motivation

13 Going on 30 Going on…

We are officially on the clock folks!

Come midnight (or 7:39 pm tomorrow if you want to get technical) I will turn 30! I am setting off into a new decade, a new chapter, a new adventure, and I am 97% sure I’m excited about it!

To commemorate this milestone, I watched the cinematic masterpiece 13 Going on 30. If you haven’t seen the movie, honestly, shame on you, and if you have, you’ll recall that it follows Jenna Rink, a 13 year old who is dissatisfied with the state of her life and wishes she could be thirty, flirty and thriving—a wish that comes true thanks to some wishing dust, causing her to wake up 17 years in the future, in the body of Jennifer Garner (bless) with *almost* everything she hoped for.

Ironically, 13 Going on 30 was released when I actually was 13. So as I watched the movie, it got me wondering what I (and the world) were like back in that fateful year of 2004.

To take us back, let me give you some highlights:

  • Justin Timberlake & Janet Jackson (ahem) performed at the Super Bowl.
  • Michael Phelps won 8 medals at the Athens Summer Olympic Games.
  • Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook—for Harvard students only at the time.
  • Friends aired its final episode.
  • The number one song of the year (and my longest running Myspace profile song) was Yeah! By Usher & Ludacris
  • And the highest grossing film was Shrek 2

Unlike Jenna Rink, I wasn’t necessarily in a hurry to grow up. I was in a hurry to not feel dramatic. To not feel like everything was the end of the world. But I was more or less okay with taking things step by step.

I almost always wore my hair in a ponytail—sometimes gelled back—and was obsessed with my hair straightener. I exclusively wore PacSun t-shirts and Vans tennis shoes, and I had one denim skirt that I wore when I wanted to feel fancy. I didn’t own a cellphone, but I texted my friends (and played Snake) on my mom’s blocky, Nokia phone. I owned a CD player on which I played Simple Plan and Ashlee Simpson albums on repeat, desperate for the world to know how misunderstood I was, and I spent hours on my computer coding my Myspace profile so it looked just right. I was quiet, timid, and very prone to copying personality traits from other people that I thought were cool. I was also very naïve and optimistic, very much thriving in what I have grown to call “the bubble,” that would very soon be popped.

Even in hindsight, having lived through it and come out the other side of 13, I can openly admit it was awful. It was scary, awkward, confusing, dramatic, honest, and embarrassing. Funny thing is, at (nearly) 30, I don’t find those adjectives unfamiliar. Life, at any stage is scary in its own right, awkward in its own right, confusing in its own right, etc. But there is a noticeable difference between the fears and struggles I had at 13 and those I have now. One could say the obstacles we face at 30 are tougher, they’re deeper, they hold more consequences, but they also (for the most part) have more structure, more foundation. In the face of controversy at 30, we have such an elaborate tool belt compared to when we are 13. And while that doesn’t necessarily make life easy, it makes it seem survivable, it makes it seem worth it, because we’ve learned that there are good things beyond the bad things, and lessons behind the losses.

In a way, it feels like I’ve blinked and found myself here, the same way Jenna Rink closed her eyes at 13 and opened them at 30. Like Jenna, when I look around, I can see my world is markedly different—that I am markedly different. I’ve accomplished things I would have never imagined and survived pain and loss I didn’t know existed.  Also, Mark Ruffalo is here, and isn’t that a marvelous thing?

It is hard to believe I’m going to be 30, but then it’s also hard to believe that I was once 13.

I don’t envy 13-year-old me. I don’t envy all that she had to walk through and learn and figure out. But I give her credit for making it through. For walking me, step by step, to this very day. And I’d like to believe that 40 or 50 or 80 year old me would have 30 year old me do the exact same thing. To take the days, the moments, the ups, downs, successes, and failures, one step at a time.

So as the clock counts down my final hours and minutes of 29, of my 20’s, of the first third(ish) of my life, I’m going to take a deep breath, reflect on some good memories, cringe at some awkward ones, and set off to make some new ones. I feel very lucky to be where I am, very proud of who I am and very grateful for who I have around me, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next. 

31 Good Things that Happened in August

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in.

