Relationships

What Did You Learn This Year?

I Love Lucy

2020 has been…a year! It’s undoubtably taught us so much about ourselves, as well those with whom we’ve spent an extended amount of time. (This year, for example, I learned that I’m more of a baker than a cook.) So, we asked 11 women we love what they learned, and please add your own…

“This year, I learned that taking care of my mental health requires consistent work and effort. When the pandemic began, I took a break from all of my creative endeavors, and it was my biggest mistake. Be it therapy, meditation or learning new skills — for me, these practices turned out to be paramount to a healthy state of mind.” — Ellen Capuano-Parker, critical care nurse

“When the pandemic hit in March, I dove into the bunker, bought three bags of rice, and didn’t look back, except when it came to thinking about my hair stylist, Fatima. I spent countless hours staring back at myself as a tiny box in a video conferencing screen, dreaming about how freakin’ good I would look from the waist up if I had Senegalese twists. It’s given me a profound respect for the people who are integral parts of our lives and whose important work often goes overlooked. For now, I keep Fatima and her loved ones in my thoughts and count the days until we can be (safely) together again.” — Allison Rhone, social media director for Planned Parenthood

“I learned that work is like an effing VACATION compared to caring for a baby all day by myself for days on end. Seriously, when I have photo shoots, I arrive home energized! After a day with the baby, I collapse with exhaustion. It is the most physically and energetically laborious undertaking to date, and my ass has been humbled. I thought, ‘So many people do this parenting thing. It can’t be THAT hard!’ I had no idea.” — Christine Han, photographer.

“I was shocked that I eventually hit a wall with watching murder mysteries. But for real… I always wondered if I was lying to myself or convincing myself that I enjoyed my own company as a sort of preemptive defense mechanism to not finding a life partner. But this year I learned that it is unequivocally true, and I feel very lucky. I’m good at being alone without feeling lonely. I recognize that a lot of that is tied to the fact that nothing bad happened to me directly, so I didn’t have to weather a tragedy alone, but knowing that that baseline exists is a great comfort to me.” — Nora Taylor, Clever editor

“There have been more profound revelations this year — the marvel of the seasons, the adaptability of kids, the drudgery of housework — but a joyous new discovery for me has been TikTok. I’m just feasting at the buffet. I’m so new to it and so clumsy that the algorithm hasn’t pegged me yet, so I’m seeing all this wild stuff. A Korean guy making a mini duvet cover out of an omelet, moms and their teen daughters doing elaborately choreographed dances, a guy decoding Boston hockey slang… It’s the best substitute I can find for being in the mix.” — Happy Menocal, artist

“One beautiful discovery during 2020 was the generosity of the baking community. From a longing to provide something meaningful in these crazy times came Bakers Against Racism, which provided us pastry types a way to pay it forward in our communities. I was moved and grateful to be a part of it.” — Zoë François, baker and cookbook author

“I noticed my everyday headspace had shifted from optimistic to angry and perpetually stressed. But at some point, after changing jobs and moving twice, I had an old conflict management rule pop back into my head — ‘Remember to assume best intentions.’ *exhales deeply* For me, it’s easier to interact with other humans when my baseline assumption is that they’re guided by good intentions. This reminder has allowed me to extend more empathy and understanding toward others and myself.” — Liz Ryan, illustrator

“2020 has taught me that I love makeup. My favorite brand is Fenty because we all know Rihanna does it best! Even though I’m not seeing people socially, I still wear lipstick at home and look forward to when I can wear it while gathered with friends on a rooftop.” — Leslie Ruth, registered nurse

“This year taught me how to stop pretending my shit was together. I spent the greater part of the ‘Tiger King-Last Dance’ period of the pandemic making excuses for why I missed an email, or forgot that last item on the to-do list, instead of admitting I was taking my second shower of the day that was reserved for crying. It felt freeing to say to my boss: ‘I might not be able to get to that today,’ or admitting to my son: ‘It’s hard for Mommy to work at home and be a mommy at the same time.’ Because truth be told, we are all crying and ignoring our emails together. Why not be honest about it?” — Hannah-Faye Allred, minister

“I learned to sew! I watched YouTube tutorials and became obsessed. One shirt pattern led to a jacket and three dresses. In an effort to be more sustainable, I started volunteering at FabScrap to sort deadstock fabric and buy fabric from them. It has been so much fun.” — Natasha Janardan, photographer

“This year, I learned that if you want first dibs on the remote, you have to be smart. The easiest way to do this is to hide it in the late afternoon, when no one cares about remotes. Then, when the kids are in bed or your dog has been walked or whatever it is that needs to be done is done, you can find it first. Of course this will require some acting, but after all the hours of TV 2020 has given us, I know it will be Oscar-worthy.” — Kate Baer, author of What Kind of Woman

What did you learn this year? Happily waving goodbye to 2020 with you all!

P.S. What are your tiny anchors and what’s your venn diagram overlap?

(Photo of Vivian Vance and Lucille Ball.)

  1. Kristen says...

    That life is not about amount of time, but how you spend it. I used to think “if only I had more time, I would…” (finish reading all the books next to my bed, clean out my email inbox, have a completely organized closet, learn to make risotto or sourdough, and so on), but I had almost four straight months at home while my kids and I were off school and none of those things happened. I’ve learned to put away the “someday…” approach and just focus on what feels necessary or good or manageable TODAY.

  2. Karin says...

    That the racist roots of this country’s founding grow deep and may be ineradicable, but we still can try.
    That the work I did on myself in the past few years has come to fruition with my ability to remain positive, focused and present despite the sh*tstorm that was 2020.
    That the behavior modeled by the leaders–whether of a company, a family or a country–can literally be a matter of life and death.
    That so much of what I formerly spent my time and attention on doesn’t matter (celebrity gossip, fashion, shopping).
    How much joy random conversations with strangers once brought and how much I miss those interactions even as an introvert.
    How to slow down and enjoy simple things like cooking instead of rushing to check off the next thing on my to-do list.
    How very, very, very fortunate I am.

  3. Hayley says...

    I learned that I absolutely adore my daughter (born in April 2020) with all the fibers of my being, that I am fully content in her presence, that I am completely terrified of her dying or suffering, that mortality is scary and beautiful.

    I keep thinking of the quote from When Breath Becomes Air: “When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”

  4. Sally says...

    This year I learnt the art of waiting.
    Previous to this year, I’ve always been the person who has wanted to do the thing the SECOND it pops into my head. Whether that’s “go to the supermarket RIGHT NOW and get the stuff for that recipe I’ve JUST seen” or “book Hamilton tickets NOW.” Now I feel like I’ve slowed down and mellowed. And now instead it’s, “next time I’m at the supermarket I’ll get the bits for that recipe” and “I’ll enjoy seeing Hamilton when this is all over.”

  5. April says...

    I have learned how much being around people all day, every day is so exhausting for me. I have been primarily working from home since March and I am the happiest I have ever been. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that I don’t have to listen to others thoughts and opinions all day. I have always felt like I sort of absorbed the emotions of those around me (I realize that probably sounds ridiculous) and it’s been a blessing to not be affected by my co-workers moods. I know this sounds apathetic but I think it’s actually the opposite. It’s like I so completely put myself in other peoples position that their burden becomes my own and now that I’ve gotten a break from that I can see how over-whelming that is for me. I will not be working from home permanently though and am dreading the day I have to go back full-time.

    • kc says...

      I am the exact same way, April! I felt like I was reading my own thoughts. I hope your job somehow shifts into a more permanent WFH set up, it’s looking like mine is. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

    • Kate says...

      I love this… what an excellent revelation!

  6. Megan Johnson says...

    No. 1 lesson of 2020: No one is keeping score. I managed to maintain my beloved, albeit strict, morning routine (walk the dogs, practice yoga, eat breakfast sitting down, read, etc. all before 9AM) well into November, but after Thanksgiving, I allowed myself to sleep in (SHOCK!) for the first time in probably 2+ years, and I haven’t be up at my usual 6AM sharp since. I felt guilt, shame, worry, fear, anxiety, etc. It was almost a full-blown identity crisis. I’d worked so hard to craft this perfect morning routine for myself. Then I realized: Literally no one cares, let alone notices, except me. It’s taken some practice but I’m finally allowing myself the time and space to rest and often do nothing. It’s very tricky for us Type A personalities, but I can’t say it also hasn’t be enjoyable at times. Looking forward to doing nothing in 2021!

    • Thank you for this! ‘Literally no one cares, let alone notices, except me.’ I needed to hear that.

  7. Kristen says...

    In August I learned my husband had been cheating on me beginning around the time I became pregnant two years prior.

    I confirmed my husband has serious mental health issues.

    I learned that I am a strong and resilient woman. Much stronger than I once thought. I am learning to be a good role model to my 20 month old daughter during this incredibly stressful time.

    • Noemi says...

      All my best wishes for you in such a difficult time, things will surely get better. Big hug from Spain.

    • Ashley Koehn says...

      After reading this, I whispered, “what a power house.” Sending you strength. What a beautiful example you’re being for your daughter and yourself. xo

    • Anna Metcalfe says...

      Sending you love and strength Kristen

    • Sarah says...

      Sending you positive thoughts and vibes, that is a tough situation to be in.

  8. Martha Patterson says...

    As a middle school teacher, I learned how to teach via distance learning .and as I’m now in my 35th year in the classroom, learning new skills has really stretched my abilities, and I am a much better educator than I was nine months ago. If you’d told me a year ago that I would be teaching via Zoom, Google Meets, Google Classroom Padlet and Screencastify, I likely would have looked at you with a dull, “Huh?” expression. It’s been exhilarating to learn how to make a hyperlink doc, to create a Google form, to create an interactive online quiz! I miss seeing my students face to face terribly, but am grateful the pandemic created opportunities for me to stretch my skills exponentially! I feel like I’ve been through an extended yoga session…and it feels great!

  9. E says...

    I learned that I can’t be a bulimic forever.

    For years I have had the ability to regurgitate my food without effort, and instead of seeking proper treatment for it, I used it to my perilous advantage and would binge and purge mass quantities of food. I’ve been doing it for about 6 years or so and considered it my little secret. This year I had a long overdue dentist appointment where he revealed to me that I had no enamel on my back teeth, and asked me point blank, ‘Do you vomit?’ I had never been so embarrassed and felt so stupid in my life. That was last month, and I’m now slowly beginning to repair my body and my mind, starting with an endoscopy to treat what I now know is rumination syndrome, many many cavity fillings, and being truthful with my therapist about what’s really going on. The body keeps the score, never forget that. And mothers, just a accept your daughters bodies for what they are. You never know what they’re doing to keep them that way.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s amazing, E. sending love. xoxoxo

    • Marielle Harrington says...

      I traveled that road. Much love, strength and courage to you! xo

    • Ashley says...

      You’re doing great, E! You can do it!! We’re all cheering you on!

    • Rose says...

      I’ve been in your shoes. Wishing you the very best as you embark on this healing journey.

    • Ashley Koehn says...

      How incredibly strong you are, E. I’m proud of you for taking the steps of understanding your worth (you are worthy). And proud of you for sharing so vulnerably. You are accepted here.

