Making sense of 2020

girl with face mask

2020 has taken our world on a tour through hell and back. It’s been one of those times that will go down in history where we all knew exactly where we were and what we were doing; a year tattooed in, hopefully never to be repeated. As we look back, we are tempted to try and make sense of it all, to bring purpose to the pain. Or perhaps we look back to focus on the much good with the hope of giving ourselves that positive energy boost propelling us into our futures.

Does 2020 have to carry an extreme label? A label like the worst year of your life, or the best year of your life? Health often comes when we find balance, and these extreme statements are not balanced.

My natural bent is to look for the bright side, the silver lining, the positive. Admitting pain, loss and sadness has been coupled with weakness in my life, and yet to hold on to this way of thinking will only lead me further down the road of dysfunction. Following is my personal list of the good and the hard, my list that seeks to find that balance. Some of them may seem trivial. Some have depth and story behind them that I leave untold. Regardless, they bring me to balance. And as you engage this new year, this 2021, I encourage you to find your own balance.

20 Touches of Sadness

  1. Homeschool.
  2. A difficult relationship in university.
  3. Toxic air quality in Thailand leaving me feeling depressed and trapped.
  4. The worry about the potential of losing our income.
  5. My husband’s intensive travels with closing borders and risks with visas.
  6. My own Thai visa complications.
  7. Because of coronavirus and social distancing, I was not able to graduate with any recognition.
  8. I was not able to say goodby to my friends that I had gained over the course of four years in Thailand.
  9. I didn’t realize how big a deal it would be to say goodbye to our pets even though we found homes for them with loving families. Even now I well up with tears knowing that I didn’t grieve their loss properly. I was in survival mode, and to allow for emotions at that time was not where my body was letting me go. Tears often only come when you feel safe enough to be vulnerable. I did not feel safe.
  10. My UK visa application was submitted days before all the offices were closed. In the meantime, we sold all our furniture knowing that as soon as we got news, we would need to move quickly. And so we lived in an empty house, sleeping and eating on the floor which is doable, but living in survival mode is soul-destroying.
  11. The agony of waiting for my UK visa without knowing the if, or the when.
  12. Constant last minute Thai visa extensions at the very last minute and the constant worry that one day I might be separated from my soul mate.
  13. Not being able to hug people when we arrived in the UK
  14. Culture shock.
  15. My teeth.
  16. Kids having to navigate so bravely, a very tough new environment at school.
  17. Cold days at the roastery, shivering away and questioning whether this was all worth it.
  18. Getting a bad review on our business because I had made a mistake on an online purchase.
  19. While our home is so cute and warm, it’s also really small and sometimes I feel the squeeze.
  20. Inability to venture out to meet my precious friends here in this new place that I now call home.

20 Moments of Beauty

  1. I was invited to a Ph.D. event even though I was just a Bachelor’s student.
  2. My kids’ friends in Thailand would often be over at our house, and the memories we have are so precious. 
  3. Shawn, my best friend at university.
  4. Garrett and Rebeckah! We talked about the deep and the stupid. They have been the best of friends to us through the toughest of times, and in 2020, they showed up again just to say they loved us!
  5. Jabez and Maria. We sat on the floor in their house with a takeaway in front of us just before we left the beautiful country of Thailand. We ate from the same plates not giving it a second thought. Their parents who gained a precious part of our hearts also shared those last sweet moments together with us. If I could go back I would let myself dissolve in sobs of tears. Tears to express the loss which I was going through. But again, those tears were kept at bay because it is often only when we feel safe that we let ourselves melt.
  6. Going on holiday to the beach. While it wasn’t a complete holiday as we were still in that waiting mode for my visa, it did involve a beautiful house with furniture, an aid to healing a broken part of us.
  7. Floating in the vast body of ocean, looking up at the expanse of the sky above me, it didn’t seem to matter how long my visa took, or even if it was rejected. As I lay there I was able to let go of fear and be at peace.
  8. I finally received my visa.
  9. Our direct flight was so easy, empty, and safe.
  10. The two weeks quarantine in our new little home in England was a complete gift. We could acclimatize
  11. Social distancing and lockdown have meant that we were able to build a life in England.
  12. Grant and Barb called us every week to see our faces on video.
  13. English summers!
  14. My father in law finally realized his dream of flying in an ancient plane, doing loops in the sky above us.
  15. An income
  16. A job that I love, that brings me so much life, learning, and connection.
  17. Amazing coffee that I get to drink every day.
  18. Warm clothes so that I don’t have to fear the cold
  19. I am acclimatizing to this new environment of cold.
  20. A rower that my husband so sweetly got for us.

In any season, there is almost always some pain and some joy. At times it is obvious, and at other times it takes skill to decipher the two. And yet as we find that balance, it allows us to come to terms with where we are and where we are not, enabling us to move on into the next year with steadiness. Discover balance, not to find meaning or sense, but simply to be at home in who you are, and perhaps in so doing, find healing.

What was some of your balance? Get in touch with me, I’d love to hear your 20 and 20.

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