Friday, January 1, 2021

In My Footsteps: My 2020


    After the historically terrible year 2020 was my goals for 2021 are simple: More time with those who bring me happiness, more time working on the things of which I am passionate, and less, far far less time spent on anything or anyone that does not bring me toward those first two goals. 2021 will be both selfish and selfless, all about my happiness and the happiness of those who matter. It's a chance to make life everything it can and should be because 2020 has shown me all it can't and shouldn't be.

Highland Lighthouse in Truro, Ma. from January 2020

    2020 was a year unlike any other for all of us globally. A horrible pandemic basically shut down the planet for most of the year. I am sure you had goals/resolutions, much like I did. My goal was to transition from a full-time cook into a mainly full-time writer and personal trainer by the end of 2020. I had spent most of 2018 and 2019 working essentially 3 jobs, cooking in a retirement home, writing, and in-home personal training. By the time 2020 began I was burned out severely and in need of a lighter and more fulfilling schedule. This was seemingly accomplished when I left my main job for a similar job closer to home and with fewer hours. In any normal year this would have allowed me to write more and gain more training clients. 2020 had other plans.

    Within a month of beginning my new job COVID took hold and the world was shut down. This meant that all of my personal training went on hiatus for the future. The only semblance of training I had was doing some grocery shopping for a client of mine that lives at another retirement home. She would leave a list, a bag, and money, in between her doors on her porch. I would come and grab them, shop, and return them to her and shoot her a text when I was gone. Otherwise life came to a virtual standstill.

My bike that became my escape. May 2020

    I worked full-time at the new retirement home for 3 1/2 months while lockdown was extremely strict. I was not front-line in the way that doctors and nurses are, they are the true gatekeepers of our battle with this pandemic. I was just serving meals (in takeout boxes) to residents. Things loosened slightly and I was able to start safely training people in-home again.  Even now though as 2020 has ended I am still hesitant to add new clients to my training schedule. Hopefully in the coming months that will change and I can get back on track with what I want to do professionally.

    The strict lockdown meant that visits with my ailing 92-year old grandmother became few and far between. It was reduced to occasional visits outside of her window with a phone line between us, and only recently as her health further declined did the nursing home loosen up restrictions to allow family inside to visit her. It wears on you when you see people you work with, that you've known for a few weeks, more than the people that matter the most. It has been a frustrating yet understandable sacrifice in an attempt to slow or stop the pandemic.

    Exercise, health and overall fitness has taken a drastic hit in these times. When gyms were closed and fast food was readily available and liquor stores are as common as streetlights, it is easy to fall into that pattern of eat, drink, and sit. The 'COVID 15' is a real thing and 2021 will be filled with people needing to rid themselves of it, including myself.

My podcast logo created in October by Amy Keller Jump.

    Every January 1st is a symbolic 'reset' button on life. This year it means more than usual. If you're still standing after the hell 2020 brought you are in prime position to make 2021 amazing.

    So what made 2020 bearable? I found some people and things that are the silver linings to the dark cloud. I bought a bicycle from a friend's bike shop and began riding like crazy both for fitness and for an escape from the reality of the world.  Luckily Cape Cod has many miles of scenic bike trails.  My mother got into making homemade masks for family and friends and those expressions of artistic creativity made me almost enjoy having to wear them to this day when I go out in public.

    Binge watching helped. I tore through the first 2 seasons of Cobra Kai on Netflix. I also became a huge fan of the BuzzFeed Unsolved YouTube channel. They have true crime and supernatural stories and are a great distraction. The best silver lining I can come up with for 2020 is my youngest niece Sylvie. She is not even 2 years old yet and her sweet and funny personality makes each visit with her worth the terrible world that she is experiencing this early in life.

    Another positive that came from 2020 is the podcast I created. My desire to be totally self-sustained as far as professionally goes has at times forced my hand to take chances. My 6th book has been delayed due to the pandemic so I was in need of another creative outlet that can potentially bring me closer to being self-employed. Combining my love of history, travel, nostalgia, and New England made it a natural next step. Plus I used to make radio shows as a teenager so it's like reliving those days.

A visit to Sandy Neck Light 10 years in the making.  October 2020

    In the end the calendar changes and the slate is metaphorically wiped clean. The pandemic will keep going for a little longer but should start to dissipate like clouds on a rainy day. I wish and hope that life can not go back to normal but become better. I hope that people can decide to be human first rather than being defined by a group (ie: political). I hope for any of you reading this that your 2021 leads you further from the disastrous 2020 and closer to your vision of happiness. Happy New Year to all and here's to better days ahead.


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