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2020 Review: The Year I Grew A Foot Taller

I’m a respectable 5′ 4″. There are many of us that walk around in this cute, little package, people like Catherine O’Hara, Billie Eilish, Rashida Jones, and even Michael J. Fox all hang out at this height. I am as average a height as you can imagine, yet this year I have grown more than I have ever grown in a single year. I feel like I’ve grown a foot, being stretched in ways I never imagined. This is not a physical height that can be measured, but perspective that has immeasurably changed the way I view everything. Does anyone else feel like this?

I won’t spend too much time here, but I thought I would point out things that I learned and grew from – some small, some big. But however you look at this year, I wanted to state that for me, I’ve grown a reverent respect for 2020. I was painfully ignorant to many social weaknesses, that when given pressure, bruise until sore or burst without properly healing. Gruesome, I know. For me, I’m grateful for the gleaned understanding of myself, stress, pressure, weakness, and strength.

First on the list: The Importance of Hugs

February conference before the world broke.

I grew a huge appreciation for people. There is a special energy that feeds you when you’re around friends, neighbors, fans, even coworkers. There is a need to share, to give, to express, exchange, and geez… just listen to what others are sharing. What a valuable lesson came from being DENIED human contact. We were never meant to be alone. And what an eye-opener it was for me to get a taste of how isolated and weary people get when they are alone or have no one to talk with or share with. To read about people in New York hospitals dying alone without as much as a hug from another human broke me in pieces. I can never take gentle human affection for granted. I don’t ever want to miss the opportunity to hug someone, never knowing if it will be the last time. I think about February and all the people I did get to hug then. I’m so grateful for the small conventions I attended just for the meaningful fact that I hugged people then. That is a day I am eagerly waiting for again.

Second: Everyday Superheroes

“Not all superheroes wear capes” was a saying at my work. I think many healthcare professionals adopted this. As with some other essential workers, my job at a hospital didn’t stop when everything closed around us, it actually grew way more intense. I work for one of the leading Covid testers (and test creators) in the nation. When the world quieted, my work became insanely busy. But I will say all forces focused on the testing labs, while we at the hospital stopped surgeries and in-person visits. The hospital grew still and eerie.

What a very strange time that was. What I witnessed though, was the deep appreciation people gave to us through mask donations, free lunches, free Starbuck Wednesdays (a personal favorite), and the general care for all that we were doing.

A local restaurant donated us lunch – how thoughtful!

When I woke in the morning and got dressed, I did feel like I was walking into battle in a sense. Those first months were really scary. Now, New Year’s Eve in fact, I receive my first vaccine shot. To see the arch of the story told out like that is incredible. It was a really hard and scary time, and now I’m starting to feel like I can breathe again.

Third: Igniting the World on Fire

I think there was a perfect storm brewing under the social pressures and stir craziness that lit a match under generation-defining injustice. Death after death after death shone down a light on police brutality that uncovered so much filth that people would no longer isolate, but took their voices to the streets. The anger and the riots of this year has forever changed America. It blew a very strong, very needed wind into the blaze that whipped heat quickly across the nation. We are still watching the changes evolve, still locating the prejudice, still opening so many eyes to change. And I think changing leadership to a seasoned politician is a huge step in the right direction. Also, seeing a woman VP is powerful and will ripple through so many generations. I feel America is finally embracing the strength of women. Women as a whole are incredible creatures.

Fourth: True Colors

Being around someone for an extended period of time really gives you the perspective of whether you really like someone or just tolerate them. Watching my children, who are very opposite and have very different lives, and who would constantly fight all the time… grow to like each other, help each other, and even involve each other in what they were doing and what they care about… HAS BEEN REMARKABLE. This evolution in their friendship was impossible at the time isolation began. I don’t know how it happened, but there they are – friends. It is the most astounding development from this crazy year. Remarkable, truly.

And Finally: The Pressure Cooker of Creativity

My Hope Rainbow

I would like to thank everyone for becoming more creative this year. Every one of us has had to invent a new way of doing things that was unthinkable before.

Thank you Teachers – for being so inventive with Zoom meetings, turning in assignments, bringing engagement, and just SACRIFICING EVERYTHING for helping my kids (and others) succeed. I’m so glad they were moved up in the line for vaccines in my state, because they are true heroes.

Thank you Pizza Delivery Services for the contactless delivery. For Restaurants and open dining. For online apps, pick-up and delivery services. For grocery stores and the person that wipes down the kiosk in the self-check line. YOU ARE ALL AMAZING!!

So many inventive sacrifices we have all made to continue being safe and surviving together.

The curse of 2020 was not much a curse but an unraveling and revealing of broken things that needed serious attention and needed fixing. Covid revealed what stronger leadership can do for a country (New Zealand anyone?); how many voices can change the way things are; quarantine revealed how fragile our economy is. So many things we never saw or couldn’t see before are now visible. Now seeing these raw, exposed wounds, we can really make sense of the damage inflicted on us in this unprecedented year. And there is a lot of damage, some we don’t even know how deep or long-lasting.

But something I’ve been reflecting on a lot – Everything means more now. Everything. Your gentle actions toward one person can make a huge impact. One tiny email to a teacher telling them thank you is enough to help them keep going, to not give up on the career they have devoted themselves to. One little visit to a immune-suppressed friend, even if it’s outside in 20 degree weather, masked and under blankets is worth every minute.

This year has meant more to me than several other years that blurred together. Don’t let the strength, the creativity, the superpowers you gained this year disappear into 2021.

Be tall. Be Strong. And remember, you made it through the shitstorm of 2020.

2020 gives you the excuse to buy and wear this shirt. Its time to live!

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