I’m not sure how many times I can say that this wasn’t the year we expected. I think most of us had high hopes for 2020, but as I’ve said before it is the year we received. I’m reminded of a very popular quote that has been circulating. I myself shared it, it reads something like this- “I thought that 2020 would be the year that I got everything I wanted, but it turned out to be the year that I learned to appreciate what I had.” It certainly resonated with me and I appreciate the sentiment but not because it was true for me personally. I can’t truly say I wanted 2020 to give me anything specifically and I am one to remain in gratitude for how far I have come.
I remember very vividly being a single mom and trying to make ends meet, so gratitude for my current lot in life comes easy. I did enter the year with Focus as my word. I wanted to focus on my creative career by letting go of my day job so that I would no longer be pulled in competing directions. That happened. I did let go. But my focus shifted away from which job I should give my all to, to focusing on things like health, family, justice and peace. To borrow from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I don’t believe that you can really have peace without first meeting the other three.
Here are a couple of ways that I personally fostered more peace in my life this year.
A focus on health & family– I’m not sure I can even wrap my head around the controversy over whether or not the virus is real or as deadly as it seems. To me it seems pretty simple. Wear the mask, take precautions and monitor your health. As a mom it’s not unusual for me to worry about the health of those I love, but this year the focus has been on how I could cause harm not only to myself but also to my loved ones by my own decisions. With that being said I have learned to focus on my own health in a way I had not considered before. Sometimes that meant not showing up for those that I love in the way that I wanted to. Like many of you I went months without seeing my grandchildren or older relatives. As the virus surges again we’ve stopped engaging in some activities that we were just recently able to enjoy when the numbers in our area dropped this summer. While in-restaurant dining is still a thing here I have passed on multiple invites. We had a small intimate Thanksgiving that worked out just fine for my family.
But my focus hasn’t all been virus prevention related. I have been able to work out from home more than ever before. I feel stronger and leaner. I have also taken to ensuring that I skip a lot of the junkfood I focused on earlier in the pandemic for comfort’s sake and swapped them out for healthier items like crunchy baby peppers and lightly salted cashews. I’ve also switched to preparing the biggest bowl of mixed greens for lunch which leave me feeling full and satisfied. And I’m less likely to go rummaging through the cabinets for more. My diet isn’t perfect, my precautionary actions aren’t either, but I do try to focus on what I can do in the moment to protect myself and those that I love and I’ve made peace with my efforts.
A focus on Justice & Peace– I’d love to say that justice was always at the forefront of my mind but that wouldn’t be entirely true either. I have always been an advocate for inclusion and diversity long before I entered the digital space. Even as an educator I joined a diversity task force where we fostered courageous conversations and held workshops and events to promote diversity and an understanding of the benefits of embracing it in our division. But while I was aware of the inequities as a minority woman (and in undergrad I majored in sociology and minored in political science) I like most of you had it thrust upon me in a way that it had not been before. I’ve written about my thoughts on this a few times but this was a year where Stronger Together was not just a slogan or a hashtag. I spoke up in a way that was authentic to me, I supported causes that shared my same values and ethos, I joined a community book club where I read and discussed How To Be Anti Racist. I realized that there are those willing to speak up and stand out about injustice in our country. I took a poetry class and focused my efforts on creating Witness Poetry. And mostly I was inspired by so many people who also spoke out in their own way and to those who took to the streets even in a pandemic to peacefully protest against injustice. I also live in a neighborhood where there are very few people who look like me, but my heart swelled when I saw the Black Lives Matter signs that hung in windows. I think that the last few weeks have shown us that our efforts were not in vain. Change is coming and that my friends gives me peace!
I’m ending this year with overwhelming gratitude for the people in my life who are always supportive and loving. You brought me joy even in the chaos of 2020! Until next post my friends.
With Peace, Love and little bit of Chic!
Xo Tonya Parker
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