As we finally close the door to an immensely challenging, dark 2020, it is time to once again renew ourselves for a new year. A fresh start and hopefully a break from a very difficult, painful year. I debated over and over again if I even had the emotional strength to pen a blog post. But in the end, I decided that I can’t give up and it is time to restore my optimism and hope for a brighter, less complicated new year ahead.

As I look back over the past year, like everyone, it was an emotional rollercoaster filled with many ups and downs. It was frightening, angering and at many times difficult to even comprehend. Yet through those trying months, there were sprinkles of happiness and a somewhat peaceful realization of the utter importance of living each day as it comes, not thinking ahead or dwelling on the past. On enjoying and being grateful for the positive things in our lives and blessed for our family, our friends, our health and most of all, this incredible life we’ve been given.

2020 brought so many changes in the world and has impacted each one of us in our own lives. For me, 2020 meant a lot of changes. I stopped blogging, traveling, seeing my family and the people I love. I went from always running around and doing things I love to being at home almost all the time except for walks and grocery shopping. I’ve tried to settle my restless soul with finding peace in the little things and the beauty of nature and family. It has been a trying, emotionally complicated year but nevertheless, I persisted.

January started off just as most do here in Minnesota with a long, cold winter ahead. We kept busy with skiing as we always do yet news of the mysterious coronavirus began setting in. We didn’t concern ourselves too much about it then and had no idea how quickly life would unravel in the coming months. Perhaps it was nice at that point to not know how much our lives would truly change and for how long.

In February, my daughter and I flew out to Utah to go skiing with my Dad for the weekend. We had a wonderful time despite a snowstorm that messed up our skiing for a day. But I always love the mountains. Little did I know, this would be my last plane trip for over a year.

Things in Europe were not good and ironically we had a ski trip planned to Northern Italy that was thankfully canceled a few months before on our end. I can’t even imagine what could have happened had we gone on that trip right when the outbreak happened and devastated so much of the country. Back home in the US, we were nervous about the belief that the virus would eventually spread to the US but still optimistic. Little did we know that months later, we would become the epicenter of the pandemic.

As we were gearing up to leave for our Spring Break trip to Costa Rica, with breakneck speed the world began to shut down and life as we all knew it had forever changed. First my kids schools closed, then my husband’s office shut down, and by the middle of March our entire family had begun our months-long journey of working and studying from home.

At first, despite the unknown and anxiety about the mysterious coronavirus, it was actually rather nice to all be together so much. I painted several rooms of the house, walked around the lake every day with friends, and we started up outdoor happy hours with neighbors and friends. I felt like our busy lives were finally slowing down and everyone was coming together. The sidewalks were filled with people walking since it was the only thing we could do. Our hectic, busy lives had come to a halt and we had a lot of family time for once. Spring was on its way and we could be outside which didn’t feel as isolating. It wasn’t all bad despite the fear of this unknown pandemic.

Then George Floyd was murdered less than three miles away from my home, setting off a series of riots, protests and violence in my city and around the world like I’ve never in my life experienced. It was utterly tragic and upsetting beyond words. I was heartbroken for my city and the world. For the injustice and the hate. It took months for me to sort out my feelings while our ravaged city was slowly healing and being repaired. A part of me was lost and filled with a despair. But I continued. (Read: The George Floyd Murals of Minneapolis: A Demand for Justice, Hope and a Better Humanity).

Shortly after the riots, we got our first escape in months from the city. We went on a family vacation a few hours north from Minneapolis to Ely, Minnesota. It was the first time we had traveled during a pandemic and we were not quite sure what to expect. (Read: Our First Trip Away During a Global Pandemic). As soon as we left the city, my chest began to slowly loosen and I felt like I could finally breathe again. Getting away from it all had never been so important. Escaping to nature and away from the 24/7 depressing news machine was just what we needed. We had a wonderful time cherishing our moments together as a family. The short weekend trip gave me enough healing and inspiration to return home and face the reality of growing homelessness, tent communities in the local parks, increasing violence in the city and constant bickering of our politicians.

Summer ebbed and flowed with no real routine. I had pretty much stopped blogging for the most part since I had nothing to write about. I luckily continued with my part time job as a Marketing Coordinator as a nonprofit working to provide safe drinking water to Central America. My children were home and restless with nothing much to do given the pandemic. We enjoyed our time spent outside and took advantage of the warm weather by going out to eat outdoors, having small outdoor gatherings with friends, and taking long walks around the lake. It was nowhere near the “normal” fun summers of the past but we managed to get by with some lovely memories and fun.

A highlight of the summer was our trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. We had planned lots of other exciting trips for the summer however like everything else, it was canceled. Looking back, I treasure this beautiful escape and was able to visit a new place even if it wasn’t too far from home. (Read: A Family Road Trip to Michigan’s Remote Keweenaw Peninsula).

By early fall, it was back to school for my kids but entering once again new territory of the great unknown. Both of my children began hybrid meaning one day at school the next day at home learning. Even I made a change and went back to school as well taking a Spanish class at a community college. I decided it was best to devote some time to learning something new and I truly enjoyed the class.

