Welp, it's been a year. I think I speak for pretty much everyone when I say that. I had such high hopes for 2020. I was going to get this blog up and running (check) and write regular posts on interesting and/or important topics (fail). I was going to publish my book on navigating the transition to motherhood by spring (also fail). And of course, I was anticipating many fun trips and gatherings (sigh).
But if I'm being completely honest, the coronavirus portion of this year actually started out pretty pleasantly for me. My husband and I made the hasty decision to leave what we rightly anticipated was going to be a severe lockdown situation in San Francisco for my hometown of Bozeman, MT in mid-March, and we never really looked back. Sure, it wasn't always a picnic sitting 3 feet away from each other on card table desks in my parents' unfinished basement, but I got to enjoy some unexpected quality time with my most favorite people in my most favorite place. Seeing my 2-year-old son so happy to spend time with his grandparents' (and vice versa) and have a backyard and extensive trail system to explore warmed my sappy mom heart. We did plenty of hiking, connecting with old friends, and had the rare chance to visit both Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks with minimal crowds. And to top it off, Montana had such low incidence of COVID early on that there wasn't much of a shutdown. My husband and enjoyed many a date night out on the town, much to the chagrin of my city-dwelling friends. I often felt a bit guilty about how much I was mostly enjoying what was a very difficult time for many.
Then I got pregnant in July and quickly turned into a shell of my former self. I spent most of August and September in bed in the basement. I ate constantly because it was the only thing that made me feel slightly better, although it was a largely joyless endeavor. I re-watched the entire series of Gossip Girl on my iPad - that's an astounding 85 hours of watching beautiful people make bad decisions. Sorry, I'm not sorry (and don't be surprised if I name my baby girl Blair). I felt horrible for letting all my writing goals slide and only doing the bare minimum I needed to get by in nearly every aspect of my life. And to top things off, instead of rejoicing that I could actually get away with never looking presentable and taking all of my meetings in a supine position, I was beyond peeved that I was feeling so bad since I had spent the first trimester of my last pregnancy traipsing around Europe for work and pleasure.
Things began to turn around for me in October, not long before the 'rona started roaring back. I found a perfect rental house and we moved out of my parents' basement, hubs fetched my beloved Peloton from San Francisco so I could get my daily dose of endorphins, and I was spending the majority of waking hours upright. Score! However, the days were getting shorter and colder, and it was becoming increasingly clear that little ole' Montana was no longer immune to the virus. I also found myself missing my friends (or any regular social interaction for that matter) more than ever, and becoming increasingly attune to the monotony of my daily life.
So how have all these factors netted out in the remainder of the year? I think it's fair to say that simply feeling like a real human again has had the biggest impact on my overall well-being. I've had enough energy to try to push one big project across the finish line — my book — and I've been pursuing that with gusto. I'm so excited to be publishing No Drama First-Time Mama: A Practical Guide to Living Your Best Life as a New Mom on Amazon on December 16. (Please see the "New Mom Book" tab on this site for a preview and spread the word to any soon-to-be or newly first-time moms in your life! I have a sneaking suspicion it will help them!) But other than that, I've decided to let everything else slide and make the most of my favorite time of year with my family. There's just no use stewing over what might've been accomplished or experienced under more normal circumstances.
Finishing my book is one way I've decided I can salvage 2020 for myself. Thinking beyond myself (thanks Berkeley Haas Defining Principles!) is another. I feel truly lucky to not have experienced any meaningful hardship due to the pandemic this year, and my heart aches for those who have lost jobs, businesses, and loved ones. I also feel for the teachers, healthcare professionals, and other essential workers who have not had the luxury of quietly retreating to a home office as I have, and have borne undue burdens of the pandemic. I wish I could wave my magic wand to solve some of these problems, but alas, the best thing I can think of doing is donating to organizations that are better suited to help those in need. I've been researching local and national organizations over the past few weeks and have taken a small bit of comfort and satisfaction in doling out money that I didn't spend on vacations this year to those who could really use it. I'd encourage you to think about doing the same.
As a fangirl of Bridgewater founder and legendary investor Ray Dalio, I also became aware of his #redefinegifting campaign last week and was able to secure a $100 Charity Gift Card to donate to a non-profit of my choice. How cool is that? It appears that the full $1 million allotted to the project has been distributed, however there will be additional public figures making more funding for charity gift cards this week. You can enter your contact information on this page to be made aware when it goes live.
We've all been through a lot this year, and unfortunately there's still going to be more crap to slog through, but there is also a lot to be thankful for. Whatever hand you've been dealt in 2020, I hope you consider how you can make the best of it through the end of the year and think about how you can make someone else's life a little brighter during this challenging time. As Vince Vaughn famously said in perhaps the greatest comedy of all time (ahem, Wedding Crashers):
Feliz Navidad, friends.