What I embraced in 2020

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

Arriving on the eve of a new year, I am certain that many of us want to say good riddance to this past one.  In some ways that is my feeling as well.  But I also want to find the “juice” that has been part of the last twelve months. Maybe it is my frugality or my desire to make the best of what I have.  So before I kick 2020 into the container of history I want to see what value I can retrieve.

Thinking back, and trying to feel into the events of this past twelve months, what arises?  First, though differing perceptions of this year have sometimes resulted in communication challenges, I have usually experienced the opposite.  The gift that has made this possible is “time”—time to listen to another point of view; time to wander into a neighbor’s yard and see what “pandemic project” they have been working on; time to walk with a friend; time to talk to those by phone. whom I haven’t spoken to, sometimes in months or even years; time to schedule a zoom family meeting each Sunday, as we are scattered amongst four parts of the country.  We chatter about simple things—what new recipes we are discovering, comparing self-styled haircuts, inside wardrobes, decorating zoom back-drops. It is often silly, but we are family, getting together around this “new table” to maintain the closeness that “distancing” challenges.

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Next, I am embracing what a friend recently said to me. He said, “Life is all about relationships.”  That is where the growth happens.  That is how we change and evolve into the best version of ourselves.  We need others.  We do better with friends, partners, community.  And this is precisely what “isolation” has really shown me. I not only want those important relationships in my life;  I need them for physical and mental health.  I need the hugs and the companionship, experienced in a quiet walk up the mountain. I need the occasional snorting explosion of hilarity my daughter and I experience, when one of us says something that is only funny to the two of us.  I need the rub on the back of my shoulders that loosens up the cords of anxiety about the state of the planet. I also need the quiet of relationship with myself—a time to develop a deeper knowing of who I am.

Now, all of this may have happened anyway.  But 2020 has given me a powerful microscope with which to look at life within and outside of me.

In addition to what I am appreciating about the past year, I do also acknowledge that many have experienced pain, due to loss of loved ones. The grief is real. In preparing for this coming year I also feel grief for those who have been lost.

Preparing for the coming year may seem largely symbolic.  Resolutions have never entirely worked for me. Instead I am developing intentions that are inviting me forward.  Thus, I am starting the year in the way I would like to move through it.  I am tidying my house, as best as I can, cleaning and putting things away, so I can start with as clean a slate as possible.  This is challenging, as I am a “project” person, piles clinging to me like lint on a black coat. I will go to bed early, so that I can start January 1, rested and ready.  I’ll fill my tea kettle, bring in plenty of wood, and sit in gratitude for all this year HAS brought.  I’ll even engage in a short and relaxing yoga practice in order to feel like I am truly grounded and flexible for whatever lies ahead.

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And lastly, I will try and understand that we don’t have to rid ourselves of anything — even 2020.  It remains as a teacher, a creative challenge in which we can mine the treasure that it contains…and…it will give us some great stories to share with those of us who lived through it, and those still to come.