  10. Sarah says...

    I learned that while I may not be racist, I have not been practicing anti-racism and it’s not enough to sit on the sidelines anymore. I am grateful for those that have done the hard work to teach these lessons and I grieve the lives lost that shone a light on this problem.

  11. Ella says...

    This year I learned that co-parenting can and does get better with each passing year, as long as you are both willing to work at it. Three Christmases ago I split from the father of our two beautiful children and I was utterly devastated. It was beyond painful, and the thought that my precious babies would suffer the fallout of our very adult relationship issues broke my heart so many times over.

    This year, three years on, we collected them from their last day of day care on Christmas eve together and I brought Santa hats for each of us to wear as I knew it would make our children laugh. I got him to take a photo of the two of us doing that – something I could have never imagined us doing at the start of our co-parenting journey. I’m not saying it’s all roses and I still had a hard moment on Christmas day as it hit me all over again that our family has broken up… but it’s gotten so much better and the pain is fleeting now.

    • anon says...

      Take it from someone who grew up with parents who stayed together, “for the children”: staying together is much, much more damaging to the children. You’ve done the right thing and I am sooo happy that co-parenting is going well. I really hope it only gets better for each of you!

    • Brigitte says...

      Thank you for your words! This was our second Christmas co-parenting, and while it was easier than last year, your post gave me hope that next year will be a little bit easier. In some ways, navigating this during the pandemic, where nothing has been normal, made this new normal slightly easier. I loved your Santa hat idea…I will use this next year! Thank you for making me feel less alone amongst all the visions of “perfect” families still together.

  12. K says...

    This year I learned that I am bisexual. Well, I guess I always kind of knew, but it took me until recently to actually acknowledge it and put a name to it. It’s been a very freeing experience for me– it feels like things finally make sense now!

  13. Irene Mazzetti says...

    I remember one of your old posts that suggested to replace your “new year’s resolutions” with just a word, and, looking at my – trying, exhausting and still, surprising – 2020 the first thing that comes to my mind is: deliberate . I learned that I can live in a more deliberate way when it comes to my food choices, replacing some of my stress-induced supermarket shopping with a list of what I really like and enjoy, when it comes to the words I’m using, asking myself whether they lift other people up, when it comes to what I hear and read, because I want to spend my time engaged in conversations where people can feel seen and valued.
    Merry Christmas, may we learn&grow even during this holiday season.

    • H says...

      I love this! I have been searching for ‘my’ word, and you’ve given me direction!

    • Lane says...

      Amen to that Irene-my exact sentiment through the past few months has been ‘think first’. And just as you described, it’s applied to:

      the smaller:
      -taking a moment to respond to work projects, questions, ideas
      -online shopping carts. Many filled, few fulfilled
      -do I need: another glass of wine, Bravo binge that now I find boring, a fourth cookie/sugar rush at 10 pm?

      the larger:
      -allowed me to dive into dark thoughts I’ve had about this year/this country
      -our interactions as a very outspoken family. We’re actually starting to say ‘is this a think first conversation?’ with everything from chore distribution to expressing how we’re feeling…which for EVERYONE is a million emotions at a million different times.

      Perhaps it’s been revisiting my many self-love book (howdy, Brene), but this motto is really making me feel like I have some control of the reins in the wild times of trying to stay alive and well.

      I wish you lovelies hope this holiday season.

  14. Daniela says...

    Honestly what I’ve learned this year hasn’t been entirely because of covid.

    I have learned what it’s like to suffer with fertility. I’ve learned that I don’t believe in the word infertility because it’s not a black and white concept but shades of grey. I’ve learned what it’s like to become closer with my husband over a shared struggle. I’ve learned what it’s like to want something so badly that my soul aches.

    I’ve learned how to start a business (well, still learning!).

    I’ve also learned resiliency, the importance of self care, the importance of family in whatever form that takes, the importance of home, and that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. 2020 hasn’t been fun but holy shit (pardon my language), have I grown as a person this year.

    • Jo says...

      I’m sorry for this pain and heart ache… so misunderstood and HARD. May the new year bring many sources of deep joy. happy holidays

    • C says...

      Hugs to you, Daniela. I, too, have learned the suffering that can come with fertility this year. xox

  15. Nigerian Girl says...

    This year I learned:
    – How to knit a scarf.
    – That the friends I will lose are not the ones I think I will lose.
    – That there is power in gathering and community.
    – That I enjoy cooking.
    – That I need to learn how to forgive myself.

  16. Karen says...

    I learned something that’s still hard for me to wrap my head and heart around: that I, a white privileged woman who in her soul believes in equality and quality of life for all, is part of a system that contributes to and perpetuates racism. That just for being who I am and where I am, I’m floating in the bucket of racism – and for that I am sorry, and I don’t like it, but it’s the truth. And I firmly believe that we are all either part of the problem or part of the solution, and until I start acting/changing/talking/moving/doing, I remain part of the problem. There’s work to be done, and I am ready.

    • Vero says...

      YES. The sooner we acknowledge these truths, the sooner we can really be actionable and effective in all areas of our lives. One of my favourite initiates is #BuyBackBlackDebt; check out Sonya Renee Taylor for more about this.

    • Martha Patterson says...

      Word. I’ve been working on understanding my privilege for several years through my work in my union and my workplace. It is immensely frustrating to me that many of my white colleagues, family and friends are completely oblivious to the privilege they have simply due to their skin color, and the defensiveness that is exhibited when it is pointed out to them. As an educator, it has become clear to me that the definition of success in school is very much one rooted in white supremacy…worship of the written word, perfectionism, control….we’ve got a long ways to go, and people need to be willing to feel uncomfortable to move forward.

    • anon says...

      I’ve been working on this all year as well and it has been a challenge. Because while I am white, I’ve always been poor and disadvantaged and suffered deeply from both the institutional and social abuse that comes with that as well as from just being a woman of any color. I’ve always learned about how to be strong from the black community, but from the outside because I’ve only ever known one or two black people in passing. Seriously no one wants to associate with a poor person, haha. And I don’t blame them, it’s ok. Just lonely. Of course I realize that even my troubles pale compared to women of color so I’ve really worked on being grateful for what I have and on simply standing up for myself wherever I can recognize abuse – it can be very subtle and passive aggressive because though I am poor and a woman, I am white and that makes abuses almost invisible. Almost. For example, I think often about the government’s rhetoric of the last few decades on how vitally important “family” is and how those w o r d s contrast with the lack of actual support in terms of the incredibly misogynistic factory-style obstetrics system. Who makes c-sections a business model? Anyway that’s just one place where women of any color are being lied to and accepting it as normal. Being virtually forced to accept less pay for twice the work is another. It is immensely depressing.

      It helps to think about how I, with my very limited resources, can help. Just reading all the amazing essays that black people have been writing has been so helpful. There is so much understandable rage but also so many have been able to transmute that rage into LIGHT and they are leading the way forward with their clarity and love. The entire dialog on practicing anti-racism vs merely not being racist has been super helpful in clarifying such a foggy area. I will do my best and pray we all can begin to embrace diversity voluntarily out of love and interest and joy.

  17. Cameron says...

    I’ve loved reading these and relate to so many of your lessons. I was especially glad to hear other people enjoying the isolation and solitude. I’ve also been realizing how much the pressure to be out and about or to make plans with friends adds anxiety and unnecessary bustle to my day. So happy to hear I’m not alone… in wanting to be alone. Other things I’ve learned this year:
    – Laundry day! What works for my family is doing all the laundry once a week. Now I don’t spend all week thinking about whether or not we need to do a load of laundry.
    – My three year old never needed to go to the children’s museum and the library and a friend’s house and, and, and… he just wants to be at home.
    – Anything can happen. We live in Portland, Oregon, and it was a doozy of a year here. Forest fires, civil unrest and police violence, our neighbor’s house was totaled by a car (in a high speed police chase, no less) all while the pandemic simmers in the background. My takeaways are be prepared and appreciate how lucky you’ve been this far.
    – Finally, everything is connected. Environmental justice is equitable healthcare is racial justice and on and on. I’m sure I’d heard it before but I *think* I’m starting to understand. Big deal!

  18. Val says...

    I am struggling this year. I moved to the US almost 20 years ago as an undergraduate student. My husband also came here as a student. We both have masters degrees in engineering and have been waiting in the green card process for 10 years now. Because we are from India and the green cards are allotted by country, there is a huge backlog for Indians. I am so disappointed that I am almost 40 and still have so much uncertainty in my status. This year has really forced me to take stock of what I want and I have so many what ifs in my head.

    • kd says...

      I’m so sorry you are living with this uncertainty, Val. If this is where you want to be, then you belong here. I hope that they process your cards soon. Xx

  19. Amy says...

    I have learned that I actually really enjoy being with my kids (ages 8, 13, 15). It sounds terrible that this is a realization but I have always worked full time and therefore have had babysitters and nannies since my 15yo was 2 months old. So, other than weeklong vacations here and there, until the pandemic shut offices and schools I had never in their lives spent so much concentrated time with them. And it’s been such a blessing. It’s changed me as a mom forever.

    • Vero says...

      This is beautiful <3

  20. C says...

    Pre pandemic, I always knew I was an extrovert- getting energy from planning get togethers/ impromptu hangouts and long, rambling conversations with friends and family. BUT, in the last few months, I’ve realized my extroversion extends past friends and family- I loooove interacting with literally anyone- short chats with the barista at my local coffee shop, discussions about the weather with neighbours when I’m out for a walk, and I even had a really enjoyable, hour long phone conversation with a rep from my bank last week when my credit card had been compromised (most pleasant instance of fraud ever?!). Post-vaccine, I’m definitely going to be one of those people who strikes up conversations with strangers on public transit- and I can’t wait!

  21. Toni says...

    I learned that when you’re working from home, leggings can in fact be pants.

  22. Laura says...

    I learnt that I had a depression for quite some time, because round May it slowly disappeared and wow – something really really heavy lifted from my chest. I didn‘t need to tell myself life is good, it just was. Not in a maniac way, but a quiet contentedness in the morning (I am still a nighttime worrier and bad sleeper – well it takes time), stuff gets done easier, I can be happy on my own without busyness to fill up my day and my constantly worried mind. 2020 has been, after all this crazy stuff that happened before and drove me into a burnout (and yes, depression), an easy, joyful year.
    My therapist (whom I have been seeing for 2 years) told me right at the beginning I was depressed, but I didn‘t believe him, because I had been in this functioning depression for so long that it had become my new normal, and my brother has episodes of severe, suicidal depression.
    I learnt that yes, you can take the easy road, because life is not a fight but an experience.
    I learnt that therapy pays off, and takes longer than you think, and that‘s ok. I learnt it was ok not to be ok – and its ok to be ok. Sometimes I struggle to be openly happy in a time where everyone is so miserable, and so much on my happiness is based on my privileges (job, no kids, introvert, nice flat, health, access to healthcare, and for once neither me nor anyone in my family is in the hospital). Sometimes, as you can see in the last remarks, still
    some bitterness comes up when similarly privileged people complain, because I think – well I have known worse. But I keep that in my head, and listen to my friends complains and fears, because I know how bad it was to be depressed, to feel hopeless, or worse numb, to be complaining when I at some level new that it was probably irrational.
    So to everybody out there who still is in a depression – I hope that it will change, that the invisible heavy burden that has been so normal, will go away, that the tight and anxious heart will open up again, and you will feel more yourself again (with joy and pain). Those are hard times, but also life is like that. In retrospect, I think I should have been more open to aknowledge the crappy times in my life – like the suicidal episodes of my brother, or my health issues instead of trying to lead a „happy“ life „despite everything“. Endure a probably shorter time of misery than a constant numbness and a wrecked body who is still in recovery mode.

