The lesson for a lifetime: the year time stood still – 2020

Trust: “A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Miriam Webster Dictionary

Who could have imagined? 12 months have passed. Like so many of us, isolation wasn’t my thing. Introspection, empathizing, socializing, creating and helping is my thing. Being in the world is my thing. I had always thrived on pace, forward momemtum, progress, human connection. Quieting of anything was a choice I never really chose, until the tight little ball formed in my chest, the familiar creeping of anxiety, letting me know it was time to slow down and go inward to regroup. Then, and only then, would I start to listen, and then, before I knew it, I was back racing again. Forward movement and progress meant (I felt) I was still growing (ish). But, it was also the trust in the reliability of mostly typical circumstances in which we exist, work, home, friendships, and routine that always gave me comfort that this rinse and repeat was a healthy approach and “made me who I am.”.

But, in 2019, this foundation and my own version of normal, quietly and most unceremoniously shattered and became it’s own quite new direction of my life. As I tried to cope with that new “normal” of going public with my marriage separation, telling our precious children that we would always love them but our family would be different from now on, leaving what I thought was my dream job and publicly acknowledging that, while taking a new one, and confronting finding my way through both of my parents having health events took me to new places of how to cope, stay present, and embrace the notion that life doesn’t happen to you it happens for you.

In the past 10 years, partially through this space, and then through the time where I didn’t come here because I needed to find my way through my most painful of times in private, I learned that I can trust myself to live and flow through difficult circumstances and events. I learned to trust my ability to maintain a belief that everything does indeed happen for a reason, and that even if it hurts or threatens to bend me to the point of breaking, I am still so fortunate, and love and gratitude will be my north star. I learned to trust my intuition about people and circumstances, and I learned to trust that you will be given who and what you need when you need it. Which, in hindsight is so very clear.

2020 was supposed to be a refresh. Full of optimism and enthusiasm, which I almost always have any way – but I felt 2020 would be special. At the end of 2019, I was excited about new opportunities I was exploring, for the exciting new things I was trying with my minis, excited for new adventures with my friends who had loved me through the past years, most of whom had no idea what was actually happening. I was excited for the new people I had met, and experiences I was having with a new lens. 2020 was the opportunity to take the healing, perspective and learning to write the new chapter and paint the new canvas with all the experience but with the excitement of being able to use those lessons to create what’s possible.

And then, as life so often does, with no warning, it comes in with more lessons. It charges in, without asking to see if you can and will reframe your perspective, shift your lens, and reimagine how the new present will affect the future. But these lessons weren’t the very personal lessons of 2014-2019, these lessons would be felt by us all, all at once.

In this version of life’s lessons it involved the sudden stoppage of our lives as a collective. Like an orchestra where the groups of instruments go silent, sometimes individually and sometimes all at once, as peoples lives contracted and individuals grappled with what would be the new normal. People’s jobs and businesses came to a hault over night, we shifted to working from home, children stopped going to school and parents became the support teachers. We stopped shuttling our children back and forth between activities. Routines of custody exchange, and evenings spent preparing for the next day were thrown askew. And then, there were the people that were directly affected by this virus on the frontlines, those who were ill or lost someone who was infected.

Where was the magic of 2020? The fresh perspective, the new lease, the relief from the stress. Suddenly each day, felt like the day before and the one that followed. Boundaries and compartmentalization that existed between work/home/partners/spouses/children dissolved. The same boundaries and compartmentalization that had helped me survive my most difficult years, were gone and and then it was quiet.

Last night, I had a call with a friend who I had met in September the year before. We hadn’t spoken since April, when we were talking about going on a trip together. We talked about what had changed since we last spoke and what it was like now 12 months into Quarantine, We talked about appreciating the forced slow down. To get in touch with what it meant to be present with our children. To connect with neighbors we had never met. To see families walking down the street together. To learn about what you enjoy doing, what’s important, and how our mindsets had changed. To have taken the time to do and learn things we have never found the time for in our “normal” lives. How, with the recognition that we are both fortunate that the our families are healthy and we can be safe in our environments is, in it’s own way, is the lesson and the North Star.

