[Listen to an audio version of this blog HERE.]
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how exhausted I am by....everything. 2020 has been stressful, challenging, emotionally exhausting, heartbreaking, and heartening. We are more isolated than ever. More distracted. More divided, or at least it seems that way. People are people, though. We all have so many things in common. Most of us have felt overwhelmed by responsibility. Worried about finances. Concerned for a loved one's health or safety. Concerned for our own health or safety. Frustrated by a policy that did not make sense or did not seem to consider or include us. Most of us have felt joy, love, triumph, and pride as well. Most people want to be happy, and that's an important consideration. Nobody is born hateful or spiteful or cynical or filled with animosity. Most of us make choices based on what we know, not what we imagine. Most of us also allow fear to dictate at least some of our choices, and most of us don't even realize we're doing so.
2020 may have been a difficult year, and it's not over yet. But, I have found a few silver linings: I've saved money since I haven't been able to travel or go out as much. I found a renewed appreciation for my friends and my family. When life gets hard the people who really love you will be there. 2020 has taught me that. This year, I've also been able to write more than ever before. I stopped wearing as much makeup. I took up a new hobby. I ran a couple thousand miles, and I'm lucky enough to have trails and mountains out my back door. What a blessing to live in such a gorgeous place. 2020 forced me to slow down and really, truly, feel happy with myself.
There are millions of reasons to love or hate 2020, but if there's one major takeaway, it's this: we could all use a solid dose of empathy, not only from others, but from ourselves. Every year on Thanksgiving I write down a list of things I'm grateful for (#blessed). But I also recognize that I'm perhaps more fortunate than others, and so title my list the "Annual Flaunting of Gratitude." I was not always so blessed or happy, and if you're reading this and feeling a bit un-blessed or not happy, or simply disheartened or tired or frustrated, you must know that you aren't alone. Despite the shit show that has been this year, we could all benefit from taking a moment to count our blessings. Here are mine.
I am grateful for my body & health. I spent years disliking my body. Actively trying to make it smaller. Actively trying to be less. Now, I barely think of it at all. Our bodies are our homes, and it is a wonderful sensation to feel gratitude for them.
For my network: friends, family, colleagues, the whole kit and caboodle. When I moved to California I barely knew a soul. Friendships are not built in a day though, and people make life worth living. This has never been more apparent than it is in 2020.
For space, even small ones. This is a gratitude made stronger by COVID. Space to breathe, to write, to move my body, to spend time with loved ones, to rest, to celebrate, to cry, to rejoice, etc, etc, etc.
For my laugh lines and ability to find joy. Enough said.
For all my past hurt, trauma, and failure. I'm grateful, too, for all the hurt, trauma, and failure that will inevitably come my way.
For words, and their ability to reach people despite physical distance. Hello, whoever is reading this.
For a gentle heart and the ability to listen. I strongly believe people need to listen more and talk less. People like people who listen, and we rarely learn new things while yapping.
For my education; the doors it opened the countless ways it has enriched my life. There has been much talk in recent years about how college isn't necessary. Maybe it's not for everybody, but it was critical for me. I learned so much, and more importantly, learned to keep learning.
For this weird, wild, and beautiful country. I find it incredibly patriotic to love your country and simultaneously want it to be better. To be a safer, more welcoming, more inclusive place. To want the people who live here to have good lives, or at least the chance for one. America is home, and home ought to be cherished, worked on, maintained, nurtured, and examined.
For food, a home, and health insurance. About 1 in 9 people worldwide are food insecure. In 2018 (latest reliable data), 552,830 Americans were homeless, though I have a hunch that number is only rising. And about 27.5 million Americans are uninsured.
For Chub Chub (obviously).
For a goddamned sense of humor. Life isn't that serious. None of us know what we're doing, especially the people in charge. None of us make it out of here alive, so crack a smile, eh?
For technology. In a year of social distancing, technology makes it possible to connect with loved ones far, far away. The challenge for most is to use it, instead of being used by it, which is a small but important distinction.
For lotion. Lotion is nice.
For YOU! My smart, sassy, badass readers! This is my third year writing an "Annual Flaunting of Gratitude" post, and I'm head over heels for you. xoxo forever.