  23. This year taught me how to let go at work. Being the only member of the team not furloughed, I felt like I was carrying a great weight until, one day, I woke up and I couldn’t anymore.
    It was a short, sharp lesson in my limits and I’ve been putting it into practice ever since. The weight has gone and some changes for the better have been made.

  24. Laura says...

    I’ve learned that I am not in control of my emotions. I have been overwhelmed and irritable for days, then suddenly found myself content again, without any observable change. I am learning to accept my emotions rather than change them.

    I also have learned that, when things are hardest, cuddling with a loved one, a sweet cup of Sleepytime tea, and finding a way to be kind to someone is the best recipe for accessing my inner strength.

  25. I learned:

    1. How to write and fine tune my novel even when my children were not in physical school, but virtual school. My book comes out in May!

    2. That today my husband got diagnosed with covid while at his parents house and that we will be ok, godwilling

    3. To not make plans- we planned to go to my inlaws and then husband got sick sooooo not going anywhere.

    4. That I’m at the age (36) where if I eat junk, it shows! My daughters learned to bake this quarantine and I am getting back in shape with pilates with Robin – The Balanced Sisterhood, its just 15 min a day and working !

    5. That going a year without seeing my mother feels like being in the winter cold without wearing a coat. That seeing my mother again will make me eternally grateful.

    6. That peppa pig is liked by each member of my family!

    7. That when my grandfather died of covid, we mourned but are trying to be brave for my grandmother.

    8. That I secretly really like having the girls home doing virtual school! We save so much more time from Atlanta traffic! I hated driving to school, packing lunches, etc. They are doing their assignments and get done near lunch-ish!

    8. How much my 3 year old LOVES us being home. All the time. It’s a grand old party for her.

    9. That instacart is amazzzzzing.

    10. When I got sick years ago and had a few months of chemo, it was challenging but the silver lining was that I enjoyed the white unblemished squares on my calendar and free time. No events is a BLESSING.

    11.The language of my 3 year old’s eyelashes. At my mum’s home, I lie down with her at bedtime and I love seeing her long lashes open close open cloooooose the seconds before she sleeps.

    That’s what I’ve learned in 2020.

    • Vero says...

      Wow to all but #5… beautifully said <3

  26. Kim says...

    I have learned that taking care of my actual body- feeding it good food, drinking water, exercising, stretching, etc makes me feel so much better than I did even a year ago.

  27. Kristin says...

    This year taught me to let go of the story (this is a Buddhist idea I read about from Pema Chodron’s work). Life is not about the narratives we craft for ourselves or others. It really is about what is right in front of you.

    2020 was my third year of infertility. I had treatments cancelled due to COVID, four uterine surgeries, an ERA, and lost three of my embryos to failed transfers or miscarriage. I never, ever wanted my path to growing my family to involve such enormous pain and sorrow. Infertility isn’t in anyone’s desired “story” and I had to let go of the picture I had of what my family would look like. I am by no means enlightened, but going through infertility while the world ground to a halt taught me a lot about living in the moment and chopping the wood in front of you, so to speak.

    • Ève says...

      This really spoke to me. I started the fertility process this year and I didn’t realise that I was grieving the “story” of how one comes to create a family. I will certainly refer to your comment in my next therapy session haha. Sending you lots of love xx

  28. Lilly says...

    I am clinically vulnerable to C-19. If I catch it, I will die. In 2020, I learned that to most people, my actual life is worth less to them than their own pleasure and entertainment.

    I would like my friends, family and people everywhere to learn more about ableism in 2020 and think about how their day trips and meals out look through the eyes of someone like me.

    • Meghan says...

      I feel this Lilly <3 It feels like almost everyone in my life has tried to push my boundaries at one point and it's been really hard.

    • Samantha says...

      I feel it too, Lilly. As I sit with my husband and no extended family on Christmas morning because the people in my life chose not to take this virus seriously, leaving me unable to see family or friends. I’m thankful for my husband and few friends that are respectful of my health. It’s definitely been a year to see people’s true nature in times of adversity.

    • kd says...

      My parents are vulnerable. Watching friends and others has been particularly hard this entire year. I’ve lost a lost of respect for them as they didn’t dig deep to find empathy for me and mine. Rooting for you from my house alone with my dog on Christmas day. Xx

    • Megan says...

      Hi Lilly,
      Are you familiar with the movie Crip Camp on Netflix? I watched it at the end of March and it became one of the most important parts of my year. I signed up for the Crip Camp Virtual Experience, which was a seminar held this summer. I learned so much about disability rights and justice and of course, abelism. The amazing team at CC just released the following curriculum to help teach about disability rights, and the lesson plans include a section on abelism and language. I hope this helps:
      https://cripcamp.com/curriculum/
      Megan
      PS: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to add image descriptions to social media posts, it is a little thing non-disabled people can do to help people who use screen readers to interact with social media.

  29. anna says...

    I’ve learned that I can trust myself and need to stop being so critical. When describing my endless self-criticism last week, my counselor pointed out that being unable to recognize the positive in myself would hamper me from being able to feel truly loved by a partner or spouse- if I couldn’t believe the wonderful things they say they love about me, could I feel fully loved? Since I tend to be others-oriented that perspective really got through to me and is helping me (slowly) recognize and accept positive things about myself and stop viewing myself as a failure.

    • Jenna says...

      Wow this really hit home for me. Writing it down as a reminder to myself. Thank for you sharing <3

  30. Beth says...

    Such a good question for thought! And so true with that cover photo of Vivian and Lucy. I started reading simple French books this year and love it. It gave a mental break with handling very stressed parents as I deal with a lot of communications via phone with school issues: in-class and virtual changes/ sign-ups/ changes/ switches. I felt more like a Mental Health Therapist of some sort with anxiety-ridden households. No one can say they never worked this year, as we all did in many, varied ways. I learned that I am even more of an introvert than I already thought and my mom who I speak with most days when I told her we (hubby and I) were trying to keep a low profile and disconnect literally said, “My love, if you two disconnected anymore, you’d both be on a planet (not of Earth). I laughed out so hard after 1 a.m. when we were chatting once again. Some days the phone rang too much, but then I thought about the possibility of days when the phone may stop ringing– so paced it some. We are surrounded by nature and that strength solidified itself in 2020, even more, and how much it soothes us. It quieted my mind and made me breathe in courage and positivity.

    Thank you so much Joanna for having such an open and welcoming space for all to stop by, read, learn, have a good, needed/unexpected laugh, find solace and comfort during a year that was more than a year (putting it mildly). It’s been truly lovely. Your boys crack me up all.the.time. Love seeing them. Here’s to all things uplifting, safe and healthy for 2021. xx

  31. Christine says...

    I learned how to interview well. I thought I was pretty good but this article https://www.thecut.com/article/questions-to-ask-in-a-job-interview.html
    has been immensely helpful. I landed one job and then a better opportunity opened up and I got that one, too.
    Also, I got better at negotiating salary. I try to find a range on Glassdoor or LinkedIn. When it comes up I say “my research says this role pays between x and y. Based on my experience, I’d expect to earn z (but closer to y ;) I feel way more empowered instead of fumbling for a number.

  32. J says...

    This year I realized that I did a lot of stuff just for the sake of filling time, not because I enjoyed it. I feel like a slower pace of life is what I need. I still struggle with this, but when I pay attention to slowing down I notice I’m less tired, less anxious and I smile more.

  33. Colleen says...

    I learned that I’m actually quite handy! Looking back on my childhood, no one expected the “book smart” girl to be knowledgable about fixing stuff or building things. They were wrong. And I believed them, so I was wrong too.

    But! With the help of some Youtube tutorials & how-to guides- I learned how to refinish a piece of furniture, how to unclog a bathroom sink, and how to assemble multiple different pieces of furniture. Oh, and I moved my small family across the country following a job offer I got. I think most people assumed it would’ve taken my fiancé landing something to get us to a new place, but it was me. It was hard, it’s still hard- but we managed to do it and it all started because of my ambition. And for that, I feel a lot of pride.

  34. AJB says...

    Cup of Jo read is more than ever important to me. It is my almost daily distresser read.
    Let me just start with TODAY! I am just coming down from with what I would call a DUCKING DUCK of a day. ..I give one day a week taking care of an elderly dementia lady. While cooking her breakfast in her gas oven this am it went on FIRE…it was so stressful and eventually was put out by firemen..will spare you all the details…But one thing I have learned today is to spread the word to all is to do a fire safety course along your kids and loved ones too…In fact I am begging you to. May your holidays be safe and merry.

  35. lmp says...

    I’ve learned to look up. I learned that my only stability is found in the God who knows all things and holds them all together, both universally and personally. I’ve learned what real peace is.

    • anna says...

      This is powerful. I’ve been so reminded of God’s presence and sovereignty this year- if He can guide me through my past, He can redeem this year.

    • Anna says...

      Yes. So beautifully put. I learned that I have nothing to give, unless I am first filled by my Father. What a tender father he is, and what peace and joy I’ve found by resting in the knowledge of his care.

    • angel says...

      @Anna And what about your mother? Does she fill you up and care for you as well?

  36. Julie says...

    I learned that motherhood is full of contradictions for me. Not wanting to miss a second of my new little boy, but counting down the minutes until nap/bedtime. Being so thankful for my body and the miracle it went through to give me my baby, but struggling with the physical changes I will be living with going forward. Loving that this little baby gives me so much love and purpose, but have such longing for the ease of life before, with less worry.

    • Danielle says...

      I could have written this! Thank you for sharing this sentiment.

  37. Jessica says...

    I’ve learned I can make due with a lot less. I haven’t stepped into a retail shop since March. I’ve purchased some needed essentials online, and only after asking, do I REALLY need this? (And making every effort to avoid Amazon for those purchases, and instead seek out more local companies where possible.) Not wanting to go out to reduce COVID risk has allowed me to assess what I already have and what I prioritize. This mindset has saved me time and money, and feels like a very good behaviour to model for my young daughter. I will try to stick with this post-pandemic.

    • Karen says...

      YES to this! I’ve done the same thing, and it’s so good: I buy less and I avoid Amazon.

      The more I read about Amazon, the less I buy from Amazon. This was yesterday’s lesson, specifically the part about the tripod seller: https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-competition-shopify-wayfair-allbirds-antitrust-11608235127. And http://www.makeamazonpay.com

      When I think I “need” something, I add it to a note on my phone – then, when I have a list, I pare it down to what I really need (so I’m saving money), and get it from a local store. Even if it’s Target, I’d rather support a local brick & mortar that employees my neighbors.

      I’ve been loving this quote by Sheryl Crow: “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have”.

      For Christmas this year, my husband and I decided to slim down our gift exchange – one gift only, with a $100 cap. Then he blew it by asking for a Vitamix blender, which he qualified by saying we’ll BOTH us it, citing blended margaritas and frozen smoothies (sold!). LOL. I can’t win them all but I can try, and they key is to keep trying!

