2020 and 2021 Years in Review

This is my sixteenth and seventeenth annual year in review. To read past reviews click here.

If I were to describe these last two years in one word, you’d not be very surprised: COVID … or maybe division. 

For two years now we’ve lived in a pandemic. I remember thinking in early March 2020 that I hoped the lockdown would last a full month. That may tell you how completely spent I was and how very thankful I was to be stuck in my house, forced to slow way down. It’s hard to remember what it was like to wish for that because all I wish now is for it to be over. It’s kind of hard to imagine what a return to normal would even be like at this point. These last few years have been so hard. I’m sure that is true for almost every single human on earth.

I entered 2020 knowing that we had precious little time left with the children at home. I’ve had these specific ideas about how that would go and what it would be like. We would celebrate their graduations. We’d move them to college. We’d enter into the next phase, freshly into our 40s and ready to start the next chapter of life anew… Both children are now finished with high school but other than that not much has gone according to plan. But also: we got so much extra time with them, all stuck together in the same house. That is something we will cherish always.

In the early months of the pandemic I spent my time furiously sewing masks for healthcare workers and friends. My final total was right at 400. I distracted myself by turning our 300 lavender-plant labyrinth that we inherited when we bought the house into an insane flower and vegetable garden. Though I’ve always grown at least a small salsa garden, I’ve never grown so much at this scale. I love the magic of growing plants, everyday finding something to be delighted by. And I LOVE, love, love growing an overabundance of flowers. In 2020, I canned and canned and canned the bounty my garden, setting us up with a stocked pantry that will last well into 2022. I 2021, I gave the veggies away, feeding about a dozen families.

The last two years have been marked by more sickness than I would like. At the end of October 2020, I suffered a concussion by falling out of an inversion table onto the top of my head.  Nearly a year of post-concussion syndrome followed. And I finally figured out why I always feel so terrible but no amount of medical tests could show a reason: A chronic inflammatory condition that’s triggered by a genetic susceptibility to mold. That condition got much worse before it started to get better just a couple of weeks ago. I really struggled these last few months with managing feeling so sick and trying to hold everything together. It can be very hard to deal with an invisible illness.

Eden graduated, we moved her to college, then home again, and then back again to Ft. Collins. Though her graduation ceremony didn’t happen until mid-summer, we celebrated with a drive-by party where we had friends and family drive down our driveway with banners and balloons, stopping for us to hand them milk and cookies and send their well wishes through rolled down car windows. It was actually perfect for an introvert like Eden. She’s doing well in Ft. Collins, working full time and about to start part time at the community college there. We miss her, but are so thankful that she’s thriving.

Honor got to act in one final play at the beginning of his junior year and just recently finished his high school career. He’s hated these last two years of school and we were happy for him to finish up early and get out of a place where he felt he so clearly didn’t belong. We’ll celebrate however we can in May when he will walk with the rest of his class in a graduation ceremony. He’s now a barista, working at a progressive coffee shop in town. He continues to be obsessed with board games and has turned into quite the photographer. We will see where he goes with his new freedom, but I suspect that it won’t be long before he takes the step to live on his own.

Josh hosted TEDxGJ just days before we went into lockdown. The event went great and he was so grateful to get to host it—if it had been a week later, he and his fellow organizers would have lost a lot of money. He took a small corner of our garage and turned into an office. He went through a bit of an internal transformation in 2020, using the downtime to work on himself with a therapist. In 2021 he was diagnosed with diabetes which he reversed in three months by making a major diet change. I’m so impressed with the discipline he’s learned in these past few years and so grateful for the man he continues to become. He completed a massive project for work that frankly took too much out of him. He spent a month this year on sabbatical resting up and recovering from the huge push that changed, for the better, the future of the company.

We traveled, a lot in the first 3 months of 2020 and then not as much after lockdown. Before COVID took hold we went to Denver for the Gen XYZ awards ceremony and then back a few weeks later to take the kids to see the spectacular Monet exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. Josh and I went to Charlotte, NC to meet with a company that Proximity acquired and then right to Wyoming for my 99 year old step-grandfather’s funeral. Eden and I went to Little Rock, AK with a few other choir kids and their moms so they could perform in an honor choir just a week before lockdown. We had the best time wandering the city, utterly charmed in the most unexpected way. After lockdown started, we spent time in Denver, masked and distanced and a little sad. The city was such a shell of its normal self, boarded up from riots and empty because of the virus.

Josh and I traveled to Portland and Seattle after we were fully vaccinated, emboldened by our newfound freedom and so grateful to visit dear friends and family and finally stretch our wings again. We also took the kids to L.A. for some much-needed beach time, enjoying what it’s like to vacation with adult children, each of us doing whatever sounded fun for the day, coming together for meals and having zero expectations of who should do what and when.

What else?

  • We brought home the most adorable coonhound puppy, Hardy, the dog love of my life.
  • One of us got Covid though all of us are vaccinated—making the case relatively mild. (Can we talk about how relieved and thankful we were to get vaccinated?)
  • We’ve walked into stage 4 cancer with some very dear friends. The feeling of helplessness to watch people we love go through this is unrelenting.
  • We celebrated when Trump lost the election and wept when the capitol was breeched. We also wept as we saw black lives taken, one after the other, in ways that have happened for years and years and years. We continue to do our best to understand privilege and our unintended biases and fight for the those that have unfairly been forced to live in the margins. We have much to unlearn and much to improve.
  • My now 94 year old grandmother moved here from Wyoming.
  • We lived through a kitchen flood; a major remodel of our kitchen, bathroom and bedroom; complete mold remediation; and some necessary and beautiful upgrades to our property and exterior of the house. I loved designing everything—it was such an important creative outlet for me. Now that all that’s about done, we probably want to move. We need to live in a place that loves us and these last pandemic- and politically-fraught years have shown us that this community that we’ve poured so much into is just not that into us. We’re tired of being so lonely.
  • Josh built an online directory of hot springs across the country called Drench.
  • Eden is now 19, Honor is 18, Josh and I are both 40. We’ve now been married 7 years.

I’m not sure that I can say that I enter 2022 as evolved as I had hoped to be by this point, by the time I was 40. I regret some of this time languishing through the pandemic, wishing in hindsight that I would have made more of every second. But that’s hard to do when you’re walking around with an emotional sunburn, being so sensitive to the touch. (A friend once described going through the pandemic that way and I think it couldn’t be more true.) Nevertheless, I can say that I still grew. That I learned and became and endured. And I am proud of that.

In 2022 I want to not be sick. Not be lonely. Not be afraid of other people getting me more sick. Not be angry at those who follow Jesus but ignore his teachings to love their neighbor.

I want this world to love. Love each other, love the planet, love me, love the marginalized, the widow, the orphan.

I want joy to be the theme. I want to live in hope and not despair. I want to make and grow beautiful things and spend every moment delighting in all of it, the bitter and the sweet—in this gift that is life.

Happy New Year! 

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