Buh-Bye 2020

I don’t think anyone is sad to see 2020 go. (Buh-bye 2020, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!) It just robbed us of so much – time spent with family and friends, vacations, concerts (oh, how I miss concerts), birthday parties, graduations, and just a general sense of normalness. My biggest loss of 2020 was the unexpected and sudden death of my father. He did not die of COVID, but COVID did rob us of the vacation we were supposed to take to see him in Austin a few months before he died.

Oddly, in many ways 2020 was actually good to us – Dave and I both work for the same amazing company that treats its employees so well. We started working from home in March (though sharing an office can sometimes be a struggle). Chandler is in grad school, but since it’s online he’s moved home. (He would prefer to not be living here, but having him back home for a little while has made this mama’s heart happy.) We are all healthy. We are together. We are lucky.

Every year at the beginning of the new year I like to sit down and reflect on the year that has just passed. I have a happiness journal that I sit down and write in every morning and record my happiest moment from the day before. Sometimes the moment comes to me quite easily, sometimes it’s a struggle to find one, sometimes (though rare), it’s the whole entire beautiful wonderful day. This year, which has become a Groundhog Day year of a year – one monotonous day blurring into the next, most of my happy moments come from my daily dog walks or connecting with people from a distance – whether that distance be at an outdoor gathering or via Zoom. (I know we’re all tired of it, but I am, so truly grateful for Zoom.)

The Pollyanna in me truly does seek out the bright side. I am grateful for all that we have. I try to find the funny in even the most terrible situations (it really is there if you look hard enough for it). And so, in this most terrible of years we made adjustments.

We were not able to go to Austin to visit my father in April, but in August we drove to Park City and stayed in my friend’s vacation condo. In October the kids and I went to Austin to spend time with my stepmom and sister since we can work/school from anywhere. 

I had tickets for six different concerts that went unused. We livestreamed home concerts and watched them from our couch. It’s not the same, but it still brought us joy.

And yes, I zoomed. A lot. I zoomed with my family. I zoomed with my friends. I zoomed with my co-workers. And again, it’s not the same, but I am so grateful that this pandemic has happened in a time where technology makes it possible for us to connect, even though it may not be in the way we wish it could be.

Yes, I miss hugs. Yes, I miss live music. I miss restaurant happy hours. I miss getting on planes and traveling for work. Most of all I miss my dad. 

But I leave 2020 with a grateful heart. Grateful for our jobs, our health, great technology, dog walks, hiking trails, podcasts, books, Netflix and laughter. Always laughter.

Here are some of the things that made me happy in terrible 2020:

January 1 – Our annual New Year’s Day hike – this time to Solstice Canyon. Nice hike – great beach views. So many people. Great to see so many enjoying the beautiful day and beautiful California.

A hike with a view.

January 9 – Walking two miles down High Street in Columbus, OH. The weather was about 50 degrees and I just loved the crisp air and walking in a city.

February 10 – Dinner with Mera, Dale and my mom. I love these people so much. It was so nice to catch up and be together.

February 14 – I made a nice Valentine’s dinner (and Dave and I got each other the same card – so funny!). Chandler flew home to see Sami and we picked him up from the airport. My heart is always happy when he is home.

Great minds think alike.

February 22 – Game night at Rita’s. We played Mexican Train Dominoes and drank Grapefruit Crushes (recipe in this awesome cocktail book). Great night with great people.

March 2 – Rita and I went to see Jordan Davis at the Grammy Museum and it was so great. (Little did I know at the time, this would be my only concert in 2020.)

Jordan Davis – my one and only 2020 concert

March 11 – Dinner with Marisa. The shit is really hitting the fan today. Marisa said she was so glad we had dinner because COVID-19 was giving her so much anxiety and having dinner made her feel normal. It was great to see her and to help a friend.

March 15 – We walked to McDonalds for Shamrock McFlurries. It was so nice to walk and to see so many people outside. Being outside is going to be the key to our sanity. (If only I’d known how very true this was.)

March 18 – Matt Nathanson does a Together at Home Instagram Live show and it makes me so happy. I love it and I love him so much.

March 21 – We did a virtual HH with Jennifer, Debra, Rita, and Arlyne. It was so great. We laughed and drank. After 2 hours the husbands joined. So glad to be with my friends even when I can’t be.

April 20 – I think my favorite thing about Mondays is watching John Krazinski’s SGN (Some Good News). This was a prom episode. He held a prom! It was magic and made me cry happy tears.

April 26 – We had a family zoom with my dad and Sue and all the sibs. It was so great to see everyone’s beautiful faces.

May 8 – We went to the beach at night to see the bioluminescent waves and it was so cool. It looked like someone threw a million glow sticks into the waves. 

May 17 – We hiked Devil’s Punchbowl with Marley and then had a picnic with Italia Deli sandwiches (yum!) at a nearby park afterwards. In the afternoon I had a driveway HH at Julie’s with Kim. What a perfect day.

Devil’s Punchbowl hike with my favorite girl.

May 29 – I have been loving the 30 day yoga series I have been doing. It both calms and energizes me.

June 14 – My father passed away today. On my birthday. No happiness. But I’m glad both of my kids are home and I was able to hug them.

One of the last times I saw my dad.

June 21 – Marley turns 20! She gave me the biggest hug. I gave her what she wanted (a hammock) and we had a BBQ at my mom’s. It was a nice day.

Happy Birthday!

August 3 – The days are a blur this year, but I’m happy when I succeed at a Meatless Monday dinner.

August 19 – When Kamala Harris officially accepted the VP nomination I legit cried happy tears. Maybe she is our path to the presidency. I hope so.