    • b says...

      Yes! I’m very much making a more conscious effort to order directly from brands vs. buying at Target/Wal-Mart/Amazon.

    • Jeannie Pham says...

      I love this so much and am overjoyed others are also considering to avoid Amazon/big corporations!!

    • Katie says...

      Yup, I’ve also learned that Amazon does not deserve my hard-earned dollars. I would much prefer to support local businesses.

  38. Maureen says...

    I learned that years of infertility have taught me so much patience and acceptance that during this pandemic, I have been able to handle the loss of everything ‘normal’ in life with much more ease than I would have expected. I learned to appreciate my body as more than just something that should be aesthetically pleasing to me or others, and in that accepted that my body is amazing, beautiful and capable in so many ways. I have spent too long punishing myself for not looking exactly how I thought I should. What really helped me with this is following the amazing Meg Boggs on Instagram.

    • Kristin says...

      From one infertile woman to another, I know how complicated your relationship to your body can be. Major props to you for working to love your body. It’s radical when we get so many messages explicit and subtle that you are only valuable as a woman if you are a mother, if you’ve given birth, if you look a certain way or have done certain things. It’s also so hard to feel in control of your body when you are taking hundreds of shots and pills and getting cameras and wands up your vagina multiple times a week, for years. Again, it’s radical to love yourself under these circumstances. Glad to hear you are doing so!

    • Michele says...

      My heart goes out to you. Infertility sucks (something I learned this year). And I’m glad you found that it has given you a silver lining.

    • Ève says...

      This made me tear up! I’m struggling with infertility myself and while I don’t feel AT ALL like it’s making me a better person right now, it’s encouraging to think that some day I might have grown from it.

  39. Anna says...

    I learned that I want to surround myself with people who are more spiritual and less attached to outcomes because that’s what I’d like to grow in myself. The control I once hoped to have over my life has shown itself to be an illusion this year and I’d like to see myself acquiesce to the flow of life more often rather than fighting the current all the time.

  40. Nathalie says...

    Nora’s comment resonates with me 1000%. I’m in my mid-twenties and have a job, apartment, and a small circle of friends that I adore, and yet, in Nora’s words, ” I always wondered if I was lying to myself or convincing myself that I enjoyed my own company.” Being in lockdown felt almost freeing to me because I didn’t have to make excuses as to why I didn’t enjoy going on dates or hanging out with people all the time.

    Now I love being alone so much I want to shout it from the rooftops! The simple joys of exploring new places by myself (when traveling is possible), reading whenever I like, cooking only what I want to eat. I consider it a huge privilege to feel this way.

    • kd says...

      Agree. I’ve always been an introvert and, while I haven’t questioned the authenticity of enjoying my own company, I really have felt privileged to be content with aloneness throughout this year. xx

  41. Silver says...

    I was reminded that I thrive in solitude. My life was always so busy and social, but with lock down we went inside. Where I live the doors are opening up for Christmas (only up to ten people) and I am riddled with that pain in my stomach, the anxiety of expectation and obligation. I loved not having to talk to the other parents at the school gate, meeting people for coffee. Due to some serious health issues of mine, my husband doesn’t want us to live anywhere too remote but I hope regardless we can find a way to keep the quiet. I found such a freedom and peace in the quiet.

    • K says...

      THANK YOU sooooo much for this!!!! I can relate to every word you shared and it is deeply relieving to know that I am not alone in feeling this way (especially after 32 years of being told/made to feel like this is an unacceptable way to be). Sending love through the quiet <3

  42. Jean says...

    I learned to knit. I could knit and purl before, now I’m up to simple socks and baby sweaters and about to start my first adult sweater! Talk to me about German short rows :D
    I’ve also found that this time gave me a good reset on friendships and boundaries. Relationships that weren’t working simply fell away.

    • Katrina says...

      I’ve been knitting for a hundred years, I hope you live it as much as I do!

  43. Amanda says...

    I’ve learned to sit with myself and my feelings and my hurt instead of trying to numb out from them. (Thanks, counseling!) I’ve also learned how unconditionally my people love me–I mean, I knew they did, but I also came out as bi this summer to some people and everyone has been cool about it. They had questions, of course, but all of them had the same one: How can I support you?

    • Michele says...

      Yay this is awesome!!

  44. Sadie says...

    I learned yesterday that I SHOULD NOT cut my own hair. Mistakes were made and I will be getting a bob asap.

    • Anna says...

      This is an entire genre of TikToks and I’m sorry you’re the latest victim. One more entry in the “best-laid plans” section of the archives.

  45. maywyn says...

    I’ve learned how beautifully resilient Americans are on all sides.

    I’ve also learned that my aversion to doing laundry is not a deep psychological issue I have. I’ve learned that aversion is simply not one of the purposes of my soul.

  46. jane says...

    I’ve learned I’d like a lot more support in my, till now, happily single life. I’ve made such tedious choices in men in the past that being alone has felt like bliss. But it’s been over 10 years and I’d like to try to trust another person again. I think I feel much better equipped to choose a truly good man or at least be ok if he turns out to be another dud. But, it feels good to hope for the best.

    • Sadie says...

      I’m wishing you someone wonderful xo

    • patricia blaettler says...

      My brother found his first true love after the age of 60. And they’re so happy together.

  47. Megan says...

    I learned that my real true blue friends are just that for a reason; they stayed safe and kept others safe this year, they made sacrifices for the good of others.
    Many people I have casual, friendly relationships with (and who I always sort of wondered why I didn’t feel closer to) showed me why that’s the case; most were traveling and gathering and doing many things that weren’t/aren’t safe. Of course, we will continue to be friendly, but it really showed me why I am closely connected with my BFF’s.

    I also learned that reading before bed helps me sleep better and that eating copious amounts of sugar before bed…doesn’t.

  48. JZ says...

    Like far too many others this year, I learned what it means to truly grieve. Knowledge I desperately wish I didn’t have. But with that lesson came renewed empathy for others, patience and acceptance for myself, and as 2020 comes to a close, I’m choosing to be grateful for those things instead of bitter about what I’ve lost.

    • Michele says...

      Sending love and sorrow for your pain.

    • J says...

      My year has also been about grieving. For me I try to think about how blessed I am to have had the people I’ve lost in my life and the beauty they brought me. On really hard days I remind myself that I was not entitled to having them in my life, I was just fortunate to have them while I did. Thank you for writing your post, I’ve found it hard to talk about grieving to people who are not going through it.

  49. Michele says...

    I learned to say I love you to my friends. I hadn’t before. But we miss each other so much, and our distanced walks are just everything to me.

  50. liz says...

    I learned that I actually don’t want a job that requires full time work from home!

    • Jo says...

      Same!
      I am craving to get back to my office, the comradery with colleagues, showing up/leaving at a set time.. this confinement at home with 24/7 access to family (who I love) has been a bit much.

    • achristine says...

      Yes! I’ve struggled with OCD and anxiety since I was a kid and structure, routine, and schedule have always been vital for me. Cue working from home and I’m in a daze, I’m anxious, I’m forgetful, I’m missing details… still working on a solution (one of them may be quitting this job and finding in person work would that be crazy?)

  51. Christine says...

    Shout out to anyone else who doesn’t feel like they’ve learned much this year. Sure I’ve learned things, but not as much as usual and honestly, I don’t think I’m better off now with my newfound knowledge of R0, sourdough starter, the voting trends in Maricopa County and the realization that I love and deeply, (weirdly?,) miss crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with strangers. I’m looking forward to some great things that will come out of these dark times (vaccine technology, clean subways, new ways of working for office jobs, and some epic parties) but for now, I’m just making the best of it.

    • Olivia says...

      Here, here. While there were some small silver linings during this time, I also learned a lot less this year than I normally do, with much of my normal routine of socializing frequently and traveling abundantly lost. Perhaps what may be most beneficial right now is just surviving the day to day, congratulating ourselves on that and acknowledging that this wasn’t the year for learning and experiences, but more of a year for resting.

    • Beez says...

      Thank you for this comment! I was just thinking that I haven’t really learned or accomplished much this year. I never even attempted to bake bread lol! Anxiety and depression came knocking, and I often answered. I’m trying to stay grateful for all that I have – for health, a home, family, friends – but yeah, just getting through each day, making a few nice meals, and reading some books has been pretty much it for me.

  52. Elizabeth says...

    What a great question. I wish I had some profound revelation but what I’ve really learned this year has become my new motto: “I can make that.” While trying to avoid stores in March I became a lot more creative with what I had lying around. Two cans of beans? I can make dinner with that. Out of all purpose cleaner? I can make a homemade disinfectant. The hummingbird feeder is empty? I can make my own simple syrup. It’s weirdly made me obsessed with sustainable living and now I’m trying to make my own non-toxic candles and shopping at Goodwill more. I’ve found there’s SO many things you can make on your own or re-use. It’s been a gratifying lifestyle change.

    • Pearl says...

      I think this is actually quite a profound revelation and good for you for acting on it! This year made me realize how much mindless shopping I engage in. There are so many better ways that time shopping could be spent and this year has let me discover it.

  53. Annie says...

    I have trained as a doula and childbirth educator and my brain is swirling with all things birth! It’s been a really transformative journey.

    I learned (/am learning) how to co-parent a puppy with my partner, no small feat.

    I learned how to honor my feelings and share them instead of burying them.

    I re-learned that a sweaty work-out is one of the keys to a steady, good mood.

  54. Dee says...

    I learned:
    – how to cross stitch
    – how to knit a hat
    – how to bake bread
    – I started taking flute lessons again
    – Wrote an albums worth of kids songs– now to record them!
    – to teach toddlers over Zoom

    • Agnès says...

      Woaaah you are truly amazing and inspiring, bravo Dee!

  55. Joanna says...

    1.) I’ve learned I’m ok doing less. I’m extroverted and the idea in the past of having no plans freaked me out, but I’ve actually enjoyed doing less once I’ve accepted that I had to.
    2.) I’ve been working full time with two little kids at home and it’s actually been a joy to be able to spend more time with the kids (even though it’s annoying often). I didn’t realize how little time I spent with them before when they were in daycare 3 days a week!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I so relate to #1!!!

  56. Kate says...

    1. I learned to knit after my sister announced our family’s first baby was on the way – I finished a blanket just in time for her birth in November! And now I’m secretly knitting stockings for each of my housemates to fill with little treats on Christmas morning. Such a relaxing hobby and now I definitely want to learn to sew my own clothes like Natasha!

    2. I’ve learned the true meaning of self-care. After a brutal breakup in the summer, and a difficult year for all of us, I’ve really tuned into my own needs (ie; scrolling IG and YouTube before bed do not make me feel good, going for a phone-free walk at the end of each work day does). I feel especially tuned into my own restlessness and figuring out what I need to feel okay. I treat myself like a pet, making sure I’m well-fed and hydrated and walked each day!

    3. I am a writer. Not a published author, but someone who compulsively writes poetry and journal entries and signed up for NaNoWrioMo (but didn’t finish) and enjoys a weekly Zoom free-writing class (Actually Writing with Diana Goetsch. SO inspiring!!)

