2020 has been an absolute nightmare of a year.
Between the pandemic, massive loss of life, natural disasters, widespread social unrest, police brutality, political corruption, economic distress, massive civil injustices, and the so easily overlooked Murder Hornets… saying it’s been a rough year is a bit of an understatement.
I know it can seem like a lifetime ago, but it really was only 9 months ago when we were making resolutions for a new year and a new decade with bright shiny eyes and so much hope. The dreams and aspirations we had at the dawning of this new decade, the visions of cultural and social revolution, backed by the gay prosperity of the roaring ’20’s celebrations soon twisted in a way we could not possibly have predicted.
2020 meant a lot of things to a lot of people.
But here we are. Nearing the end of our first year in this new decade. A year that held the ambitions of future generations and the hopes of so many. Whatever 2020 meant you all those long months ago may seem a lifetime away… but it doesn’t have to.
I for one am not ready to let this year become a stain in history and I am tired of letting this year take things, people, and opportunities from us.
I’m taking back my year, my decade, and my future.
I’m Reclaiming 2020.
Fall is a magical time of year. There is a reason why cultures all over the world recognize this transition as days become shorter, the leaves change color, and the very air around us shifts.
For thousands of years fall holidays celebrated around the world have long marked fall as a time of power, change, and even fortune-telling (discussed more here). It’s a concept I believe still has a place today. Setting Fall Intentions is a powerful act of self-care that can re-ground you, reprioritize, rejuvenate, and remind us of what is most important even under normal circumstances. And this year has been anything but normal.
If you are feeling run down, frustrated, and just overall sick of the events of the last 9 months, let’s take a breath, take a moment, and take our 2020 back.
There are 3 months of this year left to try and make up for the last 9 … and I intend to use every minute of it.
How to Take Back 2020
I know you will probably be sick of hearing this by now, but you will hear it again. Voting is the ONE chance we have as US citizens to make our voices heard. So many do not have this opportunity, either as a matter of citizenship, because their rights to vote have been taken from them, or for a variety of other reasons. Choosing to be silent when so many are voiceless is the ultimate act os disrespect to them, to the electorate, and to yourself.
Make sure you are registered to vote by clicking HERE. Confirm your address, know your polling location, and how to get there. Read up on the issues, know what you are going to be voting for, and know where you stand. If you are able, consider volunteering at the polls, or organizing ride shares to polling locations. Whatever you are able to do, in your area, SAFELY, do it. We can scream and shout into the void the whole rest of the year, but if we do not cast our ballots the one time when those in power are actively listening, it will all be for nothing.
Revisit your Resolutions
The dreams and goals you had for yourself in January may seem a million lifetimes ago, but they were once important to you. Are they still? Those things mattered once, and if they still do, then keep them.
We’ll go after them together.
If, however, those goals are not as important to you anymore, then what is? This year has forced a lot of us to put things into perspective. Jobs that once defined us have all but disappeared. Goals that were once the center of our world, no longer seem quite so important. Things that we never gave much thought to, are now the most important things in our world.
Whatever matters to you, write it down. Be specific and give your words power by putting them to paper. As a writer, I firmly believe that bringing words into this world will never NOT be an act of power, but that is a discussion for another day.
For now it is enough to have this piece of paper, written in your own hand, to remind you of what is important and of the promises you made to yourself.
It’s been a long road these last 9 months. Some have suffered worse than others, and some are no longer with us at all. But if you are still here with us please do not minimize whatever you have had to deal with this year by saying ‘well, it could have been worse.’ It can almost always have been worse, but that does not make your personal hardships disappear. Taking the time to yourself to recover and get yourself in a better place is not selfish, even if you are doing just ‘fine’. It is vital if you expect to be able to keep going and necessary to help sustain yourself.
The essential tenants of self-care are worthy of an entire thesis dissertation- see Maslow’s Hierarchy if you don’t believe me. But for now, the basics;
Heal your Body; take a walk, get your heart rate up, eat something healthy and delicious, drink two tall glasses of water, get 8 hours of sleep.
Heal your Mind; put your screens away. Play chess, read something, a new find, or an old favorite, it doesn’t matter. Think about things in a way you’ve never considered before.
Heal your Environment; clean off your desk, take the trash out, put your laundry in the basket, do the dishes, make your home a place of sanctuary.
Heal your Spirit; listen to music, enjoy art, maybe even doodle or play a little yourself. Smile. Spend time by yourself for a spell and just be.
Heal your Relationships; talk to that friend that you’ve lost contact with. Admit when someone did something that hurt you. Tell someone how grateful you are to have them in your life.
Taking care of ourselves is a full time job, and it is one that we are most likely to push aside in favor of getting things done. But you can only keep going so long as you have something to give.
Again, this is one that you’ve likely heard before. And it is likely one that you will hear again, and that is because it is important.
So many things happen in this world without our permission, but that does not mean they happen without our influence. You have the power to make a difference, right now, in some small way, in the world around you.
Get involved. In your community. In your goals. In your passions. Find a way to volunteer, safely, with an organization that you care about. Offer to help out at an animal shelter, or help organize relief for at-risk students. Have a skill? USE IT. Do a zoom story time, create flyers, raise awareness, or contribute in any other way you can to some of the incredible efforts that are being made to make this world a better place.
Reach for your Goals
You remember that list? The one from step 2 about your goals and resolutions? I told you we’d come back to that.
I want you to look at that. Right now. I want you to look at that list of generalized goals and for each one, make specific, itemized steps of what you need to do in order to take you from where you are now to where you want to be. You don’t need to have the whole road map laid out in front of you, but you should know your first step.
Do you want to leave your 9-5 and work for yourself? Look through your Facebook feed and reach out to potential clients (offer to work for free or reduced rates while you are setting up in exchange for reviews). Do you want to help others make a lasting change? Reach out, connect with others, find organizations in your area that need support. Do you want to live a happier/healthier life? Find accessible mental health support or a fitness routine or food goals that work for you.
Create identifiable, easy to follow steps, one after another, that will get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Then… take a step. It doesn’t matter if it is three steps forward and two steps back, as long as you Just. Keep. Moving.
2020 was meant to be the dawn of a new age. Unfortunately, there is no return policy on defective years, but there is always a new beginning.
We have 3 months left.
Make. Them. Count.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Please feel free to reach out through email, Facebook, or Instagram. Tell me your goals, tell me what you are working towards and we can keep each other moving.
We can’t undo the last 9 months, but we can make the next 3 matter.