Things I could not have imagined in January…

Hello from a safe social distance,

At the beginning of the year, when I was still goal setting and making vision boards with my kids, I distinctly remember thinking, “Don’t bring last year’s messes into this new year! New year, fresh slate.”

I mean, part of the reason I remember it so clearly is because it’s some version of what I tell myself every single year.

I remember years where telling myself that was the only hope I had. I know that a fresh start felt especially hard, and especially necessary, at the start of 2017. The most common thing out of my mouth for the proceeding six weeks had been some version of “dumpster fire.” Actually, it felt hard most years.

But every time January comes around, I convince myself that it signals a fresh start, that it will be the beginning of a new phase, a better attitude. A better me. A better life. I try to coerce myself to believe the past is gone, the future is no guarantee, so the present is a gift… You know the drill. Just fill in whatever mantra gets you through your own holiday hangover.

Nevertheless, this year, in 2020, I had lots of reasons to think it would actually be true.

We moved states last year, and it was a long, slow, bumpy process, with my kids starting at new schools, trying new sports, finding new routines, new everything. Some of the steps, like finding a new dry cleaner and pharmacy and dentist, were spaced out, and happened organically, as I’ve discovered that we need them. Some of the steps are happening more slowly – like figuring out who to list locally in case of emergency since we moved many hours and flights away from friends and family. Or deciding which restaurants will end up being repeats, and which to file under “once was enough!” Or, even more importantly, the closest gas station and Starbucks where I won’t run in to anyone from my kids school if I’m still sweaty and gross from working out.

Even while a bit stressful, this move has been so good for our family. For me. Like, unbelievably good. I could already see that at the start of the year. I love our new neighborhood. I love how short my husband’s commute is, and how close we are to two huge airports. I adore my kids school. I love the food, the people and even the weather here. I especially love my new office in our new house: it has the best windows I could ask for, and it has so much space for books!

So, when it came time for “New Year, New Me”, it was so easy to imagine that 2020 was going to be incredible!

But, then came Covid-19.

I’m not going to dwell on the changes, the challenges, that this global pandemic has meant for us. Particularly since I consider myself blessed beyond measure that my immediate family is healthy and safe. I will only say, I could not have imagined this. Even in my writer’s mind, this would have fallen strictly under science fiction. Never, ever would I have imagined a state-by-state daily death toll, or masks in public or any of the other day-by-day new realties that we already become socialized and accustomed to.

All of this to say, I’ve adjusted my New Year’s Mantra. Along with changing summer and travel plans, I’ve modified my entire outlook. I’m gonna hold tight to what works and be grateful for it! While I’m still committed to leaving some things in 2019 (bad attitudes, unhealthy habits, unforgiven hurts or ridiculous hangups, useless expectations), I’ve found an awful lot of things that I’m feeling really, really glad followed me into this year:

  1. My kids love of reading. This has been a life saver. Their ability to emotionally regulate and independently entertain themselves through healthy escapism and occasionally even educational exploration is SUCH a gift. Harry Potter and Vega Jane and even Edward and Bella… bless them all. Books were my friends as a child, and some of my very favorite people live no where but on pages. Passing this along warms my heart.
  2. The new house. This is a limitless source of never ending projects! And, it has sheltered us well while giving us plenty of space to retreat from each other.
  3. Remote working, remote schooling, remote banking, remote…. everything! The practice we gained during our slow transition to move here gave us tons of skills (and the actual physical tools) to be able to handle this new normal of accessing everything from home. While I never thought it would come in handy once we settled somewhere permanently, it has. And now, I’m delighted with the number of things now that do not require me to waste gas, waste energy or waste time!!
  4. Flexibility as a lifestyle. Holy cow… what to even say about this? I never held it as a core family value, nor did I intentionally teach adaptation and quick assimilation to my kids or mean to embody it so completely. But, it’s completely evident how valuable flexibility and embracing change been these last seven weird weeks!
  5. Joy in small things. Health. Family. Hugs. Holiday travel. Target.  All the wine. ALL OF IT!

There are more, of course (like the fact that people are still buying books and reading even in lock down), but for now, that’s as far into the present as I can see. While I thought this was going to be the year of settling in and settling down, January to April has been quite different that in I could have dreamed. Instead of predicting the future, or foolishly trying to plan around it, I’m going to settle for just sitting right in the middle of it.

Stay healthy (mentally, emotionally and physically), dear readers, and I will endeavor to do the same.

In love and laughter,


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