    4. I’ve decided to go back to school and pursue social work, followed by possibly a law degree! Since switching jobs to a role that is no longer dealing directly with vulnerable clients, I’ve realized that I live to serve and to care for others and that is what fills my heart and soul.

    • AN says...

      “I treat myself like a pet…” = pure simplicity, pure genius.

    • Angela says...

      Lots of dual JD/ MSW programs. I’ve looked myself. Best of luck to you!

  57. Amanda W. says...

    I learned that I love working from home, and it has helped tremendously with my anxiety and SAD.
    I learned that I need very little contact with people to be happy.
    I learned that I need to find a new career.
    I learned that it’s best for me to not be on social media.
    I learned that, even though I’m a homebody, I miss travel.
    I learned that gardening is my therapy.
    I learned from all of the above that I want to live a more deliberate life as I move forward.

    • Victoria says...

      I have loved wfh full time and it has helped me manage my disability with work. I’ve also been happy with less interactions with people. It’s interactions with specific people that I want to keep.

  58. Laura F says...

    That I can be my own yoga teacher and fitness coach.
    That some friendships detoxify at a fondly-held distance.
    That my grown kids truly are persevering, resourceful, mindful adults (and I give myself appropriate credit, too).
    That YouTube contains infinite and amazing art tutorials.
    That the things you think you need are often not.
    That the essence of human DNA is adaptability (self-trust helps).

  59. For so long, I’ve been the type of person to want to control the HOW and the outcome. I’ve learned to let go trust in the universe… when I did that this year, a job I wasn’t looking for presented itself. Although I had imposter syndrome and nagging self-doubt, I took it as a sign, trusted that it was for me, and took it. It’s been a perfect fit, and I am growing and learning. To be honest, as a stay at home mom, I’ve felt my brain turn to mush, but slowly it’s starting to solidify again.

  60. Liz says...

    As the kid of an alcoholic, I’ve always found control to be very important (and change to be incredibly hard). Yes there have been challenges and dark days and setbacks, but I’m stronger than I think I am. And man, does that give me comfort. <3

    • J. says...

      This comment really moved me to tears. I’ve never heard anyone describe so poignantly and vulnerably the exact experience I have as the child of one too. I’m going to save this comment and look back at it when I feel like I need to remind myself how strong I really am. Thank you, Liz! xx

  61. Stephanie says...

    I learned true grief. My partner’s brother died in the spring. My grandma died after a tough battle with Alzheimer’s in the summer. And 2 months ago, my father died from cancer, though relatively unexpectedly, while my sisters and I said our goodbyes and watched him pass over FaceTime. Mourning him without the community of family and friends has been crushing.

    I also learned true joy when I became an aunt after my sister gave birth to my nephew. Thankfully, our dad, a first-time grandpa, got to meet his grandson once. We will treasure the photo of them together forever.

    • b says...

      Sending you so many hugs, Stephanie. Enjoy your nephew!

    • Hannah says...

      I’m so sorry for your losses, Stephanie.

  62. I learned that doing dishes or prepping vegetables can become a zen garden situation if you approach it that way. I learned that meditation apps are the best therapeutic value in the world. I learned that a walk does not have to be long to be enormously helpful. I learned that financial generosity has limits — but generosity of spirit does not.

    • Anna says...

      Kelly, I am in the same boat with you regarding prepping vegetables. In fact, when my mood descends I remember to ask myself 2 questions: Did I sing today? When is the last time I prepped veggies? Both of those bring me such meditative joy and I surprise myself that I forget to make them part of my daily routine! WFH has allowed me freedom to walk and bike daily and those are tremendous helpers too. Happy Holidays to you!

  63. Karen T. says...

    How to golf! I’ve always wanted to but I’ve been intimidated. I found a friend and we joined a socially distanced women’s golf clinic. I got my first set of used clubs and there’s no looking back. I suck but I totally revel in both my suckage and just being out on the greens facing a new challenge.

  64. Danielle says...

    1- I am not cut out to be a SAHM. I adore every single moment with my daughter, but I need something else too.

    2- I hated my job. Losing it because of the pandemic has been hard financially, but I’m actually happy to see the back of that rotten place for my own mental health

    3- I need to pay more attention to my physical health. I’ve been exhausted and run down all year- I thought this was a side effect of motherhood. Turns out I’ve got serious vitamin deficiencies and a possibly under active thyroid.

    4- life is too damn short to let yourself be walked all over. I have learned to stand up for myself and when to say “no, this isn’t working” without fear of offending or creating drama. Especially when it comes to family

    5- I am out of shape in a big way!

  65. Jen says...

    I learned that I need a job. For years, I thought my job was causing all the stress my life and all I wanted was to stay home with my son everyday. I had fantasies of taking him to story hour at the library and cooking elaborate dinners, so I quit my job in June and it was wonderful! For a bit.

    But the days of the week lost their spark. Friday didn’t mean anything anymore. I lost a daily 30 minute commute that I had no idea was so integral to my mental health. The quiet! The perfect amount of miles to drink a travel mug of hot coffee! The ability to listen to a podcast uninterrupted.

    In November, I realized that everyday felt like a bad day. I went back to work, albeit remotely, and found my balance. I still love being home with my son, but I also love contributing elsewhere. I look forward to having a commute someday soon.

  66. Katie says...

    I learned that I can still surprise myself! Going into 2020, I was being bullied at work. I fantasized about quitting and taking some time to write (we are lucky my husband is still employed), but my job seemed like such a big part of me, and I never thought I’d do it. Finally in August, I pulled the trigger and negotiated a two-year leave of absence from my organization, and then last week I finished the first draft of a novel. I don’t know what next year will bring, but somehow I had an idea that being 36 and steadily employed and a mom, drastic changes were no longer available to me. But they are, and it feels so good to remember I can still evolve.

    • M says...

      This gives me hope, thank you Katie and wishing you the best.

    • Karin says...

      Congratulations on finishing your novel! That is a MASSIVE accomplishment.

  67. Mette says...

    That it’s okay to be sad, and that it’s okay for my partner to be sad too (and that his being sad doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with me.

  68. Jean says...

    I learned that I’m quite content to be at home. I love spending time at home but always felt that maybe I was missing out by not doing more social stuff and going out more, but during the first lockdown here in the UK I loved being at home and found a new passion for gardening. Without the pressure to do more, I finally realised this is where I’m happiest.

  69. Acceptance. We can’t control all of the things. Through grief, seclusion, and limitless hours of introspection, I’m finally learning to let go. The things I thought mattered don’t really matter. I’m choosing to make this year a precious gift. And while I look forward to living life again, I’d be lying if I said I wanted everything to go back to the way it was. We can live a little deeper now, if we’re not so quick to brush this off.

  70. AJ says...

    – There is really no end to how much I love my cat
    – The world is full of amazing, great people, so long as you look in the right places and don’t spend all day on Twitter
    – Enforced distance/pausing has been a valuable tool for building boundaries

    • Eva says...

      “there is really no end to how much I love my cat”
      haha! I relate 10000%. we just got a kitten a few months ago and he has brought so much joy to our lives <3 I whisper into his cute lil ears every day how much I love him and how adorable he is. ugh. cats really are SO cute.

  71. I learned that I can get through the really really hard stuff when I reach out and really buckle down (my beloved dog died unexpectedly on the heels of the death of a friend, and I ended up in the hospital on a 5150 hold. At first I was mad, but then I just leaned into the program and getting better).

    I learned what makes me happy. I moved back to my home state of California in 2016 from DC because I thought I wanted to write and perform comedy. But this year I decided to move back to DC and really focus on what I realized I love: making the world a better place as much as I’m able. The writing is important and good, but not my purpose.

    I learned that I can made decisions and be confident without making excuses or apologizing for them. And that I’m not responsible for making people feel comfortable at the expense of my own happiness.

    And I learned that adopting a dog with a tragic backstory makes for a wild ride on social media, lol. So I’m leaning Instagram and TikTok!

    • Mims says...

      Hello Erin Mary, So glad to hear you made it through to the other side and have a new dog, and presumably many new friends. You sound super ballsy and I bet you wrote some great comedy…and it is always there inside of you. Taking tragedy and turning it into humor is one way of making the world a better place.

  72. Sholeh says...

    I learned a number of things this year. Perhaps the most profound, is that when my proverbially cup is empty, I cannot fill it through looking deeper into the empty well. I learned to look outward; that bringing joy to others, makes me feel immensely joyful. I learned that when every small, distanced interaction is dripping in kindness, it can have a tremendously uplifting affect. And really, I learned that in 2020, togetherness, community, pockets of sunshine, radiance and light are all that we have. And when things get tough, we must keep shining outwards, pointing towards others, feeling buoyed ourselves by what we dispel in our community and how we treat the people around us.

  73. Elspeth says...

    I learnt about the USA. I moved here at the end of 2019, so it’s been quite a first year! Seeing the events of 2020 unfold and how the States has reacted to it all has been…eye-opening!

    • Amanda says...

      Welcome! Glad to have you, although things have been weird here. Hopefully as of next January 20 things’ll start looking up.

  74. A year and a half ago I was at a bachelorette party and a friend called me extroverted, I was shocked and said oh no no no I am a complete introvert. My best friend was sitting next to me and completely agreed. I was so shocked this person thought I was extroverted! Now after 2020 I realize I have become WAY more extroverted in the last ten years and that maybe I’m not as introverted as I once thought. I lived alone this year until August when I moved in with my parents and sister and I have been living on phone calls, face time, and texting just to fill the void of unemployment. I realize now how much work filled me up…a bit too much and stressed me out until I got hashimoto’s 2 years ago. I’ve also realized all my past traumas after seeing a homeopath and really trying to discover the root cause of my autoimmune issues.
    More random things I learned in 2020:
    1) Free rent and your moms cooking is the best, even at 33.
    2) To embroider and upcycle clothes
    3) I’ve become a minimalist in having to move back home, sold so many of my things on Poshmark and Facebook marketplace and realized how much I’ve been “influenced” on social media by material objects. Saving my money for travel when we are allowed to do that again!
    4) Just how much traveling filled my soul!
    5) That even with an infinite amount of time, I did not learn another language lol
    6) The Great British Baking Show is amazing
    7) All the times I thought I was fat, I wasn’t. All the times I thought I was ugly, I wasn’t.

    • Victoria says...

      I learnt a few years ago that there are 2 definitions for introvert/extrovert. The ones I knew were quiet/shy/likes being alone/scared of people for introvert and the opposite for extrovert.
      But in personality testing, introvert means you prefer coming up with your ideas and working through them in your head vs an extrovert side of needing to work with others to develop ideas etc. I’m not explaining it well but google Myers Briggs. I feel introverted in terms of confidence, but I’m an extrovert when it comes to working practices. It’s possible your people were looking at ‘introvert’ differently.

  75. Beth says...

    Adding one more…

    I learned that physical health is crucial for me moving forward. I broke my ankle badly in October while I was mountain biking with my son. I had surgery and the doctor used three plates and 17 screws to put my bones back together. At 44, my muscles are just not as strong as they used to be, and recovery has been slow. I thought casual running and biking was enough, but I now know that I need to really focus on strength training and building muscle and bone density to stay healthy in the future. I’m not getting any younger and need to take care of my body.

