Well, we made it to the end of 2020! No easy feat, but we did it, and we proved that we can persevere and be resilient in the face of the unexpected and unprecedented. We are stronger than we once believed ourselves to be. Undoubtedly, we’ll continue to face challenges in 2021. But we’ve built up our emotional armor.
While the terribleness of this past year ranged from a global pandemic health crisis and staggering loss of life to horrifying inequity to lost jobs, loss of local businesses and vital arts organizations, widespread negativity in the media, crazy megalomaniacs in leadership positions, canceled trips, postponed dreams, and, I’m afraid, more, I want to take a moment to reflect on the surprising silver linings of 2020.
Back in April, I wrote about quarantine innovations and trends I hope extend beyond pandemic life — including increased generosity, family, behind-the-scenes connections with artists, a renewed respect for nature, and the active practice of gratitude— and I still stand by these hopes. However, I want to dive into a few more personal takeaways — activities I was able to enjoy more because of quarantine, and people and places I was able to focus on with new passion, light, and dedication because of time spent intentionally re-focusing on the present, everyday joys of life.
So here are a few things I did at home this year that made 2020 a year I am grateful for:
I spent more time with my daughter and husband, and we laughed and learned so much together.
I spent more time with my immediate family, and it felt kind of like the old days when I was a kid.
I was more intentional than ever about supporting local. I advocated more for local causes, I gave more to local nonprofits, I was more active on boards and councils, and I made purchases from local, small businesses and restaurants.
I exercised my voice as a public spokesperson and advocate for local nonprofits, and got over whatever remaining fears I had about speaking with the media. I felt more compelled than ever to do whatever I could to help our community.
I took time to really, truly relish food and wine — and I wrote about it! I published my first articles for Edible Austin and chronicled my socially distant Texas wine adventures on Instagram (@txwinegirl). I learned more about our local artisans, from winemakers to cheesemakers to brewmasters, and the soul-reviving local ingredients available to us. I discovered and tried new delicious things, all while supporting local.
I returned to my high school habit of listening to full records on vinyl, first song to last, while reading over the lyrics and admiring the album art. I fell in love all over again with some of my favorites.
I returned to my college habit of watching indie films and documentaries every chance I could get, and opened my mind to new perspectives as well as escapist fantasies and brilliant nostalgia.
I started reading a lot again, for the first time since I gave birth to my daughter, and was especially inspired by autobiographies from Matthew McConaughey, Lenny Kravitz, and the Obamas.
I actually enjoyed road trips! Without having to spend at least three hours on weekdays commuting to and from work, driving became a very freeing thing again, like it was when I was a teenager.
I stargazed and spent time in awe and wonder. We headed out to Terlingua to peer into the heart of the Milky Way, we followed the Bethlehem Star home for the holidays, and looked toward the sky for comets.
I explored my own backyard, and grew to love it more deeply. We took family walks around the neighborhood on a regular basis, and acted like tourists in our own little slice of the Hill Country, hiking around Westcave Preserve, Reimer’s Ranch, and Hamilton Pool.
I took my daughter to her first rock concert at a drive-in! (Bonus: It was Andrew McMahon!)
I sat outside most evenings to watch the sunset and to practice gratitude in a moment of zen.
I lived for the clever and unifying marquees at El Arroyo and the Paramount Theatre.
I reconnected with my alma maters through insightful, virtual alumni events that I would not have been able to attend in person. I reconnected with The Met through virtual programs and tours without traveling to NYC.
I connected with artists and musicians I love in a more personal way through livestreams.
I learned that my core values are truly my guiding force, and they are trustworthy.
There’s probably a lot more that I’m forgetting. But the point is — this year wasn’t all terrible. And my resolution for 2021 is to keep looking at the brightside; continue helping my community; seeing beauty in the every day; rejoicing in the love of family; exercising curiosity and making discoveries. I hope to see these at the top of my “What I did in 2021” list, too!