I believe that it is important to find gratitude in all situations (even if it is hard). Gratitude helps to shift your perspective and allows us to identify the lessons we need to learn and it puts us on the path towards joy. Therefore, I thought it was important to write down the lessons that I learned in 2020 that helped me find joy, grow as a woman and a mom, and push me to walk in purpose.
In Part 1, I shared 5 of the 10 lessons that I learned in 2020. In this post, I share lessons 6-10.
6. It is important to acknowledge other people
I noticed that because of the pandemic I am less likely to acknowledge or smile at someone when I walk past them. In the past, I regularly smiled at people whether I knew them or not because I believed it was the right thing to do. However, after masks became the new norm, smiling seemed pointless because my smile was hidden under a mask, and saying “hi” seemed like too much work. So I opted to do neither.
However, after seeing my mom say “hi” to a woman who walked past and I saw the other person’s eyes light up as she said “hi” back to my mom. That’s when I realized it is still important to acknowledge others. Therefore, I started acknowledging other people again, and I love it. I’ve noticed people’s eyes light up when I say hello. Maybe they felt seen, which is so important since we are living in a time of immense isolation, polarization, and civil unrest.
Even if we are socially distancing and covering half of our faces with masks, there are different ways to acknowledge and see people as people which helps to maintain our connectivity and humanity. I think Tyra Banks was right when she said “smile with your eyes” and I would add say hi too!
7. Focus on what matters
There were so many things I focused on that kept me so busy. However, all of that went away because of the lockdowns and school closures and I slowed down. When I slowed down I realized that too often I focused on things that didn’t matter. I learned that at my core I valued being present, just being, digging into the Word of God, prayer, being present with my children, and what they say in Costa Rica “Pura Vida”.
I think we get so caught up with the busyness of life and what we are supposed to be doing instead of focusing on what really matters. We hear messages like “Team No Sleep” and “Hustle Hard”. In Corporate America, “face time” was valued and the employees who didn’t use their vacation time, worked without taking breaks, and were always available were the ones who got ahead. I bought into this belief.
When I was in college my goal was to have a high power job with a company-issued phone where I could take meetings even while on vacation. This was seriously a jacked up view of life. However, the pandemic allowed me to reset, refocus, and reevaluate life, life’s priorities, and my goals. Thus, I was able to focus more on myself, learn who I am, how God created me, and who I am in Christ. Because of this, I grew, got stronger, and more clear about God’s purpose for me.
8. Cleanliness is crucial
When the stores and airlines implemented enhanced cleaning protocols, was I the only one who thought, “You weren’t doing this already?” I’m grateful the stores are now cleaning the shopping carts, aisles, improving air filtration systems, and wiping down high touch surfaces. Hopefully, this continues because this will not only help reduce the spread of COVID-19 but other germs, sickness, and diseases like the seasonal flu going forward.
9. I don’t have to reward myself for making it through the day with wine or ice cream
There was a period of time when I bought into the “wine mom” culture where at the end of the day and the kids were in bed I settled down from the demands of the day with a glass of wine. However, after a while, I noticed how I began to look forward to the end of the day when I could settle down with a glass of wine, and at times I found myself craving it. Then I found myself grabbing a larger glass and filling it more and even then it still didn’t feel like a big enough reward.
When I noticed that, I didn’t like it. Truthfully, it scared me. So I stopped drinking the wine and switched to ice cream because it seemed like a better option. However, I found myself craving the ice cream. Again, I didn’t like how it felt and I knew I needed to change my perspective. I didn’t want to be someone who was excited for the “reward” that would come at the end of the day. I wanted to enjoy the day and be present.
Therefore, during the lockdown, I didn’t stock up on wine or ice cream. I decided to let the day be its own reward and focused as much as possible on being present during the moments of the day. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. Were there times I was frustrated, exhausted, overwhelmed, and ready to scream? Absolutely. But the focus on presence and gratitude was huge for me. No shade to wine mom or ice cream culture, but I had to find what felt good and authentic to me. I realized I made a huge shift when I was at the grocery store a couple of months ago and one of my twins said, “Mommy, you haven’t bought wine in a long time.” I replied, “No I haven’t”. Then I smiled and thanked God for growth.
Now, one of the things I do right before I go to bed and my twins are asleep is to put on upbeat praise and worship music and turn it up as loud as my phone will allow. Then I have a dance party all by myself. I sing and dance like no one is listening or watching because no one is watching other than the Lord. This is a good thing because I can neither sing nor dance lol. In those moments I just spend time in the presence of the Lord with a heart full of gratitude, and this feels so good to my soul.
10. I matter
As a mom, I put my children’s needs first ahead of my own and at times I felt so depleted and I felt like I didn’t matter. I spent the last of my energy (and even money) on my children and rarely did anything for me. I believed that martyrdom was the only way to be a good mom. This led to the false belief that my goals and dreams weren’t important and it wasn’t possible to chase my own dreams and still be a good mom. Therefore, I decided to sacrifice myself.
However, I learned that the only way for me to be the mom I wanted to be was to be the woman God created me to be. It’s like the airplane analogy – I had to put on my own mask before I put on my children’s mask. I had it totally backward. But the thought of it was uncomfortable and I felt guilty even thinking about it. However, when I did begin to put myself first I felt better and I became a better, more patient, and more present mom.
I truly believe that 2020 had some huge lessons that if we open ourselves up to them that we can grow stronger. I believe that in 2020 the world was on a sabbath rest so we could re-evaluate our priorities, thoughts, beliefs, busyness, and if necessary strip away the things that didn’t matter so we could reset, and focus on what matters. This is in no way meant to minimize the pain many people went through. I merely wish to give another perspective and offer a point of learning so we can find the lesson and find gratitude in this year.
If we miss this opportunity to reflect and learn what we need to know, not only are we doomed to repeat the lesson, we will also miss out on the beauty out of ashes God is trying to show us and the revelation of more of Him.
Was 2020 (or the beginning of 2021) a time of high stress for you? Did you know that stress, worry, and anxiety are serious and if left unchecked can devastate your life and your children’s lives? The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. If you are stressed out, worried, or anxious then I encourage you to grab your copy of my devotional, “Chaos to Calm: A 25-Day Devotional to Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Worry.” This devotional can help put you on the right track of healing and becoming the woman and mom you were created to be. This devotional is composed of the scriptures I used to encourage myself during a time I was stressed out and anxious.
What are you grateful for in 2020? Please leave a comment to let me know.
Do you feel like you are stretched thin, stressed out, and feeling like you can’t take anymore being added to your plate? If so, click here to grab your copy of, “Chaos To Calm: A 25-Day Devotional to Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Worry.” In just 25-days you can have more peace, joy, and calm in your life.
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!