What Worked for Me in 2020

As inspired by Modern Mrs Darcy

2020 was a doozy of a year. The clock flipping from 11:59 pm December 31, 2020 to 12:00 am January 1, 2021 didn’t change much of anything (not that I noticed, because I was asleep), but there is something more optimistic about 2021. We know there is a vaccine, and that all of us will get it sooner or later. We know we can do hard things like online school for months on end. We know we can spend time together, without arguing too much. Without trying to jinx too much it feels as though we are closer to a place of certainty. (I just jinxed it, didn’t I?)

But 2020? Oof. OOOF. That said, there were definitely things that saved my life.

  1. My treadmill. An almost daily morning ritual that was a way to release stress, get the day kicked off to a good start and help me get through lots of podcasts. Somedays it’s a short session, sometimes longer, but it’s always helpful.
  2. Walks with the dog. During the summer and into the fall, until Penelope injured her knee, we took a walk around the neighborhood almost every day. It was a great way to end the day, Penelope loved it and, when not walking with my mom, it helped me get through lots of podcasts.
  3. Book club. We’ve been good friends for a long time now, but the pandemic and stay at home order kicked things into higher gear. We welcomed a new member and started meeting twice a month, supplemented by lots and lots (and lots!) of texting. Having an outlet to stress and connect, and an opportunity to really get to know these smart, interesting women was such a good thing.
  4. Puzzles. I lost track of how many puzzles we did in 2020, but it was a lot. It was also something fun that Eddy and I could do as a family; we don’t have a ton of hobbies that overlap, so it’s nice when our preferences compliment each others. For example, Eddy really likes puzzles with lots of interesting details, like faces, buildings or landscape and I like wide expanses of similar colors, where you really have to rely on the shape of the puzzle or a slight shift in tone to figure out what goes where. We were lucky enough to do several puzzles that scratched both our itches.

Yearly Update: 2020

The last yearly update I did was in 2017 for 2016, which up until now I genuinely thought of as the Worst Year Ever. Ha– 2020 had something to show you, 2016.

1 What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?

Stay at home with my family for 9 months because of a global pandemic and the incompetence of our government. Stopped hugging people. Get my wisdom teeth pulled (and thank goodness they don’t grow back because I don’t want to go through that again!).

2 Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Did I even make New Year’s resolutions this year? I don’t remember. I have been doing words of the year instead, for the past few years, and my word of the year for 2020 was kavanah, or intentionality. I don’t think this has been entirely a miss, actually; being at home, working from home, going to services from home, seeing friends remotely (from home) has made some of the choices I have been able to make more intentional. But have I learned as much, or grown in the ways that I intended when I set this word? Not really.

Resolutions for 2020? Yes, I’ll be setting some of those in connection with my new word for the year…but you’ll have to scroll to the end of the post to see.

3 Did anyone close to you give birth?

Sadly, I am mostly out of the stage of life where my friends are having babies, and not yet in the stage of life where my babies are having babies.

4 Did anyone close to you die?

More than 346,000 people in the United States from the Coronavirus due to the purposeful inaction and posturing of our government and the inability of Americans to think of others.

5 What countries did you visit?

Germany and the UK for work and to see Beth! I got back to Seattle days before everything shut down, and it was so great to have that one last hurrah before the Unprecedented Times arrived (not that we knew it was a last hurrah when we planned it

6 What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?

The ability to leave my house without a mask on. In person meetings with my coworkers. Book club evenings in my living room. Hugging my friends. Road trips to LA.

7 What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The Saturday when Joe Biden and Kamela Harris’ win became official; I cried and cried. Kate’s bat mitzvah. Jonah and Owen getting their driver’s licenses.

8 What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Staying employed. Keeping the family healthy and relatively sane. I also stopped drinking, but it wasn’t because I was trying to stop, so I hesitate to count it as an achievement. One day I just didn’t pour myself some wine with dinner, and after I while I noticed that I hadn’t had a beer for a while either. Then it became a thing that I noticed, but I’m intentionally trying not to make it A Thing. If I want to go back to having wine, or beer more likely, someday, I will. I just haven’t wanted to yet.

9 What was your biggest failure?

General lack of patience. (I think I say the same thing every year.) Not helping the kids (especially Jonah) feel more successful.

10 Did you suffer illness or injury?

I didn’t, other than fibromyalgia aches and pains and getting my wisdom teeth out. Penelope had ACL surgery. Everyone else is fine, global pandemic and related mental health challenges notwithstanding.

11 What was the best thing you bought?

A scrubby brush for dry brushing my skin every morning. I didn’t think I would love it, but I do!

12 Whose behavior merited celebration?

Jonah, Owen and Kate have been struggling through this year, to be sure, but they have been doing their best, and that’s what counts.

13 Whose behavior made you appalled or depressed?

In 2017 I wrote “Donald Trump’s and all his voters.” Unfortunately that’s still true, and lots of them aren’t wearing masks.

14 Where did most of your money go?

We did more work on the garden which cost a pretty penny but was totally worth it. I also paid off my student loans in July. And our insurance rates skyrocketed once Jonah and Owen got their driver’s licenses–luckily there are a few years to go before Kate’s!

15 What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The election! The vaccine!

16 Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • Sadder or happier? Definitely sadder. Even though we are really, really lucky to not have been impacted by the pandemic beyond going stir crazy, and dealing with the mental health challenges that come with doing online school and not seeing friends, it has still been hard.
  • Thinner or fatter? Thinner. One of the benefits of not going to the office every day was that I could spend the time normally needed for commuting working out instead. I feel much stronger, in much better shape, than I was at the beginning of the year.
  • Richer or poorer? I paid off my student loans, which was great, but we are refinancing the house (again) to remodel the bathrooms, so I think it all comes out in the wash.

17 What do you wish you’d done more of?

Left my house: for small trips, big trips, dinners out.

18 What do you wish you’d done less of?

Staying in my house.

19 How did you spend the holidays?

Online! We did Passover via Zoom right after the pandemic started, and it was a lot of fun, which gave me encouragement for all the holidays we did just us that followed: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve.

20 Did you fall in love in 2020?

Not any more than in previous years!

21 Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I hesitate to use the word hate, but I doubt I’ll ever seen anything redeeming in Mitch McConnell.

22 What did you want and get?

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris!!

23 What did you want and not get?

A rational, scientific, proactive, evidenced based response to the pandemic.

24 What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 46, at home, doing meetings online, having a quiet dinner, just like all the other evenings this year.

25 How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?

Tanktops, leggings, sweatshirts and birkenstocks. I also discovered the joy of Allbirds tree runners, and second hand Eileen Fisher.

26 What kept you sane?

Using my treadmill five days a week. Podcasts, especially the NPR Politics podcast (and NPR podcasts in general) and Pod Save America. Reading library books on my kindle. Taking Penelope on walks.

27 What political issue stirred you the most?

The election in general, and the Republican response to the Coronavirus.

28 Who did you miss?

All of my family, friends and coworkers who I wasn’t able to see in person.

29 Who was the best new person you met?

I met no one new this year, but I did become closer with Pamela, through Buy Nothing and Book Club!

30 What valuable life lesson did you learn in 2020?

That a lot of people really are very self-centered, which makes it more important than ever to think of ourselves as part of a community.

31 What word do you choose to describe 2021?

Health. I have a few small goals as well: walk 40K steps a week. Maintain a healthy daily routine focused on keeping my teeth healthy, improving the condition of my gums, and implementing a good skin care routine. Lose another 30 lbs this year, on top of what I already lost in 2020: slow and steady wins the race!