It’s normal to have a time of reflection during certain seasons of the year. The beginning of a new year is when most of us take a look back to reflect, re-asses, and set new goals in place to make the following one even better.
Birthdays come next to mind, and this is always a time where I take some time to remember what the last twelve months felt and looked like, and what I really hope to accomplish before the next trip around the sun.
As expected, this birthday (the last weekend of April) was different from most for me, and last year’s was even weirder.
We were just a little over a month into navigating life through a global pandemic, and I totally remember feeling like we were being “slightly risky” by taking a friend’s car to a nearby beach – just the three of us – and spending the day driving with the windows down, walking on the sand, and getting out of the big city for a much-needed breath of fresh air with packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. No fancy dinners, no meet-ups with friends, nothing actually risky outside of ordering take-out from a seafood restaurant on the way home (which we couldn’t believe was open for business!).
Scott planned a surprise “party” for me on Zoom, and that was the first of many virtual gatherings to follow. This was the new normal, and something that I adapted to very quickly. If we’re being honest, the chance to be social from the comfort of my own home and dressed in comfy clothes is somewhat of a dream for me. But, of course, that excitement wore out quickly as our time in the pandemic just kept extending.
A quick look back into the last year
Times are strange, but it felt like we were living in an alternate universe in 2020!
New York City was one of the first places to order a mandatory lockdown mid-March, and many unpredictable events followed like citywide curfews, nightly circling of helicopters and daily protests and riots. Not only were we dealing with a pandemic, but also a surge of social injustices that led to an unimaginable season of feeling divided in the United States of America.
There was a nationwide shortage of toilet paper and cleaning supplies, and it wasn’t uncommon to feel like you had to hold your breath through your mask while shopping for essentials wearing gloves. We won’t even get into politics … but man, what a year for the books there. It was all consuming and exhausting!
Scott and I experienced all different types of losses.
We had friends and friends of friends gone too soon from the Coronavirus. Scott came very close to losing his business that he had been working tirelessly to grow for over a decade. I lost my groove in pursing personal training after transitioning out of fitness management. We lost our family cat, Aspen, who we knew and loved for twelve years. We both lost a closeness that we once had to some of our friends and family members through difficult and controversial conversations. We lost the feeling of security in knowing where the next few months will take us. We lost the opportunity to actively search for a more permanent home, outside of renting an apartment.
There were and still are days where I feel like I’ve lost my mind. And I don’t think that I’m alone!
Acknowledging the losses
I can’t continue this post without acknowledging that our losses are losses, but they still don’t compare to others that people have experienced during this time. Spouses were lost. Family members were lost. Time with loved ones was lost, due to quarantining for working on the front lines. By no means do I want to brush over that. I have endless gratitude to those who put their lives on the line to help better our country and fight this pandemic.
That said, I don’t think losses have to hit a certain level to reflect on, so this is my own perspective and story.
There were a lot of horrible things that happened to everyone. There were many unthinkable events that hit the news to the point that I stopped watching it for several months. We got mad, we got sad and we got into funks of disappointments. Scott has an incredible skill of seeing the good about every single day, so I’m not going to speak for him for the rest of this one. But I know that I felt hopeless at times. It was all so much to process.
The year 2020 was supposed to be “our year” where Scott finally got the chance to pursue his business as a consultant for sports entertainment and live events/productions.
We both left our comfort zones of full-time and steady work, more optimistic than ever to make our dreams become our reality. (Do you remember when I shared our plans in February 2020?) We had it all figured out. But, now more than ever, it’s clear that our plans aren’t necessarily the reality or what God plans for us.
Reflecting and growing
I’m no stranger to living in seasons of the unknown, and if you’re not sure what I’m talking about you can catch up in this post where I share my biggest takeaways. I also share more encouragement through the process here. Over the last year or so, Scott and I have shared pieces of our story and what’s holding us together through a decade of disappointments as we continue to swerve and new chapters unfold. It’s our faith in God and in our relationship together.
Is the path obvious for us? No. Is there an answer spelled out in the sky? Nope. Faith means having complete trust or confidence in someone or something, even if it’s something that you can’t see. Faith and hope in God’s plan for us is truly what has gotten us to where we are today, through some ups and many downs.
