Lessons Learned

I am certain we can all agree that 2020 was unlike anything we could have ever predicted. When I think about life pre-pandemic it seems like years ago when we were giving each other sweaty hugs, rubbing elbows in crowded restaurants/bars and the thought of wearing a mask only came around once a year at Halloween.

It sounds like a lot of us are ready to write off 2020 and pretend like it never happened. But the reality is that it DID happen and even though there were A LOT of challenging events to process, there was good that came out of it.

We elected our country's first female vice president, first Black vice president, first Asian-American vice president, we had the highest voter turn out ever for a presidential election, attention was given to racial injustice issues and the Black Lives Matter movement was amplified, and several vaccines were created in record time for a virus that's forever changed the way we live our lives.

I know these accomplishments won't eclipse the 300+ thousand American lives we've lost this year to COVID-19, but it does remind me to focus on the positive and think of the glass half-full.

I strongly believe that every situation, whether good or bad, allows you to learn something new. Before I leave 2020 and enter 2021, I want to keep in mind and reflect on what this year has taught me so I can enter the new year with a full and grateful heart.

1. The Value of True Friendships

As our world shut down and we were encouraged to stay away from one another, I was quickly reminded how important "connecting" is.

Even though I couldn't see my friends, we still found ways to stay connected. Whether it was through a ZOOM happy hour or book club, the exchanging and tagging of memes on Instagram or a group text chat that always puts a smile on my face, we found ways to share our lives and love. Despite not seeing some of my friends this year, I feel closer to them than ever before.

Whether it was new friendships that evolved through the pandemic or my forever besties, one thing is clear---this experience solidified who I want and need in my life.

2. Reclaiming My Time

Like most Americans, I spent several months working from home this year. I did get stir crazy after a few weeks but what I did enjoy was getting back the time I spent away from my partner and pups. I am a bit of a workaholic so being able to wake up later and avoid my normal commutes meant I got to spend more time with my family.

My eldest dog Auto is 15 years old, so every minute I got to spend with him at home was a blessing and something I will cherish.

This experience reminded me that I need to slow down and really enjoy my life---I need to prioritize what is important to me and focus my time on those things. Because of this I am taking a break from personal training for a few months to focus my energy on improving my overall emotional and social wellness.

3. Breaking The Mold

The pandemic forced all of us to get creative and find new ways of doing things for almost everything we do. How we exercise, collaborate, shop for groceries and even vote---we had to think outside the box and break the standard molds we used.

This sparked a lot of innovation and really showed us how quickly we can adapt to a variety of situations. It's exciting to see how fast things have changed in less than a year and I'm excited to see how our future evolves from here.

It reminded me to take a moment and see how something can be done differently. The old saying "don't fix something if it isn't broke" is outdated---innovation is the key to our worlds evolution.

4. Praise Be

The biggest value that 2020 has taught me is to be grateful for every experience big and small---it serves as a reminder to never take anything or anyone for granted because you never know when it'll be taken away. Many of us this year have lost loved ones, jobs, homes and hope. But staying positive and keeping that love in your heart is key to living your best life.

I am grateful for my health, the family and friends that I have, my fitness community that was able to persevere and become stronger, being able to still practice landscape architecture and fitness, and for all the love and support you have given me this year. Being away from all of you was and still is very tough, but knowing that one day we will be reunited is what keeps me going.

I love all of you and hope you too can find something positive that 2020 has gifted to you. You can choose to see 2020 as a dark moment in time, but I hope you choose to see its light and enter 2021 with joy and optomism in your heart.