Well, 2020 has come to an end, and I don’t think I need to say anything more about why this marks a bigger day than simply the end of another year. 2020 has been the weirdest, most anxiety-inducing, character-building, value-affirming year of my life thus far, and there are plenty of things to mourn, lament, and scream into our pillows about. But, I also am a notorious end-of-the-year reflector. I love to think about the past year and what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown. This year, that seems harder. So instead, I want to tell you about the things that saved me this year. These things range from seemingly silly and frivolous to really important, and I’m carrying each one with me into the next year, knowing they brought me comfort and hope.
Reading: I read a total of 258 books this year. I know, this number is insane. But I have no regrets, even though I probably will not have a reading year like this again for a long, long time. I learned a TON and was able to escape into totally different worlds, and reading and taking time for myself helped me to be the person I wanted to be most days. Below are my favorite books of 2020 by genre-middle grade, YA, fiction, nonfiction.
Homeschooling: We chose to homeschool this year, mostly because I did not want to deal with the anxiety of sending the kids to school, not knowing when or if we’d have to switch back to virtual at some point, worrying about germs and masking and whether or not the school was being safe. This turned out to be a really great decision for us. My not-morning-people kids can sleep in and not rush in the mornings, we work through our school stuff at our own pace, and choose what we want to learn about. There’s been a lot of freedom in it. And most days have been really good, even though of course there have been hot-mess days too.
Exercising at home: This year, I caved and finally bought sandbags to do DVRT training with my personal trainer and dear friend Lina. She has kept me motivated and moving, and exercising at home has been a great way to care for myself, which helped me care for others.
FaceTime, Messenger, Voxer, Marco Polo: These apps have been absolutely vital to my emotional well-being, keeping in touch with friends and family, being able to see faces and hear voices even when we couldn’t share a physical space. I have had so much fun connecting with new friends (mostly other avid readers!) and reconnecting with old friends as we checked in with each other and caught up. In a year that could have been very isolating, I feel like I have such a great community of friends, near and far.
Skin care: Going through my skincare routine every morning and night helps me feel like a real human person. There’s just something about it, I don’t know how to describe it, but it has definitely been a highlight of my days. This year I started using the Beauty Counter Countertime collection and some others, like the Vitamin C serum and the Overnight Resurfacing Peel. My skin has never looked or felt better. (I do not sell this, just love it!)
Once a week Starbucks/curbside grocery pick up: This has become a highlight of our weeks, piling in the car, listening to an audiobook together as we drive to our fave grocery store for pickup and then to Starbucks for coffee and cake pops. It has been a way for us to get out and treat ourselves a little bit. I may never go back to shopping in stores, curbside is my favorite.
Neighbors: We are fortunate to live in an amazing neighborhood full of good people. When the weather has been nice, we have loved playing outside with friends, riding bikes, and running around. It’s been good for my kids’ social/emotional health to see friends, even if just outside.
The lake house: This summer, we traveled twice to New Mexico to my family’s lake house and safely visit family there. There’s just something about water, even in the middle of a dry desert, that is god for my soul. Walking along the shore at sunset, picking up shells and feeling the sand beneath my toes really helped me to combat the sense of dread I felt if I let it sneak in.
State parks: I have never been a huge hiking fan. There are bugs, and it’s usually hot, and I whine a lot. But we chose a couple days when the weather was cool and we went exploring at some of our close state parks. It has been so fun to discover new places and be outside and watch the kids explore the different plants and rocks and trees. I definitely want to continue all of this next year; we already have a short list of other places to visit.
Writing: My first book was published this year (yay!) and the prep and planning for the launch of My Storied Year was so fun! And even though I went through spurts where I wrote literally nothing, the act of thinking about stories and plots and dreaming up new characters was something that gave me a lot of energy. I’m so grateful I get to do this work.
I have zero idea what 2021 will bring, but all I can say is that I hope we stay healthy and well, can continue to do the things we love, and stay connected with people who are important to us. I can’t wait to share the publication of my second book with you all in June. And if you’ve gotten this far, thank you so much for reading and for all your support this year.
Peace and love from my household to yours,