Perhaps the happiest highlight of the fall was seeing my entire family for a week. It had been since Christmas since we all saw each other and it was decided that my parents would drive 30+ hours from Arizona, my sister and her kids would fly and my brother would drive from Colorado. Everyone stayed in a different place and we did our best to keep all our gatherings outside. For the weekend, we drove up to the North Shore of Lake Superior, a very special place for me and my family. It was wonderful and I am truly grateful we were all able to see each other before another extended time of not being together. (Read: The Top Four Fall Hikes along Minnesota’s North Shore to View the Fall Colors). Seeing my family gave me the extra strength and support I’d need to get through the holidays without them.

As fall pressed on, we tried our best to manage the new routine but then COVID hit our family. Everyone in the house had the virus except me. I have no idea how I managed to escape getting sick but was incredibly grateful I was able to be well enough to take care of everyone. It was a difficult two weeks and very isolating but again I am so relieved that everyone recovered. (Read: When COVID hits your home).

By November, it was birthday month as we like to call it in our family. My son turned 16 and got his driver’s license, and four days later my daughter turned 14. We had our own Thanksgiving with just the four of us and then it was time for the holiday rush. Instead of going to spend Christmas with our extended family which we have done every single year, we spent Christmas with just the four of us. We did Zoom calls with our loved ones and were once again grateful that everyone has been healthy and safe this year.

As we launch into the new year, I remind myself of one of my favorite sayings. “Nevertheless, She Persisted”. It is a reminder that I have to stay strong for the coming months. It will be difficult but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Things will get better and we will be able to see our loved ones again. Oh how I miss my family! And, of course how I miss traveling and the way life used to be. We have learned so much and there is so much to be grateful for in this life.

While I am not sure yet when I will blog again, I do know that when I do it will be that long lost soul of mine who can hardly wait to get out in the world again.

So here is to 2021. A year of hope, love, strength and perseverance. I hope to see you all back again on the blog by the spring (unless I have something miraculous to share before then)! Until then…stay healthy and well!

 

19 comments

  1. Happy New Year, Nicole! It’s wonderful to have you back. I know when I read your account of your family’s experience with Covid, my heart went out to all of you. Fortunately, like you, we’ve managed to stay healthy. But we have several family members in another town – all in the medical profession – who have had it. Here’s wishing you a 2021 filled with joy and good health. 🙂 All the best, Terri

    1. Thanks Terri! Yes it has been quite the year. I look forward to the vaccine and first and foremost, the ability to see our extended family who I dearly miss. And second of course, to put that third eye back on and get out in the world. Happy New Year to you as well Terri! 🙂

    1. Me too. She will go back into hibernation again for awhile but will be excited to pen her first post-pandemic travel post!

  2. It was a crazy year with most of us experiencing ups and downs. As we begin a new year, it is important that we do so with optimism as there is hope ahead.

  3. Nevertheless, she persisted! I believe many of us also experienced similar ups and downs throughout the pandemic. It has changed so many things, it made some slow down, but at the same time it also forced others to run faster. I’m glad in the end everything worked out for you and your family. Here’s to a more hopeful year!

    1. Thanks Bama. I sure miss a lot about pre-pandemic life but there also has been some things that I’ve realized as well with how it has forced us to slow down and enjoy and live in the moment. Wishing you a happy new year as well!

  4. Oh, boy, I can relate to so much of this (minus getting Covid in the family, which I am sure we have escaped by sheer luck as even some of the most careful people, like you, have gotten it). I’ve had the worst ups and downs of my life this past year, and I am SO ready to move on! And we are the lucky ones – we have our health and (one of our) jobs, kids who are also OK, parents who have stayed healthy, and even a couple of wonderful life events in the family. When I am tempted to feel sad about our daughter’s tiny backyard wedding, I force myself to see that at least she had a tiny backyard wedding! When I feel despondent about not getting much time with our new granddaughter, I thank goodness she was born safely in the hospital at the height of the pandemic. I think I’ve learned new things about tolerance and patience and context for sure. I think that even before Covid I might have labeled you and myself as persisters, so it’s no surprise that we have hunkered down and gotten through this so far, even if we both retreated from our online presences for a while. Hang in there, and Happy New Year!

    1. Love this comment Lexi. Yes so important to take all those special family events even if they haven’t turned out as expected. Wonderful to have a wedding as well as a new granddaughter! I’m sure you are longing to see her and will soon. We keep holding on and persevering. Right? There is light at the end of the tunnel and I will cry tears of tremendous joy when I can hug my family and see friends again and also know that people are safe. Happy New Year and looking forward to hearing about your first post-pandemic trip down the road. 🙂

  5. What a year you’ve had! Ah, but you are a strong woman and nevertheless you persisted. And I have no doubt you will continue to persist.
    Unlike you I have not had to deal with riots in my city and Covid in my home. What a hero you are.
    I wish you every good thing for you and your family for 2021! May it be better! I too am cautiously optimistic.
    Alison xo

    1. Oh thank you Alison. It sure has been a hard year and then the icing on the already bad cake came on Wednesday. It is hard to even believe what happened here and hard to know how on earth our country will heal. Wow. I’m still trying to digest it all.

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