2020 Year in Review: Flipping the Perspective

As we head into the last few weeks of the year, I wanted to take you through a bit of a 2020 year in review from my perspective. 

2020 year in review calendar

You’re going to laugh at me when I tell you that I REALLY thought that 2020 was going to be the best year, yet.  Something about the play on 20/20 vision and my ‘vision’ for the year was just so cheesy that I believed every little bit of it.

I had 20/20 ‘crystal clear’ goals for myself, my family, my coaching business and my workplace.  You guys there was an entire PowerPoint presentation that had 20/20 vision statements on it, complete with eye exam visuals!

As you and I both know, 2020 has not turned out as expected. In fact, I actually had a major eye infection for months….oh, the irony. Let’s reflect back a minute at the chaos of this crazy year.

COVID

I don’t remember many key moments of 2020 that happened before March when we got the news that CV19 was legit and it was going to really eff up our year. My husband had a filming project in the Dominican Republic, and I tagged along both for R&R but also to aid in the mission project of helping the locals with hearing care. One morning while we were there we heard the news from home that schools would be closing – with a fancy cup of coffee in hand and peacocks in the foreground I had the sinking feeling that this life as we knew it was going to change.  

Not only was the health impact far greater than expected, but the ripple effect on what this change would do for families – huge.  Finances – larger than anything seen since the recession of 2008 likely.  This was a big freaking deal .

Quarantine

Naturally, quarantine comes up next on the list.  Returning home from the Dominican, seemed a bit of a feat in itself – the airports were beginning to shut down and JFK in NYC was a pass through that I’m grateful we got through when we did.  Soon after, shut downs started happening left and right. My gym.  Our favorite restaurants.  Salons. So many small businesses were forced to close their doors.  We began staying indoors and not going out – confused about what quarantining really meant…no contact with others?  No stepping outdoors?

Schooling

With shutdowns came the change in the way our children attended school. Our kids attended school one day…and then never returned.  They attempted to share my laptop and split their day up.  Our youngest, in the first grade did her reading assignments but wasn’t a big fan of comprehension quizzes so she just skipped that part — until we did a bit of follow up that brought my stressed out self to tears right along with her.  The frustration over the tech was overwhelming at times. The feeling of my girls getting 90 minutes of “education” daily compared to a traditional school day made me feel like a pretty crummy parent.

Working from Home

As COVID restrictions grew more intense, and keeping people safe was a number one priority…we looked across the sea of nearly 100 faces in my office suite and went to work sending them home with equipment and tools to work remotely.  About half of them were already working from home primarily and the other half that didn’t were either tech challenged or social butterflies that liked the cube village.  What typically took 3 months to turnaround we did in 3 days with 3 times the number of staff to send home.  Whirlwind. And I went home with it.  All of a sudden I was holed up in my daughter’s purple bedroom on a Mac I had no business using, with an ethernet cable out the window and down to the office router. I was a people leader, now attempting to inspire, encourage and lead with a webcam….with a Taylor Swift calendar staring at me on the wall.

sarah in purple bedroom
Purple home office and coordinating top…aka my oldest daughter’s bedroom.

Social Justice

The deaths of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor were quickly showcased all over the news, and caught our attention quickly as the realization of racism being alive in our country was realized.  The pain that we began to see that has been impacting our non-white brothers and sisters was raw and real.  Quick judgements, considerations made or not made based on the color of one’s skin wasn’t supposed to be happening in the year 2020 – but it was, and is.  Facing these facts seemed only fitting in 2020.

Furloughs

Like many businesses, both my 9-5 and my coaching business were impacted by COVID.  In the healthcare industry – we were shutting down services, and surgeries and limiting our care for the safety of the community.  For a period of time the volumes of our work shifted so low that we were picking up any and all work possible to keep busy in the Spring, and then come Summer the financial impact of shutting down so many services caught up with us.  Our contribution to this effort came by way of furlough. I wrote about being furloughed here.  The ask was to furlough ⅓ of the team for 3 months, just as our volumes began to reach near normal levels again.

Within the financial coaching world – folks were holding onto their money tighter than a 12 pack of toilet paper.  Consultations and referrals dropped, I didn’t even have a chance to show them how spending a little money on coaching could help in giant ways for the future.

