Happy New Year!! Hello, 2021!!

The year 2020 was not a friend, not in the least. To many of us it was an unbearable enemy, and to some others it may have just been tolerable. One thing agreeable to anyone awake throughout this year is that we are so ready to leave 2020 behind and walk into 2021, carefully, together.

Before we totally leave 2020 behind, let’s remember some good lessons it taught us.

20 Takeaways Of 2020

1. Time Is Non-Refundable

I lost my grandmother when I was twenty years old. I had a chance to see her one last time before she passed, but I didn’t take the time. I chose to give my time to someone or something else. It’s a choice I regret greatly. I wish someone had told me that “her time is precious and it is not to be toyed with.”

COVID-19 took many lives, and so many of those lives could not say goodbye to their loved ones, could not touch them for one last time. This is the most major takeaway we ALL learned in 2020. Even if you think you might be able to put it off till tomorrow, if it’s important don’t put it off and try to find the time today. People, like time, cannot come back. Love on them now, unconditionally, while you can!

2. Timing Is Everything

Have you grown up with the expression “timing is everything”? If you cook or bake, you know timing is everything. If you are courting a crush, you might pressure yourself on timing is everything. We put a lot of pressure on timing. We want to control the timing of just about everything in our lives.

I used to worry so much about my life’s timing. I used to stress that if I didn’t amount to anything by the time I was twenty-one, that was it. I lost my chance. What I had to realize and accept is that however you may believe, the universe, the world, or (for me) God are working for you and your timing. It’s never when we want it (because we are not in control!), but trust and believe your timing exists and it will happen. There are many accounts of people achieving their dreams in their teens to people doing so in their eighties. Trust your timing, don’t give up, and relentlessly work towards it.

3. Love is Powerful, Set It Free

I was blessed to not only be a witness to love breaking boundaries this year, but also by love breaking boundaries within me. Love has shown how powerful of a force it is this year. Many of us could not have survived this year without the love that was displayed. This year love taught me to not be afraid to receive and to give love. When I say we can truly heal through love, it’s true, I have lived it this year. Choose love, love for yourself and for others. It is an option! It is a choice we forget we have. It really does heal!

4. Hate is Powerful Too, But Let It Go

Hate made it to this list because, well, we should stop ignoring how powerful hate can be. Hate and what can come of it should not be forgotten. If you have the ability to forget how real hate is, I urge you not to. Your fellow neighbors, even people in your own home, cannot afford for you, for us, for me to forget that hate is real and it exists.

Hate might be projected outwards to others or it might be injected inwards to oneself, but please don’t ignore the signs. The most powerful hate I have experienced is the hate I put on myself. Painfully, however, many people experience a powerful hate coming from someone else. Help those willing to be helped. Hate and anger are cancerous emotions that rob everything from everyone infected or otherwise. They are heavy. They will not progress or change things for the better. They exist, they are there, acknowledge them, but let them go.

5. Friendships Are Priceless

Value your friendships greatly. It is a choice people make to be our friends and it is a choice that should be greatly appreciated. I would have lost my sanity if it weren’t for my friends during this pandemic. I am utterly thankful for them and indebted to them. Unfortunately, not all friendships survived 2020, as it is the year that surfaced many divisive issues among all relationships, not just friendships.

It doesn’t take the year 2020 to know friends come and go. It is a normal part of life that friends either grow together or grow apart. It’s not easy to say goodbye to friendships, no matter the circumstance, it is, however, comforting to know that it is absolutely ok if friendships end. What comforts me is to think of and value the time that someone gave me, because as mentioned above time and people cannot come back. If someone invested their time with you one day and the next they decide not to anymore, that’s ok, you will be ok. It hurts, it sucks, it feels close to mourning a death, but it will be ok. Appreciate having known them at all.

6. Preparation is a Survival Skill

This year slapped everyone in the face, hard, and said “preparation is a survival skill!” Was anyone else not prepared for a global pandemic that will loom death over our heads, ruin our economy, change daily life, and then some? Yeah, I definitely wasn’t. I had no savings, my husband didn’t really have any savings either. No one we knew had savings enough to be out of work for more than two months. Let’s just say, we were so unprepared that we actually managed to come out with our heads still attached. Not the same case for everyone.