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1) This miner in Tanzania sold a gem for over $2 million and announced plans to use the money to build a school and health facility in his community

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2) This:

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3) People working from home gave their office chairs an upgrade

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4) This dog visited hard working firefighters

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5) Three men were rescued after writing SOS in the sand

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6) Olympian Katie Ledecky swam across the pool with a glass of chocolate milk on her head

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7) This 7 year old sewed and sold masks to raise money for her local Boys & Girls club

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8) This man posted a hilarious review of what appeared to be a very strange dish

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9) This family rescued a dog they found swimming 4 miles offshore in Lake Michigan

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10) This man showed off his garden haul picked for his wife

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11) Actor Dennis Quaid adopted a rescue cat named Dennis Quaid

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12) Andrew McCutchen had fun with the (cardboard) fans

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13) This Chihuahua was reunited with its owner after saving his life

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14) This rookie was put to work

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15) This Australian man saved his wife by punching a shark

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16) These moose went for a stroll

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17) This restaurant owner gave out free meals to storm victims

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18) This woman was found alive at a funeral home hours after being pronounced dead

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19) These twins went viral for hearing Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” for the first time

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20) And then quickly (and rightly) went viral again with this video of their reaction to hearing “Jolene” for the first time

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21) Wolverines were found in Mt. Rainier Park for the first time in over 100 years

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22) This girl landed a trick

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23) LEGO announced it is launching a line of braille bricks

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24) This unsold beer was turned into renewable energy

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25) These zookeepers showed a penguin Pingu to help him feel less lonely

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26) This brother was willing to risk it all

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27) Africa was declared free of polio

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28) These 2,000 year old redwoods survived the Northern California wildfires

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29) This man in Ohio built a “nut bar” for the neighborhood squirrels

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30) Dave Grohl had a remote drum battle with a 10 year old

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31) And finally, this girl got a new pair of glasses

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Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what September brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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I Love Me (Part 2)

A couple years ago I posted this blog, where I was inspired by a blogging friend to challenge both myself and some of my favorite ladies to write out things that we love about ourselves. It was uncomfortable, a little difficult, and almost felt…wrong—which is exactly why I’m back to do it again with some of my friends.

There is a lot of hard in the world right now, and there is a lot of hate. So I thought it was the perfect time to circulate some love into the picture. Personally, I could write pages and pages about how wonderful each of these ladies are, but I think that would make them even more uncomfortable. So I’ll stick to their words.

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Sam

I love that I can see the good in all people. Even though I’ve been hurt by some I know that we all deserve love.

I love that I have grown to be a more understanding and compassionate person.

I love that I can admit to myself that I am not perfect and I have often been wrong. I use that to keep a light heart and forgive myself and others.

I love that I love all beings and creatures and try my best to cause as little harm as possible.

I love that I have had the courage to travel the world and make friends who have taught me so much.

And I love that I truly believe we are all here for a reason and anything is possible in this life.

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Nicole

I love my dorky sense of humor and that I am quick to laugh.

I love that I am athletic and an adventurer… a cautious adventurer but still an adventurer at heart

I love how I how much I care for my own

I love that I am into “old lady crafts” such a knitting

I love that I am not afraid to be childish (ex. My love for Harry Potter, Disney and LOTR)

I love that I am a fisher woman and will show up them boys!

I love how much I care for our planet. Proud planet citizen over here!

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Natalee

I love my brain. I love that I am always trying to learn and research and analyze, and I love that learning itself brings me joy.

I love my career. I love that I am challenged every day by my clients and my coworkers, and that I can genuinely see the difference my work makes in the lives of others.

I love my roots. I love that I learned at a young age, it really is Family. Over. Everything.

I love that I am a good friend. I am active about trying to make the people in my life feel loved, valued, and supported, and I am really proud (and grateful!) for the strong friendships that I have in my life.

I love how much I love sports, and I love that I can keep up with almost any sports-related conversation. I also love the sass that sports bring out of me, because Lord knows it’s real.

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Taylor

I love myself because I am independent and strong willed.

I love myself because I can accomplish anything I set my sights on, without anyone there pushing me to do so. (Like getting my phlebotomy license, then choosing to go to through flight attendant interviews…almost becoming a flight attendant, to then choosing to go back to school and finish with my BA degree)

I love myself because I wear my heart on my sleeve and am true to my heart.

I love myself because I am caring towards others feelings and needs.

