When I look at the news, social media, memes, and email I feel bombarded with all of the headlines and messages about how terrible 2020 was. Yes, the pandemic ravaged the entire world and upended our lives. Yes, the economy did tank (but it is also rebounding). Yes, this was a uniquely challenging year globally. However, we don’t have to view 2020 as a terrible, bad, or ugly year.
I suggest we take a step back from focusing on the bad, pain, and devastation to find the good and the gratitude. I think this is important as we move forward into 2021 and set intentions and goals for the new year. Everything we go through helps us grow and it is important not to miss what 2020 taught us.
I’m going to share my 10 lessons in a 2-part post with the first 5 lessons in this post and the next 5 lessons in Part 2.
Here it is!
1. You get to choose your perspective
I admit I cried when I learned schools closed. I can tell you where I was, what I had just finished doing, and about what time it was when I learned schools had closed. I was with my children in the exam room waiting to see their pediatrician at approximately 2:15p. I checked my email as I waited, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. I sat there in utter disbelief as I re-read the school’s email multiple times as if it was written in another language.
I didn’t know what to do with the information. I had no idea how I would keep working and be a homeschool mom at the same time. Truthfully, I ended up taking 5 months off from work because it was so challenging to work, maintain homeschool, and have my kids home 100% of the time. I struggled to find the good in the situation especially since taking a break from work as a full-time entrepreneur also had a severe impact on my income. Not to mention, I paid tuition in advance for 2 children for the entire semester who could no longer attend in-person school.
However, I had a choice. I could focus on what I thought was bad or choose to view it as good. I decided to look at the school closures as a good thing and found gratitude in the situation. With schools closed, everything else shut down, and the time off from work, I was able to slow down and spend time with my children. It was amazing. We gardened, cooked what we grew, baked together, and found cool, creative stuff to do. We grew even closer and bonded in a way that was so amazing. I feel like I got to know my children on a new level, and I cherish this experience.
I spoke to a number of moms and many said that even though the school closures were hard and a huge adjustment, they were able to spend time with their children and got to know them in a way they couldn’t when they were focused on the busyness of life and their children were at school most of the day. Some of the moms I spoke to even decided to homeschool their children going forward and not to send their children back to school.
2. Find gratitude in the daily, priceless gifts God has given us
When I was doing daily prayer calls during the first few months of the pandemic, I found myself spending so much time thanking God for waking me and my family up in the morning and for giving us good health. That was a huge gift that I had taken for granted like it was a given. However, I realized this was a gift that should be cherished, appreciated, and not taken for granted.
So many people around the world didn’t have a chance to wake up another day. Therefore, it is a gift for me and my family to be alive and healthy. The pandemic taught me to be grateful for the “small” things and that many of the “small” things are actually huge. This put so many things into perspective. I stressed out and worried about so many things that were meaningless and didn’t serve me or my children. This taught me to focus on gratitude and the things that mattered, and eliminate the rest.
3. Maintaining health and healthy practices are critical
As I mentioned in Lesson 2, health was something I looked at as a given. However, the pandemic gave me a deeper appreciation and gratitude for good health. Because of this I started to thank God regularly for good health and pay more attention to my health and strengthening my immune system. I started focusing on healthy eating, vitamins, and taking herbs to strengthen my immune system so my body can be healthy and I can do the work as the woman and mom God created me to be.
4. Time with family is a precious gift that should be treasured
Because of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to spend time with my sisters. This was hard on me and my children. At times they cried because they couldn’t see their Aunts and they missed them. We were used to seeing each other often throughout the year and I didn’t see one of my sisters at all and only saw the other once. I also haven’t been able to see some of my other extended family. However, I am grateful that just before the country shut down I was able to visit my Aunt and Uncle, whom I hadn’t seen in person in years when I was in town for a speaking engagement.
I have an even deeper appreciation for my family. I have a close knit family, this year we didn’t have to wait for a family reunion to see each other. Instead we spoke often through FaceTime, Zoom, or phone calls. I believe we recognized that each day is a gift and not a guarantee. Therefore, we looked for ways to stay more connected and show gratitude for each other even though we couldn’t be together in-person.
Also, I’ve heard stories from friends about how not seeing family is impacting their emotional health. In fact, the New York Times discussed how the elderly in nursing homes are dying of loneliness because they are unable to see their family. Family is our anchor point, and I pray that as a nation we are valuing family even more.
5. We need connectivity. In-person relationships are so necessary
I’m grateful for Zoom, but I miss the connectivity of sitting and seeing friends and family in person and without a mask. I miss seeing people’s smiles. I miss true, authentic relationships.
I was so happy when in-person mom groups started up again at church. I knew I missed it, but I didn’t realize how much I did. After our first mom group meeting after an extended hiatus, I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like I was being filled up, and I was so happy.
I’m an extrovert, but the quarantine has given me a deeper appreciation for real, genuine in-person relationships. I’m excited for when things get back to normal and we can see people again. Virtual connection although convenient and amazing is not a substitute for in-person connection.
I hope you enjoyed the first 5 lessons that I learned in 2020. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will share the final 5.
What are you grateful for in 2020? Please leave a comment to let me know.
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Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!