We often hear the truism “Age is just a number.” It is. And so is a year. Just because a year goes away doesn’t make life instantly better. We choose our life paths for a reason, we choose the lessons and the directions we want it to go. Some of us actively try to create new chapters energetically with new people, movement and change, while others go along passively with what those close to us and outside of us expect us to be for their life paths, so we go along the path of least resistance instead of carving our own road without those external voices and forces. Whether the actual calendar year comes and goes matters not within our own lives. What matters is what lens we choose to live and see this life through. Is it one of being a whiner of what this supposed calendar year has brought upon you? Or one of being more spiritually evolved, seeing what an earthly moment can be about spiritually, and living a life of being able to be grateful for even the smallest joys in a day?

I love how the places I frequent are now reminders that life goes on no matter what. After riots destroyed windows in shops on the streets in where I run my errands, I called my Russian Jewish old-world tailor to see if she was back and if her windows were broken. She was back at work, but a window was smashed. I brought fabric for her to make a mask, and the first time I was there, seeing a gal wearing her wedding dress (with mask) to alter made me smile at how life is going on. The second time, another gal with a mask had a form fitting sun dress to alter, to which I asked my tailor, “Where would she go in that now?” To which she replied, “She’s living life!”

This open letter to my friends has come at the urging of my eye doctor during my annual exam today. I was grateful for the life-goes-on feeling of everyone there, where at today’s eye appointment, the only difference was I looked like the rest of the medical team. At some point I said, “If I hear one more person make a comment about 2020…I wish people would just suck it up.” If I didn’t believe in past lives, I would still say, “I must’ve been British in a past life” because of the stiff upper thing. I was going to suck it up and keep fielding these comments, but she kept encouraging me to write this even though I said I’m a curmudgeon at heart. But she too had been fielding these comments from others around her.

When I first started seeing these comments sprinkled within emails to me, “What a year – 2020,” or other complaints about how it’s the worst year ever, I ignored it. But the crescendo has gotten so loud, that I blurted it out to my doctor today. I am amazed and grateful daily for the confirmations from the universe that as long as we do our spiritual homework and strive for the higher vibrational attributes such as love, gratitude, kindness, we draw more like-minded souls to us. My eye doctor and I both have not uttered those words of complaint or comment at the state of 2020 has been like, since she said she felt her life to be of service. Which is exactly how we should live life. When one feels their life to be one of service, we don’t have the time or energy to complain about something that just is the set of cards we have now in our hands. She said she, “I wish more people were like you, since you’ve been through a lot, you’re stronger.” Later, the conversation meandered back to this as she continued to encouraged me to write something, “You’ve been through a lot. Someone who hasn’t, has a weaker spirit.”

I hadn’t thought about that before. That when we, on a higher level spiritually accepted and chose this life path and what hardships we would go through for spiritual growth or what lessons our souls chose, on the human plane, our human fortitude becomes stronger as a result of having gone through something we thought was so unfathomable at first. This very topic also came up in the latest podcast episode last week with Manhattan Transfer’s Alan Paul, who is also on the spiritual journey. We spoke about how sometimes people think they take on too much, once they’re in these human bodies, but they chose these lessons on a spiritual level.

I noted how the workers aka “crew members” at Trader Joe’s always seem happy, to which my eye doctor emphatically agreed and said her friends go there deliberately when they’re depressed just to get happier. My friends have always heard me talk about a certain Trader Joe’s I go to because I like the vibe. I always looked forward to the free coffee and to just be in this happy place. I’ve seen workers joke with one another as they pile carts together and it would make me want to be in on the joke, their joy in that moment. They were grateful it seemed, happy to be in this upbeat place that is their work. We both agreed these people we know who feel the need to comment about 2020 should be more like Trader Joe’s workers. I love that the places I frequent mirrors back to me where I am and want to be, the higher vibrational quality we all should strive towards. There’s even been a study recently about the kind interactions we have with these strangers we see regularly at places like Trader Joe’s being beneficial to our health, so it validates the higher vibrational quality of kindness. We never see studies that show that complaining is good for our well-being.

