is important, what they really need in life and all the materialist’s things that don’t really matter. Too many people wear their burnout as a badge of honor. We shouldn’t be applauding not sleeping enough, not eating until 10p, not making time for exercise, self-care, or relaxation. The hustle culture is toxic and I hope it’s one thing that doesn’t return after this pandemic is over.
- Human interaction is important. I have grieved the canceled trips, concerts, events, and dinner with friends just like everyone else. But what I missed most was smiles, hugs, faces, and heart to hearts over food and drinks. I missed walking through the Short North and hearing the sounds of life – laughter, cheering on sports, friends catching up and awkward first dates. Masks just muffled those sounds and images once we were able to go back out a little.
- Celebrate the baby wins. This year you undoubtedly overcame challenge after challenge, you got creative, you focused on what truly matters in life (or realized it). Some of us were forced to face just how unhappy we were and walked away from relationships that no longer served us. Maybe you feel as if you just barely survived this year- but that’s still an amazing accomplishment. Bust open that champagne you were holding onto for a special occasion and celebrate how much you’ve grown this year. Normalize celebrating the baby wins, always.
I know that everyone is counting the days until 2021 is here, so we can put 2020 behind us. Everyone is longing for when life can ‘return to normal’.
But do we really want that? I don’t.
I want to continue to normalize slowing down and being present in the moment. I want to continue to have hard conversations regarding racism, homophobia, and white supremacy. Protests work – change is slowly happening around the country regarding police reform. I want to continue to shine a spotlight on the inequalities in America so that people are motivated to stay engaged and work towards change. I want scientists all around the world to work together so that we can make more advancements in managing different diseases or even cancer. I want to have less human traffic and pollution so that the planet can breathe again, so animals can roam without fear of humans. Of course, I want to travel, lose my voice at concerts and give hugs freely again. But I hope that we don’t forget the lessons, the growth, and possibilities that we learned in 2020.
2020 was a year of growth for us all, so let’s make 2021 a year of action. We know life can change in an instant, so don’t wait. Chase those dreams, demand change, choose happiness and let go of anything and everyone that is not in line with the true and beautiful life you dream about.
If you like this article, check out: https://www.harnessmagazine.com/relieve-your-stress-with-mindful-walking/