Welcome to Live Free Creative, the podcast that provides inspiration and ideas for living a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And I hope that each time you listen, you feel a little bit more free to live your life exactly the way you want to live it.
Hello, hello. Welcome back to the show. You’re listening to Episode 125 of Live Free Creative Podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And today we’re going to be doing a 2020 Year in Review.
I’m really excited about the New Year. I always love the New Year. Any time, any year. I always feel like every year is going to be better than the last. And 2020 has been a wild one.
It was an unexpected year in a lot of ways. A lot of people are looking forward to just putting it behind them and moving on, hopefully into something better, something more precedented, if you will. And I think it’s important that we all take a little bit of time to pause and reflect and look back because, no matter how we want to think that it was all bad, I really believe that if you take a minute and dive back into the experiences and lessons and memories that you created in the year 2020, that you will find some good ones.
We will all emerge more changed from this year than from any other year, because it was so unexpected and so difficult.
How much more important to take a little bit of time and think and reflect on the lessons that we’ve learned and how we’re going to use those as we move forward in our lives, then just to forget it all and jump forward.
I am excited to partner with Microsoft 365 to bring you this final podcast episode of the year.
We all know and love Microsoft for all of its useful programs that most of us probably use in our daily life. Word. PowerPoint. My husband Dave is a complete whiz using Excel spreadsheets.
You might not yet be familiar with a new set of tools that bring ease and efficiency to your regular routine. The Microsoft 365 toolkit includes features like a real-time Editor that doesn’t only fix spelling, which I rely on heavily, but it also gives suggestions for improved grammar, clarity, and conciseness when you’re writing, whether emails, essays, or chapters in a new manuscript.
The toolkit also includes beautifully designed templates for print and online use shared to-do lists and calendar items for easy coordination between family members and teams. And automatic backup to the cloud storage, so you never lose anything that you’ve been working on.
I’m already revamping some of my workshops and online webinars using these new improved PowerPoint features. I really love how Microsoft has made it so easy to make magic online.
Visit the link in the show notes, to learn more about how Microsoft 365 can create ease in your life this upcoming year.
You can always find the show notes at livefreecreative.co/podcast. Look for the episode number. This is episode 125. All of the important links from the episode will be right there. Ready for you to dive into.
Before I dive into the year in review, I’m excited to share a segment for this week’s episode, and I decided as a wrap-up for the year. Rather than doing peaks of the week. I’m going to give you peaks of the year! These are a few of my very favorite things that I discovered or started using fully in 2020 that I highly recommend.
Peaks of the Year
I’m just looking at my list and laughing a little bit because some of these are pretty random, but my friends, looking back, I’m sure that you have some very favorite things from 2020 as well.
So the first thing I want to mention is:
- Perk Energy Chai (use code LIVEFREE15 for 15% off!)
I’ve talked about this on the show before, and it just became one of the superstars of my morning rituals and morning routines. I love it. It’s low calorie, high protein, high collagen, has a bunch of vitamins. I drink it every single morning in my favorite little Yeti mug that was given to me just a little over a year ago and I travel with it now. I use it every single morning. I absolutely love it. I have a discount code for Perk that you can use any time. I will link that the code, the mug, and my very favorite flavor, the Chai Energy in the show notes.
My number two peak of the year is walking.
Yes, actually just going on walks. I know I’ve mentioned this before on the show, but I had so much more in-between time this year. I rediscovered how wonderful it is to just get out and walk around the neighborhood in all different weather.
Especially when I needed to sort of wind down, process emotions, have a break and some time and space for myself. Popping in my AirPods with a podcast or an audio book and going on a one, two, maybe even three hour walk was one of the ways that I really sort of reconnected with myself this year and I love it.
So walking was one of my favorite ways to pass the time in 2020.
- Menstrual Cup
You guys, if you haven’t yet tried a menstrual cup. I know it seems a little bit off subject. But here we are. Most of the people listening are women. Most of the women listening probably menstruate.
I had heard about them and heard about them and thought, okay, I get it. They are better for the environment. They’re probably easier, better for your body.
And then I decided to finally bite the bullet and try one. And I am a complete convert. We’ll do a whole different discussion some other time about it. I just encourage you if you haven’t yet gotten on board for your period products.
I don’t only love the menstrual cup. I also love using period underwear. My favorite ones are Knixwear and so I will link the things that I’ve been using to improve my menstrual cycle in the show notes during the peaks of the year.
- FOCL CBD Chews + Oil (use LIVEFREE15 for 15% off!)
Another thing that I’ve been loving this year is focal CBD oil and gummies.
