Thoughts on a Very Weird Year

I blinked, and suddenly it was 2021.

For me, 2020 went by exceedingly fast and also slower than any year ever. It has been, to say the least, a very weird year.

We rang in 2020 in Portugal, where we traveled through the country with a good friend for three weeks. During the last week of February, we went to Israel and Palestine on a trip that left a lasting impact.

And, in early March, even as news of COVID-19 was creeping into Ukraine, we spent a weekend at a spa. We pampered ourselves with a fancy dinner and long massages. Looking back, it was one of our best expenditures of the year.

Thoughts on COVID-19

I’ll just get the obvious out of the way upfront: We know lots of people who contracted the coronavirus, and we know people who have died from it. We had to cancel a major summer trip, and no family members will ever visit us while we live in Ukraine.

Cory, Rudy, and I have been in a three-critter bubble since March, and living in a one-bedroom high-rise building has been very difficult. I struggle daily with anger and frustration as I see people I know gathering in groups, visiting businesses without masks, and going about life as if nothing has changed. Some days, I lose faith in humanity. I clam up harder, upset that other people’s “needs” to socialize jeopardize my freedom even more.

But then I try to exercise deep empathy and understanding. I am managing my anger, frustration, sadness, and low-grade depression. Maybe others don’t have the tools to do that. Maybe they are mindfully making these trade-offs, and I don’t know their stories. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt; I have to believe people are intentionally doing the “right” thing, even if it doesn’t look “right” to me.

I am eager for the COVID-19 vaccine, though I think it will be months before it is available for the “average” person in Ukraine or Tunisia (where we’ll be moving in the summer). The U.S. Embassy has made it clear the U.S. citizens are on their own when it comes to finding and getting the vaccination, so we’ll wait it out with everyone else.

But once I have the vaccine, I can’t wait to hug another person besides Cory. I look forward to using public transportation. I want to go bowling again some day, and I look forward to actually going to a cafe or restaurant versus ordering in. I don’t want to feel scared running past a group of people in the park. I want to visit friends in Turkey and Senegal.

All of this, and yet I am grateful. This year has been difficult, for sure, but it has not been a dumpster fire for me. It isn’t one I would write off by any stretch of imagination. I am so appreciative for my teeny-tiny family, our home, and our health. I am glad we have good health insurance and financial resources to fall back on. So many people have things so much worse. We’ll get through this — and it will continue to be difficult — but it will not debilitate us.

Thoughts on Happiness, Joy, Contentment, and Satisfaction

For many years, Cory and I have made it a habit to eat dinner together and name a “happy” during the meal. A happy can be something funny, fun, memorable, interesting, or otherwise noteworthy that made our day a bit happier. In a world that can feel very overwhelming and, quite frankly, plagued by negativity, our daily habit of sharing happies is grounding and important.

In a year like 2020, where strange stressors and pressures pushed our lives in strange directions, it was essential.

This is not to say that I (or we) are always “happy.” In fact, we discussed happiness quite a bit over the past year. I don’t know that perpetual happiness or joy is a state I strive for. Being in that state all the time reduces the potency and power of happiness and joy for me. Instead, I strive for contentment and satisfaction. Happiness and joy are moments to be savored and appreciated, as are moments of sadness and disappointment.

So, with that in mind, here are several things, moments, and achievements that brought me contentment and satisfaction in 2020:

  • I doubled down on Rooted — during an incredibly challenging time for the tourism industry — and I am proud with how my business has grown.
  • Cory and I have been hardcore mask wearers since day #1. We also have never used a disposable mask. I appreciate that we’ve made the right environmental and social choices.
  • We bought gym equipment for our home and have both gone all in on lifting (plus running, stretching, and the occasional yoga practice).
  • My plants flourished. I brought an African violet planet back from the brink of death, and it sprouted eight beautiful flowers.
  • Every Friday night has been a “date” night when we ordered in from a local business.
  • Rudy got his own bed this fall, which is placed under the radiator right next to my desk. All I have to do is turn my head to see him stretched out for a nap and my heart fills with love.
  • Meditating, journaling, and going on long walks every day.
  • Forming and launching a mastermind — conveniently the first week of March — which has helped keep me grounded and accountable.
  • Gifting myself my very first self-bought journal. I’ve been journaling for 30 years and oodles of people have bought me journals, but that means I’ve never bought one that I personally loved. That changed this year with a Christmas gift to myself.
  • Being forced to slow down gave us the opportunity to explore corners of Ukraine we wouldn’t have visited before moving.

Thoughts on Next Year

I am excited for 2021. Not because 2020 was difficult but because I love using what I learned yesterday to live a more fulfilling tomorrow.

A sucker for goals and intentions, I have ideas on what I’d like to achieve in 2021, and how I’m going to get there. I am thankful for my mastermind, which will hold me accountable. I am thankful for the tiny but mighty team I hired in 2020 that has skills I don’t have but desperately need to push the bar of my professional success in the coming year. And I am thankful for Cory, who helps me work through the little stumbles I encounter on a daily basis.

I never believed that flipping the calendar from 2020 to 2021 would somehow miraculously change the world. But a fresh start is a fresh start, and I am embracing it.

In 2021, I look forward to continuing my meditating, journaling, and exercising practices and routines. I am excited to meet a new community when we move, and speaking French on a daily basis. I can’t wait to welcome more sunshine, physical space, and fresh air into my life. I want to throw more dance parties, have more difficult conversations, read more poetry, and make more art. I actually want to finish that self-paced photography course I started in the spring.

I remain committed to doing everything I can to address the climate emergency. I hope to get a coronavirus vaccine and visit friends and family in person. I am making changes to how and where I travel, but I don’t know what that looks like yet. I’m committed to making and saving intentional space, and I’m not inviting in those people or things that don’t serve me.

Welcome 2021: I’m ready for you!

One Response to “Thoughts on a Very Weird Year”

  1. Jill

    It may be 6 or 7 months away, but I’m interested in hearing about your new adventures in Tunisia! The year 2021 should be a memorable one!


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