Wildfires

smokey skies

For those of us in Oregon, or the west coast we were once again in the middle of fire season.  The Oregon wildfires grew far too close to home for us; quickly putting us in a level one evacuation zone, and before it all ended we were within one mile of a level two zone.  Many of my friends and colleagues were forced to evacuate and also lived in the middle of level two zones.  The smoke was overwhelming, forcing us inside yet again to sit and worry about the unknown.  We watched the weather, the air quality reports, the evacuation map, and the predictions of the fire movement like crazy people.

School Again

I thought for sure we’d be back to business as usual by the Fall.  No Siree.  My kids won’t likely see the inside of an actual classroom for an entire year.  We were teased with the idea of a hybrid model at least part time that we jumped at the chance to participate in, and gain some much needed in person learning time with teachers and recess time with friends. Sigh. I have so much respect for the home schooling parents, and found myself feeling like a half ass teacher’s assistant while juggling working from home.

Death

An employee on my team in her early 30’s passed away unexpectedly.  She had been out sick for several months, but we were all very hopeful as was she, that she was on the road to recovery until all of a sudden…she was not.  To add more tragedy to this story, her fiance also works on our team.  Our grief for the loss of our team member, and then our team member’s loss of her love was overwhelming. We spend a lot of time with our colleagues at work, in fact it’s cliche, I know – but our team is very much like family.  And breaking the news about a loss of a family member to our team was heartbreaking. 

Elections

OMG.  Election season.  This year, different than any other when I’ve been of voting age, was so polarized. Cruel language used behind social media posts and little regard for personal opinion was rampant.  I appreciated hearing different viewpoints, but the venom behind some of these opinions had me getting the overview from my hubby while ignoring the news cycle altogether.

Flipping the 2020 Year in Review

I don’t like to live in the land of the negative, it’s not my go to. My husband gives me a little heat sometimes when I attempt to flip his perspective from the negative to the positive.  He needs a little time to sit with the crumminess of a situation before crawling out….now I know!  Give the man some time, sit with him in it – THEN share the bright side.

I’ll admit finding the bright side of situations is not always easy, and this year is no exception.  But when I focus on looking for the positives – I see more of them.  When I’m focused on how crappy something is…I see a lot more crap.

My challenge to you – look for the good stuff, even amongst the crappy stuff.  Often you CAN find something positive to reflect on, and those positives can keep us moving forward during difficult times.

Let me reframe that original list with you, same bullet points but with a flipped perspective.

COVID

Okay, so pandemics can and do happen in this day and age.  And we are not immortal beings.  Should we take better precautions with hand washing, hand sanitization when in public areas, staying home when ill, and maybe even wearing a mask on a plane – sure. Here’s what I’m taking out of this. Be careful and kind to those around us that are susceptible to illness.  Wash your hands, and be flexible with your plans. 

Quarantine

Family time increased greatly this year, am I right?  I know that this is not always your fave, but…come on.  Parents we only have so much time with our kids before they fly the coop, having some extra time to spend with your family is a gift. I loved most of that extra time. And, I eventually did clean out a closet or two. 

Yard sale collection
The result of some closet cleaning!

Schooling

Our family took the opportunity to supplement some of our children’s learning with other lessons.  Academia is only part of our kids learning I believe.  We hired a wonderful Spanish tutor that does a weekly in person or virtual session depending on how life looks. Both girls have learned some of their basics, and we’ll be continuing their lessons hopefully for years to come. The kiddos make their own lunches, they can use the stove and fend for themselves – having learned that they need a veggie and a fruit to complement their main dish. The girls have a number of household chores that they work on daily/weekly to help out our family; some items are paid on commission for completing – and some are just general expectations.  They are both learning about time management through online schooling, chores and extra curricular duties – adding to our family calendar and becoming aware of our overall family activities or ones that don’t involve them.  Cash flow and budgeting is something I’m intentionally involving the kids in weekly; they know where we keep cash envelopes for groceries, fun money, to pay for instructors, etc. and they hang with me occasionally as I reconcile our budget weekly.  Harper loves to count the cash and Jordan is getting proficient with the calculator.