When I went back to Trader Joe’s after the riots, a lot of us were shaken by the destruction, but that fear was quickly overridden by the same joyful people as before, this time orchestrating lines and sanitizers. Although I couldn’t see their smiles, I could feel their joyful spirits to be at work as they greeted us, now with cleaner carts to this germaphobe’s liking. You could feel they were grateful to be working, to be of service.

After my eye exam today, the lady in line behind me at Trader Joe’s had two bunches of two different colored berries I’d never seen before. She said it was “St. John’s Wort,” to which I said, “That’s the anti-depression herb!” We both agreed, noting how pretty the berries were. How apropos I thought for Trader Joe’s to offer this particular flower. I told her how at the height of the crazy week in March, in the throng of Trader Joe’s customers clinging on to toilet paper and any pasta and sauce they could find, one studious-looking guy clutched a beautiful bouquet of flowers as if it were a normal day. He told me he bought flowers for his wife weekly because it brightens her day and it made my day and brought a tear to my eye to see someone having a normal moment that was about love, within a frenzied, fearful crowd.

To my friends who feel the need to tell me and the rest of the world that 2020 “has been one hell of a year,” or “Can’t wait till we get out of 2020” – I implore you to save your energy and breath. Yes, we are in the human plane, so it’s easiest to be in that plane of existence and not go deeper into the spiritual when the physical feels scary. But news flash – the rest of us are also in the land of the living, so we know what’s going on. To make an editorial comment about the state of how this year feels for you doesn’t help you or anyone. What can help us all, is to focus on our life paths, our spiritual life path, why we chose this life and how we want our lives to look like on the other side of this moment that we all chose to walk through on a spiritual level. We, who are still living in this moment, chose to walk through this. Again, a point noted in my recent conversation with Paul.

Since life is hard in itself, and many of us are sensitive types, it means there is no room for more than a very small circle of trusted friends, because people and exchanges can be energy drains, even if they consciously don’t mean to be. Life can be an energy drain if one is not careful about boundaries and people having access points to our energy, compared to the focus of what we need to get done while we’re here in this brief stay on the planet. My extremely small group of friends I consider family I choose, know the litany of losses in my life and have made comments like, “I don’t know if I would still be standing if I went through all that you went through.” One of the smallest things on that list at one time was the largest hardship for me. I brought it up today in the exam chair when we spoke about people complaining who’ve not personally been through that much, “I almost lost my eyesight!” to which my eye doctors replied how we only having two eyes in life. Things that are important. Things to be grateful for. To have vision. So many of us take being able to see a flower, or take being able to drive for granted, because we’re too busy noticing what we don’t have.

The scary moment with my vision happened just after I moved to where I live now. While I’m not a good mover, I think it happened when I almost literally “cried my eyes out” after a major, tragic loss I was still smarting from years after the fact, and the pressure of blowing my nose hard and many times. At the time it was such a scary moment to see the world through Saran wrap that you couldn’t remove and then half your vision at night isn’t dark, but rather white, like a curtain slowing closing in on you. You have no control over your own body and its frailties. Ever the optimist, my eye surgeon who referred me to my retina surgeon, said at the time, “At least it’s not cancer.” Although I lost the anchor of my life to cancer, that moment was my cancer I said then. And I had to endure things like sit and sleep with my face down at a certain angle at all times and hope and pray, until it healed. Two years later, the after-effects of that was the news of more surgeries at some point (this time with my regular eye surgeon), which made me cry and stay in bed for days. My retina surgeon would later remind me how lucky I was and to this day I have a blind spot that he said I’d have in my line of sight, as a physical reminder of that physically scary moment in my life.  

