So, I’ve been stewing on this post all week and kept trying to shift my thinking to what I "thought" I should be thinking – “Good riddance 2020!” The start of a new year historically feels like the turning of a page and a blank canvas to start coloring, and I was expecting that I would feel that way again this year. However, this time around, I feel like 2020 has changed me in so many ways and I’ve had so many new experiences, that I’m mysteriously finding myself not letting go. This time last year, I said in my interview with my husband (see here, and here) that I was looking for a paradigm shift (laugh emoji) and boy did I get one. It’s a reminder that when I commit to new intentions, the universe has a way of delivering them.
Here it is, a truth bomb. I actually never want to go back to how my life was before the pandemic hit us… it was one of the worst years I can remember but it was one of the very best too. First and foremost, I’m well aware that 2020 has been a living nightmare for so many and I’m lucky to have not lost any loved ones, my health, my livelihood, my home. I’m very lucky. I have access to food, water, shelter, inspiration, nature, love. Sadly, many can’t say the same. And while 2020 has taken so much, it also gave me some of the greatest gifts I could have ever been given. Jeffrey and I make a practice of seeing challenges, not problems, so here I am not just discounting 2020 wholesale, but giving myself permission to love what I’ve learned from the many challenges it offered up and in turn to hopefully connect with those who've struggled and found things to cherish from this past year.
I've discovered, that in the years leading up to 2020, I was struggling to keep up, and show up for those I love. I was going through the motions without creating the luxury of time to slow down enough to think things through, find gratitude, humility, and give myself grace when I didn’t feel whole. I was depressed, exhausted, feeling burned out and lost in the white noise of travel, red-eyes, eating crappy food on trains, planes and in my car and taxis. I was sleeping in weird hotel rooms, trying to function on different time zones and generally feeling inadequate because I didn’t have it all together. To say I was depleted is an understatement. I give my all to my business, always have, but after my last trip to Paris in early March when I caught one of the last flights home to CA, I realized that this life I had wasn’t sustainable. It felt like it was going to kill me or at the very least continue to slowly suffocate me. I was consistently on the move, hardly ever grounded, and I rarely put my well-being first. I felt like a ticking time bomb. And, the most shameful part for me was realizing that I was frequently choosing to stay up late to get work done rather than eat a meal and connect with my husband.
When my world ground to a halt, the sudden stillness allowed me time to reflect on many parts of myself that were buried under being busy and constantly traveling. I have learned that 2020 didn’t bring me to my knees, I arrived at 2020 on my knees and the circumstances around the pandemic woke me up to what really matters, and who really matters. It felt like I was living life in a wind tunnel, where I was sort of hearing people, but not really. And I was definitely not hearing myself and what I needed. But a shift happened - I could begin to hear my heart and soul and what was making it tick. I was feeling everything in a way that I hadn’t for a long, long time, and as scary as that felt to me at first, it became very liberating. I looked forward to waking up each day because it was all new and I had the chance to reframe everything, be more alert, and connect with people in a real way.
When my business was forced to shut down when our area went into lockdown, I found myself faced with a decision… succumb to the natural impulse to feel despair and give up on all the things that weren’t going according to plan. Or, I could sit quietly, recognize the things I still had, and dig deep in the face of uncertainty. And by handling that unfamiliar feeling with grace and compassion, knowing I was not alone if I looked to others, I could be part of something more than myself.
I also learned that one person can create massive change (post here). The RV trip Jeffrey and I took across country in May felt like no accident when it happened. It was in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic, and right after the death of George Floyd and we saw the best and worst of America. I saw that we all don’t have equal access to the American Dream, and that there's so much work to be done. Seeing people with so much less, risk so much to speak up for injustice was both humbling and inspiring.
I met people along the way who changed me forever, I learned that we can touch people in ways that don’t always seem clear in the moment. That if we just slow down a little and get quiet, the answers are always right there. I learned that the people who were with me this last year are those who I want in my life. I learned that truth is powerful, truth is necessary, finding truth requires a deep dive into who I really am, and having the courage to reveal who that person is. I learned that I want to show up for other people, though sometimes I get lost in my own fear of survival. But what I feel to be true is that our humanity can’t survive if we don’t show up for others. And we can’t survive if we don’t speak up for those less fortunate than us.