I talked about them a couple months ago on the show. I’ve continued to use the gummies during the day, just once or twice a day to kind of create some calm and just bring a sense of ease to my overall emotional state. And I use the oil at night and it really does help bring everything down as I get ready for bed and helps me sleep better.
I also have a discount code for FOCL. I will link that in the show notes. And if you have any questions about any of these things at any time, let me know.
Okay. Okay. If you haven’t yet gotten onboard listening to Brooke White monthly Spotify playlists. These were the soundtrack of 2020. I love Brooke’s style of music. If you’re unfamiliar with Brooke White, she’s incredible. She’s a folk singer. She just released a country album in March this year. Or maybe it was in the fall of last year. Either way, it was my highest listened to album on Spotify. It’s called Calico. It’s fantastic.
Not only is Brooke great at making music, she’s fantastic at curating music. And she puts together a Spotify playlist every month. And they are free. You just find her on Spotify and find her latest playlist.
And they‘re so good. And it’s been the way that I just gauged my music. I’m learning new music as I listened to them. They‘re just really on point.
I think we vibe a lot in music tastes. There is a little bit of upbeat music, a little bit of focusing music, a lot of old classics. I absolutely love it. And I told her a couple of weeks ago that her playlist helped me make it through the year because I always had something wonderful to listen to. So I really appreciate those.
And if you haven’t looked them up, and you use Spotify, they’re really fun and really great. I actually just started listening to the January 2021 playlist. And they’re already some of my favorite songs.
My next one makes me sound like such a nerd, but it is one of my favorite household organizational products right now: sock monsters.
If you haven’t heard of these, you need to know. You can put your socks, a pair of socks, into this one little tiny plastic circle, and it has little teeth. That’s why I call it a sock monster. You put the pair in there and you can wash and dry it. Hooked together and they stay together.
I got some nice socks, Stance ankle socks, for Christmas last year. And I did not want to lose them.
If you’re anything like us your house, you probably lose one of a pair of socks every week or so. I just wanted to hang on to these really nice socks the whole year. So I bought sock monsters. I started only washing my Stance socks in the sock monster.
In fact, as soon as I take them off at night, I stuffed them in a sock monster, toss them in the laundry. And then when they come out of the dryer, I just put the socks, still in the sock monster, back into my sock drawer so that I have them all together all the time. I’ve not lost a single sock of the six pairs of Stance socks that I got last year. And I love the sock monsters.
They just have made my life so much easier. And especially if you have pairs of socks that you really like, and you want to keep together. For my boys, I don’t use them because they just have lots and lots of all the same socks. So it doesn’t even matter if they match up in pairs because they’re just like a big pile of black athletic socks. But for my socks and for Plum’s socks and for Dave’s nice athletic socks, we really like keeping them together.
And honestly, I have not lost a single one of my own socks this entire year, so I will link those in the show notes. I think they’re revolutionary for basic household organization. I should have numbered these. I have no idea what number I’m on. I just have a couple more.
- My Garden
The next peak of the year for me was my garden.
And you’ll hear me talk about it a little bit more in the year in review. I started planting my garden. I planted seeds in January of 2020, and then I was able to enjoy the process of gardening: planting them, harvesting vegetables, watching flowers grow through the entire year. I finally pulled out the last of my vegetables the end of October.
It was almost an entire year’s worth of joy from planting seeds in January. And it was one of the highlights of my year for sure. One of my favorite things.
Okay, another interesting one. If you have not used a shower brush, I have the best one for you. I’ll find it online. I actually bought mine in a store in Germany. I think it’s a Swedish brand. I’ll look it up and make sure that I have a link for you. It’s natural, bristled, wooden-handled shower brush that looks kind of like an old fashioned, scrub-a-dub-dub. What comes to mind when you think of that phrase…this is what I use in the shower now to wash my body, to wash my back.
I put some squirty soap on it, bath soap, and it suds up. I get squeaky clean. It exfoliates as it goes. The company that makes them a super sustainable. And I guess, you know you’re 37 years old when you absolutely fall in love with the shower brush and want to recommend it to all of your friends.
I have to mention Marco Polo, which saved some of my social life this year. I love the Marco Polo app as a video way to stay in contact with my friends. I love that it’s free. So it’s really easy to invite your friends to join and to keep up with people. People send me messages and I can get back to them when I have a minute. It’s not the same as FaceTiming or a phone call.
It’s a really fun way to stay connected. And I really, really loved it this year as. So many of my friends were so far away.
- Quikk Contour Palette (use code LIVEFREE20 for 20% off!)