    I also learned that the people you think will show up to help when you are literally stuck at home with a cast and crutches, and the people who actually do are not necessarily the same.

  76. Beth says...

    I learned how to play piano! My son had been taking lessons for about 6 months when we went into shelter in place. Around May 2020 I thought, “I should try to learn too”. I absolutely love it, and we are both now playing Christmas songs (Jingle Bells, Up on the House Top, First Noel, etc). It’s been really fun to share this with my son, and also a wonderful daily diversion to plop down and make some music.

  77. Marisa says...

    I learned that my emotionally sensitive nature is not a weakness. I’ve seriously spent 35 years feeling like I needed to hide, fight, or flee this prominent part of my personality, so that I could be more “professional,” less “needy” or anxious. Then I realized that it’s what brought me to my job as a care giver, what makes me such a loving mother and partner, and what means that I can’t live without political activism.

  78. Jackie says...

    I think I could truly be a hermit. I don’t know if I’m depressed or just very introverted, but I don’t really miss hanging out with people. I like texting, group chats, a phone call here and there but I really don’t miss going out and doing stuff with people. But think this could also mean I don’t have the right friends that make me feel good or live in a city that doesn’t interest me. But our jobs are hete, we’re going to buy a house, my spouse doesn’t want to move. So I need figure something out.

  79. Meg says...

    What a truly amazing human my 15 year old is. Complex and funny, intelligent and creative, dedicated and kind. I should have known before but somehow this last year of uninterrupted quarantine time together let it sink in to my soul. Being her mom is such a privilege.

  80. Amy says...

    I love working from home and I love Prozac. I also love walks, phone calls with loved ones, and making new neighborhood friends. I had no awareness at the start of this year that all of these things would make/do make my life feel so full.

  81. I learned to savor. Tastes, smells, experiences, relationships….if 2020 has proven anything, it’s that life’s little joys can be fleeting and things can change in an instant – for better, worse, or that most unfortunate state of uncertain, unending limbo. I also learned to reflect, not only as a trendy habit to pair with meditation and journaling, but as a method for self-preservation, so that when things do change, I can go into auto-pilot, reassess, recalculate, reroute, and rock n’ roll.

  82. 2020 taught me so much, but the two lessons that stuck with me the most are the following:
    1. I learned the value of being able to see and embrace those you love, the vue of creating memories through experiences with them–the very memories you cherish during times of uncertainty and distance. Therefore, when you can, be as generous with your time and resources as possible. Create memories, they are our greatest currency. 2. And, this being said, I learned that even during times of distance and uncertainty, you can still meet new people to cherish. Community and love can be found even during the hardest times.
    3. Finally, I learned how to embrace uncertainty which showed me that I was stronger than I thought. Having lost a parent at a very young age, uncertainty was not something I handled easily. This year showed me how to embrace it, let go, and do the best I can, where I am, and with whatever resources available.

  83. Teresa says...

    I learned that I prefer thanksgiving with just our family of four, that I don’t miss (most) Christmas parties one bit, that I’m so lucky to enjoy my own company, and that things don’t have to be perfect to be great.

  84. Jenni says...

    I learned that I really love the thing that was stressing me out (teaching choral music). After this is over and we can sing together again, I want to be more mindful of the things I say, “yes” to in my job so that it doesn’t overwhelm me!

  85. Megan Powell says...

    1. I am actually a great baker (I’ve baked through the end of my pregnancy (in March/April) and the first 7 months of my son’s life to keep my hands busy.
    2. That I don’t actually like the business i’ve created, and need to make a career change. Birthing a human and being pregnant has changed everything for me, and now I want to be part of that community professional (midwife, doula, or mom coach TBD)
    3. When people show you who they are, believe them. I saw this in both amazing ways (people I didn’t expect to show up, showing up in big ways) and being let down by some of my closest family.
    4. I’m stronger than I ever thought possible. I remember that feeling of being unstoppable after giving birth.

    • Megan Powell says...

      Oh wait…..
      5. I’ve also learned its okay to have two feelings at once. Be grateful for our health, and also heartbroken for all those that don’t. Or happy and excited about my sweet baby, and also sad and grieving our old life, the old world. Since baby and pandemic are so intertwined, it’s hard to sort through that mess some days.

    • Lara says...

      Loved reading this — you sound like a badass, Megan + congrats on the baby boy!

    • Danielle says...

      I’m feeling all of this very much, Megan. Though I am at best an average baker and once proved bread in my bathroom cupboard with the boiler. Sanitary? Perhaps not. Good bread? Jury is out

    • Victoria says...

      @Danielle – the boiler/hot water tank space is called the airing cupboard in the UK and I was always taught that it was the best place to prove bread!

  86. I started a poetry IG account and found such joy learning I could still write and observe the world in that way. I also learned I was brave enough to ask for a raise I deserved at work. Turns out I am a lot more confident when remote. 😊

    • Dani says...

      such nice think.. would like to follow you if you care to share IG name please

      wish you poetic Christmas

  87. Megan Powell says...

    “I learned that work is like an effing VACATION compared to caring for a baby all day by myself for days on end. Seriously, when I have photo shoots, I arrive home energized! After a day with the baby, I collapse with exhaustion. It is the most physically and energetically laborious undertaking to date, and my ass has been humbled. I thought, ‘So many people do this parenting thing. It can’t be THAT hard!’ I had no idea.” — Christine Han, photographer.

    YES YES YES! I have a 7.5 month old son and keep wondering why I am SO TIRED at the end of the day, it’s not like we’ve done much. Really, most of our days involve cleaning the kitchen, watching him play, and actively avoiding being on my phone. And yet i’m more tired then coming home from work (back when that was a thing). I think it’s the lack of mental stimulation and just the mundane day to day that can exhaust you.

    • Allison says...

      Also having to be “on” every second. You have to watch for when they’re tired or hungry or make sure they don’t get into something they shouldn’t or notice what song they liked you singing 20 times and sing it one more time. It’s constant intense focus without a break until they nap. And then you may only have 15, 30, 45 minutes pause.

    • Solidarity, Megan! They say it’s this hard for 4 years and then it gets better hahaha.

    • andy says...

      I knew I shouldn’t have a child til I could afford a nanny and these comments confirm it for me. Thank you for the honesty!

  88. K says...

    1. does anyone else feel inspired and happy after watching TikTok vs instagram?
    2. I think I’d like to learn to sew. That jacket is gorgeous
    3. lol Kate Baer
    4. I learned to love solving inefficiencies (it could be something as simple as installing more hooks to avoid that bedroom clothes chair). I learned to keep trying to say only what I mean, and nothing more.

    • Molly says...

      I’ve been thinking about your last sentence today, that you’re trying to say only what you mean and nothing more. Have you been getting caught up in some problem, and continuing to talk past the points you are certain about, and then regretting it? I want to understand because I’m intrigued, this sounds like an awesome goal, and because I sometimes regret saying things that afterwards I realize I didn’t even mean.

  89. This year, I learned that I was still battling the eating disorder from my teens. At 34 years old, I just became better at convincing myself that I was healed from those years of anorexia. When quarantine began in March, I was stripped of excuses and, spending every waking minute with my husband, I had to come face to face with my illness. There was nowhere to hide.

    This pandemic has forced us to slow down, examine our vulnerabilities, and see our own mortality reflected in the mirror. A humbling experience, to say the least. Since those revelatory days in March, I have been seeing a nutritionist and have gained 10 pounds, working every day to nourish my body and (learn to) love it for allowing me to live in this crazy, beautiful world.

    • Meagan says...

      That is really hard and brave. Thank you sharing.

    • Jesse says...

      Good for you for confronting your struggle and taking charge :). I’m rooting for you!

    • AJ says...

      Erica, that’s great you’ve taken that step, all the absolute best to you xx

    • Charlotte says...

      That’s so brave xx

    • Samantha says...

      I’m proud of you, Erica! Take care of yourself *hugs*

    • Maria Rowley says...

      I don’t even know you, but I am IMMENSELY PROUD of you, brave one!

    • Tia says...

      Sending you continued strength, Erica! Good for you for looking your ED in the eye and telling it to get lost. 🌿

  90. Tracey says...

    Haha! Oh boy! 2020 has been my greatest learning year.

    1. I learned that miracles can happen. I’m a mega cynic so when my beloved dog beat a cancer that was supposed to take him from us within two weeks of dx I was floored. I’m still reeling from the information that sometimes, even the most ‘certain’ of terrible things work out.
    2. I learned that hospitals can be beautiful places to be. I had to have emergency surgery in the middle of lockdown and enter hospital for the first time ever. I have always feared the idea of being admitted, but the nurses and surgeons were incredible – I actually missed them when I was discharged. I’m no longer afraid.
    3. I learned that even the more broken of bodies heal. Again. A miracle in my mind.
    4. I learned that my relationships are truly my top priority and now I treat them as such. Every single choice affects them. So I am better able to choose more wisely about booking a therapy appt, swimming, eating well, calling a friend, saying no … if I know it’s going to pay me later with greater energy and affection to give to those I love most.

    • L says...

      Wow these are some beautiful things. So nice to read this when I’m battling a bout of cynicism. Thanks for sharing. xo

  91. NJ says...

    I had the opposite experience of Christine’s. My regular job is deeply exhausting and wears me OUT (I’m a teacher). Last spring was so lovely, I spent weeks and weeks hanging out with my baby and not teaching in person. I surprised myself with how happy it made me!

    • Danielle says...

      I learned that I was doing too much. At first, my social life just moved online. But after being in video meetings for 6 hours each day, the last thing I could manage was an evening video chat. I’m learning how to be ok with not saying yes to everything. I also learned that I’m thankful for my job. I never thought I would work for the man but I feel so lucky to be helping our citizens and able to make my same wage from home has been wonderful. I’ve been lucky not to think about money when so many others have to.

  92. Genevieve says...

    I learned to set boundaries around my relationships with my in-laws. My husband and I have been married for 18 years and his family has been very chilly to me the entire time (they wanted him to marry an old girlfriend from their hometown; instead he married a feminist who encouraged him to go to grad school 2000 miles away). My husband has always been supportive of me but couldn’t quite understand why i cried buckets and broke out into hives whenever we visited them (my father-in-law is the kind of person who told me I should drop our of grad school when we announced our first pregnancy), but 2020 made it very very very clear that any relationship with them was increasingly toxic and physically dangerous. Curtailing their access to my social media accounts and physical presence has been the most freeing and wonderful experience of my married life. I knew that the relationship was an intense drain on me, but I didn’t realize just how bad it was until it was gone.

    • T says...

      +1 xx

  93. Emily says...

    I sooo feel the “work is effing vacation” post! It has been 2 months of full quarentine at home, no leaving without permits that can only be obtained twice a week for three hours at a time. It has been 11 months since all daycare and all schools have closed. Life in 2020 in Chile thousands of miles from any family member has been way more emotionally challenging than junior high. On the up side, I have learned everything there is to know about making memory cards, inventing stories, restraining my urge to scream (most of the time), and you know, Spirit the TV show. But a vacation to get back to my phd would be great right about now.