I love myself because I am a damn great cook and not afraid to add spices without following a recipe!

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Rachel

I love that I believe life shouldn’t always be easy. I welcome challenges while doing everyday things and find that they keep life more interesting.

I love that I can always be the first one to laugh at myself.

I love that I am both gentle and tough though I don’t always show either.

I love that I am a newly converted early bird. I was wasting so much time sleeping in!

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Allison

I love that I can push myself to be outgoing when I need to be. I am naturally very introverted and even though it’s a challenge, I’m never disappointed when I step out of my shell.

I love that I’m an extremely loyal person and that I fiercely protect the people I love.

I love that I am a strong woman who has surrounded myself with other strong women.

I love that I’m spontaneous and adventurous because an unplanned road trip is always worth it. And I love that I  keep snacks in my car for said unplanned road trips.

I love that I’m constantly learning about myself and how to be more comfortable in my own skin

 

A Minute Past Midnight

There is a clock hanging on the wall in my bathroom that never tells the right time. I have changed the batteries, I have checked to see if it is hanging straight and flush with the wall, I have changed the nail it hangs on, I have taken it off the wall and blew on it Nintendo 64 style, but no matter what, after a matter of hours or, if I’m really lucky, a day, the clock goes back to having a mind of its own. Choosing hours and minutes seemingly at random, making my incessant glancing at it while I get ready in the morning absolutely pointless.

And so, a few weeks ago, I took the batteries out.

I thought briefly about buying a new clock, but since I wear a watch, and have now grown used to using the series of notifications I get every morning as my gage on whether or not I’m running late, I didn’t immediately feel a need to.

So, I set the hour hand to 12 and the minute hand to 1, and then hung my broken clock back on the wall.

That way, whenever I go in to get ready in the morning, or walk in to go to the bathroom after work, or step out of the shower, or touch up my makeup, or sit on the edge of my bathtub to overthink something weighing on my mind, I can look up at the clock and see it showing me a minute past midnight. No matter what time of day, no matter what kind of day, no matter what I did or didn’t do or how good or bad I might feel, I can look up at the clock and be reminded that I can start over. I can’t redo what’s already been done, I can’t take back what’s already been said, I can’t uncringe the cringe that’s been cringed. But I can take a deep breathe and start over again in that moment. I can accept that whatever happened has happened and I can start to move forward to something new.

Talking to Your Fear

I was recently listening to Rachel Hollis’ podcast, Rise, and she had author Elizabeth Gilbert on to talk about fear.

If you’ve been around this blog before, you’ll know that fear is a pretty common topic, as it is a very prominent part of my life—though not always in a negative way. I find that while my fear can often hold me back, it has also driven me towards some of my favorite projects (like this blog) and greatest accomplishments (like running the LA Marathon).

Having seen both the positive and negative consequences of fear, I sometimes find myself obsessing over it. I am always trying to see it from a new perspective, or trying to overcome it with a different mindset, or trying to find a new way to talk about it so it can loosen its grip on a specific situation in my life.

Thus, when two of my favorite ladies sat down to talk about fear, you better believe they had my full attention and I had my pen and paper ready to take notes. But as I sat waiting for these two successful, inspirational women to tell me how to overcome my fear, how to leave it behind and live what I can only assume would be an easier, barrier free life, I was again hit with a new perspective.

“Your fear has one job,” Elizabeth Gilbert said, “to keep you safe. To keep you alive by preventing you from doing new things. Thus, if it doesn’t know what something is, it triggers something in your brain. It says, ‘I don’t know what that thing is and I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, so in order to keep you safe, I have to keep you from doing it.”

I’d like to think I’ve always known that my fear tries to protect me, I mean, I am afraid to cliff jump because I think I might get hurt (or die), I am afraid of holding short stem matches because I think I might get burned, but I think over time I forgot that part of growing up is learning the many ways we can get hurt, and thus our minds learn the many things it needs to protect us from. Things like embarrassment, heartbreak, failure, rejection, grief, etc. So when I’m angry at my fear for holding me back, I am essentially mad it for doing exactly what I’ve taught it to do: keep me safe.

Elizabeth Gilbert went on to explain that when we try to throw fear out the window and move on without it, rather than giving in, it tends to send extra fight into a situation because it feels like something really bad is happening.