The last thing on my peaks of the year, it lists is something that I just started using a couple months ago. I’ve talked before in my basic, super-minimal makeup routine about the eyeshadow palette that I use. It’s kind of like a paint by number it’s called Flekk.
They just came out the end of 2020 with a contouring pallet. And when I say contouring, I kind of cringe because I have always felt like, no, there’s no way I’m going to add that much makeup to my routine, or know how to do all the right lines.
The Quikk pallet by Flekk is basically a bronzer and a little bit of brush and a highlighter on one pallet. It has the same paint by number system. And so you add a little bit of bronzer where it shows you on the lower part of your cheek. And then you add the blush color to the balls of your cheek. And then you add a little line of highlighter along your cheekbone.
And it’s just made my whole makeup routine feel a tiny bit more elevated and I feel a little bit more put together without adding a whole bunch of complication. I love Flekk anyway. And so this Quikk pallet has been a really simple thing to add.
I’ll link it along with my, I always have a 20% discount code for anything from the Flekk company, and that will be in the show notes as well.
So from a hot energy drink to add to your morning ritual, to sock monsters, to walking, to some CBD oil for your sleep, and a menstrual cup for your period. I have got you covered with my peaks of the year list.
They will all be linked and outlined a little bit further in the show notes. I hope that you find something that feels like it would be a good fit for you. If you want to add to your routine. Those, my friends, were the peaks of the year for 2020.
2020 Year In Review
So a couple of years ago, I did a year in review where I went month by month and just shared a little bit about what had happened and what I remembered. And then some thoughts at the end of the episode. And that’s what I decided to do today for my year end review.
When I think back, I don’t know how you feel about this right now. If you think about 2020, just looking back on the year, what comes to mind?
For me, I remember January, February, March, it feels like a big black hole. What I think of in my mind is like the entire time we’ve been in quarantine is from March until now. But the truth is that’s not exactly what happened.
As I went back through my calendar, through my Instagram account, through my golden coil planner and looked at my schedule, looked at my appointments at my thoughts. I keep a gratitude journal. So I was able to look back at some of my notes. I realized that every single month of this year had something of value to offer. There was something beautiful, something tender, something memorable, something sweet, something joyful, something unexpected.
And yes, were there hard things and sad things and difficult things and frustrating things? Absolutely.
And I recognize that that probably is not different from all of the other years, that sad and hard and frustrating and unexpected things have happened in my life.
Now, 2020 is unique in that as a whole, a global whole, humanity has had to undergo some really difficult times. The global pandemic that has been something, universally, we are trying to figure out and, and hoping for some resolution in this upcoming gear,.
The social justice crisis that came to the forefront in the summer of 2020. That was incredibly eyeopening and engaging and so necessary to bring to the forefront some of these ideas and injustices and new learning, new ways to think, and hopefully, the beginning of some dismantling of some of the systems that uphold and maintain racism and racist practices as the status quo.
And here in America, a really divisive and polarizing election that continues to be polarizing, even as we move into the new year and the changing and transitioning of administrations.
These are all just such big umbrella issues that felt like, wow, they were so overarching for the whole year and affected us all individually in really unique ways.
Those are the headlines. Those are the big things that we look back on.
And I want to ask you to just take a little bit of a micro approach and dive deep into your own life. Think about your own experience each month of this year.
We so often sweep under the rug some of the experiences and connections that we have because they don’t feel big or impactful enough. And at the end of the day, at the end of the year, those moments are what really made our lives happy and happen.
It’s the individual relationships that we created, the memories that we made, the pivots and the opportunities that we either took advantage of or said no to and we’re able to sort of slow down and move ourselves out of what had been a endless pursuit of more, or of better, or of bigger, or of faster.
I think so many of us naturally slowed into the lane of doing what the next right thing felt like. Taking care of our families and our circles of influence and supporting those around us as we could. Trying to take care of ourselves, knowing that all of that was okay.
As I go through month by month and share a little bit about what my life looked like, I want to encourage you to do this practice for yourself. Take some time today or tomorrow, or any time in these next couple of weeks to really–before you jump too far into what comes next–to think about and reflect on what happened and how you’re different because of it.
In January of 2020, I launched my first session of Live Free From Clutter, my online intentional living course. This was the first time I had ever launched a digital course, an e-course. It was the first one I had ever created and I just sort of crossed my fingers and sent it out in the world. Not knowing that 2020 would be the year of digital online learning.
The first course went really well and it was really well received and also prepared me for being able to host more versions and more sessions of Live Free From Clutter throughout the year.
