An almost exhausting abundance of writing on the year 2020 has made the rounds of newspapers, social media posts, Christmas letters, poetry and essay reflections and collections. There’s a lot to say about this year, unique individual stories in a collective, shared world crisis. We had to abruptly change the very essence of our days whether we liked it or not. And then more and more was piled on top of it.
When I think back about this year, it will certainly be about the losses – of life, jobs, homes, of family, friends, colleagues; the uncertainty, the fearful and sad moments, the stress, the fatigue. But I’m also hopeful that a few new good things that came out of this year will still be with me in 2021.
For all the health talk and inundation of fresh juice products and stores in Los Angeles, I had never been a fan. But this year found me trying a new eating plan soon after the pandemic began that I hoped would do my body good. I wanted, needed to feel physically better with so much more time spent at home on the computer. I had a daily walking routine, but my body craved something else. This plan included a recipe for a cleansing smoothie and that’s how green juice came into my life. Spinach, cucumber, celery, fruit of choice, lemon, lime, ginger, mint. It tasted good. It felt good. It became a balm for my body every morning.
A month into working at home, I noticed a sort of haze come over my eyes and my mind about 3 o’clock every afternoon. It was if they just refused to work anymore. They’d had enough. I decided to try taking a short break, something I’d never needed in the afternoon pre-pandemic. I realized my mind sought nourishment of a different kind and since I’d read so much about the benefits of meditation, I decided to give it a try. My husband and I had downloaded the Calm app onto our phones and there was a new 10-minute meditation every day. Looking back now, I believe it saved me. From all the challenges and stress of work and life that seemed too much to handle on top of the pandemic – car accidents and totaled vehicles, stolen motorcycles, loved ones’ health and financial issues. In meditation I learned how to breathe. How to focus on the present moment. How to let my mind rest.
Despite the worry and trepidation, I managed two trips this year, which I am forever grateful I was able to make. Interestingly enough my travels took me to places I’d never explored before – Sammamish Lake in Washington in August and Tenmile Lake in Oregon in December. In discovering them, I fell in love. You know the feeling – the instant connection with the sounds, the smells, the sights. The giddiness in encountering a new treasure, the way the heart is so full with the beauty of the shimmer of the moon and sun on the water that you wish you could look at it forever. I must be a water person because it was reminiscent of my first glimpse of the ocean. Or maybe it was because I was with people I love and that spilled over into the view. My heart let go of the burdens for the moment and I was able to experience joy, at times exhilarating, other times quiet and serene. What a relief that yes, my heart is alive and well, with not just the sorrow, the anger, the anxiety, the depression of all that 2020 has brought us, but the experience of new love.
If this year made me aware of anything it is knowing just how lucky and privileged I am to wake up every morning to a loving family, a home, a job. I am grateful that I get to eat and breathe and love every day – body, mind, heart.
All of this filled me and my writing too. I participated with my Athena Women’s Chorus in an amazing 40 days + 40 writes project in March and April, and with a writing friend I wrote every day in November for NaNoWrMo, National November Writing Month. These kept me connected to my novel, the characters, the places, the history and the art that inspire me as a writer, and as a reader.
My takeaway – our best lives lived, have body, mind and heart searching, yearning, growing. Together.
Whatever 2020 brought to you, it is my hope that it brought something, anything, small or big, that you can reflect on, find value in, appreciate and take with you into 2021.
Cheers! To 2021! To us in all our reslience, to the grace of body, mind and heart.