Many people were hit hard and lost more than we can imagine. There really never is a proper way to prepare for the worst. We never really know what the worst could be. Although, some kind of preparation is better than none, right? My husband and I definitely learned the importance of saving and preparing for anything to happen. Are you ready for anything to happen?

7. Don’t Forget to Breathe

With the crazy amount of stress, fear, panic, feelings of loss, uncertainty, anxiety, depression, anger, rage, financial loss…. and… and… and… BREATHE! Believe it or not your brain will forget to breathe when severely overwhelmed.

There wasn’t a single thing that happened this year that didn’t send my thoughts into a whirlwind of panic that I often forgot to breathe. As a result, my body would induce a panic attack to get oxygen to my brain. In May I was suffering panic attacks at least twice a week.

The breath is so important. In yoga, in karate, in dancing, in singing, in meditation the breath is taught as an important focus! Ever notice sometimes when we say things out loud they happen? Or notice that words can either give life or destroy it? I just want to encourage you to see your breath differently. We need it to survive right? It gives us life. That’s just science. Why not see your breath then as the powerful force of life it is. Then once you recognize and believe in its power, never forget to breathe.

8. All Things Take Work

We live in a world of instant satisfaction. Pictures are taken instantly. Some food is made instantly. Even relationships or romantic connections are made instantly. 

We have been conditioned to expect things rather quickly. So when coronavirus hit, I’ll be honest with you I expected a vaccine or a solution within the first three months of exposure (and that was me being generous). Obviously it was not the case.

It’s good to be reminded that things take work. When our time and efforts are invested in something, the work we give it rewards us with feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment afterwards. Those feelings can easily be taken for granted when we become overwhelmed with working on things.

You, more than likely, can achieve what your heart desires, but don’t be like me and waste time lying to yourself that its’ not going to take some hard work. Take the time to do the work, because working for something, something good, will always be worth it.

9. Exercise Is About More Than Just Getting Fit

So many people discovered that more time at home meant more time for exercising, I was not one of them. At least not right away. No I had to lose my mind first so that I could get off my ass and chase it. I sought help, did some research, and discovered a routine that works best for me. Once I committed to that routine, I found myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually in a better place!

As someone diagnosed at a very young age with depression and anxiety, I learned quickly the benefits of exercising regularly, and when I didn’t I suffered all the more for it, mentally more than physically.

I strongly encourage working out not because of anything to do with aesthetics, but because exercising truly helps beyond the physical. You do a great disservice to yourself and the capabilities of your body by not moving it even for a little bit each day. I am more encouraged by seeing what my body can do today that it could not do yesterday, than I am by the number on the scale or the size of my dress, and its that that I want to encourage in others.

10. Jobs Were Taken For Granted

Oh, the joys and toils of having a job. Remember those days you’d exhaust yourself at your job and you would just beg for two weeks to do nothing? Then you got those two glorious weeks to do nothing. Then another two weeks to do nothing, and yet another, and another. Until, you got so darn tired of doing nothing. Now you just want to go back to work like before. Maybe, lol.

This year I learned to appreciate having something like a job as work to do. Honestly, it gives a little bit of purpose and it brings social interactions. Certainly an excuse to get out of the house and if the job requires movement to get moving as well. With so many Americans out of work, having any work is totally appreciative.

11. Respect The Neighbor and Their Space

Some folx are so good at thinking of others and acknowledging another’s boundaries and needs, some need work. This year, for sure, put a spotlight on people’s individuality. Here we are all at war with the same invisible enemy and some of us take up arms like in war, meanwhile some of us hold our own protests against it by refusal of participation (whatever that may look like).

Not everyone understands stressors or copes the same way as the next person, to live harmoniously it is imperative to give people the space they need. If you are unsure of what they need, I encourage you to ask. It’s better to ask than to assume. Each of us deserves the chance to approach things the best way we know-how. It helps when we know we have love and support.

12. Respect The Self and It’s Parts

With everything going on I had to learn that my brain and my body, although parts of a whole, are very different things and want very different things. Each deserving of what each one needs, respectfully. With the forced lockdown my body wanted to move and reach goals of physical activity I didn’t think I could reach because I never had the time for it. On the opposite end, my brain wanted to do absolutely nothing because life was already way too much to handle. Eventually I had to satisfy both needs.