In January, I also planted seeds for my winter sown garden. I planted about a dozen different varieties of flowers and vegetables and put them on the back porch.
There’s dozens and dozens of articles on the internet and videos about how to do this, if you’re interested in winter sowing. And then I just waited. So I got those seeds in the ground.
The other really fun thing that happened in January was that I spent three days in Salt Lake City, Utah, interviewing my 102 year old grandfather, Grandpa Joe, about his life.
It was a really special couple of days. And as I moved forward through the year and my ability to see Grandpa Joe and to spend that type of time with him was eliminated and compromised because of the virus, I am even more grateful now that I acted on the urge that I had to spend some time with him and interview him while I still was able to.
In February I turned 37. I visited Portland, Oregon, with Plum. I took her to meet our niece Zebi and stayed with my brother and sister-in-law for a couple of days. It was so fun.
I also spent February preparing to launch a series of in-person retreats for 2020. This has been years in the making. I was so excited to have all of my retreats lined up. The website up.
It sounds so fun to talk about it now that I had everything all in line to launch a series of in-person retreats for the year 2020.
Well, let’s move into March and see what happened next.
Of course, in March I attended Alt Summit in Palm Springs, which was probably my 10th time attending. I was in a group with about 3000 women in the middle of the desert. It was so incredible.
And then I came home and the next week COVID shut everything down. You were all here. You know what happened.
That was the same week that I launched all of my in-person retreats for the year. So I talked about them and then I canceled them all within about same two week period.
Dave had given me a trip to Florida for my birthday, which we promptly canceled.
I was in talks with a producer about a TV show, which then we promptly tabled for the year, or at least for a few months until we knew what was happening with COVID.
The beautiful thing that happened at the end of March was that I started to see the sprouts from those seeds that I planted in January start to grow in their little vessels on the back porch table. The garden had begun.
In April, I was supposed to attend a conference in North Carolina and be the keynote speaker and that was canceled. So instead I stayed in bed.
Really, honestly, most of the month of April, I spent in my bed trying to help my kids a little bit with distance learning, but mostly reading books and watching TV and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.
I did get a little bit of motivation because of those sprouts in the garden to get out and help Dave build the garden beds for the backyard.
And I also had the idea that, because I now knew how to produce an online course and I wouldn’t be able to tour to do my in-person craft workshops, that maybe I could convert that full Indigo Dyeing Workshop into an online experience. And once I had that idea, I went for it. I spent a full week in April turning my small studio office into a production studio.
I filmed eight videos, which have become my online Indigo and Shibori dyeing workshop, and started to edit those so that I could send them off into the world for everyone who was staying at home, as we were, to learn how to do a creative art project.
In May, Dave turned 40.
I gave up distance learning.
I had a hard time sleeping and I also had a hard time getting out of bed.
This is one thing that I think is so interesting. Looking back. I remember in my head and on paper, I have record of just full weeks in here that I didn’t know what to do with my time. I didn’t know how to replace all of the plans that I had made, and so I spent a lot of time in my bed.
At one point I remember a trend happening on Instagram about doing a pandemic portrait, maybe some of you saw that where families would like have all of their instruments and their hockey gear and all the stuff that they were doing while they were at home. They’d organize it into a family portrait and take it.
And I had someone say, Hey, you should do this. And I thought, if I did, it would just be me and my pajamas in bed because that’s about where I was at. And it’s a really interesting juxtaposition. Because I think about having a hard time sleeping, but also not wanting to get out of bed, probably experiencing a mild run in with depression, which is not something that I’ve experienced a lot in the past. So it’s not something that would be easily recognizable to me.
But also feeling like, gosh, I don’t really know what to do or how to do it right now.
I am often motivated by having a very specific project to work on. And so in May I ordered all of the supplies to hook up the garden watering system. And as soon as that came, then I had something tangible to do with my hands and I was able to get myself out of bed and go start working on something.
I gave myself something to look forward to and spending some time working on the garden in the backyard was definitely that thing.
I also, probably during a hormonal week in May, agreed to buy three new baby chickens for the kids. And so from one day to the next, I found a chick vendor at a nearby farm, and we drove out there and went to pick them up. 16 hours after the idea hit, we had a set of new baby chicks in the brooder, in our living room, and we absolutely love them. So I’m so glad that we had that little impulse pandemic purchase of new chickens.
In June as the social justice movement and protests were happening all over the country, I took the kids and marched in a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Richmond to share our support. And we also started reading some books and taking some courses and signed up for a newsletter and began to introduce anti-racism education into the conversation at our home more aggressively and poignantly than we had in the past before.
