Whatever we might say and write about 2020 would never be enough to describe what a crazy, scary ‘adventure’ it’s been for the whole world. While I’m aware that there has been so much sadness – loss of life, unemployment and financial losses, travel plans gone awry, I cannot but be grateful for the year and reflect on what 2020 has taught me.
When I chose ‘Metta’ as my word of the year for 2020 I knew I was planning to focus on self-care and to avoid stress. I didn’t realize that I’d be presented with a perfect opportunity to put this into practice with the pandemic!
What 2020 Has Taught Me
How 2019 Prepared Me!
But let me go back a bit into 2019 for a bit. This was the first full year I was running The Frangipani Creative as a business and to say that I was stressed is an understatement! I was trying to make it all work – and being faced with challenge after challenge. Extended power cuts. Selected staff not showing up and subsequently acting up. Trying to design courses and run them. And then making sure that the business was profitable or at least there wasn’t a big loss for the year. The result? Diabetes!
Yes, an infection led me to take a random blood test and my sugars were sky high! The doctor put me on strong medication. First one tablet a day and when it didn’t have the desired effect two tablets! He happily pronounced that I had to take them for life!
That’s when I decided that things had to change. I just had to focus on myself a lot more. Self-care was top priority! I started walking very regularly, eating more sensibly, going for regular massages and most of all not stressing about work! I cut back on my hours in the studio and spent a lot more time at home relaxing!
Then Came Covid-19
I will admit that at the start of the pandemic, there was stress – the fear of the unknown, the fear that we’d all be stranded without food. But then, we settled into (I hate the phrase) the new normal! And there are a few lessons I learned and some old ones I re-learned thanks to this year that was so different from any other.
So What Has 2020 Taught Me?
#1 Give Your Health Top Priority
I learned to redefine my priorities. It wasn’t just about my diabetes diagnosis, but with the pandemic, health became top priority. Everything else could take a back seat.
So it has been social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and minimizing all outings except for necessities and eating healthy, home-cooked food. This discipline is something we’re sticking with way past the lockdown.
And you know what? I’ve not taken a single diabetes pill since the end of February and my sugars are normal!
#2 Be Self-Sufficient
We’ve had no outside help since March. For a brief time, a month ago, we got someone to clean the garden area, but then we’ve reverted to doing that ourselves. And you know what? We’ve survived beautifully. Yes, the house may not be spotless, but we’re safe.
No visits to barbers and hairdressers meant, getting our own haircutting equipment and it was DIY haircuts. The last time Jose cut my hair and I’m suggesting he start a side business! Wondering why I pay good money to a stylist when my curl hair styles itself when it’s short.
#3 Make Do With What You Have
This was especially true during lockdown. We had to make do with whatever ingredients we had already and whatever we managed to secure. Since I am a very ‘creative’ cook this was not too much of a problem. And by creative I mean that almost every dish I make is a once in a lifetime experience since nine times out of ten, I don’t follow a recipe. I don’t think that even the Italians know of all the pasta combinations I during the lockdown!
#4 Fight For What Is Important
We had to stand up and make a noise when certain individuals in our housing complex wanted to get rid of the stray dogs. They were aided and abetted by the Managing Committee of the Owners’ Association. One man went so far as to threaten me with putting my morphed pictures on the internet! That’s when pandemic or not, we went to the Police Station – not the most pleasant of places in ordinary times, and much worse during the lockdown. All these interactions were not pleasant but the upside is that the dogs are safe by and large and there’s a group of us who actively watch over them and feed them regularly.
Incidentally, Indian law provides for the safety of stray dogs and cats and their care-givers, but some people think they’re above the law! This is an ongoing battle, but if we don’t fight it, who will?
#5 Find Ways To Support Others
There was no better time like 2020 to reach out in support to others – whether it was a simple text message asking someone how they are doing, or making a call to someone else, or finding ways to reach out to the many people who lost their livelihood and were literally walking hundreds of kilometers home. I was glad to find resourceful people on the ground who relayed needs and that I was able to meet some of those needs through our own donations and through friends and contacts.
My Mom said something to encourage us to be generous – ‘What you give, you get’. And it’s so true. I gave generously this year, and even though I cut back on work, this was my most profitable year!
#6 Choose Supportive Relationships
I made deliberate choices in my relationships this year. And best of all, I finally disengaged from one very toxic person. I realised that one of the key components of self-care was making sure you don’t allow anyone, family, friends, co-workers to walk all over you.
I don’t have to accept mistreatment from people because we are related. I do not have to stay in unhealthy relationships with people because of our shared history. Healthy relationships are rooted in love, mutual respect, and connection. When I struggle in a relationship I can ask myself: Is this relationship supportive of what I want in my life and my values?Nedra Tawwab, Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself
#7 Remember To Be Silly
This is so important. I’m can very silly. Deliberately so. It lightens my mood and that of others around me. My dogs get my silliness and thankfully, so does my husband. But I also like to be silly all alone! So if it means miming the lyrics of ‘I Will Survive’ (highly recommended) in the bath or pulling faces in the mirror, I’m on. Do you do silly?
And so, despite everything that’s been happening in the world, I bid goodbye to to the year with a heart full of gratitude for all of what 2020 has taught me!