You don’t need me to tell you that this has been a helluva year. We’ve all felt it in our mind, bodies and souls. As I reflect on 2020, I’m reminded to “count it all joy.” On the other side of each frustration were moments that helped fill my heart with a soul-reviving joy that can’t be explained.
Here’s my roundup of 20 things that kept me going this year. I hope that it inspires you to think of your own list. Even if you can only think of one thing, you’re still blessed.
1. Carson taking his first steps at 10 months old. I think that I was in shock watching his little legs stumble around.
2. Celebrating Carson’s 1st birthday. COVID put a wrench in party plans, but it was still a big moment for the youngest (and bossiest) child.
3. Learning to make cold brew during the early days of the COVID shutdowns. In the midst of the chaos and uncertainty, it was nice to figure out how to maintain a little “normalcy.”
4. Planting and cultivating our small vegetable garden for the second year in a row. I also nursed my collard greens back to life after some hungry caterpillars decimated the first batch of leaves.
5. Joining the Peloton tribe. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I might not have ever pulled the trigger on getting one. But, now I can’t imagine my life without this bike and app. It’s made it convenient for me to prioritize my health, even when the classes are hard as heck.
6. Trying out new baking recipes! I love binging baking shows and wish that I had that level of talent. This year, I made a lemon pound cake, peach cobbler (with homemade crust), chocolate chip banana bread and banana pudding ALL for the first time.
7. Spotting ducks in the small creek behind our house. Regular walks became a go-to activity during the spring and summer. It was actually pretty cool keeping track of the ducks, big and small, swimming around.
8. Watching the boys jump around on our backyard trampoline. Their giggles and screams live rent-free in my mind. I imagine that it’s what #BlackBoyJoy sounds like.
9. Reading three fiction books this year! This might be no big deal to you, but I am really proud of myself. I read Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson. I’m currently thirty pages into The Mothers also by Brit Bennett. I can wait to keep this momentum going in 2021.
10. The GirlTrek #DaughtersOf 21-day Black history bootcamp. Over the summer, this bootcamp gave me all the things that I desperately needed. History lessons on powerful Black women who came before us. Dope playlists inspired by each woman. A virtuous reason to get outside and focus on myself. If you could use this level of inspiration, check out the recordings here.
11. Gathering to celebrate personal milestones for family and friends – virtually and socially-distanced. I really loved seeing how creative people got when it came to pivoting for graduations, baby showers, and birthdays. The events actually felt more intentional and thoughtful, which is how is should be! I wrote an entire blog post about this one thing.
12. The Black Girl Magic: Peloton Edition and Black Women Who Love Outdoor Living Spaces Facebook groups. A community of Black women unapologetically being themselves and lifting each other up, while pursuing health and recreation goals. There was no better place to be on the Internet, truly.
13. Finding the perfect frozen sangria recipe and enjoying it (often) on our little side patio off the kitchen. The tip that changed the game? Freeze the wine in a Ziplock bag before blending.
14. Starting the tradition of “Superhero Sundays” with Caleb. Each Sunday, we pick one superhero movie to watch. The Marvel lineup on Disney+ has been a key to our success.
15. A four-mile trek to hunt for trolls in the Morton Arboretum woods. This year, nature and I were thick as thieves. With limited activities at our disposal, it was great to be able to go on this outdoor adventure with the boys, followed by ice cream of course.
16. Getting back to blogging. It feels great embracing creativity for non-work reasons. Now that I’ve figured out my systems for working content creation into my schedule, I’m looking forward to sharing more on here in 2021.
17. An end-of-summer visit to a sunflower farm with the boys. If you’ve never experienced the beauty of sunflowers in-person, you need to do it!
18. Listening to Carson’s laughter. The littlest Lee is so serious and sometimes only gives us smirk. But, when he is giddy (or delirious), his laughter can fill a room and make my heart explode. Sometimes, I will bust out laughing just listening to him. #BlackBoyJoy is contagious!
19. A Biden-Harris win. Period.
20. Getting in on the Santa magic with Caleb. We’ve never really told him about Santa, but we’ve never told him “the truth” either. This year, he was all about Santa, so I decided to go along with it. From obsessing over the NORAD Santa tracker to baking Christmas Eve cookies, it was fun bringing the magic to life for him.
What moments helped you get through this unpredictable year? Whatever filled your soul with joy in 2020, I pray that you find 100-fold more of that in 2021.
Happy New Year!