We had actively talked about privilege and about differences and about diversity and inclusion and skin colors and skin tones in the past before. This year gave us really an open door to make anti-racism something that we talk about regularly at home, that we read about, that we share about. And we try to be actively anti-racist in our lives by supporting people of color, by actively seeking out businesses owned by people of color, by making sure that we’re normalizing diversity in our literature and in the media we consume.
June was a real turning point in that type of education for us.
I also was so tired of my kids by June, that I unplugged for three straight days. I told them, do whatever you want as long as you’re safe. I put my headphones in. I listened to an audio book and I honestly spent 10 hours a day for three days straight building an addition on my shed.
Dave was home from work, recovering from a minor surgery, so the kids were safe inside or outside playing with him.
I remember them kind of bouncing around the backyard in the front yard and being inside. But I needed to just be alone. And the way that I was able to be alone was by plugging into an audio book and just getting to work.
I had no real idea what I was doing. I’d never framed something structural before. By watching YouTube and using some intuition, I just got it that up there. A part of it as a tiny bit crooked. And it’s totally okay.
That project building the shed addition is what set the ball in motion to actually continue on with the clubhouse renovation that we had been talking about for a couple years. I just needed to take that first big bite out of it. Once I finished that shed addition, it was a lot easier to keep going with the rest of the project.
We were also thrilled the middle of June when the hot tub that I had ordered for Dave’s 40th birthday was finally delivered. I guess, about six or eight weeks after I ordered it. We set it up in the corner of our yard and it was way too hot to hot tub until months later. But we did it anyway. One of my favorite things.
If you remember back at the very beginning of the pandemic, we were all thinking that maybe by the summer or this would all be resolved. So in the very end of June, as the numbers were sort of flattening out and things were feeling a little bit less scary pandemic wise, we decided to fly to Utah to spend a couple of weeks with our family.
We felt safe flying with all of the precautions and the masks and everything. We were able to spend a whole week in Montana at my sister’s cabin and let my kids run around with their cousins. We spent a lot of time outside hiking and visiting Yellowstone National Park.
We spent some time visiting Dave’s family. We had some social distance outdoor dinners with them. It felt like things were improving pandemic wise and was really a huge blessing to spend that time with everyone.
Then in July, my book More Than Enough celebrated its first birthday.
I found a new couch on Craigslist in Washington, DC. It was exactly what I wanted for our living room. And the inside of our living room felt totally complete at that point.
The garden started to grow massively. The couple of weeks that we were in Utah just was like a blink of an eye. And everything went from being little, tiny, beautiful, small plants, to starting to grow up over the trellises and start producing cucumbers, which is wild.
I also decided in the end of July, that regardless of what our school system decided, that we were going to homeschool for this upcoming year. That was not an easy decision. I cried for a few days. I felt like I was relinquishing my freedom. I’ve always loved sending my kids to school. They’ve always loved going to school. And yet I did not want to manage distance learning. And I also wanted to just plan on something that wasn’t determined by someone outside of myself making decisions.
So we decided to homeschool and that same week I did an online therapy appointment to just sort of help me emotionally and mentally get through this idea of not just losing all of my freedom and all of my time as a mom.
This year had kind of felt like my golden year, where all my kids, after ten years of being a mom, that all my kids were in school and I had these hours every school day to work and to take care of myself in ways that you kind of imagine when your kids are young and that is not the way that the year turned out.
Although I can say looking back over this last semester, that I’m really grateful for the experience that homeschooling has been.
In July, we also discovered how fun it is to swim in the James River. All of our public pools in Richmond were closed. We don’t have a swimming pool in our own backyard. The hot tub was much too hot, even when it was turned off to really swim in well. And so we became river folk in the very best way. We would pack a lunch. We brought our floaties, we would go down and hang out and sometimes we’d bring music or other people were playing music.
We really were able to enjoy the benefit of living so close to the beautiful James River in Richmond and had an incredible time making memories, spending our afternoons floating in the current.
In August, we started to really harvest from the garden. I probably got five or six cucumbers every couple days. The tomatoes started to redden, my pepper plants started to flourish, I had flowers growing in all of the different beds.
There are a few things that did not go so well. The watermelon didn’t really grow. The cantaloupe didn’t really grow. My big tomatoes grew a lot of leaves, but no fruit. The little tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes did okay.
I also started to prep for homeschool and this was a really fun process. I’m sure you’ve heard the episode. I’ll link it in the show notes where I talk all about my homeschooling resources.
