Things That Helped Ease 2020

The year 2020 will go down in history as a tough one for so many people. It seems like everyone I meet has a difficult story. Some people have lost jobs. Others have lost loved ones. Still others live alone and feel the loneliness and lack of in-person contact, while some people working at home with kids have experienced overwhelming amounts of stress.

My own journey has included caring for loved ones with serious, debilitating and life-threatening illnesses, the death of my mother-in-law and a close friend, working in crisis communications during a pandemic and months of physical therapy for chronic wrist problems aggravated by a fall.

Despite the difficulties this year has presented, looking back I am grateful for the things that got me through 2020. I would love to know what helped you survive last year.

Here are some of the things that got me through:

Nature: Being in nature almost every day, whether for a walk on the trail near my house or farther afield, reminded me that the world continues on, no matter what is happening in my small corner of the universe.

Movement: Putting one foot in front of the other, working up a sweat, everything from yoga and dance to walking and swimming, exercise helped improve my mood and keep me calm.

Meditation: I made habit of meditating for 10 minutes on most days this year. I found that the feeling of calm often followed me into the rest of my day.

Pets: My cat and dog have been my constant companions, and I have become even closer to both of my furry friends. I play with the cat and take long walks with the dog almost every day.

Family and Friends: Virtual walk and talks. Visits with people within our bubble, back when it was possible to have a bubble. Physically distanced but in-person chats with colleagues. Knocks on the door with cookies and eggs left on the doorstep followed by a cheery conversation. The moments I spend with others lift my spirits and make me realize how much I miss that daily contact. Special bonus: my relationship with my husband has only become stronger during this most stressful year.

Reading: I read 52 books in 2020 – a book every week. Books have expanded my horizons, opened my imagination, made me laugh and cry and grow. I owe a debt of gratitude to my mom, my aunt, my neighbor and a dear friend who all sent me books this year. And a special thanks goes to my daughter-in-law, who got me a Book of the Month Club membership for Mother’s Day.

One of my favorite reads of the year.

Music: I began listening to more music on Spotify this year. I also bought a well-used piano and I’m now re-creating the music I learned as a child and teenager. Creating and listening to music has brought me great joy.

Gardening: I planted a summer vegetable garden and harvested tomatoes, butternut squash and bell peppers. I also put in my first winter garden, with lettuce, kale, spinach and broccoli.

Food: I discovered some food limitations in 2019 and became a pescatarian in 2020. Both events inspired me to try new recipes in 2020, most of which turned out to be delicious.

Greek lentil and spinach soup – great for chilly days.

Vegging: Some weekends, it was all I could do to get out of bed. Getting out of pajamas felt like too much. I let it happen, from binge-watching shows to reading a whole book to laying in a hammock and napping in the sun. Vegging helps.

Vegging done right – cup of tea, comfy slippers, manatee socks and Hello Kitty pajamas.

Zoom: That much-maligned meeting platform has an up side. I hosted a surprise birthday party for my cat the day she turned a year old. Sure, she ignored all of us, but family and friends came through and we had an enjoyable time visiting. I also planned a surprise Zoom birthday party for my husband and a Zoomsgiving. We were able to bring people together from Florida, North Carolina, California, New York and Washington State. Curt and I even played the board game Pandemic with friends who live 1500 miles away.

TV series/movies: My husband and I made our way through The Americans, Fleabag, Schitt’s Creek, The Queen’s Gambit and countless movies. I also caught up to the end of the current season of The Crown.

Correspondence: I increased my letter writing this year, and enjoyed renewing the feeling of connection through correspondence. I found fun cards and stationery and looked forward to checking the mailbox once again.

Laughter and tears: Sometimes I need a good laugh. Sometimes I need a good cry. Sometimes it might be both at the same time. I let the emotions flow as they will; it’s what will get me through this.

Laughter pictured – I will spare you an image of the ugly cry.

Looking back, I feel fortunate to have had multiple opportunities for comfort and joy this past year, despite all the sadness. I hope that you did too, and that you can find some in the year to come.

Published by thelamppost2017

Writer, dancer, hiker, outdoorswoman, baker, gardener, traveler, knitter, shell collector, cheese enthusiast.

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