Think about a time when you set out to do something that scared you, and how in the moments right before doing it, you feel that overwhelming desire to quit and go home. This might be the moment you feel nauseous or shaky or unable to move. That is your fear doing everything it can to keep you from stepping into this unpredictable situation where you might possibly get hurt, and sometimes that last push is so strong that some of us do turn around and go home.

I know I’ve done it.

I’ve thrown up my hands and said, “you’re right, I shouldn’t do this.” Even when “this” is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

But there have also been times when I’ve pushed through, when I’ve demanded that my fear give me a chance. For me, this is when I’m taking deep breaths, praying, pacing up and down a hallway, and sometimes, in the case of my college self studying abroad in Australia, not giving myself enough time to say no, and tip toeing up to the ledge that I’d just seen my friends bungee jump from and jumping.

And that, Elizabeth Gilbert explained, is called talking to your fear. That is taking the time to say, “I respect why you are trying to protect me but I feel like this is something I have to do.”

And so, the next time you feel afraid, dig into the reasons why, and talk it out. Be open and honest with yourself (and your fear), and unpack why you do or do not want to do something—and don’t be ashamed if your fear wins out in the end sometimes. Take each situation as it comes, and give yourself grace in figuring out where you’re willing to step into the unknown. Work with your fear and give it a greater understanding of what you are capable of. Thank it for keeping you safe, and use it to push you forward.

How to Make 2020 Memorable (In A Good Way)

This past weekend I was sitting on the beach with some family, listening to music and watching the sunset, when my cousin Amanda posed a question.

I know that 2020 hasn’t been great, but I think we should each try and think of something that we’d like to do by the end of the year to make our year positive and memorable.

We each took the question in, and then went back to the music. We hummed and danced and occasionally used anything close by as a microphone, all while letting that question twist and turn in our minds.

I had a particularly hard time coming up with an answer, which surprised me, especially because I am such a goal oriented person. But even when ideas and answers were brought up—like seeing a drive in movie or going to the Grand Canyon—my mind still drew a blank.

At one point, I lay my head back on my towel and looked up at the sky.

“Look!” I said, pointing up at the now dark, starry sky, “I think that’s the big dipper!”

The group looked and excitedly agreed and then eventually fell back into swing with the music, this time with the intent to “get our cardio in,” which mostly meant jumping up and down in time with the music, running around our spot on the beach—which was by that time was completely dark and empty except for us and our little electric lantern—spinning with our arms out and our heads tilted up towards the sky, anything that made us feel good, got our hearts racing a little faster, and gave us an excuse to eat an ice cream cone later.

On the drive home (which did include an ice cream cone) I still thought about the question. I was the only one to not give an answer. But when I got home and I relived the afternoon and evening in my head, and I looked at the pictures we’d taken of the sunset and the videos of us singing and dancing around our speaker, I realized why I had struggled so much.

This year has been tough for all of us—in ways we all understand and in ways only you and me can understand. I have had obstacles and hardships you haven’t and vice versa. This year will forever be memorable, but it is not over yet, and sometimes I feel like I’m in survival mode, hiding and waiting until it is.

But just as I wrote in this blog post a little while back, and just as Amanda brought up on the beach, there are still ways we can make this year good. There are still things we can gain from 2020 that we might not have had the time, energy, or inspiration to in any other year.

So I encourage you (and me, because I still haven’t thought of an answer) to think about a way you’d like to make 2020 memorable. It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant or expensive, it just has to be something that gives you that good feeling—like sitting on the beach with people you love and singing Celine Dion into a shoe microphone.

The goodness of 2020 is still up for grabs, and I think it’s about time we went out and found it.

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If you have any ideas for how you want to make your 2020 memorable, please leave them in the comments! We could all use some inspiration. white-smiling-face_263a

Thank You For Your Magic

I am currently reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle and I just wanted to share this little blurp from the book that inspired me:

 

“Each of us was born to bring forth something that has never existed: a way of being, a family, an idea, art, a community—something brand-new. We are here to fully introduce ourselves, to impose ourselves and ideas and thoughts and dreams onto the world, leaving it changed forever by who we are and what we bring forth from our depths.”