I decided to not use one curriculum, but just gathered together different projects and different resources from different sources and put them together into a unique curriculum that has been really fun, really different, and felt super experiential for us. That’s been very fun and that’s what I spent most of August doing.
We also resumed our tradition of doing weekly hikes as a family, which is something that we had done in the past. And during quarantine felt like a good time to do that again. So we spent Sunday afternoons going on a hike, and it’s been really fun to discover lots of different fun family friendly hikes in our area.
I also surprised my older sister for her 40th birthday with a girls trip to California, just a short weekend. I got tested for COVID before I flew, we all quarantined together in the hotel room and spent most of our time outside of the pool. It was a really nice way to spend a little bit of mom time together with my sisters and my mom, and also eased the pain of the wound for my older sister. We all had canceled the 40th birthday trip that we’d been planning on for a couple of years, which was to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in September. Dave and I had planned on that trip as well as my sister and her husband. And of course, that all got canceled.
So spending a couple of days together at the beach was a tiny bit of a consolation substitute for this incredible trip that we had planned on for so long.
I know so many of you relate to so many different types of canceled plans in 2020, and I hope that you found ways, like we have, to do something else that kind of feels fun. That feels special. That feels accessible even though a lot of our international travel plans were not possible this year.
In September, we began homeschool. Daily one-on-one time with my kids that is grueling and also is wonderful. I have taken a really flexible approach with it. And so, you know, probably once a week we end early or we just cancel it for the day and go out on a hike or go to a museum instead.
The flexibility of homeschool is one of the things that has been a real saving grace for me, as far as handling the kids’ academics this year. And I am grateful to have the reinforced messages that I find online that our kids are not going to end up behind whether they’re homeschooling or distance learning or back in school with masks on whatever the situation is for the kids.
Everyone is experiencing something unique this year and they’re not going to be behind. We don’t have to measure their success by academic milestones only. They’re learning and developing in so many different ways this year. And that has really felt wonderful to embrace all of the different types and styles of experiential learning that can happen beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic.
In September, we also started to really dig back into the clubhouse. We had the inside sheetrocked and I put down flooring and I did trim and we put up wallpaper and the kids chose art. And we finally got the mini-fridge that they’ve been talking about for three years and installed that into the clubhouse.
The entire thing was totally finished by the end of September. And my kids have spent so much time in it. It has really been great to have a little bit of an extra space. When we chose a 1400 square foot house as a family of five with a dog, we did not necessarily plan on all being home together all the time.
So it’s been really nice to have a little bit of an outpost for the kids in the club house.
In October, Dave and I celebrated 14 years of marriage with a little staycation up in Annapolis, Maryland.
We were able to go on a lot of fall adventures with the kids. We hiked in Shenandoah national park and collected a rainbow of leaves. We went Apple picking twice at our favorite Carter Mountain orchard.
I didn’t have the energy this year to sew an entire family’s worth of Halloween costumes. So we decided on the theme of being Annie, the cast of the musical Annie. And I did make Plum an Annie costume that just fit the bill so nicely. We collected the rest of our costumes secondhand or from things that we already had in our own closets and had a lot of fun dressing up as the cast of Annie for Halloween.
My kids did not trick or treat this year, but we coordinated with a couple of neighbors and had an outdoor block party sort of thing. Each of the houses had a socially distant activity. One was like bean bag toss at our house. We had donuts hanging from the tree in the front yard for people to eat without their hands.
I’m curious if you’ve heard of that. That’s something that we think of as a classic Halloween game and none of our neighbors had heard of it. So they thought it was so hilarious to watch the kids line up at the tree and try to eat these donuts off of the string without their hands. I timed them. So they were little races. It was super fun.
I actually finished this year’s Halloween feeling like I preferred it the way that we did it this year with a little bit lower expectations for a wild goose chase throughout the neighborhood, and a little bit more intentional way of spending time together with some of our neighbors and people that we love nearby.
In November all of my dreams and wishes came true as I was able to successfully gather together with a dozen women from across the country and Canada for the one and only in-person retreat of the three that I had planned for 2020. By November, I was able to, with safety precautions and COVID testing, gather a dozen women together for Live Free Creative Camp in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, there were a lot of logistics to make that happen.
It was so wonderful and exceeded my expectations on so many levels. Not only were we all starved for connection and that in-person gathering that is so powerful and that happens at in-person events. It also was a time and a space for everyone who attended to dive into work that they had probably set aside for most of the year. Things that they wanted to get to, to work on, to think about, to focus on, that had been pushed down the list as their kids and their family and working from home and all of the different adjustments that we’ve made this year came into play.