But it was this very scary physical situation I was going through that pushed me to seek a spiritual solution, where I started using my “other vision,” the “third eye,” and I started doing readings and seeing things on a spiritual level. Things that cannot be seen with the naked, physical eye. We are all here to use our gifts, whatever that gift or gifts are. I’ve had a lot of lost that my few friends know the intimate details of (as some when I lost 25 pounds each time after losing a loved one) so when I started doing readings, they all took it seriously because they knew it wasn’t something I would normally do if I didn’t feel I had to. They heeded the spiritual messages in the readings I gave them and saw how things were validated from the Other Side, as they pushed me in various ways to use this gift to help others who have had loss.

Even though my eye surgeon is known to have patients like Brad Pitt and NBA players like LeBron James, every patient is treated like a VIP. We’re greeted with a smile and I’m often reminded when I’m there about how important it is to see the glass half full, rather than half empty. Today, when I told my eye surgeon I hope to end my days in England for the second half of my life (in the countryside, where rain is plentiful and grass is most always green and I can live off sheep milk and eggs from a couple of chickens), but that my doctors are all here, he replied that for the most part I’ve gone through much of the tough stuff with my eyes and if that time comes, he can help me find doctors there. I added, “It’s my dream,” to which he replied, “Careful what you dream!”

A soul sister in radio and I have been talking about doing a podcast together for many years and she just reached this week about the topic of other people’s energies being in our space. After my eye appointment, I suggested we should do this topic about people commenting about 2020, as one of our first episodes and her reply was, “Absolutely, because everyone is entitled and outrageously whiny!” She too has noticed the crescendo of complaints that have been cluttering conversations as of late.

Our grandparents were called the “Greatest Generation” for a reason. They were not complainers or whiners. I guarantee you they are rolling their eyes from the Other Side now. They sucked it up majorly and fought real enemies we could see, while women donned on overalls to make necessary items for the war effort. Our generation is only asked to wear a mask out of respect for ourselves and others. If the entire Greatest Generation were here now and in our shoes, they would all be wearing masks without one complaint. Nor would we hear them utter any comments about how 2020 has been going so far and how they can’t wait for this year to be over.

I’ve heard a lot of complaining how people feel their lives have been ruined. Their lives of going out and being entertained on the weekends. I’ve been thinking a lot about a recent podcast conversation with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Rickey Medlocke, where he said he can keep himself entertained for hours. I’ve always felt the same way. We don’t always need external entertainment. Our grandparents led much simpler lives. If they went to the movies or had a simple night with friends at home, they felt lucky.

People seemed shocked we are now in a pandemic. The fact that nature cries out and has to have its word on the fact our planet has the most people it’s ever seen. We keep selfishly overpopulating this rock and its limited resources, without giving much back. We’ve just been spoiled. And we’ve been spoiled for so long, we’re self-involved narcissists, not thinking about the many generations before us that have had to endure pandemics and other course corrections nature felt it needed to make. And those other generations probably didn’t complain as much.

In the first episode of the podcast, this came up when British singer-songwriter Daniel Cainer said he traveled the world just before everything changed, and had been noticing how big everything got, the excess. It was all too much, he said, as echoed in the latest episode with Paul. In the podcast episode with The Runaways’ Cherie Currie, we touched on this sentiment as well, that things felt like it had to change on a higher level. The people I know who are also on the spiritual path could see this moment coming a mile away. We felt a macro event. We just didn’t know what it would look like. We’ve gotten away with so much, the easy life, for so long, that we got used to it and assumed that we’re just entitled to a good life. We’re not entitled to anything. We make of our lives what they will become. We decide to choose a higher evolved life or not. When we strive for the higher vibrational traits of love, kindness, service, there is simply no energetic room for the lower vibrational human attributes we are used to (so we often want to stay in that lower energy) like depression, anger, guilt, greed, jealousy, or complaining.

I know that the friends I’ve heard from is just a tiny sample size, but I’ve noticed a huge irony at the common denominators of the people who’ve been logging complaints about how awful this year is. These are people who have no financial worries, whether that means they still having a job, or are happily retired with money to live out their days, money they may never spend all of. So they have no human worries about food, they don’t need to line up at food banks. They are healthy. They still have both their parents alive in their lives, or at least one parent still living, but both got to see old age. These are all people whose elderly parent went back to the Other Side at a ripe old age, an age beyond the average human life span of the mid-70s, compared to many of us who lost loved ones who never got to see old age or get to have grey hair or wrinkles. These friends never lost any close loved ones tragically, untimely and from unnatural deaths that would probably make their faint heart faint even more. These friends did not lose a loved one to murder, their loved one was not killed by a terrorist, a plane crash, a sudden car accident, or an overzealous, angry cop.

