You know that saying, “there’s only one way to go from here!”? Well, be careful when you use that! How many of us had that attitude coming out of 2020, with no idea that an entire year later, “normal” would still be a semi-mythical term to describe the way things were in 2019. Granted, for many, things have relaxed or returned to at least a new “normal”, but living in SoCal, and working for a huge company like Intuit, we’ve still felt pretty un-normal this year.
2021 might have topped the scales in some regards for most challenging year yet (not exactly the achievement I was hoping for). I said goodbye to several grandparents, we worked ourselves to exhaustion, we didn’t even come close to the other mythical term in our home: work/ life balance.
On the flip side – there were a handful of highlights too: My auntie heart grew by 2 feet (and 19 inches), we upped our pandemic cardio game by adding a Peloton to my office décor (751 rides later), we managed to sneak away off the grid for just a couple days with Brian’s family for some Austin time (checked “explore abandoned gold mine” off the bucket list), and we got to celebrate birthdays and the holidays here in our new home with family.
One of the things I will always remember the most about my beloved Grandmother, is that no matter what challenge she faced, she never ever complained. She always looked at the bright side, talked about the positive, and sought out the joy in any circumstance. She even had a little song about it that my brothers and I rolled our eyes to as children, as she’d hum it along our merry way. What I wouldn’t give to hear her gentle voice humming that little tune…I miss her dearly, but somehow I feel like her gift to me this year was to remember that. I find myself thinking of her often when things get tough, and laughing about what her spin on it would have been.
As I’ve taken time this year working on my own personal growth, and spent many hours in self-reflection, I’ve acknowledged that by nature, I’m a stresser, a worrier, and as my son would say, “if future tripping was an Olympic sport, I’d definitely take the gold medal”. Who knows what tomorrow will have in store for us – I’ve learned my lesson about planning too far ahead these days. But this year has allowed me to step back and look at the world like Grandma. To see the bright side, to celebrate the beautiful moments, stop stressing about tomorrow, and instead be content in the moment – even if it’s just for today.
May you find the joy in the normal, the reward in the struggle, and may 2022 be filled with countless (big and small) moments worth celebrating…Happy New Year!
I know, the first thing you’re thinking is “It’s 2020, aren’t we ALL home?!”. But trust me when I say, this is a huge milestone: we are actually home!
When we started packing our home up September 1, 2019, I told everyone “hopefully we’ll be home for the holidays!”. I never imagined that we not only would miss that deadline but would be an entire year beyond it. After 14.5 months (444 days to be exact, but who’s counting?) of being displaced due to the never-ending (self-induced) construction project, I can’t think of any better way to close the chapter on 2020 than saying, we’re finally HOME!
I heard someone say this past week that we’re about to get bombarded with all the year-end messages about how we all thrived in 2020 and came out of it so much better than we were at the beginning. I’ve joked about the book I’m going to write someday: “How to Voluntarily be Homeless During a Global Pandemic and Still Have the Best Year of Your Career”. But let’s be real. It’s been a rough year. Rougher for many others than for me (I know I’ve really been only minimally impacted). I miss my nephews. I miss my Intuit colleagues. I miss seeing my firms. I even miss the United Club. I really miss the gym! And I could go my entire life without another Zoom call and would be just fine. But more than me personally, my heart goes out to those I know and love who have been challenged far beyond my inconvenience of being trapped working at home for almost a year. We’ve seen friends & family suddenly lose their jobs, cheered on colleagues who navigated home schooling meets board meeting at the same time. When COVID-19 was not enough to deal with, we’ve buried loved ones & prayed some of our closest friends through cancer treatment and high-risk surgeries.
When I look back on my post a year ago (“2020 Vision”, now that’s funny!), It’s actually affirming to realize what we did accomplish, even though it looked a lot different than I expected. I laid out specific goals and promises that I wanted to achieve and keep: Positivity, Passion, Priorities, Play, and Protect.
One of my biggest challenges starting 2020 has turned into one of my greatest blessings as we end the year. It’s been such a perfect reminder to me that a positive outlook on a very trying situation can prove to be life changing. I’ve learned grace, patience, and been stretched in ways that have helped me grow as a person. Never forget that the mind is our most powerful muscle.
Speaking of muscles…I did get my Personal Training and Fitness Nutrition Coaching certifications! Not without some extra drama (nothing like deleting 60% of your final exam the day before it’s due to bring me right back to those college all-nighter days). When Coronavirus and lockdown threw a monkey wrench in our fitness routine, I managed to get creative. Brian and I have learned to enjoy our home gym, and my walking desk has become one of my favorite places to be. I’m grateful to be able to continue pursuing my passion for fitness and truly incorporate it into my work-life integration.
It’s almost funny (too soon perhaps) to look back a year ago and remember how unbelievably burned out I was. It felt like I hadn’t slept in the same bed for more than 2 nights in months, and I definitely was not getting any downtime at home. Brian and I have joked that we’ve spent more time together in 2020 than in the entire decade we’ve been together. This year we celebrated 10 years together, and our 5th wedding anniversary…somehow take-out, Netflix, and carrot cake on the couch was as appropriate as ever! I’m confident that my priorities are officially reset. I also added a new term to my vocabulary in 2020: Road sick…
We might not have had enough play time this year, but even the playground needs to be built. I can’t wait for next year’s holidays when I can finally enjoy the smell of cinnamon rolls in the oven as our son predictably requests the middle one. Or for Summer weekends with my favorite little people gathered at our big kitchen island eating Uncle Brian’s famous breakfast (donuts). As we’ve worked to resettle in back at home, we are excited about all the memories we’re going to be able to make here with family and friends for years to come!
Perhaps the biggest lesson 2020 taught me was perseverance. They say when you’re raising kids the days are long, but the years are short. Well, I think that goes for pandemics too. I feel like days dragged like never before. Yet I look back and everything’s just a blur. I was forced to get really creative on how to accomplish my goals, and even manage to set some new ones (did you know that it’s really, really hard to walk 1 million steps in a month?). I somehow managed to push myself to the point of exhaustion without leaving the house. I most definitely had to deploy a few Plan Bs (and possibly a few Cs and Ds), but in the end, we made it work, one day at a time.
So, while this past trip around the sun didn’t go quite as any of us had planned, I think it’s safe to say that how we’ve navigated these “uncertain times” (yep, I did it, I used “uncertain times”) will have taught us lessons that will last us a lifetime. Nothing’s really changed, our future plans, our mission, our mindset is all still the same, except this year I won’t dare say I’ve got perfect vision, but I can wholeheartedly confirm that hindsight is indeed 2020!
Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2021!