Winding Down & Releasing 2020

This year has been unlike any in my nearly 50 years. A global pandemic has forced the world to halt, then change. During mandatory quarantine I witnessed a shift within myself, community, and relationships. Without the daily rush, we were forced to see what was in front of us. To confront our lives, instead of burying ourselves in work, school, and obligations (self-imposed) or otherwise.

In America, the world watched as tragedy brought Black Lives Matter to global attention; followed by the increasingly publicized divide among American citizens in politics and social behaviors and attitudes. These matters, along with quarantine behaviors, thoughts and attitudes regarding the pandemic dramatically shifted workplaces, families, and friendships.

One cannot go through all of this without impact on the mental, emotional, and physical levels. Personally, all of this brought me back to a mindfulness practice. It was my way of coping with the overload and being able to guide my frightened children through this year. Stripping away our schedules, changing how often we have all been together, and stepping away from social pursuits and obligations has brought massive change to our lives.

This has been an emotionally and mentally raw year for me. The quiet has allowed my inner voice to be heard. Change in how time has been spent allowed each of us to show and share our vulnerabilities. Being in the same space each day gave reflection on whether it felt like a sanctuary or a burden. Behaviors and attitudes came forward regarding how each of us felt about the changes in our lives and routines.

Mindfulness, has been the saving grace for me. I would love to tell you that with mindfulness I have not had my anxiety and depression flare; but that would be false. What I can tell you is that because of mindfulness I am fully feeling the feelings and allowing them to naturally process. It has not been pretty, because raw emotions never are. However, as I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and honest, I have seen beauty in my closest relationships. They have comforted me and allowed me to see their raw vulnerability and personal struggles. As these have emerged, each of us has worked on communication and support with each other.

We are far from perfect, far from healed in some instances; but we are growing together. Being away from our obligations and usual calendar of events gave everyone time for reflection. This reflection gave amazingly honest conversations about wants, needs, likes and dislikes. It also has shown each of us what is really important to us and what we want to get back in our lives, what we can live without, and where the adjustments work just fine for us (such as telecommuting, homeschooling or some distance gaming). Each member of my family surprised me with thoughts and actions. Social behaviors during the pandemic showed me where my values were the same or different from those who touched our lives in some way.

Our connection to nature and our spiritual path has also been revealed to us. We missed being outside all the time at the parks and spent most of the year turning our backyard into a sanctuary. Missing our spiritual friends has been strong and recently we have been better about a home practice; instead of waiting to be with our spiritual community in person.

Hobbies and interests that reflect our personalities have emerged even more; especially with mom making the electronics be put down. New ways of communicating and connecting with loved ones have emerged for each of us as well.

Saying I love you has always been important, but now more than ever. Fear of loss is as real as loss. Living with a shadow of fear from an unknown, unseen source will shape each of us, but especially our children. Teaching ourselves and our children to continue to move forward with life and love, to move through that fear and find what love, beauty, grace, and gratitude there is in life despite the fear is important.

Today, I ask you to reflect on what you are grateful for. It can even be the lessons or conversations that your anxiety or depression has taught you. Find something joyful to reflect on, even the hope things will change in a better direction for you. Hold onto that and breathe into that. Give yourself a moment to relax and release the emotions of 2020 so you can create space for whatever the next year will bring us.

Irisa