We begin most years with hope and optimism. At the beginning of 2020, I was excited for what was to come, ready to establish new habits. I wrote in my first blog post of the year, “At the end of my day, I’d like to take a few moments to list a few things for which I am grateful and celebrate what I accomplished, regardless of how small it is.” Little did I know, being content with small victories each day would be the running theme of 2020.
Each of us found what helped us through one of our most unendurable years. Here is my list.
I adopted a mantra.
My 2020 mantra was, “One day at a time, one task at a time.” I struggle with low-level anxiety, and I get overwhelmed when a lot is going on, especially a lot of change. During this pandemic, all I asked of myself was to keep going regardless of my pace. I did not ask to do more than the day or my energy would allow me. Being home 24/7 with my family was not easy, but it was not unbearable either.
This year taught me to be kind to myself and to give myself and my family grace and space. If I needed a nap, I took one. If I didn’t feel up to a task, I didn’t do it. I didn’t love home-schooling my kids, honestly, but it was rewarding. I simply asked the kids to do their best, and I promised I would do my best. For the most part, it worked for us. I didn’t push them too hard (we won’t count the time I made Vivien cry – oops), and they didn’t push me too hard either.
I continued yoga.
In late 2019, I shared in a blog post how I got into shape following several years of daily drinking that did much more harm than good. I remember being surprised at how quickly my body transformed with the positive adjustments, including a weekly yoga practice. After years of slightly dabbling in it, I committed to going to two yoga classes per week. I loved it, and my body and mind loved it.
Once the pandemic hit, I escaped into YouTube classes. My favorites have been Yoga with Adriene, Cat Meffan, Fightmaster Yoga and Boho Beautiful. Adriene sprinkles encouragement into her videos. Her tagline: find what feels good. She does not pressure you to do more than you can. She taught me that yoga isn’t about hitting a pose or being more flexible. Yoga is about showing my body more love and acceptance. Your body responds well to that.
I read good books.
My favorite book in 2020 was All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2015. If you enjoy historical fiction, pick it up. It is masterfully written; one I could read again and be just as entertained and enthralled.
I escaped into witty books in the early days of the pandemic. One was the highly enjoyable The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. As an American living in Paris, his observations of life and the people in the City of Lights are hilarious. Bonus: he is a chef and shares recipes at the end of each chapter.
I’ve always enjoyed biographies. My favorite in 2020 was The Unfinished Palazzo by Judith Mackrell. The powerful Venier family started construction on the palazzo in 1750 on the Grand Canal in Venice. They had grand plans. However, as their fortune waned, the project was abandoned. The palazzo sat empty and neglected for many years. In the first half of the 20th century, the palazzo was occupied by three different wealthy women: Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, and Peggy Guggenheim. Today, the palazzo is home to the Guggenheim Collection in Venice, which I have visited. It is a fascinating read into the lives of these women and the lives they led while in the palazzo.
I found good, quick workouts.
Rarely do I have more than 30 minutes to work out. Luckily, I found MadFit on YouTube who has a variety of great, hard-hitting workouts from 15-30 minutes. She also does dance workouts that I am surely bombing, but they are fun!
I listened to more podcasts.
I began listening to podcasts (finally) in early 2019. During the pandemic, I enjoyed Everything is Fine, a podcast for women over 40. I’ve enjoyed every episode, even the ones I thought I would not based on their descriptions. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite episodes was a conversation with fashion writer and stylist, Stacy London. One of my favorite things she said, “The more honest and authentic you are with people, the more honest and authentic they are with you.” She went on to say, “Let your style be based on a true and honest awareness of who you are today. You don’t have to keep wearing what you always wore. Let your style evolve as you evolve.”
Another favorite podcast of 2020 (surprisingly) is Literally! with Rob Lowe. As with the EIF podcast, I’ve enjoyed every episode even if I don’t know the person with whom Rob is speaking or the show about which they are talking. You’re basically sitting in on a great conversation between two friends (who happen to be famous people).
I began creating videos.
As a result of being home more, I started creating videos as a new avenue for sharing my knowledge. They are something I can do while my kids are in online classes, and they are quicker and easier to accomplish than a blog post, which can take several days to create. I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed making them, and it was a bonus that my viewers enjoyed them.
After receiving encouragement to create a YouTube channel, I did. Find it here. Also find my videos on my Facebook business page. I cover a variety of topics from organizing your wardrobe to dressing your body shape to finding your style words and creating outfits. I look forward to continuing videos in 2021. Send me your video ideas, and I would love for you to subscribe to my YouTube channel!
I changed my mindset.
Beyond learning to be happy with small accomplishments each day, I am learning to live more open and surrendered to what will happen rather than trying to create a certain outcome. 2020 taught us that we have much less control than we imagined. Working hard is important but being okay with outcomes outside of our expectations is crucial. Life will take us where we are supposed to go in the right time. What is meant for each of us will be ours.
I’m proud of us. We may not have closed 2020 with the accomplishments we had imagined at the outset of the year, but we made it. We are battered, but we are stronger. We know what matters and the people who matter most. We know that a simple life is a good life and that doing more with less is possible.
For 2021, I want us to enjoy space to grow and live with intention and joy with people who make us better. Happy New Year!