  94. Oh, Kate Baer, thou are veritably brilliant.

  95. Ari says...

    At least for me, at this point in my life:
    1. Time > Money
    2. Wealth =/= Money
    3. Attention is Finite, under certain circumstances

  96. Sally says...

    2020 taught me that moments of crisis (both personal and national) reveal people’s truest selves. I’ve tried to extend a lot of grace to my friends and family this year, while also making note of who reaches out, who is making strides to learn more, who is following safety precautions, etc. It’s been both disappointing and rewarding to learn who some people really are.

    • Traci says...

      2020 has to aight me that I’ll never go to a Class reunion again. I’ve angered too many people by speaking out against antisemitism and hate. I’m not going to smile through clenched teeth, at a room full of bigots. I also discovered that I can make a really good foolproof galette crust.

    • Amy says...

      100% THIS! I have some relationships that are closer and others that I can’t imagine seeing the same after this is all over. Crisis shows you who people really are.

    • Anne S says...

      same here. I cancelled my wedding back in Spring and the resulting family drama revealed a LOT about who my family members really are. As if it wasn’t hard enough to cancel in the first place, I then had to deal with individual reactions and conflicts. And people who were all for cancelling my wedding back in April are now totally on board for big birthday parties and other weddings. It’s confusing and disappointing.

  97. AG says...

    CHRISTINE, I FEEL YOU, GIRL.

    • Natalie says...

      SAME.

    • Megan Powell says...

      DIDDO!

    • OMG, thank you. HUGS!

  98. Abesha1 says...

    Contrary to one of the points above, this is finally the year that, sadly, I have learned to NO longer assume best intentions.

  99. Gretchen says...

    Back in March, we had a closet door in our apartment somehow lock from the inside. (We’re still confused??) I spent weeks being annoyed about it, until I finally bought a cheap lock pick set, watched some YouTube videos, and finally popped it open. Let me tell you, that was SUCH a satisfying feeling.

    • Gretchen says...

      .My name is also Gretchen, and I have *always* wanted to learn to pick a lock. I am so thrilled that I have a doppelganger out there who did just that! :)

    • Gretchen says...

      Yes! I love meeting other Gretchens! They just get it. Also, you should definitely “pick” it up as a hobby sometime.

    • Gretchen says...

      I’ll make it my 2021 goal! ;)

    • silly lily says...

      Sounds like the start of a new career.

  100. Brenda says...

    I learned that social media, as a rule, leaves me feeling down. Never up. As soon as I figured it out I closed all, ALL, of my social media accounts. I replaced social media with chats with friends, brain games, reading, meditating, journaling, Netflix, and other odds and ends. It has been life changing. I don’t miss social media one single bit.

    • Jean says...

      Brenda, could I ask – did you find you had to delete them and did you get any push back? I know what I need to do, but I’m finding really hard to do it. I keep deactivating FB and turning it back on (I know, I know!)

    • Agnès says...

      I gave myself 30 days out of fbook knowing i needed a date. After 30 days i realized i have more time, energy and positive mind.

  101. Mimi says...

    Thank you Christine! 😭 Sometimes validation for feeling overwhelmed as a stay-at-home mom (and WANTING to go to work!) really is the best medicine. It comes as a much needed permission-slip to give myself a break.

  102. Merritt W. says...

    Tears reading the bit from Hannah-Faye! Working a full-time job and freelancing some, too, with a 3.5 year old and 1 year old at home. Lots of crying, lots of missed emails. Feeling a glimmer of hope, though, with a new President-Elect, the vaccination becoming available, and, cheesy as it is, a flip to a new calendar year. We can do this, everyone!

  103. Katie S. says...

    Man, I don’t even want to admit how much I relate to, “Because truth be told, we are all crying and ignoring our emails together.”
    I am doing that exact same thing today! Putting in the bare minimum, trying to make my eyes not look puffy for Zoom meetings.
    There is a poem I love that helps me appreciate the road, the journey, the present moment – whatever you want to call it:

    ‘To cross an ocean
    You must love the ocean
    Before you love the far shore.’

  104. Nicola says...

    I’ve learned what self-care actually is, all this time I thought it was baths and face masks. But actually its turning off the news channels because I can feel my breathing getting fast, and I love myself enough to pull away. Or maybe its giving my super-tight jeans to a (smaller)friend, because of the way I feel about myself when I squeeze them on.

    On a more macro level, my husband and I have learned so much more about our local community. We used to barely be home between the work commute and social engagements. Now we get so much joy about being regulars at the local coffee shop, or detouring our walk past the ‘seconds’ store of a local bakery that yields fabulously delicious broken cookies.

    • Louise says...

      Have you seen the Sense and Sensibility from 1995 with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet? There’s a scene where the Dashwood sisters see Mr. Willoughby — and his new fiancee (gasp!) — at a party, and Elinor gently and lovingly tells Marianne, “Come away, dearest. Come away.” I like to think of self care as being that kind, caring voice to yourself.

  105. I’ve learned to embrace my introvert temperament. When I very happily retired 5 years ago I had extra time on my hands and looked back to the things that brought me joy in my youth — reading, sewing, cooking, watching old movies on TV, long walks to the park by myself. Well, those are also the very things that have kept me sane during the last year. I miss my dear friends, of course, but I know how to survive these desperate times and still find great joy in life. Stay curious, keep your hands busy, look forward.

  106. Becca says...

    I learned how to make baked potatoes and create beachy waves in my hair.
    I also learned that there’s no limit on how many celebrity skincare videos I can watch on YouTube, but there should be a limit on how much boxed wine and salt and vinegar chips I consume.

    • Rebecca says...

      I’m still working on my wine and salt and vinegar chips limit

    • K says...

      I also learned how to bake a potato!

    • Brynn says...

      Becca, I feel seen by your comment. x

    • Denise says...

      I really want a baked potato and it’s 6:32 a.m. ha ha ha! That’s going on next week’s grocery list!

    • andy says...

      I am literally going to make a baked potato with vegan cream cheese melty ‘butter’ and chives RIGHT NOW – thank you

  107. Deb in Oklahoma says...

    That when you slow down long enough to really enjoy the seasons, you appreciate the days so much more. My hometown (which is a college town) is a whole other world when it truly empties out and there are maybe 1/5 the usual number of students around. After everybody cleared out last April, it became this lovely, quiet little town out here on the prairie. Never in my life has it been this quiet here, and the summer was kind of magical-dreamy, like summer vacations used to be: no schedule, no place to be, just being immersed in it every day was enough. Part of me will miss this quiet when things eventually ramp up again.

  108. Bec says...

    1. I learned how lucky I am to have such strong friendships that are closer than ever, without having seen each other in person in SO long.
    2. I learned that having this kind of distance from my family is actually really good for my mental health (ahhhh sad but true!).
    3. And here’s one I’m in the process of learning. As a teacher, how do I balance giving empathy and grace and flexibility (cuz we’re all struggling!) but also giving kids motivation and accountability so they can do their best!

  109. Kathleen says...

    I learned how to be a boss bitch! I work in an extremely hard hit industry and my organization had massive layoffs. The few of us left had to figure out how to keep the lights on while also coming up with new ways of doing things and new directions for our business. With fewer people above (and below and beside) me I gained a new professional confidence, learned a ton, and have much higher ambitions than I did before. It’s weird being relatively happy at work when so many of my treasured coworkers are gone, and there have been many, MANY incredibly hard days, but valuing my own work is a definite silver lining in all this

    • Megan says...

      You go, Kathleen! 💪💪💪

  110. Rach says...

    I learnt what I needed as a person. How much I rely on social interaction, little ones such as when you grab a coffee and have a quick chat to your barista. Water cooler conversations at work to break up and lighten the day. The laughter and exuberance of being with a large group of people. And raw a strengthening conversations with your best of friends.
    I struggled during our lockdown which in Sydney was very light in comparison to the rest of the world. I turned into a dreadful person, having meltdowns at work & wanting to crawl into a ball and wake up in a different world. It took me a couple of months to realise this. It saddened me to think I’m dependent on others for my joy & happiness but no longer look at it in that way.
    I flourish with humanity and the world is better with my (minuscule) contributions to it.

    • Sarah says...

      This was beautifully written. I work in a hospital and the days I could go to work and run into my colleagues and speak with patients felt so different than the days I worked from home… and what you said is true. It’s not dependency… I think it’s “extroversion.” You (and I) receive our energy through interactions with others… and I hope we bring energy to others with those interactions, as well. Wishing you more human interaction for 2021!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      So much love to my fellow extroverts!!! Sometimes I feel so exhausted at home and all I need is to run into a neighbor (any neighbor!) on the street and say a quick masked hello. Even the tiniest interactions give me such a buzz.

    • Anon says...

      Perhaps this might help extroverts understand the hardship of living as an introvert in normal times. It has always been so hard, and we are the ones who feel at odds.

      At my work, we were always being pushed to participate in everything and interact. I love my many pf my colleagues, but big groups, big parties, big meetings are utterly exhausting. In a strange way, I have found that to be the silver lining of this terrible Pandemic: less pressure to partake in forced interactions. And smaller meetings. Oh I will miss this aspect of current life when it is back to normal.

  111. Kiana says...

    I’m sure I’m not the only one but I learned how to cut men’s hair (my brave husband’s!) and how to use Zoom.

    More profoundly, I learned how important walks are, who my neighbors are, and that systemic racism is basically the root behind every problem we have in America today.

  112. Andrea says...

    Instead of slowing down this year, the pandemic turned my world upside down. I was working 24/7 and when not working, I was thinking about work. If someone asked me “what are the five most important things to you in life?”, every single one of them fell by the wayside. This year I learned that if you don’t grab life by the reins, it will have its way with you – a lesson I am grateful to have learned in my 44th year as opposed to my 84th.

  113. Nicole A. says...

    Now that face coverings are a new normal part of public attire, I’ve learned that I suddenly have the urge to wear lipstick. I never ever was a lipstick gal before the pandemic. I always end up with a smooch mark on the backside of my mask at the end of an outing. In a weird way, I kind of enjoy seeing it there when I take it off. Like a secret sexy thing that’s just for me.

  114. Kristin says...

    I confirmed that, even though he can drive me nuts at times, I chose wisely when I married my husband.

    • Caroline says...

      I learned that “work-life balance” isn’t the 50/50 split the term always seemed to imply in my mind (think: scales of justice). For me, it’s a five-piece pie chart: three-fifths of me goes to my daughter, one-fifth to work, and the other one to me alone. In the balancing act of life’s “glass and rubber balls” she’s the one and only glass ball. Other jobs can be found, other ambitions can be achieved. I’m a single parent and had a rough family life growing up; I’m trying so desperately to not let her have the same. Accepting that other people have to accept that work is only one-fifth important to me is still hard; I’m still afraid to disappoint others or not fulfill every expectation (but my daughter’s the only one who really matters! See above!). And the final one-fifth for me alone is so I can rest and replenish so that I can function to be able to do the other four-fifths. And, hey, “you can’t spell ‘resist’ without ‘rest’ (everyone needs to read Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski!).

  115. B says...

    Two big things:

    1. That I didn’t want to be a business owner anymore. I was a freelance writer and the core of who I am is still a word lover, but I’m not a computer. I don’t have to produce 24/7.

