What I Learned From 2020

As we get ready to kick 2020 out the door (see ya!), it’s important we take time to reflect on the many lessons it’s brought us. Nothing that happens in our lives is ever all good or all bad (yes, I will debate you on that). It’s finding the meaning – or making our own meaning – in the events of our lives that allows us to learn, grow and find peace. Doing this again and again as the years go by is how we evolve ourselves from tantrum-ing babies who resist everything into well-rounded, gracious adults who are ok even when what’s going on around us is not.

Enter COVID-19.

So, what did you learn? Did you find acceptance for what is? Did you kick and scream and fight the pandemic all the way to Wuhan and back? Did you win?

All the members of our healing team at The Urban Alchemist have faced 2020 in different ways. The practice has remained open on reduced hours and offering restricted services. As a business, we are strong. As a group of humans, we have experienced various moments of distress and disarray while doing our best to hold a calm and grounded space for our clients. None of us is unaffected by the sh*tshow that has been 2020.

My work days are shorter than usual. In the beginning, work time was tense in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. Constant cleaning, sanitizing, vigilance, concern. Lots of mental health checks on myself and everyone else. Tears.

All of those things persist into this long lockdown period, but they’re fewer and farther between.

I notice that for the most part, the people I come into contact with in the practice are learning – as I am – to hold themselves.

In the beginning, we looked for anything to distract ourselves from the uncertainty we felt. Zoom drinks, trivia nights and Netflix binges ensued – even I had one (it was Cobra Kai… 5 stars). As the days went by, some folks got fed up and went back to the couch, or slept all day, or took up day drinking. With overnight changes to our personal freedoms and responsibilities, homeschooling, unemployment and curfews, and in addition the fear of getting sick, we have looked for ways to quiet our pain. Just focus on something else and this will all go away. But it hasn’t.

Something has happened, though. As time has worn on,we’ve noticed ourselves and our clients going more inward.

Without the relentless distraction of regular work hours and day-to-day socialising, we’ve all had more space to notice what we are feeling. While it’s true that some people continue to distract themselves and miss this opportunity, it seems that big numbers of people are starting to search for new routine, new purpose, new meaning. They’re finding new connections with their beloved people, their neighbours and their own hearts.

People have had more presence.

The sourdough bread was the start. Many people began to learn languages, learn new instruments, create. Some persisted and now have a new skill, or a beautiful piece of art. People who felt opposed to the way our governments have handled the pandemic have been called into presence and service of their truth. Having children at home 24/7 for many weeks with the added challenge of ‘homeschooling’ (it got pretty loose out there, didn’t it?) brought us more in touch with our family connections than ever before. We’ve experienced watching our gardens grow, finding interesting pockets of the neighbourhoods we’ve lived in for years, seeing what happens without professional attention to the ends of our hair, or the hairs on our upper lip, or our nails… indeed, finding out what happens when we give up waiting and embrace our imperfection. I have been hearing the warbling of magpies at 3am. Who knew? I love it.

This global time of upside-down and inside-out has brought many of us into deeper presence in a thousand individual ways. Have you seen it?

When I speak to people who have not felt able to be present in this time, I often hear that they are facing the part of themselves that chose something else and asking the question, “why”? This, too, is as important – if not more important – than having met themselves in the present. Welcome to those folk, we’re glad you’re here.

Whether you did or you didn’t find a way to meet yourself more deeply this year, have you learned something about yourself? Have you made meaning? Will you allow yourself to grow from it?

For me personally, I feel I’ve been called into service in a way I haven’t before. The Urban Alchemist is a happy place for me filled with some of my favourite people (and Molly, of course). Over this time, it’s become a place of comfort for many of our clients when they have felt overwhelmed, or overworked, or over everything.

I’ve noticed that to keep myself sane during this time, I’ve been bringing more of my ‘normal’ life into the practice. My daughter was away for a time, so I had her tiny dog, Taco, who was lonely at home. She drives us crazy but we have embraced her and let her “come to work” (our dogs’ favourite phrase, even beating “car”, “ball” and “pizza”). In quiet moments, I have brought out my guitar and played the best songs I know how to play (limited but joyful) to anyone who’s around. We’ve been juicing watermelon, which is a thing we don’t do normally (too messy). And when we’ve had enough of everything, every one of us has permission to stop and go for a walk. 2020 has been hard. We are learning to be kind to ourselves.

This, my dear friends, is self-care at its finest.

What have you thoroughly needed to get through this time intact? What practices have served you and how can you bring them into your daily life?

If working from home has allowed you and your family extra daylight hours together, how can you make that arrangement permanent? If spending your days with your kids made your heart sing, how can you get more family time into your life? Can you continue to enjoy homecooked meals? Can you keep up your daily walks? Can you make Zoom family trivia night a regular thing? Can your commitment to meditation or a weekly fasting day be ‘a thing’?

Finding ways to blend the things we have to do with the things we love to do is holistic living. Standing strongly where we can, riding the waves, accepting the uncertainty. Meeting our deadlines, applying for jobs even though we’re feeling defeated. Feeling the defeat. Talking about it with someone. Eating nourishing food. Cleaning out the shed. Gently feeling the sadness, tending the garden, playing raucously with the children, baking something delicious. Noticing what makes your day easier and your body vibrate with joy and doing more of that.

What will you allow 2020 to teach you?