A new year is ripe with fresh possibilities. Clean slates are synonymous with blank canvas beginnings. Turning the page, moving forward, reaching for new heights is often the theme of a new start, and the prospect of being different is rich with anticipation. The opportunity for something new seems to be welcomed this year like no other.
Some years, filled with sorrow and challenge, seem to overstay their welcome. Others, filled with firsts, lasts, and bests, are invited to linger a little longer. Some years are easy to forget, but other years comfort the soul. A lot happens in a year. A lot has happened this year.
We sheltered at home.
We hoarded toilet paper.
We debated about masks.
We celebrated frontline workers.
We moved education into new arenas.
We rallied small businesses.
We prayed for healing.
We buried loved ones.
We mourned from a distance.
We fought for equality.
We hoped for cures.
We learned to pivot.
Though I remember being eager to be done with 2019, I cannot remember why. It is my nature as a perfectionist to anticipate what is wrong and look for ways to make it better, so it makes sense that I was looking ahead instead of remembering the days behind. Who could have known what the days ahead would hold? The year I thought held the promise of abundance started by teaching me how to stop—completely—and embrace the true power of the pivot.
Yes, I could have held my ground about the sense of “normal” I craved. When a few weeks of quarantine turned into a new way of life, there were only two options–>pout or pivot. I tried the first to no avail, so out of necessity, I opted for the pivot.
The power of the pivot is gaining new perspective. I could stare at the obstacle or look for the opportunity. It turns out that the difference between abundance and bankruptcy is perspective.
When we were ordered to stay home, like many of you, I had to do heavy lifting to adjust my work life. I was overwhelmed with the task. I felt bankrupt. However, I also received an unexpected season with my family under one roof. Yes, teaching live classes while my children filled their metal water bottles with one million ice cubes was annoying, but it was also a gift. I had to learn the quick draw mute skill and remember how to laugh it off.
When the WIFI lagged because our house was the unofficial headquarters for Zoom University, my first instinct was to point the finger of blame [self-centered much?] and elevate my needs over everyone else’s. With a tiny pivot, I saw the mighty way my children were navigating a whole new world. I recognized the need to affirm their efforts and stop fussing about the bandwidth. Everyone was navigating a whole new reality. It was not easy, but learning to shut my mouth made it easier.
The inconvenience birthed an opportunity, and a tiny pivot changed my perspective. This is the diamond in the rough. This is what I will take with me into the new year.
We cannot grab on to the lovely while clutching the horrible. When our hands will not let go of the gross, they cannot grab hold of the good. Renewed hope is made possible by the new perspective birthed in the pivot. Otherwise, discouragement and fear of the same become the filter through which we view everything else, and we no longer lean into expectancy.
While the previous year looms in the shadows of today, I am already working on remembering the gifts of a bizarre year. We learned so dang much. I am choosing to start 2021 with an open heart and open hands. While all that comes will not be lovely, I am freeing up emotional real estate to experience anything the next three hundred sixty-five days has to offer. I must remember to be expectant–not in what a year holds but in the power of the ONE who holds the year.
Happy New Year, friends. If it is not yet happy, it is new. May the prospect of joy be yours in the days ahead.
To my friends who lost a loved one—I am so very sorry.
To my friends who lost jobs—I am hoping and believing for you.
To my friends who lost the will to live—I hurt with you.
To my friends who filed divorce papers—I understand the hurt.
To my friends who are hoping in the power of a clean slate—I stand with you.
The pivot will not take away the pain or change the circumstance, but it will give you another perspective to consider. Maybe a necessary lesson lies just beneath the rubble. Take your time. Stay the course. Hold on to hope.
PS–I have a few new things releasing this year. My first booklet, a collection of five essays, will arrive in the inbox of every email subscriber this month!! Not an email subscriber? You can change that by signing up here. Also, I am taking my teaching on the road in 2021, but you will not need to purchase tickets or show up in person. However, with one click you will have access to episodes bathed in hope and dripping with wisdom. That is all I can tell you for now, but stay tuned for more!! Woo-hoo!!
3 thoughts on “Happy New Year: Lessons from 2020”
Brilliant. It is new. Not happy yet in my opinion, but also not unhappy. Also, not sure how much I truly value “happy” over other adjectives for this new year ahead. I love your tender yet succinct words — cheering for you & all the new to come in your teaching this year!
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Solidarity. I am reaching for joy over happiness, contentment over achievement, and peace over hustle.
Thank you for being the wind at my back through so much of this year. You are a major part of my comeback chapter!
Beautiful words, Alyssa. I love your heart, your tenderness, and your vulnerability. Praying for much hope and peace in this new year. I love you, my friend. (Janet)
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