In many ways the fact that the whole world has gone through this pandemic together has felt like a unifying experience. I feel more connected to the world than I ever have which is ironic because I’m not flying all over like I have my whole life. I've found empathy for what everyone is going through. As I mentioned earlier, I have it easy compared to most. I didn’t loose anyone I loved, I still have my career and the business that I built, I still have my home and I still have my health. And by recognizing this, I can see how hard it is for so many who aren’t in the same position as I am. It’s lit a fire in me that I need to speak up more and do more. I don’t know where that will lead, but I know I need to not shy away from what I truly believe to be fair and just for all people.
My husband and I spent eight consecutive months together which was a first in our marriage and I feel more deeply connected to him than ever. He's shown up for me in ways that are too innumerable to mention. When he left to resume shooting a project in LA in November, I cried. It felt like our bubble of time had burst and that moment in our lives would never be as it was during March - November. It’s a time I will cherish forever and a time where I grew more as a person than I have in years. I’m a different person. 2020 changed me.
I’ve actively given back to my community this year in ways I didn’t have the bandwidth to do before. I've started taking care of myself more, not so much in the obvious ways like eating well, exercising, etc, but by deeply listening to what I need, getting out of patterns that bore me, some even that I find depressing, I’ve given myself the gift of questioning almost everything: why I do what I do and who I do it for. The relationships that have not nourished me but rather depleted me have been easier to let go of. And all of this has allowed me to imagine a better world that inspires me.
When I look with 2020 vision, I have a clearer and deeper appreciation for what I have right in front of me. I have so much and I need so little to find peace and contentment. I have gratitude for having someone to love and who loves me back, for a team who show up for me and my business, for customers and their unwavering support, for friends and their ability to feed my soul. When I was able to strip away so many feelings of doubt, my needs became very simple. Get up and show up for everyone I care about, even if I don’t have all the answers. And when I’m feeling weak, I've learned that my strength comes from the little glimmers of hope and positivity projected back to me by those in my life, and the world around me.
Thanks to all of you who have supported DIANI, you have helped me, Jeffrey, Leanna, Christine, Emily, Jessica, Helena, Shaina, Elizabeth, Madeleine, Abigail, Sophie, Meg, Dominique, Sarah, Tracy, Selam and Dessaray all get through this past year with your faith in us. It will never be forgotten.
20 Things I Learned in 2020
Sending lots of love and peace in 2021,
First and last image courtesy of Emma McCann
I cannot find the words to express how moved I am by what you wrote and shared. I too was feeling myself stripped bare by the challenges of 2020 and seeing so many people suffer not just health wise but financially and have their lives turned upside down. You put into words what so many of us are feeling and you highlighted so perfectly what so many of us have come to realize – how important the little things in life are – having love, our health, family and close friends – staying in gratitude and “abundant thinking”. Keeping focused on our own well being but also staying connected to those we love most. And lastly, having community – being part of something bigger than ourselves.
Thank you so much sharing !
Thank you so much Kaye, Amy, Ashley and Supriya for your thoughts and kind words. Really love having you be part of this journey with me. Happy New Year! xo
Funny how another person in another place can reflect exactly what you’re feeling deep inside. Thank you for your articulation of a very complex year of growth, and change. I will never go back to that pace of life…
I just wanted to say, how much I appreciate your honesty, your heart and your journey. You may not realize it, but reading your word, help open up my own heart and feelings and are an inspiration.
Beautiful. This blog post is beautiful. The truth poured through every word which I found beautiful. Well wishes and much love to you & yours!
I almost didn’t read this, thinking it was going to be another trite summary of the year. Thanks for your introspection and your careful words. And thank you for being there for your customers-in my case, with new straw hats. Sorry if that’s an irresponsibly trivial statement, but it’s just how I’m feeling this morning.