August 22 – Chandler called me out to see the sunset. It was beautiful. We climbed the hill and it made me happy that he wanted to share that beauty with me.

When your son asks you to climb the hill in your backyard to get a better look at the sunset, you go.

September 3 – Kate texted me to say she finally read my book and loved it. Oh to have someone discover Laney and love her fills my heart with joy.

September 18 – Sad day. RGB died. It’s going to be a hot mess. But I made shrimp fajitas that everyone liked and drank tequila and did my best to convince myself that everything would be okay.

September 20 – Dave and I went on a day date to Ventura – lunch and a walk along the beach. It was nice to be out and outside – to do something and to go somewhere.

October 3 – I picked tomatoes at Kim’s house and made a tomato sandwich and the fresh taste of home grown tomatoes was so amazing I could hardly stand it.

These tomatoes were A-MAZ-ING!

October 16 – Dinner at Clint and Rhiannon’s. So great for my kids to play with their young cousins and for me to catch up with my sister.

November 7 – Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected to the White House. My happiness is palpable. I cried. I felt it in every fiber of my being. I am so happy.

November 13 – I’m reading Julie’s book and I’m in love with it.

Do yourself a favor and read this book!

December 6 – Getting up early and reading with Geordie cuddling on my chair is such a cozy and happy way to start my day.

A cozy way to start the day.

December 15 – Dave’s birthday. I made filet mignon, asparagus, baked potatoes, and wedge salad and it was the bomb. Dave told some old stories and we had a really great time. It was wonderful to be happy and together.

Like I said, we are all happy to have 2020 behind us. (And trust me, I know that the turn of a calendar page is not going to make everything magically better.) But I hope that you were also able to find some calm among the crazy and seek out some happiness inside all of this uncertainty and anxiety. I’d love to hear some of the happy moments you had last year.

The Year is Half Over, What Have You Done?

On Saturday I woke up to the realization that the year is half over. And what have I done?

Well, I’ve had a lot of fun.

I’ve been to a bunch of Happy Hours with my girlfriends. (I almost never go out to dinner, but I am the queen of Happy Hour.)

I’ve done some cool hikes with my husband.

Sunday we went here.

Malibu hike Charmlee Wilderness Park
A beautiful hike through Charmlee Wilderness Park in Malibu

I’ve been to a bunch of concerts and country music festivals.

Brandy Clark. Coastal Country Jam featuring Jake Owen. Jay Nash, Tony Lucca & Matt Duke. (OMG – if you have a chance to see these guys – just one or all three together DO IT. They are amazing.) Stagecoach. U2. Oakheart Festival. Boots and Brews.

U2 Joshua Tree Tour Stage
U2 Joshua Tree Tour. I’ve seen U2 at least 10 times. I’d gladly see them 1,000 more.

Four festivals and three concerts are more shows that some people will see in a lifetime I realize, but those are not my people. God that sounded super assholey, didn’t it? That was not my intent. I’m super grateful to have gone to these shows. And I’ve got more on the way this year.

Hall & Oates with Tears for Fears (OMG!) Adam Ant (OMFG!) Green Day (Finally!) Thomas Rhett with Old Dominion & Walker Hayes (Cannot effing wait). And something called Retro Futura with Howard Jones, the English Beat and a bunch of other 80’s throwbacks. (Bought for a steal on Groupon – going with Dave and the kids. Should be a blast.)

So yes, it has been and will be a good year for music. Because live music more than anything is what makes me feel so alive. And young. (Seriously, so fucking young.)

And fun is great. Important, even. But I have goals this year that I have not achieved. I wanted to interview more artists like I did last year with Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion and Matthew Nelson of Nelson. But I haven’t. Because that takes effort and I’ve been busy with a new(ish) job and life and just trying to keep all my balls in the air.

You know. Like everyone else.

I’ve only written seven blog posts all year. And maybe two newsletters (which you should totally sign up for because I obviously won’t overwhelm your inbox and you get a free book. Or rather bookette).

I did write this piece for my friend Jessica’s blog that I’m quite proud of, but only because she asked. And really. It was just a reworking of a piece I’d already written.

And my WIP – the sequel to Frosted Cowboy. LOFuckingL. I have an outline (ish). It’s actually a great story (at least that’s what everyone I’ve told the plot to says), even better than the first. And I’ve written some of it, obviously. But. But. What?

I’m just busy.

And lazy.

And so damn scared.

Because writing is so hard. And what if it’s terrible? (And like any first draft, it is so terrible.)

So, sure. I’ve had some goals. But I haven’t really had a plan. And  A goal without a plan is just a wish. I read that on Pinterest. Or maybe it was Twitter. One of those very philosophical websites.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Saturday as I was cleaning that pile off my dining room table I came across an article I ripped out of Sunset Magazine by Anne Lamott called Time lost and found. And even though I was “so busy” and I’ve read it at least a dozen times before, I knew that this article about finding time to write was exactly what I needed and I sat down and read it again and it made me cry.

Because Anne Lamott knows the truth.

It’s so easy to make excuses. To be too busy to write. Busy job. Busy social life. Keeping all those balls in the air.

I’m not going to stop going to concerts or hiking with my husband or (god forbid) Happy Hour.

But what if I didn’t work through lunch every day. Or let one of those balls drop? (Or two? Or three? Or four?)

What if when I get up at 5AM (and I do, every single day) I actually write a blog post? Or contact a musician’s publicist? Or stopped being so scared to tackle my WIP?

Maybe in six month’s time – when the year is completely over, I’ll have done more than just have fun. More than just work. I’ll have created.

And my year will be one that was not half-lived.

 

*The quote “A goal without a dream is just a wish” is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery (but you can find it on Pinterest).