 

It’s easy to get caught up in all the things we think and believe we aren’t, but it’s important to remember all of the wonderful, unique things that we are. We are each so important to the world and waste so much time thinking otherwise. So today, rather than leaning on those self criticisms and the constant nit picking of what is wrong with you or your life, take a second to appreciate what a special thing you bring to the world just by being. Take a second to revel in how lucky the world is to have you and how much it needs you and all of the magic you bring to each and every day.

 

Thank you for your magic, I know it helps me, and I hope mine helps you.heavy-black-heart_2764

Getting Over the Big Bump

Up until I was nine years old, my family lived in a blue house, in a neighborhood close to our church. My dad had bought the house with a few of his friends before he met my mom, and so by the time they got married and I came along, we were very much part of the neighborhood. Our next door neighbor, Frank, always had the best Halloween candy set aside for my siblings and I, and our neighbors down the street would smile and wave when they saw us heading out on an afternoon walk—my sister and I on our bikes, and my mom walking (and eventually pushing a stroller with our brother) close behind us.

Fun fact about me: I am not a strong bike rider.

The day I learned to ride a bike (without training wheels) is a notorious one in my family, as it involved hours of me trying and failing to balance on two wheels in the cul de sac in front of my aunt’s house. There were tears, scraped knees, explosive frustration and unwavering determination. Eventually I got there, but I have never considered myself a “confident” bicyclist, even to this day.

Nonetheless, I loved riding my bike on our afternoon walks. I liked pretending I was on a safari and that I could spot wild animals running beside me. Sometimes I liked to pretend that I was being chased or that I was in the last seconds of a race I needed to win. But then, once we took a left turn onto the louder, busier street, I would see it.

Always big, though, once I got my training wheels off, it appeared nearly mountainous, there was bump in the road, mostly likely caused by an earthquake, where two chunks of sidewalk collided and raised. We called it “the big bump.”

Pre cul de sac stick-to-itiveness, I would go over this bump with my training wheels without hesitation or fear, but once I began riding on two wheels, it became an ongoing obstacle. I was suddenly very aware of how it changed the balance of my bike and could ultimately cause me to fall and get hurt. And even though we would do that walk often and I longed to approach the big bump without worry, when we made that turn and I saw it come into focus, my hands would grip tighter on the handles and my visions of being on a safari or in the middle of a race would vanish.

To my credit, I always went over the bump. And to my knowledge, I never fell. There were times when I severely slowed my pace, and there were times when I completely stopped and walked my bike over it, but I always went over it.

These days I rarely ride bikes, and when I do I rarely seek out “big bumps,” but I still find similar obstacles in my day-to-day life. Some I expect, dread even, and some come out of nowhere, but they both give me that same sense of fear I felt as a kid. And while sometimes I can connect to that girl who spent hours trying and failing and willing herself to succeed, other times I find myself looking out at that (now figurative) “big bump” and turning myself around.

I’m still scared. Scared to get hurt, scared to be thrown off balance and lose control. Scared to get stuck, scared to hold people back, and scared to get left behind. I’m scared of the consequences of going over the “big bumps,” which are no longer just scraped knees or a broken bone. Plus, what might look like a big bump to me, might not look so daunting to others and sometimes it’s hard to reconcile that what’s holding you back gave your peers no grief at all. But as scary as the big bumps seem, and no matter how often I might find them in my path, I owe it to myself to keep going over them.

When I was little, each time I made it over the big bump, I felt a swell of pride, and a small burst of confidence that next time I might go over it a little bit easier. And even though I might not be that seven-year-old girl anymore, I still have her grit, I still have her determination, and I still have people behind me willing to help me over whatever bump may enter my path.

So I’m going to keep moving, keep riding, keep walking, keeping making my way over those big bumps, because I know there are good things waiting for me on the other side.

Hate Will Never be a Prize

In a standard marathon, there are thousands of participants, from thousands of backgrounds, with thousands of stories to tell. In the early mornings of race day, they gather at the starting line, grouped together by their approximate pace, each person stretching, praying, pacing, dancing—anything that will prepare them for the journey they are about to embark on.

When I ran my marathon last year, I was surprised by the immediate kinship I felt with everyone around me at the starting line, even though we didn’t talk to one another, or even make more than a few seconds of eye contact. I felt bonded to them, like we were going into battle—because in a way, we were—and it’s easy to feel connected to people when you are working toward the same goal, and headed toward the same finish line.

