by Mary Holtrop

A lot of discussions over the past several weeks revolved around 2020; why it was so awful, why we should forget it, and why 2021 is going to be better for us.  Along with this, there are the many questions of “what did you learn in 2020?”, “what did you improve on?”, “what habits fell by the wayside?”  After about three weeks of this, I was getting seriously tired of it all. It’s not that 2020 wasn’t pretty awful, but I felt so conflicted with the 2020 was terrible and 2021 is going to be better.  Watching the news after Christmas, and to clarify, I rarely watch the news, there was a segment about the good that came out of 2020. I thought “finally.” It was truly a beautiful segment showing how many ways we came together to help each other. At the end of this video they talked briefly about the many people who learned to care about others. How people opened their homes to family and strangers, and how neighbors helped rebuild homes after hurricanes in the south and the fires out west. How first responders never ever gave up. How babies were born, pets were adopted and new businesses were started.  How people started new hobbies, found love, went back to school online, and reconnected with lost family members and friends.  It showed how strangers became family, and families spent more time together.  More meals were cooked, cookies were baked, more bikes were ridden and more snow forts were built. It’s hard not to dwell on all the sad and wrong things that happened this past year.  But as I walk my neighborhood and I see signs of humanity and goodness it does warm my heart.

photo of a wooden bookshelf
Photo by Karl Solano on Pexels.com

Maybe I was trying to look for the good because I was so tired of the negative. But here’s the thing, I tend to be a negative person. Not totally negative, but sometimes, I cannot even tolerate myself because I don’t focus on what is good, I focus on what is not. But during this year, with so many people who became so negative, and angry, and never stopped complaining it really started to make me look more at myself because honestly, I didn’t like it. I know some of what they were feeling was real and true but I wanted us to say “we can beat this,” “we are better than this,” “we are stronger than this.”  Talking with a co-worker the other day we were reflecting on our previous director who left in September. I was saying how much I hated our department meetings because there was no leadership. There was no guidance, encouragement to compromise, support for difference of opinions. Several meetings I walked out because I just felt so attacked and drained. My co-worker said “all that time, Mary, I realize you were trying to be positive and hopeful and we were not letting you.” Yes, that is exactly it. I was, and my team lead by our director was bringing me, and everyone else down.  

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 When people were asking those end of the year questions I immediately thought I really didn’t accomplish much. I felt like a better person but did I really do anything? But then in church a few days after New Years I did some serious thinking. Yes, I did.  I cut back on caffeine. I didn’t plan to or make it a goal but I did. I took walks 404 times this year, that means every day and some days twice a day.  I participated in a challenge and came in the top 11% in my walking.  I started walking early in the morning which is something I have wanted to do for years.  I gave up chips for Lent which I succeeded at.  I did bake more, went back to church more, started meditating and doing more yoga. I started drinking more water.  I lost my two part time jobs and my finances took a hit and I have way too much time on my hands but my overall outlook got better and for that I feel good. There was so much sadness, grief, anger, frustration, the list goes on, but I tried really hard to see some good in our everyday lives.

I do hope 2021 brings new good things for most of us who have lost jobs, lost family members or friends, who have suffered health issues or financial losses.  But I also want us to remember, when 2020 threw us a major curveball in life we hit back in many ways that were good.  May everyone find peace and joy in 2021 and may we never forget the lessons we learned in 2020.