For years, and even the origin of this blog, was based on developing gratitude as a filter and lens to navigate life and all it has to offer and show me in its best and worst times. Now, in the isolation and quiet of quarantine, gratitude has become more important than ever. Like everyone that has juggled their own version of THEIR new normal, which isn’t a really a thing, because nothing about what is happening is normal, it is hard, even on a good day. Working from home, minis out of school, running interference with my own guilt of telling the minis to go find something to do, and then being frustrated as I find them in various rooms having deep conversations and dance parties with their newest and bestest friend Alexa. Hearing my own parents from a time long ago saying go outside and play and then feeling the pull because I am working and doing everything else from home and cannot go out and play with them. The guilt that rises not necessarily because they need me too, but because they aren’t able to do the activities and social fun they would normally be doing at any given point in the past year and I am sad that I couldn’t protect in that loss of their childhood.

Trust is reliability. Trust is the ability to believe in something or someone. But trust isn’t a mindset, it’s a feeling. It both responds and reacts to it’s circumstances and environment.

As it turns out, trust is primitive. Your most primal instincts will trigger your fight or flight. You trust people/things that are good, you trust people/things that are thoughtful, you trust people that are caring, you trust people /situations that are kind, you trust/people and situations that are consistent. For many people, trust has been hard to maintain and for others it’s only become stronger in what they know they can handle, endure, cope with, navigate, and come out the other side. It’s the fight. I am not an economist or a scientist but I do listen to what’s happening and maybe just maybe we are close to re-emerging into something that is a semblance of what life looked like before. There is so much beauty in that notion, a sigh of relief, the sense of possibility a restoration of hope so that families, businesses, economies, industries and emotional, physical and spiritual well-being can start to chart its new course. In what might feel like the blink of an eye, because time is now amorphous for so many, the momentum will creep back in and we will again be shuttling, running, and compartmentalizing again. The instruments will tune up and the symphony will play once again. Life will pick up its pace and we will look back and marvel at 2020 and what we all went through.

For the past 365 days I have woken up each morning and quietly lay in bed to reflect on all the elements of my life I am grateful for each and every day. Big, small and in-between, this moment of the day and this process has become my foundation to ground myself in my own trust and belief of what’s important, what I have learned in 2020, what I want to practice in life, and how the simple moments from the past year will very likely be some of the most memorable in a lifetime for me and my minis.

The year they came to trust we would always be there for them and with them, even though our family might be different than others around them, that they would always feel safe and loved. The year we took time to just be with them, to talk, eat dinner, play games, go for bike rides, go for walks, sit by the fire pit and dance in the kitchen. The year we took off on a road trip for 2 weeks and went on all kinds of adventures that we laughed and reminisced about months and months later.

So, as we ramp back up toward the out and about, the hustle and bustle, I can already feel myself missing them, our time, the little moments we would have never had without this past year. But, perhaps, 2020 was also my great lesson to trust myself, to trust that I could heal and repair myself in the quiet without all the distraction and noise. That this time was the opportunity to create a new kind of relationship and foundation with my minis that didn’t involve them wondering when my next trip would be, or if you I would have a work dinner that night. To trust that, which I am so thankful for each and every morning, are those faces, places and spaces that are the most important in my life and where I find so much joy in channeling my energy. Family, friends, experiences, adventures that don’t cost a dime, giggles and feeling like a kid again because surrendering to being present in the moment is a gift to be treasured. It is here where mynewfavoriteday begins, ends and begins again.

As I write this, I wish all the same for you, if you are reading this musing. Good health for you and your family, security and safety, love for yourself and those who mean the most to you, peace and hope for whatever comes next and the ability to make today, tomorrow or the next day ‘anewfavoriteday.’ Even in our isolation, we are together.

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