I wrote a gratitude letter early January 2020, hoping for the “unseen but spectacular.” And so I got that wish (with my a$$ kicked). There are more looses than wins, more reconciliations than straight shots, more panic than joy, more tears than laughters, more distance than connected, more resistance than cooperation, more resentment than contentment. If I generalize correctly, a lot of us are wishing to fast-forward the year and all the while hoping for a more reasonable and comprehensible ways of life. Let 2020 be done already! Yet here, I see myself in the holding pattern as if I have unfinished business. In fact, I was looking for ways to start deceleration and to collect important events that will stay in my book and into the new year. And the answer through the mirror – here is fine.

What you practice grows stronger.

Good morning, I Love You, Shauna Shapiro

We have been in this virtual reality for a good nine months, and counting. I become aware that priorities are easily shifted and expectations is elastic. Ask those whose elderly parents join the households and you will understand why we ask for stretch deadlines. Ask those who homeschool their kids since August and you will understand why they need to drop calls early to meet personal obligations, or why their calendars look wacky into the night, or why email replies carry really late time stamps. For folks with school age children, all work is important until we face an uptick in crimes targeting vulnerable students during this pandemic. Young students are on the computers or devices for a good part of the day, to learn, to explore, to socialize, to seek helps, and in some cases, to find support. It is like having a portal that always opens and leads directly to another dimension. They become an unlimited source for sexual exploitation. Online child exploitation are up in dizzying rate, counties pile up in reports and cases, but not many are talking about it. I can only imagine how incredibly difficult it is to maneuver the days and struggle with the fights against predators from the dark web. All of the sudden, day work becomes least important! In its place is another kind of work. The kind that knotted my stomach when I helped school and district officials prepare and present to the community the importance of internet safety for young and teenage children in this virtual environment. The work that keeps me up at night and tears me apart after learning about their experiences. The unimaginable effect of emotional exhaustion and helplessness that we carry for ourselves and the victims. Yes, it is my unfinished business. And starting here is fine.

A lot of unintended consequences from the pandemic is out of our control. It literally is out of anyone’s control. I see my favorite local restaurants closed for good. Our wonderful lunch and dinning experiences abruptly banned. Our friends and family are out looking for jobs. Companies large and small struggle to stay in business and if they do, cautiously spending. One common theme I notice in recent conversations with my people near and far is an after taste of bitterness – loss, grief, or exhaustion: loss of a family member or a colleague due to illness, a friend’s miscarriage, broken relationships, and the care and keeping of aging parents. While I think we may have all of that in a normal year, it is far and wildly different yet hugely damaging when we are unable to gather, comfort, and elevate our loved ones. I cannot help but sometimes let myself go and just BE in the stillness at dusk or dawn to reconnect with my lost soul. Self-care is absolutely the mantra of the year because keeping balance is truly an act of bravery. I sincerely encourage you to hold on to what you know best: breath. Stay breathing, here is fine!

Spend your time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.

Quiet, Susan Cain

Even when 2020 is ending, the pandemic continues its progressing. I still believe that optimism and spectacular stand to be the theme for what’s ahead. However, more than anything, I would like to remind you that self-care is bravery above and beyond 2020. If you’re like me with a load of unfinished businesses that need my energy, time, and a whole lot of heart, let’s practice to become spectator to our own thought (and love it unconditionally!) Let’s take the seconds of intentional observation to name that emotion before reacting. You bet that I will still show up and have my a$$ kicked; and most certainly, I will continue to seek beyond the mirror, hand over heart: begin here is fine.