To say that 2020 has been a doozy of a year would be an understatement and I’m guessing you feel the same way. But in the midst of scary unfolding of the pandemic and living in the new normal of social distancing, I was able to find some bright spots.

On Christmas Eve, I gathered with close friends who have truly become family to me, and we went through this year – good and bad.

I lost my beloved dog earlier this year, but now I have two puppies. They will never replace Charlie, but they help to fill the void he left, and I know he lived a great life.

I became an aunt again this year – twice. Welcoming two babies into this world in the midst of this craziness was such a wonderful bright spot.

I started my own business in spite of and in the middle of the pandemic. I never in a million years thought I would be an entrepreneur, but I love it. I didn’t set out to do this, but life took me in this direction, despite many people saying to me over the years that I should do it.

Here are some lessons I learned this year:

  • Routines are a good thing – they provide us with comfort and structure. Many of us had our daily routines turned upside down as a result of the pandemic and had to create new ones.
  • Nature is incredibly beneficial for the mind and body. Getting outside every day is essential.
  • Build in exercise into your routine. Getting a Peloton was the smartest thing I did during the quarantine. I also started to get back into yoga and meditate, both of which have been so good for my sanity.
  • Being happy where you live is crucial. After having to move abruptly into a temporary home that I hated after my ex walked out on me, I wanted to find a permanent home that I loved. Especially as we are all working from home. When I walked into my eventual home, I immediately knew it was the right place.
  • Reading and writing are great outlets for creativity and connectors to others – without this blog, I would have been so isolated during the pandemic!
  • Accept your past without regrets as long as you learn lessons from it. I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes, and while I can’t fix the past, I can certainly learn from my mistakes and become a better person from them.
  • A small circle of friends is often better who know and accept you for you is much better than having a large group of acquaintances who aren’t loyal to you and could stab you in the back. Trust me – I learned this the hard way and welcomed in a few social grifters who used me for access to parties and connections I had and wound up taking much more from me than I ever expected.
  • Less is more. Tell people less about your life, share less on social media – not everyone needs to know what you’re doing. Being private is better and don’t brag.
  • Mean girls are everywhere, often disguised as your friends, but they only get power when you give it to them.
  • It’s okay to block and delete people with whom you’ve grown out of touch or who don’t treat you well. I did a major purge not only on social media but in real life, and it was exactly what I needed to get back to my core friendships.
  • Make time for your loved ones, especially elderly folks. Now is the time to cultivate those relationships while you can.
  • Take a lot of photos of people and places you care about – you’ll want these down the line.
  • Stay informed with the news and social media, but not totally absorbed. This dysfunctional election cycle was just too much for me to handle every day.
  • Being someone who solves problems is more valuable than being the person who finds the problems. If there was any advice I could give to college graduates just starting out in their careers it would be to be a problem solver – that shows initiative and critical thinking.
  • Smartphones can’t replace real connection with loved ones. As an extrovert, I need in-person interactions. Social distancing is not normal for us – and it’s hard.
  • Puppies cure everything. When Charlie passed away, I immediately got another puppy. I knew I couldn’t be without a dog. That’s when Lucy came to live with me. Then life happened and I wound up with two French bulldog puppies. They’re running around my home right now at high speeds chasing each other as I write this post, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. A lot of people say they want a pet and put it off because it’s not the right time – but I challenge you – if not now, then when? Life is never convenient. Do it. (Also, call me for tips on how to train even the most stubborn and rambunctious puppy!)

And perhaps most importantly, I now know that I can handle whatever life throws at me. I will always be okay. I embrace the unknown now because life can change overnight, people can change their minds and shatter your trust. While it may not make sense in the present, things almost always work out for the better. Trust me on this.

Meet Lucy and Scarlett

My life was all planned out – I had what I thought was a great guy on paper (he wasn’t) with whom I lived. Except I ignored red flags, I was miserable and we fought all the time. He wanted me to be someone who I was not and he constantly picked on me and tried to control me. I was settling. I was talking myself into being with him, and I wasn’t in love with him. I didn’t even really like him as a person or agree with many things that he did and our values were so different.

It all thankfully exploded (unfortunately in an ugly way). But if not for that, I would have stayed unhappy with someone who was never right for me. Things really do happen for a reason and every experience – good and bad – helps to shape who you are and leads you to where you are supposed to be if you choose to learn from it.

What did you learn this year? You can reframe everything into a learning experience that can make you a better, wiser person. Stay well and stay safe.