Today is the last entry from my 50 Stories in 50 Weeks project. One year ago, I turned fifty and ended a fifteen year career in advertising. I’d left so I could focus on my writing, and this little project was a first step. Then a global pandemic hit, everything shut down, and these weekly entries gave me a much needed structure when it felt like one day was rolling into the next. Not to mention witnessing a polarizing Presidential election and a necessary social uprising.
The idea for this project was around how we often spend too much time looking forward to things we might do one day vs. acknowledging a life well lived. Of course, now that we’ve been made to remove ourselves from socialization and travel, accomplishments have changed in nature. Our ability to figure out how to properly wear a mask, maintain our relationships, learn new language (asynchronous learning, mRNA, PPE!) and to keep hope alive even when our friends and family have suffered enormous loss have been the new benchmarks of success.
But there is light now, the end is near (not yet, though – it isn’t over just because you’re over it!) I strongly believe that this last year, catastrophic though it might have been, was also an opportunity to get our houses in order. To stop being reactive and take time to investigate, to learn how to think critically, to ask ourselves why we feel the way we do. It was always alright to be afraid, but it was never alright to risk the safety and livelihood of our neighbors and community. We don’t have to know all the answers. We have to ask for help. We have to be vulnerable. We have to be willing to change our minds and hearts when presented with new information.
I hope I’m not going anywhere anytime soon but if I did, I would have no regret. Sure, there are still loads of things I still want to do in my life but fear isn’t going to stop me. So, even though this year was the pits in many ways, here’s a short, lucky 13 list of all I’m proud to say I managed to do (safely!) because sometimes we need to pat ourselves on the back during a pandemic.
I wouldn’t have survived this year without the never ending, judgement-free support of my kiddo and my husband. You are both loved endlessly by me.
- Within the first week of shutdown, when everyone thought it’d be over in two weeks, I canceled my 50th birthday celebration girlfriend getaway in Palm Springs. It felt right.
- Visited the Badlands and Custer State Park in South Dakota, went camping at a Christmas tree farm in Ohio, spent time with Jason’s mom after his dad passed, camped out in my Mom’s screened in porch to attend my niece’s outdoor bridal shower, and had my heart healed in California visiting my boy and my girlfriends.
- Checked in with my therapist regularly – a privilege we don’t all have but should. Check out the Loveland Foundation’s therapy fund if you’d like to help.
- Got tested for Covid, over and over.
- Did personal anti-racism work, contributed to California wildfire relief, signed petitions I believe in, and voted.
- In the fall, I applied to graduate school and got accepted to five of the six schools (who needs NYU?) I started at Bennington College this January to get my MFA in Creative Writing and it has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.
- I found amazing new exercise platforms besides Peloton (which we love) like Debbie Allen, Amanda Kloots, and Ryan Heffington’s Instagram dance classes
- Went on Sunday hikes with my husband, exploring NJ in a way I hadn’t the last eight years of living here.
- Supported my husband and his best friend doing virtual marathons by providing water stations and cheerleading.
- Weathered a week long stomach bug from hell (or from an airport Bánh mì sandwich)
- Stuck to my Italian lessons, quasi ogni giorno
- Did 108 sun salutations on New Year’s Day
- And finally went to the dentist for my cleaning only to discover I had a cavity but hey, if I’d continued to wait, I could have been going in for a root canal.