Your body speaks differently to you than your mind does. It’s a language we have to learn. Sometimes we confuse the feeling of thirst for the feeling of hunger. Sometimes we confuse soreness as weakness and not your body working some things out so that it can improve. Get to know your mind and body, as separate parts of you; they’ll always be the only ones you have. Get to know truly what it is that they want.

13. Self-Care Is Here To Stay

Self-care has been a buzz word for some time now, but it is not a fad. It is a self-practice that can increase healthy living. A practice that is an essential priority for all, not a privilege for some. We invest so much of ourselves into many things, it’s only right to give back that same level of care into ourselves. I encourage you to create a self-care routine that works in your life, that brings you joy, and most importantly that recharges you to face another day.

For me, an important self-care routine I cannot afford to skip on (saved me through quarantine) is time for myself in the morning before I start anything. Time to focus on my breath before the day tries to take it away. Time to collect grace to face the day. Time to write, to read, anything! Spending even five minutes by myself before the day begins is very refreshing.  

14. You Are More Resilient Than You Know!

Honestly, it sucks that we have to go through hard times to see our resilience. It sucks, but it makes sense. If life is perfect, with nothing threatening, then how would you know if you could overcome a major life threat?

We are here today. We made it through a very tough year! We are more resilient than we realize. 

15. Starting Over is A-OKAY

It’s never too late to start over. If you messed up today, start over today. If you don’t like it tomorrow, start over tomorrow. So long as you are alive it’s never too late. And starting over isn’t a bad thing. Starting over doesn’t mean everything was wrong and it doesn’t mean that everything was right. Starting over is a gift, and the fact that we can at any point in our lives is a beautiful thing. Don’t be afraid to start over. Be encouraged by the blank canvas and paint away!

16. Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

You never know what anyone is going through, or the reasons behind their choices. Be gentle with one another in terms of that. You would want someone to be gentle with you.

17. Slow Down, Stop, and Smell The Roses

Life in the 21st Century moves rapidly! Each day of our daily lives goes by so fast and we don’t realize it because we’re so used to it. We probably pay as much attention to how fast life goes by as we do to the feelings of our own fingertips.

When quarantine started I felt that was God’s way, or the universe, or whatever you believe in, but life was definitely screaming at us, “Slow down! Appreciate and remember to be alive!” Be present! Life is a gift.

18. The Holiday’s Can Look Differently

This year due to the social distance, my husband and I allowed ourselves some honesty – we were happy to not do all the crazy running around we do every holiday season. And you know what? Yup, you guessed it! THAT IS OK. It helped us to remember the holidays are about family, not all the other fluff and stuff we fill it with. As hard as it was to stay apart from some family this holiday season, we learned to appreciate the holidays we had and will have with them all the more. 

19. Appreciation For The Under-Valued

During this pandemic, a cartoon clip printed in the newspaper of a veteran saluting a store-clerk, both in masks, made me realize something major; our society under-valued many things like certain jobs such as grocery store clerk, the postal-service workers, concerts, and the venue’s staff who make it happen, live music and the local musicians, the privilege of dining out and being served throughout your entire meal by another person, the privilege of giving to and receiving a smile from a stranger walking past you on the street. So many things we took for granted!

After getting through this year, 2020, I have a goal for the coming years: I HAVE to travel more! I have to see live music whenever possible! 

20. “It’s 2020, Everybody Needs Therapy”

Lastly, my final takeaway from 2020 is that we cannot do life alone. We need someone and something to help us through tough times. It’s ok to need help. It’s ok to not have all the answers. It’s ok to want to search for clarity. It’s ok to know that even though you may have made a mistake, you are doing the very best that you know how to. 

I believe in the benefits of therapy and that it is for anyone at any stage in life. I have gained a lot of insight and emotional growth from my experiences with the right therapist. Today there are many different ways to access therapy. I encourage you to find one convenient for you. Who knows, you might discover you love it! 

What are some positive things 2020 has taught you? What would be first on that list for you?

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