- Things don’t go as planned. If you would have told me this would be the year of the pandemic and my yearly lesson list would be all these things I was taught due to this crazy year I wouldn’t have believed you. Lesson learned. But just because it doesn’t go as planned doesn’t mean we don’t learn anything.
- Always say “I love you” to your friends and family. Life is short, life is fickle. If I had realized at my wedding in February that I wouldn’t see most of my family for the rest of the year, again I wouldn’t have believed it. Saying “I love you” is priceless and seems to matter more.
- We’re not invincible. I first heard that phrase said by Zach Sobiech, the teen displayed in the movie “Clouds” as he used it to describe how teenagers don’t see their own mortality, how they are always like, “see you Tuesday,” because they assume they’ll get Tuesday. Clearly 2020 has taught me that I lived a bit invincible thinking things would never change, in other words, that Tuesday would happen and be the same. Understanding this has helped me to live with more joy, more intentionality, more kindness.
- Unity matters. This has not only been the year of hard stuff but so much division. At a certain point I made it my goal to be a unifier, not a divider. Maybe it’s because I know that there are so many people hurting and that the antidote isn’t anger, but is rather love.
- Life can change in an instant. Weeks before the world shut down for the pandemic a tornado ripped through Nashville and our town. It woke us in the night. It destroyed my bonus kids school. It wiped out a giant stretch of our city. An instant. We weren’t prepared for it. The pandemic did the same thing. I really think it makes me much more appreciative for the moment we have now.
- Strength looks differently than I thought. Strength is letting go of fear at times. It’s trying to not worry. It’s working to make a very abnormal time feel as normal as possible for my kids. I’m blown away at the strength I’ve seen this year by the world around me.
- We walk a thin line. I have pictures from March and April where supplies – toilet paper, chicken, paper towels, sanitizer, etc… – things we thought were indefinite were no longer on shelves. I guess in my busy and in my “comfortable” I didn’t realize just how close everything was, the system, to breaking down. Couple that with learning (again) that I’m not invincible and it makes me much more appreciative for the moment.
- Neighbors matter. More than ever. I’ve been talking with coaching clients about the important of our individual communities. Our neighbors, the grocery store employees, the postman – these are the people now we see every day. They are, in some ways, the family around us. Invest in your community, in your neighbors. They are all walking a similar journey.
- The world is small. Years ago I flew from Ottawa, Canada to Auckland, New Zealand. It took about 36 hours. I had a lay-over in Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles and Nadi, Fiji. And yet, in that little bit of time I went from one side of the globe to the other side and one hemisphere to the other as well. My friends in New Zealand dealt with the pandemic. My friends in Ottawa, too. In fact, this is the first time where I can remember a common denominator like this – where the world had to wake up, had to pay attention, and had to fight together. Remember unity? It matters more than ever.
- People are good. I really believe this, I really do. It’s up to each of us to see it, to be the good. Think about how we’ve shown up for each other – the drive by birthdays, the notes. Be that kind of good. And with that said, people can still be the opposite. I can choose to not react to it, to stand up for what is needed and to walk away when needed.
- Just because life changes doesn’t mean we can stop. We have to keep going, keep fighting, keep believing in tomorrow. And for so many of us we still had to deal with hard stuff, plus the pandemic. Keep pushing for those goals.
- Be optimistic. I’ve learned to fight for the optimism in my heart. The world can crumble at our feet, it can change everything, but it can’t change our mindset.
- Pick your battles. I can’t believe how frustrated I would get at stuff that doesn’t frustrate me anymore. What I wouldn’t get to be stuck in the school line right now – something that I’d moan about before – because being there meant that school was normal. I have really learned to let stuff go in 2020. To decide to stop the angst before it gets going. There is too much emotion in getting riled up about everything.
- I don’t need so much stuff. If anything, that tornado taught me how quickly stuff can get destroyed. 2020 taught me that relationships matter more than the stuff. Plus, when you’re stuck at home you have that time to go through the stuff and so much of it ended up not mattering as much anymore. And look, remember, when the lockdowns first started it was the essentials that mattered more than all the rest. Family always trumps things.
- It’s okay to not always be okay. Listen, I know I’ve shared about being positive and optimistic, but there is also a part of me (and the world) that had to grieve. We all had to let go of what we thought life would be like for this year. Businesses had to deal, families, the world. And there were moments this year where I unapologetically shared how I was struggling. It’s okay to admit you’re real. When there is the moment of sharing it opens up space for healing.
- My heart matters. And that meant, in the middle of slowing down forcibly, that I also created space to deal with my heart, my mindset, my spirit. Which, as we all know, was challenging because we were all home. But, it also become crystal clear to me how critical it was to invest in my own heart. Without apologies, without needing to defend my need for this time and space.
- Check in on friends. Beyond the superficial, but in real, tangible ways. Maybe it was a letter or a phone call. Maybe it was sending a note. I really learned the importance of investing in my friends and in others. Loneliness and being alone are so different. If I could help a friend feel less lonely in the midst of being alone, then that filled my heart with some peace.
- Control your social media world. For a while I found myself getting more and more fear stricken. I’d be telling my husband about articles I was reading or links on Facebook. Finally he was like, “you know, I don’t read any of that stuff. My feed is not about fear, but rather to make me happy and connect with others.” It hit home. I was the one who narrowed the focus (inadvertently) and it was making me agitated. So at a certain point I decided less media, less news.
- Take care of your health. Yeah, obvious, but so true. No one can force me to eat better, to exercise, to take care of my heart. It is a choice, my choice, every single day. And because of the fragility of life and my deep desire to be here for my family taking care of my health has reached a place of new importance.
- The hard still can produce good. 2020 has taught me so much – to slow down, that self care is critical, to get rid of stuff, to tell family how much I love them, that traditions change, to keep going, to believe in unity – and friends, this entire list is because it was hard. I truly don’t believe I would have learned so MANY THINGS if I wasn’t forced, like the rest of the world, to walk through the fire. In pressure, diamonds are formed. 2020 unearthed many truths, many changes that need to be made – and for that – I’m grateful.
I’m grateful for the New Year coming. I really am, but I have a feeling that this year will be one referenced the rest of my life. I don’t go talking about 2014 or 1997 that much – I just remember a couple things. But this year? It changed my life.
Oh yes, one last thing, just because the date change it doesn’t mean a clean slate. Come January, we’re still going to have this foundation – so it is up to me, to you, to decide to keep fighting for the good and for the future.