Gathering for Live Free Creative Camp was transformative and powerful. And I was so grateful to be able to host that. And I’m already looking forward to that two different Live Free Creative Camps that I have planned for 2021.
I came home and felt like I was walking on clouds as I came home from that retreat from being able to facilitate such an incredible event for these creative entrepreneurial women who deserve to have time and space for their ideas to come to life. And that’s what I hope with all of my future Live Free Creative Camps as well.
I came home and we decided to postpone our holiday trip as the COVID numbers started to go up again. We said, let’s stay home for Thanksgiving and plan on traveling maybe for a shorter trip for Christmas. We had a new chicken coop built in our backyard.
I thought about DIYing it for many months and finally found a guy on Facebook Marketplace in my area who would come and just put the whole thing together to the specifications that I gave him. It was incredible to watch his trailer pull up and within 45 minutes have an entirely new, bigger, more perfect chicken coop built, completed in the yard. We have six chickens right now and they all appreciate having a little bit more space.
We abandoned our tradition of a non traditional Thanksgiving and actually decided to have a traditional Thanksgiving this year.
I know that sounds a little backwards. Plum really wanted a big fat turkey. And so while I had never made a Turkey before, I found one. The kids took turns helping me in the kitchen. They each chose a dish to be the helper on. We dressed formally and sat down around a candle lit meal. Of course, it went a lot quicker than you expect, especially with young kids. The actual eating of the Thanksgiving dinner took about a 10th of the time of the preparing it.
The whole day though felt slow and deliberate and wonderful.
Despite the challenges of this year and all of the things that we’ve given up and the cancellations and the loneliness and some of the grief and trying to figure out what our continued purposes as we move forward in sort of this unknown world, it was really nice to have a chance to really focus in on what we’re grateful for and the abundance that exists in our everyday life.
And that gets us to December.
December we spent the first couple of weeks of the month doing some really fun activities via Zoom that my mom had prepared me.
We built gingerbread houses and shared them with cousins online. We worked on a really fun Christmas puzzle and I realized how impatient I am when it comes to puzzles. That’s actually probably a good way for me to practice my patience. I kind of feel like you should sit down and just do the whole thing, start to finish. And the more pieces of puzzle has the less likely that is to actually be the way that you do it. So it’s kind of nice to leave it out for a few days and give yourself a chance to work slowly on the process.
And we decided to finish the year with a road trip out to see our families in Utah. For the Christmas holiday, we had originally planned to spend about six weeks with family over Thanksgiving and Christmas. We postponed that trip to only be a two week trip for the end of the year. And exercised all of the safety precautions as we could traveling across the country, masking and road tripping.
We were able to bring the dog with us, which is always a bonus when we road trip. And feel super grateful to be able to safely visit our families as the year closes out.
Looking Back Over The Year
So when I take a look back over the year, it wasn’t just January, February, March, big black hole. There were bright spots all along the way. There were challenges all along the way.
I don’t get that unless I go back and look at what actually happened, unless I go back and reflect on the year as a whole. I think it’s a great practice to go back month by month and take a look at your life.
What was different than you expected? What was the same?
What was difficult? What was better?
I’ve heard from so many people, even those experiencing difficulties this year, that there were some changes that were unexpected, that actually improved their lives in ways that they would never have believed before. So many people whose schedules were wiped clean, and they’re able to slowly and deliberately only replace what feels fulfilling, what feels inviting, what feels joyful.
I like to ask myself what were some of the really big wins for this year. And big wins don’t have to be big things that other people would recognize as big. Maybe a big win is having enough time to teach one of your kids to tie their shoes. Maybe a big win is finally being able to get on a regular evening routine because all of your evening activities were canceled.
What are some of the things that were big wins for you this year in 2020? Write those down. Take note of them. Don’t let the year pass you by without celebrating some of your successes.
I think it’s also nice to look back and consider what are some of the lessons that I learned and how will I use those things as I move forward into a new year.
There are a couple of big lessons that I learned.
One is that I need people. And I recognized halfway through the pandemic that all of my really tight support system don’t live nearby me. I have some great friends in Richmond and I haven’t put in the investment of time and the effort to create a really solid support system of friends that feel like family, those who I can call to at the drop of a hat or who call me to check in with me regularly.
I was lonelier in 2020 than I ever remember being. I think because I am so used to being able to travel, to see all of the people who love me and who check up on me regularly. And it was a glaring realization part way through the year that while I love my home, my block, my neighborhood, and my friends where I live, I have a little bit of work to do to develop a more robust support system for times like this when all of my usual ways of feeling connected are unavailable.
