What a year! Funny how those three words are understood around the world to mean exactly the way they were/are intended. It isn't often that human beings can share in a global experience at the same time but 2020 changed that. Even with much of the world at a standstill, so much happened. So many things changed. Whether it was how we worked, what we prioritised, who we welcomed, or to whom we said goodbye, 2020 has been a hell of a year. And this year highlighted a precious lesson that I learned over the years and now hold dear: within every situation there is an opportunity to find the message that will help us move further towards a sense of inner strength, calm, peace, and acceptance. With gratitude.
It isn't about resilience, but an acceptance of what we can control and what we can't. And there was so much about 2020 that I couldn't control. Whether it was not being there for my aunt in Toronto, with whom I was so close, as she neared the end of her life and not being able to pay my respects at her funeral. Not being there to console my mother as she prayed for her sister during her final days. It was the same for so many families around the world. Having to say goodbye via FaceTime. And not being able to do what is so natural for human beings to do: hug. So many of us couldn't control losing jobs and are facing the real fear of how to pay bills. And while hope is great, it doesn't automatically result in, well, results.
There is one thing that does work--acknowledging and accepting the moment and then having the strength and courage to look beyond with the conviction in knowing it won't always be or feel this way. The beauty of life is that there is one real guarantee--it never stays the same. So if we are to believe in something, maybe we can believe in better days to come (despite what the news will tell us). After all, there were a lot of great things to come out of 2020: a COVID vaccine, flexible working conditions, a new American administration; value in finding new solutions to old problems, the courage to ignore naysayers and be determined in believing in our dreams; moments of complete pause and nature finally being able to breathe again. Personally, my husband and I started a new business (ironically on Day 1 of the lockdown); our little boy started kindergarten; husband started running; I completed 4/30 day yoga challenges; a validation in our choice of living in the countryside, having a garden for us to enjoy during those hot summer lockdown days; having each other and people around us (albeit virtually) who truly care about us and our wellbeing. And recognising what is important in life.
My husband asked me today, when telling me about an issue pertaining to our house that needed to be addressed, what I wanted first: the good news or the bad news. I opted for the good news because it actually didn't matter to me what the bad news would be knowing that we would deal with it no matter what. I wasn't always this way. In the past, I would have always asked to have the bad news first so that I could be on guard regardless of what the good news would be. My perspective was always 'know what you're up against first', be impermeable, be on the offense rather than having to be on the defense, that way I won't fall apart. And my attitude back then was the 'good news' wouldn't be good enough because my focus was always on the bad, the what-ifs, the what-could-happen.
Today, what I find myself continually looking out for no matter the situation, is what the silver lining could be. It's what I had explored in my blog post Post Traumatic Growth Opportunity. It's a day by day practice. Sometimes I get it right. Others I get it very wrong. But what I have noticed is that I am getting better at regrouping emotionally and focusing on the here and now and what is in my control. And at the heart of that regroup is practicing gratitude. It is what helped me through 2020, remembering to always be grateful for what I have, grateful for what I had (both the good and bad), and grateful for the potential of tomorrow. As my mother always says, "you never know what tomorrow will bring so let's think about the best."
I am grateful for so many things this year---my family, our home, the food on our table, our dear friends. And each and every one of you. For creating space in your very precious time and inboxes to read my little blog and sharing with me this journey that has become a sanctuary and a purpose.
I hope you are finding that silver lining that is twinkling beneath the clouds of 2020. It's there. Have faith in the fact that it exists because you exist. Living. Breathing--something 2020 and COVID has taught us to not take for granted. What is a certainty in life is that how every second plays out is not a guarantee. Knowing that, understanding that, frees us to choose how we want to feel about it. That is something we can always control.
Just as I was finishing this blog post, a beautiful quote came up on my instagram feed and it couldn't be more timely or serendipitous. It is by the writer L.R.Knost:
"Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful."
Have a healthy and safe holiday season everyone. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. And remember to focus on the good news. (And it turns out, my husband didn't have any bad news about our house).