WHAT DOES 2020 WANT FROM US?
In like a lion, out like...two lions? Three? A whole pack maybe?
I started this year with the decision that I was going to cut corn out of my diet, and that it would be all the earth-shattering change I’d need to go from wherever I was to wherever I was headed. Corn gives me headaches, makes me feel really achy, and I figured this would suffice as far as evolving for the year goes.
I ended January with the start of a 40 Days to Personal Revolution program at my yoga studio. I realized the night before the program began that I was hiding behind my sister, the one who I started The Locket Sisters with. I was using our partnership as a shield so I wouldn’t have to step outside of my comfort zone in ways I kinda knew I needed to start expanding, but was unsure what it would carry along with it.
February was constant yoga, meditation, reflection. It was amazing! I love this kind of personal work that suggests habits can keep our feet on the ground, our visions looking ahead and ready. Plus, it’s luxurious to have the space and time to focus on your own wellness. These windows don’t pop up often, but my husband was on board and it fit with work so I did it. I had no idea what I was doing there, why I felt compelled to sign up, but I remember writing down at one point a little note that said “stop explaining yourself.”
We entered March not knowing that we’d end it upside down. A pandemic swept the world. Amy left The Locket Sisters. Fear consumed humanity so deeply that we couldn’t even make eye contact at the grocery store for fear of getting COVID. Or maybe it was shame that we weren’t doing a grocery delivery service? At any rate, the entirety of how I exist in the world, with wide open arms and an open door and hugs and high fives and community and so many people was done. For how long, we didn’t know, but I needed to find a new way to exist.
April was long. And in MN it’s also chilly and grey but also sunny and flowery. I wasn’t sure how we’d get to May, but the road ended up being paved with more locket orders that I could have ever imagined. What a gift! It was such a gift that I was even overwhelmed with too much work, and that felt like a double gift! Or better yet, a problem I was excited to have, especially considering the other problems being dealt in the world were loss of life, loss of loved ones, loss of work, loss of community, loss of connection. Loss loss loss loss loss. So much of it. The sunny/grey dichotomy felt strong. I felt myself rising through something artificial while also sinking mentally.
May sucked. But also didn’t. But did. I had a lovely 37th birthday on May 1st. I made more lockets in May than I had in the whole month. How lovely! But I also caught wind that kids might not go back to school the following year, and this tanked me. How were we to continue shouldering this pandemic in what felt like two full time jobs? Multi-tasking is a great way to tank mentally, to spiral, to sink. No one can successfully mult-task, so the feeling of being an absent-go-away-I’m-working parent while also always feeling like I wasn’t doing enough at work was overwhelming my ability to function. The usual stops to the spiral - date, night, babysitter, a day off, sending the kids to my parents, sending my husband and kids away on a day trip, grabbing a coffee with a friend - these weren’t accessible.
Then George Floyd was murdered a few blocks from my home. He’s a real man, with a real job, and a real family. Not just a name. I found out from my neighbor who came over early that Tuesday morning and said to a group of us having a morning coffee on the front stoop, “Did you hear about the guy who was killed by cops last night by Cup Foods?” She was crying. She told us about the video.
I went inside and looked it up, didn’t watch the video. I can’t, and frankly: I won’t. By the following day I’d wake up to the smell of what I thought was burning plastic but really was tear gas. Sounds of sirens and helicopters littered the air. By the following night my Target would burn, then my grocery store, then my police precinct. It was nutty. And yet, I felt deeply that the discomfort we felt from the unrest was part of the shifting forward we needed. The month of May ended with the full-on upheaval of Minneapolis. And there was still a pandemic going on.
And to think I thought eliminating corn from my diet would suffice.
June was an exhausted, tired, shifting, recovery, shattering month. Whatever ground we stood on before George Floyd was killed by a government employee was gone. New ground existed now. At least for those of us who surrendered to it. I had more conversations about race and racism and white supremacy and how this entire country was built on the abuse of Black folks. My books shifted, my ability to take care of how people interpret me changed, I was a different human being.
I remember feeling so much anger toward passivity, and realizing also that the way forward wasn’t binary, that somewhere in there was a third approach that was different from isolation and fighting, a new muscle I needed to grow.
July was beautiful. I started and ended the month in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. And both trips, like all things in 2020, pulled the rug out from underneath me that forced a self-cannibalization. Old me transitioned to new me. I didn’t have to be wrecked, and tired, and angry, or sad, or defeated. I could give myself permission to live, to feel joy, while the shifting continued.
I came back this last time acutely aware of what 2020 is asking me to do, what it’s challenging me to do. I realize that I must choose to remain alive, and carry joy-filled experiences for my children, for my own soul, for the people around me. If I’m in creation of joy, what does that give people around me permission to be in creation of? Can I pursue change and evolution of the way we function in America while also holding space for the beauty of Earth and all the animals she nurtures? Can I read books that smash me open and give myself permission to let go of the way I interpreted everything before 2020 hit? Can I challenge my community to never go back to a system that only worked for a few of us? Can I carry my lockets that I love so much through a recession that is sweeping lives and livelihoods?
Am I allowed to expand when so much is also contracting? Do we have permission to experience this both as an individual and as a whole?
2020 is unprecedented.A shift like this is shattering, and yet, it’s also an opportunity to recreate ourselves. The more I surrender to the idea that I just simply don’t have control over anything but how I respond to it, the more I find myself expanding.
And it makes me wonder: Is expanding as individuals, and as a whole, what 2020 is asking us to do?