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Working from Home

Early in 2020 I asked my boss if I could work from home 1-2 days per week to save time on the commute and allow for more time for my coaching practice.  Instead I was offered once every two weeks, which I gladly accepted.  As COVID changed our work world drastically, my team moved to once per week in office, and now as we close out the year once every 6 weeks.  Again, not as intended – but I’ve saved hours weekly on commute time, and dare I say….getting dressed time.  I have more time for business tasks and dedicated time to my coaching clients that has less disruption for my family.  It took some adjustment, certainly – I now have a dedicated corner of our master bedroom with a desk space as well as a his and hers spot in the downstairs office when meeting with clients.  I’ve retained my comfy family room couch spot for early morning work as well.

Social Justice

I would never wish a repeat of what we all have witnessed with the racial injustice of our black brothers and sisters, but the injustice that we watched has helped many of us, myself included, have a better understanding of the inequity that has been faced. White fragility is real.  Seeing no color, was not the correct interpretation.  My team had the option of reading and learning together, and we opted to dive into the book ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo. We took the time to learn from the black colleagues on our team about their perspectives in life and in the workplace and learned more about what we could do better.  Granted, it was just the beginning of this work – but I feel hopeful that it’s a good start.

white fragility book
White Fragility: Our office reading

Furloughs

Positive side of furloughs? Well, we shared in the risk.  We shared in the burden.  Instead of having ⅓ of the team furlough for several months – we all furloughed equally.  Honestly, I think we all needed a break.  AND the unemployment payment although a PITA to get started – at least had a bit of an extra payout for part of the period. Where I would have typically checked in briefly or at least perused my email, I was strictly prohibited from doing so.  It was freeing. As a team I believe we began to value our work and the contributions we all made – as you could feel the difference when your teammates were missing.  We came together to accomplish much.

Within the coaching world the realization that impacts to jobs were real and getting one’s money in order needed to be a priority – consultations increased and booking clients was easier.  Helping individuals feel confident, secure and comfortable with their goals and using tools that made sense was, and is so rewarding. 

Wildfires

Luckily, our home never moved out of a level one evacuation zone. But we packed a few things just in case. The process of packing up a few clothing items…and any ‘must have’ possessions reminded me that the only things that I really needed – were my family.  My gotta have it items fit in one suitcase, yet I have a house full of things. Ah, perspective. Stuff is so much easier to not purchase when I consider whether it would be something I put in an emergency evacuation suitcase.  Memories are strong, pictures are great – but possessions are just temporary, and expendable. 

School Again

Well, at least this time we were well-ish practiced. We added music lessons to the extra curricular list.  Found a piano teacher for Harper and a guitar teacher for Jordan – a father/daughter duo that is close to home, both with patient and kind dispositions. We started appreciating play dates more. Hang out time – even Face Time for the kids became something that they looked forward to with their buddies. Our girls have become the best of friends – as long as you don’t say that out loud to them.  They play together, they practice together, and they’ve had the time to form a bond in sisterhood that will carry them into true friendship as women.

daughters cuddling
Best Friends, they just don’t know it yet.

Death

I was reminded through death, that life itself is short. Whether life is snuffed out in your 80’s or in your 30’s – it’s all so relatively short. Moments matter.  When I think of the moments I’ve shared with those passed – they become more sacred and meaningful.  I realized that the moments I’m having now, today could be moments that are relived when I pass.  It gave me great pause and reflection.  I want to be carrying out the purpose for my life that God gave me, with this one life that I have to live.

Elections

Whether you voted red or blue, whether you wanted to make America great again or cringed when you read one of the President’s tweets – you have to admit that electing the former VP, along with not only a person of color, but a female as the new Vice President is historical and inspiring. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched Kamala Harris speak to my daughters confirming what they already believed, but hadn’t yet been challenged on as children – anything is possible. I believed it was possible that day.

There you have it.  My perspective on the negatives of this 2020 year in review, paired with the flip side. 

Pollyanna?  Maybe. But I prefer Polly to Debbie Downer; she is WAY more fun to hang out with.  

2021 is coming, many of us looking forward to what the new year can bring.  The turning of the calendar brings a fresh perspective and new start in our minds. Let it do the same for you.  

It’s a new year.  

Who do you want to be?  

How do you want to show up?

Thank you for joining me on my my journey to influence.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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