Reflections on the Love Year

Every year, I pick a word of the year to reflect what I hope to focus on on a broad scale during the course of that year. I choose it at the close of the previous year after careful reflection about the direction I internally feel my life is going, and how I believe I can best lean into that direction.

Late last year, I picked love as my 2020 word of the year. Looking back, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

— — —

2020 seems like multiple years and like it just started. I feel like I’ve aged lifetimes, yet I can hardly believe that my 27th year is nearly over, that it was spent almost exclusively at my house. The days at home blend into each other. Time has seemed to stop, and I find that my internal clock is confused that it’s already almost 2021. What? Wasn’t it just summer? We just pressed pause in March, right?

Yet, even though September feels like a lifetime ago now, I know that, despite the monotony this strange year has brought to my daily life, time is marching forward; furthermore, even though my body has been all too sedentary these last 9 months, my mind and soul are moving forward with time.

— — —

When I chose love as my 2020 word of the year in late 2019, I was focused on obtaining external sources of love. In fact, that is what I thought 2020 would bring: external sources of love. In some ways, it has brought that. Yet, what I didn’t realize, and what I have been slowly discovering throughout the course of this year, is that 2020 has all about learning to love myself. Furthermore, those external sources that 2020 has brought were only obtained through a serious dedication to learning to love myself.

I didn’t love myself prior to this year. Not in the way I thought I did at the start of this year, at least.

On January 1, if you would have asked me if I loved myself, I would have said, “duh, of course I do”. I would have given you a laundry list of all the reasons I love myself–I do yoga every day, I meditate, I say no when I don’t want to do things, I eat healthy, home-cooked meals regularly, I try to get 7-8 hours a sleep each night.

That list would have shown that I’ve developed an impeccable self-care routine in the past few years. While self-care is, arguably, a form of love, it also doesn’t encompass love. Self-care says nothing of self-worth. Of having healthy boundaries. Of having joyful interactions on a daily basis. Of feeling secure in oneself. Furthermore, self-care on it’s own is a bit meaningless–as true self-care is meant to reset and rejuvenate oneself in order to show up at one’s best to all other forms of love.

While I had an impeccable self-care routine, I can’t say it supported me in any of those other forms of love until I really started working on myself in 2020.

Continue reading “Reflections on the Love Year”

Why I Started Wearing a Bra: A COVID-19 Tale

It’s day 25 on the alien planet. I counted. 25 days since DC Public Schools announced their temporary closure. 25 Days since I stopped living in denial about the reality of COVID-19. As long as I had work to get up and go to everyday, I could keep telling myself that my world was still normal. Sure, COVID had put China on lock down over a month prior–as an online ESL teacher, I felt I was more aware of this than others, given that I was seeing first hand how the lock down was affecting my own students during each of our classes together. Sure, COVID was making its presence known on the West Coast of the United States, particularly in Washington State. Sure, there were a few confirmed cases of in DC and the surrounding area…but I was still getting up and going to work and going about my daily life as usual, and that made my life feel normal, unaffected by this illness that was ravaging the lives of so many. There were a few signs of concern here and there–the Sunday prior (my birthday of all days), I was refused a for-here cup at a coffee shop; due to concerns about the virus, the coffee shop in question was only giving its customers disposable cups. It had become more common place to see friends and acquaintances and hear, “Are you good to hug?” before embracing. The reminder to wash hands and be more vigilant about cleanliness was everywhere–on the Metro, at work, on the internet. Yet, until DC schools announced their closure on March 13, I was still happily living in denial.

Denial is easier than acceptance, of course. It’s why it’s so challenging for teachers to convince some parents that their child actually has a problem, whether it be a behavioral issue or a learning disorder. I thought I was too smart for denial, too aware of myself and the world around me. Yet, here I was, knee deep into my own denial about COVID.

The past few weeks, then, have been a journey towards acceptance. Accepting where I am in life–with COVID and with other aspects of myself as well. It’s been realizing that sometimes I focus so damn much on the positive that I fail to see the reality sitting right in front of me. It’s been learning to understand that as beneficial as positivity is in life–I’m an optimist for a reason, after all–sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and take stock of the whole picture. To pay attention to the details, the facts spelling out the nature of our reality. I’ve learned in the past few weeks that positivity should be balanced and well-rounded. A healthy positivity comes from embracing and acknowledging the negative and still choosing to find the light in the world.

Continue reading “Why I Started Wearing a Bra: A COVID-19 Tale”

24 Things I Learned at 24

Is it just me, or does 25 seem way older than 24?

Something about being a quarter century old seems a little insane (though I recognize the subjectivity of that statement).

As I move into my next year on Earth, I am, again, looking back at the lessons this past year brought. 24, overall, was a good year. It was a challenging year, and I learned a lot, but I’m better off for it all. I felt good about 24 at its outset, and that feeling delivered. I’m downright excited for 25. As I take these lessons from 24 into 25, I have confidence that my time as a quarter centurion will be memorable:

1. Life is too short to spend in toxic situations with people who don’t lift you up.

2. Mindsets don’t change overnight…it takes time and energy and practice.

3. Inner change starts with personal awareness.

4. Not everybody has a growth mindset, and that’s not something you can force on someone.

5. Saying negative things about someone for no better reason than that you don’t like the way they are as a person doesn’t accomplish much of anything. It may feel good in the moment, but moments are fleeting. Your unkind words say more about you.

6. Focusing less on other people’s (often perceived and sometimes totally inaccurate) problems and focusing more on what I can do to lift myself up is all around for the best. Continue reading “24 Things I Learned at 24”