My last day of work was January 31. I convinced myself Owen was coming early.…
2020: The Year of Awakening
Guess how many graphics and memes you’ve seen declaring 2020 the worst year yet. Think about how many times you’ve wanted this year to be over. How often have you wished life would go back to normal? Probably too many to count. Between the Covid-19 pandemic and the unjust brutality leading to Black lives being taken (George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many more), this has been a year of confusion, fear, pain, anger and too many other emotions to list. On top of attempting to process all that’s going on in the world, we also have to figure out how it affects us.
We naturally begin by focusing on how it impacts us as individuals, then we start to think about our family, friends and life. But we must go beyond that and understand the ripple effect – our hearts and homes influence the community, then the state, nation and world. With so much going on, digesting all of the information seems almost impossible. It’s easier to turn off the news, shut down our minds and revert to our comfortable little bubble where we wish this decade could start all over again.
We can’t go back to where life was before all of this. We shouldn’t want to. 2020 is the year of awakening, showing us that there needs to be a drastic pivot. It’s forcing us to grow. I hate that we have had to go through these heartbreaks, lose loved ones, miss significant life events and experience turmoil. But it’s all causing us to stop, learn and be better, not just for ourselves, but also for others. We can’t change the past, but we can change the future.
This is such a fast-paced society that things come and go quickly. By not reflecting upon what we have uncovered, we will quickly revert back to our old ways. If we desire to live in a better home, community and world, our actions must reveal that. Among many other lessons, these below will stick with me.
The more we listen and gather information, the more we discover that we don’t know as much as we think we do. When Coronavirus first garnered media attention, I told myself it was just a strain of the flu, but I now sit here in my kitchen while my three-month old son naps watching the case numbers continue to rise (again) and wondering when it will be safe to introduce him to friends and take him into a grocery store. When George Floyd was murdered, I thought I understood racism. I have never been so wrong in my entire life. As I continue to learn about brutality against the Black community, racism, white privilege, implicit bias, what it means to be an ally, etc., I now know I will never truly understand. There’s so much I don’t know, but I do know that it’s not enough to not be racist, we must be proactively anti-racist.
Instead of assuming we are knowledgeable about the complexities of a situation or how someone feels, we must stop, listen and educate ourselves. By opening our hearts and minds, it leaves room for kindness and understanding instead of judgement.
Connecting through Compassion
Each one of us is processing the world in our own unique way. We are at a crossroads where we’re realizing that we need to come together instead of push each other apart. Just because someone is reacting differently than you or doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t mean they’re wrong – I’m NOT referring to racism and supporting that will never be welcome here.
In this time of physical distancing, I’m creating connections with people. Seeing friends and family in-person would be nice, but the lack of direct contact has caused me to develop existing friendships and build new ones, all through the gift of technology. Part of that connection is due to the shared experience of our current world and knowing that a “thinking of you” text or call goes a long way. On days where I’m feeling down, receiving just one message helps me shift my mindset, helping me to know I’m not alone and that others are struggling too. I send at least one a day, and let’s just say there are a lot of coffee dates in my future.
Not Taking Things for Granted
Remember when you didn’t have to think twice about going out to dinner on a Tuesday night? I realize that some people are back to their normal activities at this point, but we aren’t, not even close. Prior to 2020, I operated on such a fast-moving schedule that slowing down to soak in little moments didn’t have a place in my day. This Enneagram Type 3 didn’t know how.
Walks in public places, hugging friends and family, dining at a restaurant, going to the movies and all other social experiences will be even more special after this. I can’t stop thinking about hosting BBQs, dinner parties and holidays because I never want another one to pass without a grand celebration. A warning to all people coming to my house from here on out – life is going to be EXTRA.
Focusing on What I Can Control
There’s no doubt that I like to be in control, so much so that it tends to the punchline in a lot of jokes about me. I think the hardest part for me this year is not having much, which makes it easy for me to feel anxious and stressed. Living in that headspace for too long has allowed me to discover the tools to alter my focus.
We don’t have control of the situations or other people, but we do have control of two things – our actions and our attitude. We can choose how we react to what’s happening, keep our families safe, share what’s on our hearts, create change in our local communities by volunteering, donating and voting, and take care of ourselves in the way that’s best for us. We can choose to shift our mindsets when we find ourselves in a place of darkness, intentionally seeking out moments of positivity, joy and hope.
Giving Myself Grace
There are days I feel like Wonder Woman, where I can be a multi-tasking mama, go-getting glamour girl and positivity powerhouse all at once. There are other days where I can only muster the energy to cuddle my sweet family on the couch all day. The pandemic has forced me to let go of the color-coded calendar and mile-long to-do list, and take each day as it comes, recognizing that not every day is going to be perfect.
Give yourself some grace, friends. I’ve heard the phrase a lot lately but learning how to do that is freaking hard. I tell myself these three things when I feel like I’m falling short:
- You deserve the kindness that you give to others.
- You are doing the best you can with what you have.
- Don’t be too prideful to ask for help.
As I mentioned in a previous Instagram post, “As a mom, my duty is to raise children who are kind, love all people and speak out when something is wrong. I will do that through leading by example.” I’m taking these lessons seriously, and they won’t go away when social media posts and these topics of conversation begin to fade. I WILL be intentional about the way I live life and I encourage you to do the same.