Taking a look back at the last year and documenting feelings can be powerful, and if you’re in the midst of feeling confused, sad or unsure of where to go next, I highly recommend getting your thoughts out on paper. You don’t have to broadcast them over the Internet (how this style of journaling turned into my preference is beyond me, haha), but take some time to sit down, write, and reflect on your time through the journey and what you hope to bring with you out on the other side of it. There are always lessons to learn and grow from.
Here are a few pandemic-related posts I created in reflection:
- Life In New York City During COVID-19
- We Can Do Better
- Some Takeaways From A Week of Listening and Learning
- What It’s (Really) Like To Quarantine in New York City
- My Tips 10 Years Into the “Season of the Unknown”
Thoughts and takeaways for the future
Looking back at all of it in a nutshell feels unreal. And yet, here we are still working our way through towards the other side, now fourteen months into the start of it. By no means does it feel “normal” out there, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine and a slow progress of re-opening our city. It’s a “new normal” for sure, but it feels closer to what we’ve all been hoping for, and that is a step in the right direction.
I complied a handful of posts full of takeaways that I’ve learned through this season, but the biggest one of them all is gratitude for things we often take for granted and time to slow down and appreciate the little things. For me, that includes evenings at home with Scott and less time with him on the road. For the first time in Skyler’s life, Scott was able to eat almost every meal at home with us and help tuck him in almost every night.
It also makes me very proud to highlight his accomplishments during the last year that include volunteer work (sometimes four or more days a week) to help with local food pantries and disaster relief. We have both been able to step up and onto the leadership team with our church, and that is something we wouldn’t have had time for in the past. Quite literally, Scott saved a man’s life while serving with the food pantry ministry one day (I shared a bit of the story here), and it just goes to show that miracles happen, even through the hard and impossible seasons.
There were a lot of grey days, but it wasn’t all bad or a year that we should just pretend never happened, either. Important lessons and growth happened through the process, and that’s something worth holding onto.
Here are a few posts I created with takeaways for the future:
- How To Increase Your Productivity While Working At Home
- New Habits I’m Continuing Post-Quarantine
- New Habits I’m NOT Continuing Post-Quarantine
- My Word For 2021: Simplify
- Tips On How To Celebrate Small Wins Every Day
This post has been a reflection for me, and I hope that it has offered some encouragement and inspiration for you, too. Life doesn’t always inspire you to stay positive or appreciate the things we do have to be thankful for. Some seasons are hard, and some days are really, really hard. Everybody has them.
Staying positive doesn’t mean that you don’t get sad or angry sometimes. It means that you keep going anyways, with faith, hope and an optimistic heart. This specific mindset shift has totally changed my life, so I wanted to share it with you with some context of my story and where it has brought me to today … living in the moment (not stuck in the past or wishing for the future) and seeking out the joys in every day.
We can do hard things. We can survive the hard seasons. We can get sad about them, but we have to keep swimming and look for the silver linings to hold onto along the way, because they’re always there.
Are you looking for them? And, most importantly, are you following them up with a mindset of pity or growth? Focusing on the things that lift you up over what brings you down might be the biggest change that you need to actually change your life.
I know it has shifted mine in a HUGE way!
Once I learned to start accepting where we’re at and embracing the tools we have to better the future, I started showing up to serve and I absolutely love what I get to do every day. I’m a mother and caretaker for Skyler, but I also get to run this blog and social pages that help support my small business(es) and hopefully help others. And that’s something I will never, ever take for granted.
It’s been quite the year – to say the least – but even seeing some of the videos I shared along the way shows so. much. growth. I used to feel shy and embarrassed to talk on camera, and now I feel at home with a fun way to educate and entertain. The sheer fact that this video has reached nearly 100,000 views blows my mind, and it’s all about showing up and finding that confidence on camera that you only acquire with practice and learning through the hard and uncomfortable seasons.
It’s the definition of putting yourself out there and constantly editing to improve in the future. And, to me, that’s what this time around my birthday is all about. Live, learn, grow, repeat.
Thank you so much for being here and along for the journey.
I appreciate you more than you know!