Looking Back On A Life-Changing Year

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One year ago, I wrote this: “I don’t know about you, but I’ve not experienced a global pandemic in my lifetime. Initially, I felt levels of anxiety far beyond anything I’ve ever felt before. Everything about life felt like it was changing. Rapidly. And without my consent. ⁠​
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But shortly thereafter, I shifted into thinking about what I can do to seat myself back in the driver’s seat of my life. And the idea for this short daily email was born.⁠

It’s been a year of writing to my dear readers, and the “One Thing” format is still going strong. I’ve also added in a curated section of “things I’m creating” and “things I’m consuming”, which started as a reminder to myself to balance out the consumption with the creation.

I wanted to take a look back at this pandemic year and take stock of what I’ve learned. I’m nowhere near the person I was when I decided to start writing those daily emails to readers, but I’m also more Me than ever and I don’t know if I’d gotten there without what’s transpired this last year.

Only What’s Essential

I bet you used the word ‘essential’ more in 2020 than in all your prior years combined. We talked about it regarding essential workers, and we discussed buying only what’s essential when Utah beat the entire country out for pandemic grocery shopping. For a fun stat, Utah pandemic shopping was 261% higher than the same week in 2019. Most states spending was higher that first week of the pandemic, but only marginally so.

But we also talked about ‘what’s essential’ with regard to life. I noticed quickly that not being able to go anywhere for awhile made it real clear that some of the things I had been doing prior to quarantine I didn’t actually value all that much. Without them in my schedule now, I actually felt a sense of relief.

Pay attention to when you feel relief, your body’s telling you something important.

I love the look and feel of my life these days because I just kept leaning in to the question “what’s essential?” and then doing that and only that. And lest you think it sound so light and easy to do so, au contraire. Deciding to only do what’s essential means getting clear on your values, your beliefs, and to have a mindscape that you can enter and navigate through. On that note…

Free The Mind

In 2013, I was questioning my thoughts and learning to evolve myself. And now in 2020, without all the inessentials, I had time to examine and question, well, everything.

One of my favorite things of the last year was how often my guy would say, “we should look up more information about that.” And on down the rabbit hole we’d go.

Not only do I know far more now than I did a year ago, I’ve found that some of my beliefs and values didn’t stand up in the fire of learning more – and for that I am so damn grateful. It’s an empowering thing to enter your mindscape, examine what’s there, question it, seek out information that could prove your own beliefs wrong, and become more educated and more thoughtful because of it.

To have the freedom to think for myself and to change my mind on my own accord, that is a freedom I hope to never lose.

Loss

Any loss of life is tragic. And we can’t save everyone, sadly. But I have a personal connection to a few losses this past year, and what bothers me most is that even loss of life has been turned into a topic you can be criticized for your opinions on. Here’s all I will say on that – a lot of great people died the last year, not all of them died from the virus. That fucking sucks.

Garrett Lockhart was a bright spot in my world, as he was for many. The loss of him still hurts, seems unbelievable, and will probably always make me wonder if it would have happened at all if the year had been anything other than what it was.

remember the good old days when you could hug people?

Ernie Perreault was another bright spot that was extinguished this year. Ernie was 99 going on 25, and he led an active life that included regular workouts at the gym until the pandemic started. As his grandson Devin put it, “There isn’t any one catalyst to explain how we got here, but there are several…Primarily, it was living through a pandemic.”

What Would Make The Time
Well-Spent?

My client asked me this recently when we were talking about me turning 40. I said “what advice have you got for me?” and she replied, “think about getting to 50 and you look back on the 40’s, what will make you say ‘that was time well spent’? Then focus on doing only those things right now.”

The last year has been time well-spent.

I started writing about my nature experiences.

I leaned into writing about fitness and health in a way I actually want to write about it.

I led an awesome workshop to share my method for becoming an unbreakable human.

I put out a workbook that helps folks get started with ten habits an unbreakable human does.

I worked with wonderful clients, the likes of which are exactly my favorite kind of people to work with.

I spoke at an online conference larger than anything I’ve ever dreamed of doing, and had the most fun doing it.

I took my social media hiatus again (8 weeks this time!) and enjoyed it immensely. If you want to join me for it this year, don’t worry, I’ll definitely be doing it again.

I kept writing this one particular long-term project that is coming to the point of completion, and proved that I could keep going long after it became exhausting to write and read my own words.

I became a homeowner with my guy, and excitedly took on things like yard work.

I am certain I wouldn’t have done all of these things with such gusto if I’d not removed the inessential from my life.

This quote sums it up, “As long as there’s pressure in the system, it’s hard to make a change.”

We normally set intentions or new habits at New Years, but like we always say then – you can decide to set new intentions or habits anytime. Why not put this date in history to use for you and take stock of what’s essential, what makes time well-spent for you, and what pressures need to be relieved from the system to allow for positive changes to occur?

Who knows what the next year will bring, but each day is a chance to practice.

Thanks for being here and for reading and connecting with me.

Owl