And just like that, December peeked around the corner.
I feel like this is the time of year when people start saying things like “this year can take a flying leap,” and I don’t blame people for saying that this year. Saying it’s been a rough year is an understatement. And the way people feel right now is completely legitimate; I don’t want to minimize those feelings.
Yet, I have been thinking about this human tendency to look over the past and see the negative things so clearly. Do all of those people who hated 2019 so much now look back on it with fond memories? After making it through 2020, will any other year be as “bad?”
Humans naturally lean into negativity, and when bad news is as pervasive as it’s been in 2020, I understand feeling completely overwhelmed. Plus, “bad” news is a far more compelling narrative than happiness and positivity. But, for me anyway, I find a lot more value in taking both a holistic, big-picture perspective along with a micro-level look at the day-to-day.
On a grand scale, humanity is struggling with a lot of pressing challenges. But a lot of really good things have happened this year as well, for humanity and the planet. Just this past week, Scotland made sanitary products free for everyone. Now that is something to celebrate!
And, yes, 2020 has been difficult for Cory and me personally too. But we have always set dinner aside as sacred time together, and part of our dinner routine has always been sharing a “happy” for the day — something funny, memorable, or that made us feel good. Individually, these happies are small. Collectively, they paint a picture of a life we are thankful for living and sharing together.
So as we begin our journey into December, I’m looking back on the past year in all of its ugliness and beauty. And, while I’m personally working on staying grounded and aware of the present moment, I’m also starting to look forward to a new year with a sense of hope and optimism.
Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday celebrated in Ukraine, so this past Thursday was a typical day for us. We both went about our day as normal. I actually like working on U.S. holidays because I can catch up while a lot of the people I work with take a couple days off.
The highlight of our day was having a Zoom breakfast / wine time with my immediate family in the United States. We’re all regularly in contact, for which I am very thankful, but it was really nice to come together (virtually) on this particular day. My wine glass overfloweth with love and gratitude.
Let’s Talk Mental Health
If I’m going to be completely honest, over the last couple weeks, I’ve actually felt a bit overwhelmed with all of the things I needed to do. I’m super meticulous with my work time, and I know exactly what needs to get done when, but I wasn’t leaving any breathing room in my schedule. If a single thing didn’t get done, it threw everything else off because there wasn’t wiggle room. Needless to say, this isn’t sustainable.
Last weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about what I needed to open up more space in my life, and it turns out it’s less time on work. This isn’t to say there is less work. But this past week I intentionally built at least an hour into the middle of every day to exercise and journal, and I feel like so much space has opened up.
The women in my mastermind group have all verbalized the need to prioritize mental health and personal time this past year. I, on the other hand, have charged into my work with 100% of my energy. I’m also one of those people who has suffered from COVID-19 insomnia, so a weird chunk of my work over the past year has been done at strange hours of the night. I suppose this is how I am personally coping with this overwhelming world we’re living in right now.
But I knew I didn’t want to continue running at this speed into the new year. So, after building this “empty” space into my schedule and gifting myself time to tackle a lot of nagging “little” to-do items, a weight lifted from my shoulders. I also verbalized my intention to prioritize myself to my mastermind group, and it felt good to show up for myself in a public way.
Over this week, I worked less but was so much more productive. I’m sleeping much better. I look forward to continuing to care for myself in a more proactive way in the weeks, months, and year ahead.
Did you hear the news?
At the end of this school year, we’re going to be moving from Kyiv, Ukraine, to Tunis, Tunisia!
It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in Ukraine for five years already. We’ve enjoyed our time here, but we’re ready to move on.
The last year has been particularly tough here for a couple reasons. First, living in a high-rise apartment building without easy access to a breath of fresh air has been difficult. We have to take the elevator to leave our building, and others in our building aren’t actively wearing masks, so even getting in and out of the building is an anxiety-inducing activity.
Second, this country has done a wretched job of proactively managing COVID-19. I look back on my update about coronavirus in Ukraine from mid-March and shake my head in disbelief at my immediate response to this pandemic. Except for our two road trips this summer, we haven’t gone much further than a mile or so from our home since March. When we move, at least we’ll have a new neighborhood to explore.
Plus, winter weather is upon us, which means it’s gray, cold, and dreary, and the days are short. Winter is always tough here, but I anticipate this winter will be particularly trying.
Which is all to say that I’m really looking forward to moving!
We don’t know much about the move yet — when exactly we’ll be moving, what neighborhood we’ll live in, etc., etc. But, we have started learning French again (we originally started learning when we thought we were moving to North Africa for Peace Corps service), and that’s been a lovely addition to the day. And, might I add, a lot more accessible than Russian.
Rudy Got a Bed
Yes, we are those people. We bought Rudy a bed to tuck under the radiator, and he has been glued to it basically since we set it down.
The bed itself isn’t what makes me happy. What makes me happy is that it’s tucked under the radiator immediately to the left of my desk, which means all I have to do while working is turn my head ever so slightly and my heart melts.
I had to get a new smartphone mid-lockdown, and the only pictures on it are of Rudy. It makes me so incredibly happy.
Snail Mail Fail
It has gotten very difficult to send mail from Ukraine. Not only did the price of stamps go up dramatically, but they aren’t sold at our local post office anymore. This means we have to go downtown to buy them, which we haven’t done lately because we aren’t riding the subway due to coronavirus. I need to zip around town for the first time in months for some doctors’ appointments next week, so I’m going to try to get to the main post office then.
Until then, a ridiculous pile of letters is stacking up on my desk, just waiting to be mailed. They’re going to be months old by the time I send them, but that’s okay. Once I can drop them in the mail, it will feel like a major accomplishment.