It’s November 1st which means it’s time for #BlogLike Crazy. If you’re new around here, #BlogLikeCrazy is a challenge hosted every year by See Jane Write, a website and membership community for women who write and blog founded by Javacia Harris Bowser. During the month of November, bloggers are challenged to post 30 posts in 30 days. One year I focused on Southern sayings for the month (read those posts here) and another year I focused on Southern recipes (they’re all here plus some additional posts).
This year, I’m going to focus on 30 lessons I’ve learned in the dumpster fire of a year we’ll all remember as 2020. So here we go!
The first thing 2020 taught me was that your whole life can change in a flash.
Now I subconsciously knew that these things happen. I remember the days my grandmothers died. The day Sonny Boy was born. A rollover accident I had. The day I got my period. The day I learned the truth about Milli Vanilli. My first pair of Doc Martens. The day my starter husband left me for one of my friends. My first date with Tragedy*, my forever husband. The day I discovered authentic tacos. The day I learned pink hair dye didn’t have to be permanent.
After all those things happened, I was different in some way. Changed forever. Some of them you expect. Some you don’t.
But then came March 13th, 2020. That would be the last time I would work a full day in my office. The last day I’d see my favorite coworkers in person. The last day I’d sit and have a cup of that stump water they call coffee.
I didn’t expect to spend the next seven and a half months at home. I didn’t know that there’d be no hard and fast end to working from home or to wearing masks or to leaving my mail outside or to this pandemic.
I didn’t expect that there would be near constant stress — sometimes palpable, sometimes nearly imperceptible, but always there.
I didn’t expect I’d have to fly Sonny Boy home from college and for the first time ever in his whole life not be able to hug him when he got off the plane — or for the following two weeks while he quarantined. I didn’t expect that when he went back, it would be months and months before I’d see him again. And who knows when that will be.
I didn’t expect to cancel trips or that I’d be hoarding toilet paper and Vienna sausages just in case. I didn’t expect that days would go by without me ever leaving our condo. Or that I’d only see my parents on a tiny video screen. Or that I’d be wandering through Walgreen’s on a rare trip out into the world looking at every single thing like I was a kid at Disneyland. Or that I would have carefully matched my mask to my blouse and dressed up just to go to the drug store.
Now before you tell me to hitch up my big girl panties, which is something I tell myself most every day, let me tell you that YES, I know it could be much much much worse. And I know that the minor inconveniences and challenges I’ve faced have been trumped a million times over by people in absolutely dire straits. (As I’m writing this my parents are sitting in a house with no power thanks to Hurricane Zeta. My hometown of Citronelle has been nearly devastated. And they and thousands of others are looking at weeks before the lights will be back on.) I know having to let my cleaning lady go is a total first world problem and that scrubbing a toilet won’t kill me.
And my heart aches for so many people going through so many different things that some days it’s hard not just sit in a corner and cry.
But what I want to say to you today is that change is always hard, no matter how it comes. And there are years that you might have one major life joy or major life upset. Maybe even two … or three. But then you get a 2020 and the hits just keep on comin’ from too much politics to too few Chilton County peaches because you’re too scared to go the farmer’s market. Nothing has been the same this year as it was the year before. And I don’t think things will ever really, truly go back to whatever we thought was normal.
Things can’t stay the same forever.
That’s why we have to give ourselves a little grace. Cut ourselves and everyone else some slack. Show some empathy. Show some love, even if it is from a distance.
And we have to be ok with changing ourselves or ourselves changing, which are two entirely different things but equally important, to fit into this new world we live in.
And I hope 2021 is filled with just as many changes as 2020 … but only the happy kind.
*Tragedy is what I call my husband because of his resting sad face as compared to my usual mule eating briars grin.