    2. That I don’t need social media to survive. I deactivated Facebook a week before the election and haven’t looked back. I kept Instagram because it’s tied to my business and I don’t want to lose the name, should I ever want to go back, but I unfollowed everyone except the people I know in real life and deleted the app from my phone.

    I’m reading more. I’m more engaged at work. I’m doing other things I enjoy – crossword puzzles and embroidery. It’s very freeing.

    • Brenda says...

      Clap clap clap! I also ditched social media and am doing so much better without it. I wish I had done it years ago!

  116. Courtney says...

    I learned how to cut my husband’s hair, and I’m actually pretty good at it! It is a small thing, but cutting hair always seemed like a mystery, so I feel proud.

  117. Lynn says...

    I learned how important hugs are!

    • Amen!! I second this!

  118. Becca says...

    I learned that 2 opposing feelings can sit together on the same plain and both be true. Covid brought incredible suffering and so many fatal tragedies, it also allowed for more acceptance in the work/life balance to so many house holds— so many small moments of joy in being together. I can be frustrated with my kids for not listening and I can also love them to the ends of the earth. I can find it hard to believe that anyone would vote for a man like Trump and I can also connect honestly and compassionately on the hardships of parenting with someone who did. I can find joy, and beauty in a poem that spills words of being strong and female, and I can also cry sad tears as I shed my own associations for the same words. 2020 taught me so many truths can live together.

    • Chiara says...

      I hope this doesn’t sound trite, but I learned this truth from watching Daniel Tiger with my kids. There’s an episode about how you can “feel two feelings at the same time, and that’s okay.” It was groundbreaking for me, and I am so glad my kids are being exposed to emotional literacy in ways that were not available to me as a child.

  119. Sage says...

    I don’t have to be everything. Example: I will never – never ever ever – be the one who gives my son an Instagrammable worthy meal, or, frankly, one that I didn’t just stick in a microwave. I give him plenty of other gifts: reading to him every day, loving him, being silly, educating him… It’s OK to acknowledge that there are things he probably won’t receive from me! Same with my other relationships + friendships. I *really* like myself nowadays; more every year! So – I can just be myself. I don’t have to force other traits/abilities/hobbies I don’t have.

    That’s not giving up on becoming a better person by any means – rather, it’s allowing myself to not spread too thin trying to people-please LITERALLY everyone in the universe, haha.

    (Thinking back to my favourite CoJ quote from ages ago: “All you have to be is curious and kind. No one can fault you for that.”)

    • Mims says...

      I live 900 miles from my 21 yo son. I miss cooking for him (they were never instagramable meals…but basic, rib sticking things). I now text him a few times a week screenshots from Instagram of his favorites to let him know I am thinking of him, and wish I could be serving him something warm. Today it was some hash and eggs. My one principle in raising him was to create a cozy home he felt at comfortable in…loved, accepted and valued. It seems to have worked.

    • Sage says...

      Love that, Mims. That’s all that matters, as this year has underscored. Happy holidays & new year to you and your family. <3

  120. Michelle says...

    I’m finding joy in dance. I start every weekday morning with a dance workout, and I feel like my high school cheerleader self again. I’m finding myself again through dance, and it’s a joyous thing.

  121. Autumn says...

    1. I learned that I used to spend a lot of time doing things that took me away from what is important – my husband, my close friends, regular exercise and nature. In the absence of work travel, a commute, after work drinks to network, I have time to focus on what feeds me.

    2. I’ve learned new tools for managing my anxiety, which reared its head this year. (for me that included CBT, some great new anxiety podcasts, severely reducing my sugar and caffeine intake, going for a daily walk).

    3. I’ve learned to be a more mindful consumer – giving up the convenience of Amazon for the benefit of supporting my local shops. It’s amazing what you can find locally!

    • Annie says...

      Would love to hear more about these anxiety podcasts!

  122. Robin says...

    I quit my job before the pandemic hit and was voluntarily unemployed for 7 months. I spent the whole time emotionally healing from all of my baggage. I learned:

    1) Time is more important than money, and family is more important than work.
    2) Health is my priority (mental, physical, emotional, healthy relationships, etc.).
    3) Mindfulness is my new trick for accessing joy and relief in times of grief and loss.

  123. katie says...

    I learned that my husband and I can be around each other all day, every day and it’s honestly a bit of a surprise.

    Prior to meeting him, I lived alone most of my adult life. Once I met him, we both had our own hobbies and traveled a lot for work. We even spent Christmas apart.

    Covid hit. I thought we’d drive each other crazy being home all the time together. We haven’t. We adjusted. We’re good. Neither in jail. This bodes well for retirement one day!!

  124. Elise says...

    That you really can have so many strong feelings at once – deep contentment, anger, anxiety, uncertainty & love all simmered under the surface of my year and I learnt that I have just enough room for them all if I sit quietly.

  125. Alyssa C. says...

    I’ve learned how to trust in my own resiliency. This year, my partner has lost two jobs, my family has gone through two terminal diagnoses, we lost our house, and thousands of dollars to emergency vet care for our cat who was kicked. Now our dog has a terminal diagnosis, and we are exhausted. But, through it all, I managed to pull out an 85% average in my classes as a university student, and my partner and I have built a new, beautiful home for ourselves, our struggling pets, and our son. So this year, I’ve learned to trust my ability to weather storm after storm, and appreciate how lucky I am to have the right people by my side.

    • Angela says...

      Alyssa, you are so strong. Blessings to you in the year ahead!

    • MB says...

      Wow, I commend you!

    • Jessica says...

      We can do hard things. I am so moved by your resiliency. Many blessings to you in the new year.

    • kd says...

      I’ve been through a tough season like this in the before times and I am so sorry. One of the most helpful things anyone said to me was something I heard from an acquaintance I met on a plane. He said, “I am rooting for you.” So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that there’s a stranger on the internet who is rooting for you! Hang in there. You are resilient and everything is temporary. Good and bad. Xx

  126. That I can be a creative, kind, warm person, and a kick butt business owner! Starting my business in 2020, I thought I would have to give up some part of myself to own a successful company, that it required a certain ruthless pragmatism that I don’t possess. But I’ve actually been thrilled to find that all the things that make me a skilled teacher—empathy, solution oriented creativity, etc. translate beautifully to business ownership! And along the way I’ve found so many other successful, service oriented businesses to look up to—Keap Candles, Girlfriend Collective, and of course COJ! <3

  127. Allie says...

    Yesterday I hit a 100-day streak of learning German on the Duolingo app! Go ahead – ask me how to say ‘The duck is eating beetles.’ ha!

    • Elizabeth says...

      Ok, how do you say it?? Die Ente…? :)

    • Cara says...

      “Die Ente isst Käfer” (I am a German teacher)

    • Gabrielle M. says...

      Allie, random question. How do you say “The duck is eating beetles” in German?

    • Although if the duck is a male, he is called “der Enterich ” or “der Erpel”.

    • Allie says...

      Gabrielle, so glad you asked! You’d say, “Die Ente frisst Käfer.” Go forth and conquer! ;)

  128. Rebecca says...

    I’m a public high school teacher, and I am blown away by the strength of my colleagues and our students. Sure, we’re all struggling in some way or another–and some more than others–but I have learned that our school community will look out for each other, make the best of a tough situation, follow finicky rules to keep everyone safe, and learn a lot of new tricks. This discovery moves me–sometimes to tears–nearly every day.

  129. Vicki says...

    Kate Baer, I love you – you genius!

  130. Meghan says...

    the “Tiger-King-Last-Dance” phase of the pandemic made me cackle. That summarizes so much in four words! It’s a big mood and brought me right back to this spring. I wish I’d kept a better written log during the start of lockdown/pandemic awareness. Thanks to all the wonderful contributors to this piece!

  131. Milou says...

    Of the many things I’ve learned, both profound and inane, one that stands out is learning about Save a Fox, a fox rescue. The nearly daily videos gave so much joy (who knew foxes laughed?) in a time when it felt really scary and I admire the founder for having a vision and doing what she loved. Thank you, Mikayla!

    • Samantha says...

      I love her and Juniper fox and Arctic Fox. All fox rescuers. I cannot fathom going to a fur farm to choose a few foxes like she does.. total admiration

  132. Amanda says...

    I learned that I’m very much an “inside person.” Having extra time in the house helped me reconnect with some creative hobbies that I pushed aside when I started to do more adventurous hobbies that were in line with my partner’s interests. While I still love the outdoors, these hobbies have helped me rediscover a part of myself I had forgotten. I hope to be able to balance these interests in the new year.

  133. I learned I can be a mom. As a business owner, I hadn’t ever taken time of off work, even after my two children were born. Snow days would stress me out, having a whole day to fill just me and them. COVID shuttered my business this summer and I’ve been home full time with my 5 and 6-year-old. No childcare, no (virtual) school even , just me and them. I’ve learned how to slow down, how to snuggleread (every afternoon we crawl in my bed and read together for an hour), and how to delight in, rather than fear, endless time with my kids. (I’ve also learned to hand them over to my husband at 6pm and retreat to my bedroom with a book and glass of wine.)

    • Erin says...

      That’s wonderful, I am so happy for you because I’ve felt that pride (and relief) too!

    • Nina says...

      Me too!!! I can’t believe how different my time with them was prior to this year. It is the shining star in the very long and dark night.

  134. Calla says...

    I learned what a lovely person my neighbor is. I live in the in-law unit of a duplex and one of the other residents is the landlord’s daughter. For the two years she’s lived here we had very few interactions, most of which were over some small shared-space conflict. As a result I was always a little apprehensive about running into her.

    When the pandemic started we both ended up spending a lot more time on the back patio and ran into each other almost daily. We helped each other with our gardens, she gave me some flour when I couldn’t find any, and I ended up teaching her how to make sourdough bread. It’s been so nice to see each other in a kinder light and have someone to connect with occasionally over small daily things.

  135. Ailyn Gomez says...

    I’ve struggled with being overweight practically my entire life and thought it was impossible to lose weight. 2 months, my fiancé and I started doing keto and I’ve lost 19 lbs so far! It’s taught me that I can have control over my body and that healthy food doesn’t suck.

    • Jennie says...

      Ailyn that is very inspiring!

    • janine says...

      Mine is similar. I had to learn how to stop doing emotional eating. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was stress-baking and stress-eating and I gave myself license to eat a lot of unhealthy food. Then I had to go to the doctor for a suspected case of Lyme disease and all my paperwork came back telling me in huge letters that my BMI put me in the overweight category. The big, scary letters worked, though. I got serious about improving my health and I’m now down 20 lbs and counting. I used Noom, btw. Nothing else has worked for me.

  136. Katie Weltner says...

    I learned how to do that magic knee-wiggling dance thing…. ya know, the one I should have learned at 7th grade summer camp.

  137. 1. You canNOT be inclusive about being inclusive. I’m practicing it through my blog.
    2. Someone shared a GoFunme page for someone else who had a new baby and lost her husband, from diagnosis to death in 3 months. I now have a new sister and a niece.
    3 “You’re not forced to accept the things that grieve you”
    4. “When people show their behavior, believe them.”
    5. Kind strangers!

    • Jean says...

      I learned that I’m quite resilient and that I never get bored. For so many years, I’ve been “so busy” and “too busy” to relax. Taking a step back and a deep breath was calming.