These friends complaining about this year, incidentally, are all white. They’re people who would put up a black box in a lazy way to show fake friends online they’re being proactive (and to make themselves feel better thinking they’re learning from another tough moment in the world this year), instead of doing something actually proactive to contribute and be part of the solution to society or to a situation they feel has faults. Yes, we choose and agree to these physical bodies we will spiritually walk through life with. But in this lifetime, just by pure color of their skin, these friends will never know what subtle racism feels like, that weird feeling when you walk into a chain pizza place in an old Oregon logging town and the entire place looks up and stares at you for the duration of the time you’re standing and giving your order. Any person of any color besides white would understand what that uncomfortable moment feels like. A moment no one can prove is racist, but it sure feels uncomfortable to be the only person in the room whose skin isn’t lily-white and who everyone else is staring at with steely eyes, as if you didn’t belong there.

This small sample size of friends complaining about 2020 is ironically precisely the very group of people who should be the most grateful people in the world right now. These are the friends who should be proclaiming at the top of their lungs how grateful they are to have their lives, their health, to not have had sudden or tragic (to human standards) loss of a loved one, that they will never get to experience a tinge of subtle racism in a uncomfortable moment. Instead, they choose to be glass half empty people in a moment we most need to be glass half full.

We’re under an illusion that these physical bodies we chose, no matter what skin color we opted this time around, is ours. They are just shells for the lessons we choose to go through in a temporary life. We think these houses, gardens, cars, toys we “own” are ours just because we have some equity, the deed or title that is in our name. Everything we can see and touch that we “own,” is only on loan to us. And for such a short amount of time that even my friend who lost both his parents at the old age of 89 said he felt that was too short of a life. Never say that to anyone who lost their parents at a much younger age. Instead, try to be more grateful at how much time you got to have with your elderly folks, how many more Christmases you had, which many of us will never get to have with our loved ones.

In my recent conversation with Paul, Manhattan Transfer will turn 50 soon and he noted how fast that time went. And when it’s time to go back to the Other Side, relinquishing these bodies that are not ours to keep, we go alone. We can only bring with us the life path of lessons, and hopefully, spiritual growth and roles we played for others’ life paths and lessons. It’s also an illusion for those in relationships who are so closely bound to their life partner that they are in lockstep with. We can’t go back with our partners. Or our kids, who we’re merely physical vessels for. These are individual souls who probably chose other souls and parents in past lives, but chose us for whatever reason this time around in their life path to help create their story line, the blueprint of what lessons they chose for themselves to learn. Our only responsibility when we go back to the Other Side is for ourselves and what we did while here with our spiritual path. And there is no house, no clothing, no suitcase we can bring with us. Just our soul’s growth and how we chose to deal with moments that our soul chose to walk through – like this moment that is called 2020.

After the world first changed in March, there was an earthquake, to which someone said, “2020 is no joke!” It isn’t. It’s really a very important mirror of a year to ourselves about what we want to do with the rest of our lives, since this precious life is not a given. If we are still living, then we must suck it up and work with the cards that we’ve agreed to hold in our hands. That means our future and how we want it to look, who we want to be with, what we want our lives to say (will it be a life of service?), whether we want to be true to ourselves, is in our hands and our hands alone, if we want to take a proactive stance in our lives going forward.

We should at the very least be grateful in this moment for the fact that we are alive, that we who have our health, have our health, and many of us have had blessings other people may never have or get to see in this lifetime. Maybe we can start by simply emulating the upbeat crew members at Trader Joe’s.

Now, if they only made plain almond or coconut milk Greek Yogurt, that would just be the cherry on top…