Luckily, I really like making friends and I have an entire episode about how to make friends as an adult and another episode about how to cultivate those friendships once you have them. So I’m going to take some advice from my own podcast episodes to work on building up my own support system in Richmond in this upcoming year.
So what went well? What can you learn from? How do you want to take some of the lessons from 2020 into the rest of your life?
Those are a couple of questions that I want to leave with you and invite you to actually pull out a piece of paper and do a little journaling, a little reflection, and write those down as we close out the year 2020.
I just want to finish this episode by sharing a couple of my own journal entries from this year. Sometimes I feel like hearing someone’s unfiltered thoughts can be really helpful because it feels so relatable. And so I thought that I’d share a couple of my own journal entries from 2020 that jumped out at me as I was looking back through them.
I do a weekly journal page in my Golden Coil planner, So this is from the week of March 9th, 2020:
“I finished the websites for all three upcoming retreats. Tickets are live for May, July and November. Oh, wow. How life is funny and changes so unexpectedly. After staying up all night to list and promote my retreats, the coronavirus pandemic has essentially shut down the whole planet. On Thursday we learned that school would be canceled for two to four weeks, which means my whole work schedule is altered. Luckily, the weather is beautiful. I have been able to hang out in my garden with my new garden boxes. Dave gets to spend more time at home. We stocked up on food at Costco and Trader Joe’s, So I have plenty of food options. The kids are getting to spend lots of time playing with the neighbor kids. All in all, I think we’re going to emerge from this time more thoughtful .”
Here’s one from the week of July 20th, 2020.
“Yesterday after we ate our huge 28-inch Benny Venatos pizza and watched a family movie, it started to pour rain outside. One of those rains where it feels like the heavens are a faucet that God turned on to full blast. Pounding bloated drops of rain. The kids squealed and stripped into their makeshift swimsuits, tossing t-shirts on the floor as they ran to slide down the water slide and jump on the saturated trampoline, sliding and bouncing and lovely. I videoed them from the comfort of beneath an umbrella. And then I changed myself to join them. I sat and soaked in the bubbling hot tub while they shrieked and slid. The bistro lights were like stars through the falling water and the fat cucumber leaves were slick with rain. It was magic.”
And the last one from the week of August 10th, 2020.
“As the months go by and time starts to bend back into a more predictable rhythm. I find myself feeling grounded and settled, motivated to progress, but disconnected from a specific timeline. I don’t feel in a hurry for anything. I’ve begun to accept for now how much lies beyond my control and how it can be totally okay for me to not want to do anything right now. Sitting to rest and pausing to reflect and reevaluate what I am focused on is okay. I can take a break and just relax. I can create space for myself in my own life. I am tired of the hustle. I am worthy and valuable just as I am. I can pursue things just for fun or not at all. Planning, dreaming, reading, writing, baking, eating, walking, waiting. These are all acceptable ways to spend time.”
I hope that this episode has given you some ideas on how to look back and reflect on your own year. 2020. It will definitely be one to remember. And you get to choose what about it you’d like to remember. It can be simply all of the headlines and all of the tragedy, or it can be some specific, unique, personal developments. Some family wins, some connections, some togetherness, some joy, some acceptance, some peace, and some presence that you were able to find.
I really value and appreciate you spending some of your time and attention with me every week. As you listen to the live free creative podcast. I hope that my episodes continue to uplift and inspire you as we head into a new year.
I really do believe that things can continue to get better and better as we learn to recognize the goodness that surrounds us.
Live Free From Clutter
I want to just quickly mention that the doors for Live Free From Clutter, my intentional living course, where I teach you all that I can about recognizing abundance in your life, pausing to think as you add things to your household, as well as to your schedule, learning to manage your energy, as well as your time, decluttering and focusing on physical belongings, as well as mental clutter. These are all things that we work on in Live Free From Clutter.
It is a program for your mindset, as well as your heart and your home. The doors are open now, and we begin on January 11th. It’s a great way to begin the new year.
It’s a thoughtful program with a manageable pace. So even if you have kids at home like me in your home schooling with just a couple hours a week of focus and listening as you go on a walk or as you’re driving in the car, you can get everything out of this course, work on your homework book at home, and really start the year with a perspective of abundance, gratitude, and a clear perspective of what your own personal values are and how to align your choices more fully with those.
You can find the link in the show notes or visit livefreecreative.co/clutter to register. I cannot wait to have you in the course and to learn alongside you. Thank you again so much for being here. I’ll chat with you next time in 2021.
See you later, friends. Happy new year.