Who else is laughing (or crying?) at the inspiring vision board, detailed goals, and life roadmap you created at the start of 2020? Me! We weren’t just entering a new year, we were entering a new decade, one full of possibilities and opportunities. January and February were all about optimism. People declared 2020 to be their year, and we were bombarded with countless 20/20 vision analogies about seeing life more clearly, or whatever.
Life was gooooood in December of 2019 and none of us could have predicted the rollercoaster of a year we’ve had. But ya know what, I’ll argue that life is still gooooood as we enter 2021.
Read on for a yearly recap of highlights and silver linings of the unexpected year that has been 2020, as well as a personal challenge as we enter 2021.
2020 reflections: the good things
We got married!
2020 started out on the highest note! Wardell and I celebrated our marriage with 50 of our closest family members and friends in Puerto Vallarta in February. The weekend was filled with a welcome bonfire, a traditional Mexican rehearsal dinner, and culminated in a wedding that resort guests were talking about for days after. What can I say? We know how to party!
Oh, and the day after our wedding, our beloved Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl! It was the best week of my life and I look back on those days with the fullest heart. So much has changed in the world since February, and I am forever thankful for our decision to throw a big bash/vacation. The memories we made during our wedding week have carried me through some of the lowest points of 2020. I had tears in my eyes as everyone left the resort the Monday after our four-day, never-ending party. When would all of these people be together again in the same place for a joyous reason? Maybe never again. If anyone out there is debating a destination wedding for any reason – just do it. You will not regret it. I promise.
P.S.: looking for destination wedding tips? Check out this post for 10 tips to help you throw an epic, tequila-infused bash.
We honeymooned in Costa Rica
As we wrapped up our wedding weekend and headed to our honeymoon in Costa Rica, coronavirus news and concerns we increasing by the day. But, we got our trip in under the wire! We spent a week and a half immersed in the Pura Vida life. From volcanos and hot springs in the jungle to beach days and surfing in Tamarindo, it was a really special week. When we returned home, I never imagined it would be TEN MONTHS before I would step foot on an airplane again. Look for a full guide to Costa Rica soon!
We had many things to celebrate
Along the way, we’ve had friends get married, have babies, get engaged, find their partners. We’ve celebrated (virtually or socially-distanced) birthdays, Father’s and Mother’s Days, and holidays. And we’ve experienced everyday joys that, prior to this dumpster fire of a year, I might have taken for granted. Things like celebrating an unseasonably warm day to have a picnic in the park, farm days with my Grandpa, learning new recipes, picking up new hobbies… the list goes on.
When cabin fever was kicking in hard, about mid-summer, we added a new member to our family: meet Lisa the Lexus. She is our tricked out, souped-up, overland camping vehicle that is a constant project. Neither Wardell nor I have historically been big campers. But there’s something magical about sleeping in a roof-top tent and feeling like you’re in you’re own little treehouse. We are excited to take her on longer trips in the Spring, and maybe even share our experience for anyone looking for road trip inspiration, logistics, and must-haves!
2020 reflections: the silver linings
I originally had this section titled 2020: The Bad. But then I remembered that our mindset is the strongest ingredient for a positive attitude. So, here we are with the Silver Linings reflections of 2020. While I think it’s important to look back on the challenging times, there are already enough “10 things that sucked about 2020” lists on the internet if you want to torture yourself. I’ll spare you.
Learning to cope with our new normal
Just two weeks after we arrived back home from our honeymoon, the world was forever changed. We packed up our offices, moved into makeshift ones at home, and were in quarantine indefinitely. With no idea when we would see our friends, our family, or our coworkers again, we were all just winging it. There was no precedent or go-by for living during a pandemic in modern times.
And, I don’t know about you, but the first month was a struggle. The fear of the unknown, the uncertainty, the anxiety about remaining safe – all of the things. I worried (and still do) about our family, our friends, our coworkers. And, as a natural empath, I tend to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders more intensely than some. Over time, my anxiety has subsided as I’ve learned to cope with our new normal and focus on the things that are in my control – wearing a mask, keeping my distance, and focusing on my mental health.
Before March, the idea of me working from home was non-existent. My day job is rather traditional and very rarely grants approval to work outside of a hub office. That’s all been thrown out the window now, and I consider this one of the biggest silver linings of 2020. The flexibility to work from home has helped me create better work/life integration (work/life balance is so 2015…) and I’ve found myself to be more productive and efficient. Yes, I miss interacting with my coworkers, but I’m hopeful my new normal will be a mix of in-office and work from home as 2021 progresses. If you’ve found yourself with more work flexibility, check out our guide to planning a productive workcation.
Focus on creativity
2020 has also been a year of immense creativity. From improving processes at work, craving fiction books, taking up painting, stocking an overland camping vehicle, to finally launching The Inspired Trip – I have done things in 2020 I haven’t done in years (or ever!). Because I’ve been forced to slow down and take away distractions (helloooo shopping, traveling, and brunch!), I’ve rediscovered passions of mine that I’ve neglected as an adult: nature, writing, art, reading, and more.
Focus on what and who matters most
I’ve also spent more time with those who matter most – even at a distance. Wardell and I were cooped up in our apartment for months – doing puzzles, playing games, watching movies, drinking all the wine – just living that typical newlywed life (hah!). My family of 13 hosted weekly Zoom calls where I learned more about my nieces’ and nephew’s hobbies and school activities than ever before. I am a self-proclaimed hater of phone calls (ask my friends, my phone privileges should be taken away), but I’ve spent more time on FaceTime with friends and family across the country in 2020 than ever before, and I’m not mad about it!
Mainstream society awakening to social and racial injustices
A reflection of 2020 would be incomplete without touching on the social and racial injustices that have occurred in America since its inception, and the subsequent awakenings our society experienced in 2020. In response to the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black Americans, our society witnessed (and many participated in) protests and gatherings across the nation, telling our leaders that our policies and structures must change to allow all Americans to have equal opportunities: our education system, our health care policies, and our economic structure, to name a few.
I spent the early part of the summer consuming as much information and education as I could, as well as educating my own family on the topic. To help drive change, I volunteered (for the first time!) for not one, but two political campaigns and I am pleased that one of my candidates was elected to office (the highest office!). To further educate yourself on this topic, I encourage you to check out Nicole Cardoza’s Anti-Racism Daily newsletter for a daily overview of current events, framed with an anti-racism lens.
Above all else, 2020 has been a wake-up call for a lot of people, myself included. To me, 2020 has been one giant, screaming, flashing sign and reminder: do what makes your heart happy. If living in the suburbs with your dogs and/or children and working a corporate job makes you happy – do that. Or, if traveling the world, living minimally, and re-imagining “home” makes you happy – do that. If it’s somewhere in the middle – or something completely different – then do that.
In 2021, I’m challenging myself, and I challenge you, to throw society’s idea of success out the window and to take a hard look at your life. Are you doing what makes you proud and makes you feel successful? Are you doing what you realllllly want to do? Do you wake up every morning energized and loving your work, your hometown, and your friends? Will you look back in 25 years and be content with your choices or wish you would have done more while you were young and healthy?