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Dog Eared Year

This year. What can we say about this year?

This year has been a test of limits, compassion, and resilience. An opportunity to practice patience with ourselves and others, an opportunity to explore trust, and perhaps even an opportunity to grow. Not without the sacrifice of comfort and security however, and certainly not without the loss of family and relationships.

This year has brought many trials as we navigated the uncertainty of our health, our community, and our livelihood. Anxiety and depression appeared to spike in unprecedented numbers as we collectively lost a sense of ourselves. We have watched our children struggle to navigate online learning, classrooms with masks, and limited social interaction. Parents strategized to work from home all the while wondering about the security of their careers. As individuals we seemed to fall silent as the most pertinent topics brought about sorrow and fear. Yes, a year that was deemed to be a great new beginning has perhaps met the opposite of all expectations. Or has it?

All new beginnings must first start with an end, a significant moment in time to mark transcendence. “2020” has no doubt been a moment in our lives worth pointing to for better or worse. The pandemic has forced us, individually and collectively, to re-evaluate our values and priorities. We have learned to lean on one another in a way that has been lost in decades past. We have been given the time to really reflect on our families and partnerships. And while there has been great sadness and loss, we have also remembered to find joy in small moments shared. Perhaps even, we have had the turbulent ride of acknowledging and facing painful emotions and unhelpful habits. A practice not undaunting, albeit necessary in the process of self-evolution and healthy relationships.

“2020” was a year of strife, and yet also served to take us back to a place of humility. A place where we could assess the foundation of our values and strengthen the bonds of family and community. It is only in darkness that light can exist, and as "2020" comes to a close I suggest that we reflect on the many beams of light that have presented themselves in a year of shadows. I suggest that perhaps we take the time to ask ourselves the following questions:

What was most challenging about this year?

Was it the struggle between expectation and reality? Or the lack of security and safety?

How was your life impacted by the pandemic and the many struggles that accompanied it? What emotions surfaced this past year that perhaps had previously dwelled dormant?

What did you learn about yourself?

As you navigated the uncertainties of your professional life what did you learn about your identity outside of your career?

As you navigated staying at home with your partner and children for days on end, what did you learn about your expectations of family and yourself as a partner or parent?

As the monotony set in, and difficult emotions surfaced what did you face that perhaps you had been avoiding with distractions?

What can be better?

We are all doing the best we can, and yet we can always do better. As we move into the next year what would you like to be better?

How can you and your partner communicate better? How can you improve your intimacy?

How can you be a better parent? More engaged? Better expectations? Perhaps more grace?

How can you strengthen your goals and values to help navigate your life as you move forward?

As we come to a close of “2020” I propose that we let the dust settle. Take this moment in time as a marker for the shedding of what was and redefine our lives by integrating both the pain and joy we have endured this past year. Move forward with grace and have a happy New Year.


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