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As 2020 is coming to a close, I am reflecting on what the year brought me personally, as a wife and a mother and professionally, as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

I, along with many, had high hopes and plans for 2020. But for me and for many, living in a pandemic meant that our plans changed and our hopes looked different as the year progressed.

I know that my reflections might look very different from your experience. As you read my blog, please know that I am sharing my experience but I have the greatest amount of empathy for those whose experience differs from mine. My heart has felt the heaviness of this year and I know the sorrow that it has brought to many.

The beginning of 2020

In January, I was excited. A new year starting with a kid-free cruise with my husband. For the past several years, this had become a tradition for us, one that we both cherished. A time away from home, a time to focus on each other, a time to relax and recharge to get ready for the coming year.

In February, Ellen Degeneres came to Fort Lauderdale and I was excited for the show. February is my birthday month and then Valentine’s Day is shortly behind. For both celebrations, we went to my favorite restaurant and I was shown lots of love.

My teenage son, who is a basketball player and on a travel team was playing for the fifth year, their final year, the year they were going to give it all they got and show everyone how far they had come. Teammates and friends for years, making their parents and coaches proud. They played two tournaments, did very well and the season was looking good!

In March things were going well until the middle of March. That is when my husband and I were watching an NBA game and in-between games, the NBA shut down. The next day Broadway went dark. Overnight, my clients went from face-to-face sessions to online counseling. The travel basketball season that everyone was looking forward to, including my son, his teammates, their parents, the coaches and me, was shut down and abruptly ended. The slogan safer at home was all over the media and life looked different.

Life Changed, Now What?

For most of us we were at home 24/7 with the people we lived with and this was a new experience. For me, it was a time to adjust and pivot. My business shifted overnight to online counseling and the unknown was staring at me. I was hesitant at first but I quickly embraced telehealth as it was a way to serve my clients safely and I saw my couples and individuals meeting their relationship goals. My perception of the effectiveness of online counseling changed and I happily recognized the value online counseling provided.

Along with that, my technology skills needed to improve. My teenage son was a big help and became my “technology teacher”. I learned and as a bonus, I had extra bonding time with my son. As most parents of a teenager can relate, having something in common as you work towards something with your teenager and they are completely engaged, is a huge win!

I had many “aha” moments and feel that life was put into perspective. Toilet paper, something I had not given much thought to and definitely took for granted, became a scarce and valued item. Adjusting our family traditions this past year, was sad but okay as long as we all stayed healthy. Health became a focus along with helping the community.

I noticed the neighbors. Why? Because we were all outside. The activities that became the norm was families and couples riding bikes and taking long walks. It was nice to see the people in my neighborhood and watch them slow down. Many of us, including me, live such hectic lives. We are all juggling many things, family, work, household responsibilities, extra-curricular activities for the kids, and numerous other things. Having less places to go, less structured activities gave my family and many others a chance to slow down and bond. We played board games, we watched more family shows, I became a better cook and my son cooked a bit on his own, we baked together, we rode bikes, took long walks and we had conversations that could last for hours.

I even learned that I had a “secret skill” of cutting my husband’s hair. I was nervous at first, and I wasn’t sure I could do it but I found out I am a decent barber. At least on my husband’s hair, my son wouldn’t let me near his!

My son played the piano more and restarted lessons again on Zoom. With lots of extra time, he found creative ways to do some volunteer work safely. He also spends many hours playing video games. Never did I think that I would be so thankful for video games. Along with being fun, it gives my son the opportunity to socialize with his friends.

My husband who has always made me proud, is an essential worker, a firefighter and a paramedic. His job always had an element of danger but 2020 added a new layer of concern, being a front-line worker in a pandemic. I am fortunate that we enjoy spending time together. It isn’t always easy being married, as marriage takes work but we stay focused on each other and do the work needed to continually nurture our relationship. For the past 18 years we have happily made it a priority.

As a family, we had time to actually stop, to notice the roses and to smell them. What a huge plus!

My Thoughts as We Close Out 2020

2020, was deemed the year we would all have “perfect vision” and be able to focus and see things clearly. I think it happened, just not in the way I or any of us, expected. I did see clearly, I had a strong sense of gratitude before but with 2020, it grew.

It was gratitude that led my way. Followed by love and compassion, for myself, for my family, my friends and the community. When I think of the community, I think about the people who are the helpers, the essential workers who dedicated themselves to helping others. I also think about the people who got sick with COVID-19, the ones that got better and the ones that didn’t. The families that grieve and all the changes that have happened due to the pandemic. The loss of jobs, businesses, milestone events and most importantly the loss of life. 2020 brought us much sadness, loss, uncertainty and hopefully a greater appreciation for the people in our lives. My heart has felt the heaviness of this year and know that sorrow was brought to many.

As we close out 2020, and look toward 2021, my wish for you is a better year surrounded by love, compassion and gratitude.

Please hug the loved ones that you can, nurture the relationships you have, spread love and compassion and focus on gratitude. Goodbye 2020, hello 2021.

Your Relationship Expert,
Michelle

P.S. Part of making sure 2021 is a better year is focusing on you and your relationships. If are experiencing relationship/marriage struggles individually or as a couple, contact me, I am here to help.