The same cannot be said in every day life.

Oftentimes when you come into contact with someone in the day to day, you don’t know the path they are on, where they’ve come from, what they’ve experienced, or where they are hoping to go. For some, this is inviting, it’s an opportunity to meet someone new. For others this is intimidating, and a reason to feel self-conscious. And for too many, this is an excuse to jump to conclusions, pass judgment, and, ultimately, hate.

In a marathon setting, if your initial reaction towards one of your fellow runners was hate, it could keep you from making an ally that could inspire you, motivate you, and help you when things got hard. It could slow your progress, steal your focus, weaken your performance, and ultimately, ruin your race. And in real life, it will do the exact same thing.

We are not all running the same race, on the same course, at the same pace, with the same finish line, but we are all trying our best to keep moving. And when we hate, we give unwarranted obstacles not only to ourselves, but our fellow runners. We slow the progress of everyone when we decide we are more important, more valuable, or more worthy of getting to where we want to go than our fellow runners. We slow the progress of everyone when we don’t recognize our fellow runners as fellow individuals, fellow personalities, and fellow human beings, rather than a prejudged series of colors, shapes, sizes, uniforms or beliefs.

Running a marathon takes patience. Living a life takes patience. Forming relationships takes patience. And the quickest way to derail all of these is leaning into the ignorant and lazy habit of impatience. Of believing you already know what an experience will give you before you experience it, of assuming you know all that life has to offer before you live it, and of deciding you know who a person is before they have time to show you.

Be patient.

Be open.

Be helpful.

Be kind.

Romans 12:9-10 in the Bible says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

So let us honor each individual. Let us love them for who they are and all they can offer the world. Let us hate what is wrong, but not mistake hate as a prize. For the goal is not to hate the quickest, the loudest, or the strongest, the goal is to right the wrong and starve hate all together. The goal is to not only hold tightly to the good that we know, but to reach out for the good we are working towards. The goal is for love and respect to be more prevalent and powerful than doubt and bias. The goal is for every runner to believe whole-heartedly that they deserve a place at the starting line and have the opportunity to reach their finish line. The goal is for a person to be a person, at first glance, at first instinct, no matter what, and for that person to know they are loved.

It’s Not “My Year” but it’s Something

Over the weekend I saw this post on social media and it was very encouraging to me. It talked about how so many of us spent our last few moments of 2019 praying, hoping, wishing, demanding that 2020 was going to be “our year.” It was supposed to be a year of opportunity and success. A year that would inspire us to take risks and step out of our comfort zones.

Being the start of a new decade, for many of us it also looked like a fresh start—when the tides would finally turn and bring about positive changes in our lives. I know I was among this crowd. And I know I am among so many who now feel let down. Who wish this year would just be over, or to have never happened. To be back in the naïve hope of last December, or to be crossing our fingers in the final moments of this coming December, hoping—assuming­­­—it can only get better from here.

For most of all of us, 2020 has not been “our year.” Or at least, as Alexis describes it in her post, the year we thought it would be. But that doesn’t mean it is not impactful, important, or worth seeing through.

This year has been full of challenges, restrictions, struggle, panic, fear, and heartbreak, and we have all experienced them to an extent, but those experiences are all different. We are all seeing this year with different perspectives and working through it with different strategies. In 20 years from now, we will all have different stories, different moments that stood out to us, different obstacles we had to overcome and different triumphs we made a long the way. This year will be infamous for how it affected the masses, but unique in how it affected individuals. My year is and will be different than yours, and even my mom’s, dad’s, brother’s or sister’s.

I will remember how I felt, what I was afraid of, confused by, in doubt of, or hopeful for, more than anyone around me. And I will remember my behavior, my reactions, my stresses, worries and personal discoveries more than anything I might hear from a friend or read on the news.

Whether it’s what I imagined or not, I am in “my year”—the year I anticipated all those days and hours before the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020. And while it might not be my year to accomplish certain things or meet certain people or travel certain places, it could still be my year to learn important lessons or heal long-standing wounds. To forgive, to discover, to reprioritize, to create, to accept, to do all the things I might have continued to put off if this were just another year.

So while this year is hard—for some impossibly so—and it’s definitely not what we all hoped for, it is not over, and it still means something.

Let’s find out what that something is.