Lessons Learned in 2020; Looking Forward With Hope

Lessons Learned in 2020, Looking Forward With Hope

In this Link Party post, I talk about lessons learned in 2020 and my hope for 2021.

Sheryl at A Chronic Voice does a Link Party every month. In her words:

“The linkups are a monthly get together for anyone with a chronic illness, mental disorder or disability. An opportunity to share, to listen, and to learn from one another through shared writing prompts. I also think it’s a great way to provide insight into life with chronic pain, from many different points of view.”

This month’s writing prompts are Beginning, Symbolising, Enduring, Revealing, and Gracing.

Beginning 2021-Lessons Learned in 2020

First, evaluating the past is important to planning for the future. 2020 was a grueling year in many ways, but I also grew a lot in it. The biggest lesson I learned was to drop my expectations, and just enjoy what was. This was truly a revelation for me. My desire to control and fix things, and my perfectionism were habits that brought more misery than benefit into my life. Oh, the freedom of experiencing people and life without expectations that things “should go my way.” To understand that I’m not responsible for “fixing” anyone is such a relief. It’s a new way of thinking that I’m taking into 2021.

I’ve chosen the word Hopeful as I begin 2021.

I loved this quote from Sheryl at the beginning of her January Link post:

“Let’s take this fear from 2020, set it alight with a small flame, and carry that light with hope into 2021.” 

Symbolising Hope

Next, the most meaningful symbol of hope for me for the new year is a sprouting Amaryllis bulb. My daughter gave me a dry dead-looking Amaryllis bulb for Christmas. The kit contained a small hard brown disk of “soil”, and a simple plastic pot. The directions said to pour warm water over the brown disk after placing it into a large bowl. It didn’t look promising. However, after adding water this small disk grew into a mountain of potting soil. It was a delightful surprise. I packed this soil around my sad looking bulb and placed it on a dresser. Lo, and behold, it sprouted into this.

It’s one of those awesome mysteries of life how a bulb or a seed that looks unimpressive and even dead can develop into a beautiful plant. I’m eagerly waiting for the bud to open. If dry dead-looking bulbs can burst into beauty, there is hope for us!

Enduring Difficulties

Boy, was 2020 definitely an exercise in endurance. And do you know what? We made it!! However you did it, you survived all that 2020 threw at you. I learned that God was completely dependable during a year of isolation from others. As a person who spent the pandemic largely alone, God kept me company every day of it. Through a broken shoulder. The loss of my first grandbaby. The death of my close friend’s daughter, and being hospitalized with pneumonia. I’m so thankful for His company, and for technology. Being able to both see and hear family and friends was a blessing. I think we all learned how to endure over the long haul. Not perfectly, but we figured some stuff out that helped us along the way.

Revealing Hidden Realities

Next, on Sheryl’s list is Revealing. Last year was also a very revealing year. I agree with Sheryl that it brought out the best and the worst in people. Oh, the cranky days we experienced! The frustrations and unknowns. In my country, the United States, it revealed quite a few ugly truths. I was horrified at the senseless murder of George Floyd by police officers. It dawned on me that he could have been my son or my grandson. No mother should have to worry everytime her boy leaves the house that he may be murdered because of the color of his skin.

To be honest, this realization that prejudice was still alive and well in my nation wrecked me. I had to admit that too often I’ve turned a blind eye. I can’t live that way anymore, and I’ve been reading and listening to the voices of black and brown skinned people. Just trying to understand things from their perspectives. My precious daughter-in-law is black and I want to do all I can to make a better world for her and her children. Sadly, I should have cared even before she came into my life.

Gracing: We All Need More Of It

Last comes Gracing. Grace is such a lovely word and concept. It reminds me of Julie at ME/CFSSelf-Help Guru when she talks about moving through our days with “relaxed effortlessness” and “self-compassion”.

I had been struggling with my emotional eating in November, until it dawned on me that I was frustrated with how I was handling feeling lonely. I was missing human touch and hugs. For me 2020 was a “hug desert.” I was judging myself for not coping better with loneliness. Once I realized that, I asked myself “Why?” Everyone feels lonely at times, and many people are struggling with that feeling in this pandemic. I gave myself permission to feel the way I was feeling. I looked for ways to comfort myself with touch, and the crazy eating faded away. Giving grace to ourselves and others is such a powerful lesson learned this year. The world needs a lot more grace and less judgement.

Wrap-Up Of Lessons Learned

Lessons learned in 2020:

  • You can get through anything one day or minute at a time.
  • Expectations lead to frustration and anger.
  • The United States really isn’t a place of “liberty and justice for all.”
  • If I’m not part of the solution to racial disparities then I’m part of the problem.
  • God is dependable!
  • Compassion towards self and others really does change life.
  • Even in the winter, spring is coming.

Lastly, I hope you can look back, and see some helpful lessons that you’ve learned in 2020 that you can take with you into 2021. Take care of yourself. Kathy

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